Packaging Cannabis in Maryland

Is Glass the Past? | Re-inventing "the bag" from lick locking to modern ziplocks

Through the looking glass…

You may have noticed that many cultivators are beginning to package their flower a bit differently these days. They seem to be exchanging their rigid, structured, and sometimes overly ornate glass and plastic packaging for ziplock bags when possible. This move toward the bag is most surely a response to rising costs across the board.
In a cannabis market flush with product, will this translate into lower prices for patients or will it only serve to reduce overhead for the cultivators? 

One would think less money spent on unnecessary fluff like glass jars wrapped in hemp would allow cultivators to lower their prices to a more competitive bracket. 

Pomp and Circumstance

It is rather disheartening at worst and silly at best when you open a box to get to a plastic dram that is only one-third filled. You may wonder what you’re paying for; you may even needing to justify bringing this dram into your home by coming up with all the ways you can repurpose the tin or jar. Surely that’s worth the extra money you spent on this flower ….right?

14 grams of grand daddy purple smalls in front of strane yellow ziplock stash bagSome of the best flower I’ve had in Maryland cost less than $50 and, many times, has come in a ziplock bag, not a glass jar.

I will include Roll One’s Critical Sensei Star and District Cannabis’ Cherry Chem are two good examples
So you can get an idea of who’s packaging their flower in what, I’ve put together a list of sorts with all the different cultivators operating in Maryland and their respective packaging. YOU CAN SKIP TO THE LIST HERE.

old fashioned glass mason jar filled with cannabis buds

To be fair there is a lot to be said for glass; it does make buds look important and it can keep your flower quite fresh. I recall many times pulling buds from jars during prohibition.  In fact there was even a particular type of weed that would make its way to the Blue Ridge Mountains from the deep swampy south, a Kush I presume, and smelling of oranges called Florida Jar Weed. Still to this day growers pick glass mason jars over many other mediums in order to cure their cannabis yields to perfection.

But, at the end of the eighth what do you do with the jar? Sure, you can put your other flower in it; or even other items like change or guitar picks. But is their really a necessity for this type of vessel with a product sold in such a small incremental weights as a gram and an eighth of an ounce?

And why all the glass anyway? Back in the day, the only reason we wanted to put our herb in glass jars, was to be able to look at it. It certainly wasn’t to protect it from light; mostly since it wasn’t (and still isn’t) necessarily the kind of thing you leave just sitting around.

Also, as mentioned in the list of packaging; glass and plastic jars and drams may present an extra layer of difficulty for those suffering from, say, arthritis, carpel tunnel, or tendonitis; making it all the more difficult to access the flower. 

Lick-Locked…

I remember a time not so long ago when the ziplock was a breakthrough after years of distributing and receiving cannabis in simple cellophane baggies with no locking mechanism and offering absolutely zero barrier for odor.
When you would purchase weed it was usually in a baggie, a sandwich baggie to be specific. In order to use one for this purpose you had to first turn it inside out to get rid of all the static electricity so that the shake wouldn’t stick to the sides.

old style baggie filled with cannabis buds

Then once you had the flower nicely snug at the bottom evened out as best as you could from corner to corner, you rolled, and rolled and rolled until only the flap was left (sandwich baggies have an extended flap). Then you or someone you either knew well, or not at all, would stick out there tongue (moist or worse wet with saliva) and the licking of the bag from left to right wold begin. Then after sufficiently wet with spit, the flap was tamped down and you were good to go. gross.
I would come to call this “lick-locked”. 

Lately many Cultivators such as Kind Tree are employing ziplock bags. Since taking over the HMS line, Kind Tree has been distributing some of the HMS legacy strains like Strawberry OG and newer ones like Grapefruit Kush in their purple Kind Tree ziplock.  Harvest and now its brands Roll One and Modern Flower are also in ziplock. 1937 is one of the newer cultivators to go the route of the ziplock as well. However, both Kind Tree and 1937 still offer both Glass and Plastic screw top drams for their flower as well.

Big box, tiny gift

Prices are increased in just about every sector of the economy. Paying $65 for an eighth of flower in an ornate jar shrouded in a box does seem a bit obnoxiously extravagant from a consumer’s standpoint.
And let’s face it there are huge disparities between product to packaging ratios in a lot of instances. Remember the HMS 1/4 oz tubes that were only every 1/3 filled?
This just seems to reek of unnecessary cost where the coverage outweighs the event.

The Invisible Ink effect…

Not to mention the other issues that arise. A few very popular multi-state operators refuse to acknowledge that their terpene and potency lab test labels rub off completely at the slightest touch.

This is unacceptable from a consumer standpoint yes; But especially in a medically legal state where regulation from seed to sale can mean a mountain of red tape-compliance; well it simply flies in the face of logic and pretty much laughs in the serious brow of overbearing compliance standards.

