cannabis sustainability packaging

Cannabis Safety Needs To Be Balanced With Sustainability 

The cannabis industry is booming all over the globe, mostly from a medical cannabis standpoint. 

Dozens of countries now allow some form of legal medical cannabis industry to operate within their borders, and some of those countries also have some type of legal import/export industry.

Adult-use is far more limited.

Only two countries, Uruguay and Canada, allow a legal adult-use industry to operate, and in the case of Uruguay, sales are only allowed for residents.

Fortunately, a number of countries are exploring the idea of full legalization, and multiple countries such as Mexico are working to implement adult-use court-ordered mandates.

That is all great news for suffering patients and consumers that benefit from cannabis reform and the spread of the legal international cannabis industry.

Unfortunately, that is not necessarily good news for the environment. 

The legal cannabis industry has a massive carbon footprint, and one area of the cannabis industry in particular is causing major headaches from a sustainability standpoint.

Too Much Packaging

The number of cannabis products that are flooding into legal markets are increasing at an ever-growing rate.

Innovators and entrepreneurs are scrambling to get their piece of the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry pie by introducing all types of products into the legal marketplace.

Legal cannabis products include topicals, edibles, inhalers, beverages, other consumables, and of course raw cannabis flower.

Chances are if a non-cannabis product exists, there is a cannabis-infused counterpart in the market, and if there is not one currently, it’s a safe bet that it will hit the market sooner rather than later.

All of those products are subject to strict packaging requirements in order to be in compliance with various regulations, and that amount of packaging adds up very quickly.

Add to that companies that incorporate a lot of packaging as a standard business practice to make their products more appealing to some consumers, and it exacerbates the problem.

Much of that packaging, which is largely made of plastic, often ends up in a landfill somewhere, which is unfortunate.

As the cannabis industry continues to expand, the problem will continue to increase unless something changes.

Safety Balanced With Sustainability

The number one driving force for cannabis industry packaging involves keeping kids safe.

All legal cannabis products have to be child-proof, and that dictates how a lot of legal cannabis products are packaged.

Plastic and other petrochemical-based packaging is the most common type of packaging because it is the easiest to child-proof in a cost-effective way from the standpoint of cannabis companies.

Many consumers wonder why hemp-based packaging is not used more often, and understandably so given the superiority from a sustainability standpoint.

However, hemp-based packaging is much more expensive compared to petrochemical-based plastic, and many companies are reluctant to pay more for the packaging since it will raise the prices of their products.

Hopefully as time goes on, sensible regulations will be implemented to help strike a better balance between child safety and sustainability.

It’s absolutely worth noting that the situation creates a tremendous financial incentive for entrepreneurs that can help address the problem. 

Cannabis packaging can be sold all over the world, and innovative individuals can reap significant monetary rewards if they can create packaging that complies with global regulations while at the same time being cost-effective.


  • Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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