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Changes in California Cannabis Packaging Regulations: Are You Prepared?


Changes in California Cannabis Packaging Regulations: Are You Prepared?

Written by Kary Radestock

Just when you thought you had a grasp on the tangled web of regulations governing California’s legal cannabis market, the packaging rules are changing again on January 1, 2020.

That’s right around the corner… so if you are a manufacturer, grower or producer, you need to pay attention or face consequences that could include product seizure, loss of revenues, and delays in getting compliant packaging on the shelves.

In a nutshell, current regulations in California allow that either the product must be in a child-resistant container, or it must be placed in a CR exit package.

New regulations, taking effect on January 1, mandate that all products must be in a certified child-resistant container. Moreover, edible products must be in a child-resistant re-sealable package.

While this will allow dispensaries to start offering interesting, branded shopping bags, it means that product packaging must be compliant and in place by the first of the year.

Accordingly, if your packaging currently does not meet the upcoming regulations, you are rapidly running out of time to replace it with new, compliant solutions.

Unfortunately, the fact is, it takes time to get new packaging designed, printed, shipped, fulfilled, and placed on shelves… Lots of time.

Let’s take a look at a typical timetable:


Getting your new packaging designed, revised, and approved. 2-4 weeks.

Sampling and Refinements

Once the design is complete, you’ll receive samples, which takes an average of 2 weeks.

Then, your team will analyze the packaging, and if necessary, the designers will make any refinements. 1 week.

Mass Production

Printing the packaging can take up to 8 weeks, depending on the supplier, season, and complexity of packaging.


A lot of printing these days is done overseas, where costs are lower. However, shipping times are much longer and can take 6-8 weeks to arrive. This includes loading and unloading, customs clearing, and ground transport.


Getting your products into your new packaging takes time. Allow 1-2 weeks for this task, depending on the quantity and complexity.

Transit to Distributors and Stores

Finally, you’ll need to get your product to distributors and stores. Count on at least 1 week for each.


If you add up the various steps – each critical to the process – you will see that your project can realistically take 20-26 weeks. That’s up to 6 months!

There are ways to trim this timetable, but inevitably, they start adding expense to the project. Accordingly, the best practice is to start the process at least 6 months before you need your packaging on the store shelves.

Granted, this schedule is for producing a premium packaging system. There are lower-cost solutions available, but these inevitably make your product look cheaper. This is especially important if you want to build an upscale brand and position your product as a luxury item.

The best advice is to contact a packaging professional as early in the process as possible and discuss your options, costs, and timetables.

Don’t start thinking about packaging a few weeks before a regulation change… get ahead of the game and start the process early to enjoy the most options, best results, and lowest costs.

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