Health Canada has a fairly strict list of packaging and labeling instructions for cannabis producers. The labels can look a little crowded, however their design is to improve consistency among producers and aid in consumer comprehension. Understanding and complying with government guidelines is a crucial production aspect for all cannabis providers to consider. Relaying the required information is about more than just being complaint, it also helps inform consumer decision making.
Compliant cannabis labels have several components; product information, ingredients, standardized THC symbol (when required), health warning message, and net content. Most of these components are fairly self-explanatory, most of consumer confusion is in interpreting the cannabinoid content.
Here’s what you need to know to take the mystery out of cannabis labels.
Actual vs Potential Cannabinoid Percent
Dried flower has two percentages on their labels, actual cannabinoid content and a potential percent. The ‘actual’ percentage represents the dried flower in its unprocessed state, it is typically rather low and represents the amount of THC or CBD in a product as-is.
Cannabinoids are activated when heated, so the labels also indicates the potential potency of THC or CBD when it is activated, whether through heat or processing. This is why the actual and potential percentages are the same on oils and concentrates, since they have already been processed before distribution.
Indica Dominant vs Sativa Dominant vs Hybrid
Cannabis labels may indicate what kind of strain category the product belongs to, as well as the specific strain name given by the producer. The categorization of whether a product is sativa, indica, or hybrid is believed to affect the experience a consumer has with the product. Sativa strains are explained as more ‘energizing’ while indica strains create a more relaxing effect. While strains types are uniform among producers, strain names are not standardized so understanding cannabinoid content is key for label literacy.