February 19, 2019

CBD Package Design and Labeling Tips

We have developed some of the leading brands in this industry and without a doubt, it’s a good time to be in the CBD market.

Joyful Hemp Design by SmashBrand

The legal cannabis market is expected to reach $57 billion by 2027, and companies of all kinds are desperate to capitalize on the trend. Cannabidiol (CBD) products in particular are becoming mainstream, with hemp-based CBD products now legal in all 50 states.

But if you’re selling CBD, you need to tread lightly in how you market yourself—particularly when it comes to your packaging. CBD package design isn’t just a matter of aesthetics; it’s a matter of legal compliance. And as CBD products fit neatly into the “not quite a medicine, not quite a supplement” niche, there’s plenty of confusion about what’s required from companies in their CBD package design.

Design Considerations for CBD Package Design

This confusion is the problem – as CBD is derived from marijuana (which is still illegal at the federal level), the government is scrutinizing companies that sell products even REMOTELY related to cannabis.

Companies that sell CBD products need to be careful about what they put on their packaging, both for the sake of their customers and to avoid getting slapped down by federal regulators trying to send a message. With legal marijuana tentatively taking hold in the west, countries around the world are watching to see how regulation is handled—and for companies interested in getting in on the action, there’s a lot at stake.

Let’s walk through the basics of what you’ll need to include in your CBD package design.

Is It a Food or a Supplement?

One of the first determinants of your CBD packaging design is whether the product is more a food or a supplement. This might sound like an easy question to answer, but it’s not so simple in practice.

CBD products come in all varieties: oils, gels, edibles, drinks, and capsules, just to name a few. Of course, there’s some confusion about what constitutes a “supplement” these days. Oil is a type of food, so isn’t CBD-infused oil considered a food product?

Not necessarily. In fact, the FDA has been frustratingly silent on how CBD products should structure their labels to comply with federal regulation. Companies need to play it safe and be extra compliant in this regard.

Depending on what your specific CBD product is, you’ll either need to use an FDA-approved supplement label or food label.

Elements to Include

Once you’ve defined your product in the eyes of the FDA, you can move onto the more concrete elements that must be included in CBD package design:

  1. Identity statement: This tells shoppers what exactly the product is. For example, “dietary supplement”, “hemp extract”, “herbal supplement”, etc.

  2. Net quantity of contents statement: Like most products, sellers must identify the number/volume of the product; “60 capsules” or “12 ounces.”

  3. Ingredient statement: Similar to what you’d find on a nutrition label, manufacturers must list every ingredient in their product, in descending order, based on which components are most prevalent in the product.
  1. Responsibility statement: This details the name of your business, your location, where the product itself was manufactured, and where it was tested.

  2. Nutrition statement: Many products will require a “nutrition label” or “supplement label” that outlines any information not listed above.

Of course, you’ll also need to highlight the amount/potency of the active CBD ingredients in your product. For example, list the total amount of hemp extract oil in each serving or provide a rundown of every individual cannabinoid included in the product.

State-Specific Regulations

Note that different states have specific labelling regulations for these types of products.

For example, the state of Indiana passed a law last year requiring CBD packaging design to feature QR codes that direct users to detailed rundowns of each product, including its batch number, ingredients, expiration date, and information about its independent lab analysis.

While CBD manufacturers should have plenty of advance notice for these issues, bear in mind that these regulations are changing fast across the country. Even if your packaging is compliant this year, it could change next year, so make sure you keep up-to-date with local regulations.

A Warning About Highlighting CBD

Naturally, you’ll need to mention CBD in your packaging, but be careful about highlighting it too heavily in your design without additional supporting information.

If you simply splash “CBD” across the front of your packaging, consumers passing by won’t know exactly what you’re selling. They may assume that you’re selling a CBD isolate, when in fact, you’re selling a full-spectrum cannabinoid product. This issue comes back to simplicity and accuracy in labeling. CBD products have plenty of medical uses, and it’s important that consumers know what they’re getting when they buy.

Designing a Package Around Changing Regulations

It’s an exciting time for the cannabis industry, and there’s no telling what the future will hold. Companies that sell CBD products are setting standards that are being scrutinized across the industry—and today’s best practices may be tomorrow’s regulations. If you’re selling CBD products, you should play it safe and do plenty of research on your packaging requirements. When in doubt, follow the FDA’s guidelines for food and supplement labelling.

Doing so may help keep you off the federal government’s radar—but just as importantly, it’ll help establish your CBD brand as a company that’s professional enough to responsibly sell cannabis-derived products.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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