Everything You Need to Know About Reading a Cannabis Product Label

When choosing cannabis products, it’s important to understand the information on the labels so you know exactly what you’re consuming. It can be a little confusing to understand everything, so we’re going to help break it all down for you. 

Due to the strict regulations that Health Canada has put in place, packaging for legal recreational cannabis must follow certain requirements and guidelines. Licensed cultivators and producers of cannabis are legally required to divulge information about the cannabis product directly on the packaging. 

Cannabis labels follow certain guidelines, making them universal to read and understand. On the product labels, there are many conventional items that you would expect to see on a label, such as brand logos, barcodes, how to correctly store cannabis and health warnings. There are a few extra areas that require special attention but don’t worry, we’re going to cover all the bases.

Cannabis Strain Types 

If you’re new to consuming cannabis flowers, you’ll notice that there are three main types of cannabis strains, such as Sativa, Indica and Hybrids. Each of the cannabis flower strains looks different when cultivated, each strain also smells different and has a different flavour. Furthermore, each of the cannabis strains has its own unique set of properties that distinguish it from its counterparts; varying the effects of each strain on the user. 

Some of the labels on cannabis flowers will clearly identify which strain category the product is part of and the specific name of the strain. For example, “Granddaddy Purple” is a mostly Indica strain. 

Packaged on and Expiry Date 

To be legally compliant, cannabis labels must provide the date that the cannabis was packaged on. This isn’t an indication of when the actual cannabis flower was harvested but the date when the product was sealed inside its packaging ready for distribution. Expiry dates are not a legal requirement as stated by Health Canada, so licensers and cultivators are not required to provide the expiry date. Expiry dates can be useful to users because they convey the potency of the product. 

Cannabis Product Weight (Canada.ca n.d.)

This is one of the most important factors to take note of when looking at the product label. Due to Canadian law, recreational smokers may only possess up to 30g of dried cannabis flowers on them at any time. If you’ve purchased cannabis and weigh it straight out of its packaging, you may notice that it’s slightly higher or lower in weight than is advertised. 

Health Canada allows for a slight weight variance in dried cannabis flower. For products containing less than 2 grams, there’s an allowable variance of up to 10%. If the product weighs 2 grams or more, the allowed variable allowance is 5%. 

Warning Labels 

Every cannabis product is required by law to be child-safe and tamperproof to protect children from using cannabis. Because the cannabinoid THC is an intoxicant, any cannabis flower that contains THC levels that are above negligible will have a distinct THC symbol on it. The red icon is to make it clear that THC with a psychoactive effect is present in this product. 

THC and CBD

They’re the two most talked about acronyms in the entire cannabis industry, so you’ll have likely to hear them at some point or another. The two cannabinoids will be displayed on the product label to signify the levels of THC and CBD present in the cannabis product. 

There are usually two numbers listed for the CBD and THC levels on cannabis products. The lower figure that’s listed represents the number of cannabinoids in the product prior to it being heated. It’s important to note that cannabinoids aren’t activated until cannabis is heated to at least 150 degrees (decarboxylation). (Canada.ca n.d.) The second set of figures that are listed as the “Total CBD” and “Total THC” equate to the number of cannabinoids that are present when the product is ready for consumption. 

Producer Information

The producer of the cannabis product is required to list their company details, such as their name and contact details, should a situation arise where you need to get in touch with them. Furthermore, details can be found on the lot number, which can help you track the harvest that the cannabis flower was from to trace the quality of the product back to its source. 

If you require a little extra help reading and understanding the labels of cannabis products, your local cannabis store and budtenders will be able to help you with. It’s important to know what you’re consuming and a helpful budtender can guide you through every step.