In an effort to prevent children from getting into their parents’ cannabis, industry regulators have imposed strict rules on packaging that go beyond even the regulations imposed on the alcohol trade. The goal, at least in theory, is to strip away any attractiveness from these products, eliminating all visibility of what’s inside, so that kids will be more likely to pass them up without so much as a second look. But some advocates believe this packaging is doing more harm than good, according to a report from VICE.
In Canada, packaging restrictions prevent cannabis businesses from getting creative in their marketing approach. The government wants all cannabis packaged in plain wrappers and stamped with a bright red THC symbol and a yellow health warning label. The package must also be dark in order to prevent anyone from being able to distinguish what’s inside. It’s a hindrance to the concept of establishing a brand. The most a cannabusiness can do to put their personality into the product is insert a logo somewhere on the package.
But this isn’t the primary grip.
Cannabis consumers, presumably those still of the hippie mindset, believe the packaging is too excessive and wasteful. These people feel like putting a gram of marijuana in a child-resistant container the size of an ibuprofen bottle ultimately poses a threat to the environment. They want to see more sustainable options.
When it comes to marijuana packaging in the United States, the primary goal, much like it is in Canada, is to prevent children from exposure to THC. There have been countless reports of children accidentally ingesting pot products since marijuana started going legal in the states. Although this has more to do with irresponsible parenting than it does with packaging, state regulators have swooped in over the years to childproof the industry.
But there are environmental concerns.
The argument is that since most plastic isn’t biodegradable and will likely be around longer than most of us will live, the cannabis industry should employ alternative packaging methods to, at least, try and somewhat prolong the longevity of the planet. Some members of the trade are looking into ways to make the business more sustainable. But because most cannabis operations are still fighting for survival out there—battling insane federal taxes and other financial snags—many of them are not even interested in embracing a more environmentally friendly package if it means spending more money.
Cannabis industry experts say the problem cannot be properly addressed without giving these operations more access to financial solutions—all of which are hindered by the U.S. government due to marijuana’s Schedule I classification. It is just another example of how Congress could help take the trade to the next level by passing laws that put it more in line with other areas of American commerce.