Cannabis Edibles and the Packaging Industry

Effective packaging and labelling techniques enable cannabis brands to achieve safety, functionality and finesse, while observing legal requirements

How Companies Can Promote Safety and Attract the Right Buyers

By Charles Haverfield, Packaging Expert, US Packaging and Wrapping

For companies in the marijuana space, creating the best packaging for edibles is essential to a company’s success. However, this can be a challenging category due to regionalized regulatory requirements and consumer safety. It can be easy for children, and even some adults, to confuse edible marijuana products with other types of candy, snacks and food.

Fortunately, there are plenty of effective techniques companies can leverage to achieve safety, functionality and finesse, while observing legal requirements

 The rise of the edibles industry and current packaging laws

Adult-use cannabis sales have grown 144 percent between 2020 and 2025 in North America alone and legal sales of cannabis are expected to reach $39.1 billion by 2025. This sky-high projection is attributed to several factors: the introduction of US states legalizing adult recreational and medical cannabis use, product innovation and the continuous increase of cannabis consumption across the country.

Working within the industry across the United States, each company must review all local and state guidelines thoroughly. Most vary from state to state, so it is always important for any business to double-check regulations.  However, every state requires that the packaging of cannabis products be child resistant. The general approach taken by states is to incorporate the pre-existing federal standards established by the Poison Prevention Packing Act of 1970 (PPPA).

Consumer safety and package labelling are critical

Although legalized in some U.S. states, consuming cannabis edibles should be done with extreme caution. The effects of marijuana edibles last much longer than smoking, usually up to several hours depending on the amount of THC consumed.

However, the dosage estimation for many edibles is often inaccurate.

Research has shown that edibles are the form of marijuana consumption most likely to lead to emergency room visits for overdose, with studies suggesting this is due to the failure of users to fully understand the delayed effects of these products. A marijuana overdose is referred to as acute marijuana intoxication. Some of the adverse effects associated with the consumption of edibles include drowsiness, confusion, anxiety and panic attacks, hallucinations and impaired motor ability.

With so many risks associated with edibles, it’s not surprising the current packaging requirements are complex and highly necessary.  Child-safe packaging and accurate product labelling are critical to protect consumer safety, prevent underage consumption and meet local labelling guidelines and regulatory requirements.

Challenges faced by the packaging industry

There are stringent regulations for producing edibles packaging, not only due to the potential negative side-effects associated with marijuana consumption, but also because it’s important the packaging does not appeal to children.

Every state except Connecticut, Illinois, and Nevada currently has general language that prevents cannabis packaging from appealing to children. Many require the packaging to be plain and disallow specific imagery that appeals to children. This, of course, causes challenges for businesses trying to create responsible branding, as it is more difficult to make your packaging stand out from your competitors if you are limited by what you can do or say about your products.

The messaging on packaging must be accurate and transparent too. Recent consumer feedback suggested clear additional elements should be included on all edibles packaging to keep consumers betters informed, including an easily recognised, universal THC symbol; a health warning label; details on the quantity of THC in the product and warnings about potential allergens. Additionally, the packaging should not reference any purported health benefits or possible contribution to daily nutritional requirements.

With so much to be considered and with so many caveats and health restrictions, producing packaging for edibles is, no doubt, one of the most challenging industries to work with.

Providing effective design, which is legally compliant

Since marijuana edible firms are tasked with developing unique brand identities and personalities, it can be tempting to use brightly colored packaging, unique typography, and creative images.

However, it is possible to provide effective designs which are legally compliant. Consumer research suggests a good way to improve branding and product safety is to create packaging features that promote safe consumption by adults while protecting children, instead of recommending packaging that deters consumption completely.

A good starting point is to maintain a simple and clean design that limits the likelihood of a child being drawn to the packaging. Brands can rely on their unique edibles’ logo design and packaging ingenuity to promote their goods. Subsequently, this guarantees a strong brand identity to pique people’s interests and increase customers.

Participants from the earlier referenced study also suggested design improvements for future cannabis packaging and branding, including standardized THC units, non-numerical consumption instructions, and unit-dose packaging.

Safe and sophisticated packaging solutions

The type of custom packaging you choose for edibles can ensure your products stand out and attract customers too. For example, flow wrapping machines and materials help meet local guidelines and we have helped companies improve product security with heat shrink seals for edibles and vape products. Modified atmosphere packaging can also extend flower storage times.

In terms of focusing on child safety, metal tins for edibles are an ideal choice. Tins are excellent for providing physical protection to your products and are easily customizable.

Other methods are effective like glass cannabis jars. These items are airtight, leak-proof, and child-resistant, making them ideal for numerous types of cannabis products. They give consumers a glimpse of what they are purchasing, and push and turn caps or ‘pop-tops’ can be added to jars and bottles, which demand motor skills children under the age of five don’t yet have.

This packaging can also feature foil seals at the openings. Seals are difficult to remove for small hands with limited strength as you need a strong pulling force to remove it, or a sharp object to puncture it.

Safety locks on boxes have also become popular because these locks limit the reach and safeguard children from harm. To open the boxes, these locks must be opened following an exact pattern. One of the most used locks in this regard is the press lock. Small children are not yet able to understand these patterns, making them an effective choice to enhance child safety.

Pouches can be child-resistant with the use of child resistant films and the addition of a certified child resistant zipper. Some will offer a child-resistant press-to-close zipper for safe and convenient pouch resealability.

About Charles

Charles Haverfield is the CEO of U.S. Packaging & Wrapping – a full-service, customer-driven packaging supply company. He works with growers and dispensaries to secure, protect, and preserve flowers, edibles, and vape products. Learn more at https://uspackagingandwrapping.com/

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