Much of my career I was a toy inventor. I now provide packaging to the cannabis industry. My background in toys and my role as a mother makes one thing very clear: I take the safety of children very seriously.
To help prevent accidental poisonings, in addition to child-resistant packaging, we need to be careful that our cannabis packaging does not visually appeal to children — the form factor, the graphics, and the description/brand.
There are super obvious things to avoid, like mimicking toys, candy, and characters that kids love.
Avoid products named “Skittlez”, “Rasta Reeces”, and “Twixed” for example (not to mention copyright concerns). Don’t include clever variations of existing cartoon characters. Don’t make your packaging look like an LOL Surprise ball (the top toy the last few years).
In California we also need to avoid putting imagery of edibles on the packaging, and hide brightly colored beverages in opaque bottles.
Beyond these obvious parameters, the decision as to whether packaging is appealing to kids, strikes me as highly subjective.
I’m in my 4th decade and I like bright colors. My iphone case is glitter. The last three paintings I hung on my wall were of cartoony dogs with exaggerated eyes. I order off the kids menu about 50% of the time.
Meanwhile, my nine year old kid seems to only want to eat sushi (sashimi is preferred), no longer likes to wear t-shirts with cartoon characters, and asked for aged cheese for his birthday.
Who is more sophisticated?
Stats show that it is usually younger children who are the victims of poisoning. According to a talk I attended at the Cannabis Packaging Summit in Anaheim, one and two year olds account for 72% of exposures in pharmaceuticals. This is likely due to how they explore the world — with their mouths. It is critical to deter their interest, and to make it significantly difficult for children under five to receive a harmful dose in a reasonable amount of time.
These guidelines do work. When the Poison Prevention Act was introduced, there was a steep decline in mortality for child medication overdoses.
For those of us who want to do the right thing, while also appealing to the cannabis consumer, what’s a responsible path forward? We need a strategy to assess appeal, coupled with high-quality certified child resistant packaging.
One suggestion is to ask your regulators for input and if they will review your packaging. That’s what we did for the cannabis beverage concept seen below.
We knew the coloring and illustration style wasn’t going to be considered appealing to kids, but we had a moment where we thought, “now that we put sunglasses on this koala, have we entered the grey zone?”
It took a few weeks, but we got a very helpful response that gave us the confidence to proceed.
This article is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. For legal counsel, please contact your attorney.
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If you need beautifully designed, compliant packaging for your cannabis products, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Is your existing packaging compliant? Inkbrite can tell you with a compliance review.
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