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What Makes for Good Cannabis Packaging: A Rebuttal

Big Pete's Treats in Stand Up Pouches

Ohio is one of the most recent states to pass legislation legalizing medical marijuana.

Currently, 26 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana either recreationally or for medicinal purposes (or both), meaning government bodies in half of the entire nation have signed their approval for safe and legal consumption of cannabis. 

There is no doubt the perception of marijuana has changed from the early 20th-century’s “Reefer Madness” scares and propaganda to a laxer view of the plant as communication in the modern age has improved. No longer considered a “gateway drug,” many Americans actually favor medical marijuana over addictive prescription opiates and sedatives for numerous (probably obvious) reasons.

While much of the public has either a positive or indifferent view of marijuana, we can’t ignore the fact that it is still a drug in the most literal sense and should be regulated as such. Its benefits may be numerous, but as with any other medicinal substance, precautions must be taken to ensure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Child safety is of the utmost importance, especially when regulating how to package marijuana.   

Recreational users and patients might be most concerned with how well cannabis packaging maintains the freshness, aroma, and potency of the product, but “cannabrands” entering this increasingly lucrative industry need to be sure their packaging is protective and designed in a way that is compliant with federal regulations. A tamper evident reclosable cannabis storage bag is going to be your best bet for the plant itself, as well as edibles.

We came across an article asking a “budtender” what the most effective cannabis packaging looks like. The common theme in this piece is that glass is preferable to all over marijuana packaging structures.

We’d like to take this opportunity to share a few counter-arguments that illustrate why flexible, child-resistant bags can make an equally effective — if not better — option for how to package marijuana.

Argument #1: Glass is a Safer, More Effective Cannabis Packaging Material
Glass is a completely nonporous material, giving your cannabis a longer shelf life.

Our Rebuttal: While we agree with the author that the traditional small, plastic baggy is not an effective way to prolong the shelf life of cannabis, flexible packaging has many benefits over rigid containers, including easier transportation, more product able to fit on the shelf of dispensaries, and more “retail space” for cannabrands to display their unique graphics, logos, and designs, as well as legal dosage requirements and labels.

Glass jars can shatter, making them an unsafe packaging choice for the consumer. Cracked glass also allows cannabis to come in contact with harmful external contaminants. Not to mention, glass is heavy, requiring more fuel and CO2 emissions during the transportation of the product in the packaging.

Flexible child-resistant bags, on the other hand, also help maintain and extend shelf life, with the major bonus being the ability to let excess air out of the packaging every time it is re-closed. The zip lock at the top offers more convenience to consumers — especially those who may be using medical marijuana for hand, wrist, joint pain. Let’s face it — jar lids are a real pain to open. A zip lock is easier to slide open and closed, and the childproof zipper is specially formulated to make sure young children cannot get into it.

Argument #2: Glass Cannabis Packaging Gives You a Better Look at Your Strain
Without a clear view of the product (which is available in some plastic packaging as well), the customer is left with essentially no sense to rely on but a gut feeling when it comes to choosing the right strain. 

Our Rebuttal: In some areas, marijuana packaging MUST be opaque. Regulations for cannabis packaging change at a rapid pace, and they can vary from region to region even in places where marijuana is legal throughout the entire state.

Brands can build transparency, however, with their labeling and product information printed on the outside of their tamper evident reclosable cannabis storage bag. Jars are cylindrical, and product info can only be printed on the label or lid. There’s more “retail space” to build transparency on a flexible bag as opposed to a jar.

Argument #3: For the Environmentally Conscious, Go with Glass or Biodegradable Packaging
By purchasing cannabis packaged in glass containers, you can help yourself and the planet at the same time.

Our Rebuttal: Not every consumer recycles — while the U.S. recycling rate has been increasing over time (it was a mere 6.2 percent 50 years ago) there is more waste being created than ever. So glass jars can end up in landfills just as easily as any other type of packaging.

Flexible pouches, however, are more landfill friendly, and they can also be recycled with R7-coded materials. We actually don’t recommend using biodegradable packaging if you want to keep a product fresh. It can deteroriate the quality of the product inside because it’s meant to break down when exposed to light, UV rays, etc.

This makes the packaging AND product vulnerable. You need tough packaging that is going to block out light, air, moisture, and bacteria, or else the quality and potency of the cannabis will be compromised.

