How to Read Your Cannabis Label
Chances are you've purchased weed from your favorite dispensary or delivery service and you’ve seen a big sticker on the back of your jazz package with an assortment of numbers, percentages, exclamations, and other things that look like a foreign language. You know they are probably important, but what do they mean? While these obscure cannabis labels may look strange, they are actually packed with important information about the herbal delights you’ll soon be partaking in.
Despite many years of reading nutrition labels on food and drinks, stoners and non-stoners alike still have a hard time understanding cannabis labels. Most likely, this is because cannabis labeling has only become the norm in recent years - and also those scientific terms are way too “insider” for the average consumer. But fear not! We created a helpful breakdown of cannabis labeling so you can better understand the numbers and avoid flashbacks to your high school math class.
So what does it all mean? Let’s dive in…
WHY LABELS MATTER
Like your favorite food and drink nutrition labels, these cannabis labels provide you with important information about your weed: where it came from, what’s in it, when it was packaged, who tested it, and when to use it by. Most importantly, they tell you how much THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are actually available for use. These numbers may seem trivial, but they provide important information about the type of high you’ll get from the product. For example, a strain that features just 3% CBD content will produce different effects than one that has 0%, even if the latter is thought to be the same strain.
It’s important to remember that cannabis labels vary in each state, meaning the fuzzy flower you bought in California will have a different label than the buds you bought in Nevada. This is because each state has different laws and regulations for cannabis cultivation, production of products, and labeling of products. Some states have more details on their labels (like testing information), while others can seem a bit more sparse. If you feel hazy about the label details, never hesitate to ask your budtender about the testing and any other information that sparks your cannabis curiosity.
It matters where your weed is made. That’s why one of the first things you should look for is information on who manufactured your cannabis, and this can come in many fun names like “manufactured,” “packaged,” and “cultivated.” This can be valuable information when purchasing weed, as you can ask your budtender about the place of manufacture to learn more about the people and process behind your grass. Sometimes there may even be a website so you can do some quick research from your phone without leaving your favorite shop.
The THC percentage on the cannabis label represents the total amount of THC that is available for use. This is the number most consumers look at right away, as THC content will give you a good idea about the level of psychoactivity about the strain. The higher the percentage of THC, the more blazed you’ll get. The lower the THC, the less likely you are to trip balls. Old Pal flower falls right in the sweet spot with a more midrange potency, providing a smooth, approachable smoking experience that’s a bit more social and easy going.
For edibles, this number is often represented in milligrams. If you’re not dialed into grams and milligrams (like many of your fellow stoners), we created a handy guide to help you better understand the weed metric system. Generally, 10mg is a solid dose for the average consumer, while those looking to get stonerriffic consume around 20mg. Remember that delicious edibles can sneak up on you and it’s easy to eat too much too fast. Start around 2.5mg, wait 2 hours, and then see how the high is treating you.
Even though it probably says the Indica, Hybrid, or Sativa on the front of the packaging, you’ll also notice it on the cannabis label. Many labels will often have the specific name of the strain as well. We at Old Pal vary our flower strains throughout seasons, but we always maintain consistency in quality.
By now you’ve probably guessed that, like THC, this is the total amount of activated CBD in the product. This number is important because it can give you a better gauge on the high you’ll get, as CBD can often mitigate the negative side effects of THC and provide the average consumer a more mellow high. Remember, if THC makes you feel paranoid, opt for more CBD-rich strains.
You’ve probably heard the word “terpenes” tossed around a lot in the weed world. By loose definition, these provide the flavor, aroma, and additional medicinal benefits of cannabis products. While it is not required in CA to label terpenes, you will find the top three terpenes by volume of strain on your bag of Old Pal buds purchased in NV. You can do some quick research to understand more about the effects of each specific terpene and other common plants it is found in. Fun fact: Old Pal’s OG Kush oil has the terpene linalool which is also the active terpene in lavender.
Unlike those munchies in your fridge, the expiration or “best by” date on your buds isn’t about when the weed will go bad - it’s the expiration of the testing results. Your flower will still get your stoned after this date, but it’ll probably be a little less potent depending on how long you wait and how well you store it. Hint: try a ceramic stash jar.
With state regulation comes those lovely warnings on your cannabis label. These warnings come in all shapes and sizes, and they vary state to state. California, for example, requires products to display the Proposition 65 warning label. At the end of the day, these warnings are meant to protect children and pets from cannabis. It’s also a friendly reminder to not handle heavy machinery while you’re stoned. Seriously, if you get high, stay away from the forklift and your car. And of course, heed any warnings from your doctor about the consumption of cannabis.
Some states that require lab testing also require manufacturers to include information about the product's lab test - like the date and name of the lab where it was tested. You may even find some labels explicitly state any pesticides, mold, or other contaminants in your buds. Remember that passing a test means that the product contained is below the maximum allowed amount of pesticides, microbials, etc. This is similar to agriculture standards for the food we eat, so if you are purchasing weed from the legal market there’s nothing to be concerned with when it comes to harmful levels of any of these things since the product wouldn’t be available on shelves if all tests were not passed. In case you’re wondering, we work with all Old Pal stockists to ensure you get the freshest and safest weed possible.
ONE FINAL TOKE
As you’ve probably noticed, there’s more to your buds than meets the eye. Learning to read cannabis labels is as important as understanding labels at the grocery store, and your knowledge will help ensure you never have a bad trip. To ensure you’re getting asafe, high-quality product, have a look at the label and don’t hesitate to ask questions before your purchase.