Thanks to cutting-edge technology, ambitious entrepreneurs and an increasingly receptive and open-minded consumer base, infused products (both THC and CBD) have become a major sector of the cannabis marketplace, as well as within the health, beauty, and food & beverage markets. For instance, according to an April 2019 survey by Headset, daily sales of Cannabis Beverages and Edibles increased by 14 percent and 28 percent, respectively, beating out the 10 percent increase in daily sales across the board.
With more producers and brands looking to cut their teeth in the infused products space, one important question to ask and understand is “How can I legally and effectively label my products in this industry?” For beverage and topical manufacturers to bring their infused products to market for consumption, they need to make sure their labels meet applicable guidelines. Here’s a four-part labelling checklist to get started.
Pick Your Product Category
The FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains the guidance needed to identify the labeling requirements for different categories of consumer-packaged goods, though there is no specific category for cannabis and hemp. That aside, it is essential to identify to which category your product belongs in order to follow the appropriate CFR’s. These include food, beverages, cosmetic products and dietary supplements. A few key resources from the FDA to review for guidance on product labeling include:
Check State-Specific Regulations
As with so many regulations within the evolving cannabis industry, each state where marijuana is legal also has specific rules dictating product labeling. For instance, in California, infused beverages cannot be packaged in clear/see-through bottles, but that is not the case in Colorado. Check with your state’s department of public health and/or cannabis regulatory agency for specific requirements.
But what if you are introducing a product to the California market (or another state that doesn’t allow translucent bottles for cannabis beverages) like infused wine, for which consumers expect a clear bottle? That’s when brands have to get creative and resourceful: one solution that’s also economical is to bottle the beverage in traditional glass, but then package that bottle in a colorful box with your brand’s logo so the infused wine can hit the shelves in aesthetically pleasing packaging that’s also in line with regulations. That is what Tinley beverages did. Another company that designed a solution to work around these restrictions is House of Saka, who invested a great deal in their packaging, and designed a beautiful opaque pink and white bottles for their cannabis infused wines.
Avoid Making Health Claims
As mentioned earlier, the FDA has not provided standards for hemp-derived products containing CBD or other cannabinoids (even though they are legal on the federal level, unlike THC products), and accordingly has not issued any associated labeling guidelines. While the FDA so far has been lenient on any enforcement of products containing CBD, they have given warning letters to companies making unsubstantiated health claims such as “relieves pain and inflammation,” a “treatment for opioid addiction,” “reduces anxiety,” and “prevents arthritis.” While it is in your best interest to consult with your legal team on any claims or testimonials on your label, it is especially important to avoid making health claims, even if you are marketing your product within the health and wellness marketplace.
Required Labels for All Infused Products
Once you’ve identified your product category and come to a thorough understanding of state-specific regulations, here is a rundown of what should be included on all labels at a minimum:
In addition to product category labeling requirements, it is advised to include the following for mention of active ingredients in hemp derived CBD/other cannabinoid products:
It is often an overlooked step when introducing new products to market, but meticulous labeling is extremely important in order to adhere to very strict and specific requirements. So be diligent from the start and avoid launch delays later.
Austin Stevenson, Vertosa Chief Innovation Officer: Austin plays an integral role in the business development of Vertosa, an innovative hemp and cannabis infusion technology company based in Oakland, California. He facilitates partnerships with leading brands to produce top quality cannabinoid-infused cold brew coffee, beer, wine, fresh juice, topicals and more. Prior to joining Vertosa, Austin leveraged his bio-tech experience building the regulatory Hemp/CBD testing program for Eurofins – a world leader in food, environment, and product testing services – where he worked with CVS and Walgreens to test and verify the quality of their retail CBD topicals. He is also a former management associate for Citi, Austin worked to fund minority and women-owned businesses. A St. Louis native, Austin was the first in his family to go college, completing his undergraduate degree at Columbia University and earning a Master of Science in Globalization and International Policy from the University of Bath.
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