To Jar, or Not to Jar, That is the Cannabis Packaging Question

No matter what type of products you produce, if you make consumer products, your packaging is many times one of the largest and most overlooked contributors to your sales as a business. Making sure that your packaging helps get your products to stand out and get noticed by customers is incredibly important. In regards to cannabis, ensuring that those products can be as fresh as possible, especially if the cannabis products are pre-packaged for sale, is vital to keeping your quality high. The recreational and medical marijuana industries have an immense amount of laws and guidelines that vary from state to state on the amount of information needed on each label before the end sale of any cannabis products. Ensuring that your cannabis packaging is compliant with local and state laws is also a concern for many dispensaries around the country. All of these different facets of product packaging can, in some cases, be a huge contributor to your overall success as a cannabis dispensary or infused product producer.

The First Experience

Typically, a customer’s first experience with your products begins the moment they walk through the door and sees them displayed on the walls and counters. When a client chooses a given product, oftentimes it’s the packaging they’re actually picking. The packaging of your marijuana goods is highly influential to the perspective of your clients and may even be the primary reason a particular product is chosen over the rest. The packaging design and convenience of use are key factors that influence people’s initial reactions to your products and brand. Even the act of opening your packaging is an important element in how customers experience your cannabis products. Companies like Apple, Ferrero Roche, and Maker’s Mark have been famous for the attention to detail they put into their product packaging and unboxing experience. The more ‘premium’ your brand is the more you will have to invest in nicer packaging. With regard to cannabis, unique packaging and a novel unboxing experience will cement that experience in the head of your consumers more so than if they were opening any old mylar bag or glass jar. So much of the cannabis packaging options today are all the same plastic pop-top bottles and tubes, the same screw or press top glass jars, and the same mylar zipper bags. More generic or commonplace cannabis packing options can still be a way to present your products on a budget, especially with custom designs. However, generic packaging will never be as memorable to the consumer as a more unique or custom packaging design.

Apple iPhone 4 packaging design on a wooden table

For many years, Apple has maintained incredibly sophisticated packaging and brand cohesion. Arguably more than any other electronics manufacturer, they spend time investing in their customer experience from sale to unboxing.

Customers don’t want to have to fiddle with over-engineered childproof seals or open up generic packaging that is similar to every other cannabis business’ packaging. In many states, childproof exit packaging is required by law. With large numbers of businesses offering compliant packaging to the cannabis industry now, there are a host of different avenues a cannabis producer may pursue to have attractive and compliant packaging.

Creating a good package design that both fits your brand and is enjoyable to open, while also being compliant with regulations can be a difficult balance to strike. Luckily, there are a lot of options out there for a cannabis business of any size.

Problems around Storing Cannabis

Cannabis is a perishable product. Given time and elemental exposure, it will go bad. This is true for all cannabis products. Understanding how your packaging relates to your cannabis product’s shelf life is vitally important, especially if you are pre-packaging your goods. Light exposure, oxidation, heat, and physical movement are all methods of degradation to cannabis products, to list just a few. Depending on your packaging, some of these forces may be impacting your cannabis flavor, potency, or appearance. Ever wonder why cannabis that has been packaged in mylar or plastic bags drys out your flower so quickly? Many of the “off-the-shelf” mylar and plastic bags have very small amounts of salt present in or around the surface of the bag, leading to a loss in humidity inside the sealed bag and ultimately dry, unappealing flower. Glass can also be a large problem for cannabis storage. Although glass has the great ability to allow you to see your products and is rigid and durable enough to be placed almost anywhere, most glass jars are not airtight, eventually leading to oxidized and dried out cannabis. Also, most glass jars are not UV resistant. Ultraviolet light is very damaging to the light monoterpenes present in the fatty trichomes of the cannabis flower. As the monoterpenes are exposed to the light they will quickly be broken down by prolonged exposure to UV radiation. When the plants are alive and in the ground, these terpenes are continually produced by the living flower. The drying and curing process alone will reduce the amount of terpenes on the flower, and this can be compounded if stored in a vessel that is clear and exposed to UV radiation.

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Alternatives to Glass and Mylar

There are a lot of rigid plastic alternatives on the market from PLA or polylactic acid-based options to biodegradable packaging and hemp plastic jars. Currently, there is a growing number of packaging producers making custom solutions for every product imaginable. Although many of these new custom plastic solutions may have many wonderful and novel characteristics such as being biodegradable, air-tight, and cost-effective they also might be harmful to your products depending on what plastics and stabilizers they use. Leaching can occur from the terpenes and other volatile organic compounds breaking down the surface of the inside of the plastic jar and ultimately leading to polymer leaching into your flower. Not all plastic or bioplastic containers do this and it is merely important to do your homework before you choose any given product.

Hemp plastic jar with Greenhouse Farmacy sticker and a hemp plastic straw

The Planet-3 team produced a few different variations of hemp-reinforced plastic jars for packaging cannabis flower. The added hemp increased the jars’ strength and reduced the amount of plastic needed in a traditional jar of the same size. Read more about our innovations into hemp plastic.

Tins and Other Metal Containers

Metal tins are excellent ways to store your cannabis products for prolonged periods. Aluminum and tin cans can be a great option because they are light-proof and resistant to corrosion, with the only downside being cost. Metal containers are many times double the price for the same volume of plastic or cheap glass jars. Although cheaper options do exist, many are not made in the USA and hold the potential of having harmful chemicals in the metal due to the processing practices of the overseas factories.

Know Your Brand, Know Your Client

Ultimately, the best option for packaging is different for every company. Your best choice on what type of packaging to go with should consider your brand and clientele. If your business creates pre-packaged cannabis and you serve a customer base that is made up of true cannabis connoisseurs, your customers will thank you for valuing quality and good-looking cannabis packaging. Other businesses with one store and or deli-style cannabis packaging may be very successful at using bioplastic hemp-based jars over a more expensive packaging solution. Glass jars are a staple and most likely will continue to be for decades into the future for the cannabis industry. Simply put, glass jars are just overdone and can lead to your products not standing out. Finally, plastic and mylar bags are quite honestly trash. They are single-use disposable pieces of trash that lead to poorer quality products and an unoriginal packaging experience.

Having a deep understanding of who your customers are and how your brand fits into the greater cannabis ecosystem is your best tool for understanding what type of packaging to employ with your products. Spending the time to define your identity as a business and your ideal customers will help you understand what your clients are looking for from you. Thankfully, businesses like Planet-3 specialize in helping cannabis companies define their brand identity and customer strategies. We can help you identify your ideal customer, source the right packaging, and create custom product designs that match your brand, all in a compliant and attractive manner. Next time you are deciding to change the packaging you have for your cannabis products, consult your business and branding experts at Planet-3.

Taylor Ange

Specializations: Extraction Processes Compliance Product development Taylor has maintained a passion for finding unconventional solutions for problems in the biology and medical fields. From a young age, he was heavily invested in the emergency medical industry as an active member of King County Search and Rescue in Washington State. Taylor attended college at the University of Montana as a terrestrial ecology major. As a field researcher and a lab technician with the US Forest Service, he conducted e-DNA testing on fluvial systems in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. In the lab, he conducted mitochondrial DNA synthesis and analyzation which taught him how a large scale science and research laboratory is laid out and operated, along with what control measures are used for both personal and product safety. He has been involved in projects spanning beverage, cannabis fiber and extraction, and clean technology. He has been a part of developing various technologies including carbon dioxide reclamation equipment, hemp bioplastic formulations, and semi-autonomous control systems.


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