Doctors for Cannabis Regulation Urged New York to Adopt the International Intoxicating Cannabinoid Product Symbol

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In response to a call for comment on the proposed New York Office of Cannabis Management symbol, the Doctors for Cannabis Regulation submitted a letter outlining the design flaws of the proposed symbol and recommended adopting the International Intoxicating Cannabinoid Product Symbol instead.

In a recent press release (1), Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) published their letter sent to the New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). “The DFCR is the global voice for physicians and other health professionals to advance the legalization and science-based regulation of cannabis,” explained the introduction. In the letter, the DFCR explained why New York should adopt the International Intoxicating Cannabinoid Product Symbol (IICPS) on all cannabis products sold in the state. In addition, 22 other cannabis organizations signed their support and three states—Montana, Vermont, and New Jersey—have already adopted the IICPS.


“The IICPS was developed through a collaboration between DFCR and ASTM International, meeting a list of requirements including being able to simply communicate a public health message of ‘Caution with Cannabis,’ using the simplest possible design to fit within an allotted space and incorporating a symbol that transcends age, language, culture, literacy, and knowledge of cannabis and the Latin alphabet,” said the DFCR in the letter (1).

The DFCR listed the following as the main flaws of the symbol proposed by the OCM (1):

  • It's overly complex, which dilutes the fundamental public safety function of the cannabis product symbol, which is to allow all people—regardless of age, culture, education, or literacy—to identify a cannabis product with a quick glance.
  • Those behind the symbol would require that all cannabis packages be printed in four colors (black, white, red, and yellow), which would be a burden on small businesses already facing barriers to entry into the cannabis space due to the major expenses required to start a legal business.
  • The current symbol would most likely need to be updated in the next few years because the term "THC" which is included on the symbol, assumes that the intoxicating effects of cannabis are solely based upon THC content. While currently unregulated, there are products containing other cannabinoids that are also intoxicating. Such products will likely merit labeling with the cannabis product symbol in the future, even if those products do not contain THC.

More on the IICPS can be found in an article published in Cannabis Science and Technology. Last year, founder and past president of DFCR Dr. David Nathan along with product designer Eli Nathan, contributed an in-depth explanation of the formulation and implementation of the IICPS. “We present the IICPS to regulators with a simple message: This is not just the right choice as a universal symbol for cannabis products—it’s also the safe choice,” concluded the co-designers of the IICPS (2).