The remarkable growth and success of the cannabis edibles industry is attributable to many factors, including sophisticated marketing and product development strategies. But perhaps more importantly, the edible industry has done a remarkable job of innovating and self-regulating to ensure the safety and quality of their products. Despite the lack of regulation, edible producers have demonstrated ingenuity and discipline in adopting responsible policies and procedures to ensure and enhance product safety.
Cannabis edibles present both common and unique safety and quality challenges for businesses, regulators, and policy makers. The safety of cannabis products, like any food, is dependent on many things, including traceability, supply chain integrity, proper lab testing for potency, pathogens, pesticides, heavy metals, etc. But there are additional safety considerations unique to cannabis and do not necessarily apply to other types of foods. These include secure childproof packaging, proper dosing (tolerance levels vary significantly between users), and consumer education. Edible producers, state regulators, and manufacturers are innovating and successfully developing the policies and procedures to address these risks.
Nevertheless, as the industry continues to grow, it will be important for cannabis industry entities to deal with the unique civil legal issues that are certain to arise. For instance, determining liability in product liability cases involving cannabis edibles will bring issues before the courts that have never been previously adjudicated. For food companies that choose to pursue the potentially lucrative opportunities, it will be vitally important to understand and mitigate the full range of potential risks—a feat that will necessarily entail the use of complex contractual agreements.