What’s the Deal with Nitrogen-Sealed Marijuana? 

As states that have legalized cannabis continue to roll out new regulations on retail packaging for marijuana products, brands are scrambling to find the ultimate solution. While plastic containers are cost-effective and glass jars provide a premium feel, exposing the product to oxygen and light immediately causes the product to lose its luster.

This process of oxidation works as an accelerator for toxic growths like mold, yeast, and other harmful bacteria that could prove dangerous if smoked alongside the marijuana they inhabit.

The only way to ensure that cannabis is packaged for retail void of any oxygen is to hermetically seal the container. The process of nitrogen-sealing has been used extensively for years to package foods around the world, preserving freshness and allowing for longer transport and extended shelf life.

The nitrogen-sealing process hasn’t been widely adopted in the cannabis industry just yet, but a handful of brands are getting ahead of the wave and canning their cannabis. Henry’s Original was the first California brand that I saw selling their product in sealed cans with a soda-like pop top. Their Skywalker OG felt like it had just been trimmed, maintaining its original dense but lush texture regardless of when it went in the can.

Scott Martin, CEO of N2 Packaging Systems, who is leading the charge in adapting this tried and true storage method to the marijuana industry.

The primary benefit is preservation. We hermetically seal the container, modify the atmosphere, and prevent oxidation. We can take a product that begins to degrade very rapidly and extend the shelf life dramatically. We’ve done a one-year analysis and we’re currently conducting a five-year extended test on how long it will preserve the product.

The Lemon Tree, a highly-regarded brand from Santa Cruz, CA, is known for their connoisseur-quality flower. The brand was also an early adopter of nitrogen packing, so I spoke with Matt Rockwell, owner of The Lemon Tree, to find out why they made the switch. CEO Matt says:

We switched over so consumers could hold onto their product for an extended duration, and us as well. It stores the cannabis a lot better than a bag or jar, plus a consumer can save money by buying in bulk if they can hang onto the product longer. Plus, the cannabis smell doesn’t come through the packaging, so you don’t have to worry about getting any weird looks while walking down the street. The cans are also much lighter than jars, so it saves us money on transportation. A pound of cannabis packaged in jars weighs an additional 50 pounds, while the cans only add another two pounds.

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