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Knowledge & Insights

Quick Guide to CA Cannabis Packaging & Labeling Requirements


Cannabis products must be properly packaged and labeled according to new guidance from the California Department of Public Health. 

  • Packaging for edibles must be opaque (not transparent).
  • All packaging must be child-resistant.
  • Labeling requirements are detailed – read the list below.

Speak to one of our experts to make sure your cannabis packaging meets state guidelines.

The California Department of Public Health recently released new guidelines explaining cannabis packaging and labeling requirements all companies need to meet starting July 1, 2018. Here’s everything you need to know to be compliant with state-wide cannabis packaging and labeling regulations.

Cannabis Packaging Requirements

The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) became effective January 1, 2018. One of the many components of MAUCRSA establishes how cannabis and cannabis products must be packaged. These requirements are applicable to every form of cannabis including, but not limited to, pre-rolls, manufactured products, and cannabis flower products. Shipping and transport containers are completely separate and do fall under these requirements.

There are several general guidelines one must consider when packaging cannabis and cannabis products:

  • All packaging for edibles must be opaque.
  • You must package your finished cannabis products prior to transferring them to a distributor.
  • The packaging must protect the product from contamination.
    • This includes ensuring the product is child resistant. Since 1970, the Poison Prevention Packaging Act has been ensuring all products are packaged correctly to prevent endangering children. Cannabis is no exception.  

Further details about child-resistant packaging:

  • Products cannot be packaged to look like non-cannabis food.
  • The product should have tamper-evident packaging if applicable. The customer should easily be able to see that a package has been damaged, opened or tampered with.
  • If a package is intended for multiple uses, then it must be easily resealable.
  • You must use the universal symbol for manufactured cannabis products. It must be black. Although you can alter the size, the color cannot be altered.

If you have any additional questions, the California Department of Public Health has full details on their website.  

Cannabis and Child-Resistant Packaging

The California state law mandates all cannabis products to be in child-resistant packaging. There are two types of child-resistant packaging: single use and multiple use.

When a package has single use protection, the package is only child-resistant before opened initially (essentially just once). However, once the package is opened it is not child resistant.  

Multiple use packaging signifies that the package will be child resistant for its lifetime no matter how many times it is opened.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (who regulates the Poison Prevention Packaging Act) provides all child resistant guidelines.

Cannabis Labeling Requirements

In addition to the packaging requirements listed above, it is also required that your cannabis products are properly labeled.  The CDPH wants all customers to know exactly what they are buying. Since legal cannabis use is still becoming mainstream, proper labeling is also meant to protect those from unintentionally buying a product they didn’t know had cannabis in it.

When constructing your label, consider that there are two parts: the primary and informational panels.

  • The primary panel is just that, the primary portion that the customer will see when purchasing it in a retail setting. The primary label must be:
    • Six-point font
    • Include the total amount of both THC and CBD within the package
    • The generic name that describes the product clearly (examples: lotion, dark chocolate)
    • Include the Universal Symbol. This is a symbol created by the CDPH and should be used universally to symbol a cannabis product.
    • The weight or volume of the product. The weight should not include the packaging.
    • If you are labeling an edible product, make sure it has the amount of THC and CBD within each serving. You must also use the words “cannabis-infused” and place it above the product identity. Make sure the font for these words is larger than the font used for the product identity.
  • The informational panel is any other portion of the label that is not considered the primary panel. This panel must include:
    • The name of the licensed manufacturer with a corresponding phone number or website
    • The date the product was manufactured
    • The list of ingredients and instructions on how to use the product (if applicable).
    • The UID number created through the track and trace system
    • Expiration dates if applicable
    • In bold font and capital letters, you must include the government warning statement that has been made for cannabis products

There are also a few other requirements you must adhere to when creating a label:

  • Your label cannot include any words or images that would make it appeal to children.  This can include a variety of different things, such as a cartoon character, superhero or words like “candy.” Questioning what’s appropriate? Err on the side of caution.
  • Make sure writing is legible and easily understood.  In order to ensure the customer actually sees the text, it must be in English and a minimum six-point font.
  • The label must be on the outermost layer of the packaging
  • Be sure to put both the THC and CBD content on the primary panel portion
  • It is advised not to put the name of the California county on the label unless every bit of cannabis was grown in that county
  • The FDA has strict guidelines when it comes to making health claims. Therefore, it is suggested not to make any sort of claim or suggestion that your cannabis product will cure, benefit, heal, etc. an illness or disease. If you do make a claim, the FDA may become involved on a federal level and it is possible to be prosecuted for misleading medical information or statements. Again, exercise caution in this situation.
  • The list of ingredients on the informational panel must be in descending order by weight or volume.
  • Include your batch number if applicable.
  • A specific Medical Use Only sticker must be adhered and within the informational panel when the product contains more than 1000mg of THC.
  • Edible products must have a bit more detail on their label.  They must list nutritional information including the sugar, carbs, sodium, foods with a high chance of allergens and artificial food colorings.

If you have a cannabis container that is too small to include all of the required elements, the state has supplied a small container checklist with alternative options.

The above guidelines apply to cannabis products.  If you have questions about flowers or pre-rolls containing flowers, there is a different guide here just for you.

The California Department of Public Health website further details all of the above statements if you’d like more information. If you have any questions, Green Growth CPAs would be happy to help you.

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