California requirements for warning labels on cannabis might spell trouble

Published Dec 27, 2020 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / MRTNfoto

The January 3rd deadline for complying with the terms of the new California law, which requires specific labelling on pot products, is raising concerns on all sides of the fence. The latest warning labels have come with quite a bit of controversy and debate, but regardless of how you might feel, proposition 65 must be followed, and it will change the green scene here forever.

New California law

Proposition 65 is a California law that was passed way back in 1986, and it clearly outlines requirements of the state to:

  • Display a list of known hazardous chemicals on the label.

  • Require the placement of the chemical list to be predetermined.

Once the new statewide mandate comes into full effect, all cannabis products and CBD products will have to bear warning labels that include this information. The trouble is that many of the chemicals that must be listed are only produced when a product is combusted. These warning labels by law must be places on everything, including topicals and edibles, which would never produce those harmful chemicals with proper use.

Still, the government has decided to move forward with this new proposal, making warning labels on all pot products mandatory. Some say this is a good thing, as consumers have every right to know about the ingredients that they are going to use on or in their body, but advocates say its overkill in a situation where it's nowhere near needed. As the debate drones on, so too does the discussion of enforcement.

Some companies are ahead of the game


Some of the most prominent California based cannabis companies like La Vida Verde have been complying with the new statewide regulations all along, as they knew that this shift was inevitable, so they are well prepared to move forward. Sadly, not everyone has the time or money to make such a switch so quickly, and these will be the ones who suffer the most from what is about to unfold. Smaller cannabis companies might take several months to have all of their shelved product adequately labelled, which could cost them.

Why some experts are worried about the transition

The worry is that some attorneys and lawyers will be the ones to benefit most from this change in regulation. There is no official enforcement board, which is expected as it often takes time for significant changes like this to transition over, especially when it comes to packaging. Still, due to the law, any product on the shelf of a dispensary without the appropriate labelling will be a chargeable offence. The responsibility of payment will fall back on the company.

How much will this cost the cannabis industry in California?

Warning labels are important, especially when it comes to consumable goods. This kind of huge change, though, needs time to play out. Small cannabis companies should not be punished for their inability to fund such fast changes, as they are already struggling in this slow-moving market. We don't know exactly how much this will cost small players in the industry, but unless some changes are made, and soon, it could be a devastating blow.

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