As cannabis products and user tastes become more sophisticated, cannabis package design is following suit. With exotic names and novel products now an integral part of cannabis manufacturers’ retail and marketing strategies, creative packaging has become a way for producers to distinguish their brands.
The packages seen in dispensaries today are a far cry from the plastic sandwich bags that were the common way of distributing marijuana in the days before cannabis became legalized. Legalization also has brought new laws that define what is required and what is disallowed in cannabis packaging.
Twenty-four states have introduced laws governing the packaging of cannabis products. While their guidelines may differ, a common factor across all the states’ laws is the requirement that cannabis packaging be tamper-proof and child-resistant. The laws also aim to prevent children from gaining access to cannabis products because of improper labeling and packaging.
The laws prohibit names and imagery on the packaging of cannabis products that would mislead children into thinking the products were intended for children. In Oregon, for example, the state’s Liquor and Control Commission (OLCC) ruled that “kid-friendly” names like “Girl Scout Cookies,” “Candyland,” “Cinderella 99,” and “Charlotte’s Web” were prohibited.
However, as Allie Beckett on marijuana.com points out, these naming prohibitions do not apply to alcohol, a more dangerous substance for which there are numerous childlike brand names on the market, such as “Hello Kitty.” The underlying aim of the cannabis naming laws, she suggests, could be to restrict cannabis producers from using the international trademarks of giant corporations like Disney.
Another requirement among seven states that have legalized cannabis (Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Oregon) is that cannabis packaging must be opaque, with the product unable to be seen until the container is opened. Here too, cannabis is being restricted in ways alcohol is not. Being able to see a cannabis bud’s color and texture is part of its allure, just as a liquor’s color is part of its attraction for consumers.
Creative New Designs
Despite the restrictions, innovative packaging designs are emerging as more top-tier professional package designers get involved. Award-winning designer Edward Kilduff has fielded the Pollen Gear line of cannabis containers that includes glass jars, plastic rectangles, and zipper pouches.
Kilduff said he came up with the idea for his line of marijuana packaging after he learned that many people were using his EVAK coffee container to store their marijuana. What people were looking for were containers that were airtight and childproof. He said he researched the cannabis package design space and found that “there were not any design guys who were creating solutions.”
Elegant and Artistic Designs
Another firm that has developed a distinctive styling for its cannabis brands is Canndescent, which has introduced packaging to match what it calls its “ultra-premium” product line. A guiding principle in the design was to create a clean look that would be less intimidating to new cannabis buyers and attractive enough to entice experienced connoisseurs.
Also taking an artistic approach to cannabis packaging is the 1964 Supply Co., which recruits world-renowned artists to visualize the company’s line of cannabis products that are crafted to provide “a selection of strains to suit every mood.” The artists supply packaging imagery for products with colorful names like Train Wreck, Super Silver Haze, Blue Dream, and Strawberry Diesel.
Tuna-Style Cans Seal in Freshness
Another cannabis packaging trend that is gaining popularity is the tuna-style can. This type of packaging hermetically seals the cannabis product in nitrogen after removing the oxygen. Oxygen and light are enemies to preserving the freshness of cannabis, and oxidation will degrade the plant material and cause mold, yeast, and other potentially harmful bacteria to form.
Although the tuna-style method has been used in the food industry for many years, only recently have companies like West Coast Cure and N2 Packaging Systems begun to apply it to cannabis packaging. As N2 Packaging Systems CEO Scott Martin points out, preserving the freshness of cannabis in this manner is probably more of an asset to larger-scale producers that want to keep their product consistent as supply ramps up. That way, he noted, the consumer always experiences the product as fresh as the day it was packaged.
Environmentally Friendly Packaging
With marijuana being so closely associated with the social consciousness of the ‘60s, it is no surprise to see the green movement informing the packaging of cannabis. Reusable and biodegradable packaging is becoming more popular not only because of its environmental friendliness, but to save money as well.
Among the packaging companies providing eco-friendly cannabis packaging, Sun Grown Packaging boasts of being the first to file a patent for a recyclable, compostable, child-resistant cannabis package. A cannabis grower that exemplifies the concept of responsible farming is Lowell Herb Co., which has fully embraced the philosophy of organically grown cannabis and all-natural packaging materials.
As we can see, cannabis product packaging has taken a big leap beyond the rudimentary packaging of the counterculture days. As cannabis consumption and manufacturing continue to expand exponentially, we can expect to see a similar rise in the innovation and artistry that is transforming the packaging of cannabis products.
As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing management solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and business solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry.