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Proposed bill aims to keep marijuana away from Nevada children

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A bill proposed this legislative session would change some of the requirements for marijuana packaging. The goal: to keep pot out of the hands of children.

Current Nevada law requires all marijuana products to leave medical dispensaries in child-proof bags or containers. SB 344 would make those requirements even stricter and prohibit any kind of advertising that could be appealing to children.

Senator Patricia Farley is sponsoring the bill. She presented her legislation before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Farley said, "the measure clarifies that the product cannot be packaged in such a way as to appear to be candy or appeal to children or contain an image of a cartoon character, mascot, action figure, balloon, or toy."

SB 344 would prohibit any sort of advertising or marketing to children as well, but the bill doesn't stop there. It would also require packaging of edibles to be opaque, so children cannot see what's inside.

"It cannot be sealed in a transparent bag or container." Farley is calling for stricter labeling on marijuana products altogether.

She also wants to limit the amount of THC per package. She said, "adults will be able to more easily monitor their intake by serving sizes and avoid eating too much."

If passed, SB 344 could mean big changes for some of Nevada's pot production facilities.

"They are going to have to change their packaging and it will create an additional expense." Clint Cates is the owner of MYNT Cannabis Dispensary. He supports the effort to keep marijuana away from kids.

Cates said, "I totally believe it's an industry responsibility. We're trying to be leaders in the United States in terms of marijuana regulation."

Other representatives from the marijuana industry testified on Tuesday, saying the bill goes too far.

Mark Fiorentino with TGIG, LLC. took issue with a clause in the bill that prohibits selling marijuana candy products. "It says you cannot produce candy, so it goes beyond just marketing and packaging."

A representative from the organization, WeCan agreed. He said, "Already out there, we see easily available cough lozenges that are essentially hard candies that have a little medication in them."

Some opponents to the bill also think the language is too broad.

Wendy Stolyarov is the Legislative Director for the Libertarian Party of Nevada. She said, "the language of fruits and mascots is extremely broad."

Cindy Brown from Patient to Patient said, "there's a lot of name brands out there that have mascots- alcohol does."

Senator Farley said she plans to work with those opposed to the bill and make amendments to it.

She hopes to help make Nevada a leader in regulating marijuana. "This is our opportunity to become creative and make sure that once again, Nevada leads the nation in its marijuana practices and policies."

If the bill passes this legislative session, medical marijuana dispensaries would have to implement the new requirements by July 1, 2017.

Recreational dispensaries would have to abide by the new law starting January 1, 2020.

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