Canadian Op-Ed Says, “Give cannabis producers more packaging and labelling flexibility”

The Conversation writes


Health Canada has recently been receiving suggestions for revising its cannabis product regulations. Now it must decide what changes to make.

One priority should be giving producers more packaging and labelling flexibility. This could help businesses build their reputations and help consumers find suitable products. It would also better support federal cannabis policy, as existing rules inadvertently encourage higher potency while sidelining other aspects of quality.

Restrictive rules

Current packaging regulations restrict each cannabis container to a single non-fluorescent colour. It cannot have any photos or images beyond one small brand logo.

Labelling is likewise limited. The producer and product name must appear, along with the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) levels. Other cannabinoids and terpenes can optionally be reported, but little else. No stories about how the plants were grown, no suggestions regarding the product’s uses or effects.

The result is mostly generic-looking packages. That’s intentional: governments don’t want non-users being tempted by the stuff. But there are some unintended side-effects.

Negative effects

For one thing, the plainness makes it harder for producers to distinguish themselves from competitors and establish brand reputations. They consequently have less incentive to improve product quality and more reason to compete by lowering prices instead.

By contrast, retailers can design their stores to stand out. Displaying artwork, painting everything purple, or mimicking Scandinavian spas can attract customers who like the ambience.

Minimalist labels meanwhile cause problems for consumers by making it tougher to understand new products or compare them to familiar favourites. The labels also focus extra attention on what little information is present: the THC and CBD numbers. Those get viewed as indicators of overall quality, where more implies better.

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