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The legalization of cannabis for medicinal or recreational use is a contentious issue, but many countries across the globe are beginning to relax their stance on the drug. Canada and some Asia-Pacific countries have decriminalized use of cannabis. And although the drug is still illegal to use at a federal level, many states in the United States have also partially or fully legalized the drug. According to Ravi Panjwani at Brother, the legalized cannabis industry is due to be worth $23 billion by the end of 2022. The packaging side of the industry alone was worth half a billion dollars in 2021, and is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2024. Accompanying that growth is an expansion of the industry into areas such as dried cannabis, oils, and vaporized forms of the drug (to name a few).
This type of action is followed by the need for regulation of the new industry, and print OEMs have been working to produce technology that helps those within the industry reach the necessary compliance standards. What are producers looking for in the technology print OEMs are providing, and how is Brother leading the way on the OEMs’ response to the needs of this rapidly growing but highly regulated industry?
What Are Businesses Looking For?
The industry has a lot of moving parts—from cultivation to distribution, retail sales, and aftercare (in the medicinal sector)—and each of these parts needs to be trackable and accompanied by a paper trail for legal compliance. Therefore, providers need printing technology that is easy to deploy, in-line with legal requirements, and customizable depending on the part of the process in question. The main aspect of this printing technology concerns labelling, and OEMs are now developing scalable, portable solutions that help providers stay on top of their supply chain. It isn’t cost-effective or logistically possible to bulk order pre-printed labels within the supply chain. Providers need on-demand solutions that provide labels on the spot for every aspect of the chain. They are also looking for a device that fits their requirements in terms of size, ease of use, durability, connectivity, speed, label mounting options, reliability, flexibility, and cost.
How Is Brother Helping to Bridge the Gap?
Brother is one of the first OEMs to provide specific labelling solutions for the cannabis industry, helping providers stay ahead of their workflows. Intricate regulations and a lack of established trust between providers and consumers means that there is a need for specific solutions that cater for each stage of the production and distribution process. Brother’s series of RuggedJet mobile label printers, for example, utilize direct thermal technology as well as wireless connectivity to provide printing for barcodes, shelf labels, curbside pickup printing, shipping, and sales receipts. As providers are often required to maintain and be accountable for the transportation and logistics of their stock, as well as represent multiple brands to retailers, this kind of solution enables providers to accurately trace their product at each stage of the supply chain and provide regular updates to stakeholders to keep the workflow moving and built trust.
Keypoint Intelligence Opinion
There is no doubt that the legalized cannabis industry is big business and presents a great opportunity for print OEMs to provide technological solutions that cater to the needs of each aspect of the production and supply chains. Despite the pitfalls that producers and print OEMs need to be aware of—particularly in terms of the regional regulation and the traceability of product—the need for flexible, portable labelling solutions is great. Brother has evidently recognized this need in the market, listened to the requirements of producers, and has created a suite of products that will lead as examples to others in the print industry.
It will be interesting to see how the growing market affects other areas of the print industry and how other OEMs will respond to the printing solutions needs of cannabis producers now that Brother has thrown down the gauntlet.