The Legal Recreational and Medical Cannabis Industry is Evolving and Driving Innovation in Packaging and Processing

A report released late last year by PMMI Business intelligence, "Here To Stay or Up in Smoke? A Look At The U.S. Cannabis Market," explores potential growth and pitfalls.

Child-proof packaging is currently a major focus for industry innovation.
Child-proof packaging is currently a major focus for industry innovation.

As with any industry just getting off the ground, cannabis is ripe with possibilities for innovation. Cannabis companies are turning to various associations and conferences to seek solutions and share ideas.

The variations in state regulations can be a boon for innovation, as ways of accommodating those rules can lead to new solutions. For instance, smell-proof packaging was a challenge in the early days of cannabis production. Many overseas packaging suppliers had products that failed to contain the cannabis smell. Further compounding the issue was that the cannabis smell becomes stronger the higher the quality and concentration. Cannabis producers sought out packaging suppliers at trade shows to find suppliers willing to work with them to develop higher quality bags that could contain the odors.

Child-proof packaging is currently a major focus for industry innovation. Some companies are experimenting with containers that have combination locks that are web-enabled and connected to physician’s offices. This innovation has implications for the pharmaceutical industry as well. Other child-proof packaging ideas are also being explored.

Edibles are often cited as the fastest-growing market with the most potential, but food processors manufacturing cannabis-infused candy, soda, baked goods, etc., are presented with a special challenge of keeping the innocuous-looking packages and products out of the hands of children, seniors and pets.

On the processing side, some companies are struggling with production of vape pen cartridges, which account for approximately 30% of cannabis sales. Recent research revealed that the propylene glycol (PG) liquid that cannabis oils are suspended in when put in vape pens may cause “popcorn lung” if used over a long period of time, such as for patients using marijuana for chronic pain management. There is major concern among cannabis producers that PG may be banned in some states in the future, and they have begun looking for alternative suspension systems for delivery of the cannabis oil.

Cannabis companies also want to find ways to automate manual cultivation and for machinery that aids in detecting and eliminating contaminants on the plant. Better, faster CO2 extraction equipment is also in demand, but industry experts are unsure whether this technology will become more widely accepted.

Source: PMMI Business Intelligence, “Here to Stay or Up in Smoke: A Look at the U.S. Cannabis Market.”

Download the FREE 37-page PDF Packaging Cannabis report here.