Regulations and new design have opened cannabis packaging to multiple options.

Cannabis packaging is highly regulated and varies by state, but some of the most common requirements in most areas are as follows:

1. Child-proof/child-resistant (includes CR-Packs – a child-resistant tube for vape pens and other products and child-proof zipper bags designed for flower cannabis, child-resistant packaging often blends plastic and cardboard materials).

2. Re-sealable

3. Tamper-evident

4. Opaque

Many states also require single-use packaging for products even when sold in bulk (e.g., vape cartridges). However, the variability in packaging rules and designs makes it difficult for suppliers to develop a one-size-fits-all package for use in multiple states. For instance, Colorado allows child-proof resealable zipper bags while Washington does not allow for reclosable child-resistant packaging. Colorado also requires that the edible cannabis food products be marked with a THC symbol on the food itself, requiring the use of edible ink.

Beyond meeting regulatory standards, the three broad categories of cannabis — flowers, concentrates and edibles—each have unique packaging needs.

For flowers, the packaging generally falls into three tiers, based on how much cost the processor is willing to put into packaging. Many cannabis companies prefer Airtight, odor-proof glass jars for dried flowers as they are reusable, and consumers are likely to re-use them after purchase. The reusability creates additional opportunity for brand awareness.

Pyrex tube jars are considered a more cost useful option than glass jars while providing more opportunities for custom printing and lid options. Smell-proof bags are generally the most cost-effective option. These are opaque bags that have zippers to re-seal and can be heat sealed, making them tamper-evident.

Cannabis concentrates are any product made by extraction like oils and waxes making heat-proof borosilicate glass containers a leading package since it allows product liquefaction without breakage. Polystyrene containers, however, are the most cost-effective packages, are more compact than glass and offer a silicone insert for stickier products. Acrylic containers are BPA-free and provide a more “high-end” look and feel.

With edibles ranging from bakery goods to sodas and teas, the packaging offers the most extensive variety.  The three main package types are tube jars that can be sealed with shrink bands to ensure product integrity; Single-use, child-resistant bags using food-grade films to ensure freshness and resealable, smell-proof bags that can be heat sealed and include a zipper.

From machinery to materials to inks, the most diverse collection of packaging technology meeting the needs of the cannabis industry is found at PACK EXPO International 2018 and the co-located Healthcare Packaging EXPO (Oct. 14-17, 2018; McCormick Place, Chicago). Owned and produced by PMMI, the show convenes 2,500 exhibitors and 50,000 attendees, offering opportunities to view technologies that could cross-pollinate into cannabis packaging. In addition to aisles of solutions, cannabis professionals will have access to free, on-floor educational sessions at three different Innovation Stage locations.

To register and learn more, visit packexpointernational.com.

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