Article by Ray Gracewood, The Globe and Mail
In the first few weeks following the legalization of adult use recreational cannabis in Canada, the industry has come under fire for what many consumers feel is an excessive, even shocking, amount of packaging. The apparent lack of environmental consideration has even left some potential customers rethinking their cannabis purchases entirely. Still others have likened the issue to the water bottle crisis.
For such a young industry, the issue of packaging feels like a remarkably longstanding issue. At first glance, it seems almost impossible to reconcile Health Canada’s requirements for product information and warnings, along with the mandatory excise stamp (proof that the appropriate taxes have been paid by the licensed producer), with environmentally friendly packaging options.
But licensed producers are nothing if not industrious and we have individually, and as a group, been advocating for alternate packaging options since discussion of a legal market began.
As an industry, we know safety has to be our first priority; tamper-evident and child-proof containers are an important and sensible requirement. They are also not the primary culprit when it comes to packaging waste. It is entirely possible to strike a reasonable balance between safety and security and environmental stewardship.
The government-mandated requirement for information and disclaimers, by contrast, is the less easily overcome challenge. With the intention of informing and protecting cannabis consumers, regulations related to images, font size, and content simply mean we need significant packaging real estate.
Likewise, the federal requirement that all cannabis products carry excise stamps, like those attached to tobacco packaging, is not only outdated, costly and overly complex, it is also one of the key drivers of the objectionable additional packaging.