How to Read A Cannabis Label


How to Read A Cannabis Label

Cannabis packaging and labels

This guide is designed to help you read general cannabis product labels. It will help you understand the elements that appear on the label of any product sold in the Spectrum Therapeutics shop.

For more information on Spectrum Therapeutics-specific label elements, such as the colour-coding of the Spectrum Therapeutics Framework, please read this article

Strain types

Cannabis is usually classified into two distinct types: Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. Strains that are categorized as “indica” are generally thought to have sedative physical effects. Strains that are categorized as “sativa” are generally thought to be more energizing and mentally stimulating. And strains with the “hybrid” classification fall somewhere in the middle. 

However, each person’s response to cannabis is unique. A “sativa” flower may feel stimulating to one person, and relaxing to another. Your own body chemistry, method of consumption, mood, and physical setting can all influence your experience, regardless of an indica, sativa, or hybrid designation.

Every cannabis plant features a unique combination of active compounds and aromatic molecules (terpenes). Based on current scientific research, it’s believed that the interaction between these compounds is responsible for the different experiences associated with different cannabis varieties.

CBD and THC content

example of a cannabis label

example of a cannabis label showing THC and CBD mg per gram

A cannabis label will always list the number of active cannabis compounds present in the product; in most cases, there are two primary cannabinoids, CBD and THC.

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a compound that is generally considered non-euphoric. Unlike THC, CBD may still have an effect on the brain (but it might not be that common “high” that a consumer is used to experiencing). On the other hand, THC is the primary compound responsible for the euphoric effects often associated with cannabis. The higher the amount of THC in a product, the more potent its effects. 

CBD and THC contents are listed in different formats depending on the type of product. Here are the different ways that you might find CBD and THC content listed:

  • Milligrams per gram or mg/unit (flower, softgels)
  • Milligrams per gram or mg/g (cannabis oils)
  • Milligrams or mg/unit (edibles)

On cannabis flower labels, the key numbers are those printed after “TOTAL THC” and “TOTAL CBD.” These numbers refer to the amount of each compound that will be available after heating—that is, when you smoke or vaporize your flower.

Packaging and expiry dates

packaging label

packaging label showing where to find lot info and packaging dates

The date that the cannabis product was packaged, and the date upon which it expires (if any), are both shown on the label.

Product weight

Dried cannabis is measured in grams, and this gram weight appears on the label. In Canada, most consumers are limited to purchases of 30 grams or less; medical consumers may be able to purchase more, depending on their medical authorization. However, if you were to place your cannabis on a scale, you might notice a small discrepancy; because cannabis buds are not uniform, government regulations allow producers some slight variance in product weight. 

If a dried cannabis product is under two grams, you might find that the package actually contains 10 percent more or less than the gram weight listed. If the product weighs more than two grams, then you may notice up to a five percent difference. In practical terms, that means that if you purchase 3.5 grams of dried flower, you may actually get anywhere from 3.325 to 3.675 grams.

Warning labels

cannabis warning label

cannabis warning label in bright yellow text box with black text

By law, cannabis products must contain warning labels. These warnings serve a public health purpose, and companies are required to print at least one warning on cannabis packages.

Producer information

Canadian cannabis is grown by Licenced Producers that have received governmental accreditation and approval to cultivate, process, and distribute cannabis. Should you need to contact a Licensed Producer, their information, including company name and contact details, can be found on their products’ labels.

Recommended storage conditions

Medical cannabis products should be kept in dry environments. Heat and sunlight can degrade the active compounds in the product, reducing both its quality and potency over time, so we recommend you keep your product in an air-tight, and preferably opaque, container. 

It’s also important to store cannabis out of sight and out of reach of children––or anyone who might want it for non-medicinal purposes.

Lot number

A lot number is required on all Canadian consumer goods. The lot number provides specific information regarding the exact batch of cannabis that was harvested or extracted for your product. If there are recalls of a product due to contamination, this lot number allows you, the producer, and public health officials to identify and sort out the products that are problematic. 

The lot number also provides information regarding potency. Cannabis is harvested every eight to 12 weeks. Each harvest is batch-tested and its CBD and THC contents are recorded; it is then associated with a unique lot number to make it trackable. 

If you have any questions about reading labels on cannabis products you’ve purchased, our Customer Care team will be pleased to hear from you and can be reached via phone or email.

This communication is intended for adults only in the province in which it is distributed and should not be shared with minors.