As more and more leading brands like Coca Cola, Molson Coors and Constellation Brands prepare to get in the cannabis game, marketing for this product is ready to break out of its niche and become mainstream. There’s a reason spirit makers are leading the way, with a reported decline of nearly 14 percent in beer sales since the legalization of marijuana in states like Colorado, California and Washington. That’s why all packagers should know what is governing this industry, because they soon may be a part of it themselves.


Colorado once again leads the way 

The state has just released a new set of regulations regarding child-resistant packaging for cannabis products. Among the regulations that most impact brand owners and packaging designers are these:

•  New Universal Symbols must be featured prominently on all cannabis packaging, one version for recreational and one for medical.

•  Required Language must appear directly below the symbol and read: “Contains Marijuana. Keep out of the reach of children.”

•  Imprinting Edibles for every standard serving (10 mg of THC), which must be stamped or imprinted with the new universal symbol.

•  Bulk Products or Powders, which are impractical to stamp, must be packaged in a single-serve, child-resistant container.

•  Candy or Candies cannot appear on packaging unless these words are already part of the brand name.

Since legalization in the U.S., many companies have been working on child-safety features for cannabis packaging as intellectual property. Such designs are great for keeping children from getting into the package. But what happens when the product is already outside the package, especially when it comes to edibles? A kid is not going to eat a bud or smoke a joint, but kids will eat a gummy. Hence, the caution in the new regulations around words like “candy.”


Delayed Potency   

And here’s another consideration. Bud tenders do a great job of recommending dosage and the right type of products for individual consumption because they are well educated on this and the amount of time before a product takes hold—which in most cases is up to two hours. Tell that to some kid who just wants another gummy. States need to do a thorough job of educating residents about all the new variables these products bring to market. The new Colorado regulations are a good start.


Monetizing Child-Resistant Packaging   

The rationale behind the universal symbol is to promote awareness and safety. If parents or teachers see a child holding a package or product with that mark, they will know to intervene. For existing cannabis brand owners, it means bearing the cost of repackaging. But there’s an opportunity many design firms are embracing: intellectual property. Think about it—for every new packaging device that prevents children from opening the product, there exists a patent and a license. And that means lots of people are making money. Whether you come up with a spray, a lockbox or a bite-proof laminated container, somebody spent hours designing it, consumer testing it, getting the proper certifications and pairing it with products.

The SlideBox is a packaging innovation from Colorado-based LeafLocker. The company made its name with the launch of this child-resistant, adult-friendly box and sliding tray. The company website features how-to videos for operation and assembly and demonstrates the five standard sizes along with products that fit nicely in each.

The LeafLocker SlideBox meets third-party child-resistance standards under the Code of Federal Regulations Title 16, Part 1700. The SlideBox also meets compliance as a Tamper Evident package. As cannabis brands develop and evolve, they are demanding packaging that is not only compliant with regulations but also beautiful in presentation. The LeafLocker SlideBox is versatile—it can be printed, foil-stamped, embossed or custom-coated to accommodate any brand. The patent-pending device is an intellectual property win for LeafLocker. In fact, the inventor won 2017 Package of the Year at the North American Paperboard Packaging Competition.


Something in the Air 

In addition to edibles, there are cannabis-infused products in a host of applications, including skin care treatments, oral sprays for pain and relaxation, and there are even spray products to serve as air fresheners. Child-safety regulations apply to these products as well. As Canada recently went full out with federal approval for cannabis-infused products, it will be interesting to see how they fare with the consumer. I expect the entire U.S. government and many brand owners are watching. 


Next, I’ll cover augmented reality in cannabis packaging.