How to Ensure Your Product Labels Are Compliant

How to Ensure Your Product Labels Are Compliant

Labeling regulations can be a (costly) pain to keep up with, but state guidelines must be followed to a tee.

June 13, 2018
Debby Goldsberry
Edibles Products

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Cannabis Dispensary. To subscribe, click here.

Since adult-use legalization began, California regulators have been on the road performing random, surprise compliance checks at licensed cultivators, manufacturers and dispensaries. One of their top priorities: ensuring all cannabis products’ labels meet the new state regulations.

This puts the state’s regulated cannabis businesses in a quandary. The new (temporary) regulations were issued only weeks before the Jan. 1 implementation date, leaving most companies without adequate time to design, manufacture and receive compliant packaging and labeling materials. This has left compliance up to individual retailers, who, under temporary regulations for the “transition to the legal market,” can place all non-compliant products into one big, compliant exit bag in hopes of satisfying the regulators.

At Magnolia Wellness, the dispensary I manage in Oakland, Calif., each exit bag must have five warning labels. First is the “universal warning symbol,” a triangle with an exclamation point and a marijuana leaf inside. The state mandates the size of this symbol, and eventually it will need to be affixed to each individual product. Next is the testing warning, alerting consumers that the products inside have not been tested according to California’s new legal requirements. No California products have yet, as the state testing regulations have yet to be implemented, and labs are still working on compliant procedures. This requirement will start when the state begins issuing “annual licenses” later this year.

Then there are two “government warnings”—one for edibles and one for other cannabis products. These warnings indicate that cannabis is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, that it should be kept away from children and that it is only legal for medical users and people 21 and older. Each warning states that cannabis may be harmful to pregnant or breastfeeding women, and that users should be cautious when driving and operating machinery after use. The warning for edibles includes a reminder that effects could be delayed for up to two hours.

Finally, California requires the Proposition 65 (also called the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act”) warning, which tells consumers that cannabis contains chemicals that are known to cause cancer, such as beta-myrcene, as well as cadmium, which is associated with birth defects and other reproductive harms. Private lawyers are searching for ways to profit off Prop. 65 by challenging dispensaries’ compliance. Include this warning, or be sued and lose.

 To read the full article in Cannabis Dispensary's April 2018 issue, click here.

Top photo © iStockphoto

Edibles Labeling