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An Intro to the Modern History of Mainstream Cannabis Packaging

cannabis flower

Originated from the central and southeast regions of Asia, cannabis Sativa has a long history. While the cannabis industry has gone through ups and downs, people who regard cannabis and its derivatives as a crucial part of their lives account a lot.

Along with the development of cannabis transactions, cannabis packaging has also been updated and iterated to accommodate the ever-changing trends. Let’s together explore this interesting packaging background to get to know more about cannabis packaging stories.


The modern history of cannabis packaging can date back to the mid-late 1800s when airtight tin pots catered to the mass market. Years later, pharmacies and some general stores started to sell cannabis products packaging in ceramic jars. Cannabis was used for industrial, medicinal, and recreational purposes until the early 1900’s before the United States launched the “War on Drugs”.


tinpot packaging

ü Pros: recyclable, high mechanical strength, tractable, high barrier properties

w Cons: corrodible, poisonous heavy metals may release during use

Ceramic jars

hemp ceramics jar

ü  Pros: high hardness, heat-resisting, corrosion-resistant

w   Cons: fragile, heavy (may increase the cost of delivering), poisonous heavy metals may release during use

Both tin and ceramic containers can provide good shelter, protecting cannabis flowers from ultraviolet rays or dampness. For a long time, these two packaging solutions had formed customs in the cannabis circle. People formed the habit of using them for their private options and had never thought about change. The reasons may be:

  • They can fully meet the needs of cannabis product packaging at that time;
  • Hemp products in other forms (other than hemp flowers) account for a small proportion of the cannabis market. Accordingly, the relevant packaging options have not developed maturely;
  • Lighter packaging production like plastic wrappers and paper boxes today hadn’t become popular yet due to the limitation of technology at that time.

What breaks this convention is the US anti-marijuana movement—“War on Drugs” in the 1970s.

Developing (production expansion)

Since the 1920s, the United States has issued a series of measures on alcohol prohibition. But after a decade or so, they canceled the prohibition act due to complicated reasons. At the same time, people began to turn their attention to marijuana. Things took an unsettling turn, and their attitudes toward marijuana began to change (for the worse).

In 1925, the United States banned marijuana general cultivation and further tightened control in 1933. Finally, in 1937, the United States passed the Marijuana Tax Act, imposing taxes on all persons who conduct commercial transactions of cannabis. Until the 1970s, marijuana still played the role of the human enemy. Later, the US anti-drug war reached its peak in the 1980s.

Over half a century, the vigorous anti-drug campaign played a regulatory role in the cannabis market. Cannabis transactions went underground to make a living. Vendors have also changed their ways and started with cannabis packaging. They were committed to finding more portable packaging methods to facilitate their activities, and this is how mylar bags became popular.

Mylar bags

mylar bags packaging

ü Pros: Lightweight; airtight; non-toxic; odorless; high strength; stable chemical structure; purely transparent; could be decorated easily.

w Cons: ultraviolet inevitable; temperature uncontrolled; complicated manufacturing process; easy to produce electrostatic; not childproof.

Initially, mylar bags were widely used in the food packaging industry, and they just met most needs of cannabis packaging. This kind of bag is convenient to carry, airtight, waterproof, and reusable at a reasonable price, thus gradually becoming popular in the cannabis packaging industry instead of tin-pots and ceramic jars.

The Latest Decades

Marijuana status in California has risen since 1996. Because of the great help of cannabis in medical treatment, people began to support and set up relevant clubs such as “Compassion clubs” to call for more cannabis-using licenses in the medical industry.

Up to 2000, the legalization of medical marijuana has already been implemented in many states.

To now, many European countries have joined the ranks of marijuana legalization. This trend has also promoted the rapid development of related products such as cannabis-infused foods, vaping, cigarettes, and atomizers. What follows is more stringent packaging standard control in various regions. New packaging rules have become the original driving force for the innovation and standardization of cannabis packaging.

