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Staying Compliant with California’s Cannabis Product Packaging Regulations

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Whenever states legalize cannabis—whether for recreational or medical use—the market is always governed by a significant amount of laws.  Some of these laws are common sense, while others seem arbitrary.  If you are operating in California, you need to abide by packaging laws that are a little bit of both.  To help you understand what you need to do to stay legal, keep the following in mind.

 

Make Certain Products Are in Child-Resistant Packaging

When it comes to debate on legalization, one of the main points raised against it is that it will lead to children using marijuana.  While studies of legal markets have shown a decrease in underage use after legalization, the concern still is and likely always will be present.  In an effort to address these concerns, California mandates that all cannabis products are in child-resistant packaging.

And keep in mind that simply claiming packaging is child-resistant is not enough; it must be certified as child resistant.  If it is not, it is not in compliance.  Also, if the product has multiple servings, it must be in packaging that can be resealed after opening.

 

Mylar Exit Bags Are a Child Resistant Safety Net

While the child-resistant packaging mandate seems pretty common sense, you may not have the right containers in stock.  Rather than waiting until you are able to get the right containers, you can use Mylar exit bags.  As long as the products are inside of the bag and sealed before the customer exits the store, you are in compliance with the law—assuming the bags you use are certified as child-resistant.

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Steer Clear of Anything That Could Be Seen as Targeting Children

As you are no doubt noticed, a lot of the packaging laws are meant to protect children.  With this one, the idea is to avoid packaging (and products, like gummy edibles) that some might interpret as targeting children.  This means no cartoons on the packaging, as you might imagine, but it also encompasses things like certain fonts and phrases that are seen as appealing to children.

 

Stick with Tamper-Evident Packaging

Once upon a time, tamper-evident packaging didn’t exist.  However, after some high-profile tampering cases in the early 1980s, it became standard for medications, foods, and more.  So it comes as no surprise that the State of California wants legal cannabis products sold in tamper-evident packaging.  Some options you can use are shrink bands and mylar bags that are heat sealed.

 

Every Product Must Have Two Labels

These are called the “primary panel” and the “information panel,” and they must be affixed to the packaging of any cannabis product sold in the state.  Here is what each panel must contain.

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Primary Panel:

  • Product name or ID in text sized relative to the most prominent text on the packaging
  • The specific phrase “cannabis-infused” in bold lettering larger than the product name or ID and placed above the product name or ID
  • The THC symbol adopted by the State of California—more about this in a bit
  • The net weight and/or volume of the product
  • The THC and CBD content in the product, expressed in milligrams per package
  • The THC and CBD content per serving, expressed in milligrams per serving

The font for this panel must be size 6 or greater while remaining in balance with the size of the panel and the container as a whole.

Information Panel:

  • The name and contact information for the licensed manufacturer who produced the product
  • The date of creation and packaging
  • The following warning in bold print:
    • GOVERNMENT WARNING: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS CANNABIS, A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS. CANNABIS PRODUCTS MAY ONLY BE POSSESSED OR CONSUMED BY PERSONS 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER UNLESS THE PERSON IS A QUALIFIED PATIENT. THE INTOXICATING EFFECTS OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS MAY BE DELAYED UP TO TWO HOURS. CANNABIS USE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARMFUL. CONSUMPTION OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE AND OPERATE MACHINERY. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION.

 

Differentiate Between Medical and Recreational Use Products

If you are selling products for medical use, they must include the statement “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY” on their packaging.  In addition to the items listed above, the information panel must also include the following:

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  • A full list of all product ingredients in descending order as constituted by weight or volume
  • Instructions on using the product such as dosage and preparation
  • A use-by or best-by date
  • The product’s unique identifier and, when available, batch number

 

Edibles Also Require Special Items on the Information Panel

  • A full list of all ingredients, measured by weight or volume and sorted from greatest to least
  • Should the product contain a common food allergen, the word “CONATINS” in bold font and then a list of the allergens the product contains
  • The names of all artificial food colorings used
  • The sodium, sugar, carbohydrate, and total fat per serving with measurements in grams

In terms of packaging, all edibles must be sold in opaque packaging.

 

California’s Required THC Label

This label must be displayed on all cannabis product packaging in California.  The requirements for this label are as follows:

  • The color and shape must exactly replicate the design authorized by the state; if packaging is dark, a contrasting color can be used
  • The minimum size for the label is 0.5 inch by 0.5 inch
  • It must be clearly printed
  • It must be prominently featured

 

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What You Cannot Add to Your Packaging

The following items are banned from being added to cannabis product packaging in California:

  • Unverifiable claims that the ingredients in a product or the product itself was grown in a specific California county
  • Any information that might be construed as false or misleading, especially those related to health and wellness

While there are many laws you must follow, they are pretty easy to abide by and should not have a significant impact on your bottom line.

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