What Are the Cannabis Labeling Requirements in California?

The cannabis industry is expanding at an exponential rate, making opening your own dispensary very enticing. However, the cannabis market in California is heavily regulated. Everything from the dispensary’s security system to product labels has very specific requirements.

Cannabis labeling requirements in California can come with a heavy price if not followed exactly. Therefore, your cannabis dispensary needs to maintain product label compliance to avoid consequences. The penalties for noncompliance can include:

  • An expensive lawsuit.
  • Heavy fines.
  • Your business license being revoked.
  • Federal Prosecution.

Due to the severity of the penalties associated with label non-compliance, it is wise to seek out a premier cannabis compliance consulting team.

‌Non-Manufactured Cannabis Products

A non-manufactured cannabis product only contains cannabis plant matter, and the most common type is cannabis flower. Additional examples include:

  • Pre-rolled joints that only contain cannabis plant material.
  • Plants for growing.
  • Packaged cannabis seeds.

‌Label Requirements for Non-Manufactured Cannabis Products

The label for non-manufactured cannabis products must have two panels — a primary panel and an information panel. Each panel has very specific requirements that must be met to maintain compliance.

The Primary Panel

This panel must include the following information:

  • The name and description of the product.
  • The universal symbol for California measuring at least 0.5” x 0.5”.
  • Include the net weight in U.S. customary units and metric units.

‌The Information Panel

This panel has many more requirements that can easily be overlooked. Make sure the information panel includes all of the following:

  • The tracking number or UID number issued by California’s Track-and-Trace system.
  • The name on the license certificate and the phone number or website of the licensee.
  • The month, day, and year the finished product was packaged and ready for retail sale.
  • A government warning label in bold all capital letters. Click here to see the exact wording that is required to be included in the warning.

‌Manufactured Cannabis Products

‌The labeling requirements for manufactured cannabis products are more extensive because they contain more ingredients than non-manufactured products. Examples of manufactured cannabis products are:

  • Cannabis concentrates: These include vape cartridges, oils, dabs, pills, and tablets.
  • Cannabis edibles: Any food, mint, beverage, or beverage additive product containing THC.
  • Cannabis topicals: All THC containing moisturizers, creams, balms, patches, and cosmetics.

‌Label Requirements for Manufactured Cannabis Products

Manufactured cannabis products have the same two labels as non-manufactured products — primary and information panels. However, many manufactured cannabis products require additional information on their labels.

The Primary Panel

The primary panel for manufactured cannabis products is almost identical to the non-manufactured cannabis products, with one exception. If the product is an edible — food or beverage — then the primary label must include the wording “cannabis-infused.”

The Information Panel

‌The information panel is where things get much more complicated. In addition to the four requirements listed for non-manufactured cannabis products, manufactured product labels must also include:

  • The lot code or batch number assigned to a batch of products to track inventory.
  • An expiration date on perishable products.
  • Ingredients listed in order by weight.
  • A list of major food allergens the item could contain.
  • Nutritional information for edibles.
  • Recycling information on all beverage containers.
  • Instructions for how to use and/or prepare the product.
  • A disclaimer on all perishable products — “KEEP REFRIGERATED.”
  • A medical use disclaimer on all products containing THC levels higher than the legal recreational limit — “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY.”

‌What Cannot Be On a Label

With the amount of information that is required to be on the label, it may be hard to believe there would be room for more. However, some marketing techniques could lead to a hefty fine. To maintain compliance, make sure these items are not on your label.

  • Names of California counties unless 100% of the product is from the county listed.
  • Images or words that could be attractive to children. Examples include the use of cartoons or words such as “candy.” Cannabis products can be very dangerous for children. You can be held liable if a child mistakes your product for candy.
  • Misleading or false information that gives the consumer an inaccurate impression.
  • Health claims: The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) heavily regulate health claims. Your business could be federally prosecuted if your label made inaccurate or unproven health claims.

‌Cannabis Waste Labeling Requirements

‌Consumer labels aren’t the only labeling requirements you need to stay in compliance with. Cannabis product waste also has precise labeling requirements and must be separated into labeled drums.

‌There are three kinds of cannabis waste — plant material, universal waste, and hazardous waste. Plant material doesn’t have any requirements except it needs to be separated from other waste.

‌Once all the waste has been separated into their appropriate drums, each drum label must include:

  • An accumulation date.
  • Contact information on some generators.
  • For Hazardous Waste drums: Specifics about their waste stream.

Click here for more information about waste labeling requirements. M Consulting Experts can also advise on any cannabis waste management questions you have.

‌Additional Cannabis Labeling Requirements

‌California maintains a list of chemicals that are also reproductive toxins. This list is known as Prop 65.

C‌annabis has been recognized as a carcinogen since 2009. However, it wasn’t until January of 2020, cannabis smoke and THC were added to the Prop 65 list. As a result, all smokable cannabis products and THC-containing products must come with a warning label that indicates the product could cause cancer and/or reproductive problems. This label can be anywhere on the outside of the packaging.

‌Additional resources about labeling your cannabis products can be found on the California Department of Public Health’s website, including a cannabis labeling checklist.

How M Consulting Experts Can Help You

M Consulting Experts can help you navigate the labeling requirements for all of your cannabis products. In addition to advising on proper labeling, our experienced associates can offer marijuana consulting on every aspect of your cannabis business.

Contact us today to get a quote. Together, we can get your business compliant and operational promptly.

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Please fill out the applicable Consulting Services form on the Contact Page of our website and one of our Team members will reach out to you as soon as possible.

Our Team is excited to hear from you! Please fill out the applicable Consulting Services form on the Contact Page and one of our Team members will reach out to you as soon as possible.
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