A bill currently circulating in the California Legislature proposes that cannabis products be labeled with more visible health warnings. Senate Bill 1097, also known as the Cannabis Right to Know Act, is said to have the intent of educating people on the potential health risks associated with cannabis use.
Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) presented the bill on February 16th, and it will be heard in the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee on April 4th.
What We Know About The Cannabis Right To Know
Senator Richard Pan hosted a virtual press conference on March 31 wherein he informed a panel of doctors, youth organizations, and parents that cannabis goods require increased consumer warnings comparable to those found on tobacco products in order to alert users of health risks associated with the consumption of cannabis products. Pan stated that he, “authored the Cannabis Right to Know Act because current health warnings required for cannabis products are insufficient to communicate well-established health risks, especially to our youth,”
One of the main ways the bill intends to warn cannabis users of potential health risks is to require written warnings with a bright yellow background and warning texts such as: “Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding” and “Cannabis use has been linked to mental health issues, such as psychotic diseases like schizophrenia, risk is greatest for frequent users and when using products with high THC levels,” on cannabis products sold beginning in 2025. Those labels should take up a third of the front of the package and, if possible, use 12-point font.
Additionally, the bill would necessitate that cannabis stores provide prospective customers with a pamphlet created by the state Department of Public Health that explains how to use cannabis properly, such as starting with low doses. They would be expected to offer a leaflet detailing all of the potential health hazards linked with cannabis until that brochure is developed.
The requirement for warning labels would be included in cannabis product advertisements and cannabis business marketing.
Opposition To Senate Bill 1097
There are cannabis industry stakeholders, such as Tiffany Devitt, Chief of Government Affairs for CannaCraft (cannabis manufacturer based in Santa Rosa, California), who have expressed opposition to the bill. “S.B. 1097 is typical of a lot of ‘Reefer Madness’ type rules. The protect-the-children mania has gone to such insane proportions that it is causing harm to the very communities it is supposed to safeguard.”
The California Cannabis Industry Association is another who has expressed its opposition to the bill in a letter to the Legislature dated March 25, where they wrote, “While we appreciate the bill’s intent, its focus may be more effectively guided toward consumer education already in the program and funded by cannabis tax revenues from the licensed market.”
The cannabis industry is likely going to push back against this bill vehemently and it will be highly justifiable to do so in many regards. The Public Health Institute (PHI) is encouraging concerned California residents and cannabis businesses to sign a letter to Senator Richard Roth, Chair of the Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee.
Why Is There Opposition?
The “Right To Know Bill” is said to have the intent of warning cannabis users against the use of the products, due to the health risks associated with cannabis. Many of the warnings that have been proposed are widely believed, outdated, and generally false stereotypes that have surrounded cannabis due to the unfair prohibition that it has so long lived under.
The focus should be on providing and increasing accurate, safe testing of the hemp plant and its many products, which will then allow for the advocacy of safe cannabis consumption. Using scare tactics and old-fashioned claims about cannabis to warn users off of legal cannabis products is just another way that many lawmakers and members of Congress continue to drag their feet in the de-restriction and development of the legal cannabis industry. In doing so, rather than protecting the community, they are simply driving cannabis consumers toward the still-present illicit cannabis market.
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