Too Transparent? Simplifying Arizona’s Approach to Cannabis Labeling with Flourish

In late 2023, Arizona took a step that some might categorize as excessive, implementing one of the most interesting cannabis labeling requirements in the nation. As of December 31, 2023, any licensed cannabis product packaged for sale in Arizona must now include a consumer-scannable Quick Response (QR) code.

This QR code must link to a webpage detailing comprehensive information about the product, including its:

  • Date of harvest
  • THC strain
  • Extraction method
  • Manufacture date
  • Lab report on at least heavy metals and agrochemicals
  • The distribution chain, including at least a Point of Sale
  • A state pregnancy-related health warning

And of course, the rules didn’t provide any guidance on how actually to accomplish this. More on that at the end. 

Rationalizing for Rigorous Labeling Requirements

Reflecting on the new Arizona cannabis labeling regulation, we should consider a parallel in the food industry and the consequences of neglecting safety standards. In 2015, Peanut Corporation of America executives, including its CEO, knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted peanut butter, leading to over 700 illnesses and nine deaths.

The CEO’s 28-year sentence, the harshest ever for a foodborne illness outbreak, highlights the critical importance of stringent safety measures. This underlines why rigorous transparency and testing requirements are important for consumer safety and trust.

A Push for Product Transparency

Arizona isn’t the only state pushing for additional cannabis test result transparency; states like Florida and Maryland have also advocated for making Certificate of Analysis (COA) data available to customers, though not to the extent seen in Arizona. While I recognize the push toward transparency and the need for safety, I find myself asking a polarizing yet crucial question: Is such a high level of detail necessary in cannabis? Especially when similar standards are not required for the food industry, an industry with a long-stemming history of health-related incidents.

A Case for Clarity or Confusion

One might argue that providing extensive product data empowers consumers, offering them an unprecedented level of insight into their purchases. It certainly can be a strong marketing tool, however, like a CVS receipt, too much information becomes overwhelming. 

For many cannabis consumers, old and new, the nuances of THC strains, extraction methods, and lab reports on impurities are complex and difficult to understand. Does it really matter how the cannabis was extracted as long as the product was tested? Importantly, does the average consumer understand what the limits of detection are or if a result is statistically significant given the methods, testing practices, and equipment? Or does it serve to confuse more than clarify?

Flourish’s Solution for Labeling Simplification

No matter my opinion, rules are rules. Faced with Arizona’s stringent requirements, Flourish has stepped up to offer an agile QR solution and hosted COA portal for its cannabis operators to simplify compliance. Our software allows our customers to upload a COA pdf easily and automatically pulls in product data points required to meet Arizona and other state requirements. 

At print time, we generate the packaging QR codes that link to each product’s information on a hosted landing page for customers to read. Our thermal labeling cannabis software allows consumers to access COA product information through a simple scan. Beyond just meeting legal mandates, this approach leverages technology to bridge the gap between regulatory demands and consumer needs and allow brands to differentiate by highlighting novel cannabinoids and other information.

Flourish Generated QR COA Code for

True Harvest, AZ Cannabis Operator

Though biased, we’ve built arguably the best label-maker software for cannabis operators in the industry. From the largest list of standardized cannabinoids and terpenes to the other 100+ data points we capture, we’re keeping up as states continue to make labels more complex.

The Need for Standardization and Common Sense for Cannabis Labeling

As the United States navigates the nuances of cannabis regulation and consumer engagement, it’s essential to balance the benefits of transparency with the practicality of information overload. While Arizona’s approach may seem stringent, it opens up a conversation about the role of technology in regulatory compliance and consumer expectations. 

As regulations evolve, adapting quickly and efficiently will be paramount. Flourish’s innovative response to Arizona’s regulations showcases how technology can be a powerful ally in adapting to and exceeding these new standards. As an industry, we need to have frank, science-driven discussions with regulators and lawmakers to align on common-sense solutions on this topic. 

Flourish’s proactive approach in Arizona, through offering a cannabis label turnkey solution that includes QR code generation, webpage hosting, and customizable landing pages, Flourish provides a seamless experience for both operators and consumers. This not only helps Arizona cannabis businesses adapt to new regulations quickly but also positions them as trustworthy and customer-focused.