Cannabis Isn’t Immune to Faulty Packaging and Product Recalls

by Ryan Szporer


Cannabis is expected to give Canada’s economy a significant boost, but not all companies in the freshly legalized, growing sector have been able to line their pockets.

Granted, in even the biggest sectors that are in the midst of booming, not everyone is able to take advantage due to oversupply. However, until that becomes a serious issue, there are still avoidable errors that are throwing some firms for a loop. Many relate to product packaging.


Since Cannabis Got Legalized…

If you take away all the pomp and circumstance surrounding its legalization last October, It’s hard to deny cannabis is like most other pharmaceutical or pharma-adjacent products. Even though the packaging cannabis comes in must be plain, it must be entirely accurate. That means if it’s not there are serious repercussions, potentially from a health perspective for consumers and definitely from a financial one for the cannabis company itself.

Recalls are an unfortunate reality, with a variety of potential justifications. There are possible concerns over product contamination and, more specifically with regard to cannabis, mold. In each case, a recall would have a potentially disastrous effect on long-term business prospects. So, with all of those already prevalent risks, there are no excuses for cannabis companies to avoid taking the proper precautions to scratch typos off the list of things that can go wrong.

Take the case of a specific brand of tetrahydrocannabinol oil (THC) that was recalled because of a scare it could have been labeled as cannabidiol oil (CBD) instead. Considering THC is a hallucinogenic used primarily for recreational purposes and CBD isn’t, any hypothetical mix-up could have resulted in a public-relations nightmare.

Ultimately, 714 bottles were sold, without any complaints or adverse reactions having been reported. However, it’s only one of many recalls that have occurred since it became legal. Other licensed producers have been hit harder, with 14 lots of Bonify dried cannabis having been recalled because of a variety of issues, eight of which due to incorrect cannabinoid values. The recall resulted in an internal review and personnel shake-up along with the public embarrassment of having to hold a press conference to release its findings from the ensuing investigation into the irregularities.


The Dollars and Sense of Avoiding Recalls

While the recalls are proof the overall regulatory system works at the institutional level, the same can’t be said at the organizational level, at least for the guilty culprits. Simple fixes to their quality control could have saved them a lot of aggravation and money, with digital proofing software being just one option. It boosts efficiency getting to market and pays for itself by catching errors that could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in recalls (if not more).

Health Canada has released a voluntary cannabis recall guide which would at least walk producers through the managerially demanding process. However, it bears repeating the best-case scenario here isn’t that a recall that goes smoothly, but that there is no recall at all, right?

Mistakes aren’t always avoidable. That’s true, but putting the proper processes in place helps eliminate the risk of them slipping through. It’s a concept every company must get on board with, in the budding cannabis sector or not. Otherwise, when it comes to standing out from competitors to meet limited demand, you undeniably will, but for all the wrong reasons.


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