If a buyer didn’t have a trusted source back in the days of buying pot before it was legal, he or she could end up with a bag of oregano—or something worse. Thanks to legalization, the chances of that happening again are practically nil in states where pot is legal and people can buy from a licensed dispensary. Plus, those in the cannabis business are going the extra mile to ensure a quality experience.

Brand owners and packaging designers have jumped on this new trend as well. Through augmented reality (AR), brand owners can communicate to consumers everything they need to know—from where the plant originated and when it was planted to CBD and THC content, child-resistant features and much more.

The term augmented reality often brings “Lord of the Rings” and “Fantastic Beasts” to mind. A lot of people in the branding and packaging world think of on-pack gaming, animated cartoon figures and personalization. But in the cannabis industry, it’s more about information and regulatory matters because, in short, the product just became legal throughout Canada and in various U.S. states, and legal requirements are where packagers have to first turn their attention.


Digimarc Tells You Where the Bud was Born

One of the pioneers of connected or “smart” packaging, Digimarc created the Digimarc Barcode. In combination with a mobile app, using the company’s barcode reader, Digimarc Barcode creates a unique identity that can do a slew of chores. It communicates via smart phone and can open online channels where consumers get product information, branding messages, promotions, recipes, freebies and a seemingly limitless list of other options.

A packaging group in Canada called on Digimarc recently to help with cannabis packaging, particularly in areas such as authenticity. In the works are initiatives that will make it easy for consumers to scan products on a smart phone, Android or Apple tablet and provide users with information on growers, region the plant came from, effects of the product and more. Digimarc’s technology is particularly relevant when it comes to meeting regulatory standards.

According to Art Powell, Senior Director of Global Business Development for Digimarc, “We are working with a Canadian packaging group who has asked us to partner on serialized packaging so that they can develop a mobile application along with Digimarc’s platform to track from the time the seed went into the ground all the way up to the individual sale. This would offer law enforcement the tools to ensure packages are not tampered with.”

“When consumers scan the Digimarc Barcode, they are connected to the cloud. Licensees get portal access where they can come in and set a URL for the experience,” Powell says. “Consumers can link to a video, or informational data. Law enforcement can quickly identify and track the origins of a product. The power of the Digimarc platform aligns well with the needs of the emerging cannabis business,” he adds.

A Glimpse Into the Future  

To see what’s in store in the years ahead, look no further than Future Farm. An augmented reality advertising platform for the cannabis industry, Future Farm makes some aggressive projections. In its online slideshow, “Merging Augmented Reality and the Cannabis Industry,” the company is “combining the fastest growing economy (cannabis) with the fastest growing technology (AR) to drive a $100 billion+ ad tech market.”

Canadian consumers will soon have access to “Cannacube Live.” Designed to provide both in-store and at-home experiences, the Cannacube can be viewed through a mobile app where various sides of the physical cube come to life with animated, dynamic AR content.

Users can download the app to learn more about products in the dispensary, purchase products by the add-to-cart feature and even receive incentives and ordering convenience at home. In short, Future Farms is creating the virtual bud tender.



To start experimenting with AR now, download the HP Reveal app. Users have access to the brand’s studio where they get a personalized dashboard. Designers can upload images, offers, animated graphics and videos. There’s even the ability to tap data analytics to measure results.

HP Reveal was used at BrandPackaging’s 2018 Packaging the Sells Conference. Attendees were able to download the App in four simple steps. This allowed users to animate a graphic of a sponsor’s booth on their phones or tablets and play a video promoting a specific brand. Other images can be sent via social media that could be played later. A last tap on any image sends the user right to the brand’s website. This effort drives lots of buzz and new relationships—and that’s ultimately what AR is all about.