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Cannabis FAQs

Weights and measures standards for cannabis products are important for the same reasons they are important for any commercial products. These standards are needed to:

  • Allow states to enforce uniform commerce laws;
  • Promote fair competition, economic growth, and trade;
  • Ensure comparability of measurements between states and internationally; and
  • Help ensure accuracy in package labeling so that consumers know what and how much they are buying.

NIST has no regulatory or policy role in determining the legal status of marijuana or other controlled substances. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also called the 2018 Farm Bill, legalized any cannabis material that has less than 0.3 % total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Cannabis products with less than 0.3 % THC are considered hemp and are legal under Federal law. Products with 0.3 % or more THC are considered marijuana, which is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

NIST has no regulatory or policy role in determining the legal status of marijuana or other controlled substances, nor in determining the sale of products that states regulate. However, NIST has the statutory authority to work with the states to help ensure that their weights and measures standards are technically sound. If states decide to regulate the sale of cannabis products, including marijuana, they may adopt the model regulations developed and approved by the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) as published in the NIST Handbooks. NIST will continue to support the state weights and measures authorities by maintaining all content within the NIST Handbooks.

Yes. NIST has participated in the NCWM process for developing technically sound weights and measures standards for more than one hundred years. As part of this process, we promote uniform standards and regulations by publishing the language adopted by the NCWM voting membership across all product and technical categories.

On August 2, 2023, the NCWM voting members approved definitions, package labeling requirements, and acceptable water activity ranges of the product content for cannabis-related items. In accordance with the standard process, NIST will publish that language in the in the 2024 edition of NIST Handbook 130 Uniform Laws and Regulations in the Areas of Legal Metrology and Fuel Quality.

The NIST handbooks specify weights and measures standards that serve as model laws and regulations that the states can adopt. This process is voluntary. States can choose to adopt these model laws in whole, in part, or not at all. In addition, these model laws and regulations are not decided by NIST. They are developed via a consensus process by the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM), a non-profit association of weights and measures officials, industry representatives, consumer advocates and other stakeholders.

The 2024 edition of NIST Handbook 130 includes three new model laws and regulations that describe: 1) a State Director’s specific authority to regulate these products; 2) the method of sale regulations with descriptions of how products are to be sold via unit and/or bulk and a specified water activity range for unprocessed cannabis; and 3) the packaging and labeling regulations with definitions and labeling requirements for cannabis and cannabis-containing products.

Please refer to the cannabis-related subsections within Section III. Uniform Laws and Section IV. Uniform Regulations for more details. 

Note that NIST does not enforce weights and measures laws. These laws are adopted and enforced by the States.

No. NIST does not sanction or endorse the sale of any products, including those related to cannabis. NIST publishes the language approved by the NCWM voting members to help the states adopt technically sound standards for weights and measures. NIST’s participation in NCWM activities does not constitute an endorsement by NIST of any NCWM proposal, including those related to cannabis.

No. The cannabis-related language in NIST Handbook 130 will not affect marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance, and NIST has no regulatory or policy role in determining that status.

Created December 14, 2023, Updated December 18, 2023