Recently, we had a chance to chat with Kathee Brewer, Director of Content, CANN Media Group. As an award winning journalist and author, she’s covered topics from dog shows to political corruption, and almost everything in-between. Not one to shy away from a challenge, she now keeps in line the ever expanding coterie of CANN MG journalists covering the erupting cannabis and hemp industries.
What are the most important things to consider when choosing packaging for cannabis edibles in the U.S.A.?
"With edibles, of course, freshness counts. It should go without saying that packaging should be designed to keep contaminants out and the proper humidity and oxygen levels, terpenes, and health benefits inside. In addition, cannabis consumers are extremely interested in the healthfulness of not only the products, but also the packaging. Anything that touches the product should be free of any suspicious or known-to-be-harmful ingredients. Bonus points if the packaging material---exterior and interior---is recyclable and made from renewable resources."
We’re excited to announce we’re about to launch a new, commercially compostable material that meets our high standards! And with a FDA Letter of Guarantee in our back pocket, our high standards mean you can rest assured we’re keeping in mind your high standards regarding your food packaging needs.
Packaging regulations seems to be all over the map. Can you shed some light on how a company can meet their packaging obligations?
"Companies operating in the space or aspiring to operate in the space need to be aware packaging regulations vary by jurisdiction and type of product, sometimes significantly. Some requirements are fairly universal, like child-resistant packaging for edibles, topicals, flower, filled vapes and cartridges, and all other products containing THC.
Most jurisdictions mandate prominent notices about cannabinoid levels for the package as a whole and per serving within the package, in addition to a list of the product's other ingredients. In most places the license number of the product's producer must appear somewhere on the package, as well. Many jurisdictions require some sort of product identification symbol, like a marijuana leaf or specialized 'caution' sign, and mandate packages cannot be designed or decorated in a way that might appeal to children.
Some mandate opaque packaging and/or packaging labeled with statements about potential health risks and cannabis's status as a Schedule I drug. Some jurisdictions also require stores and dispensaries to apply an additional label containing the retail outlet’s name, location, and license number."
What about packaging requirements for hemp-infused products containing CBD?
"Hemp-infused products containing CBD are regulated in a few states, and most of those have issued packaging regulations very similar, if not identical, to the requirements for products that contain THC. A very few states, including California, have issued outright bans on food products and dietary supplements containing hemp-derived CBD, although they allow dispensaries to sell marijuana-derived CBD edibles, capsules, and tinctures as medical products with the same packaging requirements issued for THC-infused products."
Based on your experience, what is one piece of packaging advice you’d like to give the cannabis industry?
"I can't stress this enough: Any company currently offering cannabis products of any kind or considering diving into the cannabis industry should contact knowledgeable, reputable attorneys and packaging professionals experienced in working within the relevant state regulatory environment. And don't scrimp on packaging. Marketing a well-designed, well-executed product inside a substandard package is a recipe for legal and financial disaster. Budget for packaging-related expenses up-front to prevent legal woes and financial losses later."
Are there any differences in packaging requirements between dispensaries and retail locations?
"Packaging considerations and regulations apply equally to dispensaries and retail stores in the ten states and the District of Columbia where both medical and recreational use are legal. In medical-only states, cannabis products may be sold only in dispensaries. Right now, regulations regarding products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids are murky, at best.
The FDA considers CBD-infused products illicit; nevertheless, they're widely available. Companies that market or want to market CBD-infused products in brick-and-mortar stores and/or online should consult attorneys and packaging professionals to determine best practices."
Given the wide-ranging cannabis packaging regulations between states, how can a business owner be sure they’re meeting packaging requirements?
"Each state that has legalized cannabis issues its own regulations. Because those regulations can vary dramatically between states and change frequently, the absolute best way companies operating in the space can keep up with relevant laws is to consult a knowledgeable attorney. (The National Cannabis Bar Association [ncba.org] can be extremely helpful in tracking down a qualified local attorney.) State regulatory bodies generally publish all regulations, including packaging and labeling requirements, on their websites.
CANN Media Group, of course, keeps a close eye on legal and regulatory issues affecting the cannabis industry. Our business-to-business publications mg Magazine and CBD Today and the associated websites mgretailer.com and cbdtoday.com make a valiant effort to help readers stay abreast of the changing environment nationwide. A number of legal, marketing, and packaging professionals with significant cannabis experience contribute columns to CMG's print publications and websites monthly, and all of them are happy to answer readers' questions."
What are the most common cannabis packaging questions you hear on a regular basis?
"We frequently hear questions about all the items I mentioned above and many others, and we often help entrepreneurs get in touch with experts and regulatory authorities who can offer definitive answers. Because the cannabis industry is regulated state by state and changes to laws and regulations occur almost constantly, blanket answers are nearly impossible (though some industry-wide best-practices guidelines do exist).
The industry is hoping some of the regulatory issues will be resolved when federal prohibition ends and Uncle Sam steps in with a unified regulatory scheme. Thankfully, Congress is taking baby steps in that direction. With luck, we could see some criminal justice reform and federal legislation giving states true autonomy later this year or early next.
Removal of cannabis from Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act --- which would, in effect, legalize cannabis in at least some applications --- may not take place for several years, though."
Thank you, Kathee, for taking the time to chat with us to share your knowledge and experience in the cannabis industry!
"You’re very welcome!"
Takeaway #1: Packaging quality is very important. Pick the right packaging for the job.
Takeaway #2: Budget for packaging-related expenses up-front to prevent legal woes and financial losses later.
Takeaway #3: Packaging regulations vary by jurisdiction and product type. Contact knowledgeable, reputable attorneys and packaging professionals with experience in your state’s regulatory environment. [ncba.org]
Ordering from Roastar is easy - get started by calling our highly trained customer service reps. Not a phone person? No problem! You can do it all online and start your cannabis edibles packaging project there. If you need it, we’ll guide you through the entire process with our online chat. We’re constantly improving our website to make the process even easier than it already is. And something we’re really proud of - our bags are made in the USA, not to mention the fastest turnaround time in the industry!