Griffen Thorne
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california cannabis packaging labelingOn March 7, 2019 the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”), which regulates cannabis manufacturers, dropped a new list of updated resources for packaging and labeling. Anyone on the CDPH’s email list should have received a copy. The notice was quickly picked up the Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”), which regulates retailers and distributors, and is available here.

The notice is significant because it contains three new checklists based on product type (cannabis, pre-rolls, and manufactured goods), and a link to updated master packaging and labeling FAQs. This will be sure to help licensees with compliance and is much more user friendly than the scouring through the dense regulations.

But one of the really important parts of the notice is the following language:

Expectations for Compliance: Cannabis and cannabis product packaging that was compliant under the emergency regulations but is no longer compliant under the permanent regulations can be transferred to a licensed distributor until June 30, 2019. Licensed retailers may sell these cannabis products through December 31, 2019.

Licensees should be actively taking steps to transition their packaging and labeling into compliance with the regulations. Tips for licensees to transition into compliance with the labeling requirements:

  • Use stickers to modify existing packaging – Stickers can be used to cover non-compliant labeling or to update/add additional labeling information to outer or inner containers.
  • Repackage using compliant packaging – Manufacturers can repackage cannabis products on their premises. Child-resistant packaging requirements may be fulfilled using child-resistant exit packaging at retail during 2019, reducing the cost of repackaging products.

In other words, it looks like the CDPH will be relaxing some of it new requirements that came into effect with the final regulations, if product packaging was compliant with the readopted emergency regulations. This is key, because as I wrote back in early January, there wasn’t really a transitional period in the regulations for most products. Rather than bake this into the regs, the agencies apparently will simply view this as some sort of compliance expectation. It’s only too bad that this wasn’t announced a few months ago.

There are two important notes: First, the above language regarding expectations refers to packaging and not labeling. However, this may have been accidental since the first bullet-point actually refers to labeling. Second, the CDPH has no jurisdiction over distributors or retailers, so its statements concerning what they may do is not as good as the BCC saying the same thing. However, when the BCC published this notice, that probably indicated its agreement with the CDPH’s position.

Stay tuned to the Canna Law Blog for more details on California cannabis labeling.

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