Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Michael Tackeff and Justin Starling authored an article published by Cannabis Industry Journal detailing considerations for packaging companies interested in entering the cannabis market, including state and federal laws and industry packaging standards.

“As cannabis growers and retailers begin to recognize that attractive, compelling and moisture-retentive packaging can help market and sell their products to a wider audience, packaging companies are presented with an opportunity to expand into this Wild West industry,” the attorneys wrote. But, the complicated regulatory framework across state lines and under federal law introduces risk and questions to consider. First, could I be held liable for producing drug paraphernalia? Second, what packaging standards must my company follow?

While facilitating cannabis production or trafficking is illegal, the federal government has enforcement priorities and restrictions on its resources. And many state and federal enforcement officials have little incentive to pursue industries supplying trucks, packaging or lighting to a cannabis retailer. Further, the federal government has little power – legally, practically and politically – to prosecute those engaged in the cannabis industry through activities that are legal under state law.

As for federal drug paraphernalia laws, they are written very broadly and include 15 categories of items, but packaging products do not fit into any of those. Courts have also shown reluctance to apply these laws to companies producing packaging laws.

Packaging standards are another consideration. State packaging laws are the primary vehicle for regulatory guidance on cannabis packaging since cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Each state has varying compliance standards, however, making it difficult to produce a product that complies with all state standards. Accordingly, packaging companies should limit their representations regarding regulatory compliance to a specific state .

The full article, “Keep the Buds Fresh – Packaging & Paraphernalia Laws,” was published on October 8 by Cannabis Industry Journal and is available online.