SB 5298

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As Reported by Senate Committee On:

Labor & Commerce, February 20, 2019

Title: An act relating to labeling of marijuana products.

Brief Description: Regarding labeling of marijuana products.

Sponsors: Senators Rivers, Palumbo and Wellman.

Brief History:

Committee Activity: Labor & Commerce: 1/31/19, 2/20/19 [DPS, w/oRec].

Brief Summary of First Substitute Bill

  • Allows additional information on labels for marijuana products to assist consumers in making purchases of marijuana products identified by the Department of Health for medical use.

  • Provides labels may include a structure or function claim describing the intended role of a product and specifies examples terms that may be used on labels.

  • Prohibits labels from claiming to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, containing false or misleading statements, or being especially appealing to children.

  • Provides the state and its agencies with immunity from civil liability for a licensee's descriptions on the labels.


Majority Report: That Substitute Senate Bill No. 5298 be substituted therefor, and the substitute bill do pass.

Signed by Senators Keiser, Chair; Conway, Vice Chair; Saldaña and Wellman.

Minority Report: That it be referred without recommendation.

Signed by Senators King, Ranking Member; Walsh.

Staff: Richard Rodger (786-7461)

Background: The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) is required to adopt rules determining the nature, form, and capacity of all containers used by licensees to contain marijuana, marijuana concentrates, useable marijuana, and marijuana-infused products, and their labeling requirements.

The LCB's rules must include but are not limited to the following labeling requirements for marijuana products sold at retail:

Through rulemaking the LCB requires additional labeling information like product weight, a statement disclosing all pesticides applied to the marijuana plants and growing medium during production and processing, and all of the following warning statements:

Summary of Bill (First Substitute): The Legislature intends to allow additional information on the labels and labeling of marijuana products to assist consumers in making purchases of these products. The Legislature also recognizes it may be useful for a label or labeling to describe the intended role of a marijuana product.

Labels for marijuana products, identified by the Department of Health for medical use, may include a structure or function claim describing the intended role of a product to maintain the structure or any function of the body. The label may also characterize the documented mechanism by which the product acts to maintain such structure or function. Any claims must be substantiated as truthful and not misleading.

In the context of describing the product's intended role in maintaining the structure or any function of the body, including the documented mechanism by which a product acts to maintain bodily structure or function, the label may include such terms as wellness, well-being, health, maintain, support, assist, promote, and relief.

The product labels may not claim to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Additionally, the labels and labeling may not be false or misleading, or especially appealing to children.

A marijuana product is not in violation of any state law or administrative rule solely because its label contains directions or recommended conditions of use.

There is no civil liability on the part of the state, the liquor and cannabis board, any other state agency, officer, employee, or agent based on a marijuana licensee's description of a structure or function claim or the product's intended role.


Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: No.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect on January 1, 2020.

Staff Summary of Public Testimony on Original Bill: The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. PRO: We have solution to allow our businesses to promote their products to people who need them, within the constraints of our our legal system. This bill mirrors the federal guidelines about what is and is not a disease claim. It is critical for us to be able to work with our consumers and provide better and higher consumer safety and consumer confidence. The current rules prevent us from accurately characterizing our product for the public. Customers that come in to our store looking specifically for products to assist with sleep issues, pain, migraines, or fibromyalgia. Proper labeling will help us identify which products work well for the address the customer's concerns.

CON: The additional labeling can be confusing to the consumer. It dilutes the existing health warnings that are required. There are some definition issues concerning who determines what is and is not truthful.

OTHER: We have concerns with specific language about the relocation of rulemaking authority and see significant potential liability for the LCB. The sellers of these products are not responsible for claims or statements made on the label.

Persons Testifying: PRO: Senator Ann Rivers, Prime Sponsor; Mindon Win, Botanica Seattle; Wendy Hull, Fairwinds; Andy Brassington, Evergreen Herbal; Jim Mullen, The Herbery. CON: Seth Dawson, Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention. OTHER: Jim MacRae, Straight Line Analytics; Chris Thompson, Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: PRO: Vicki Christophersen, WACA.