How Is California Cannabis Doing After July 1?
On January 1, 2018, California took the final step towards cannabis legalization, making marijuana available to every adult in the state. However, the open cannabis market meant that there were going to be a lot of changes for manufacturers and distributors. July 1st was the first day that new cannabis regulations began, giving dispensaries six months to make sure all of their products met these industry standards. So what do these new regulations look like for California cannabis?
The new cannabis regulations might pose some challenges for dispensaries and manufacturers, but they represent a movement towards better quality control. It is expected that these changes will result in more detailed product information for the consumer. Let’s have a look at what these changes are and what they mean for the California cannabis market.
As we mentioned briefly, the large majority of the new regulations have been put in place to ensure some quality control in the open market for marijuana. For the most part, new California cannabis law is about the product, lab testing, and packaging. Let’s have a look at the most important changes.
All of the following information was obtained directly from the California Cannabis Portal which contains all of the documents published by the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the CA Department of Public Health and the CA Department of Food and Agriculture.
Now that the new laws are in place, dispensaries are prohibited from selling cannabis products that have not undergone testing in a licensed laboratory. Tests must include THC levels, CBD levels and the presence of any heavy metals, fungus, and other contaminants. (Sections 5304 and 5305).
Packaging and Labels
As a part of the new California cannabis regulations, all products must be labeled correctly. The label must say what the laboratory test results are (cannabinoid levels), the date that the product was manufactured, a batch number and a safety warning. This goes for all cannabis products, but there are stricter laws for edible products (which we will talk about later in this article).
Packaging must also be resealable and opaque.
Packaging in Relation to Minors
Packaging must also not be presented in such a way that it could prove attractive to minors. The packaging itself must also be child resistant. That means no image that relates to minors can be a part of the packaging, including toys, inflatables or cartoon characters.
Regulations for Edibles
Edible products are subject to the greatest changes. These regulations were implemented by the CA Department of Public Health. The main objective of this document is to prevent overconsumption with edibles. As a result, a limit on cannabinoid content has been implemented.
Any edible product is limited to 10 mg THC per serving, with a total package limit of 100mg. If the product is considered to be an orally dissolving product (such as a lozenge or a mouth strip), the total package limit is 500 mg, but the single serving limit is the same. Plus, for it to be allowed a 500mg limit, the product has to be marked “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY”. (You can find this information in Section 40315 of the Department of Public Health’s proposed regulations.)
Given the strict regulations that the Bureau of Cannabis Control has declared, it seems that they are pretty serious about enforcement.
New cannabis laws in California are strict. Every harvest that is for sale after July 1 needs to meet strict industry standards. If growers’ harvests don’t meet these standards, it’s likely that businesses won’t purchase the supply. If they do, they could face serious fines or even loss of license - should the Bureau of Cannabis Control check and enforce strongly.
The six month grace period between January 2018 and July 2018 aimed to give businesses a chance to find the supply that meets new standards and start stocking up dispensaries. The hope was that businesses wouldn’t have to spend the summer “dry”, without cannabis products and therefore without sales. But how many have been able to achieve this in the last six months? Only the next couple of months will tell.
As brands go through the motions of reworking their product and labels, we expect that some of them may fall off the radar. Some dispensaries have had run epic sales leading up to July 1 in order to sell all of the stock that they knew would soon become illegal. Some companies simply won’t be able to keep up with the demands of the industry. This can mean a lot for businesses, too, namely fewer products on the shelves and as a result, fewer sales. The smaller variety of products might also affect the consumer and how they have become accustomed to purchasing cannabis. Some of the products we have come to know and love might no longer be available.
However, for consumers, the possibility of a product that is completely and correctly labeled is exciting. For starters, consumers will know exactly where their cannabis came from and what’s in it. Don’t want to smoke cannabis that is jam-packed with harmful chemicals and heavy metals? Under the new scheme, consumers won’t have to. Adequate labeling will keep consumers in the know about what they are buying.
It remains to be seen how cannabis businesses will adjust to the new regulations and whether or not the black market will thrive as a result of limited product availability. As cannabis moves further into the mainstream, the demand for high-quality products will continue to increase, and California is on its way to providing consumers with just that.
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