Stylishly packaged snacks and biscuits with an extra portion of THC. Photo: Auntie Dolores
Intoxicating packaging for cannabis products
Money for plastic bags full of some secret powder? The times for such scenes are long gone, unless you count watching spy thrillers from the eighties. After all, nowadays cannabis products are designed with attractive packaging. So on Valentine’s Day lovers can give each other bouquets of cannabis instead of flowers, and unusual packets of special cigarettes are getting increasingly popular.
As a result, more and more businesses are wanting to take advantage of this new market. Often, new companies want to work with packaging manufacturers, as the Federal Drug Administration has given strict guidelines about product safety, in order to avoid improper use. Here are some examples:
Completely water- and air-tight
Impermeable to light
RFID tags for packaged products
Clearly legible and easily understandable instructions about the dosage and use of the product
Details about further ingredients and dietary requirements such as gluten-free and vegan
So far, however, there have been no detailed laws on packaging requirements. The general provisions can be applied by each state in different ways. This includes the wording on the label just as much as regulations about a compulsory separate inner container. Medical products are subject to particularly strict legal requirements, but these, too, need to be ratified by each state, so that there can be major regional variations. Above all, problems can arise when purchasing outside your own region, as the boundaries between legal and illegal cannabis products and their sale are no longer clear – and the problems in marketing are similar.
The time for a bag full of grass is long gone. This Cali Kush packaging is more reminiscent of a much-valued tea or an expensive cosmetic. Photo: Cali Kush
Flowers or concentrate?
Generally, cannabis is not sold in bulk, but mainly in single portions. When it comes to style and colour, the differences between legal cannabis biscuits and drinks aren’t all that different from snacks sold at a regular supermarket. The packaging style usually depends on the way the product is consumed: cannabis flowers are mostly sold in jars and tubes, processed concentrate in heatproof containers made from borosilicate, glass or polystyrene, and edible solids in resealable bags that don’t let the smell out.
Oil cartridges are highly popular
It’s only been legal since the start of the year, but California is already capturing the US cannabis market. One especially popular form of packaging is oil cartridges made from a mixture of plastic, glass and metal. There’s a great demand for concentrate rather than edible foodstuffs containing cannabis or THC, because it’s so much easier to use: While dried flowers need to be prepared and often leave crumbs on your trousers and the floor, disposable cartridges have a whole range of benefits:
No one notices if you put the cartridge in a rechargeable E-cigarette and inhale the liquid.
They’re easy to transport even in small bags.
There’s no smell as the oil evaporates, and no smoke either.
You can’t overdose.
The cost factor: $30-70 per cartridge.
Pre-dosed capsules for the right amount of the drug. Photo: hmbldt
Kiddie pictures for adults
Since the drug was legalised in Switzerland in 2017, there has been a lot of hype about being able to buy new types of CBD. Packaging is particularly focused on visual effects. Boxes and plastic packages are adorned with figures from children’s comics, such as dwarves, unicorns and eye-catching mythical creatures. However, this has been criticised by the Swiss charity Sucht (Addiction) as temptation for children and young people.
Green packaging for green grass
In the Netherlands cannabis products have been legal for many years, with an increasing trend towards sustainability. Biodegradable packaging made from hemp plastic has been improving the image of the industry, along with recycling systems. Bring the transparent box back to the coffee shop and claim your EUR 0.20 deposit. Any packaging that is returned is used as material to make colourful boxes, joint tubes and lids for cannabis.
First hemp harvests in Germany
In Germany there is still a struggle to legalise cannabis for medical purposes, though doctors can now prescribe it for serious illnesses – paid for by the country’s statutory health insurance companies. So far, however, there is still nowhere to grow medical cannabis under state supervision in the whole of Germany. Instead, cultivation, storage, packaging and transport are controlled by a special agency with the long-term aim of ensuring sustainable crops. Until then, patients must be content with imports, mainly from Canada and the Netherlands. The current 170kg of Dutch products is expected to reach up to 700kg by 2020. The exporters are hopeful that, from then onwards, Germany will be able to harvest its own crops. The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport are on record as saying that they don’t want the Netherlands to go down in history as the cannabis suppliers of Europe.