Agility, timely data and printing performance drive cannabis label compliance
Ability to move quickly, accurately, and competitively is the lifeblood of cannabis purveyors. Timely compliance in such areas as labels and packaging is critical to staying in business; agility in grabbing a competitive edge is crucial to profitability.
To help make that happen, cannabis-savvy label experts must be able to provide near real-time information and clear, straightforward guidance to ensure full and timely compliance. With labeling and packaging regulations constantly changing across the land, getting and staying current is much easier said than done.
Sweeping changes include revising labels to make cannabis products less appealing to children, listing THC and CBD amounts, designating “hemp” versus “marijuana” products, and establishment of label regulations in states with new marijuana legalization laws. Then, there’s the entire country of Canada, which will legalize recreational marijuana effective October 2018.
California purveyors in particular are feeling the heat. New packaging and label regulations went into effect July 1, and Proposition 65 rules impacting all product labeling and packaging are now in force (full compliance deadline was Aug. 30).
Critical consequences of non-compliance
California’s July 1 requirements alone proved difficult for a variety of cannabis companies. A report on KPIX, the San Francisco Bay Area CBS affiliate, pointed out: “Empty Shelves At Some Bay Area Pot Dispensaries After New July 1 Label Law… Many California marijuana dispensaries seeing their profits are going up in smoke. Their shelves are sitting empty ever since a new labeling law took effect Sunday… the Associated Press estimated the entire industry would lose nearly $400 million because of unsold product.”
Obviously, lack of knowledge and compliance can carry severe penalties, crippling operations and hobbling profits. Here are a few tips to help cannabis companies stay on top of evolving labeling and packaging regulations and avoid regulatory repercussions:
Partner with companies providing accurate and complete label and packaging guidance, both on the information and hands-on production and printing fronts. There are companies dedicated to maintaining current and complete databases about rules and regs in municipalities and states where both medical and recreational marijuana laws are in effect. And there are label production and printing companies with extensive track records in creating cannabis labels. Make sure you get up to speed in both areas.
Confirm “agility ability” of these entities. All the information and capabilities in the world can be for naught if the capacity for executing quickly and competently doesn’t exist. As the cannabis industry continues to twist and turn all over the place, including labeling and packaging requirements, it’s absolutely critical to be able to move with—or optimally ahead of—developments. Having consistent, reliable resources in place can make the difference between plentiful shelves and profits and the emptiness associated with non-compliance—as many California purveyors discovered the hard way.
Use these established resources for predictive modeling. While predicting the future of cannabis rules and regulations may be difficult, cannabis companies with access to ample intel, experience and expertise may be able to better prepare for the future. Information showing trends, innovative ways to address what’s ahead with labels and packaging that “think ahead of the curve,” and overall insights into a variety of marketplaces can help make this happen.
To address both branding/printing and business/legal intelligence requirements at state and local levels, Denver-based strategic partners Lightning Labels and Highmark Data are giving cannabis purveyors fast and agile one-stop access to much-needed resources pertaining to labels and packaging. Lightning Labels is a Denver-based label printer that has been offering state-of-the-art affordable, full-color custom labels and custom stickers of all shapes and sizes to cannabis purveyors for more than a decade. Highmark Data provides comprehensive business and legal intelligence needed to make the smartest and most compliant decisions in municipalities and states nationwide.
Gary Paulin is Lightning Labels’ Director of Sales and Client Services.
Kristen Savage is a principal of Highmark Data.