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Cannabis & Proposition 65: What Businesses, Consumers Need to Know

Cannabis products may require a warning label, says a notice sent to California business owners this summer.

Under California’s Proposition 65, products with harmful chemicals that may cause cancer or reproductive problems must contain a warning label. This includes various cannabis products.

After being legalized by the state several years ago for medical use and then later recreational use, the booming cannabis industry was recently reminded that it must play by the same rules as other businesses in California and include warning labels for its products when required under state and federal law.

However, sellers of cannabis products may not want to include a Proposition 65 warning on their products.

The legalization and sale of marijuana has often been based on theories that the drug is beneficial to human health or, at a minimum, not harmful when it is inhaled, ingested or otherwise consumed. However, marijuana smoke has been listed as a harmful chemical under Proposition 65 since 2009.

The cannabis industry may want to learn from the past experiences of businesses selling herbs and dietary supplements.

The dietary supplement industry fought implementation of Proposition 65 labeling requirements on their products for years. These industries wanted to advertise their products as healthy, and including a cancer warning would likely damage their marketing. While the law has been relaxed in some ways businesses still must be aware of the hazardous chemical found in their products abide by the labeling requirements.

Cannabis products containing chemicals listed in Proposition 65 must include a warning label that meets the following requirements:

  • It must clearly indicate that the chemical in the product is known to cause reproductive harm, birth defects, and/or cancer;
  • The consumer must be provided the warning before they are exposed to the product;
  • The warning must be “clear and reasonable;” and
  • The warning must not be hidden in fine print or other languages.

The cannabis industry has options in the how they provide Proposition 65 warnings.

For example, companies can post on shelves or walls in the business, as well as on the product label, or they can use an electronic message for internet advertising. However, since much of the cannabis industry has marketed the product as beneficial for human health, it may be difficult for business owners to come to terms with Proposition 65 requirements and the public may need to step in to ensure the law is enforced.

Proposition 65 Lawsuits

Those who are concerned that they have been unknowingly exposed to a Proposition 65 chemical through use of cannabis or another product sold in California can consider litigation to ensure proper warning is provided for future consumers. Additionally, the government can enforce the law.

Those who successfully initiate a Proposition 65 lawsuit may be entitled to recover 25 percent of the fines enforced against the company that violated the law. Proposition 65 is a complex law and an experienced Prop 65 attorney can help navigate the various requirements and exemptions.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to hazardous chemicals in cannabis products or other California goods without Proposition 65 labeling, an experienced Prop 65 attorney can help you hold companies responsible.

Obtain a free case evaluation with the Prop 65 attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher by filling out the form on this page.


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