State considers putting additional warning label on cannabis products

Sam Albillo/Senior Staff

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The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, or OEHHA, will hold a meeting Wednesday to determine whether cannabis smoke and THC —  the chemical in cannabis that makes people “high” — will be added to a list of harmful toxins, per Proposition 65.

Passed in 1986 with 63% of the vote, Prop. 65 — also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act — requires the maintenance of a list of potentially harmful chemicals that could negatively impact reproductive health, as well as those that may cause cancer. Since 2009, cannabis has remained on the list of potentially harmful carcinogens.

In order to determine if cannabis smoke and THC will be added to the list, the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee will assess the extent to which THC and cannabis smoke are harmful to reproductive health.

The committee — appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom — consists of researchers from around the state, according to OEHHA spokesperson Sam Delson.

“One is a researcher from UCLA, another is from USC and there are multiple researchers from UC Davis,” Delson said.

According to Delson, this decision is part of a larger open and public process. For example, Delson said there were “several opportunities” for public comment, in which individuals could share personal opinions on the OEHHA website. On their website, OEHHA currently lists five public comments submitted between Oct. 4 to Nov. 18.

Additionally, to make the meeting more accessible, it will be livestreamed on the California Environmental Protection Agency website.

If the committee decides to add cannabis smoke and THC to the Prop. 65 list, warning labels will be added after about one year, according to Delson. During this one-year period, OEHHA will determine a safe level of exposure to THC and cannabis smoke.

Delson also noted that there is already a label on cannabis products warning customers of potential reproductive risks — including those for pregnant women and nursing mothers. If cannabis is added to the Prop. 65 list for reproductive risks, however, then that label “might be stronger, or more definitive,” according to Delson.

Although the city of Berkeley “does not have (a) city-specific labeling requirement,” according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko, cannabis products sold in California would potentially have to update their labels to include risks associated with cannabis smoke and THC.

“The City does have additional signage requirements to be posted where cannabis is sold,” Chakko said in an email. “The Council will consider additional regulations as part of the cannabis ordinance modifications anticipated for early next year.”

Moving forward, the city also plans to add cannabis regulations, including a proposed sign that would indicate any potential harm to an infant and their development.

Contact Robson Swift at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @swift_robson.