Websites all over the internet offer information about the many strains and variations of marijuana and marijuana products -- both legal and illicit. Now the Cannabis Control Commission is launching its own online catalog of the myriad marijuana products available to adults and patients at the state's pot shops and dispensaries.
The first-in-the-nation regulators' catalog won't exactly compete with Leafly and Weedmaps -- don't expect genetic information or flavor profiles. The idea is to compile basic information and photos in one place so that regulators, consumers, parents and law enforcement can get a better sense of the type of products that are part of the still-young legal cannabis world, and so they can better discern between legal products and illicit ones.
Once the catalog embedded on the CCC's newly redesigned website is fully operational, users will be able to search by product name, keyword, product category and other identifiers to verify the ingredients, packaging and labels, potency, retail locations, and more about state-sanctioned cannabis buds, vape products, edibles, pre-rolls and topicals. It launched Monday with a more limited set of capabilities.
"When using the Product Catalog, any visitor, such as a parent, school nurse, or public safety official, will be able to quickly distinguish whether a marijuana product is available in our legal marketplace or not," CCC Executive Director Shawn Collins said. "Licensees are strictly prohibited from producing marijuana products or packaging that appeals to children, including anything that would resemble a popular candy brand. I am confident this tool will support our ongoing efforts to expand public awareness in Massachusetts while promoting public health and safety."
The CCC's regulations prohibit edibles that are in the "distinct shape of a human, animal, fruit, or sporting-equipment item; or ... A shape that bears the likeness or contains characteristics of a realistic or fictional human, animal, fruit, or sporting-equipment item including artistic, caricature, or cartoon renderings" in an attempt to block products that might appeal to children.
Between being approved for a provisional license and being allowed to begin operations, the CCC requires product manufacturers to submit a bevy of information about the marijuana products they plan to produce and make available at wholesale. That submission must include product type and brand name, a list of direct and indirect ingredients, product serving size, potency, and photos of the product inside its packaging and outside of and next to its packaging.
Already, the CCC said, more than 122,000 regulated marijuana products have been cataloged. The online listing will be updated each hour as product manufacturers and retailers add products to the METRC seed-to-sale tracking system.
Collins has said the catalog would have come in handy in the fall of 2019, when the CCC banned the sale of vaping products amid a national outbreak of vaping-related lung disease.
He said the CCC "did not have the ability to search any database whatsoever of all ingredients that were included and specifically we didn't have the ability to search for Vitamin E acetate," which federal public health officials identified as a possible culprit in the illnesses.
The idea for a database of the many marijuana edibles and marijuana-infused products approved for sale in Massachusetts came about in 2018 after members of the CCC balked at a licensee's request to manufacture marijuana-infused cake pops.
In November 2018, commissioners heard a proposal from an Attleboro-based outfit to make a series of marijuana-infused products and edibles, including cookies, lemon squares and, specific to the CCC's concerns, cake pops, a sort of cake-based lollipop.
"I can say that, literally, the only people I've ever seen with a cake pop in my life are my 8-year-old and my 5-year-old," Britte McBride, then a member of the CCC, said at the time.