Unusual C-R can end New from n2 Packaging, the can supplier described in the Honest Marijuana section of this coverage, is an intriguing child-resistant can component sourced out of China. It’s a two-piece approach consisting of a clear plastic ring injection molded of polypropylene and an opaque overcap that is injection molded of PET. The cannabis producer applies a seamed-on ring-pull metal end as usual. Then the PP ring is snapped on by hand or by a machine recently developed by n2 Packaging. Then the PET overcap is applied, typically by hand. The consumer who wishes to open the container must first line up two arrows on the PET overcap with matching arrows on the PP ring so that the overcap can be removed. Then the ring-pull end can be removed and discarded. After the desired amount of cannabis is removed from the can, the consumer snaps the PET overcap back onto the PP ring, which remains on the can. The package retains its C-R status thanks to the arrows that must be lined up before the PET overcap can be removed again.
Among the early adopters of this C-R can end from n2 Packaging is 14er Boulder in Boulder, CO. The C-R end is used on 0.5-g net weight cans of smokable marijuana flower. “We really like the idea of people being able to walk out of a store without having to buy an exit bag for an added dollar or more,” says founder and CEO Evan Anderson.
Cans filled by 14er Boulder also go through the liquid nitrogen dosing system used by Honest Marijuana. Anderson readily acknowledges that the C-R closure component is not cheap, costing about 18 cents per container. That’s about 4 times the cost of a conventional non C-R snap on reclosure. But he sees it as easily justified and predicts it will become increasingly commonplace as the cannabis industry continues to grow and mature. pw
The importance of child resistance Child-resistant packaging is front and center when it comes to cannabis, as well it should be.
“There is no such thing as a ‘child-proof reclosable’ package,” says Todd Meussling, Senior Regional Sales Manager at Presto Products (www.prestoproducts.com). “Such a claim should never be made. There’s always a way inside given enough time and skill, as kids can be very creative.” Meussling is not Presto’s packaging cannabis specialist, but rather he explores markets where packagers can add safety to flexible pouches using Presto’s Child-Guard™ child resistant slider zipper.
In the U.S and many other countries, to make the claim that a package is child-resistant, it must meet the proper testing criteria of “special packaging,” as indicated in the U.S. code of federal regulations. To pass the test, 85% of children under 51 months old had to be unable to open the package before seeing a demonstration, and 80% had to be unable to open it after an adult showed them how it worked. Also, 90% of adults between the ages of 50 and 70 must be able to successfully open the package.
Flexible pouch bags, often with multiple layers in a laminated structure to offer non-tear, moisture-resistant, and smell-proof features, are already being used for cannabis packaging, and sometimes these pouches include child-resistant “squeeze-and-slide” features as well.
Plastic “exit pouches” are required at point of purchase in some states’ cannabis dispensaries, and these must include a certified, child-resistant feature. But not all suppliers offer pouches that can pass the compliance test. Not only do zippers fail, even the structures on some bags may be easily torn open. It pays to spend a little more for a robust structure and a zipper that can be opened and closed multiple times.
“Unfortunately we are seeing a number of import pouches being offered with child-resistant claims,” Meussling says. “Cannabis packagers need to look beyond what may be a low price and challenge these claims. Review of certification documentation according to the U.S. code should be available from any credible supplier. Growers, dispensaries, and processors should always require and authenticate the CR test document before taking the product risk.”
Presto and Zip-Pak (www.zippak.com) are two closure providers who work with converters of plastic bags to include the popular zipper closures, and both are now offering tested child-resistant options to the cannabis market. Bags can be filled and sealed from the bottom, leaving the locking feature intact.
“This is a clear case of cannabis packaging taking a cue from the dish detergent sector,” says Bob Hogan of Zip-Pak. “When detergent pods became popular, their colors appealed to children and quite a few poisoning reports followed. CPGs jumped into action, and called on Zip-Pak to create a child-resistant zipper closure. Now the cannabis people are interested.”
Interestingly enough, to complicate the picture, Hogan refers to a recent Consumer Reports Magazine article rating detergents, including pods, that featured a safety alert. Of the eight deaths since 2012 (when Tide introduced Tide Pods) directly attributed to ingesting detergent pods, two were children and six were adults with dementia! So here we are testing for children while 75% of deaths were not part of this group. “Certainly we can see adults with dementia ingesting cannabis accidentally as well,” says Hogan.
There are other packaging types like press-and-squeeze pharma-type cartons that open to reveal a blister pack. And peel-and-push blisters can come from pharma suppliers with structures that have already been tested and approved for child-resistant and senior-friendly packaging. But these options can be more expensive and require more automation. The push-down-and-twist amber pill bottle is being used in many medical dispensaries.
Many packages come initially child-resistant, but edibles containing multiple servings do not necessarily offer child resistance once the bottle, pouch, or carton has been opened. Cannabis flower can come shrink-wrapped in a can, but once the wrap is off and the can open, children can get in. “To place this can in a flexible pouch with a child-resistant feature just makes sense,” says Hogan. And instructions saying “take one” or “includes three servings” may not be understandable by the very young or old.