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Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in four states plus the District of Columbia, and approved for medical use in 25 states. As is the case with other controlled substances, pharmaceuticals, and highly regulated goods like alcohol and tobacco, cannabis packaging and labeling is subject to highly detailed requirements and regulations. Marijuana distributors and resellers need robust, dependable labeling and packaging solutions to ensure that their product can be correctly identified and tracked while also complying with state regulations.

According to the trade magazine Marijuana Business Daily, packaging and label compliance failures comprise 13 percent of legalized marijuana’s regulatory infractions. In Colorado, improper labeling is one of the top five regulatory compliance infractions committed by local producers and processors.

The legalized cannabis industry has to follow a wide variety of guidelines and regulations when it comes to packaging and labeling. These laws are region-specific and change frequently, which means that label templates are updated often. Here are three tips for choosing cannabis packaging and labeling solutions that can help keep your company on the right side of compliance:

1. Focus on flexibility. Look for label printing automation software and label design solutions that allow you to quickly and accurately make labeling changes in response to new requirements and regulations. Your design software should allow you to modify cannabis labels on the fly and simultaneously print labels on multiple printers.

2. Stay on top of state regulations, and work with packaging and label providers that do the same. Cannabis packaging and labeling requirements vary from state to state, and can affect the size, opaqueness, ability to be resealed, and other aspects of the packages depending on the application.

For example, Colorado requires that all labeling be greater than one-sixteenth of an inch, conspicuous, and feature a variety of different health warnings. Arizona requires labels to include the dispensary’s registration number, amount of product, strain, and batch number, and a lengthy approved health statement in its entirety. The label may also need to include information on where the marijuana was cultivated, date of manufacture/harvest/sale, a listing of chemical additives, and the patient’s registry identification number.

Again, this variability makes having a responsive, flexible system a must. Find a vendor that stays on top of state cannabis packaging and labeling requirements, and that can provide assistance in providing or developing compliant templates that can be quickly updated.

3. Do your homework when it comes to packaging. Packaging needs will vary by the type of product. The packaging itself can affect the quality and shelf life of the product, but not a lot of research has been done in this area specific to cannabis — largely because of the underground nature of the industry before legalization.

Highly concentrated cannabis extracts, for instance, will require high-quality silicone packaging to house and protect the product. Raw flowers or plants can be damaged by sunlight, moisture, or dryness. Airtight opaque packaging can improve shelf life and product quality.

The cannabis packaging and labeling industry is still in its early stages. Since noncompliance with state regulations can result in multiple costly infractions up and down the supply chain, distributors and retailers should invest in reliable barcode printers and label applicators, as well as quality label stock.

By combining a reliable labeling solution with the right packaging and compliance information, cannabis distributors can help ensure their success while staying within the limits of this new and evolving legal environment.

To learn more about Imprint’s marijuana labels, packaging, and compliance solutions, visit the Imprint Enterprises page on the subject.

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