Guide to Cannabis Packaging in Canada & How to Make Your Products Stand Out

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Ameer Asghar
Ameer is an enthusiastic writer who believes in the remarkable potential of the cannabis plant to lead people towards natural health alternatives, steering them towards a path of improved well-being and health.

Get an Understanding of the Cannabis Packaging and Labelling Requirements in Canada & How You Can Make Your Products Stand-Out Despite those Limiting Requirements

Cannabis packaging in Canada is not just about putting a product on a shelf; it’s about creating an experience. From child-resistant containers that keep curious hands at bay to sophisticated designs that capture the essence of the strain within, the packaging plays a crucial role in the cannabis industry. But it’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about complying with regulations and protecting the product’s quality. In this blog, we will delve into the world of cannabis packaging in Canada, exploring the regulations, and ways in which cannabis products can stand out on the shelves despite restrictive packaging laws. 

Background on Cannabis Packaging Requirements in Canada

Cannabis manufacturers in Canada must adhere to the regulations outlined by Health Canada when it comes to packaging and labelling their products. These regulations are in place to ensure the safety of consumers and to provide them with the necessary information to make informed decisions about using cannabis.

Plain Packaging and Labelling

One of the key requirements is plain packaging and labelling for all cannabis products. This means that the packaging must not contain any logos, colours, or branding elements that could be appealing to young people. The goal is to reduce the appeal of cannabis products to minors and prevent accidental consumption.

Child-Resistant Packaging

Additionally, cannabis products must be packaged in child-resistant containers to further mitigate the risk of accidental consumption. These containers are designed to be difficult for young children to open, providing an extra layer of safety.

Packaging Must Include Cannabis Labels

The labelling requirements are also important. Each cannabis product must be labelled with the standardized cannabis symbol, which helps consumers easily identify cannabis products. The mandatory health warning message is also required, providing important information about the potential risks associated with cannabis use.

Cannabis Packaging Canada - Packaging Labelling Requirements

Disclosure of THC and CBD Levels

In addition to these mandatory labelling elements, the packaging must also include specific product information. This includes the brand name of the cannabis product, the class of cannabis it belongs to, and information about the levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) present in the product. This information helps consumers understand the potency and composition of the cannabis product they are purchasing.

Onus of Compliance is on Packagers

It is important to note that Health Canada does not review or pre-approve packages and labels for cannabis products. The responsibility lies with the license holders to ensure compliance with the regulations. This means that cannabis manufacturers must be diligent in their packaging and labeling practices to meet the requirements set forth by Health Canada.

General Packaging and Labelling Requirements for Cannabis Products in Canada

Cannabis packaging in Canada is subject to strict regulations set by Health Canada. These regulations aim to ensure the safety and integrity of cannabis products and provide consumers with the necessary information to make informed choices. Table 1 of the Cannabis Packaging and Labeling Guide outlines the specific requirements for both primary and secondary packaging.

It’s important to have your final packaging reviewed with a Cannabis Industry Consultant or a lawyer, to ensure compliance with the general packaging and labelling requirements for Cannabis Products in Canada.

Cannabis Regulations referenceRequirementNotes
Single uniform colour.
• No fluorescent colours for containers or wrappers, or metallic colours on containers
• Colour of containers must create a contrast with the yellow colour of the health warning message and the red colour of the standardized cannabis symbol
• Coverings of containers must be transparent and colourless
Colour may be different for each surface (e.g., exterior, interior) and panel. The exterior of any container and the interior surface of immediate containers may be a metallic colour if that surface is made of metal, excluding the label or image.
Smooth texture.
• No raised features for containers and coverings
• No embossing or decorative ridges for wrappers
• No other irregularities (e.g., engravings, etchings) for containers and coverings
Does not apply to features necessary to facilitate opening and closing of the container and those to assist persons who are visually impaired.
No hidden features including:
• Heat-activated ink
• Feature that is visible only through technological means unless, in the case of containers or coverings, it is used to prevent counterfeiting
116(2)No features that can change surface area including:
• Tags
• Fold-out panels except in the case of a peel-back or accordion panel for a small immediate container. See section 8.3 of this guide.
Does not apply to wrappers.
Not emit scent or sound 
121No cut-out windowsDoes not apply to coverings or wrappers.
No brand elementSubject to specific provisions of the Regulations. See sections 8.1.4 and 8.1.5 of this guide.
No image and/or information
• No image on any container (interior or exterior surface and panel) in which a cannabis product is packaged
• No image or information on the covering
• No image or information on a wrapper
A container may display a bar code but it must only appear once. It must be in a rectangle that is black and white without any other images or designs. A wrapper must display the standardized cannabis symbol. See section 8.1.1 of this guide for more information about the symbol.
No inserts or leafletsCannabis products may be accompanied by the document entitled Consumer Information – Cannabis. There is an exception that allows additional information to be included with any shipment, including shipments sent to registered patients.

