A few years ago, before Cannabis packaging regulations were put into effect, unlabeled and unregulated edibles had significantly higher concentrations of THC. With no proper labeling, consumers would often take too high of a dose, and end up feeling unpleasant; getting “way too high.” Fast forward to 2017: California Prop. 64: Business & Professional Code 26130 requires edible Cannabis products to indicate the amount of THC in each serving, and caps that concentration at 10 milligrams per serving (1).
However, according to the same code, which states: “Edible cannabis products shall [not be] designed to be appealing to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods that do not contain cannabis,” packaging manufacturers and designers are ordered not to make their Cannabis products appealing to children without any specific design guidelines. As packaging designers, they must be able to convey the brand’s message without a child misunderstanding that it is a candy. However, the law only applies to the Cannabis packaging, and not to its shape or appearance. As long as the packaging is not “appealing to children,” edibles that look identical to candy can pass the criteria laid out in section C1.
Design is an art, in many cases a matter of opinion. Two people may look at the same design differently but because they are each their own, their opinions are both equally valid. However, some general standards are safe to assume and maintain.In the Alcohol industry, the current standard is that Alcohol advertising’s creative messages should not be designed to appeal to people under the age of 21. Based on this, using cartoon characters as spokespeople is discouraged. One example of why you should not use cartoons for age-restricted products are the Happy Tree Friends™. Back when YouTube was beginning to take off, many children would accidentally click on those innocent-looking cuddly animals, only to stumble upon a world of gory, gruesome videos. They may have looked adorable, but they were not child friendly, and they left a whole lot of children (including me) traumatized.
They may seem harmless at first, but take a closer look.
Child safety regulations are important for packaging designers to be aware of. For Cannabis Packaging Graphic Designers, we might suggest avoiding cartoons, animals, babies, children, and big round bubble fonts. However, avoiding bright colors altogether in our opinion is going too far. Figuring out exactly where the line is for the Cannabis industry, whose consumers love watching cartoons, will take time. It will be up to the industry and its consumers to evolve together.