California cannabis operators pivot to comply with new vape law

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Image of worker packaging vape hardware

Final Bell Holdings is helping marijuana industry clients comply with a new California law concerning vape waste management. (Photo courtesy of Final Bell)

California cannabis brands and retailers are implementing new initiatives for vape packaging and disposal in response to a state law that went into effect July 1.

New requirements under California Business and Professional Code 26152.1, include:

  • A ban on using the term “disposable” to describe marijuana vape products in advertising, labeling and marketing.
  • Mandating that THC oil, vape pens and batteries be disposed of at hazardous waste collection facilities or other approved business.

“This legislation will help educate customers on how to properly dispose of integrated vaporizers, highlighting the need to treat them as hazardous waste as opposed to normal waste,” said Angelica Sanchez, senior director of government affairs and compliance at Sacramento-based Perfect Union, which operates nine stores, primarily in Northern California.

New challenge for retailers and brands

The burden of disposing of defective, returned or used vape products likely will now fall on retailers.

“The consumers themselves, however, have no real recycling solutions that are dedicated to cannabis products, specifically vaporization products,” said Jeremy Green, CEO and co-founder of Los Angeles-headquartered Final Bell Holdings, which provides supply-chain services for California and Canadian brands.

To provide convenience for customers, Perfect Union is installing vape-disposal boxes at its nine stores throughout the state.

“The Perfect Union team supports initiatives that promote both environmentally friendly packaging and safe disposal,” Sanchez said.

“This is an important step in the right direction.”

On the marketing front, Final Bell is helping its industry customers update existing packaging or create new labels as a temporary solution following the July 1 deadline, Green said.

Mammoth Distribution and its brand Heavy Hitters, one of the top-selling vape products in the state, aligned product packaging months ago to meet the new compliance standard.

“We have been progressively incorporating the bill’s language into our marketing and education materials,” Wesley Hein, head of global brand expansion at the Los Angeles-based distributor and president of the California Distribution Association, told MJBizDaily via email.

Improving sustainability

Some brands, such as Pax Labs, are incorporating more sustainable components into their devices.

The San Francisco-headquartered company, one of the industry’s biggest producers of cannabis vape products and accessories, in April released its first vape device made with reclaimed and recycled ocean-bound plastic.

“As part of an industry that cares deeply about this plant, we’re keen to see not just responsible consumption but responsible disposal as well – in this case, similar to how we treat most other consumer electronics that contain lithium-ion batteries,” Scott Collins, Pax Labs’ senior director of hardware product and design, told MJBizDaily via email.

“This is another reason why reusable pen and pod platforms are a great choice for durability and reducing the environmental impact of vape products.”

The Pax Trip, which has an outer shell made from the repurposed material, initially was launched in California and Massachusetts, but expansion is underway in Colorado and New York.

California sets standard

For decades, California has set the standard for domestic environmental policy and sustainability initiatives.

The vape law was tied to other measures passed in the 2021-22 California legislative session, including Assembly Bill 2440, also known as the Responsible Battery Recycling Act of 2022.

A.B. 2440, sponsored by Democratic Assembly Member and industry critic Jacqui Irwin, mandates “covered batter(ies)” manufacturers to develop waste-collection programs for consumers.

The vape disposal law builds on California’s efforts to improve sustainable disposal practices for cannabis vaping products while decreasing the likelihood of safety hazards such as fires associated with battery-operated devices, according to cannabis attorney Paula Savchenko.

“With the support of the state’s cannabis industry leaders behind these legislative endeavors, licensed cannabis companies will play an instrumental role in decreasing fires in the materials-management systems across the state,” said Savchenko, founder of Cannacore Group and PS Law Group in South Florida.

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Enforcement and disposal solutions?

Enforcing another burdensome regulation, according to industry sources, will be difficult for California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), which is trying to contain a growing pesticide scandal in the marketplace.

“The Department of Cannabis Control is updating its packaging and labeling checklist to reflect the new requirement and will be issuing guidance to support licensee compliance,” DCC spokesperson Moorea Warren told MJBizDaily.

Florida-based cannabis business attorney Dustin Robinson questions the impact of the law, not its merits.

“From a practical perspective, consumers and others will likely continue throwing the vapes in the trash until there is a widespread and convenient solution of electronic waste disposal,” he told MJBizDaily via email.

“Without a program of consumer education and network of locations that can be easily accessed by consumers, these regulations, unfortunately, are nothing but words on a packaging label with no practical way for them to influence the very behavior they are trying to change.”

Chris Casacchia can be reached at