Courtesy Sana Packaging So those can be pretty bad,” Ben Searchinger says, talking about the Russian-doll-like packaging system that encloses a box of edible gummies at Drift dispensary, where he’s inventory manager. One company, he says, “has individual boxes, inside those boxes are the childproof dram bottles … and inside those are plastic bags with the gummies in them. And then we have to put it in a paper, opaque exit bag.”
All together, that’s four layers of packaging between the consumer and the product — three more than most food or medicine bought at a store.
“The reason there is so much [packaging] is state regs,” Searchinger explains. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division have designed an elaborate cannabis packaging system to ensure marijuana products stay out of the reach of children. All dispensaries must adhere to these rules.
Even though Searchinger believes the majority of the packaging could potentially be recycled, “It’s all incredibly wasteful.” He shrugs, “But what are you going to do? Your hands are kind of tied by the state.”
Ron Basak-Smith first noticed this waste problem a few years ago, while a graduate student at University of Colorado Boulder. “I’m a cannabis user myself,” he says, and was familiar with the Colorado regulation specifics, including stipulations like odor-resistant, child-resistant and opaque packaging, as well as special labels.
During a sustainable venturing class one semester, Basak-Smith approached James Eichner with an idea: a sustainable, regenerative packaging system for cannabis products as an eco-friendly alternative to the petroleum- and corn-based plastics already on the market.
Basak-Smith says the investment in developing a good-for-the-planet packaging system is a no-brainer. As a March 2018 IBISWorld report indicates, cannabis consumption continues to grow with a nation-wide projection that