Fake Cannabis Labels – What to Know

Assorted custom cannabis packaging labels by Green Rush Packaging.

Labels help distinguish between fake and genuine products. Illegal traders use fake labels to take advantage of unsuspecting clients. All cannabis products are required by law to be labeled. The labels provide important details like the licensed producer of the product.

Natural law teaches that ignorance is no defense and you can be sued in a court of law if caught using non-labeled or fake-labeled cannabis products. Several illegal cannabis products are circulating in the market, which could be dangerous to your health.

One of the best ways to keep yourself safe from fake cannabis products is to always check the label before purchasing any product. It might be hard to identify a fake label if you are not familiar or do not know what to look for in a fake label. Labeling also helps differentiate your cannabis products from those of your competitors.

In early 2019, the California Department of Health signed into law several regulations that govern the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis. The rules govern the manufacturing of cannabis, packaging and labeling of all cannabis products.

The rules and guidelines are applicable in the state of California. Every other state where cannabis is legalized has its customized set of rules and guidelines. Every cannabis grower, manufacturer, distributor and consumer should familiarize themselves with the guidelines to avoid getting into trouble with the law enforcers.

Marijuana Labeling requirements

One important thing to note is that cannabis is not legalized at the national level. Only about 32 states have decriminalized cannabis and its products. Within the states, there is legal and illegal cannabis. Therefore, each state has a unique set of rules. The fragmented rules mean you will follow a different set of rules if you set base in another state.

Mainly, cannabis labeling requires you to communicate the contents of the package clearly and protect public safety. However, you should not forget that the guidelines can be different in another state. The golden rule is to ensure you read and understand the guidelines of the state you are in.

Compliance for Cannabis Labels

Again, regulations may differ between different states but there are general rules that apply for other food labeling. The cannabis-specific labeling compliance is guided by the following rules. Most of the compliance guidelines are borrowed from the Federal laws on consumer products compliance.

Although these compliance guidelines are cannabis and cannabis products packaging specific, they are applicable across a large field in the food and beverage manufacturing industries. If you understand the rules applicable to the broader level of food industries, you will easily understand the cannabis compliance rules checklist.


No specific font is recommended, but the guidelines recommend a font size that is legible to an ordinary adult.


The label should contain the common name known by the general public or the name adopted by the manufacturer. The cannabis product can either be labeled in their generic name, such as Cannabis concentrate.

If the manufacturer wants to use its specific marketing name, it must be prefixed by the name cannabis. The name may read something like cannabis wax, cannabis carbonated beverage, cannabis cake and so on.

Other areas where the law is reluctant on naming is when the grower wants their name included or the species name to read something like Sativa or hybrid for species and green joy or golden dream for grower’s name.

License details

Also to be included in the label are the license name, manufacturer’s telephone number and email. The license number is for the manufacturer who processed the final product and not the grower or harvester. This requirement was agreed upon because it is also mandatory for other foods and products like supplements, tobacco, medicine, alcohol and cosmetics. The advantage of the license information is to make it easier for clients to seek more information or make complaints about the product.

Net weight

According to the customary and metric units, every product must carry the contents’ net quality on the label. If the product is a fluid, it is expressed in a fluid measure and if it is solid, it is expressed in a solid measure. The measure must be the net quantity, which means it should be the measure of the content less the measure of the packaging.

Batch number

The batch number is useful for identification purposes. At the retail level, cashiers scan the code to identify the product in the stock list and its price. The storeman will also use the batch code to track the product from the receiving point to the store, from the store to the display counter and finally to the cashier’s desk.

If there is any complaint in between, the batch number will help track the product and identify if the problem was from the manufacturer’s side, the store or the customer.


The ingredients indicate the main ingredient, in this case, cannabis, and any other secondary ingredient used like flour for cannabis cakes, gum for gummies, food colors, preservatives and so on.


The label must also indicate any possible allergies the food might cause when chewed or eaten.

Nutrition facts

This shows all nutritional values a consumer may get from cannabis use.

Universal label

Universal labels give warnings like who should use the product, handling, type of product etc. For example, it should indicate if it’s medicinal or recreational and the state where it was manufactured. It should also contain warning statements like keep out of children and pets. Or adult use only, medicinal use only and so on.

Difference between real and fake cannabis labels

Fake labels may differ between different illegal suppliers but most will have one common feature – they will not have the cannabinoid content on the label and they will not have a batch code and the THC/CBD abbreviations on the label.

Another obvious thing is the custom stamp which is usually silverfish shiny. The government only issues this stamp to compliant manufacturers. Any fake product will not have this stamp on the label.

You may also check the manufacturer’s website and compare the product on the website and the one you are being asked to buy. If they differ, it’s fake.

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