Why Is Childproof Cannabis Packaging So Damn Hard to Open?

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After a stressful week, all I wanted to do was kick back, relax, and eat 10 to 20 milligrams worth of THC from a tin of weed gummies. But there was just one problem: I couldn’t get past the childproof packaging. After many failed attempts to push down and twist them into submission, I was out of ideas. Could I hire someone on Task Rabbit for this or is it more of a boyfriend job? When I took it up with Google, all I found was more cannabis users raising the same questions. 

“Either I’m a child or this container is child- and adult-proof,” one Reddit user wrote. And she's not the only one. Whether it’s edibles, pre-rolls, vape cartridges, flower, or any other cannabis product, it seems that getting into a cannabis container has become increasingly more challenging as childproof packaging evolves.

“Childproof packaging in the cannabis industry is unlike any childproof packaging for actual prescription narcotic drugs."

“Childproof packaging in the cannabis industry is unlike any childproof packaging for actual prescription narcotic drugs,” entrepreneur Shauneen Militello tells me. In her experience as the founder of the cannabis skincare line Beauxcanna and co-founder of the cannabis microbusiness CRC Distro (which owns several dispensaries), she’s never had any difficulties opening childproof bottles of pharmaceuticals. “And yet I have struggled 100 percent of the time with cannabis packaging for edibles and vapes,” she says. 

Up until recently, the standard childproofing of cannabis was an opaque childproof ziplock bag—otherwise known as an “exit bag”—that dispensaries were responsible for putting cannabis products into before customers could leave the store. When an adult couldn’t figure out how to open an exit bag at home, they could simply use scissors to solve the problem.  

There is a vast amount of variation when it comes to the childproof packaging of cannabis products, unlike the standard pill bottle that most adults have already figured out.

While states such as Nevada still adhere to that standard, other states like Illinois now require childproof packaging on the products themselves. Likewise, many cannabis brands have moved towards childproofing their products either way. As a result, there is a vast amount of variation when it comes to the childproof packaging of cannabis products, unlike the standard pill bottle that most adults have already figured out. For the many medical cannabis users who struggle with arthritis, pain, and other health problems that limit dexterity, this has become a problem.

“These maladies inhibit the dexterity required to open certain childproof packaging,” Steve Lopez, CEO of The Green Solution dispensary in Colorado, says. “Consequently, we do get complaints, but our customers also realize that these are regulated products and that the State of Colorado determines these precautions.” 

Vapes and Edibles Are The Most Difficult

Lopez and Militello agree that regardless of variation, the childproof packaging for vape cartridges and edibles are the most difficult to open, likely because they’re more appealing to children and consequently more dangerous.

“Vape cartridges tend to be the most difficult to design and for customers to easily understand how to open,” Lopes says. “The cartridges go into cardboard boxes with two release points that need to be depressed and then need to slide to insert the product.”

Try, Try Again

Although it would definitely be illegal for a budtender to open any cannabis products for a consumer, Lopez recommends that people who struggle with opening childproof packaging ask dispensaries for tips on opening their goodies once they get home. But when I ask experts for practical tips on opening finicky childproof containers, their solutions are surprisingly straightforward. Like an old TV, the consensus with childproof cannabis packaging seems to be, hit it until it works. 

“Scissors, razor blades, and pliers are common solutions that our older customers mention utilizing,” Lopez adds. 

Militello recommends similarly aggressive strategies. “For edibles, I go straight to the scissors or knife to open,” she says. 

Remember, Deep Breaths

But before you take a chainsaw to your tin of edibles, Jessica Nelson, compliance manager for The Source dispensary in Nevada, recommends taking a deep breath first. “Frustration plays a major part when it comes to difficult packaging,” Nelson warns. “Add in the excitement of getting to the cannabis quickly and you have a recipe for disaster.”

Ultimately Nelson’s advice worked best for me. The next day, when I was less stressed out, I was able to open the tin of weed gummies without issue. Still, I didn’t want to get high at that moment, which is where Militello’s best advice came into play. “If you don’t have any kids, or any concern of kids getting to your products, take it out of the packaging and put it in another container,” she says. So I transferred my gummies to a mason jar and thanked myself later. Then, once I was good and high, I bought a sharper knife for my next tin. Just in case. 

To Open Miss Grass Minis Pre-roll Boxes

To open your Minis box, press the tabs on the back that say “Push Us” while simultaneously pulling down on the ribbon tab. A magic drawer will open and voila!—5 Miss Grass Minis just waiting to enjoy. Use a match from the included matchbox to light one up. High.

To Open Miss Grass Flower Bags

Open the bag using the thumb-slot at the top. It’s child-resistant, so don’t stress. Slide thumb into slot, and pull open like a potato chip bag. Once you’re in, inhale the fragrance. Choose your nugs, separate the stems, break the buds, or just grind it up. Roll your own, pack a bowl, ready the bong. Light. Inhale. High. You really can’t go wrong.
Lauren Vinopal is a comedian and writer based out of New York City, by way of Chicago. She writes about health, psychology, and men, and performs stand up at her show Mid Riff Comedy in Brooklyn.