However, specific and clear universal CBD labeling requirements haven’t caught up to this enormous segment growth.
This lack of clarity does create a challenge for brand owners, as diligence is needed to meet evolving requirements on the state and federal levels (and avoid costly lawsuits or violations). But it also creates an opportunity for brands to establish themselves as a trustworthy, knowledgeable producer in a crowded market.
This article is not meant to be a replacement for a thorough reading and understanding of state regulations and FDA guidelines. Rather, this is a great starting point for brand owners to:
Familiarize themselves with the general regulations.
Understand how requirements can differ; a CBD supplement label for a product sold in Indiana will have different requirements than a CBD edible brownie sold in Oregon.
Access state, federal and industry resources for learning more about requirements.
A clear and compliant CBD label is achievable for your product — let’s start laying your foundation.
Navigating state and federal regulations
Label requirements for CBD products are not yet as clear as they are for other market segments. Yes, industrial hemp (and thus hemp-derived CBD products) was legalized nationally under the 2018 Farm Bill. But for federal lawmakers, deciding on label guidelines and communicating them to business owners is still a work in progress.
If you take away one piece of regulation guidance from this article, it should be this:
Follow FDA labeling regulations for your product type. Then, check your state for CBD-specific label guidelines.
At the federal level, the FDA is still in the process of researching CBD to determine safe daily usage and establish rules for product labeling. Because of this, no CBD products will have FDA approval. This doesn’t mean you can’t sell them; it just means a CBD FDA disclaimer is needed on the label. And regardless of whether the product has CBD or not, all labels will need to follow the relevant FDA guidelines based on the product type: Food, cosmetic or dietary supplement.
While the FDA has yet to come up with standard, across-the-board guidelines, states have stepped up and provided their own guidelines for regulating CBD products and their labels. These vary state by state: Oregon allows for the manufacture and sale of all CBD products, California doesn’t allow for CBD in food or dietary supplements, Idaho strictly prohibits any such products.
As a business owner, it’s up to you to familiarize yourself with the labeling and marketing laws in each state where you plan on placing the products. For example, if you’re selling a CBD lotion in California, you will need to follow federal guidelines for cosmetic labels and state guidelines for CBD labels, too.
By designing your label with the regulations in mind, you can help prevent costly product recalls, avoid reprinting thousands of labels and protect the integrity of your brand — in the eyes of lawmakers and your customers.
What needs to be included on a CBD label?
This is not an end-all, be-all guide to a legally compliant label; regulations will vary state to state and will continue to evolve as the industry grows. But, this is a good starting point for business owners to get familiar with the components they will likely need to include for a CBD label.
Different than the brand name, this clearly states what your CBD product is or does (such as “Relaxation & Sleep Aid” in the above example). It must be included on the Product Display Panel (PDP) and be easy for customers to locate.
Because CBD products are not FDA-approved, an appropriate disclaimer is required. It could be a statement such as: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
In addition to the CBD FDA disclaimer, business owners can also opt to include the standard warning for children and pregnant women and/or the warning that users could fail a drug test if consuming hemp products.
Net quantity of contents
Within the bottom 30% of the PDP, you must list the amount of the actual product and the amount of active CBD per serving.
Ingredient list and informational panels
Any CBD product, whether it’s a food, cosmetic or dietary supplement, will require a full declaration of every ingredient in the product, in descending order, based on which components are most prevalent in the product.
Additionally, many CBD products will require a Nutrition Facts label or Supplemental Facts label to provide further information to the consumer. This will depend on your product type:
Food and drink products, such as CBD-infused sodas or brownies, will need a Nutrition Facts panel (as described in the FDA Food Labeling Guide). This will include important information like serving size.
Dietary supplements, such as ingestible oils and gummies, will need a Supplement Facts panel (as described in the FDA Dietary Supplement Labeling Guide). This will include important information like serving size.
Include the name of your business, your location and a way to contact you (by including a phone or a QR code, for example) on both the inner and outer packaging of your CBD product.
Disclosure of significant facts
Broadly speaking, this includes any information that an average customer would deem important when buying your CBD product. These will of course vary from product to product (or state to state, as with universal icons) but are a good way to help your customer understand your product better.
These could include:
Suggested use for the product, or application instructions
Whether your product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolate
Additional notes for brand owners
It’s essential for business owners to not include any false or misleading claims of treating or preventing disease, or therapeutic claims, either. As these claims aren’t evaluated or verified by the FDA, it can get your brand into trouble; the FDA has already sent warning letters to companies selling CBD products that have made these false claims.
Including an FDA disclaimer is one part of it. But you should also double check the claims you're making on the packaging: Are you making any disease prevention or therapeutic claims? For example, you cannot say that your highly potent CBD gummy infused with melatonin relieves insomnia because insomnia is a medical condition. Instead, use descriptive language that lets customers know the benefits without making misleading claims.
Finally, don’t forget about label design and placement. Make sure the panel size is large enough to display all required details, letters on ingredient informational panels are at least one-sixteenth (1/16) inch in height and the background is sufficiently contrasted with text for easy reading. Click here for more CBD-specific label design tips.
CBD labeling resources for business owners
The most dependable way to design a compliant label is to arm yourself with the necessary information. Continue your CBD labeling education by diving into these resources:
Find out your state hemp laws on your state’s Agricultural Department website
Business owners need to invest time and effort into understanding and implementing labeling requirements for CBD products. But by making this investment, you can ensure your label meets compliance standards and demonstrates brand integrity to your customers.
Disclaimer: Once again, the labeling information provided here is not intended to supplant FDA or state regulations. You must read the FDA and state regulations and comply with applicable guidelines, and the materials we are providing here will not release you from that obligation. This reference is not intended as legal advice on how to comply with FDA and state regulations. You are encouraged to read the FDA and state guidelines and consult a professional for assistance with your specific packaging.