As cannabis continues its steady march of legalization across the United States (see chartfor the state-by-state legalization status of cannabis as of April 2024), the cannabis industry continues to boom. In fact, according to Pew Research, 79% of Americans have at least one cannabis dispensary in their county. This creates a unique opportunity for printers to cater to this market.

Not only are many cannabis dispensaries small sole proprietorships, making it easier than usual to reach the decision-maker, but many of these shops are selling their own branded products. As small businesses, many are printing their own labels in-house on small desktop label printers and applying the labels to their packaging by hand. Often, shop owners have no idea about the ultra-short-run capabilities of digital packaging presses and just assume professionally printed labels are out of reach.

Nor have many even considered the new merchandising opportunities that commercial digital packaging and label presses can offer, such as the ability to create limited edition packaging for special events (such as local music festivals) or create private label cannabis brands for other shops and organizations, such as local retirement homes.

(Retirement homes? No, we’re not kidding. With the growth in use of cannabis among retirees to manage pain, improve sleep, and manage anxiety, this is a growing market within the market.)

Why the Cannabis Opportunities Are Booming

The legalization of cannabis all over the country has created tremendous opportunity for cannabis packaging and labels.

Just consider the following:

  • From Alaska to Maine, there are more states that have fully legalized cannabis than have not.
  • Even traditionally conservative states like Arkansas, Kentucky, and Illinois have made cannabis either fully legal or have mixed legalization, such as for CBD oil only.
  • There are only six states in which cannabis remains fully illegal.
  • Most dispensaries are small businesses, and their buying quantity is small, too. This makes them a prime target audience for digital packaging and labels.
  • Further, because many dispensaries are printing their labels in-house, there is no competitor to deal with. It’s simply a matter of education.

Get Out There and Sell!

In addition to reaching out to local dispensaries, consider the doors open at cannabis industry trade shows and events. (For example, see MyGrassland’s list of the best cannabis events for 2024.) Here you can meet the owners and operators of these dispensaries face to face…and you can pretty much be guaranteed you won’t see much—if any—of your competition there. 

It's not often that a brand new market pops up and offers all but a blank slate for printers to serve, so stop in at your local dispensary sometime. See the variety of products they offer. Ask which products they are producing in-house and how they package and label them. The transition offering them professional packaging and labeling services might be easier than you think.