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How State Cannabis regulations effect Designers

10 Dec, 2018Category : Uncategorized
How State Cannabis regulations effect Designers

Cannabis is starting to grab the attention of big design agency’s. It is the industry of the future known as “the green rush” and as long as States can manage legalities, distribution, safety and public expectations without any federal government roll backs, it should continue nicely down this green paved road.

Just because this is a newly uncharted market doesn’t mean every design agency or freelancer knows how to maneuver the many obstacles placed on designers by state regulations.

I have been designing Cannabis brands for the last 4 years and long gone are the days of Reefer Madness and  anti-marijuana propaganda. During that short time I have seen companies evolve their brands to fit the lifestyles of their consumers and I have seen many fail or miscalculate their efforts by not understanding the ever changing marketplace.

These regulations that are NOT standard across every state. So what is approved in Colorado may not work in Nevada. This makes it difficult for companies that are in one market and looking to bring their product to another state only to find out they will have to re-design all their packaging to meet new state regulations.

single case study

The 4 week design and state regulation process I have been going
through with a client of mine in Nevada. 

The regulations were established and then developed further within a 4 week period.

For purposes of this blog I will only be giving information regarding the design process for the labels and not the entire branding project.


Time Frame: 1 week to design and print.
State Regulations in Nevada at the time required:

  • Label must state in bold letter “THIS IS A MARIJUANA PRODUCT”
  • Label indicated servings of THC measure in max 10 mg with allowable 15% variance
  • Keep out of reach of Children
  • As required by “State reg. numbers”

Problem: The client has 5 different edible products that were differentiate only by the name change. This was confusing for the customer as all the packages looked the same.



Time Frame: 1 week to design and print.
State Regulations in Nevada at the time required: Same as previous.

Solution to Problem: We decided to add a large image design element into the top corner of the labels to help differentiate the flavors. (Mint shown) We also removed the large edible text and replaced it with the flavor as well as matched every title color to the flavor. (Green for Mint)

Design Notes: This was our favorite label. I loved the large image and it really looked great when printed and on the dispensary shelves. BUT there was still one more state regulation meeting and things were about to change.

Along with making sure the packaging is meeting state regulations, we were also working very quickly to try and design a label that would make all the owners happy.


Time Frame: 1 week to design
State Regulations in Nevada at the time required: To many to list but these were the Big ones that effect designers..

  • Label must state in bold letter “THIS IS A MARIJUANA PRODUCT”
  • Label indicated EXACT servings of THC measure in max 10 mg with allowable 15% variance
  • Keep out of reach of Children
  • As required by “State reg. numbers”
  • Must not include images of fruit
  • No products in the form of lollipop or ice cream
  • No characteristics of real or fictional people, animals or fruit. Including cartoons or artistic renderings.
  • No Serif, decorative or whimsical fonts
  • No more than 2 fonts
  • No more than 3 colors
  • Avoid using marijuana slang term
  • Must include on the label

(a) The name of the marijuana establishment and its marijuana establishment license number; 

(b) The batch number; 

(c) The lot number; 

(d) The final date of harvest; 

(e) The date of final testing; 

(f) The date on which the product was packaged; 

(g) The cannabinoid profile and potency levels and terpenoid profile as determined by the marijuana testing facility, which may include the potential total THC but shall not include any other calculated level of THC; 

(h) If the product is perishable, the expiration date; and 

(i) The quantity of marijuana being sold. 


Design: To keep the branding consistent, we had to remove all our images because some of our labels had fruit, like our Raspberry chews. We also had to remove the 100mg THC and leave room for a label to be adhered after testing that states the exact THC content. A large portion of the back label had to be reworked to accommodate a post testing label as well. 

For this client the restrictions to colors and font did not really apply but I currently have 4 other clients that I am having to re-design the labels for due to these requests.

Costs: It is not cheap to have to pay print and design fees for every changing requirement.

Process: Once a label, logo or sign is designed and approved by my client,  I then have to submit everything to the state for approval. A process that can take up to 30 days

Design Notes:  We added gradients to all the flavors to add dimension to the clean monochromatic labels.

This process has been quick and frustrating at times. The limitations put on designers in Nevada is staggering. Especially seeing what is coming out of Oregon and Washington, both recreational states. California is a brand beast with great design but I am waiting to see if once recreational sales start the state begins to tighten the regulations. 



Time Frame: 1 day
A late approval letter from the State came in and we were happy with the decision. 

We submitted label 2 to the state BEFORE the new regulations regarding fruit were introduced. We were hopeful that the single raspberry image would not derail our label design efforts but just in case they came back with a NO-GO we designed label 3 and were moving forward with production.

It took the state 3 1/2 weeks to inform us of their decision but it was worth the wait and only to 1 day to update the design. Everyone is very happy with the end result and we can’t wait to see these on the shelves in Nevada.

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