And really, isn’t it just a bit concerning that you could be ingesting a strain to get some sleep that may have loads of pinene in it but you can’t check because well…it’s vanished? To me the use of these jars seems unneeded and for the most part screams of the notion of the coverage outweighing the event so to speak; so much so that the coverage even falters. What’s next? Lids that fall off?
Rythm label disappears (1)

missing label on verano jar

 

Shattered, Shattered…My-Doobie

shattered glass jar dram of gorilla girl sativa strain from 1937Of course glass drams are nice and they do help retain the freshness but they can also shatter on impact rendering your flower pretty much unusable; I’ve tried but there’s just no safe way to extricate the minuscule, almost imperceptible, shards of glass from the herb without running the risk of inhaling said glass shards.
This has happened to me one time and it was indeed, an unfortunate mishap; one that prevented me from being able to sample and review 1937’s Gorilla Girl on a balmy July 4th day. (Inset photo one minute after I lost the Gorilla Girl. Sad.

Ziplocks also have issues…

Even in the land of ziplocks, not all are created equal. You may have noticed that the foil interior of 1937’s ziplocks can wrinkle making it more likely to lose precious trichomes that get stuck to the surface. As seen in the photo below Strane’s new “Stash” ziplock has a much more slick surface free of wrinkles and easier to scrape remnants from.
Strane’s new ziplocks seem to exceed the others in durability in my opinion. And after a week and a half of holding roughly 10 -14 grams of GDP it remained fresh and fragrant..Not only that I reclaimed all the shake.

I1937 ziplock foil vs strane ziplock foil

 

 

Every cannabis container has its issues…

So every format has its ups and downs. I like glass but I don’t really like the opaque glass that is said to be “protecting” my flower from harmful UV rays. Really? Is there anyone reading here or otherwise that stores their drams of flower on a rooftop or sitting on a solar panel? My guess would be that the black glass is less refined recycled glass and cheaper to use. So, yeah…
Plus, it’s bad enough we can’t purchase deli style anymore; now we can’t even see it from the bottom of the jar after purchase.
All in all it’s hard to argue against the ziplock. It is an easy format to store and transport. The more heavy duty examples like Strane and Kind Tree will indeed preserve aroma and freshness.
The downside is that because the ziplock lacks a hard shell, the bud material can be easily crushed causing precious trichomes to be stuck on the bag itself and rendered unusable. Often, more of this material is lost than if the flower were just kept in a hardshell dram. And, much like the other types, ziplocks can present a challenge when attempting to retrieve the last remnants of your stash.  But using the ziplock they way it is intended will surely elongate the freshness of your flower just as much if not more than a glass or plastic hardshell dram.

In Conclusion…

So, we probably haven’t seen the end of glass drams…maybe plastic, but not glass… Especially if the market is every tiered between medical and recreational… or even if it goes complete recreational or stays medical. And this is because cultivators will always need ways to differentiate their product and establish its quality. Glass does say high end and that’s probably not gonna change. Maybe a buy back program with coupon incentives for returning glass and plastic drams to be recycled and re-used as cannabis drams again? There are such programs such as the High 5 Initiative. In fact Oceanside Dispensary and Ethos are two dispensaries in Maryland where you can participate (no point systems or sales incentives are attached to this program but you’ll unload the mountain of drams you may have hiding in your home. Here is the program as it is advertised at Oceanside in Pasadena.

highfiverecyclinginitiative

I hope that we can see the majority of the flower, especially the preroll and the eighth be sold in ziplocks. And hopefully this help keep costs down and translate into lower prices; all while still securing freshness.

CURRENT PACKAGING EMPLOYED by Maryland Cannabis Cultivators AS OF JAN 2022

Curio 

CURIO DRAM

Plastic Dram with lever lid. This is one of the first I encountered in Maryland and it is maybe the only one besides the Grassroots dram that hasn’t changed a lick. These little drams don’t scream dress-up and they have some built in functionality in the form of a retractable lever nestled in the lid which can be pulled out to help you pry it open lowering the risk of any spillage.

Culta

Culta dram

Glass Dram – Recently updated with a rounder edge but a glass dram nonetheless. Smaller yes, easier to get shake from and feel as if you aren’t leaving any material behind …but a heavy jar in the end.

The west coast looking back with a glass jar, decorative screw top, and outer box and complete with graphic work all the way around; even a mock set list;

garcia handpicked flower box and jar

I’m not sure I need this; I say this with a large box of bootlegs, a lot of memories of parking lots and darkened shows, a lot of miles down the road, complete with some stories, scars, and a gray hair or two, and I really don’t think I appreciate this…I thought I did…But I’m not convinced yet.
Maybe someone appreciates it. Why do I feel like Jerry wouldn’t? Definitely Pig Pen wouldn’t. In fact I can’t even see Bobby liking this much. Oh well. Further down the golden road…

bob weir gives the fingerGrateful dead early photo with pig pen

1937 

Glass Jar in box & Zip Lock. I can only give 1937 3 out of 5 at best because they are still hanging on to the ornate and unnecessary black jar…..and for what? Bruce Banner?  

