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Legalization Status

Marijuana (2)

Decriminalized since 1975

Medical Marijuana (1)

Medical since 1996

Coffee Shop (1)

Recreational since 2018

California Governing Body Information

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2018 Marijuana Packaging Laws Update

The golden state has some of the most progressive laws on cannabis. As such, California’s laws on cannabis labeling and packaging are some of the most comprehensive laws in comparison to other states that have longstanding laws on cannabis.

Labeling and Packaging Facts

  • The common name is cannabis in the state of California
  • A label must include THC concentration amounts
  • A label requires the Universal Symbol (approved by state of California) to be placed on all marijuana packaging
  • Packaging must be able to be resealed if user intends to use it more than once
  • Packages containing edibles must be opaque
  • All cannabis packaging must be child resistant
  • Child-resistant packaging can be met one of two ways: (i) through packaging each cannabis item individually or (ii) through exit packaging if selling the item at a retail location
  • Packaging must not use words like “organic” or “healthy”
  • Labeling must not be attractive to minors
  • California has two labeling requirements which fit into two distinct categories: (i) primary panel: the part of the label that is most prominent to the customer (usually the part of the label that describes what the product is) and (ii) informational panel- the part of the label that does not form the primary panel of the label (usually the contents of the packaging and the ingredients- if applicable)
  • For bottles containing marijuana or cannabis-based items, serving sizes may be labelled on a clear vertical strip that is less than 0.25” wide
  • Products must be protected from contamination and exposure to toxic or harmful substances
  • Information that is required on a label must be written in English
  • Label should be unobstructed and conspicuous so that it is easy to read

Primary Panel for Manufactured Products must contain:

  • Information contained in size 6 font or higher
  • The identity of the product in a text size (comparable to the most prominently printed text/images on the primary panel)
  • Universal Symbol as required by Section 40412 California Code of Regulation
  • The net weight or volume of the contents of the packages (listed in both metric and U.S. customary units)

Informational Panel for Manufactured Products must contain:

  • Information contained in size 6 font or higher in relation to size of the primary panel and container
  • The name of the licensed manufacturer (either legal or registered name of business contained on license certificate)
  • The date of the cannabis product’s manufacture and packaging
  • The following statement 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.”
  • The statement that the product is “for medical use only” if cannabis product is intended by manufacturer only for sale to medicinal-use customers.
  • A list of all product ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight or volume
  • If the cannabis product contains an ingredient, flavoring, coloring, or an incidental additive that contains a major food allergen, the word “contains” followed by a list of the applicable major food allergens
  • The names of all artificial colorings contained in the product
  • Instructions for use, such as the method of consumption or application, and any preparation necessary prior to use
  • The product expiration date, “use by” date, “best by” date (if any)
  • The UID and the bath or lot number
  • If the cannabis product is perishable or is perishable after opening, the statement “keep refrigerated” or “refrigerate after opening”
  • *** Except UID and batch lot number, all information contained in the information panel may be fulfilled with supplemental labeling (ie: package insert, fold-out or booklet label, hanging tag, etc).

Misleading Statements

Packaging must accurately state contents of the product

Ingredients List

Cannabis label must contain an ingredient list. Ingredients are defined as any substance that was used in manufacturing the product and that was intended by the manufacturer to be present in the product’s final form

Allergen Contact

Label must contain information on allergen cross-contact during manufacturing process

What is child-resistant packaging? (also known as “CRP”)

  • CRP packaging must be certified in accordance with a federal statute known as the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA, 16 CFR 1700.1)
  • For bottles, the lid must be a “pry-off” metal crown bottle cap (similar to older generation coca cola bottles or glass beer bottle caps)
  • Plastic Packaging must be at least 4 mils. thick and sealed with heat. Packaging must not contain easy-open tabs, dimples, corners or flaps.

