Don’t call it a comeback! QR codes, whether you like to use them or not, have been used more since the pandemic. Marketers and package designers in the cannabis industry are recognizing their potential for communicating messages and unique experiences to their customers that could be both entertaining and educational. 

We can see in section 123.1 (f) and 116 (1) of the Cannabis Act regulations that it states that “Feature that is visible only through technological means unless, in the case of containers or coverings, it is used to prevent counterfeiting.”

Where there is merit in this regulation, it is extremely vague and many companies have faced backlash from Health Canada for using QR codes in their packaging. 

Joint Venture’s QR Crisis 

At Joint Venture Craft Cannabis, they would like to make as much information available to consumers as we can with and without the tech – and it would be an incredibly easy way for us to give consumers the ability to find this information with a scan of a QR code. All the information that they had accessible via QR code is readily available on their website – the QR code was simply provided as a shortcut.  

Essentially if they made the information available on the label and the QR code repeated the same information, there would not have been an issue.

Making more information available to tech-savvy consumers and not to those who were unable to access it ‘via technological means’ was the concern.

Despite Joint Venture Craft Cannabis’ best efforts to further educate consumers, they were told by Health Canada to remove QR codes.

“When consumers are blinded by opaque packaging and unable to make an informed choice at point of sale, it would have been wonderful to provide them with more information via a QR code so they could learn more about who grew the product and special aspects about the product that are available on our website. It is asinine that consumers cannot buy a product in an age gated store and scan a QR code on the product that would take them to an age gated website. These marketing restrictions do nothing to reduce stigma, but continue to present cannabis in an unsavory light as a bad drug that must be hidden in shame.”

Janeen Davis, Director of Sales for Joint Venture Craft Cannabis

What Can Cannabis Brands do with QR Codes?

We spoke with Stephaine Martens from Flamingo Consulting Ltd., who explained the benefits of QR codes on cannabis packaging. Remember that QR codes are just another tool for your brand strategy. 

Our first thoughts for QR codes are that they can share information and educate the consumer about the brand or product. This can help consumers make better consumption decisions and essential help fight the stigma around cannabis. 

  1. Terpenes and cultivar information 
  2. Information about the farm, farmers, growing, and harvest information.
  3. Brand related content

On the compliance side, QR codes could be used for:

  1. Monitoring recycling
  2. Package deposit + refund programs
  3. Supply chain support
  4. Digital Watermarks

Revisions & Potential

Fortunately, The Cannabis Act is currently undergoing provisions for amendment and packaging is one of the areas where cannabis consumers, brands, and marketers could benefit from a little regulation leniency. If the governments stance on using technology to better educate cannabis consumers changes, we may see QR codes begin to appear on more packaging.

Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by ADCANN

Spencer Tropea

Spencer Tropea

Spencer Tropea is a seasoned creative and certified cannabis sommelier with 15 years of experience in PR, design, and photography. He's worked with several prominent cannabis brands across North America, using his unique skills to craft engaging narratives that breathe life into the industry and the passionate people invloved.