DENVER — Several owners of recreational marijuana businesses in Colorado say they are having a hard time finding vendors that make child-resistant packaging, which will be required when the stores open Jan. 1.
All retail pot products leaving shops — from buds to brownies — must be placed in opaque and child-resistant packaging. But Mike Elliott, director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, told The Denver Post (http://bit.ly/1bprvoG ) that some businesses "are having an incredibly difficult time" finding the proper packaging.
"We're all looking for ways to comply with this rule, and everyone is worried we're not going to be able to, basically," he said.
State regulators aren't sympathetic.
The packaging requirements were the subject of a high-profile debate, were approved Sept. 9 and took effect Oct. 15, said Julie Postlethwait, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division.
"This is not a surprise that came and hit them over the heads," she said "The main point here, the focus the industry tends to forget, is we exist in order to ensure public safety. You don't want a child ingesting high-potency infused products. The risk is a child's health."
The penalties for breaking packaging rules are being finalized, but the state can initially fine violators and take more serious actions if problems persist.
Industry representatives say they are committed to keeping marijuana away from children, but they also are juggling a number of regulatory demands as they rush to prepare for New Year's Day.
Some prospective pot-shop owners — most are still awaiting licensing and inspection approval — say they've only recently found solutions to avert a packaging shortage.
Ean Seeb, who co-owns the medical marijuana dispensary Denver Relief, said he has been talking since October with a New York company that sells a product called Stink Sack.
The company's owner, Ross Kirsh, was in Denver this week visiting dispensaries with prototypes of his smell-proof bag with a double-locking mechanism that comes in three sizes.
Kirsh said half a million of his opaque bags are in production and will be ready for delivery by Jan. 1.
Other companies are proposing new packaging, but business owners remain skeptical that there will be enough to go around.
"I think the whole industry is faced with, 'Can everyone get the packaging they need in the time frame they need it?' That might be an uphill battle," said Ryan Cook, a co-owner of The Clinic in Denver, a chain of medical marijuana dispensaries branching into retail sales.
Colorado defines child-resistant packaging as "significantly difficult for children under 5 years of age to open and not difficult for normal adults to use properly."
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com