There are two types of CRP:

  • Single-use CRP. Single-use CRP is also known as initial CRP. Initial CRP means that your product can be used multiple times, but once it is opened, the item packaging is ripped, torn, or easy to open (and it is intended to be used multiple times). On its first use, the package is child-resistant, but on subsequent usage, it is no longer considered child-resistant. If your item can be used multiple times, the packages label must state “this package is not child-resistant after opening
  • Lifetime CRP. Multiple-use CRP means that your package is child-resistant upon opening it for the first time and it remains child-resistant throughout its use. No matter how many times it is opened, it always remains child resistant.

Banned Marijuana Product Forms

  • Marijuana product packaging cannot imitate packaging used for non-cannabis food products

Marketing to Children

Marketing or labeling that is marketed or geared towards children is prohibited

Tamper Evident

The package must contain a seal or something that shows that the package has not been opened prior to purchase

Edible Cannabis Products

  • Edible cannabis products that have more than a single serving must indicate as such on the packaging
  • For liquid items, quantity of cannabis should be identifiable or easily measurable
  • Each serving of a product must contain the same concentration of THC
  • Edible cannabis products have the same requirements as manufactured cannabis products, in addition to the following requirements:
    • Label must contain the words “cannabis-infused” immediately above the identity of the product in bold type font and font that is text size larger than the text size used to identify the product
    • The amount (in grams or milligrams) of sodium, sugar, carbohydrates, and total fat per serving

Topical Cannabis Products

  • Except for cannabis, cannabis concentrate or terpenes, topical cannabis products must only contain ingredients that are allowed for cosmetic manufacturing. Ingredients must comply with Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 700, subpart B (section 700.11 et seq). (Rev. March 2016)

Cannabis Products containing Alcohol

For cannabis products created for consumption (which contain more than 0.5% alcohol by volume as an ingredient), the product must be packaged in a container that is no larger than 2 fluid ounces and must include a calibrated dropper (similar to an eye dropper) that is capable of accurately measuring servings.

Cannabis Products in Liquid Form

  • Must indicate what a single serving is

Medical Marijuana

  • Must be labelled “for medical use only”
  • Packaging with Multiple Layers

If a product is placed in another container, box, sleeve, envelope or pouch (ie: its outer-most packaging), the outer packaging must contain: a universal symbol for inhaled products, an informational panel, and primary panel

Pre-Rolls and Packaged Marijuana Flowers

Pre-rolls and packaged marijuana flowers must include a primary panel with the following information in a size type font that is larger than size 6 point font, and must also contain:

  • The identity of the product
  • The net weight of the cannabis in the package (listed in metric units AND U.S. customary units)
  • Universal symbol
  • Informational label with information written in font size greater than size 6.
  • The UID
  • The licensed cultivator or licensee packaging the product (this information is either the legal corporate name or registered name by which the business will operate- that is listed on the license certificate) and its contact number or website address
  • The date of packaging for retail sale
  • The following statement written in bold font: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS CANNABIS, A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS. CANNABIS MAY ONLY BE POSSESSED OR CONSUMED BY PERSONS 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER UNLESS THE PERSON IS A QUALIFIED PATIENT. CANNABIS USE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARMFUL. CONSUMPTION OF CANNABIS IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE AND OPERATE MACHINERY. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION.”
  • Cannabinoid content must be stated

Restrictions on Labeling:

  • Label cannot contain the name of a California county, unless 100% of the cannabis contained in the product was grown in that county
  • Content contain likeness to characters, images or persons that are used to advertise to children
  • No cartoons
  • No imitation to candy packaging or labeling
  • No use of the term “candy” or “candies” or variant of the spelling of candy such as “kandy” or “kandeez”
  • Packaging must not make health claims that are unsubstantiated (unless supported by publicly available scientific evidence including evidence from well-designed studies conducted in a manner that is consistent with generally recognized principles of science) for which there is wide agreement in the scientific community among experts – note that this is a very difficult burden to meet.
  • No pictures of the actual product if it is edible

Universal Symbol

The Universal symbol shall be placed on all labels. The symbol must be black in color.

