As the cannabis and CBD industries continue their rise to the forefront of the American market, new regulations governing the packaging of products are quickly becoming a cause for concern.
Data compiled by MjBizDaily showed that the economic impact of marijuana is up 30% from 2020 and is expected to reach $ 92 billion this year. Sales of $ 160 billion are forecast for 2025.
With the industry’s wide range of products now exploding on shelves, established companies and business models are starting to feel the heat. Concerns about clear labeling, parental controls, and sustainability are mounting as major confectionery manufacturers complain about packaging confusion.
Lisa Buffo, Founder and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, said, “Packaging is a critical touch point for the cannabis user.”
“This is the first step they take when physically interacting with the product,” she said. “What information is on the packaging? Is it something that the consumer can read and understand? Will this information change the way they use the product and improve their understanding of what is in it? “
A recent report published by Grand View Research, Inc. showed that increasing legalization and demand for medical and recreational cannabis around the world is projected to reach the legal marijuana market size of an estimated $ 73.6 billion by 2027.
More than 60% of cannabis users surveyed by the Brightfield Group said they prefer labels describing a product’s THC content and type of strain (indica, sativa, hybrid), while nearly 50% said they also list the Want ingredients.
Here are the current concerns about cannabis and CDB packaging.
Clear labeling / milligrams per dose
Unfortunately, the requirements for product labeling information vary significantly in each US state. While every state required delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol content and manufacturer’s contact information, only 80% of states required the lot number, health risks, production tracking, a cannabis symbol, cannabidiol content, child disclaimer, and impairment disclaimer.
Patricia Miller, Editor-in-Chief of Cannabis and technology today, said: “Most cannabis products are subject to strict regulatory supervision, but without a certificate of analysis, consumers have no way of knowing what they are consuming and how much.”
In addition, “many of the test facilities have had to develop their own test methods and the result is lab-to-laboratory variability,” she said.
For CBD products, basic labeling requirements include a scannable barcode or QR code to make it easier to see the batch identification number, product name, batch date and size, Expiry date, total quantity produced, ingredients or certificate of analysis. Product requirements also include an FDA warning, no medical or health claims.
Keep out of reach of children
Since there are so many different standards for cannabis packaging, this is the New York Times reported that the big candy manufacturers are upset over similar THC goodies. According to the article, Wrigley’s and others protect not only their brands but your children as well.
In fact, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., owned by Mars Inc., filed lawsuits against five companies in May for selling cannabis-infused edibles that look like Skittles, Starburst, and Life Savers.
While incumbent product manufacturers have raised concerns about similar packaging, Miller said that some cannabis companies are not satisfied with the requirement for child-resistant packaging because alcohol brands are not packaged in child-resistant containers and there is the potential for fatal overdose.
“Parental controls are largely a by-product of the lingering stigma surrounding cannabis,” she continued. “But these regulations help people feel more comfortable having cannabis products at home, so they are ultimately good for the industry.”
According to the Child Mind Institute, not only are adults experimenting with CBD for anything that bothers them, but increasingly parents are turning to CBD to help their children focus, sleep, calm down, and more.
What does the box look like?
Nobody has to tell you that the usual packaged cannabis products are time sensitive. In addition, the brands also want space on the packaging to market their product.
In addition to light, UV rays, moisture, and gases that can potentially ruin the product inside, cannabinoid-infused beverages still struggle to create formulations that prevent the active ingredients from entering the package and becoming inert.
While the freshness and shelf life of cannabis products are always a concern, the brand’s ability to market the product is also hampered by the requirements of regulations and child-proof copies.
Buffo said because they have to use child-resistant packaging and affix labels with product information and health warnings, “it often leaves little to no room for branding, consumer education or design innovation.”
“Brands need to get creative to improve the customer experience and communication with their customers when packaging space is limited,” she continued. “In addition, the products are often behind the counter and are only handed over to the customer after they have been purchased, so that there is no need to touch or read when shopping.”
On the CBD side, cosmetic and personal care products have found incredible appeal with consumers in a relatively short period of time, which has led to a noticeable packaging development, so Beauty packaging.
To be green or not to be green
Similar to many other sectors in the world market, single-use plastic products have become a hurdle for packaging in the cannabis industry. Although their use became a popular alternative during the COVID-19 pandemic, single-use plastic bags are on the way out as sustainability concerns resurface.
Miller said the cannabis industry’s biggest problem is waste.
“While child safety and traceability regulations have created a monster from RFID tags to individual pre-roll tubes, single-use plastics are an environmental concern.”
Going forward, industry experts believe government and industry need to focus on what packaging is appropriate and necessary to improve the process for brands, customers and the environment.
From both cannabis and CBD packaging perspectives, companies should consider whether the materials are of natural origin, whether they are biodegradable, recyclable, and how much energy is required for recycling?
Are the materials also reusable or disposable designs, do they contain added harmful chemicals and is the company itself committed to sustainability?
Additionally, CBD and cannabis products wrapped in paper and made from cannabis-based materials will also improve sustainability.
About the author:
Mark McClure is Vice President of Operations at the flexible packaging company International Plastics in Greenville, SC