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Are QR Code Requirements the Future for Cannabis Product Packaging?

QR codes on labels could represent the next step in product tracking, ingredient disclosure and more data-intensive elements of legal compliance. In the emerging cannabis product industry, such innovations could prove especially important. As this sector is essentially being assembled piecemeal in real time, there's ample room for cutting-edge tech methods to become mainstays.

When studying the use of QR codes in the cannabis industry, it pays to look at the precedent set by Indiana. Though it hasn't legalized recreational cannabis or related items, the state does allow the sale of CBD products derived from hemp. Companies selling in the state need QR codes on their cannabis packaging, creating an example other states can study on their own journeys toward legalization.

The Status of Indiana

Indiana news station WTHR reported that the latest set of CBD oil labeling rules in the state involves QR codes that, when scanned, send users to websites that contain batch information, an ingredient list, lab analysis results and an expiration date. The power of a QR code comes from the fact that this small square can direct consumers to large quantities of data, more than could be physically printed on a package.

The switch to the QR code model was not entirely smooth. WTHR noted that some retailers found themselves stocked with items produced before the requirement went into effect that were then rendered noncompliant. Since fines for selling unapproved products are high, many stores opted to remove the older stock, losing out on any money to be made through sales.

Once manufacturers apply QR codes to make their cannabis labels comply with Indiana law, they may then take the same approach nationally. WTHR reported at least one brand is now using the data-rich codes in all states where it is allowed to operate.

What's On the Labels?

With the Indiana model getting a high-profile try-out, it's worth asking what features brands have to put on their labels alongside the QR codes. Law firm Harris Bricken explained labels must have batch numbers, web addresses of batch information sites, expiration dates, amount of hemp extract (in milligrams), manufacturer's name and a notification that THC content isn't more than 0.3 percent. Between these facts and the extra data available by scanning the QR code, buyers are well-informed of what they're getting.

Harris Bricken added the rules in Indiana are approximately the same as in other states with legalized cannabis products. The Indiana model is interesting from a regulatory perspective because the state has put control, tracking and informational models in place while not allowing high-THC products. Regulators have taken action for a purely CBD-based economy, without the recreational goods that generate a high in users. Weed packaging elsewhere could fall in line.

How Can Companies Harness Labeling Potential?

Brands hoping to move into the Indiana market or use QR codes in their own regions can apply these elements to their marijuana packaging now, potentially anticipating the future direction of information disclosure. Working with a digital labeling provider such as Lightning Labels allows businesses to get codes that correspond to their products, in quantities and quality that will suit regulations and customer expectations alike. The CBD oil market is just getting started, and now's an exciting time to get involved.

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