The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 – often referred to as Prop 65 – contains a list of approximately 900 different substances that can lead to cancer, reproductive harm, or birth defects. California recently added cannabis (marijuana) smoke and delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC) to the Prop 65 list, claiming they could cause reproductive toxicity. Cannabis smoke has been listed under Prop 65 since 2009 for its risk of causing cancer.

This does not mean that consumers cannot purchase products with delta 9-THC, or those which will result in marijuana smoke; instead, it requires businesses “to provide a ‘clear and reasonable’ warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to a listed chemical, unless the business can show that the anticipated exposure level will not pose a significant risk of cancer or is significantly below levels observed to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm,” according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

What is reproductive toxicity?

OEHHA defines reproductive toxicity (or reproductive harm) as a chemical’s interference with a person’s ability to give birth to a normal, healthy child. California believes that marijuana smoke and delta 9-THC products could affect male and female reproductive systems, thereby inhibiting people’s ability to reproduce, or leading to “effects on the developing embryo, fetus, or child, resulting from exposure during pregnancy.”

Because of this, both substances have been listed in Prop 65.

What will California businesses have to do to comply with the law?

In order to comply with the law, the cannabis industry in California will need to issue warnings about their products. Business may choose to do this with warning labels on their products, but they could also choose to put up signs in and around their businesses, or on their websites if they do not have a brick-and-mortar building. They must also ensure that none of their products are “knowingly discharge[ed]… into sources of drinking water.”

Business with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from Prop 65 requirements, as are government entities.

Your rights in cases involving failure to warn

Business owners and operators owe their customers a duty of care; so do manufacturers. It is why you expect retailers to put up “wet floor” signs when there is a spill, and for manufacturers to include instructions for proper use of their products. As consumers, you have the right to know what chemicals and toxins are in the products you use, and the potential dangers you face by using those products.

When companies fail to issue these types of warnings, and then you suffer injuries as a result, those companies can be held accountable through a product liability lawsuit. Under the laws of California, you typically have two years to bring a claim.

If you have suffered harm from marijuana smoke or a delta 9-THC product, consult a Los Angeles product liability lawyer about your options. To schedule your free consultation, call our office at 310-474-1582 or reach out through our contact page to tell us your story.