Do I need a License to Bathe in Cannabis? Topicals & Type 6

Posted by Margolin & Lawrence on September 12, 2017

Cannabis, via a wide variety of consumption methods and in a myriad of forms, has a long history of use as a pain reliever. In this post, our los angeles cannabis lawyers tackle the topicals and Type 6 non-volatile cannabis manufacturing licenses. 

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As a result of the ongoing process of legalization, it’s now possible to find the active ingredients of cannabis packaged in more ways than ever, from medicinal oils designed to alleviate specific ailments to balms that double as designer perfume – and, yes, even to cannabis bath soaks, whose manufacturers promise to bring the soothing effects of CBD to their users’ bathing routines. However, given the still-complicated legal status of marijuana, it’s not always easy to tell which of these items are regulated as ‘cannabis,’ and which are merely treated as non-psychoactive hemp derivatives. This makes the subject of “topicals” – products designed to allow cannabis to be absorbed through the skin – confusing for consumers and manufacturers alike. Last week, we discussed LA's new zoning -- the requirements for Type 6 fall under the manufacturing umbrella. 

The value of these products is clear, especially for medicinal purposes. Lately, topicals have become a go-to for patients looking for relief from chronic pain including migraines, sciatica, and muscle tension, and stories like this Buzzfeed profile of a young woman using topicals to deal with a rare autoimmune disease have made the rounds on social media, convincing many non-cannabis users of the unique utility of these substances. However, the issue is also particularly relevant to California cannabis law: as a recent article in LA Weekly illustrates, many of the most active companies currently making cannabis lotions, salves, tonics, and bath bombs are based out of Los Angeles, using ingredients locally sourced in California.

Given this background, many marijuana businesses are interested in becoming licensed for making cannabis topicals, and, therefore, are wondering what California’s marijuana laws are on the subject – in particular, whether they need a license to make even small batches of these products. Unfortunately for any would-be entrepreneurs looking to get started immediately, the answer is yes: If they’re intended for sale, even small batches of cannabis topicals are illegal to manufacture without a license.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re in California and you’re interested in any activity involving marijuana other than personal use, you generally need some kind of license. For topicals, the particular type required is “manufacturing,” which deals with the infusion of a product with any kind of cannabis extract, including CBD. Specifically, the California cannabis license needed to produce topicals is “Type 6 - Non-Volatile Manufacturing.”

In order to even qualify to be granted a non-volatile manufacturing license, an operator needs both to be in a local jurisdiction that is authorizing Type 6 licenses and to be based out of a building that meets the local zoning requirements. Further, for new businesses, there may be additional requirements to meet: the original draft regulations on the subject, released in April 2017, have recently been repealed. The governmental body responsible for creating this legislation, the California Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch has promised to release its new emergency regulations this month.

Contact a Los Angeles cannabis attorney at our office who can advise you on the rules and regulations for becoming compliant

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This blog is not intended as legal advice and should not be taken as such. The possession, use, and/or sale of marijuana is illegal under federal law.