What are the California Marijuana Packaging Laws?

Bottle of dry medical cannabis and pills with clipboard on table close up

California has a long and rich historical relationship with marijuana, and that relationship has become more complicated in the face of additional marijuana cultivation laws and marijuana packaging laws. During the 1800s, it was a hemp growing hub. When the growing of hemp became illegal in the early 1900s, this activity ceased. The use of marijuana was criminalized in the 1930s.

Being a state know for forward-thinking values, there were attempts in the 1970s to decriminalize marijuana. Whilst these attempts were not wholly successful, there was a relaxation of the criminal laws around possession of marijuana. In fact, possession of marijuana became a civil offense instead of a criminal offense.

As more studies indicated the benefits of medical marijuana, California again stepped up to the plate. In 1996 a vote to allow the use of medical marijuana for certain conditions including HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, and cancer took place. It passed with a slim majority of 55%. But this was hailed as a success and paved the way for further legislation. At this stage, medical marijuana is legal, but the user must have an identification card permitting it.

In 2016, California decriminalized the use of recreational marijuana in private. A person who uses the substance in public still incurs a fine. To use marijuana recreationally, you must be an adult. By law, an adult is defined as someone aged 21 years or older.

There are some strict monitoring and control measures in place so that the state and local authorities can manage the legal sale of marijuana. One of the areas where there are strict regulations is in how the marijuana is packaged, or marijuana packaging laws. The California Bureau of Marijuana sets out the regulations and does inspections. Dispensaries can lose their licenses if they do not comply with the regulations.

These are the California Marijuana Packaging Laws summarized:

  1. It is compulsory to label every product to indicate that it is a medical cannabis or marijuana product. It must clearly indicate that the product is for medicinal use only. It must make no promises about the potential benefits of using medical marijuana.
  2. The label should also indicate that the product is a Schedule 1 controlled substance.
  3. Another important warning is to “Keep this product out of the reach of children and animals.”
  4. There must be no effort made on the part of the producer to make the packaging attractive to children or teenagers. It should not resemble any type of candy. There should be no cartoon representations on the label.
  5. The label must indicate the source of the cultivation and when it was cultivated and manufactured. An expiration date should also appear on the packaging.
  6. The name and contact information of the manufacturer of the product must appear on the label.
  7. The California Department of Health states that each label must contain a unique ID/batch number.
  8. When labeling a marijuana product, the active ingredients in the product must be mentioned. This includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoids. Each active ingredient must be listed, and a number of milligrams per active ingredient per serving must appear on the label. The milligrams of active ingredients for the entire product must also be mentioned. For example, if the product contains 10mg of THC per serving, and there are 3 servings. The label must also mention that there is a total of 30mg of THC in the product.
  9. Like a food label, the label on edible marijuana products must indicate any allergens that have been used. This is of significance when the product contains nuts, etc. that may provoke a severe allergic reaction or even death.
  10. The label should also indicate the weight or volume of the product, just like any food item.
  11. There are four additional warning statements that must appear on the label. They are:
  • “The intoxicating effects of this product may be delayed by up to two hours.”
  • “This product may impair the ability to drive or operate machinery.   Please use extreme caution.”
  • “Cannabis in use while pregnant or breastfeeding may be harmful.”
  • “Cannabis products may only be possessed or consumed by persons 21 years of age or older unless the person is a qualified patient.”

This disclaimer exempts dispensaries from liability should a person using medical marijuana harm themselves or others in an accident, etc.

The label on medical marijuana products must be clearly printed. A suitable font and font size should be used.

Another requirement relates to the physical packaging itself. The California Department of Public Health stipulates that the packaging of cannabis cannot be similar to food packaging. Cannabis edibles must be packaged in an opaque material.  The packaging must be designed in such a way that it is easy to see if it has been tampered with prior to opening.

The packaging should also be child-resistant for the protection of minors who may encounter it. The criteria for child-resistant packaging of marijuana products is the same as Poison Prevention Packaging. As of May 2018, packaging must have been certified as being child-resistant. A quick computer search will reveal just how many different packaging types are certified as child-resistant.

At Green Rush Packaging, we strive to provide packaging that meets the legal requirements of marijuana packaging laws in every state. Our range features medical marijuana bottles, pop-top containers and bottles, and a variety of dispensary packaging options. We aim to help you ensure top-notch, safe packaging that gives your customers peace of mind.

This will earn you repeat business. It is our pride to present you with a broad range of products to choose from when you buy dispensary supplies wholesale. You can choose packaging that represents you, your dispensary, and your brand.

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