What is Safe Cannabis Packaging? The Importance of Regulatory Compliance Packaging
Updated: Dec 24, 2022
MedLock | May 20, 2022
With more countries moving towards cannabis legalization, the discussion on what constitutes safe cannabis packaging is quickly gaining momentum. This is especially true of countries that do not yet have regulated packaging requirements. In Canada, cannabis packaging must meet a number of criteria outlined in the Canadian Cannabis Act to ensure products are stored safely without appealing to youth.
This article discusses how licensed producers (LPs) and dispensaries in countries without packaging regulations can determine whether a given packaging product is a safe solution for their cannabis products.
Child Resistant Cannabis Packaging
First and foremost, cannabis packaging must be tested and certified as child resistant. Like other controlled substances (think pharmaceuticals), it is mandatory that packaging cannot be easily opened by young children. Specifically, tests must be carried out in a facility that require children age 5 years and younger to attempt to open the packaging product in question. These children must be completely unable to open the package for it to be certified as child resistant.
Certified child resistant cannabis packaging should be compliant with the CFR 16 1700.20 standard (or an equivalent standard) of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) for child resistant closures. All CannaLock™ child resistant cannabis packaging solutions have been tested to fully comply these standards. Click below to explore our products.
It is important to keep in mind that, since many cannabis users suffer from chronic pain, the packaging must not be difficult to open for individuals suffering from ailments like arthritis. This can be a tough balance to achieve and requires innovative packaging design.
Appropriate Cannabis Product Labels
One of the key functions of packaging is to inform consumers on safe product use. All cannabis products should therefore have labels with several key pieces of information. This includes the following:
Mandatory health warning (just as any alcoholic beverage or medication has).
Brand name of cannabis product.
Information about the license holder.
Class of cannabis.
Information on delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) compounds.
The levels of THC and CBD present in the cannabis product, which must be determined via independent laboratory testing.
Recommended dosage. This is especially important for first-time cannabis users who do not know their tolerance level or how they will respond to the product.
Product expiration date.
Directions on safe product storage (e.g., keep out of direct sunlight).
The legalization of cannabis results in many first-time users entering the product market category. As such, labels must include as much information as possible to adequately inform consumers on safe product ingestion, potential side effects, and more.
Safe Cannabis Storage: Airtight Cannabis Packaging and Humidity Packs
Like other plants and psychoactive substances, cannabis products can spoil over time. Dried flower, when stored incorrectly, can grow mold. This is obviously harmful when ingested. Furthermore, the molecular structure of a given cannabis product can change over time, especially if exposed to extreme temperatures, light, humidity, or oxygen levels. When this happens, the product can become less effective or even harmful if ingested.
Cannabis packaging must therefore include airtight closures. As discussed above, including expiration dates on the packaging is extremely important to prevent consumers from ingesting spoiled cannabis products. The use of hermetic seals is crucial for safe cannabis storage. Gas flushing is also recommended during the packing process.
To further protect cannabis products from the detrimental effects of humidity, small humidity packs can be easily added to most types of cannabis packaging. These packs serve to monitor the humidity levels within the internal confines of the packaging. They can then adjust the humidity levels to the optimal range by either adding or removing moisture to the package. These humidity packs come in the form of a small pouch filled with a mixture of water and salts.
Tamper Evident Cannabis Packaging
To further enhance the safety of cannabis packaging, it is recommended that tamper evident seals and closures are used when possible. The purpose of a tamper evident closure is to establish chain of custody by informing a consumer when a product has been accessed. Like any food, beverage, or pharmaceutical product, consumers should not use a product if the tamper evident seal is already broken. This means the chain of custody has been broken.
Personal Responsibility: LPs & Dispensaries
As discussed, many countries do not yet have set government-regulated packaging requirements for cannabis products. The responsibility therefore falls upon the LP to ensure they are selecting compliant cannabis packaging for their products.
However, dispensaries must also be vigilant when it comes to the packaging they choose to put on their shelves. If, for example, a dispensary receives a product with a noticeable packaging defect, the establishment should notify the LP about the defective packaging and refrain from selling the product in stores until the issue has been rectified.
For example, rubber can easily get dry rot when exposed to extreme temperatures or prolonged UV radiation. Since many cannabis extracts, oils, and tinctures use dropper caps with rubber stoppers, this is one such potential defect dispensaries and LPs must look out for.
Personal Responsibility: Packaging Manufacturers and Suppliers
In addition, packaging suppliers must do their due diligence to ensure they are selling products that have been fully tested for regulatory compliance. If your country does not yet have packaging regulations, it is up to the packaging supplier to have its products independently tested and certified for child resistance, tamper evidence, and airtight closures. It is therefore of the utmost importance that cannabis packaging meets the CFR 16 1700.20 standard as well as other standards, like the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
If you are an LP looking for sustainable packaging, check that the packaging you purchase has been tested to meet the following standards:
DIN 6120-1992 standard for the recyclability of a packaging product.
DIN EN 13432:2000 standard for compostable and biodegradable packaging.
ASTM D6400-19 standard for biodegradable packaging via composting.
A responsible packaging manufacturer will provide customers with detailed technical data sheets and certification documents to prove packaging is compliant with the appropriate standards. CannaLock™ always provides our customers with comprehensive documentation for all the products we offer.
A responsible packaging manufacturing company will also have facilities that have specific certifications and licenses, like:
Canadian Medical Device Establishment License (CMDEL)
Health Canada Compliant
ISO 8 Cleanroom Certified
ISO 13485 Quality Management Systems Certified
Furthermore, packing companies and co-packers must ensure the packaging facility has controls in place for humidity, temperature, and oxygen levels to maintain the optimal environment for cannabis products.
Whether cannabis is legalized for recreational or medicinal purposes, all products should be safely packaged with appropriate labels. Until your country, state, or province mandates specific cannabis packaging requirements, it is up to packaging manufacturers, suppliers, LPs, dispensaries, and packers to ensure all products haven been tested to meet public health and safety standards.
If you want to learn more about Canada's regulatory compliance cannabis packaging requirements through the Cannabis Act, visit the official Health Canada web page for the packaging and labelling guide for cannabis products. There is also a downloadable PDF with more information.
At CannaLock™, we aim to be your partners in compliance. We encourage you to contact us to learn more about our regulatory compliance packaging solutions for all your cannabis needs.