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HomenewsAdvertising Flavoured Cannabis is Sometimes Criticised for Appealing to a Young Audience.

Advertising Flavoured Cannabis is Sometimes Criticised for Appealing to a Young Audience.

AP—New York Chris Alexander, the head of New York’s Office of Cannabis Management, proudly held a tin of watermelon-flavored candies over the audience as the first recreational marijuana store opened last month.

He also displayed a jar of dried Banana Runtz cannabis blossoms, which some say tastes like “fresh, fruity banana and sour candy,” outside the Manhattan shop.
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Vape cartridges with pineapple, grapefruit, and “cereal milk” in rainbow bubble letter print filled Housing Works’ store.

Health advocates have long criticized the tobacco industry for promoting hazardous nicotine products to minors, leading more cities and states, like New York, to ban flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

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As cannabis shops open nationwide, worries are increasing over the packaging and marketing of flavored cannabis, which opponents warn could attract minors with names like “crazy mango,” “loud lemon,” and “peach dream.”

“We should learn from the nicotine space, and I certainly would advocate that we should place similar concern on cannabis products in terms of their appealability to youth,” said Columbia University epidemiology professor Katherine Keyes, who has written extensively about the rise in youth marijuana use.

“It’s almost crazy how youth-oriented a lot of the packaging and products are in cannabis dispensaries right now,” she said.

Keyes noted that public health authorities and researchers like her are striving to keep up with an expanding and changing sector and marketplace.

In March 2021, New York approved recreational marijuana and banned advertising that “is aimed in any way to appeal to children or other minors.”

The New York State Office of Cannabis Management has yet to officially approve labeling, packaging, and advertising restrictions that could limit cartoons and neon colors, as well as portrayals of food, candy, soda, beverages, cookies, and cereal, which the agency thinks could attract under-21s.

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Lyla Hunt, OCM’s deputy director of public health and campaigns, warned consumers and parents that items that appear like those promoted to kids are illegal.

Hunt observed a cannabis product called “Stony Patch Kids” that resembled “Sour Patch Kids.”

Officials worry that dozens of unlicensed cannabis businesses selling dangerous items sell similar products. Experts expect the illicit market to ignore packaging and marketing rules.

We can control till our faces turn blue. “It’s a partnership between a complying sector, good regulations that safeguard youngsters, and parents,” Hunt said.

Minors caught with marijuana incur a $50 civil penalty. Cannabis merchants who sell to minors face penalties and license revocation, but no jail time.

Nicotine addiction and smoking-related diseases like cancer and emphysema are well-known.

Vaping’s health effects, especially on children’s developing organs, are unclear.

Teens and young adults smoke less tobacco but use more e-cigarettes and vapes.

Most flavored tobacco products—including e-cigarettes and vapes—are banned in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. More places, including New York City, have similar bans.

Linda Richter of the Partnership to End Addiction said those guidelines should encompass marijuana, but the problem has yet to be publicly addressed.

“The cannabis sector has extremely few laws, regulations, oversight, and constraints compared to the tobacco industry,” she stated.

She said that states have yet to adopt a national norm because the legalized business is young. The federal government sets guidelines for states, but marijuana is outlawed.

Richter added, “That’s a significant concern because you don’t have the weight of the federal government in terms of rules of packaging and marketing” to prevent youth-targeted marketing.

Anti-smoking groups like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids have long criticized the tobacco industry for its marketing, including utilizing cartoon characters. They now oppose flavored nicotine products, including vaping.

However, such groups have not targeted the marijuana sector.

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This month, a study found that marijuana-laced sweets poisoned young children, especially infants.

As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, cases rise.
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37 states allow medical cannabis, while 21 allow recreational usage.


“When you’re talking about strawberry-cheesecake, mango, or cookies-and-cream tastes, it’s very difficult to argue that those are for older adults,” said Dr. Pamela Ling, head of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Cannabis aficionados” would argue that smoking flavored cannabis is like putting ketchup on steak, she said.


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