Labeling Regulations and Guidelines for Cannabis Products in the United States: An overview


Labeling Regulations and Guidelines for Cannabis Products in the United States: An overview


With the growing acceptance and legalization of cannabis in the United States, entrepreneurs want to be a part of the cannabis market more than ever before. However, new cannabis business owners tend to overlook a crucial aspect of their cannabis business – quality cannabis packaging and effective cannabis labels. Whether it is cannabis-infused edibles, skincare, beverages, or something else, it is essential to abide by certain packaging and labeling guidelines for your cannabis products. If you have not yet registered your business name or set up taxes for your Cannabis business, check out this article to make sure you are legally complaint from the ground up.

Need for Cannabis Packaging and Label guidelines 

The primary motive of cannabis regulators is to prevent the diversion of cannabis products to children, eliminate misuse of cannabis products, and block their entry into the black market. They aim to protect the public, maximize the benefit of cannabis products and minimize the risks through their legal framework. Their cannabis packaging and labeling regulations form an essential part of this effort.

While the objective of keeping children from consuming marijuana may appear straightforward, it necessitates regulators to chart a complex legal landscape.  Also, there are limited rules and regulations at the federal level regarding cannabis packaging and effective cannabis labels. This is where individual state legislation comes into the picture and provides a detailed list of rules to be followed. Every state has its own rules, and most states update and modify their laws regularly. 'Cananpreneurs' must abide by these packaging and label regulations listed by their state. Making sure you follow Packaging guidelines is very important, check out this article to make sure you pick packaging that is legally compliant and safe for consumers.

Cannabis Product FDA Guidelines

A lot of the label guidelines depend on the type of cannabis product you are selling. It would be wiser to get the FDA guidelines sorted first. For example, if your product is a cannabis-infused edible, you must check out the FDA guidelines for labeling a food product. Similarly, if your cannabis product is a cosmetic one, it must comply with the FDA guidelines for labeling a cosmetic product. 

Following the FDA guidelines will tick off the basic bulk requirement for labels for your cannabis product. The remaining part can be put in place by following your state's guidelines for cannabis products. Despite there being a difference in the regulations of every state, there are a few common denominators that are persistent in almost every state.



Labeling Sections for Cannabis Products

There are two kinds of labeling sections for cannabis goods, namely, primary panels and information panels. If you're wondering what panels are, they are those sections of the labels that are visible to the customer.

Let's have a look into more about these panels and their purpose.

  1. Primary Panel

It is also called the prime label or the brand label and is located on the front of the cannabis packaging. Your buyers will see this panel when they see your product on the retail shelf. Cannabis manufacturers and producers are required to list specific details about their products on the primary panel. The exact requirements for this information will vary depending on which state it's being sold in and other specific regulations from that area. Generally, the primary panel mentions net weight, product name, universal symbols, cannabinoid content, batch number-related information, etc. It is used for branding as well. 

  1. Information Panel or the Secondary Panel

It is commonly placed at the back of the cannabis packaging or on the sides. It consists of information such as company name and contact detail. Plant strain name and type, important dates, lab information, terpene profile are other details mentioned on this panel. You can also put a QR code on this panel to enable the user to scan and get detailed information about the product. 

Cannabis Product Label Requirements

Before going into the detail of the cannabis labels guidelines and cannabis label placement, you must know that almost every state (in varying degrees) requires the cannabis packaging to be opaque, child-resistant, and resealable. You can refer to our detailed cannabis packaging guide for more information on this.

  1. Brand Logo and Identity

The front panel will consist of your brand's logo and a statement of identity. The brand logo will inform the customers about your company, and the statement of identity will tell them about the product they are purchasing. The label should clearly mention that the product within the packaging is a cannabis product and establish its identity irrespective of whether it is hemp oil, cannabis-infused cream, gummies, or anything else.

  1. The Net Weight and Contents

The front panel should display the net weight of the product. Use both metric and U.S Customary system units to mention the same. The label must also mention the quantity of pharmacologically active ingredients in milligrams per serving per package. The net weight should be displayed on the lower 30% of the front panel, parallel to the package's base. 

