Printing the Future of Cannabis
As legal medical and adult-use cannabis sales and businesses grow, a number of ancillary businesses must certainly grow alongside them. Every cannabis product requires cannabis packaging that specifically adheres to the laws and regulation governing its distribution in the particular city, state, and country in which it is being sold.
These regulatory packaging challenges are certainly exacerbated by the lack of Federal regulation of these products, meaning that 50 different states in the US will each have 50 different sets of rules governing packaging regulations.
To combat some of the challenges these diverging regulations present, some cannabis product manufacturers are turning towards the future. 3-Dimensional Printing is a production technique that had been in development since the turn of the millennium, and was perfected for both commercial and private use in the past decade. Micro printers are available for purchase and every-day use for any ordinary person, little to no experience necessary to operate.
Now, small cannabis business owners are using these 3D printers to actually print their own compliant packaging (1). Green Technology Solutions (GTSO) is one such cannabis-related business that intends to support the development of the small cannabis business community. They hope that by developing 3D printing solutions to packaging, cannabis businesses will be able to produce their own, compliant packaging solutions which have the added benefit of being unique and not just the same as the packaging solutions used by their competitors. After all, differentiation is key in consumer products.
Traditional 3D printing is not the only application in which the technology can be feasible in the cannabis industry. 3D printing can also be applied in non-standard areas. Taking a page out of the biomedical industry handbook, Manna Molecular Science is using 3D printers to infuse cannabis and CBD oil into transdermal patches (2). What MMS is doing is using 3D printing technology to actually print, layer-by-layer, a fully serviceable cannabis patch that can accurately and directly dose a patient.
One benefit of using patches are direct patch-to-nerve transfer, without the need for systemic effects bypassing both the lungs and the liver systems. The other benefit is that patches allow you to apply the healing cannabinoids and terpenes exactly where they are needed. This is especially useful for the periphery of our limbs, where blood flow is minimal. An innovative use of technology indeed.
The final instance of truly exciting use of 3D printing in the cannabis industry is printing edibles. That’s right: printing. Edibles. These two geniuses over at Potent Ropes actually figured out how to infuse activated, decarboxylated cannabis oil into an edible plastic. This plastic can then be processed by any regular 3D printer into whatever shape you want!
Think about the exciting possibilities. A company could custom-make edibles for their clients for events like birthdays, 4/20 parties, or whatever else the client wants. With the technology, businesses could print their logos out. And of course with 3D printing, the dosing becomes much more reliable. When cannabis oil is added to the edible polymer, it is distributed evenly in the mixture. The exact amount of THC in each edible can then be measured by the mass of plastic you have printed out.
The future holds exciting things for the cannabis industry, and we believe 3D printing has a place right in that future. Whether its printing edibles, making patches, or designing your own packaging, the matrices of the future will be just as green as the growing cannabis business will be.