Health Canada regulates the packaging and labeling requirements of cannabis products quite strictly, and there's a good reason why. All the information found on a cannabis product label gives consumers great insight into the product, and helps keep us safe and aware of what we’re consuming.
From where it’s harvested to post-consumption-recycling, cannabis labels are chalked full of useful information.
So grab your cannabis package, and let’s take a walk through the busy label of a Canadian cannabis product!
The first thing to look for is the strain and weight of your product. Cannabis labels list the strain of cannabis as Indica, Sativa, Hybrid, or CBD. The net weight of the overall product is listed in grams (ie: 3.5 grams, 1 gram).
Next are CBD and THC. These values represent the amount of THC and CBD in the cannabis product when it was packaged. Values are generally low for cannabis that has yet to be decarboxylated- including dried flower and concentrates.
What is decarboxylation, you may ask? It’s the process through which cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are activated, which is necessary in order to experience the full effects of the plant.
Total THC and Total CBD quantities are different from THC and CBD. Values listed as Total THC and Total CBD represent the potency once the cannabis has been decarbed- aka, it’s been heated ( ie: smoked or vaped) and/or cured for a long period of time.
This Total Value is the best representation of the products effects, and should be the point of reference for consumers.
At first, the potency of dried flowers was listed in terms of percentages. Now, distributors are required to phase potency into milligrams per gram.
If the product contains multiple smaller products, then the amount of THC/CBD per unit will also be listed (ie: amount per joint, square of chocolate, or infused-gummy).
Let’s look at an example of an up-to-date THC and CBD Value label:
Net Weight: 3.5 grams
Total THC: 150.3 mg/g
(THC: 5.6 mg/g)
Total CBD: 0.09 mg/g
(CBD: 00.0 mg/g)
In order to find the percentage of Total THC and Total CBD in the final decarbed product, simply move the decimal point one spot to the left.
In this product example, the Total THC is 150.3 mg/g and Total CBD is 0.09 mg/g. If we move each decimal point to the left, we get the percentage: Total THC is 15.03%, and Total CBD is 0.009%.
This works for dried flower, vaping and dabbing concentrates, and now for pre-rolls as well. As long as a product weight is listed in milligrams per gram, this method is tenfold.
Keep an eye on the producer and/or processor, which will be listed on the label as well. You might find that you enjoy a certain grower’s products! By becoming familiar with the producers you like, you can easily narrow down which products you want to have in your repertoire.
Cannabis labels now list the date it was packaged as well as its best-before date. Keep in mind that the packaging date refers to when the product was sealed in its packaging, not when the flower was harvested. The best-before date tells you when the product will begin to lose its potency: aka- when the cannabinoids and terpenes will begin degrade. Cannabis can be consumed after this date, it just might be less effective and not as enjoyable.
Cannabis labels are federally required to list health warnings on their labels. Pay attention to the warnings on your label, and be sure that you’re following all legal requirements and recommended guidelines.
Is cannabis packing recyclable? This is a tough one. Current federal mandates require producers to create packaging that’s opaque, child-proof, and properly seals the cannabis. Other than that, there are no requirements regarding the quality of materials used.
That being said, most cannabis packaging is recyclable. But how can you tell? Check the bottom of your container or packaging:
If you see a 1, give it a good clean and put it in the recycling bin! The packaging is made from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), and can be turned into pillow stuffing, carpeting, t-shirts and more.
If you see a 2, it also earns a place in your recycling bin! Plastic with the code 2 is High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), and can be made into playground equipment or blue bins.
If you see a 5, into the recycling bin it goes! This is Polypropylene (PP) and can be made into products like ice scrapers.
Any paper, cardboard, bottles and cans can also be recycled. Check your local recycling program to see if they accept wax paper, as it's not accepted in some regions.
To recycle vape pens and cartridges, consider checking out TerraCycle, a Canadian-based recycling company that specializes in recycling the “non-recyclable”. They offer a number of methods of recycling, from boxes to drop-off stations. Check out their website to find a location near you!
On top of TerraCycle, a new vape hardware recycling program is currently being launched across Canada. Countertop collection boxes will be rolling out to over 200 stores across the nation, making it easy for consumers to drop off their vapes and vape products, no matter the brand, for recycling.