  1. Ingredients

If you are selling an ingestible or topical product, be sure to mention the complete ingredient list on the cannabis label or the packaging on the right to the statement of identity. The order of the ingredients will go from heaviest to lightest. Ensure that they are listed using their common name. The font size should be legible and no lesser than 1/16"

Cannabis products specifically need to have a terpenes profile and a list of pharmacologically active ingredients like THC, THCA, CBD, and CBDA on the label. 

  1. Supplement and Nutrition Facts

Consumable cannabis products, whether food, beverage, or supplement, need to have a facts panel. This facts panel should be easily readable and placed directly on the right to the statement of identity. It must include nutritional information such as serving size, daily value percentage, among others. 

  1. Warnings and Disclaimers

Different States require different warnings displayed on the cannabis product labels. However, below is a list of medical cannabis labels stipulated by most states. 

  • This product is a Schedule I Controlled Substance
  • For Medical Use Only. For use only by a qualifying patient.
  • The product can impair coordination, concentration, and judgment. It may impair a person's ability to drive a vehicle or operate machinery.
  • Marijuana has an intoxicating effect and is addictive. 
  • Using cannabis during pregnancy or breastfeeding may be harmful. 
  • Keep product out of reach of children and pets.
  • For use by adults only. Age - 21 or older. 
  • Mention of any particular allergen used in the product
  • Non-transferable or resaleable warning


  1. Important Dates

Manufacturing Date, expiration date, best by date, date of cultivation, and other dates that might apply to your cannabis product should be printed as part of your label design. However, you can also add them later by using a thermal printer or with your handwriting. 

  1. Manufacturer and Retailer Information

Manufacturing details like the batch number, production tracking, cannabis symbol, name and address of manufacturer, packer, and the distributor must be mentioned. Contact information to report any adverse reactions in case of emergency must be shared too. 

It would be wise to add the contact information of the Poison Control center in case of a traumatic reaction when consuming more than the recommended serving size. 

Cannabis Label Design Guidelines

Now that you know the cannabis label placement and informational guidelines, brace yourself for the label design guidelines. Most state regulations stipulate that cannabis packaging must not be brightly colored or styled in an attractive way that might appeal to children. Cartoon characters, mascots, or any resemblance to them must not appear on the label or the packaging. The packaging should also not resemble other commercially available snacks, beverages, candies, or baked eatables. Following your local guidelines is especially important if you plan on getting your products into dispensaries, check out this article to learn how You can get your products on the self of dispensaries.  

Designing Cannabis Labels

Despite these regulations, there is plenty of scope for you to design your cannabis product label creatively. You must pay close attention while designing your labels, as they will influence how customers perceive your brand. If done right, labeling can make your cannabis product stand out on store shelves, increase customer trust and boost sales as well. 

Here are a few recommendations you can follow:

  1. Try to follow a color theory as per your brand colors. Choosing a good quality label material can also make a difference. 
  2. Don't overdo the information or the design on the label. Keep a good balance of both.
  3. Use visuals such as taglines, logos, graphics, and other branding elements to make your product appealing.
  4. Design a custom layout that suits your brand and product. Use white space and simple colored fonts to make your label attractive and legible.
  5. The cannabis labels should be flexible enough to fit on the packaging of cannabis products of any size. It should be clear, concise, and legible from all angles. 
  6. Ensure that the cannabis labels are durable enough to sustain through the entire supply chain process. They must also be water-proof, strongly adhesive to avoid any tampering or loss of information. 



It is important to note that there is no 1-size-fits-all answer when it comes to cannabis packaging and labeling. It would be best to study your state's laws for packaging and labeling cannabis products to gather complete knowledge. 

Choosing suitable cannabis packaging, designing cannabis labels, and following all label and packaging guidelines can be overwhelming. But it is crucial to do that because it has the potential to turn your business around. Besides, no matter what cannabis business you are in, your products should meet the regulations to stay compliant with the local laws for the best results! 

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  • Matthew Centeno