- Posted by Laura Croft, Esq
- On April 18, 2017
- California Implied Warranty, Defective Product, Returning Cannabis
Are dispensaries required by California state law to accept returns and refund unsatisfied Cannabis consumers? What if the product is defective or, better yet, not effective? A few years back, this would have been laughable, but as the industry evolves, consumers’ expectations of both customer service and Cannabis product is approaching new levels.
California Civil Code section 1723 states that sellers are not required by law to accept returned items unless they are defective. However, California law requires that retailers who have a policy of not providing a cash refund, credit or exchange, when an item is returned with proof of purchase within 7 days of purchase, must inform consumers about their refund policies by conspicuously placing a written notice about their policies, in language that consumers can understand, so that it can be easily seen and read. Companies may limit exchanges or returns for credit or refunds on all, or some products, or not allow returns for credit or refunds at all. Any such limitation, must be clear and unequivocal.
If a store violates this law (California Civil Code section 1723), the purchaser can return an item for a full refund within 30 days of purchase.
Cannabis Caveat: Certain merchandise either is not returnable by its nature or is not considered to be returnable. The requirements of Civil Code section 1723 do not apply to any of the following kinds of merchandise: Food, plants, flowers, and perishable goods. Department of Consumer Affairs. At first glance, disgruntled Cannabis consumers are best suited to walk away and cut their losses.
However, if the product is defective, possibly containing mold, mites or foreign objects or for Cannabis, ineffective is arguably a defect, it may be covered by an implied warranty. California Consumer Law effectively states that unwritten and unspoken warranties are legal contracts based upon the common law concept of “fair value for money spent.”
California Civil Code section 1792 imposes the implied warranty of merchantability on all “consumer goods” that are “sold at retail” in this State:
Unless disclaimed in the manner prescribed by this chapter, every sale of consumer goods that are sold at retail in this state shall be accompanied by the manufacturer’s and the retail seller’s implied warranty that the goods are merchantable.
Dispensaries do not have to clearly state their return policy, or lack thereof, as required by California State law, because Cannabis is a food/plant product. However, if the product is defective (or simply not effective), then the retailer’s implied warranty that the product is merchantable – reasonably fit for the ordinary purposes for which such products are manufactured and sold – is triggered and should be returned for “fair market value.” If soap is merchantable if it cleans then Cannabis is merchantable if it produces stated euphoria.
On the one hand, it is generally frowned upon in the industry to return Cannabis to a dispensary, but things are indeed changing. Most established dispensaries have a vested interest in maintaining a professional edifice and make it common practice to state their return policies in clear and conspicuous language. Apothecary Genetics sets a great example to follow that comports with California Civil Code and follows the spirit of consumers’ expectations of “good customer service.”
Apothecary Genetics Return Statement:
Return Policy for Medical Marijuana Products: There is no return or exchange for medical marijuana flowers, medical marijuana concentrates or medical marijuana edibles.
Exception to Medical Marijuana Return Policy: We only exchange goods if they are defective or damaged. In circumstances where you consider that a product is defective, you should promptly contact us at 903.420.1163 or email email@example.com with details of the product and the defect. If you are entitled to a replacement or refund, we will replace the product or refund the purchase price, using the original method of payment.
With Cannabis, we are often skating in a grey area. To be on the safe side, shop at a dispensary that has clearly stated return policies and you will know exactly what to expect. It is also a reasonable recommendation that dispensaries state their return policies clearly and conspicuously. Contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance in compliance with Cannabis licensing, permitting and the application process relating to commercial Cannabis in California.