As people increase their awareness of environmental protection, the proportion of paper packaging in the market keeps growing. Plastic packaging cases that are less eco-friendly, despite their many advantages, are gradually being replaced. Relevant companies are working hard to develop new types of recyclable plastics to reduce their carbon footprint.

Due to a large number of cannabis derivatives, numerous packaging solutions have appeared dramatically, including silicone containers, glass jars, and some one-time packaging ways, etc. The packaging size has also become cuter, smaller, and more exquisite as people’s lifestyle changes.

Plastic Packaging

cannabis plastic packaging
cannabis plastic packaging

ü Pros: cost-effective, simple processing, lightweight, stable chemical properties, high barrier properties, impact resistance

w Cons: easy to decompose harmful substances in use

Plastic packaging for cannabis products has a long history and a wide range of applications. From hemp flowers to topicals, plastic packaging once occupied most of the trading record, and its advantages are self-evident.

However, plastic packaging has many risk elements originating from raw materials, including unreacted monomers, dimers, and additives added during plastic processing such as antioxidants, stabilizers, lubricants, plasticizers, colorants, etc. Harmful substances produced by the polymer during use also do nothing good to human health. These chemical hazards will transfer to the inside contents through migration, thus affecting content safety.

Now, world countries have long taken the restriction of non-degradable plastic products as one of the most crucial steps of the circular economy. Many cannabis manufacturers have also begun to develop recyclable and even compostable plastic packaging products to adapt to today’s circular economic model.

Paper Packaging

History of Mainstream Cannabis Packaging

ü Pros: nature, widely sourced, naturally degradable, environmentally friendly, recyclable

w Cons: non-waterproof, flammable, manual assembly costs may be high, some added additives may be harmful

A kind of traditional packaging material, paper packaging is in accord with people’s pursuit of green and environmental protection and has once again become an epidemic cannabis packaging solution. Generally, paper products come from non-toxic and harmless natural plants (such as wood, bamboo, straw, etc.) with a wide range of sources, are easy to degrade, and are very friendly to the planet.

Experience tells us that pre-rolls and hemp flower products are more suitable for paper packaging. The reason is that they need special storage conditions—an appropriate ventilated environment.

The cigarettes and cannabis-flower packaging are not simply airtight but hold a dynamic balance between dry and wet to prevent contents from drying crack and going moldy. A reasonably designed paper packaging case will allow these cannabis products to live in a suitable environment and keep them fresh.

Glass Stash Jars

glass stash jars

ü Pros: tactile sensation, excellent airtight, non-toxic, corrosion resistance, high hardness

w Cons: breakable, non-lucifugal, heavy (may increase the cost of delivering)

Glass jars are currently one of the most popular categories, mainly for concentrates like cannabis wax and cannabis honey oil that need to stay in sealed and stable conditions. Concentrate producers explored mini packaging trends within the last couple of years as small things become the pronoun of exquisite lifestyle. To deliver a better “gift-opening” experience, cannabis manufactures also seek cooperation with paper packaging factories as their secondary packaging to diversify their packaging modalities.

Further Exploration

As the cannabis market is more strict, various local governments have introduced policies to maintain the market stably developed.

To adapt to the ever-changing policies, packaging manufacturers have developed novel packaging products with features of child-resistant design, tamper-proof labels, recycled or even compostable materials. Besides, endless customizable options have added to the booming packaging industry a big surprise.

Speaking of custom packaging, Vaping Packaging is a worth trying partner to work together with. We are a comprehensive manufacturing factory especially for producing environmentally friendly packaging products. Numerous practical packaging cases would benefit your own brand customization.

For learning our full line of products, vapingpackaging.com will provide you with satisfactory results. From old-school-style packaging to traditional or modern options, check out our packaging cases to fit your requirements and customize your brand packaging. Vaping Packaging will try our best to meet all your cannabis products packaging needs.


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