The cannabis industry is a force to be reckoned with. Legal sales in 2021 reached $17.5 billion according to Forbes. By 2030, U.S. annual sales are expected to exceed $100 billion. Not surprisingly, the cannabis industry is one of the more highly regulated markets. Let’s explore the industry and how digital solutions can help cannabis companies increase productivity, save time, reduce errors and costs, and adhere to compliance standards.
Looking Inside the Cannabis Industry
Whether for health and medical benefits or recreational use, 68% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis. According to Forbes, the explosion of the cannabis industry can be compared to Levi’s rise in popularity during the Gold Rush, cleverly referred to as the “Green Rush.” Europe and North America are expected to make up most of this market, “valued at $39.1 billion and $37.9 billion, respectively. But other regions are also forecasted to demonstrate some impressive numbers” (Visual Capitalist).
The market is segmented by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-dominant and cannabidiol (CBD)-dominant products, or a combination. Common products for purchase are the flower, cartridges, concentrates, & extracts, edibles and topicals.
The Regulatory Challenge
Like with any consumer-packaged goods or pharmaceutical products, regulatory compliance is a top priority. However, there is a lack of consistency surrounding the legalization and use of cannabis products, making adhering to regulations anything but simple. For example, currently in the U.S., cannabis is not legal under federal law. However, it is legal under the law of 39 states and the District of Columbia. 19 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana while 20 have legalized its medical usage (MJBizDaily). The same inconsistency is true globally – where some countries have legalized cannabis completely, others have legalized its medical use only, and some haven’t legalized cannabis in any form. Keeping track of all these requirements, and associated regulations, is nothing short of complicated.
Furthermore, cannabis companies must follow good manufacturing processes (GMP). This includes safe food handling, clean facilities, and PPE for staff members. This is imperative, as following the safety regulations ensures consumers have accurate information about cannabis products (Food Safety Magazine). Additionally, cannabis companies often use multiple suppliers, posing a risk to product quality, consistency, and safety if they lack visibility into supplier processes.
Digital to the Rescue
The cannabis industry is artwork and labeling intensive. Getting these right-first-time and every time thereafter is critical. Much like the pharma industry, there is a plethora of ever-changing product content. Updating this content is often done manually, which is inherently risky and potentially costly. So, how do you keep your teams working from the same script? And how can you ensure compliance without mistakes?
This is where digital tools come in. Digital systems create traceability by tracking products, and associated content, artwork, and packaging, throughout the supply chain. This facilitates consistent and accurate submissions to regulatory bodies.
Esko’s WebCenter is a collaborative workflow solution that guides your team through the process of creating and approving artwork and labels. With the Content Management module in WebCenter, you can specify, manage, and reuse content (text, barcodes, symbols, claims, leaflets, IFUs, etc.) in packaging artwork and labels without manually copying and pasting. Reusing and approving content for regulatory bodies through WebCenter in submission-ready file formats reduces risk, increases compliance, saves time, and costs, and simplifies artwork and submission document updates. Increase speed to market by standardizing content across the entire organization and getting product content right-first-time, every time.