Washington Warns Firms Citing Health Benefits in Cannabis and CBD Advertisements

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (Board) has issued an Interim Policy that warns firms against using claims that cannabis and cannabis infused CBD products offer curative or therapeutic effects. Washington regulations prohibit advertisements from incorporating claims regarding a product’s curative or therapeutic effects. The Board clarified that the phrase curative or therapeutic effects includes statements that the product will:

  • effect the body or mind;

  • produce a useful or favorable result or effect;

  • impact the consumers health; or

  • contains such words as “relief, remedy, healing, curative, remedial, medicinal, restorative, beneficial, corrective, wellness, well-being, salutary, salubrious, and support are prohibited. Including the phrase, "This product is not approved by the FDA to treat, cure, or prevent any disease" “

The Interim Policy is the latest guidance issued by the Board as it implements its packaging and labeling regulatory regime.

Alaska: Naked Man In Grower's Advertisement Violates Health and Safety Standards

Alaska’s marijuana advertising campaigns are becoming very creative. The Calm N Collective’s advertisement from September 25, 2018 shows a naked man lying in a cultivation facility with marijuana covering his private areas. The Alaskan Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office brought an enforcement action against the Calm N Collective licensee Ron Bass for health and safety violations. Alaska’s regulator noted that the presence of an unclothed person in the growing facility could contaminate the marijuana. A board member pointed out that the naked man also did not appear to be wearing a visitor badge as required by law.

The lawyer for Calm N Collective indicated that the picture in question did not violate the health and safety standards because the marijuana that was used to cover the man’s body was not going to be reused or sold. The marijuana was ultimately going to be ground up with garbage and other waste. Finally, the firm’s lawyer noted in the response that the health and safety standards were not violated as the gentleman in the photo “looks clean, does not have any open sores, and does not at all look ill.”


In a flurry of activity, the California Legislature passed twenty-one cannabis bills in the last weeks prior to the end of the regular session on August 31st. The Legislature has presented Governor Jerry Brown with fifteen (15) bills for him to either sign or veto.  An additional six (6) bills will be presented to the governor following the engrossment process.

The scope of the bills passed by the California Legislature in the last couple of weeks of August has been monumental.  The bills address important and meaningful issues raised by constituents.  The highlights include the state driven expungement of marijuana convictions; compassionate care programs that permit the donation of cannabis products to individuals in need; the ban of cannabis in alcoholic beverages; the protection of personal data from the federal government; the expansion in industrial hemp cultivation; restricted provisioning of marijuana to animals;  equitable expansion of the cannabis industry; and the administration of cannabis on to children on schoolsites.

The following fifteen (15) bills were presented to the governor for his signature.  The links below provide the summary article and the final bill text.

The following six (6) bills are being enrolled and will be presented to the governor shortly. The links below provide the summary article and the final bill text.


The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board requested public comment on two rule proposals by October 3, 2018.  The rule proposals implement legislative changes that occurred during 2017 and 2018 sessions, and incorporate technical changes (links below).

During 2018, the Washington State legislature enacted the following laws:

  • Financial Services.  The law states that financial service providers are not violating Washington law by entering into financial transactions (i.e., deposits, extending credit, conducting funds transfers, transporting cash) with commercial cannabis businesses.  

  • Marijuana Product Container Labels - Business Information.  The law mandates the placement of labels on marijuana containers that contain the unified buisiness identifier number of the marijuana producer and processor.  

  • Use of Cannaboid Additives in Marijuana Products.  The law provides that marijuana producers and processors that use a cannaboid additive in marijuana products must obtain the cannaboid additive product from a licensed producer or processor unless the CBD product has (1) less a THC level of 0.3 percent or less on a dry weight basis, and (2) been lawfully tested for contaminants and toxins.

2018 Cannabis Legislation Implementation Rules

During 2017, the Washington State legislature enacted the following laws:

  • Marijuana Lock Boxes.  The law allows retail outlets to provide customers with a free marijuana lock box.  The retail outlet cannot use the lock box as an inducement for a sale.

  • Sanitary Processing of Edibles.  The law provides the Department of Agriculture with authority to regulate the sanitary processing of edibles.

  • Marijuana License Fee.  The law imposes a $480 additional fee to license applications and renewals. The fee is being used to pay for the traceability system.

  • Various Changes.  The law contains amendments that address privileges for research licenses, local authority notifications, the retail licensing merit-based application process, certain transfers of plants and seeds, licensing agreements and contracts, advertising, and jurisdictional requirements.

2017 Cannabis Legislation and Technical Housekeeping Rules


Canada posted an informational bulletin for licensed producers discussing the restrictions on cannabis advertisements and the corresponding penalty for non-compliance.  Canada's Food and Drug Act (FDA) prohibits advertisements for food or drugs as a treatment or cure for certain diseases published by the government.  In addition, labeling and advertisements must not produce a false impression as to the product's character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety.  

Licensed producers should seek guidance from local counsel to ensure that advertisements and labeling comply with the FDA as penalties can range from $250,000 to $5,000,000, or to a term of imprisonment ranging from six months to two years, or to both.

Advertising Prohibitions on Cannabis - Information Bulletin


The California Legislature has passed a advertising bill that will prohibit internet sites from marketing cannabis products directly to minors.  The bill also prohibits internet sites from knowingly collecting, using or disclosing a minor's personal information for the purpose of marking cannabis products.  The bill has been sent to the governor for signing.


The California Senate passed the following bills today related to marijuana after a third reading.  

  • AB-2721: Cannabis: testing laboratories. (Vote: Yes 32 No 5)  Amends Section 26104 of the Business and Professions Code to permit a testing laboratory to receive and test samples of cannabis or cannabis products from a person over 21 years of age that the person has grown for personal use. The testing laboratory may not certify samples for resale or transfer to another person. The testing laboratory must record all tests with the name of the  person submitting the sample including the sample size.

  • AJR-27: (Vote Yes 28 No 3) A joint resolution of the two houses requesting the United States Department of Justice not to establish enforcement priorities against California’s lawful commercial cannabis industry.

  • AB-350: Cannabis: Advertisements (Vote Yes 38 No 0) Amends Section 26152 of the Business and Professions Code to prohibit a person with a suspended  licensee from publishing or disseminating advertisments or marketing of cannabis and cannabis products

  • AB-1996: The California Cannabis Research Program (Vote Yes 38 No 1).  Amends Section 2525.1 of the Business and Professions Code to (1) conform the name of the program throughout the code, (2) authorize the program to grow cannabis for research, and (3) expand the scope of the research.