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Status-Quo for Cannabis Packaging Standards in Canada

Many cannabis producers are falling into the trap of creating uninspired packaging that relies solely on edgy logos or clever fonts to make their products stand out. While these flashy designs may initially attract consumers, the lack of brand loyalty in the cannabis market means that they are easily swayed by the latest trends.

Minimal Brand Loyalty for CPG Products

According to eMarketer, a significant number of consumers, around 80%, bought a different brand than their usual choice between July and September 2021. This behaviour can be attributed to various factors, including supply chain issues and inflation, which have impacted the customer experience. These concerns have persisted throughout the year, leading to a carryover of the same behaviour into the cannabis consumer packaged goods (CPG) market.

In a highly competitive market like cannabis, the packaging is often the first point of contact between a brand and a consumer. It serves as a visual representation of the product and can create a lasting impression. However, relying solely on flashy designs without a deeper brand connection is not enough to foster brand loyalty.

You Need to Build a Brand That Resonates with Your Target Market

To truly stand out in the crowded cannabis market, producers must go beyond surface-level aesthetics and focus on building a brand that resonates with consumers. This involves investing in thoughtful, purpose-driven packaging that communicates the brand’s values, mission, and unique selling points. By conveying a compelling story through their packaging, producers can create an emotional connection with consumers, inspiring loyalty that goes beyond a passing trend.

We’ll touch more on this in the coming sections, but before we get to that, let’s understand what the vast majority of consumers care about when it comes to packaging.

What Consumers Care About on Cannabis Packaging

Consumers in the cannabis market are seeking three main attributes in the products they purchase: high THC or CBD content, great flavour, and a good price. Let’s explore why these qualities are important to consumers and how they impact their purchasing decisions.

THC and CBD Levels

Firstly, high THC or CBD content is a top priority for many consumers. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the “high” sensation, while CBD is known for its potential therapeutic benefits. Consumers seeking a recreational experience often look for high THC strains, while those seeking medicinal benefits may prefer high CBD strains. The demand for high THC or CBD content stems from the desire to achieve the desired effects or relief from specific medical conditions. When consumers find a product with the desired cannabinoid profile, they are more likely to have a positive experience and become repeat buyers.


Secondly, flavour plays a crucial role in consumer satisfaction. Cannabis is no longer solely consumed as a means to an end – it has become a sensory experience. Consumers appreciate the wide variety of flavours that different cannabis strains offer, and they seek products that deliver an enjoyable taste. Whether it’s the citrusy notes of a Sativa or the earthy undertones of an Indica, flavour adds to the overall experience and can enhance the enjoyment of consuming cannabis. As consumers become more educated about the various strains and their flavours, they are more likely to seek out products that provide a memorable taste.


Price is a significant factor for consumers when making purchasing decisions. With the legalization and expansion of the cannabis market, consumers have access to a wide range of products at different price points. While quality is important, affordability is also a key consideration for many consumers. They want to find products that offer a good balance between quality and price. With increased competition in the market, consumers have the luxury of choosing from various options, allowing them to find cannabis products that fit their budget without compromising on quality.

How to Come Up With Cannabis Packaging that Works

Cannabis producers and manufacturers must understand the crucial connection between visual merchandising and marketing in order to create packaging that effectively attracts and engages consumers.

The Role of Visual Merchandising in Cannabis Packaging Design

Visual merchandising is the art of creating visually appealing displays and arrangements in order to showcase products and enhance the overall shopping experience. By incorporating this discipline into the packaging design process, cannabis producers can create eye-catching and enticing packaging that stands out on dispensary shelves.

Cannabis Packaging Canada - Packaging Designs

The Role of Marketing in Cannabis Packaging Design

Marketing, on the other hand, is the strategic process of promoting and selling products to target customers. By integrating marketing principles into packaging design, cannabis producers can ensure that their packaging communicates the unique selling points of their products, such as quality, potency, and effects. This can be achieved through the use of persuasive messaging, compelling imagery, and engaging branding elements.

When these two disciplines are combined, cannabis producers and manufacturers can create packaging that not only catches the attention of consumers but also effectively communicates the value and benefits of their products.

Continue reading so we can share a framework of how to combine these two disciplines to improve your cannabis packaging efforts.

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Step 1: Know Your Audience

Effective cannabis packaging starts with understanding the audience. Cannabis manufacturers and producers need to have a clear understanding of who their target audience is in order to create packaging that resonates with them. This involves identifying the demographics and psychographics of their audience.


Demographics refer to the basic characteristics of the audience such as age, gender, income level, and geographic location. Understanding these demographic factors helps cannabis manufacturers and producers tailor their packaging to meet the specific needs and preferences of their audience. For example, if the target audience is predominantly young adults, the packaging can be designed to appeal to their aesthetic preferences and lifestyle choices.


Psychographics go beyond demographics and delve into the deeper motivations, attitudes, and beliefs of the audience. By understanding the psychographics of their target audience, cannabis manufacturers and producers can create packaging that speaks to their values and desires. This can include factors such as their attitudes toward sustainability, health and wellness, and social responsibility.

