Updated on July 17, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Medical marijuana comes with labels containing a lot of information about the product. Here’s a handy guide to understanding what that label is telling you.
States allowing medical marijuana use have individual labeling laws, meaning there are no across-the-board standards dictating what a pot product label should include. In addition, a few states don’t enforce special testing requirements on cannabis products. Consequently, these states’ pot labels may or may not provide accurate information about the marijuana you’re using.
Alternately, comprehensive medical cannabis labels offer information regarding strain (Sativa or Indica), the individual or company producing the marijuana, testing date, laboratory name/location and legal compliance information according to state laws.
Breaking Down Medical Marijuana Labels
Here’s an overview of the individual components you’ll find on medical marijuana labels:
Total THC/Maximum THC — Medical marijuana contains differing amounts of THC to address symptoms specific to chronic diseases. If the total THC number is 18 or higher, this indicates a cannabis strain with high amounts of THC. People suffering chemotherapy side effects, MS, Tourette’s, fibromyalgia, arthritis and many other diseases use medical marijuana containing 18+ THC to relieve their symptoms.
Cannabidiol Acid (CBDA) — How much CBDA a particular pot strain contains tells you its cannabidiol potential. Heating CBDA converts the chemical into CBD, a non-psychoactive compound offering numerous medicinal properties. CBD has been found to suppress seizures, reduce inflammation, relieve nausea and alleviate depression and anxiety.
Strain (Indica, Sativa or Hybrid) — Sativa strains tend to energize, while Indica strains tend to relax. Depending on the medical condition being treated, physicians will prescribe specific strains (or a hybrid strain) that address a patient’s health needs.
Date/Source of Cultivation — This indicates when and where the cannabis was harvested in its raw form.
Date/Source of Manufacturing — Indicates when and where the medicinal marijuana was packaged for sale and consumption.
Edible Product Labeling — THC and CBD amounts in edible medicinal marijuana products are represented in milligrams. A low THC amount hovers around 10 mg, while edible pot products made for cancer patients could contain more than 100 milligrams of THC.
Labels could also list the total number of CBDs in the product, which includes all cannabinoids present in the product. Medicinal marijuana with high numbers of compounds are extremely potent, both medicinally and psychoactively.
Also, be aware of medicinal cannabis products that are not labeled, or have labels with little information. Without a label specifying where it was tested, consumers can’t know if the product is contaminated with pesticides or herbicides. Some labels will list pesticide residue amounts. If your medicinal marijuana product label states that it has under .1 parts per million, it’s safe for consumption.
State Laws Regarding Medicinal Marijuana Labeling
Examples of the wide variety of labeling laws include the following guidelines determined by California, Delaware and Illinois lawmakers:
California’s Assembly Bill 266 provides regulations for the labeling of medicinal marijuana products. If you are prescribed medicinal marijuana in California, make sure the labeling includes the following:
Manufacturer source and date
Statements reading, “Schedule I controlled substance,” “For medical use only” and “Intoxicating effects may be delayed by up to two hours”
Packages containing only dried flowers should have the net weight of medical marijuana printed on the package
A warning indicating whether allergens, such as nuts, were used in the manufacturing of the product
List of all active ingredients, including THC, CBD and cannabinoid amounts in milligrams
Bold type indicating that the package contains medical marijuana
Information relating to a unique identifier provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture
Medicinal marijuana prescribed in Delaware only requires sellers to imprint the strain name, quantity and batch number on the label, along with a statement reading, “This product is for medical use only and is not for resale.”
Active ingredient amounts and a statement indicating the medical marijuana is contaminant-free should also be found on labels.
All medicinal cannabis products sold at dispensaries in Illinois must be registered with the Department. Product registrations include fees to cover the product’s name.
Products are to be labeled by cultivation centers before being sold to dispensaries. Labels must include P.O. Box and name of cultivation center where the product was manufactured, a unique serial number matching products with producer batches and lot numbers and final testing dates.
Pass/fail ratings must be included on labels that are based on mycotoxin, pesticide, solvent residue analysis and microbiological testing results.
Amount of all compounds contained in the product.
Statement that the product is for medicinal use only and not for transfer or resale to other individuals.
In contrast to these stringent labeling requirements, Michigan currently has no medicinal marijuana packaging or labeling requirements. However, Michigan’s medical marijuana program is governed by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to ensure patients using medicinal cannabis receive safe and effective products.
MarijuanaDoctors.com Is Here for Your Medical Marijuana Needs
MarijuanaDoctors.com offers a unique portal to help solve individual problems affecting medical marijuana patients, by connecting them with qualified, trusted physicians providing compassionate healthcare. We have an extensive database of physicians for patients, while physicians have access to up-to-date data regarding medical marijuana and its benefits.
In addition, we also publish the latest information detailing state medical marijuana laws and explain protocols governing how each state’s program works.
By accessing MarijuanaDoctors.com, patients can request appointments online, talk to doctors via our telehealth portal, schedule appointments with medical marijuana dispensaries or even participate in a nationwide marijuana peer review study. This study can help document information needed to provide irrefutable proof that marijuana has amazing medicinal qualities that can help people cope with chronic or debilitating illnesses.
We also have a guide to help patients receive their state medical marijuana card that explains how to fill out forms and where to send them.
Contact us today for more information about how we can help physicians and patients involved in prescribing and using medical marijuana.