The symbol shall be no smaller in size than 0.5 inches by 0.5 inches and should be printed legibly and conspicuously. The symbol should not be cropped or altered in any way. It should be placed on the primary panel of the packaging.

2018 Marijuana Packaging Laws Update

The Golden State has long been a forerunner in cannabis legalization, trying as early as the 1970s to decriminalize marijuana. In 1975, they succeeded in partially decriminalizing cannabis by making possession of under an ounce a civil offense instead of criminal, subject to a small fine. Later acts and propositions voted in by Californians and signed into law by governors further softened the punishments for possession of cannabis, including requiring drug treatment for multiple possession offenses.

Again, California was a leader in cannabis legalization in 1996 by being the very first state to allow patients with certain state-approved illnesses to possess and privately use marijuana to relieve symptoms that cannabis had been proven to help. Proposition 215 legalized medical cannabis, but it didn’t lay out a sufficient plan for a full medical cannabis program. Over the next few years, more laws were enacted until the creation of California’s Medical Marijuana Program. Since the Golden State was a leader in medical cannabis, many states have used their program as a template for their own.

During the 2016 national elections, California voted, along with other states, to allow adults to possess, purchase, and privately smoke small amounts of cannabis. Unlicensed sale, cultivation, transportation, and possession of live plants are still illegal. Because it is such a large state, California has three different government agencies responsible for sale and production of cannabis.

2017 Marijuana Packaging Laws Update

California has long been a leader in medical marijuana laws, and their packaging laws are no exception. They’ve gone through several versions of medical cannabis and finally settled on laws that allow medical marijuana products to be sold both recreationally and for medical reasons. The Golden State doesn’t have too strict laws when it comes to packaging, as they only require that cannabis packaging be “tamper evident.” They don’t specify locks or childproofing, so this is good news for CA cannabis businesses. Tamper evident packaging is easy to get as well with either heat sealed mylar bags or pop top bottles with shrink plastic bands.

While their actual package laws aren’t so detailed, California requires a lot of specific labeling on medical cannabis products. Not only do companies need to be very careful not to make labeling or packaging attractive to children, but they have to clearly state that there’s a controlled substance inside. Labels also must have text that’s similar to that on prescription medications that warn the consumer about the effects. Medical cannabis labels must also list the amount of not just THC but other cannabinoids in milligrams, including the amounts in a serving size and the whole package.

For specific wording, keep reading. This excerpt was taken from California’s Assembly Bill 266:

(a) Prior to delivery or sale at a dispensary, medical cannabis products shall be labeled and in a tamper-evident package. Labels and packages of medical cannabis products shall meet the following requirements:

(1) Medical cannabis packages and labels shall not be made to be attractive to children.

(2) All medical cannabis product labels shall include the following information, prominently displayed and in a clear and legible font:

(A) Manufacture date and source.

(B) The statement “SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE.”

(C) The statement “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS” in bold print.

(D) The statement “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY.”

(E) The statement “THE INTOXICATING EFFECTS OF THIS PRODUCT MAY BE DELAYED BY UP TO TWO HOURS.”

(F) The statement “THIS PRODUCT MAY IMPAIR THE ABILITY TO DRIVE OR OPERATE MACHINERY. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION.”

(G) For packages containing only dried flower, the net weight of medical cannabis in the package.

(H) A warning if nuts or other known allergens are used.

(I) List of pharmacologically active ingredients, including, but not limited to, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoid content, the THC and other cannabinoid amounts in milligrams per serving, servings per package, and the THC and other cannabinoid amounts in milligrams for the package total.

(J) Clear indication, in bold type, that the product contains medical cannabis.

(K) Identification of the source and date of cultivation and manufacture.

(L) Any other requirement set by the bureau.

(M) Information associated with the unique identifier issued by the Department of Food and Agriculture pursuant to Section 11362.777 of the Health and Safety Code.

(b) Only generic food names may be used to describe edible medical cannabis products.

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