In the rapidly growing world of cannabis products, it’s easy to get confused about packaging requirements. Since cannabis is still federally illegal, rules and regulations vary significantly from state to state — but many requirements are shared.
Currently, 21 states have legalized adult use, and 37 states have legalized the medical use of cannabis. Keeping the labeling requirements, required information, and packaging standards straight is enough to make anyone’s head spin.
This inconsistency carries over to a vital area of packaging: child safety, where rules are often murky.
This guide will help you understand the most common and essential cannabis packaging requirements for child safety, regardless of your region and product specialty.
1. Child-Resistant Seals and Closures
Despite a wide variety of requirements from state to state, child-resistant seals and closures are mandatory across all states that have legalized the sale of cannabis for medical and recreational use. Child-resistant seals and closures are an essential line of defense in preventing poisoning from accidental ingestion.
Child-resistant packaging is defined by 16 CFR § 1700.15 for Poison Prevention Act as a type of special packaging that makes it significantly difficult for children under five to open within a reasonable time frame. This act was passed after child poisonings occurred from over-the-counter medicines and other drugs.
Little ones aren’t as dexterous as adults, so these closures use multiple pressures and motions to make it difficult for them to access. Standard child-resistant features are push-down and turn caps, push-to-close zippers, and squeeze lock closures.
Child-resistant closures are required for all products derived from the cannabis plant, applying not just to psychoactive THC but extending to CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. This includes cannabis-infused snacks, topicals, flower, edible cannabis, tinctures, and vape cartridges — just a few currently available products.
2. Warning Labels
Cannabis products require warning labels for legal compliance the same way potentially toxic household cleaners and medications do.
You’ll have to consult your state’s laws to determine which are required, but the following warnings are examples of standard requirements:
- Keep away from children and pets
- For sale to adults 21 or older
- Product contents can be intoxicating and have psychoactive effects
- Potentially habit-forming
- Do not eat (in the case of lotions and topicals)
- Effects may be delayed by two hours (in the case of edible cannabis)
- Smoking is hazardous to your health
- Contents to be consumed only by qualifying patients (in the case of medical cannabis)
- The product should not be consumed by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Not child-resistant after opening (in the case of single-use cannabis)
These warnings will often have varying font size requirements (generally, no smaller than six-point font). Most states have clear guidelines to ensure a prominent display on the information panel of the packaging, usually requiring the primary panel to state the product contains cannabis clearly.
Additionally, some cannabis-infused products contain allergens, such as tree nuts. This information must be included on the packaging for the safety of the intended consumer and children that may come into contact.
Although some responsibility falls on the consumer to safely store and educate children about the potential risks of cannabis consumption, these warning labels can help discourage children of reading age from accessing the contents.
3. Content Description
Content descriptions protect not only the consumer but their children as well. First and foremost is the universal cannabis symbol.
This universal symbol lets the consumer know that the contents contain THC and have the potential to get the consumer high. Like household cleaners and other everyday toxic products stored in our homes, parents can teach children about the dangers of ingesting products with the symbol.
With a significant variance in potency from product to product, most states require the total cannabinoids contained within a package to be indicated and a breakdown of each cannabinoid by percentage and weight (for instance, there is required labeling for total THC content).
Other standard requirements for product labeling include the following information:
- Harvest, package, and use by dates
- Medical vs. adult use labels (recreational vs. medical marijuana)
- Lists of solvents used
- List of all ingredients (and nutritional information, such as sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates, if a drink or food product)
- Serving size for a single serving; the number of servings per package
- Net weight
- Batch/lot number or bar code
- Government warning statement in capital letters
4. Ensuring the Product Does Not Appeal to Children
Much like the tobacco industry, packaging must be designed in a way that does not appeal to children under 21 years of age. This means no cartoons, characters, neon colors, or resemblance to any children’s product, food, or otherwise.
Many states have gone so far as to require plain packaging with little or no design elements. With the uptick in dispensaries nationwide, these policies have helped lower accidental child poisoning.
5. Opaque Packaging
Across states, for the protection of children, cannabis products are required to use opaque packaging.
This packaging obscures the contents, making it difficult to identify immediately. This is especially important in the case of edibles because they resemble gummy candy.
