In our last article, we discussed what resources to consider when drafting cannabis standard operating procedures (“SOP”) in ensuring strict compliance with relevant regulations. In this article we’ll discuss packaging and labeling SOPs.
Cannabis packaging and labeling requirements vary across the country, but there are universal cannabis compliance principles that cannabis businesses ought to consider. In this article, we’ll discuss those principles as well as the implications of failing to maintain strict compliance with packaging and labeling regulations.
Identify Relevant Regulations
Start by identifying the regulations that apply to the products that you carry. Often times, packaging and labeling requirements vary according to the type of product. For example, in California, flower-based products (jarred flower, non-infused pre-rolls, etc.) have different requirements than manufactured products (edibles, vapes, etc.). Make sure you’ve properly classified a product to ensure you’re looking at the correct requirements.
Also research whether your jurisdiction has released any packaging and labeling checklists or other guidance document. For example, the California Department of Public Health has released the following checklists:
Labeling: Requirements and Location
When reviewing cannabis labeling regulations, do not only focus on what requirements (warning symbol, net weight, etc.) the requirement are. Pay close attention to where the requirements are supposed to be located on the label as well. Placing a labeling requirement on the wrong portion of the label may be as problematic as forgetting to include the requirement altogether.
Have a Process in Place
Internal processes for third party products and products created by a cannabis business must be created, implemented, and reviewed to minimize hiccups. This process doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
Consider developing a jurisdiction-specific checklist that can be utilized during packaging and labeling design or during 3rd party quality assurance checks. The checklist can be utilized by the employee designing packaging/labeling or performing a quality assurance check. Ideally, supervisor should also review packaging/labeling before money is spent on producing packaging or labels, as well as before products are released for sale. Save all records produced throughout the process.
Train, Monitor, Modify
Once a process is in place, be sure to:
1. Train employees
2. Monitor the process
3. Modify the process where necessary
It’s just about impossible to memorize packaging and labeling requirements at all, let alone in one training session. Be sure to train employees on the requirements, and train as often as is necessary. Rather than regurgitating the regulations, consider providing real life examples of compliantly packaged/labeled products, as well as products that violate the regulations. In addition, keep an eye out for any regulatory changes, and make sure the process is modified where necessary.
Packaging and Labeling Violations
Improperly packaged and/or labeled cannabis goods can expose companies to compliance violations and lawsuits, thereby damaging reputation in the process. Faulty cannabis packaging and labeling can (and should) also result in the rejection of deliveries of cannabis goods by vendors across the supply chain.
Cannabis companies should take packaging and labeling compliance very seriously as it is low hanging fruit for regulators. Put your business in the best position to avoid regulatory violations by implementing the compliance principles discussed in this article.
© RYAN T. KOCOT, ESQ. 2021
DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS STRICTLY EDUCATIONAL AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.