The Canadian Government Imposes Strict Guidelines on Cannabis Packaging
by Mike Malz
It’s no secret that cannabis-or marijuana as some prefer-has become a hot topic of conversation. With the legalization of cannabis in Canada only months away, there has been some talk about how the substance will be packaged. With a quick Google search, websites have been created to cater to the new industry; insulated packaging, custom labels, and even pill bottles are being offered. But, if you take a closer look at these websites, the cannabis packaging looks the same; clear bags with a plain white label and some containers that include little to no color. The sites have made it easy for buyers, as they can click on the “PUT YOUR LOGO HERE” to customize their cannabis packaging. Why does all advertised cannabis packaging look the same? After doing some research, it’s safe to say this packaging trend was not done by accident.
The Legalization of Cannabis in Canada
Cannabis Packaging has been a controversial subject with the Canadian Government, and it was announced last fall that there would be strict regulations when it comes to cannabis packaging. In a CBC news story, Canada’s Minister of Health Petitpas Taylor says that cannabis packaging must be simple and look clean and must not appeal to children. In other words, cannabis packaging can’t be every color of the rainbow with cartoon characters displayed on the label. Going back to the cannabis labeling and packaging websites that I mentioned, this makes sense.
It seems that the business of cannabis packaging is growing because of the legalization of marijuana. The regulations for cannabis packaging is to be very specific and unlike other medication that you would find in a pharmacy. Since cannabis will only be marketed only to a group of the population, their packaging will be unique from other products, like Tylenol.
The Experts Agree
“There should be no sex, drugs or rock n’ roll on the labels if you know what I mean,” said Jenn Larry, President of CBD Strategy Group and cannabis activist. Larry has years of experience with regulatory and compliance in regards to the pharmaceutical industry. She says that when it comes to cannabis packaging, there is no need for flashy, bright packaging, “[these producers] can still go far without color.”
She says that the Canadian Government has the right idea to exclude cartoon characters from the labeling and packaging of cannabis products. “The Government of Canada serves to protect the youth and youth services,” says Larry. The cannabis activist says that these cannabis producers will push the boundaries when it comes to labeling and packaging but in a different way. “Branding is significant and how aggressive they are will determine their position in the market,” says Larry.
MedReleaf, a marijuana producer in Canada, says that they plan to have their cannabis packaging unique from other producers. The cannabis producer says that they will conform to the Canadian Government’s regulations but will make sure their packaging will be distinctive to their brand. Even those producing the substance understand that cannabis packaging is essential to differentiate their business from not only other producers but the black market as well. But how far will they go to push the boundaries? Canada is not the only one to implement strict rules for cannabis packaging. In fact, Canada is behind in the cannabis packaging world.
Different States, Different Laws
The United States, for example, has many states that have already legalized marijuana. The twenty-four states that participate in the legalization have their laws. For instance, California law states that all information on the label must be precise, indicating that the substance is cannabis-infused (if that wasn’t clear already). No cartoons, phrases or characters must be shown. Also, the serving amount of THC must be written on the label and include the red THC symbol which looks like a yielding sign on the highway. Some states are stricter than others; some have more regulations than others. Although the laws vary from state to state, the packaging from the manufactures in the United States are alike.
In a recent blog post about cannabis trends for 2018, The Dieline lists the 10 Best Cannabis Packaging Designs. These cannabis manufacturers have a sleek look to them, resembling a product that would come from a cosmetic company. Thus, they don’t seem to appeal to children at all. They all have clean packaging, most of a cardboard-like material, with very few colors. What’s interesting is that most of them have cannabis leaves as their primary design, which you may not recognize at first glance. The leaves are not necessarily green either; some are pink or yellow which again, is not easily seen at first glance. Jenn Larry says that we will most likely not see the leaf design make its way to Canada. Most of these marijuana companies are based in the United States, which may explain why they look similar. “The cannabis products should be recognized in its simplest form,” says Larry. She believes that the packaging of cannabis products will be easily seen by those who choose to consume it. She adds that it will be interesting to see what the cannabis companies come up with this summer. “We will have to see what will be grandfathered in terms of regulation and trademark rights.”
When it comes to cannabis packaging, Canada must follow their laws and regulations imposed by the government. No matter what kind of packaging that producers choose to use, they must ensure that all the information on the labels are correct and free of any spelling and print errors. If not, these companies can face serious consequences. Thus, a quality control process needs to be in place to prevent mistakes from making their way to the market.
The legalization of cannabis doesn’t have everyone’s stamp of approval just yet. If the cannabis industry doesn’t take the same packaging precautions as other pharmaceutical companies, marijuana producers will not only find themselves out of a job but find their business up in smoke.