Cannabis Labeling Bill Tabled for the Year Amid Industry Opposition

By Amy O'Gorman Jenkins, President of Precision Advocacy

A burdensome labeling bill that would have added significant costs to licensed cannabis products is dead for the year. Senate Bill (SB) 1097, authored by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), which would have required the inclusion of new unsubstantiated claims on cannabis products and in educational materials, was tabled by the California Legislature earlier this week, following intense opposition from industry and consumer advocacy groups. 

“Our top priority is to keep consumers and patients safe,” said Amy O’Gorman Jenkins, founder of Precision Advocacy and legislative advocate for the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA). “Illicit cannabis products are unregulated and untested. California’s legal cannabis industry is already required to include clear warning labels that communicate scientifically established health risks, and we have seen no evidence that the current labeling and disclosure requirements are insufficient.”

It’s estimated that illicit cannabis sales still represent two-thirds of California’s cannabis marketplace, and research demonstrates that reducing onerous taxes and regulations remains the most effective way to grow the legal market and thus, protect cannabis consumers and patients.

CCIA supported the following amendments, which were unfortunately rejected by SB 1097’s proponents: 

  • Amend warning statements must be included in a brochure and replaced with broader language to avoid codifying specific statements before the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) have an opportunity to review the science on each issue
  • Provide that brochure content include, but not be limited to:
    • Information about the pharmacological effects of cannabis use
    • The potential for THC to exacerbate certain mental health conditions
    • Implications and risks associated with cannabis use by minors
    • Implications and risks associated with cannabis use by pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Require retailers and microbusinesses on/after March 1, 2024, to display the brochure at the point of sale in person or online and make it available upon request to consumers
  • Retain the language requiring the DCC to recertify the brochure information beginning January 1, 2030, and every five years thereafter
  • Amend the labeling requirements to authorize the DCC, on or before July 1, 2025, to reevaluate the existing labeling requirements to assess whether any changes are necessary based on evolving science
  • Provide that any changes to the existing labeling requirements can be satisfied via an insert or label
  • Direct the DCC to consult with DPH and California’s public universities to evaluate the impacts of cannabis legalization and any additional stakeholders as determined by the DCC
  • Retain the language requiring the DCC to recertify the labeling information beginning January 1, 2030, and every five years thereafter
  • Retain the language permitting the sale of cannabis products manufactured before January 1, 2025, for one year, until January 1, 2026, in the event that any labeling changes are required

“The cannabis industry is pleased that SB 1097 was tabled, yet we anticipate the proponents will introduce a similar bill next year,” said O’Gorman Jenkins. “In the meantime, CCIA will convene a working group over the fall to develop policy recommendations aimed at keeping cannabis consumers and patients safe.”