Cannabis continues to grow with many countries legalizing its usage, creating a new packaging segment. In 2018, Canada is expected to fully legalize marijuana, and the U.S. appears to be heading down the same path as more states approve its medical and recreational use. To date, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use. Brand consulting and design firm Landor reports in a 2018 brand trends article that large, mainstream brands will embrace the product, not wanting to miss out on a new segment of the market that generates billions of dollars. IBM outlined how blockchain could be used to handle this distribution. Constellation Brands, which makes wines and spirit products, including Clos du Bois wine and Corona beer, bought a minority stake in cannabis company Canopy Growth Corporation.

What does it all mean for the packaging market? The cannabis packaging market in North America is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 10% during 2017-2021, according to a report by Technavio ( Drivers will include growing cannabis sales, new product varieties and regulatory recommendations for packaging. Despite having many adversaries, new opportunities abound in the cannabis market. However, with the regulations and strict usage guidelines in each state where cannabis has been legalized, let alone other countries, there are many points to consider. Packaging Strategies showcases a few products that demonstrate the diversity of this emerging market segment.

Winning the Paperboard Packaging Council’s Packager of the Year Award is no small feat, yet that’s just what converter All Packaging Company ( did with its SlideBoxCR SB200. A patent-pending design that required 17 iterations, the SlideBoxCR fulfills the cannabis industry’s dual requirements of safety and standout branding. While many of the products in the growing cannabis segment are packaged in jars, pouches, bottles or tubes, this one differs. The design features both an outer carton and an inner sliding tray that contains the product. To unlock the tray, the consumer must firmly press a hidden flap against the inside wall, which is a child-safety precaution.

The design allows for premium graphic treatments. Embossing, foil stamping, spot UV coating, and soft-touch coating may all be incorporated. Now that many cannabis producers are leaning on premium brand identities to beat the competition, these graphic capabilities are crucial.

Pouch packaging is in the cannabis space with Big Pete’s Treats in resealable pouches. The cannabis-infused cookies are available in 10 flavors—sugar, peanut butter, chocolate chip, ginger, pecan toffee, double chocolate, lemon, cinnamon & sugar,  sugar-free almond crunch and gluten-free chocolate chip. Large cookies can be purchased in 6-pack pouches. The company also carries mini cookies, available in .47 oz. single cookie pouches and 5.29 oz. 10-pack pouches.

Coming out in February is a pouch with a special child-resistant zipper inside. The pouches, supplied by Green Rush Packaging ( and designed by Purple Line Media (, are ASTM/CPSC lab-certified, hermetically sealable to lock in freshness, odor-proof and tamper evident, fully printed and customizable. Made of food-grade Mylar, the bags are not recyclable. Purple Line is working with a source to create a compostable. child-resistant resealable bag.

Cannabis-infused products are growing even faster than the cannabis itself. In drinks, foods and even candles. For example, The Root of It All is a company that creates cannabis-infused essential oils and ointments.

At the heart of The Root of It All’s Essential Remedies is the notion that cannabis extracts shouldn’t have to do all the work by themselves. Berlin Packaging ( helped The Root of It All to package its product in a manner that reflects the brand’s essence.

Cannabis packaging can present challenges, balancing the labeling and child-resistance requirements with the demand for an aesthetically pleasing user experience. Berlin Packaging supplied the Green Boston Rounds for the essential oils with a child-resistant dropper. The decorative labeling and the hanging tag take the package from medical to magical.

Happy Apple just expanded its line of carbonated, sparkling cider cannabis drinks. Made from Washington apples, the beverage is sold in 12 oz glass bottles with 10 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. Happy Apple is the best-selling cannabis drink in the state of Washington.

Happy Apple is made with Tarukino’s ( proprietary water-based cannabis emulsion called Sörse. Handcrafted in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood, Sörse allows cannabis-infused products to maintain their potency and accuracy when cooked, chilled or frozen, and removes all cannabis taste and smell.

An industry in its infancy with an accelerating growth rate and considerable regulation, cannabis appears to have vast potential as an emerging market. Because of differing state and federal regulations, cannabis packaging has many potential barriers to entry. It is also important to learn about product and packaging requirements before making the leap into this arena.

Editor’s Note: Packaging Strategies recognizes that cannabis is not legal in all 50 states and many other countries. However, with more locales legalizing the product and creating packaging opportunities, we have decided to update the packaging community on this emerging market segment.