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Cannabis Packaging Checklist & Key Questions


From legal requirements to ensuring you have cohesive brand messaging, there is a wide range of considerations that go into designing cannabis packaging. The following is a short list of the most important design considerations as well as a cannabis advertising and packaging and labeling resources for cannabis businesses.

Legal Requirements: Complies with Local Requirements

Different states have different requirements for packaging and labeling cannabis products, it’s important that cannabis brands have their legal counsel review all packaging before it’s approved. Making sure your packaging is compliant with local state requirements will impact the design of the packaging, and so it’s important to be aware of all local requirements and design rules at the beginning of any packaging design project.

Audience Needs: Designed for the Target Audience

Designing cannabis packaging for your target audience starts with knowing your customers. It is essential you have a clearly defined target market and know exactly what they want and need from your product or service. Knowing your customers isn’t the result of sharing anecdotes or what you hear at cocktail parties, but instead, a concerted, ongoing process of talking to them. For example: upscale premium flower buyers tend to be connoisseurs. These types of consumers tend to want to see the product and inspect for crystals, trichomes, and other indications of product quality. As such designing packaging that incorporates the ability to see the product is important for flower and rosins.

Display Considerations: Optimize for Retail Display

Depending on the product type, store layout, and local state requirements, your products are likely going to be displayed in a mounted display case on a wall, a free-standing display case in the middle of a store floor, or retail counter display case. Customers cannot pickup any product without a budtender’s assistance. Therefore, designing your product to stand out amongst your competitors who are vying for the same space is critical.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Is your brand messaging prominently displayed on the primary panel of the packaging?
  • Is the brand name and logo easily visible?
  • Is there room to include your tagline?
  • Will the store allow you to add additional signage or a custom layout to the display case?
  • Does the packaging support the brand positioning?
  • If you’re a “sustainable” brand, is your packaging recyclable?
  • Should you include room for a Clean Green or Certified Kind seal?
  • If you’re a premium elite brand, what type of finishing touches are expected (e.g. foil, embossing, etc.)?
  • Are there other opportunities to demonstrate your brand attributes in your packaging?
  • Does the packaging support line extensions and future products?

A Few Resources to Check Out

FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD)

California Cannabis Packaging Requirements Explained

Washington State Packaging Guidelines

Colorado Cannabis Enforcement Web Site

Michigan Cannabis Laws, Rules, and Bulletins

Disclaimer: The information and material available and referenced in this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. All responsibility to operate in accordance with state laws regarding cannabis business operations is the complete and full responsibility of the license holder.

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