All eyes were on the cannabis industry this past year – its rapid growth and widespread acceptance amongst consumers and producers in the U.S. legitimized the plant as a key driver of many economies in communities across the nation.

Decision makers in states where marijuana has been declared legal have had to draft new rules and regulations concerning the growth, sale and packaging of cannabis and related products. Some could say the plant has even sparked a spirit of entrepreneurship among those looking to cash in on this evolving and expanding market. 

The proposed legalization of marijuana was the topic of much conversation in influential swing states like Ohio, and while the initiative ultimately failed in the Buckeye State, it has prompted discussion of new ideas and ways to go about legalizing and regulating cannabis statewide. This is especially important for cannabrands, as they will no longer face the potential for big businesses to monopolize the industry and crush the creative concepts and innovative products that set one brand apart from the others.

Looking ahead to 2016, companies in states where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use and/or medicinal purposes will have a new set of concerns and proposals to keep in mind to allow their brand to stand out in a marketplace that will continue to grow and potentially overflow.

Education and consumer protection have been chief concerns throughout the marijuana industry over the last year, and cannabis packaging has played a significant role in keeping users safe and informed. The Cannabis Business Alliance has outlined several predictions for the industry this year, many of which tie back to the importance of proper labeling and a keen understanding of how to package marijuana.

1. Focusing on education and safety

In an effort to educate consumers about proper dosage, the CBA has conceived a public education campaign called “Start Low, Go Slow” in relation to edibles. This year, consumption protocols will still be top of mind, as will expanded education on cannabis storage techniques that keep children safe. As suppliers of medical cannabis packaging, we understand the importance of tamper-evident reclosable cannabis storage bags that ensure marijuana products do not fall into the wrong hands and harm young consumers. Brands that use protective new child resistant packaging can play a part in educating consumers through proper labeling and dosage information that is printed clearly and vibrantly on the cannabis packaging itself.

2. New stamping protocols

On Oct. 1 of this year, the requirement for a Universal Symbol for Medical Marijuana and Retail Marijuana packaging and labeling will go into effect. This law requires that cannabis-infused edibles and medical marijuana packaging be stamped with a specific symbol. Legislation has also been proposed to place strict requirements on the shape of marijuana edible products, which some fear will stifle creativity and innovation in this market. However, by using new tamper-evident reclosable cannabis storage bags, brands have the opportunity to set themselves apart with custom-printed designs and artwork that help build brand equity and incorporate the required Universal Symbol. This form of packaging also keeps products protected, ensuring the size and shape of the edible remains intact throughout the shipping, storing, and transportation processes.

3. Determining best practices for pest management

Like any grower in the agriculture or cultivating industries knows, dealing with pests requires specific products and procedures that ensure no contaminants are coming in contact with your product before it is packaged. With an increased demand for organic, clean-label products, many producers are switching to more natural ways of combating pests. As such, guaranteeing your product is safe from any external elements requires careful focus on the way it is packaged and how well that packaging will hold up over time. New child resistant packaging options successfully protect goods from contact with external elements and pests using environmentally sound structural materials that keep your brand’s promise to clean, sustainable practices consistent.

4. Appealing to travelers and tourists

The legalization of marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington has prompted an influx of adult tourists eager to consume the substance recreationally. As such, a growth in dispensaries has influenced a rising trend in edibles, offering travelers a fun and convenient way to enjoy legal cannabis. Brands must now place added focus on how to package marijuana so it grabs the attention of on-the-go consumers and offers them an easy way to open, enjoy and take their product with them wherever they may roam. 

Lightweight, flexible child resistant bags for cannabis and edibles will grow in the market this year, as it is sturdy and protective enough to lock in freshness, flavor, and aroma while small and portable enough to fit in a backpack or purse.

5. Preparing for expanded mainstream acceptance

The marijuana industry last year was defined, in part, by a significant amount of proposed legislation across the nation calling not only for the legalization of the plant, but also for amended rules and regulations concerning its cultivation and sale. Named the fastest-growing industry in the United States, there’s no question that 2016 will see an expansion of market growth and opportunity for new cannabrands to emerge and have a presence in new locations. Continuing the trend of acceptance and clearing up lingering misconceptions about marijuana depends on effective communication and marketing techniques. These can be achieved easily through cannabis packaging. 

Your product’s container is the first thing consumers see on retail shelves, and it shapes opinions about your offerings long before shoppers get a chance to see the items themselves. Selecting packaging that stands up vertically and features vibrant, eye-catching colors is integral for getting noticed in an increasingly crowded marketplace. The opportunity for cannabusinesses to set themselves apart and become a trusted, sought-after brand depends on consumer education, keeping a consistently high-quality product, and taking time to build their brand and craft a winning image.

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