A Closer Look at Cannabis Packaging Regulations in Canada

The topic of cannabis packaging elicits a lot of different opinions from policymakers, producers and consumers.

Before the legalization of cannabis on October 17th 2018,, MP Bill Blair, alongside Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, said that over the course of 60 days, the Health Minister’s department met with provincial and territorial government, cannabis producers, public health experts and more and heard from thousands of Canadians so that they can share their views and expertise on the subject.

What they eventually agreed upon when it came to the rules and regulations for weed packaging was that they should be put in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians, especially the youth.

What Are The Strict Cannabis Packaging Rules in Canada?

According to cannabis packaging regulations there are certain layout norms for cannabis to be presented in the market.

In accordance with the findings from public consultations, the policymakers agreed on a warning label (stop sign with a standardized cannabis symbol in the middle) for all cannabis products, as well as strict restrictions and regulations regarding bud packaging and labeling.

Other regulations include scent proof packaging, child resistant, opaque or clear; all in an effort to deter children from using it.

Consumers must be able to see the complete list of information on the packaging, including its description, its packaging date, its CBD and THC content and the name and contact information of the processor.

Only one colour is allowed and there is a strict limit on the logo and brand name. There is only one brand name and logo allowed, which needs to be smaller than the standardized cannabis symbol.

Do These Packaging Rules and Regulations Hurt The Consumers And Producers?

One of the main arguments against these rules and regulations that cannabis producers have is that they cannot place any kind of images, or specific product information that helps users figure out which product is best suited for their needs.

If you try to compare the packaging rules and regulations for cannabis and alcohol, you’ll probably notice that things like colourful packaging, glossy details, images and other packaging options are permitted for alcoholic beverages but not for cannabis products.

Why is colourful packaging, which is appealing to children, permitted to be presented on the shelves of liquor stores, but cannot be used for cannabis products?

This is a big paradox and also the primary focus of many cannabis producers and consumers who wish to see some changes in the packaging rules.

In absence of any changes for the time being, many companies are looking for loopholes in the law in order to create a competitive packaging that is legally permitted to be used on the market.

What Are the Restrictions on the Packaging’s Look and Feel?

There are many restrictions that apply to the packaging and labeling of cannabis products. Although we already mentioned some of them above, here’s a list of some of the main packaging restrictions on cannabis products:

  • The exterior needs to have a matte finish
  • There cannot be any embossing, or other raised features
  • No brand elements other than a small logo and a brand name
  • There are no images or graphics allowed
  • Barcodes need to have a rectangular shape and no other design
  • No metallic, heat-activated, fluorescent, or any ink that absorbs ultraviolet energy and transmit it as a longer wavelength
  • Uniform-coloured background, which is in contrast with the red used in the symbol, and with the yellow used on the health warning message

These are just some of the restrictions on packaging and labeling of cannabis products in Canada. For more information, visit PART 7 of the Cannabis Regulations (Packaging and Labelling) on the government’s website.

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