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A Consumer Guide to Reading Cannabis Product Labels

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Cannabis product labels contain a wealth of information for consumers. With more states legalizing both medical and recreational cannabis, it’s important for consumers to understand how to read and interpret product labels.  This guide will provide tips on what to look for on cannabis product labels.

Check the Producer and Manufacturing Details

All legal cannabis product packaging will contain details about the producer, manufacturer, and when the product was packaged. This information is required by state laws and gives you insight into the source of the product. Reputable producers and manufacturers will be licensed and regulated. Avoid any products that seem questionable or don’t provide license details.

Confirm It’s Child-Resistant Packaging

Legal cannabis products should only be sold in child-resistant packaging. This is required by law in all states where cannabis is legal. Child-resistant packaging has special features to prevent access by children through the use of multiple actions to open it. If the packaging seems easy to open, it may be a red flag.

Review THC and CBD Contents

The most important information on a cannabis product label is the THC and CBD contents. THC is the primary intoxicating compound in cannabis that produces the “high” feeling. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound linked to potential therapeutic benefits. Products will list the total THC and CBD percentages so you know exactly what you’re getting. If a label doesn’t include the THC/CBD contents, don’t purchase it.

Understand Serving Information

Labels will indicate the total amount of THC and/or CBD in the entire package and the amount per serving. Carefully review the serving size and number of servings per package. Consuming larger servings than indicated can lead to unwanted effects from too much THC. Measure out and consume single servings to control your dosage.

Check Other Cannabinoid Contents

In addition to THC and CBD, cannabis contains a variety of other cannabinoids that may provide benefits. Products may list other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and THCV and their amounts. Focusing on the entire cannabinoid profile gives you a better sense of the potential effects. Research shows certain cannabinoids work better together through the “entourage effect.”

Review Terpenes

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis that shape the flavor and effects. Labels may indicate the top terpenes and their percentages. Checking terpene contents can help you determine if a product aligns with your preferences. For example, pinene terpenes provide an energizing effect, while myrcene terpenes produce more sedation.

Check Lab Testing Results

Reputable cannabis producers will include or provide access to third-party lab testing results. Labs confirm the cannabinoid contents and screen for contaminants like mold or pesticides. Regulations prohibit the sale of untested cannabis products in legal markets. Products without test results should be avoided.

Understand the Ingredients List

Some infused cannabis products, like edibles, will include an ingredient list. Review all ingredients to check for allergens or additives you prefer to avoid. Look for products using high-quality, natural ingredients. Avoid edibles using artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

Confirm Product Category Rules

Different cannabis product types have different regulations around contents and labeling. For example, infused edibles cannot exceed certain THC limits per serving and package. Checking that the label aligns with product category rules provides further assurance of regulatory compliance.

Check Expiration or Best-By Dates

Cannabis products are required to include expiration or best-by dates to ensure freshness and effectiveness. Marijuana flowers typically have expiration dates of 6 months to a year. Edibles and other products may list best-by dates of a year or more. Avoid any products that are past expiration or best-by dates.

Understand Cannabis Product Labels

With some education on how to read cannabis labels, you can better understand and evaluate products for both their effects and their safety. Seek out labels that are detailed, transparent, and compliant while avoiding products with missing or non-specific information. Sign up to be notified when Qredible for Consumers launches—a free resource to ensure your safety when consuming cannabis products.
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