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Why Cannabis Labeling Matters

Why does cannabis labeling matter? For starters, improperly labeled inventory can’t be sold, and inventory that can’t be sold gets destroyed at a significant loss to manufacturers and retailers. Manufacturers attempting to sell improperly labeled, adult-use cannabis also risk getting fined, as do retailers, so the incentives for adhering to labeling guidelines are clear enough.Still, the labeling process can entail quite a bit of complex, time-consuming, detail-oriented work, distracting for operators whose time would be better spent elsewhere. As one example, Ohio’s labeling guidelines are eight pages long; Missouri’s labeling checklist runs something like 40 pages. In this blog post, we’ll outline why labeling matters and what you can do to streamline the process with the most up-to-date, forward thinking cannabis software.

Cannabis Labels and the Issue of Consumer Safety

As the move towards legalization has been motivated in large part by a movement to clean up the risks of un-safe, untested drugs, clear, legible, and accurate labeling holds producers to a standard of transparency and allows consumers to be informed about what they’re purchasing. Information as simple as the amount of THC in a gummy enables consumers to “dose” themselves safely and accurately, with an idea of the potency of the drugs they’re taking. And, just as the actual safety of a cannabis product is important, the label represents an opportunity to project a safe, trustworthy brand to consumers, along with cannabis packaging.

Navigating Legal Compliance with Cannabis Labeling Solutions

As a key feature of compliance, accurate labeling ensures you’re able to sell your cannabis legally, in approved adult-use retail dispensaries. Failure to label accurately and according to local or state guidelines, of course, carries the risk of fines, and means that your product cannot be sold in stores, which itself carries the risk of a broader backlash. Due to the complex nature of these requirements, more and more cannabis general software companies are including labeling in their suite of services, with some offering more thorough, advanced solutions than others. Being able to outsource the labeling hassle to software, besides ensuring compliance, frees you up to focus on the bigger picture side of things.

Ensuring Brand Transparency by Educating Consumers

Beyond adhering to legal standards, transparent weed packaging helps build trust with consumers by offering clear, accurate information regarding the product’s contents and effects. Listing not only the required THC/CBD content but also additional information like the strain and terpene profile can gain trust amid a marketplace of well-informed consumers. It’s also true that compliance labels serve as important educational tools. They provide consumers with information as to the different strains, uses, and benefits of weed. Some labels will even provide links to their website via QR codes on a label, taking full advantage of the branding opportunity.

The Case for Labeling via Cannabis ERP Software

Increasingly, cannabis owners and operators are turning to software companies for the most up-to-date, thorough and accurate, streamlined labeling process. This has to do, in part, with the sheer complexity of the labeling requirements. The offline, manual solution is inevitably prone to error. In some cases there need to be multiple labels on a single container, and states like Ohio, as mentioned earlier, can have as many as 31 required data points per label. For these reasons cannabis companies are increasingly turning to software companies for their labeling needs.

A Labeling Maturity Model

As a more systematic approach, today many companies are beginning to adopt what’s called a “maturity model,” or a system of standardized tiers of labeling, with random ad-hoc labeling at the bottom rung, and automated labeling at the top.  As the name suggests, the idea is that companies will progress through the stages of maturity as they grow in scale and sophistication. The logic of adopting a maturity model is self-evident. It helps companies identify where they are currently, and from there plot out a roadmap for development towards increasing sophistication. Here is an example of five stages of maturity for cannabis labeling. 

  1. As-Needed Labeling. In this case, labeling is done manually and on an ad-hoc basis, with minimal standardization. 
  2. Standardized Manual Labeling. As in stage 1 labeling is done manually, but by commonly established standards.
  3. Semi-Automated Labeling. At stage 3, the operation has introduced some automated tools and techniques, which might include using software for data pre-processing or quality control.
  4. Standardized Labeling Workflow. At this stage, full use of software and clearly established standards across the different stages of labeling ensure consistency of labeling output.
  5. Automation with Active Learning. At this final stage, the labeling software is itself capable of evolution, where machine learning is an internal component of the company’s labeling procedures.

Enterprise offers a similar maturity labeling model, which you can view here.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Efficient Cannabis Labeling

For a brief road map to proper labeling, take the following steps:

  • Understanding Regulations:
    • Familiarize yourself with the local, state, and federal regulations concerning cannabis labeling.
  • Selecting the Right Cannabis Labeling Software:
    • Choose a software solution that simplifies compliance and makes it easy to design and print compliant labels.
  • Investing in a Reliable Cannabis Label Printer:
    • Ensure you have a high-quality cannabis label printer that can handle the demands of your operations.
  • Regular Compliance Checks:
    • Regularly review your labeling practices to ensure they remain compliant as laws evolve.
  • Educating Your Team:
    • Ensure that your team is well-educated on the importance of compliant labeling and how to achieve it.

How Flourish Can Set You Ahead of the Labeling Curve

Not all software companies offer labeling, and of the ones that do, most offer a partial labeling option, leaving you to take care of the rest. Flourish, a full-service cannabis software company, has recently partnered with CYBRA, a barcode labeling company, to offer a comprehensive labeling service, ensuring you remain compliant without the painstaking work of offline or semi-automated labeling steps you’d need to take care of otherwise. To learn more about Flourish, its partnership with MarkMagic, and its general software offering, click here.

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