The Emerging Cannabis Industry Explained
by Mike Malz
At GlobalVision’s first-ever seminar on Packaging Compliance in the Emerging Cannabis Industry, panelists spoke about the Cannabis Act that will come into effect this summer and how those in packaging will be affected. Although Health Canada did propose packaging regulations, it can be a challenge to follow them, assuming the guidelines hold up.
Packaging Going Green…or Not?
Jason Moscovici, a lawyer at ROBIC, LLP and Alison Hayman, Partner at Cassels, Brock & Blackwell LLP broke down dos and don’ts of the new guidelines. According to the proposed rules, a producer may display their logo and one other custom element on their packaging. However, the size of the logo and lettering cannot exceed that of the mandatory THC logo.
“If the information is prescribed, use the logo to be distinctive,” said Hayman.
Both lawyers agreed the packaging regulations don’t seem to be very restrictive. Some color can be displayed if it doesn’t conflict with or hide the THC warning label.
“The packaging cannot have any fluorescent, metallic, glossy, or embossing finishes,” said Moscovici. He added that the packaging must clearly define what it contains, whether the cannabis is fresh or dry, for example.
Designing for Your Demographic
Medical marijuana will also be affected by these regulations, but only six months after the Cannabis Act is passed. Although medical cannabis is currently available, users admit there can be some improvements. For some patients, medical cannabis proves to be difficult to purchase and information is just as hard to obtain.
“You’re purchasing everything blindly,” said Dylan Groper, who’s been using cannabis to treat many ailments, including Crohn’s disease, a potentially debilitating digestive condition.
Groper explained, in his experience, packaging is a very important factor businesses need to take seriously. He recalled one instance when he had been looking for more information, calling a producer to learn more about its product.
“I was told that this information was not available to me or to the public,” said Groper. “It does not [positively] reflect [the] brand image and leaves a negative connotation with the client.”
That can pose a problem for the blossoming industry, as the general consensus is one of the most important branding aspects is knowing your audience. The manufacturer needs to direct customers to the information they need to know. However, businesses need to simultaneously make their product stand out on shelves.
Marketing Made Easy
“How are you working to make your packaging findable in a retail market?” said Brian Stevenson, CEO of ROSE LifeScience, adding many of the regulations are open to interpretation and cannabis packaging producers can be creative within these limits.
“The beauty of our eyes is that they will see what they want to see,” said Jenn Larry, President of CBD Strategy Group, explaining the customer will overlook the THC logo if the packaging is eye-catching. Both Stevenson and Larry agree cannabis packaging is only one tool in the belt of marketers. Before coming up with the design, cannabis producers need to have a process in place to manage quality control.
Packaging and Automated Proofreading
No business wants to send their products to market before their labels are error-free. The emerging cannabis industry is no exception.
“The goal of the cannabis industry is to build their process around proofreading software,” said Jamie Goren, Director of Sales for Identification Multi-Solutions North America. With over 25 years of experience in the printing and packaging industry, Goren has seen many companies create their designs from scratch. That’s not always the best way to go.
“It’s more efficient to repurpose what’s already out there,” said Goren.
Mark Finkelstein, National Sales Director for PharmaSystems Inc., agreed, saying that time is of the essence. They said it’s ideal to get the packaging artwork approved quicker, as it can take six to eight weeks to send out products. Businesses can shorten their production time by implementing automated proofreading software like GlobalVision to ensure no errors make their way onto store shelves. The longer it takes for the artwork to get approved, the more production will be delayed. Finkelstein added being slow and steady won’t win this race.
“Those who can get to the market quicker will win,” he said.
Once the new regulations come into effect, it will come down to how efficient producers are at getting their product to market. All departments-from regulatory affairs to marketing and design-will have to implement processes to ensure proper quality control. Automated software like GlobalVision can help contenders in the emerging cannabis industry disseminate all necessary information accurately. Eventually, patients like Groper should be able to rest easy knowing cannabis manufacturers have packaged their goods to create a lasting, positive experience, specifically with their customers in mind.