Label Compliance

With October 17, 2019 marking the legal sale of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals, label compliance is of the utmost importance to protect public health and safety. The amended Cannabis Regulations will set out a comprehensive public health approach to regulating the production, packaging and labelling of new and existing classes of cannabis.

These packaging and labelling requirements aim to protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis and inducements to use cannabis. The requirements also help to promote informed consumer choice and encourage the safe handling and storage of cannabis. Plain packaging and labelling are currently required for all cannabis products, including strict limits on the use of logos, colours, and branding

Mandatory label information – all classes of cannabis products

The amended Regulations will maintain the core plain packaging and labelling requirements that currently apply to all cannabis products, such as the standardized cannabis symbol, health warning messages, THC and CBD quantity or concentration, and child-resistant packaging. Currently, the Regulations require that:

The concentration of THC and CBD in dried or fresh cannabis (that is not in discrete units) be expressed as a percentage (%)

The concentration of THC and CBD in cannabis oil be expressed in milligrams per millilitre (mg/ml).

The amended Regulations will modify these requirements for all classes of cannabis in order to standardize the display of the amount of THC and CBD: 

For dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis extracts that are in discrete units and intended to be inhaled or for cannabis extracts that are not in discrete units, THC and CBD concentration must be expressed in milligrams per gram (mg/g).

For cannabis extracts that are in discrete units and not intended to be inhaled and for edible cannabis, the quantity of THC and CBD must be expressed in milligrams (mg). In addition, for any cannabis extract in a container with an integrated dispensing mechanism, the quantity of THC and CBD per activation must be indicated in milligrams (mg).

For cannabis topicals, the amount of THC and CBD can be expressed as either milligrams per gram (concentration) or milligrams (quantity).

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In addition, the Regulations will require labels for all cannabis products (except dried cannabis and cannabis plants) to indicate the product’s equivalency to grams of dried cannabis. This will enable consumers and law enforcement to determine whether an individual is in compliance with the federal public possession limit of 30 grams of dried cannabis “or equivalent”.
 This will also allow consumers to better compare across various cannabis products and make more informed decisions. In all cases, the net weight of the product must be represented in grams, with the exception of beverages, where the volume must be represented in millilitres.

The current Regulations allow for one brand element, other than a brand name, to appear on the label of cannabis products, provided that brand element meets certain requirements. For products containing less than 10 parts per million THC (equivalent to 10 micrograms per gram THC), the amended Regulations will specify that the brand element, if an image, must be smaller than or equal to 25% of the principal display panel and must be smaller than or equal to the area within the border of the health warning message that appears on the label.

Mandatory label information – all classes of cannabis products

The current Regulations allow for one brand element, other than a brand name, to appear on the label of cannabis products, provided that brand element meets certain requirements. For products with 10 ppm or less, the amended Regulations will specify that the brand element must be smaller than or equal to 25% of the principal display panel and must be smaller than or equal to the area within the border of the health warning message that appears on the label.

A. Edible cannabis

Consistent with requirements that apply to food under the Food and Drug Regulations, the following will be required on the label of edible cannabis products, in addition to the current labelling requirements, which apply to all cannabis products:

A list of ingredients

The common name of the cannabis product

A cannabis-specific nutrition facts table (NFT)

A “durable life date” (also known as a “best-before date”) would need to appear on the label of edible cannabis having a durable life of 90 days or less

An indication of the source of an allergen or gluten, or that sulphites have been added to the product (alternatively, this information could appear as part of the ingredient list)

Specific requirements pertaining to the presentation of the NFT will be set out in the Directory of Nutrition Facts Table Formats for Edible Cannabis, published on the Government of Canada’s website.

B. Cannabis extracts

In addition to the current labelling requirements that apply to all cannabis products, a list of ingredients, the identity of the cannabis product in terms of its common name or function, and a list of allergens will be required on the label of cannabis extracts, as well as the intended use of the product (e.g. “for vaping”). For cannabis extracts in a container with an integrated dispensing mechanism, the quantity of THC and CBD per activation (in milligrams) will also be required to appear on the label. 

C. Cannabis topicals

In addition to the current labelling requirements that apply to all cannabis products, a list of ingredients, the identity of the cannabis product in terms of its common name or function, the intended use of the product (e.g. “apply to skin”) as well as the directions for use will need to appear on the label of all cannabis topicals.

D. Standardized cannabis symbol on vaping products and wrappers

Currently, the Regulations require the standardized cannabis symbol to appear on the label of cannabis products that contain more than 10 parts per million (ppm) THC (equivalent to 10 micrograms per gram). The Regulations will be amended to also require the display of the standardized cannabis symbol on any cannabis accessory that contains a cannabis extract product that is intended to be inhaled and that contains more than 10 ppm THC. For example, this will require vaping devices or vaping cartridges that contain a cannabis extract with THC to have the symbol directly on the device or cartridge. In addition, the standardized cannabis symbol will need to be clearly and prominently displayed on the exterior surface of any wrapper that is in direct contact with a cannabis product that contains more than 10 ppm THC.

Packaging and Labelling Prohibitions

To protect young persons and others from inducements to use cannabis, the amended Regulations will prohibit the following representations on cannabis product packages and labels:

Representations regarding health benefits, including those that are currently permitted on food (e.g. a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fat may reduce the risk of heart disease).

Representations regarding cosmetic benefits (e.g. reduces the appearance of wrinkles, softens skin).

All representations that associate a cannabis product (including its brand element) with an alcoholic beverage, a tobacco product or a vaping product.

Energy value and nutrient content representations of edible cannabis products that go beyond those permitted in the list of ingredients and cannabis-specific NFT, including those that are currently permitted on food (e.g. high source of fibre, low fat) or additional information pertaining to the vitamin or mineral content of the product.

The representation of edible cannabis as a suitable means of meeting the particular dietary requirements of an individual, or the dietary requirements of young persons (e.g. it is prohibited to say that edible cannabis is suitable for the particular dietary requirements of a person with diabetes, or as part of a low-calorie diet).

Representations that could create the impression that a cannabis extract contains certain flavours that are appealing to youth (e.g. dessert or confectionery flavours) consistent with rules that apply to vaping products under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.

Labelling Allowances for Smaller Containers

Currently, the Regulations set out packaging and labelling requirements that do not allow for the use of expanded panels on containers (e.g. peel-back and accordion labels), tags, or package inserts. To accommodate for smaller containers, the amended Regulations will enable the use of expanded panels and alternative display formats for certain required information when the immediate container is too small to otherwise accommodate all required information on the exterior display surface. Tags and package inserts will continue to not be permitted. For existing classes of cannabis, the amended Regulations will provide a 12-month transition period within which licensed processors can adjust their packaging and labelling practices to comply with the new requirements. Also, any dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, cannabis plants, and cannabis seeds packaged and labelled in accordance with the current Regulations prior to the end of the 12-month transition period may continue to be sold indefinitely by authorized provincial and territorial sellers and federally licensed sellers of cannabis for medical purposes. 

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