MAs a compliance officer in a cannabis packaging design agency, I have instilled a concept into our team. As the industry matures, there will be more litigation aimed towards manufacturers. Dressing up a well-known term, and creating a new name opens the door for a potential lawsuit. If you want to use a new name, proceed with caution as you may be in a similar situation.
A recent class-action complaint filed in San Francisco County Superior Court alleges that Raw Garden™ products packaged as “refined Live Resin vape pens” do not contain Live Resin. Instead they are allegedly made with distillate and reintroduced terpenes.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with this complaint. It is important to watch as many industry terms have been loosely defined while others are well known and settled. When packaging your cannabis product, it’s crucial that you accurately describe your product. Adding a disclaimer like “refined” is tricky. Your packaging may still be considered misleading.
Quotes from the complaint are posted in italics.
Raw Garden, a DBA for Central Coast Agriculture LLC, has well-loved cannabis vape pens and a strong following. The following included the plaintiff in the complaint. The plaintiff claims that he purchased the Raw Garden vape cartridge and paid a premium price for the products because he believed them to contain Live Resin. The complaint states the plaintiff would not have purchased the product if he knew it was made with distillates and reintroduced terpenes.
The complaint alleges that Raw Garden creates the vape pen cartridges by making Live Resin, distilling it, and adding terpenes back into this distillate. The company then packages and sells the resulting liquid as a “refined” Live Resin vape cartridge according to the complaint. The complaint continues to allege that the liquid used in Raw Garden’s “Live Resin” cartridge is not Live Resin because it has been distilled and despite the re-addition of terpenes, it does not contain all the organic compounds that are in a true Live Resin.
Distillates vs. Live Resin: What’s the difference?
Dabconnection.com explains, distillates focus on retaining the strength and purity of cannabis concentrate. Taste and flavor are not a priority. The distillation extraction process requires a solvent such as CO2, butane or ethanol, pressure, steam, and heat.
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Cannabis is harvested, dried, and cured. A very cold solvent is run through room temperature cannabis. The cannabis is soaked in the solvent, then broken up while keeping the solvent extremely cold. The mixture is then filtered to remove the plant, heated to remove the solvent and distilled to create a pure oil. Terpenes, phytonutrients, and other chemicals are destroyed or burned off by the process.
Live Resin focuses on retaining all flavors of the original plant, creating a more potent product. It requires heat before it will have any medicinal or psychoactive effect.
It’s a relatively new technique, developed in 2013. Freshly harvested cannabis is cryogenically frozen, retaining its terpene profile, original flavor, and fragrance throughout the extraction process and into the final product. It is extracted with butane, and then the butane is purged with warm water (45°F max). The remainder of the butane is then purged using a vacuum chamber. This process results in a preserved terpene profile.
If the complaint is correct and the company creates a Live Resin and distills it, do you think “refined Live Resin” is an accurate product description? With July’s cannabis sales in California’s regulated market hitting $348 million, it’s clear the industry has matured. Business owners need to be extremely careful with packaging, ensuring they can back up all claims in a court of law.
This should also be a reminder that there are groups looking to target cannabis companies in court. Be sure to stay up to date with the regulatory changes that go into effect in January 2021. If you are unsure if your packaging is compliant, Inkbrite can provide a compliance review.
This article is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. This article outlines Inkbrite’s internal policies and should not be interpreted as legal guidance. For legal counsel, please contact your attorney.
If you need beautifully designed, compliant packaging for your cannabis products, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Is your existing packaging compliant? Inkbrite can tell you with a compliance review.
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