AB 1646 Would Update Packaging Requirements for Cannabis Beverage Products

What problem does AB 1646 address?

When California legalized adult-use cannabis in 2016, the cannabis beverage sector was a negligible part of the cannabis industry. Initial cannabis packaging laws and regulations were formulated without taking into account the specific requirements of cannabis beverage manufacturers and consumers. And even though the cannabis beverage sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the industry, cannabis beverage manufacturers still have to abide by packaging regulations that were designed primarily for edibles, smokable products and flower.

Fixing a Previous Attempt – Assembly Bill 1222 – to Update Regulations

AB 1646 is a technical fix to AB 1222 of 2021, a bill that authorized cannabis beverages to be packaged in glass containers that are clear or any color. Before AB 1222, glass containers for cannabis beverages were limited to only amber-colored or opaque glass containers. Per the concerns of the Cannabis Beverage Association, these containers “often had to be sent out for an opacity processor or sourced from out-of-state or another country.” This limitation on container options was expensive and increased manufacturing costs for cannabis beverage products in California.

Unfortunately, though it added clarity for glass containers, the new statute has sometimes been construed to restrict packaging only to glass bottles (albeit of any color) and/or to not allow plastic containers to be clear.

Current Regulations (post AB 1222) for Cannabis Beverage Packaging

SECTION 1. Section 26120 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

  • (a) Prior to delivery or sale at a retailer, cannabis and cannabis products shall be labeled and placed in a tamper-evident, child-resistant package and shall include a unique identifier for the purposes of identifying and tracking cannabis and cannabis products. If the cannabis or cannabis product contains multiple servings, the package shall also be resealable.
  • (b) Packages and labels shall not be made to be attractive to children.
  • (c) All cannabis and cannabis product labels and inserts shall include the following information prominently displayed in a clear and legible fashion in accordance with the requirements, including font size, prescribed by the department:
    • (1) The following statements, in bold print:
      • (A) For cannabis: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS CANNABIS, A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS. CANNABIS MAY ONLY BE POSSESSED OR CONSUMED BY PERSONS 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER UNLESS THE PERSON IS A QUALIFIED PATIENT. CANNABIS USE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARMFUL. CONSUMPTION OF CANNABIS IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE AND OPERATE MACHINERY. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION.”
      • (B) For cannabis products: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS CANNABIS, A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS. CANNABIS PRODUCTS MAY ONLY BE POSSESSED OR CONSUMED BY PERSONS 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER UNLESS THE PERSON IS A QUALIFIED PATIENT. THE INTOXICATING EFFECTS OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS MAY BE DELAYED UP TO TWO HOURS. CANNABIS USE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARMFUL. CONSUMPTION OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE AND OPERATE MACHINERY. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION.”
    • (2) For packages containing only dried flower, the net weight of cannabis in the package.
    • (3) Identification of the type of cannabis or cannabis product and the date of packaging.
    • (4) The appellation of origin, if any.
    • (5) List of pharmacologically active ingredients, including, but not limited to, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoid content, the THC and other cannabinoid amount in milligrams per serving, servings per package, and the THC and other cannabinoid amount in milligrams for the package total.
    • (6) A warning if nuts or other known allergens are used.
    • (7) Information associated with the unique identifier issued by the department.
    • (8) For a medicinal cannabis product sold at a retailer, the statement “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY.”
    • (9) Any other requirement set by the department.
  • (d) Only generic food names may be used to describe the ingredients in edible cannabis products.
  • (e) Cannabis beverages may be packaged in glass containers that are clear or any color.
  • (f) In the event the Attorney General determines that cannabis is no longer a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, the label prescribed in subdivision (c) shall no longer require a statement that cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance.

Amendments to the Current Law as Proposed by AB 1646

AB 1646 amends the current law to authorize cannabis beverages to be packaged in a compliant container that is clear or opaque and differently colored. Per AB 1646, cannabis beverage packaging regulations would allow for non-glass materials to package cannabis beverage products.

If passed, AB 1646 would amend Section 26120 (e), of the California Business and Professions Code to read:

(e) Cannabis beverages may be packaged in containers that are clear or any color.

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