Research Their Existing Purchasing Behaviours

In addition to understanding the audience, cannabis manufacturers and producers should also research and identify the packaging design of other consumer packaged goods (CPG) products that their target audience buys. This can provide valuable insights into the packaging trends and preferences of their audience. By incorporating elements from successful CPG packaging designs, cannabis manufacturers and producers can create packaging that feels familiar and trustworthy to their audience.

Researching other CPG products can also help cannabis manufacturers and producers identify any gaps or opportunities in the market. They can see what packaging designs are already prevalent and find ways to differentiate themselves.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Key Message

In the competitive cannabis industry, it is crucial for manufacturers and producers to identify their key message and unique value proposition to effectively engage with their audience. By understanding the needs and wants of their target market, they can tailor their messaging and positioning to resonate with their audience and stand out from the competition.

Developing a Clear and Compelling Value Statement

With the increasing number of players in the cannabis industry, it is important to have a clear and compelling value statement that sets them apart. This value statement can be an expression of their commitment to quality, sustainability, innovation, or any other unique aspect of their product or business. By clearly communicating their unique value proposition, they can attract and retain loyal customers who align with their values and offerings.

Strike the Right Chord with Your Audience

Moreover, understanding their audience’s needs and wants allows cannabis manufacturers and producers to craft messages that resonate with them on a deeper level. By identifying their target consumers and conducting market research, they can gain insights into what matters most to their audience. This knowledge enables them to establish an emotional connection with their customers by addressing their pain points, desires, and aspirations.

Example: Focusing on Organic and Sustainably-Grown Products

For instance, if a cannabis manufacturer is focused on providing organic and sustainably-grown products, their key message could be centred around environmental stewardship and health-consciousness. By highlighting their commitment to sustainable cultivation practices and organic production methods, they can appeal to consumers who prioritize eco-friendly choices and those who are health-conscious.

Cannabis Packaging Canada - Sustainable Packaging

By aligning their messaging with their audience’s needs and wants, effective cannabis manufacturers and producers can build trust and credibility with their customers. It shows that they understand their customers and are committed to delivering products and experiences that meet their expectations. This alignment also helps manufacturers and producers foster brand loyalty and advocacy, as customers feel connected to the brand and its values.

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Step 3: Figure Out a Great Hook

Once cannabis manufacturers/producers have identified the key message that they want their target market to hear, the next crucial step is to figure out a great way to create a hook that captures attention and sparks interest. In a highly competitive industry like cannabis, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression on potential customers. Packaging plays a vital role in achieving this goal.

When it comes to creating a hook, the key is originality and creativity. Cannabis packaging needs to be eye-catching, unique, and informative. Keep in mind, that complying with the packaging regulations is of utmost importance – more important than innovative packaging design. Here are a few components of packaging that have successfully captured attention:

1. Bold and Vibrant Designs: Colorful and striking packaging designs instantly grab attention. Brands can use bold hues and captivating graphics to create a visually appealing package that stands out on the shelves. For example, a cannabis product packaged with a unique logo and engaging artwork will attract attention and pique curiosity.

2. Innovative Shapes and Materials: Packaging that breaks away from the conventional rectangular box or jar shape can be highly intriguing. Brands can explore unusual shapes, such as triangles, hexagons, or even custom shapes that reflect their brand identity. Additionally, using sustainable and eco-friendly materials like hemp-based packaging can also attract environmentally conscious customers.

3. Storytelling and Information: Packaging that tells a story or provides valuable information about the product can capture attention. Including details about the strain, cultivation methods, or the brand’s mission and values can help build a connection with the customers and make them more interested in the product.

5. Limited Edition or Special Collections: Creating limited edition or special packaging collections can generate buzz and attract attention from avid collectors and enthusiasts. Brands can collaborate with artists, designers, or influencers to create unique packaging that stands out and generates excitement.

How GrowerIQ Helps with Packaging Optimization

GrowerIQ’s inventory management and batch-tracking modules provide cannabis producers with powerful insights into the effectiveness of their packaging optimizations and tests in the market. By allowing producers to see how many products they sell per SKU in a given time period, these modules enable them to effectively measure the impact of their packaging changes on consumer behaviour.

With the ability to track sales data for each specific SKU, cannabis producers can identify trends and patterns in consumer preferences. They can see which packaging designs perform better in terms of sales volume and customer satisfaction. This data allows producers to make data-driven decisions when iterating on their packaging, ensuring that their products are effectively meeting the needs and wants of their target market.

By having access to real-time sales data, cannabis producers can quickly adapt their packaging strategies in response to market feedback. If a particular packaging design is not resonating with consumers, producers can make adjustments and monitor the impact of those changes on sales. This iterative process allows cannabis producers to continuously optimize their packaging to improve its appeal and effectiveness in the market.

Discover how GrowerIQ’s seed-to-sale software can help you set up all of the components of a successful cannabis production operation without any hassle. Questions we haven’t covered? Please reach out and let us know. GrowerIQ serves clients coast to coast, and we’re ready to help your team today.

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