Why evaluating cannabis products is so important

Over the past five years, I’ve conducted countless compliance reviews for cannabis and CBD product labels, packaging materials, and the products themselves. In all cases—not most, but all—labels are required for cannabis products at least a change. Product type, shape and ingredients often required adjustments. And even with the packaging material, there were many problems. Sometimes an entire label had to be reworked or a product redesigned to ensure compliance. Today I want to talk about why verifying cannabis product compliance is so important.

Every state that regulates cannabis has complex requirements for cannabis products. In general, they fall into three categories: product regulations, packaging regulations, and label regulations. Product regulations generally include restrictions on ingredients, product type and form, or maximum levels or limitations on THC/cannabinoid content. For example, California bans most dairy but allows cannabis beef, regulators in Alabama think jelly beans should only be peach-flavored, Washington is cool with parallelogram shapes but apparently not new corners, and a whole host of states have been pissed that Mike Tyson made deafening candy. shaped gummy bears. It can get pretty dark.

Packaging regulations can also be a major challenge. Let’s just look at California. Current regulations require cannabis products to have child resistant packaging (CRP), in some cases for the life of a product. What does it mean to be CRP? Well, that also depends on a few things. In some cases, you may need to use the federal Toxic Substances Prevention Act to determine if a product is certified. Otherwise, you are basically left with two options, which are listed in the regulations. This can get pretty complicated, and the state has some guidance (here and here) on packaging compliance. However, just looking at the guidance may not be enough as it simply summarizes the regulatory obligations, which are subject to change.

By and large, however, cannabis product labeling regulations are the most complex and annoying regulations. Again, I will only focus on California. The main reason for this (besides living and working here) is that California has some of the strictest labeling regulations in the country, considering Prop. 65, a topic we’ve covered extensively elsewhere. As with packaging, California has guidelines for manufactured and unmanufactured products. Again, reviewing the guidelines may not be enough.

When I do a label review, I generally see a cannabis product’s label on one screen and the cannabis regulations and Prop. 65 regulations on the other. When I look at the applicable regulations, I usually find a number of important things that are wrong on the labels. Some of the repeat offenders are:

  • No or insufficient Prop. 65 warnings
  • Weight in metric or imperial only (you need both!)
  • Primary panel information in the information panel
  • Insufficient product description
  • No indication of the manufacturer
  • Incorrect labeling of cannabinoid content
  • The false state alert (California has one for manufactured products and another for non-manufactured products, and they are different!

This is just a highlight of some of the key things I often notice about labels. There’s certainly a lot more I’ve seen over the years. The point here is that in every single case I can remember I’ve seen at least one thing (and often several) that needed fixing. And in many cases, this happened after a compliance team created the cannabis product’s label.

While I have you here, I should also cover CBD product labels. Checking CBD product labels is even more complicated than checking cannabis product labels. CBD products in e-commerce are often sold in multiple states without varying the content on the label. Since there is no federal standard and the FDA basically says that CBD products are illegal, this means it is nearly impossible to comply with the laws in all 50 states. As a rule, there are a few important things to consider that extend to states that regulate CBD product labeling the most (like Utah or Indiana), and of course Prop. 65 still applies in California. But mostly things are scattered in the patchwork quilt of government regulations, making label checking a mess.

Verifying cannabis products and CBD products — for product, packaging, and label compliance — is truly necessary for businesses looking to avoid regulatory penalties or lawsuits from class action firms. It doesn’t have to be expensive or overly time consuming and can be done by a qualified attorney in a relatively short amount of time and often at a flat fee. But without them, cannabis and CBD companies really do risk administrative penalties, which is never a good thing.

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