Cannabis Packaging and Labeling Guide: Laws & Challenges to Know

Esse | Cannabis Packaging Falling

Your cannabis product packaging offers an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and make a statement. It tells your target audience who you are and what you stand for as a brand. It can make or break a potential customer’s decision to choose you over all the other products on a dispensary shelf.

While you need to develop a great cannabis packaging design for a powerful first impression, you need to do so with numerous rules and regulations in mind. This quick cannabis packaging and labeling guide can help. 

Cannabis Packaging Laws and Labeling Requirements

The cannabis industry has some of the strictest packaging and labeling requirements of any business sector. The following are some essential things you’ll need to keep in mind:

Packaging Must Be Child-Proof

Many states with legal cannabis require cannabis packaging to be child-proof. In other words, all types of packaging, including bags, jars, tins, and tubes, must be difficult for children to open, even after a cannabis consumer breaks the initial seal.


The packaging for cannabis products with multiple servings must be resealable. Along with protecting the freshness of your products, this feature keeps young children safe should they accidentally get ahold of a container. 

Single-serving cannabis products, on the other hand, don’t need to have resealable packaging. However, they must contain a label that states the package isn’t child-proof after opening. 

Must Feature the Universal Cannabis Symbol

Cannabis products must have a visible standardized cannabis symbol somewhere on their packaging. While designs vary between states, the symbols typically feature a five- or seven-pointed cannabis leaf, the letters “THC,” and/or an exclamation point. The goal is to inform the consumer, without question, that the product inside contains cannabis. 

Primary Panel Requirements

The primary panel refers to the portion of a label displayed to consumers in dispensaries. While they vary from state to state, typical requirements include details like:

  • A generic name identifying the product
  • The product’s net weight or volume
  • THC and CBD content (per serving and for the entire contents of the package)
  • The words “cannabis-infused” for edibles

Informational Panel

The secondary panel contains other essential details about your products. Again, the requirements vary from one state to another. Information you may need to provide includes:

  • Company name and contact information
  • The date of manufacture/packaging
  • Use-by, best-by, or expiration date
  • Government warning/precaution statements
  • Ingredients in descending order based on weight or volume
  • Allergens
  • Instructions for use
  • “For medical use only” on medical cannabis products

Things to Avoid

The imagery you use as part of your cannabis packaging design can’t appeal to children in any way. In general, that means avoiding such things as:

  • Cartoon images 
  • Designs commonly used to advertise to younger audiences
  • Imitations of candy labels (and words such as candy/candies)

You’ll also need to avoid placing unproven health claims or deceptive statements on your cannabis packaging and labels.  

Quick Tips for Cannabis Packaging and Labeling Compliance

Here are a few tips to ensure that you stay compliant in a strict industry:

Know Your State and Local Laws

While there may be some similarities, many cannabis packaging laws and labeling requirements vary between states. Be sure you know your state’s — and your locality’s — most up-to-date regulations. 

Stay Informed

The cannabis industry is constantly growing and evolving. Laws and regulations are subject to change at any time. Make it a habit to read industry news so that you’re always on top of changes as soon as they occur.  

Partner With Packaging Experts

When it comes to creating compliant cannabis packaging, there’s a lot to remember. On top of it all, you still have a business to run. You already have enough on your plate. Partnering with a cannabis packaging design and branding firm can help ensure that your product packages and labels are not on point, effective, and compliant. 

Get Your Cannabis Packaging and Labeling Just Right

Non-compliant cannabis packaging or labeling is a serious issue. One mistake could result in hefty fines or even cost you your license. Don’t leave anything up to chance. HIGHOPES works with you to ensure your cannabis packaging design represents your brand and stands out from your competitors, all while staying compliant with federal, state, and local laws. Contact us to learn more and get started today.

Patrick Toste from HIGHOPES

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