Michigan committee approves health warning labels for marijuana
LANSING – The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved bills that would require labels on marijuana indicating its health risks for pregnant mothers.
“This is a brand new product that’s going out … and a lot of people automatically think ‘Wow it’s legal, it’s going to be safe,’” said Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, one of the bill’s sponsors. “So we felt it was very important that people understand there are health implications for using products like this.”
The legislation would require all cannabis be packaged with a label reading: “Warning: Use by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by women planning to become pregnant, may result in fetal injury, preterm birth, low birth weight, or developmental problems for the child.”
The legislation would also require both adult-use and medical marijuana dispensaries to make pamphlets available including safety information about cannabis use by minors.
The lawmakers chose to focus on fetal development after hearing from pediatricians who testified about marijuana’s impact on the juvenile brain, Rendon said. There is research that shows that both marijuana smoke and cigarette smoke can increase the chance of developmental problems for babies and that marijuana use during pregnancy can make it harder for children to pay attention or learn as they grow older.
Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, voted against the bill. He said that while he doesn’t believe pregnant women should use marijuana, he opposed the legislation because he believes the more products require warning labels, the more it dilutes the credibility of the warning.
“Just because something’s unhealthy doesn’t mean the government needs to tell everybody about it or require that label be on it,” LaFave said. “If you warn everyone about everything, the warnings themselves become less helpful.”
It would be preferable that all consumers do research on the potential effects of products before buying them, Rendon said, but in reality, few people do.
“That’s what this is all about, making the consumer stop and think,” she said.
The state Marijuana Regulatory Agency supported the bills. Agency spokesman David Harns said that state packaging rules already require a label warning consumers to keep it away from children and not to drive under the influence.
The Michigan Cannabis Industry Association was neutral on the bills. Spokesman Josh Hovey said the group was glad several changes were made to the legislation, including a clarification that businesses could make pamphlets available but weren’t required to hand one out with every purchase.
MCIA “supports warning labels when they are backed by thorough scientific data and we don't believe there is enough research available at this point,” Hovey said via email. “Since some degree of caution is reasonable, we are neutral on the bill.”
The bills will next move to the House floor for a vote before being considered in the Senate.
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