Cannabis Packaging Design & Labeling Guidelines

Cannabis Packaging Design - Labeling Specs & Branding Guidelines - Wenzel Creative

The cannabis industry is really taking off. If you’re jumping into the CBD world, make sure you don’t get left behind on cannabis packaging design…

Cannabis Packaging is Key in this Young, Growing Market (pun very much intended)

Cannabis packaging design needs to look awesome and play by the rules.

Why’s that, do you ask?

Because your packaging is a great way to set your cannabis company up to succeed by showing your customers and regulators that your organization knows how to responsibly sell cannabis products.

Question: How do you stay compliant with federal and state regulation without sacrificing the character of your brand?

Answer: Either you do a ton of research or you hire an agency that’s already done a ton of it and is familiar with the industry.

Honestly, we recommend you do both.

  1. It’s good to have an overview understanding of your industry’s marketing.
  2. It’ll take a lot of hassle out of the process if you’re working with someone who doesn’t have to be educated on the basics of your industry. (That’s good advice for almost any business.)

Cannabis Marketing: Preparing for the Future

Experts are saying that in the next 10 years the legal cannabis market will skyrocket to around $60 billion in sales. Not surprisingly, a huge number of corporations are hopping on board to catch the wave. (We’re getting flashbacks of the Dot Com boom in the nineties.)

Cannabidiol (CBD) products like with hemp-based CBD products are currently legal in all fifty states. (Even this has caused confusion… we’ll be covering some of this.)

If you’re one of the early adopters—congrats! You might just be setting yourself to cash in on a bet that’ll have you set for life. But with great reward comes great risk.

The legal cannabis industry is in its infancy. And so is the legislation that regulates cannabis packaging design.

Our advice?

Tread carefully and stay informed. Particularly with your cannabis product packaging.

Cannabis packaging design isn’t simply a matter of aesthetics. It’s a matter of legal compliance. Some companies in the CBD industry are finding this out the hard way. There’s a lot of confusion around the fact that these products fall under both medication and supplement.

That’s why so many businesses have been turning to consulting firms and specialized agencies. They need someone who can navigate the rules surrounding their CBD packaging’s label and style.

Cannabis Packaging Design Can Be Confusing

For CBD, some of the confusion stems from marijuana. (Again, pun absolutely intended.)

Marijuana continues to be outlawed at the federal level. Which means the government is cracking down on corporations that sell products even remotely associated with cannabis.

Cannabis Packaging Design - Dispensary

Cannabis Packaging Design – Dispensary

Companies that sell CBD products need to be cautions about the content and layout of of their packaging.

This isn’t just to avoid the hassle of the federal government. It’s for the safety and wellbeing of customers who will be using the product.

Figuring Out if Your Cannabis Product is a Food or Supplement

One of the primary determinants of your CBD packaging style is whether or not the merchandise your selling is categorized as a food or a supplement. This may sound like a simple question to answer. But it’s a little more complicated than you might think.

Cannabis Packaging Design - Labeling & Branding Guidelines

Cannabis Packaging Design – Labeling & Branding Guidelines

It all depends on what your specific CBD product is. You’ll either be using FDA-approved supplement labeling or food labeling. And when you’re on the line and unsure, a good rule of thumb is to follow the core standards of the FDA’s tips for food and supplement labelling.

CBD products are available in a litany of forms. Oils, gels, edibles, drinks, capsules, powders, etc. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

One common issue is the confusion on what constitutes a “supplement” in the cannabis industry. For example, oil is most often categorized as a food. By that logic, CBD-infused oils should also be in the food product category, right?

Well, not exactly. How companies ought to structure their CBD products labeling to accommodates federal regulation is still a bit murky.

The law still needs to catch up to the current state of the industry and the way the country is going. We’re suggesting that businesses in the cannabis product industry play it safe and go the extra mile to remain compliant.

What really goes on your cannabis packaging?

First and foremost, you have to figure out how best to categorize your product. Is it food or a supplement? Once you’ve go that squared away as best you can, you can start getting into the fundamental elements that should be implemented in your CBD packaging design:

  • Identification Statement: This lets shoppers know exactly what kind of product they’re purchasing. You might come across statements like “herbal supplement” or “extracted hemp product.”
  • Responsibility Statement: This details the name of your business, your location, wherever the merchandise itself was factory-made, and wherever it was tested.
  • Net Amount Statement: Like most product, sellers should establish the number/volume of the product; “90 capsules” or “32 ounces.”
  • Nutrition Statement: several product would require a “nutrition label” or “supplement label” that outlines any data unlisted higher than.
  • Ingredient Statement: Much like what is on a nutrition label, companies must list each ingredient in their product in degressive order from highest concentration of an ingredient to the lowest.
  • Potency Statement: Similar to liquor packaging, you must also highlight the amount/potency of the active CBD ingredients in your product. Example: List the entire quantity of hemp extract oil in every serving or give a summation of each individual cannabinoid enclosed within the product.
  • *State-Specific Rules: Note that totally different states have specific labelling rules for these sorts of product.
    For example, one state passed a law requiring cannabis packaging style to feature QR codes leading to an in-depth product information URL, while other states do not require this level of detailed product information.

Stay Up To Date With Changing Cannabis Laws

While companies selling CBD products should have advanced notice for these problems, the current volatility of the industry means that these rules are changing rapidly across the country.

Your packaging may be compliant this year, and it may need to be updated the very next year, due to changes in the law. As always, it’s incredibly important that you keep your cannabis product packaging up-to-date.

One Last Warning About CBD

Naturally, you must mention CBD in your packaging. But use caution concerning highlighting it too heavily in your style without proper information.

If you merely splash “CBD” across the front of your packaging, shoppers passing by won’t understand specifically what you’re merchandising.

They’ll assume that your product is a CBD isolate. But what you’re actually selling a full-spectrum cannabinoid product. Again, we have to take into account how best to simplify information for consumers, while maintaining accurate label standards.

CBD product have lots of medical uses, and it’s necessary that potential customers understand what they’re really getting for their money.


Bottom line: If you’re in the process of starting a cannabis products company or selling a private-label CBD product, we highly recommend you find someone who’s savvy in that area and will work with you on your unique packaging needs. At least when starting out in the industry.

This will save you a ton of time and help you avoid the headache of cannabis packaging design restrictions.


Got questions about your cannabis packaging design?

Contact us and we’ll be happy to answer them!