Cannabis Packaging Requirements: California
California has a rich history when it comes to cannabis, and has been at the forefront of the industry for decades. In 1996, the state became the first in the US to legalize medical marijuana, and in 2016, it was one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis. As such, California has been instrumental in shaping the cannabis industry, from cultivation and manufacturing to distribution and sales.
With the legalization of cannabis in California, the state has also implemented strict regulations when it comes to packaging. While these regulations have been criticized by some in the industry for adding to the cost and complexity of doing business, they are an important step in ensuring that cannabis products are safe and responsibly marketed to consumers. As such, California's regulations on cannabis packaging serve as an example for other states as they continue to navigate the legalization of cannabis.
Cannabis Legislation in California
The legalization of medical cannabis in California was a significant milestone in the history of cannabis legalization in the United States. Proposition 215 was a voter initiative that passed in 1996, which allowed for the use of medical cannabis by patients with certain medical conditions. The act provided legal protections for patients and their caregivers who possessed or cultivated cannabis for medical purposes.
Proposition 215 sparked a movement that led to the passage of similar laws in other states, and it paved the way for the legalization of recreational cannabis in California and other states.
Recreational cannabis was legalized in California in November 2016, with the passage of Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This act allowed for the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes by adults aged 21 and over. It also established a framework for regulating and taxing the cannabis industry in California, similar to the regulation of alcohol and tobacco. The legalization of recreational cannabis in California marked a significant milestone in the national movement to end cannabis prohibition, as California is the largest state in the United States to legalize cannabis for adult use.
Cannabis Packaging Controllers
In California, the regulatory agency responsible for controlling cannabis packaging and labeling is the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC). The BCC is responsible for developing and enforcing regulations related to the licensing, operation, and oversight of commercial cannabis businesses in California. These regulations include requirements for the packaging and labeling of cannabis products sold in the state.
The BCC's regulations require that all cannabis products sold in California be packaged and labeled in accordance with specific guidelines. These guidelines include requirements for child-resistant packaging, labeling of THC and CBD content, warning statements about the health risks associated with cannabis use, and other information intended to inform consumers about the product they are purchasing. The BCC also has the authority to enforce these regulations and take enforcement action against businesses that violate them.
The BCC has developed specific guidelines for packaging and labeling of cannabis products sold in the state. Some of the key regulations for cannabis packaging in California include:
- Child-resistant packaging: All cannabis products sold in California must be packaged in child-resistant containers.
- THC and CBD labeling: All cannabis products must be labeled with the THC and CBD content, expressed in milligrams per package or per serving.
- Health warning labels: All cannabis products must display a health warning label that includes specific language about the potential health risks associated with cannabis use, such as impaired coordination and cognitive abilities, and potential harm to pregnant women and youth.
- Product identification: All cannabis products must be labeled with specific identification information, including the name of the product, the name and contact information of the manufacturer, and the date of manufacture and expiration.
- Dosage and usage instructions: Edible cannabis products must be labeled with dosage and usage instructions, including the recommended serving size, the number of servings per package, and any relevant directions for use.
These are just a few of the key regulations for cannabis packaging in California. The BCC also has the authority to enforce these regulations and take enforcement action against businesses that violate them.
In California, the regulations for cannabis labeling are quite strict and are designed to ensure that consumers are well-informed about the products they are purchasing. All cannabis products sold in the state must include certain information on their labels, such as the product's name, the date of manufacture, a list of all ingredients and additives, the product's THC and CBD content, and warnings about the potential health risks associated with cannabis use.
Labels must also include the name and contact information of the licensed cannabis distributor, as well as the product's unique identification number, batch number, and expiration date. Additionally, labels must be clear, legible, and placed in a prominent location on the packaging.
Updates to Regulations
The end of 2022 and beginning of 2023 saw several changes to the packaging and labeling regulations for the cannabis industry in California.
New Proposition 65 Warning Requirements
The state of California has recently updated its Proposition 65 warning requirements for businesses and products that may expose individuals to cannabis smoke or delta-9 THC, with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) leading the initiative. Examples of the new warnings are:
- For Products to be Smoked - WARNING: Smoking cannabis increases your cancer risk and during pregnancy exposes your child to delta-9-THC and other chemicals that can affect your child’s birth weight, behavior, and learning ability
- For Products with Delta-9 THC to be Ingested - WARNING: Consuming this product during pregnancy exposes your child to delta-9-THC, which can affect your child’s behavior and learning ability. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/cannabis.
Note, if the product also contains other chemicals on the Prop 65 list known to cause cancer, this warning will need to be modified.
These new regulations were implemented on October 1, 2022, and there will be a one-year phase-in period for businesses to comply. Additionally, products that were manufactured and labeled with compliant warnings prior to October 1, 2023, are allowed to be sold without limit.
After October 1, 2023, products will need to include the labels to be deemed fully compliant with the requirement for clear and reasonable warnings.
It is now permissible to print the universal symbol in either black or white. Moreover, if there are multiple layers of packaging, the immediate container that houses the product must only display the universal symbol.
Starting from July 1, 2024, it will be illegal for the package and label of a cannabis cartridge or an "integrated cannabis vaporizer," as defined in Business and Professions Code Section 26122, to state that the product is disposable or suggest that it can be thrown away or recycled. This new regulation is part of Assembly Bill 1894, which also mandates recycling statements in advertising and marketing materials for integrated vaporizers and cannabis cartridges starting from the same date.
A California Conclusion
In conclusion, the packaging requirements for cannabis products in California are constantly evolving and being updated to ensure the safety of consumers and to promote responsible marketing practices in the industry. With strict regulations around child-resistant features, warning labels, and recyclability criteria, California continues to lead the way in setting high standards for the cannabis industry.
As a result, businesses operating in this space must stay up-to-date with these packaging requirements to maintain compliance and avoid potential legal and financial consequences. By prioritizing consumer safety and environmental sustainability, the cannabis industry in California can continue to flourish and make positive contributions to society.
If you’re a cannabis operator currently looking for packaging solutions, reach out to the team at S10 Labs. They will walk you through the packaging process and make sure your brand is always state specific compliant.