The cannabis industry and complex regulation go hand in hand, so it is no surprise that the regulations surrounding packaging and labeling of cannabis and cannabis infused products would be among the most extensive and tricky to navigate. There are some guidelines that are fairly universal, like child-proof and tamper-evident packaging, that mimic federal safety standards for consumables and potentially harmful products. However, beyond that, the regulations can vary wildly from state to state, with some states having very basic labeling guidelines and others outlining every detail down to the font size and color.
Each state has its own unique set of rules, for both manufacturers and distributors, that are often very specific, and failure to comply can be costly. Labeling, packaging and product safety noncompliance are among the top 5 cannabis violations in 2018 according to Adherence Compliance data. These violations can result in considerable fines and the products being removed from store shelves, not to mention the costly relabeling and repackaging of products. Consulting legal counsel to interpret the guidelines can be beneficial, particularly in states like Nevada and Washington where the regulations are lengthy and complex.
Cannabis manufacturers and retailers not only have to navigate the existing complex regulations, but they have to stay diligent as these guidelines are rapidly changing, sometimes with little to no grace period for compliance. The regulations are evolving alongside the industry. This requires the ability to alter packaging and labeling quickly in order to avoid losing revenue while making the necessary changes or face fines for noncompliance. Considering these factors when designing packaging and labels can be essential to mitigating problems down the road.
While these regulations are a challenge to navigate, they don’t appear to be stopping this rapidly growing industry. In fact, this complex environment has created a new opportunity for ancillary businesses to step in and offer value added products and services to meet the unique needs of cannabis clients. By focusing on and understanding the various guidelines, label makers, packaging companies, and marketing firms are customizing products and services for cannabis clients while remaining compliant.