Marijuana packaging: Implied endorsement?

Lisa Pierce in Packaging Design on May 23, 2014

If the Packaging Digest story “Marijuana Packaging: Beyond the baggie” was a movie, it would have been the first blockbuster of the summer. Not only has it generated more than 3x the pageviews on our website, but it continues to draw in readers.

It never occurred to me that our audience would interpret the fact that we wrote this article as an implied endorsement of legalized marijuana. We are merely reporting on an emerging market and the implications for packaging.

But on Wed., May 14, we received a letter to the editor posing this thought-provoking counterpoint:



Good Wednesday Afternoon.

Today I received my digital copy of the magazine, and was stunned at the Beyond the Baggie cover. No doubt there’s a “Wow!” factor, but that Wow can be interpreted as an endorsement for legalization. I question if you fully thought that out before publishing? 

(For the record, I freely admit that I am opposed to full legalization. )

I read Kate’s article completely (she did her usual thorough and complete job ), and saw that there was no outright pro or con statement being made. But the theme of the article is that it’s coming, and there’s money to be made, and here’s what those already in the market are doing.   Almost a “How to…” guide for packaging all forms of pot.

Way back in the early 70’s I remember reading a novel titled Acapulco Gold . In it, the author (Edwin Corley) paints a picture of how some in the cigarette industry are prepping for impending legalization, and how they would get it going. As I read through Kate’s piece, well, for me it was “déjà vu all over again”….some forty years later.  (Interesting, isn’t it, how things we think are ‘new’ … really aren’t!)

What I would like to have seen is some counterpoint. Even the standard disclaimer would add balance.  Yes –  Pot for Fun – is now legal in two states, and is on the front burner in others, but should it be?  I know your intent was not to make any political or moral statements, but when you do such a thorough job of detailing, can’t it be said that that implies consent? 

And: how many readers, by merely looking at the cover, will instantly draw the (erroneous) conclusion that Kliklok-Woodman now makes equipment for packaging marijuana?

Even after legalization in Washington state, they say they are ”still working the kinks out” , which I find hilariously similar to that modern-day classic:  “we have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it”.  I fear we looking at another grand social experiment that uses the general populace as the guinea pigs.

BTW, if you look at the last two lines of each column on Page 20, the phrase “Washington state is still working the kinks out” appears directly across from “Keep Out of Reach of Children”.  Coincidence? Prophetic?

So, I am somewhat disappointed in a magazine that I consider to be top notch.  However, I also know that I have attained dinosaur status, and consequently hold opinions that many do not. So please take all of the above for what it is, and I thank you for taking your valuable time reading what I have to say.


Jim Pfister

Mechanicsburg, PA


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Yes, it should be made legal. You cannot make any argument for alcohol or cigarettes that does not completely validate that marijuana should be legal. It's not a moral issue, it's a personal liberty issue. She talks about legalization being comparable to the situation in the 70s to now, and says it's funny how we think that any of this is new - perhaps she should ask someone who was alive before 1937 and ask them what the nation was like when it was legal and people used it much the same.
I totally agree with the counter to your Packaging Digest article on marajuana, which DID imply endorsement, of course! I appreciate you printing Jim Pfister's view. As for the article being a "blockbuster," I guess that depends upon why someone was viewing/sharing the article - for shock value or because it was truly inspirational regarding packaging? I know I myself shared it, but not because of the packaging information; rather, I was surprised by the apparent approval of marajuana use.
Lisa, I enjoyed your Beyond the Baggie article. I thought your title was clever and did not infer that there was any sort of endorsement. I believe the emerging Marijuana market will be one to follow as I am sure that there have been back yard packaging specialists working on the best way to pack it for decades. I do not drink and was previously married to an abusive alcoholic, but I do not read the many Packaging Digest articles about beer, wine and spirits packaging and assume any endorsement
Look at the unique way that Canada packages medical marijuana on a federal level. They require the seller to use CRRXWear which is a key locking jar that is made in the USA. Leave it up to the illegal marijuana market in the USA to make a working solution to keep the product away from kids in Canada.
Lisa, I often flip thru Packaging Digest, since we buy scrap plastics, and it ABSOLUTELY NEVER occurred to me that the article was an implied endorsement of legalized marijuana. Count me in support of your writer and your editing.
You guys should also put a disclaimer on ALCOHOL related packaging. ALCOHOL results in deaths, unlike marijuana.
I certainly didn't take this as Packaging Digest promoting marijuana. The reason I read the magazine is so that I can stay up on the latest and greatest ideas in packaging. This product certainly has complications and good learnings for all. While it is controversial now, it may be a rapid growth product in the near future.
We should lend all of our technical knowledge and expertise to make marijuana packaging safe for innocent children regardless of our bias. Colorado MED inclusion of CFR Title 16 Part 1700.20 within their legislation has caused more confusion than safety. We now have dispensaries and suppliers seeking "approval" and "certificates" from CPSC, ASTM, and third party administrators. Controlling a state approved substance with a federally approved protocol is not in the best interest of safety when sa
The packaging that is state required and federally certified as ASTM D 3475 CFR Title 16 part 1700.20 is good if you want to keep the under 4 1/2 year old population from the product inside but what you need to do is lock out the under 21 year old population. I saw a product called CRRXWear that is used in the Canada federal medical marijuana system. It locks the jars from the rear of the container. I bet the guy that thought of it is going to the bank daily.
I didn't see the article as an endorsement of any kind and am surprised anyone would see it that way. What the article points out, is an emerging market the will likely only get bigger. Not everyone agrees with every medical procedure in the world (not going to name any specifically) but plenty of packaging hold devices for just those purposes. If any advancements or untapped markets for packaging exist (no matter the product) I would appreciate it if Packaging Digest continued to cover them.
I did not misinterpret the original article's intent. I don't think there was implied endorsement. I am seeing and reading a great deal writings about various industries challenged with the emerging legal business factors; logistics of all supply chain elements for example. The article did not bother me... it normal. My spouse was recently approved for medical marijuana use under supervision of a doctor. Usage has offered some relief from chronic pain due to spinal injury. Fact.
I think you should report on all things packaging if you consider yourself a leading edge publication. Whether you agree with the product or not is not relevent. It is legal to sell and someone is going to come up with novel ways to package pot - you should be reporting on it. I am sure there have been articles written about the innovative packaging for birth control pills and condoms as well. Many people don't agree with those products either, but they aren't going away anytime soon. Nice job.
I read Jim Pfister's comments on Kate's article on Marijuana Packaging. I applaud Kate, Packaging Digest and Packaging Design for publishing a factual article regarding marijuana packaging without any political, ethical or moral implications. It's rare in today's media, that we get the facts instead of what some political or social party wants us to receive. Jim Pfister's as everyone else, is certainly entitled to his personal opinion, but it doesn't belong in Packaging. -Gail Fisher
Make it legal and keep kids and teens along with under 21 year old adults from it just like spirits. You can use CRRXWear to keep the kids out.
Appreciate all the comments. Glad you have found the article interesting and useful. Thank you! Lisa Pierce, executive editor, Packaging Digest