Flexible Mylar bags and pouches have been popular in the industry, especially for edible and flower products. There are also tins, dispensers, and jars that feature necessary opacity.
6. Does Not Resemble Other Edible Products, No Copycat Labels
In the early days of the legal cannabis industry, regulations weren’t as well defined. California was the earliest state to legalize the adult use of cannabis.
As the industry developed, it took a while for regulators and producers to establish appropriate packaging standards for display panels, health claims, food allergens, and other public health compliance measures pertaining to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) products.
This meant that many products utilized copycat packaging. This type of packaging emulates or references well-known products, such as candies, cereals, chips, or other snacks. If you aren’t paying close attention, many of them are nearly indistinguishable when compared side by side for minors and adults alike.
Even small doses of cannabis can be toxic to children, and many of these snacks and edible products contain high amounts of THC.
Although not universally established, there is a push across several states to place prohibitions on this kind of marketing and design, with several already setting strict regulatory standards against it.
Many cannabis products are not single-use. Packages of flower and edibles will often have multiple doses, with some states allowing up to one month’s worth of a product. Others allow only 5 mg doses, with a cap of 50 mg of total cannabinoids per package.
Although 50 mg may be considered relatively small for a regular cannabis consumer, this could cause poisoning if ingested by a child.
For compliance, any multi-use cannabis packaging must be resealable and remain child-resistant after opening. Single-use cannabis products need to have a child-resistant seal but do not need to be resealable. They must be clearly marked “not child-resistant after opening.”
Dymapak’s Commitment to Child Safety
Dymapak has made child safety a top priority in all of our packaging. Child-resistant packaging is essential for safety, beyond label information and simply keeping products outside the reach of children.
We offer innovative, durable, child-resistant packaging solutions that help producers achieve compliance cost-effectively while providing consumers and producers peace of mind.
Our flagship products demonstrate our commitment to advancing child safety in the cannabis industry and beyond.
The flexible Secure Sack bag is a highly versatile packaging solution within the cannabis industry, from flower, to vape cartridges, to edibles, to other infused products. It is the world’s first lab-certified child-resistant pouch, featuring a patented locking press zipper.
These bags offer infinite possibilities for customization, including a range of color, matte, and gloss finishes and the ability to add vape cartridge inserts.
No matter which finishes you choose, they are 100% opaque and smell-proof, protecting the product from light degradation and helping your brand achieve legal compliance.
Regarding size options, the Secure Sack is highly customizable, safely protecting the contents while providing ample space for warning labels and descriptions.
We also offer the Secure Sack Eco. These bags have all the same barrier properties, child-resistant features, customization options, and toughness of the Secure Sack in a recyclable format.
Dymapak’s Twistspenser is an innovative packaging solution for concentrates. It is the world’s first lab-certified child-resistant liquid dispenser. Able to contain liquids of all viscosities, its leak-resistant design helps prevent product loss.
Child safety was a primary concern in the design of the Twistspenser. Its discreet lipstick style design checks the boxes of both opacity and a plain appearance while offering a range of customization options.
For applications requiring rigid packaging, SecuriTin is an excellent option. It is the world’s first lab-certified child-resistant tin. It contains no plastic and is constructed from steel with an integrated locking mechanism, making it 100% curbside recyclable.
It meets the demands of eco-conscious consumers and brands by protecting the environment, package contents, and children.
The SecuriTin can be customized in various ways, including inserts to safely contain products, interior and exterior printing to apply all necessary branding and information, and a wide range of color options.
The 100% opaque SecuriTin is ideal for edibles, lotions and topicals, vape cartridges, and vape pens.
There is no doubt cannabis packaging requirements can feel like a maze to navigate. But as the industry matures, there is more and more consensus about what matters most, especially regarding child safety.
Dymapak continues to put child safety at the forefront of our packaging design decisions without sacrificing the durability, toughness, and customization consumers and brands demand.
Marijuana Packaging Challenge: Create Childproof Designs that Seniors Can Open | MJ Biz Daily
Where is Marijuana Legal? A Guide to Marijuana Legalization | US News
Copycat and Lookalike Edible Cannabis Product Packaging in the United States | NIH