Canada’s Grey Market Embraces Plain Packaging Ahead of Legalization

Right now the largest marijuana producers in Canada are lobbying the feds to allow branding and advertising on their packages ahead of next summer’s legalization. These bureaucratic efforts are in response to a stipulation in Bill C-45 that calls for plain packaging on all cannabis products.

The licensed producers (LPs) argue that there needs to be a way to differentiate their brands from each other, and ultimately, distinguish their weed from “unlicensed” products. Ironically, some of the high-quality goods that are available in Canada’s unlicensed community or “grey market” as it is referred to, have already made the choice to have more subtle wrappers on their merchandise as they look forward to the legal marketplace.

“The plain packaging for myself came from my brilliant branding men,” said Angelina Blessed, the owner of Blessed Edibles in an interview with Marijuana.com. “Basically, I don’t want things to look like they are going to go into children’s hands. I want everything to be very clear on the packaging.”

Angelina added that her packaging choices were also an executive branding decision in general. “The fact that my packaging isn’t super-bright, is more of how we want our [products] to look, being part of a professional brand as opposed to a 420-style brand.”

Although Angelina’s decision was more her own choice for the sake of the brand, it does help that Blessed Edibles is embracing more subtle packages ahead of legalization, as it positions them to be involved in the fray.

When asked about what the LPs should be requesting from the government in regards to their packages, Angelina humorously stated that “the licensed producers should pay me for that information because they don’t really know what they’re doing.”

Another Canadian “grey market” product line that is turning heads for its fabulous chocolate and beverages is EP Infusions. They too have embraced the softer, less in-your-face branding.

“It was a conscious aesthetic choice as I really wanted to go for something fairly minimal,” said Damien (pseudonym), the owner of EP Infusions in an interview with Marijuana.com. “I wanted to avoid all the tropes of your typical edibles packaging. There’s a certain set of cliches that [made me want] to try something different. Cannabis is entering the mainstream, it’s up to everyone who is participating in that culture to redefine the aesthetic or at least make their own contribution.”

Damien did have a sense that this decision could fit nicely into the guidelines of plain packaging for legalization, but he was quick to point out that no guidelines have been determined as of yet.

“[I had]  a sense that there would be some [restrictions] on packaging but it depends on how they choose to define plain packaging. But without knowing how strict [the government] wants to be, I’m not going to build a product around rules that don’t exist yet.”

Currently, there has been no word on the efforts of licensed producers or if there will be any changes to branding or labeling rules. Until then, the unlicensed community is preparing however they can to help ensure their seat at the legalized table alongside everyone else.

Image courtesy of Canadian Holistics

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