August 30, 2021

Hemp Cannabis Packaging

Gone are the days of edibles labeled “Kap’n Kronik” and “Weedos,” or being able to purchase a single slice of cannabis infused cheesecake served in a deli container. 

With the goal to both protect the public at large and the individual consumer, all licensed cannabis products in the state of California must adhere to robust, but uncomplicated, packaging and labeling requirements. These regulations, formerly promulgated and enforced by the California Department of Public Health are now under the purview of the Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCC). A refresher of both packaging and labeling requirements are discussed below. 

I. Packaging Requirements. 

First and foremost, all cannabis goods are required to be in packaging that is:

  • Child-resistant – difficult for those under 5 years of age to open,
  • Tamper-evident – visible if package has been opened,
  • Resealable – if more than one serving, and
  • Opaque – if an edible cannabis product.

It is essential that manufactured products are protected from contamination and exposure to any harmful substances. Thus, all manufactured products must be packaged as a finished product prior to any transfer of the product to a distributor. Additionally, packaging cannot be appealing to children or imitate non-cannabis food products. 

So, sadly, no more Weedos. 

A. Child Resistant Packaging is Required for All Individual Cannabis Products. 

Every individual cannabis product must be packaged in child resistant packaging. “Child resistant” is defined as those “certified as child-resistant, in accordance with the federal Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA, 16 CFR §1700.1), a bottle sealed with a pry-off metal crown bottle cap, or plastic packaging with at least 4 mils. thick and heat-sealed without an easy open tab, dimple, corner or flap.”

B. Single or Lifetime Child Resistant Packaging? Depends on the Product.

Any orally consumed concentrate, suppository or edible product must be packaged in packaging that can be opened and closed, while maintaining its child resistance. All single-serving cannabis products, inhaled concentrates, topicals, and flower or flower-only pre-rolls need not be. However, these single-use products must clearly indicate on the label that “This package is not child-resistant after opening.” 

II. Labeling Requirements: Manufactured Products & Flower or Flower-Only Prerolls. 

Labels have two parts: Primary panel – the portion of the label most likely to be displayed to the consumer at retail and the Informational panel – any other part of the label.

There are distinct labeling requirements for manufactured cannabis products and for flower and flower-only prerolls. We will initially address the primary label and then the informational labeling requirements for manufactured cannabis products, then turning to those for flower and flower-only prerolls.

A. Primary Panel – Place on the Top or Front of Package. 

The primary panel is displayed to consumers at retail. This label is typically found on the front or top of the package. The following is required of the primary panel for Manufactured Products and Flower or Flower-only prerolls:

  • Product Identity – generic name identifying the product. 
  • Universal Symbol – the California symbol that identifies items as containing cannabis. This must be in black and at least 0.5” x 0.5”. 
  • Net Weight or Volume – the contents of the package must be listed in both metric and U.S. customary units.
  • “Cannabis Infused” – this description must be listed on edible products Only

B. Manufactured Cannabis Product Informational Panel – Any Part of Label That is Not the Primary Label. 

Excluding the batch or lot number which must be featured on the package (but not the primary label), all items below may be included on a supplemental informational label. 

  • Allergens – if applicable, the word “Contains,” followed by a list of any major food allergen in the product. The major food allergens are milk, egg, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish or crustacean shellfish. Use the specific food name when disclosing allergens (i.e. “almonds” instead of “tree nuts”).
  • Artificial Food Colorings – if applicable. 
  • Batch or Lot Number – this MUST be included on the informational label, not on a supplemental label. 
  • Date of Manufacture/Packaging – include month, date and year of manufacture. 
  • Expiration, Use-by or Best-by date – if applicable.
  • “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY” – if THC concentration exceeds the amount available for sale in the recreational market. 
  • Government Warning Statement for Cannabis Products – capital letters and bold font. 
  • Ingredients, list of all contained within – in descending order by weight or volume, include any sub-ingredients. 
  • Instructions for Use and Any Preparation Needed (for consumption)
  • Manufacturer Name and Contact Information 
  • Sodium, Sugar, Carbohydrates, and Total Fat Per Serving in Milligrams or Grams – This must be disclosed on edible products only.
  • UID Number – the unique tracking number issued through the Track-and-Trace system.

Beverage manufacturers must also label qualifying containers with the CRV recycling information. Additionally, if applicable, Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide a “clear and reasonable warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to chemicals that are known to the state to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” (For more information on Prop 65, see 

C. Flower and Flower-Only Prerolls Informational Panel – Any Part of Label That is Not the Primary Label. 

The following items need to be included on any part of the label that is not part of the primary label. 

  • Date of Packaging for Retail Sale – include month, date and year.
  • Licensee Name and Phone Number or Website – the licensee name can be either (1) the name of the licensed cultivator or (2) licensee packaging the product and must be a name listed on the license certificate (either the legal business name or the registered DBA). 
  • Government Warning Statement – capital letters and bold font. 
  • UID Number 

D. Label Prohibitions For All Cannabis Products. (Per DCC regulations § 17408).

  • The name of a California county, unless 100% of the cannabis was grown there. (Read more information on the California Appellations Program, here).
  • Designs attractive to children, including, but not limited to,
    • Cartoons,
    • Images popularly used to advertise to children,
    • Imitations of candy labeling,
    • The words “candy,” “candies” or anything similar.
  • Unproven health claims
  • The words “organic” or “OCal” unless you are registered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture or California Department of Public Health.
  • Marketing the cannabis good as an alcoholic beverage.

E. Label Placement and Appearance – If Multiple Layers, Minimum of the Universal Symbol on Inner Container. 

If the product has multiple layers of packaging, the following basic labeling must also be included on the inner container that holds the cannabis product:

  • Inhaled cannabis products (vape cartridges, shatter, wax, etc.) –  the universal symbol
  • Non-inhaled cannabis products (edibles, tinctures, topicals, etc.) – the product identity, universal symbol and net weight or volume. Edibles must also include the words “Cannabis-Infused.” 

Labels should always be legibly displayed on the outer layer of the packaging. Additionally, labels should be printed in the English language and at least 6 point font. Any additional information may be included so long as it is both truthful and not misleading to the consumer.  

F. Cannabinoid Content: May be Placed on Either the Primary or Informational Panel. 

Finally, cannabinoid content in milligrams may be featured either on the primary or the informational panel. This information may be added to the label by the manufacturer before testing or on the distribution premises after testing.

The following cannabinoid content information is required: 

  • THC and CBD per package – for all manufactured products
  • THC and CBD per serving – for edibles and concentrates with designated serving sizes
  • Any other cannabinoid that makes up 5% or more of the total cannabinoid content if labeled after testing. 

As always, if you have any questions about these materials or other cannabis focused questions, do not hesitate to contact our office. One of our attorneys will be happy to assist you. 

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.

Contact one of our cannabis law firm specialists today by phone at 310-912-2960 or online.

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