Jan 16, 2024 - News

What Colorado's new use-by dates on marijuana mean

Illustration of a clock with cannabis leaves for hands.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Like beer or groceries, you can now check the date on your marijuana to know if it's fresh.

What's happening: Marijuana sold for smoking or vaping must include a "use by" date on the package to signal when it "will no longer be optimally fresh," according to a new state rule that went into effect at the start of the year.

  • The default date is nine months from the harvest or production date, the rules state, and applies to all harvests after Jan. 1.

Why it matters: Colorado regulators created the rule in 2022 to establish standards and reduce the possibility of contamination from mold and fungus, which is becoming more prevalent.

What they're saying: "If you buy a loaf of bread and you leave it on the counter for nine months, it's going to have some mold on it," says Bia Campbell, an associate at VS Strategies, a cannabis consulting firm. "The same can be true for cannabis, especially if storage conditions are not ideal."

Yes, but: Marijuana industry leaders say the use by dates are unnecessary and burdensome, particularly as the industry struggles at the 10-year mark.

  • Moreover, the date stamp will create confusion because it's not an expiration date, like those on food.

The other side: "The entire use-by conversation has been silly from the start," says Peter Marcus, a vice president at Terrapin Care Station. "Consumers never asked for this policy because there's never been a need. Cannabis consumers are savvy. They don't want to consume [marijuana] flower that has been sitting around forever."

Context: Other products, such as edibles and sodas, already carry expiration dates.

Between the lines: The nine-month window is not exact science, and the state is allowing the industry to conduct tests to prove that its products can sit on the shelves for longer periods.

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