Cannabis and Design

The intersection of cannabis and the world of design and marketing is quite interesting indeed. Traditionally, in recent history, design has served the corporate and industrial needs of the world by creating messaging and communication intended to sell sell sell. That selling has gone down a path towards more and more convenience, luxury and single use items leading to mass pollution.

On the other side, cannabis is a plant that when studied, teaches us that the natural world has much more to offer. Aside from the cannabinoid content, the oils and the nutritional and medicinal aspects of the plant, it can do nearly anything we can imagine it to do. We can use the oils of the plant to make fuel, plastics (biodegradable at that), cosmetics, adhesives, cleaners, food and more. We haven't even talked about the fiber of the plant, which is one of the strongest we have discovered in nature. It can be used to make clothing, building materials, furniture, insulation... Then imagine recombining the properties of the oil and the fiber...plywood and fiberboard, hemp post-it notes, hemp fiberglass... All the modern products that we make with oil, we can make with plants, and make it so those things are more easily absorbed back into the earth. And I have yet to mention terpenes! The chemical possibilities of cannabis are just as astounding!

The world of design is huge. We don't think about it much as we mostly take it for granted. It's like air. It's everywhere. Every screw, every bolt, every structural beam, every frame, every sign, every road, every fit and finish, design is everywhere. Architectural design, industrial design, graphic design, communication design, sound design, fashion design, product design, packaging design, all of these things have the potential to be majorly disrupted and impacted by the cannabis plant. We haven't even begun.

The revolution that is about to happen in the design world impacts all of us. What we design designs us in return, so we would all do well to really think through the consequences of our actions and to focus on our goals and make current decisions based on that. There is no excuse to put out a cannabis product in packaging that isn't 100% hemp. The only reason that hemp packaging isn't meeting the design standards of normal plastics, papers, cardboards and printing processes is because most companies settle. They settle for tree paper products because it looks better and it's cheaper. Remember the old adage, sell sell sell? Well here we are again.

Just like the organic food movement, real change will happen when consumers decide they don't care if the packaging doesn't look as good because the concept of "better" has a new definition. Better means the blacks are not necessarily the blackest when printed (yet), but the ink and paper are compostable and plant based so it returns to the natural earth more easily. It means that having shiny gold foil plastic inside of a box might have to be clear or brown for now and the consistency might not be as good, but again, It's compostable and better for us and our environment. Wouldn't it be great if 100% of our trash could convert directly to compost and mulch for farming and gardening?

We have to make the decision to tell a new story about what better is. Our concept of comfort and convenience has to change, and we have to make the demand with our dollars. If you are a consumer, look for products made from partial or 100% hemp and buy them even if the quality isn't there yet. It's a tiny sacrifice in the longterm. If you are a business, look for packaging that is hemp based and use it, even if the look and feel isn't there yet. Better yet, if you have a business that is currently in fabrics or plastics or any kind of product manufacturing, you ought to be creating your own sources or processes for more and more hemp in your products. First movers are going to win in the long run with this strategy. Use it as a story to promote your corporate responsibility. Publicly shame companies and competition not doing the same. Show your customer that their dollars are making real demonstrable change.

Tell others about why you are making these decisions and encourage them to do the same. This is how revolutions happen friends so let's stay on target.

Love and Peace,

Jesse Barney