Argument #4: For Cannabis Concentrates, Medical-Grade Silicone-Lined Packaging is Ideal
When it comes to concentrates, good packaging still means product visibility and preserving freshness, but it also means accessibility: there’s little more frustrating than purchasing a gram of oil and only being able to scrape 80% of it off of parchment paper or plastic jars.

Our Rebuttal: If accessibility is an issue, child-resistant pouches are the best choice. They allow adult consumers to get the entire product out using an easy-to-understand zip lock feature that is rigorously tested to keep kids OUT. Instead of using paper, these pouches are laminated, so product doesn’t get stuck to them. Pouches, in general, are preferred by many consumers because every last bit of product can be squeezed out, adding more value overall.

Argument #5: Detailed Labelling is Especially Important for Concentrate Packaging

Our Rebuttal: We 100 percent agree that labeling is vital to educating consumers about cannabis concentrates and making sure your brand is following detailed regulations. The beauty of flexible packaging is that it can be fully customized, so you can print all your labeling information right on the child-resistant bags without having to waste time sticking paper labels to each and every pouch.

Argument #6: Explore New Cannabis Brands and Find Your Favorites
The number of brands available to choose from when purchasing flower can be overwhelming…

Rebuttal: Flexible packaging, in general, is an emerging leader for all CPG brands. It’s still relatively new to the U.S. market, so brands will stand out when using this type of packaging compared to rigid jars, boxes, regular plastic baggies, etc. The ability to custom print on these bags helps brands stand apart from the competition, using their unique logos, graphics, color schemes, typefaces, and so on. Flexible, child-resistant exit bags can be produced in various sizes and styles, helping to keep branding consistent and ensure each cannabusiness is following the requirements for dosage and serving size.

Want to learn more about the safe, legal and most effective way to package marijuana? We’ll be on site at the New England Cannabis Convention, located at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, April 22 and 23 to answer your questions.

Stop by booth #429 to see samples of our child resistant exit bags, and stick around for our CEO, David Marinac, who will lead a presentation at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, April 23 demonstrating the best ways to store, package, and label legal marijuana.

NECANNhow to package medical marijuana

(Top Image Source: Big Pete's Treats)

Topics: Non Food Packaging

Brittany Nader

Written by Brittany Nader

What LEGO’s Sustainable Packaging Teaches Us About Overseas Innovation

Since 1949, children across the globe have fawned over tiny, plastic, interlocking bricks.

LEGOs are a not only a classic toy but a staple in many households. Many kids beg their parents to take them to the majestic LEGOLAND, an amusement park where all their wishes and dreams could come true.

Why Nestlé, Unilever & PepsiCo are Banning Oxo-degradable Plastic Packaging

Originally marketed as an eco-friendly packaging material, new evidence regarding the potentially negative impact of oxo-degradable plastics has led a number of companies and governments to restrict their use.

More than 150 companies and global organizations, including Nestlé, Unilever and PepsiCo, have recently endorsed a total ban on the material in light of its potentially negative environmental impact.

Oxo-degradable plastic packaging, which includes select plastic pouch bags, is often marketed as a solution to plastic pollution because it claims to degrade into harmless residues within a period ranging from a few months to several years. However, oxo-degradable plastics do not degrade into harmless residues, but instead, fragment into tiny shards of plastic that actually contribute to plastic pollution.

Often, consumers think that because a material is biodegradable, it can be composted or even littered on the ground, because, it is thought, the material will break down into nothing over time. This actually ends up leading to an increase in pollution, since consumers don’t end up recycling or repurposing the material, and misconceptions about how the plastic will degrade leads them to end up putting it back into landfills.

What is important to note in this case is that although oxo-degradable plastics are biodegradable, being biodegradable does not necessarily mean that a material is eco-friendly. Although these plastics do break down over time, the tiny pieces they break down into are still plastics that contribute to pollution — they do not degrade into nothing or into another usable substance.

For companies looking to make the switch to sustainable packaging, it is important to consider that sustainable packaging does not necessarily mean biodegradable packaging, and vice versa.

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Today’s consumers are demanding transparency and accountability from all types of products, and pet food is no exception.

Greater scrutiny over pet food ingredients, and an increasing demand for responsibility, sustainability and complete transparency from pet food manufacturers is driving change within the industry. As the consumer demand for “clean” pet food labeling evolves as a major topic within the world of pet packaging, FDA guidelines are shifting.