Cannabis has boomed uncontrollable ever since it was legalized, creating a wild environment that has let a lot of the industry go unregulated until recently . Lawmakers are finally beginning to get a grasp on what needs to be regulated within cannabis which is causing some major changes for the packaging of cannabis goods. This has caused a bittersweet turning point that has ushered in a new era for cannabis as swift packaging regulations have followed a boom in legal cannabis sales.


Cannabis packaging regulations vary from state to state much like the different regulations of the usage of cannabis itself. In California; the largest legal cannabis economy in the united states, a change in regulations has left many in the cannabis space scrambling for solutions for new packaging that meets the regulation requirements. The CDPH (California Department of Public Health) set these requirements that go into effect on January 1st, 2020.


The regulations can be separated into two specific categories; packaging and labeling. The new requirements for packaging revolve primarily around the packaging being child resistant, but there are still a few other requirements manufacturers must abide by in order to sell legally.

 

The first cannabis packaging requirement is “Tamper Evident” or “TEP”. This means that the packaging will clearly indicate if that packaging has been opened after it has left the manufacturers oversight and before it reaches the customer. This not only reduces the likelihood that the product will become damaged during that period, more importantly, serves as a safety measure for users of cannabis. This can be achieved relatively easily by adding some sort of seal that is broken upon initial opening, or a lid that pops up after it is unfastened.

 

The second requirement is the implementation of child resistance or CR packaging. This is the most notable of all the changes leaving many within the cannabis industry scrabbling to update existing packaging with CR capabilities. Traditional Child-resistant packaging is commonly seen in the form of a pill bottle, but since the form of legal cannabis items varies in form and quantity, many brands have struggled to find ways to create CR packaging themselves. Vape pens and Edibles, in particular, need extra attention solely due to the form factor of these products being unlike any other CR product on the market before cannabis. This has ignited a revolution in CR designs. For vape packaging, this has been achieved by a push button on a sleeve box. For edibles, CR solutions range from a ziplock bag with a squeeze tab all the way to boxes and trays with some sort of squeeze mechanism. These solutions are still pretty limited at this time meaning that a lot of brands are going to have very similar packaging. The certification of resistant packaging also creates a roadblock for companies wanting very unique form factors. All CR packaging requires testing from a third party to be considered child resistant. These tests introduce packaging to a panel of 50 children and 50 seniors if that packaging passes it will receive a 16 CFR 1700 certification meaning that it is child resistant.

 

The third requirement is the resealability of multi-use products. A major problem with many cannabis products is that the recommended dosage doesn't line up with a  serving size of a non-cannabis equivalent product, like a candy bar. This historically this has lead to consumers taking way too of a product during a single period. To avoid this any product with multiple dosages must implement a resealable package to allow products to be saved. Luckily most CR products are what you would call “lifetime CRP” which means that the packaging retains its CR ability through the entire use of the product, which means it is resealable and maintains it CR properties . This makes the resealable requirement less difficult to achieve over the other requirements being introduced.


The last new packaging requirement is in regards to edible packaging is opaqueness. As of 2020, all edible packaging must not be transparent and more importantly, amber bottles are now considered opaque.

 

The other half of these requirements focus on the labeling aspect of cannabis packaging. This labeling consists of a primary panel which clearly identifies what the product is to the consumer. The primary label must also display the net weight of the product and the universal symbol cannabis symbol that is provided by the California Department of Public Health. The second panel is the information panel, this is where the UID track and trace number must be placed. The second panel must also include the license number and phone number, as well as the date of packaging, and the government packaging warnings. The cannabinoid percentage must be present on either the front panel or the secondary panel.

 

These requirements are causing major shifts to those within cannabis in California and many smaller cannabis brands are being forced out of the industry due to these new packaging requirements and the cost associated with them. With that being said it has left given brands who choose to meet those requirements a foothold within the space. Many brands even outside of California have already started implementing these changes due to the fact that many states will follow California's lead.