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The Quest for Easy-Opening Cannabis Packaging

Child-resistant cannabis packaging should be hard for kids to open — not hard for adults or medical users. 

That’s why AssurPack® is on a quest for a seemingly impossible design feat: cannabis packaging that you can open with only one hand. 

Easy-opening packaging is important for able-bodied recreational consumers too because it improves the product experience. Nobody wants packaging that’s a pain in the neck to open and close!

Here’s how AssurPack® engineers are making easy-opening packaging a reality.

Child-Resistant vs. “Senior-Friendly” Packaging

Packaging in the pharmaceutical industry has always struck a balance between safety and usability. Older consumers take more medications than younger ones, and they often have trouble with hard-to-open, child-resistant (CR) packaging.

So in response to seniors’ limited dexterity, pharmaceutical package engineers have developed senior-friendly (SF) packaging. SF packaging is easy to open for people with limited strength or arthritic hands. CR packaging, by contrast, must be hard for small hands to open. Children have the dexterity to open packages, yet they have no understanding of the danger of the contents. They can be very persistent in opening a package if they’ve consumed candy from a similar package. That’s why CR/SF packaging is so important, and why, in the US alone, approximately 165 children receive poisoning treatment every day related to pharmaceutical medications.

CR/SF Design Philosophy

Children and seniors may have similar levels of dexterity. However, seniors can perform operations that children can’t — and vice versa. Considering their respective capabilities is how we can keep kids out of an easy-opening package.

What Seniors Can Do that Kids Can’t

Both children and seniors can clamp or press on a package (such as a foil-backed blister). And both groups can bite, tear and strike a package against another surface. But children struggle to execute two motions simultaneously or understand sequential tasks. That’s why many prescription bottles employ the popular push-and-turn lid — it requires a conceptual understanding and a two-step opening process.

Some seniors and medical users are physically compromised such that they have extremely limited strength and fine-motor skills. Four-year-old children may have equal strength to manipulate some packages.

Package Size

Young children have smaller hands than adults, which makes larger items harder for them to handle. Even if they have the strength of an elderly person, the larger package size can prevent a child from accessing the contents. A larger lid — one that’s the same diameter as the bottle — is more child-resistant than a smaller one.

Literacy

Unlike young children, seniors can read, which opens up possibilities for new CR mechanisms. When a package requires two motions, simple instructions can enable seniors to open a package that’s impossible for children. 

Written instructions are preferable to large arrows indicating movement. Children may understand the meaning of an arrow — and also the direction to pull or push a CR mechanism.

Comprehension

Seniors can also understand the need for precision when opening a package. They can apply pressure to a specific area (while also performing another movement). This is the basis for packages such as the AssurPro Carton®, which features a pinch-and-slide design.

Reenvisioning Cannabis Package Design

We’re applying SF design principles to our latest packages, and reworking some old favorites too. By popular demand, we’ve reenvisioned the CR mechanism of the AssurTin®, which was a little stubborn to open.

For those who aren’t familiar with AssurTin®, it’s our patented flip-top tin designed for tablets or mints. The polypropylene lid pops into place after the tin is filled to increase production speed, and it seals our humidity for longer shelf life.

Before the redesign, consumers had to insert a finger or fingernail into a recessed space to pop open the lid while simultaneously clasping the package with the other hand. 

Now, AssurTin® opens with just one hand and a quick squeeze. Users — even seniors — can open the package by applying pressure to the tab at the outer edge of the lid. 

The design is as child-resistant as ever and protected by the same patent as before. Yet the new AssurTin® passed additional third-party lab tests to make sure it meets Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for 50-state compliance.

You can find more information about AssurTin® here.

The Cannabis Packaging of the Future

Cannabis products have unique packaging needs that prior easy-opening packages can’t fulfill. Flower, for instance, needs a remarkably airtight package to stay fresh (and CPSC certification to stay child-resistant and legal).

That’s why we created AssurSeal™. Not only are AssurSeal™ packages easy to open; they also provide the tightest seal of any cannabis package on the market. Independent laboratory testing award AssurSeal™ the USP 671 “tight” rating — the highest level of airtight protection possible.

The AssurSeal™ D-line, which is ideal for edibles and loose flower, opens with a one-handed squeeze. The AssurSeal™ M-line, which is perfect for preroll multi-packs, scores the same airtightness rating. It uses a tab mechanism, also operable with one hand.

Both AssurSeal™ models feature a flip-top design and a lid that stays attached to the package when the package is opened. That’s a key feature for one-handed operability, and it increases the likelihood that the user replaces the lid, thus ensuring true child-resistance.

For more information about AssurSeal™ and airtight packaging, make sure to check out our airtightness blog post. Or, if you’re ready to experience the new packages for yourself, contact an AssurPack® representative today.