News and Best Practices

Provide State-Compliant Packaging to Your Customers

November 15, 2016

Developing standout packaging is key to building a strong brand identity and helping differentiate one product from all of the others. But in most states, packaging is highly regulated. Knowing the ins and outs of compliance is essential to keeping your license.

In addition to packaging regulations, there are separate and distinct requirements for labels, which are required in all states to be affixed to the packaging.

States with packaging requirements

Most states with comprehensive regulations have very specific guidelines for what packaging must include, but these can vary widely in the details. The exact requirements are always in a separate and unambiguous section of the state regulations, but there are many phrases that don’t carry a detailed explanation. Here are just two examples.

“Child-resistant packaging”: The Code of Federal Regulations on Poison Prevention Packaging (16 CFR Part 1700) defines child-resistant packaging as “designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under 5 years of age to open or obtain a toxic or harmful amount of the substance contained therein within a reasonable time and not difficult for normal adults to use properly…”

However, producers and dispensary owners can look to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guidelines (see resources below) to learn more about child-resistant packaging and which companies produce them. If the product is distributed to your store in packaging that is not child-resistant, then it should be placed in a child-resistant package before sale to the customer.

Also, almost all states require child-resistant safety packaging for cannabis, but many do not go to the same lengths that Oregon does. That state requires testing and certification of packaging by a third-party firm, and this may lead to more states adopting testing.

“Not designed to appeal to children”: The primary examples are images of cartoon characters and items already being marketed to children. Oregon has a developed a bulletin clarifying what could qualify (see resources below). Additionally, if a company’s logo is attractive to children, it would be advisable to use only the name of the company and omit the logo.

Many states also have a requirement that the packaging not bear any reasonable resemblance to commercially available products. Some states specifically highlight only that the packaging cannot be commercially available candy, in order to reduce the likelihood that a child would be attracted to the product.

States without packaging requirements

If your state doesn’t have packaging requirements outlined in the laws, that doesn’t mean you can ignore this important aspect of product development. The main reason for these requirements is to protect consumers and reduce child access. Not taking the extra steps to protect the public could lead to a lawsuit if injury results.

It’s presumed that the states still developing their regulations will ultimately have guidelines on packaging. But until that occurs, prudent and risk-adverse producers and dispensary owners should abide by the following minimum packaging standards:

  • It is sealed.
  • It is tamper-proof.
  • It is child-resistant.
  • It is re-sealable, if it contains multiple servings.
  • It is opaque, so that the contents cannot be seen.
  • It is light-resistant.
  • It is not designed to appeal to children.
  • It uses plain packaging.
  • It has an affixed label that complies with the separate and distinct regulations.

States update these requirements all the time and will enact stricter regulations as the industry develops. Additionally, there may be much more extensive consumer warning labels and packaging requirements in many states specifically for edible products.

By Devon Landis, Esq.

Additional Resources:

Consumer Product Safety Commission Guide to Child Resistant and Senior-Friendly Packages:–Standards/Statutes/Poison-Prevention-Packaging-Act/Child-Resistant-and-Senior-Friendly-Packages-packaging-guide/

Oregon’s Helpful Tips on How to Determine What Kind of Package to Use:

Oregon’s Clarification on Marijuana Product Attractiveness to Children:

Dispensary Management Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on dispensary operations. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cannabis consultant for specific compliance and dispensary/retailing advice.
© 2016 CAN Performance Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
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