Cannabis Companies Turn to Packaging to Show Legitimacy
Vaping, once regarded by some as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes or smoking marijuana, is under scrutiny after some users have reportedly gotten sick and/or died from chemicals related to vaping. The problem is mostly centered around knockoff products, which look like legitimately manufactured and tested products meant for consumers in states where cannabis is legal, but were actually made without the safety processes others receive.
To not only protect users from buying counterfeit vape products and keep their own professional reputations intact, cannabis companies are taking measures to show customers their legitimacy, including enhanced packaging.
KushCo, a California cannabis packaging company, has received orders from about 40 companies for millions of stickers, according to Marijuana Business Daily.
"This gives us the ability to track, the ability to authenticate and the ability to put brand recognition beyond the products," KushcCO CEO Nick Kovacevich told Marijuana Business Daily. "This is like alcohol. If people are getting sick and dying from moonshine, they're quickly going to say, 'I want to go with authentic Jack Daniels or authentic Grey Goose.'"
Other companies are looking into packaging technology like smartphone-integrated barcodes and augmented reality-type things.
Akerna, a Denver-based compliance tech company that specializes in the cannabis industry, worked with anti-counterfeiting company Solo Sciences to develop smartphone app-integrated codes on packaging for consumers to verify that their product is the real deal.
Currently, companies are required to use "seed-to-sale" RFID tags, but they're typically bought in bulk until they're implemented, according to Akerna vice president of marketing and communications Jeanette Horton. She added that the Solo Sciences technology could replace this practice, since companies could wait to purchase the AR-tags until they're actually put on the packaging itself.
Furthermore, companies are looking into security measures like ink that verifies authentic products (like the kind used on money).
Overall, packaging has been at the heart of the cannabis legalization debate. Even places like Canada, which legalized recreational cannabis on a federal level, are still debating how it can be packaged and advertised. If companies can use its packaging to ensure that customers know where the product came from, and that it was manufactured by the book, then the industry should come out of this unscathed.
Kovacevich's moonshine analogy is fairly spot on. It's just a matter of whether the cannabis companies can differentiate themselves from the bootleggers sufficiently.