The Evolution of Cannabis Packaging

Cannabis plants growing under a blue sky with white clouds.

The cannabis industry has grown by leaps and bounds and has attracted everyone looking for an alternate way of treating some mental and physical conditions or simply recreational purposes. There are now various products made with cannabis, all of which come in different kinds of packaging. 

Without the right packaging, people won’t feel interested in buying products from suppliers. After all, the packaging is the first thing that catches the eyes of consumers. But have you ever wondered how cannabis packaging evolved since the first products came out? Let’s find out.

Mylar bags & metal cans

For some time, producers used Mylar barrier bags to pack their products. This is a low-cost option with a multi-layered PET construct on the inside, aluminum foil as its main barrier, and either PP or PE on the outside so that the products don’t come in direct contact with the aluminum foil. These dependable bags provide cost-friendly and facile multi-color printing too. 

At some point, producers also used metal cans flushed with nitrogen gas. They used nitrogen gas instead of oxygen before sealing the cans to maintain the freshness of the products. But the issue with this packaging is that the buds tend to deteriorate rapidly after consumers open the sealed cans for weed. Because of these disadvantages, this early packaging option is not very common now.

Child resistant packaging

The FDA has required producers, manufacturers, and suppliers to follow the child resistant regulations for packaging to ensure children’s safety. These strict regulations should prevent children from accidentally opening or ingesting cannabis products, which may result in adverse effects. Even suppliers that offer custom cannabis packaging need to follow these regulations for all of their products.

The states that have legalized cannabis have also set specific guidelines for cannabis product packaging. These products need to undergo extensive testing processes to guarantee their child resistance. Some general requirements to achieve a seal of approval for child resistance (CR) include:

  • Explicit product labels.
  • A tamper-resistance feature on the packaging.
  • Several tests must prove that children cannot open the packaging and access the product after five minutes.
  • The packaging should be adequately challenging to open for adults, yet still accessible.
  • Packaging must be opaque and resealable.

These are the general requirements for the CR seal of approval. However, each state has its own guidelines that suppliers and manufacturers must follow to avoid any legal issues. 

Airtight containers & other modern options

In recent years, especially after the legalization of cannabis, advancements in the packaging of these products have emerged too. One such advancement is airtight containers. These containers have expanded the evolution of cannabis packaging significantly. Airtight containers maintain the freshness of cannabis. Other types of plastic packaging offer convenience, but they don’t keep the products completely fresh and airtight. Because of this, the need for airtight containers rose rapidly. 

Eventually, nitrogen-sealed cannabis packaging came out. This type of packaging looks like a simple can, but it uses nitrogen instead of oxygen. This ensures that the cannabis inside the container stays fresh for a very long time. Apart from this, the market for airtight containers continues to improve and expand each day. 

There are also induction heat seal foil liners that have a tamper-evident, air-tight seal to ensure the freshness of products in jars made of plastic or glass. Manufacturers can design heat-seal foil liners to create a “welded seal.” For this, consumers need to destroy the liner to guarantee tamper evidence. If not, manufacturers can use a “clean peel material” for easier access. 

Foil liners like these can also include pull tabs, which are very common in various food products. You can even see these in cannabis flower and edibles packaging. Using induction heat seal liners needs special attention to the cold and hot end coatings used in the manufacturing process. The reason for this is that containers, especially those made of glass, tend to push the heat seal liners off over time. 

When it comes to providing freshness and giving consumers a “premium feel,” glass jars are very popular. We also offer these at Green Rush Packaging. In states where the requirement is opaque packaging, manufacturers can make glass jars using white opal glass. For this, jars get spray painted with gloss or matte finishes to make them opaque. 

Plastic jars are still available these days and they come in different types of materials. Some of the most common plastic materials include Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), High-Density Polyethylene, Polystyrene, or Polypropylene. Among these options, the best one is PET, wherein manufacturers create the containers through a process called stretch blow molding. 

Automated packaging 

Companies and suppliers in the cannabis industry must also consider how to fill the packaging efficiently before making a final choice. For instance, early producers of cannabis flowers used to fill their jars or pouches by hand. The main reasons for this were that the flowers varied by weight and size, and they got damaged easily. 

Of course, they had to make sure that the amount in these packages matched the weight indicated on the label. Manual packaging involves more people as they need to weigh the buds and fill the packages too. Since the demand for cannabis products has grown immensely, this kind of packaging has become unsustainable. 

These days, the use of a cannabis packaging machine makes more sense. At first, automated packaging operations like the ones used in the food industry didn’t seem ideal because they weren’t gentle enough to handle the delicate cannabis flowers and buds. Because of this, the manufacturers of automated packaging machines worked closely with cannabis manufacturers to develop appropriate systems that can effectively handle weighing, sorting, and packaging cannabis more efficiently and quickly. 

Final words

These days, many consumers have turned to online shopping to find affordable and well-packaged products. This has made it even more important to make sure that the packaging you use for your products will maintain their quality and freshness. Now, more than ever, cannabis product packaging is of the utmost importance, not just to help your brand stand out but to keep your product at top-level quality.

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