District Cannabis 

Ziplock. My only experiences with DC have involved ziplocks and they are nice ones I might add. Quite effective at dampening even the dankest batch of their famed Cherry Chem 

Evermore

 

Wide Cylindrical Dram with screw top lid. Not much has changed here. Although I feel at one point I did see a ziplock or two I’m wholly unsure whether Evermore has ever strayed from their Mickie’s Big Mouth style plastic dram.

buds of sunset octane by evermore in front of evermore purple label black plastic jar with strain name in cream and lineage info on label

ForwardGro

Cylindrical Plastic Dram with attached lid (Black). Essentially the same as gLeaf. These are maybe the second most economical packaging along with the ziplock employed by others. It does keep the aroma in and fresh enough for as long as I keep it around…which isn’t long it at all really. Which should tell you that if I’m saying certain drams don’t seem to preserve the flower; they really don’t preserve the flower that well at all.
forward gro container

gLeaf

gLeaf hasn’t changed much either resembling the Forward Gro dram. And based on the quality of their flower, I’d say it’s working quite well for them. gLeaf grows solid strains like Blueberry Skunk, Pineapple Skunk, and many more.
gleaf container

 

Grassroots

Squared-off plastic dram (Black). Even though they’ve recently be purchased they’ve kept their branding the same for now. And really I’ve always liked their drams for the same reasons I appreciate Curio’s as well.

grassroots cannabis drams small gram and eighth version

These babies used to be capable of  snuffing out the stench of Garlic Cookies. However, even though Curaleaf hasn’t made Grassroots change their container style since acquiring them but these days the drams do seem to be made of a thinner plastic that may not be as effective of an aroma suppressant. They still come in the two sizes; the one gram (left) and the eighth dram (right).

Grow West

Metal Tin. Well here we are at Grow West. Maybe the most thoughtful of the Cultivators for providing us with a complimentary BOVEDA TERPENE PACK right next to the flower sealed in cellophane and all of it cozy in a form fitted cupcake insert that wouldn’t you know has a quote written on it. OK cool. I think we all like seeing the Grow West tin.

grow west tingrow west container tin

It looks classic. It feels classic. And it probably doesn’t cost much to make. But the insides reek of extra. Do we need the cupcake insert AND the wrapper? maybe just pack your flower ziplock instead of throwing a desiccant in what is clearly not an air tight container…it does seem like a futile overkill no? 

Harvest

The original Ziplock cannabis eighth in Maryland, at least to my recollection.
What at first seemed to be some cost-cutting packaging to further offset the price of some low to mid-grade cannabis soon became brand recognition for me once I had their Secret Weapon and Blue Dream. When they branched off with their new brands Roll One and Modern Flower I stayed tuned and I’m glad I did. These days there is only Roll One and Modern Flower carrying the banner for Harvest with Avenue retaining their top shelf spot and still sporting a glass dram.

    • Roll OneZiplock 

roll one

    • Modern Flower-Ziplock (It has an outer box for added effect but I’d still say they are doing away with costly extras 

modern flower

    • Avenue-A glass dram is reserved for such strains as Orange Octane and Marshmallow…basically any flower that Harvest deems to be worthy. I don’t always agree.

avenue cannabis glass jar

Kind Tree

Wide Cylindrical Dram with screw top lid & now new and improved lavender colored Ziplock bags.

kind tree ziplock

There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason here whereas a Cultivator like Harvest saves their Glass jar presentation for their higher ended “Avenue” brand, Kind Tree just seems to be slowly switching out all hardshell screw top plastic jar drams for these air tight ziplocks 

 

Nature’s Heritage

Glass Jar with faux wooden screw top lid; sometimes wrapped in burlap? Great flower – I could do without the faux natural presentation 

natures heritage bottle

natures heritage jar with faux wood lid

Rythm

Glass Puck: heavy, cumbersome, easy to break, complete with disappearing ink used on the lab testing label. The container is black and the print is silver so when it rubs off with the slightest touch it doesn’t seem to have the lasting power of even a scratch off lotto ticket. I have empty drams of Rythm that have zero indication of whats inside.

rythm dram

 

Strane

Metal Dram & Ziplock used in the 14 gram / half-ounce bags (pictured at the beginning of the article and again below) for now in their “Stash” series.Hopefully it will migrate down to the eighth but as stated Strane’s has maybe the best of the hard shell puck drams.  

strane snow monster dram14 grams of grand daddy purple smalls in front of strane yellow ziplock stash bag

SunMed Growers

Squared Plastic Dram mach like Grassroots (White) again like Grassroots just white and just as good at keeping your flower fresh.  

jacked up

Verano

Glass Jars only but nice ones at that. Although these days opaque black like 1937,  Culta, and the like… I believe one could make the argument that Verano employees packing this flower aren’t as equipped to find mistakes since they themselves cannot see inside the dram before it leaves with a delivery driver. I also don’t think Verano is alone in this and every cultivator with a black opaque dram runs the risk of letting below standard flower out door…going unnoticed. Verano, like GTI’s Rythm has also received labels that seem to be rendered in disappearing ink. This wasn’t always this way. I think Verano would be better off using ziplocks or plastic and making sure the info stays on the package.
needs better labels. Only available in glass. Still it is very durable glass but still unneeded. And there are issues with the ink on the labels.

thai g verano

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