How the Cannabis Industry is Re-Imagining Child-Resistant Packaging Design

child-resistant cannabis packaging

Child-resistant packaging using push-and-twist caps has remained the same for about fifty years. With the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in some states and medical use in others, a new wave of creativity and innovation has been unleashed in child-resistant cannabis packaging.

Child-resistant packaging is receiving a makeover. The need for specific types of packaging is pushing designers to think of new ways to remain compliant without sacrificing creativity.

Child-Resistant Cannabis Packaging Challenges

One of the big challenges for marijuana products is that they must be contained in child-resistant cannabis packaging and yet mustn’t present a problem for the disabled and elderly. Some state regulations also require that packaging must be tamper-evident – in the same way as a vitamin bottle or bottled water with unbroken seals.

The Poison Prevention Packaging Act

In 1970 the Poison Prevention Packaging Act was passed because a high number of children were being poisoned by ingesting hazardous household products and prescription drugs. Child-resistant packaging proved effective, and the number of deaths reduced significantly. There was no need to rethink packaging for many years, but when cannabis started being legalized, the picture changed.

The Problem with Exit Packaging

In 2013, the law required cannabis purchases to leave dispensaries in child-resistant exit packaging. All purchases were usually placed in a hard-to-open pouch or bag. The problem is that when people arrived home, they removed their purchases from the pouch.

Concerns arose about the safety of children and for the industry to keep to regulations. This led to new rules and the introduction of special packaging, including tamper-resistant droppers, slide boxes, tins, blunt tubes and even little jars that looked like contact lens cases.

The traditional vial with the screw top and a diagram of how to open the vial embossed in the plastic is disappearing. Walnut, bamboo or ash screw tops are taking the place of the traditional white plastics. Mylar envelopes have built-in zippers, boxes have slide-out sheaths, and glass containers come with exotic tops.

Regulatory Information and Branding Balance

The labels of containers are required to state information about THC content, provenance, dosage, etc., and this means less room is left for branding.

As everyone now knows how to open pill bottles, manufacturers of cannabis products are doing away with the picture on the top and using the space for branding. A new generation of containers has closures that are smooth on top.

A Focus on Aesthetics and Functionality

Brands firmly believe that child-resistant packaging for cannabis can be beautifully designed. Packaging companies are partnering with top product developers to create safe, attractive products. Options are no longer limited to awkward boxes, repurposed jars or pharmaceutical containers.

Cannabis is now tucked into dark top-top vials or windowed envelopes lined with scent-blocking mylar. Black glass jars with child-resistant caps protect the product against oxidation from sunlight and are childproof at the same time.

As well as being aesthetically pleasing, companies are looking for multi-use packaging that accomplishes several goals at once – reducing waste, cutting costs and achieving compliance.

Bottles are being developed that are not only child-resistant but look like cosmetic products. Dome-shaped closures for CBD creams are making them look pretty much like products from one of the big cosmetic houses.

Flower Packaging

Custom branding flower packaging is proving to be a great way for a brand to gain strength in the expanding cannabis market. Customized wood, glass, metal or smell-proof bags are being developed for flower.

Child-resistant stand-up pouches use nylon or metallization to address various barrier concerns such as moisture, odor, light, and shelf-life.

Vaporizers and Extract Packaging

Vaporizers and extracts are providing great opportunities for design innovation. As high quality has become a minimum standard, the difference between an average and an extraordinary vape line frequently comes down to branding and packaging. Experiential packaging is becoming a vital part of the customer’s journey.

Edibles Packaging

Edibles are the most important products for child-resistant cannabis packaging. Children will go to great lengths to get inside a box if they think it contains candy or chocolate. Boxes, exit bags, metal tins and plastic containers for edibles are being designed to make the contents inaccessible to the most determined children.

The CRATIV Case is a food-grade plastic case that has to be pressed on the sides and the front to open. The cases have flat surfaces for easy labeling, and once edibles are finished, they can be used for countless other purposes, such holding a lighter or jewelry.

Concentrates Packaging

Concentrates and cosmetic packaging are similar, and some cosmetics packaging designers have made the transition from makeup to cannabis. Changing laws mean that further innovation is necessary to make concentrate containers child-resistant.

Custom-molded concentrate containers are being developed that are not only safe but very effective. Concentrates such as hash, dab, rosin, wax, crumble and shatter are being packaged in very different ways than they were in the past.

Collaboration Between Companies

Packaging companies are working with product developers, design companies, printers, and industrial engineers to create packaging that explores new formats and the use of new materials.

Packaging companies are offering brands customization options and flexible delivery options. They make sure packaging is delivered on time and also assist manufacturers to meet compliance standards.

Concluding Thoughts

Aesthetics, functionality, sustainability and legal compliance are some of the factors that need to be taken into consideration when designing packaging. As more states legalize recreational and medical use of cannabis, companies will continue to be looking for ways to make packaging that meets all these requirements.

Content Contributor: Green Rush Packaging


  1. Lisa Howard on May 21, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    How do I become a distributor?

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