EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of our ongoing coverage of the best in marijuana design and packaging, MJNewsNetwork asked MIT-trained engineer Michael O’Malley to tell us how he came up with a better rolling paper.
The Rolling Papers Industry and Curved Papers Manufacturing
Our package design was born of necessity, like many inventions. I had to make Curved Papers myself; they are a true innovation, and no one was set up to make them when we started. It is a non-trivial issue to introduce fundamental innovation in a big established industry.
In the way I came up with to make them, the packaging is integral. For decades now, most papers come interleaved.
But some are still sold flat. We have been able to use the flat papers to prepare the Curved Papers booklets.
I developed a post-process to cut rectangular booklets of flat papers that were complete except for the easy to roll curved edge. The package and the papers are the same shape, and we cut the papers right in the package.
Package and Label, and Contents
If we could deliver the product without a package, that would be preferable in some ways. This is one of our guiding principles. If you take all 50 leaves out of a fresh pack of Curved Papers package, in your other hand is the packaging. It’s trash. It should be minimal and recyclable. Reduce, re-use, recycle!
I’ve seen so much bad packaging from this standpoint already in the tobacco and cannabis aspects of the rolling papers industry. On the tobacco side, they strain for innovation, and have come out with a lot of really horribly un-ecological stuff, like heavy disposable packaging that has metal or plastic hinges and a magnet clasp. We have tried to stay away from any plastic or metal and we’re trying to source more and more eco-friendly adhesives for the one spot where we stick the sleeve together. We may be able to solve that with an interlocking tab approach. We keep working at it.
Packaging should normally be informative about its contents. Curved Papers package reveals the Easy To Roll Curved Edge.
Recycling is a huge frontier for humanity. I believe all packaging should be designed for its entire life cycle. There are many great ideas percolating in this regard. I have seen plastic six-pack holders that were made of edible hemp plastic, so that instead of strangling sea turtles, it feeds them. Our packaging is paper, and could be made of hemp. In any case, it’s readily recyclable. And we print “don’t litter” and “recycle” on it. We are going to keep on getting better at it.
Plastic bottled water is the single biggest disaster in packaging history.
A critical aspect of the packaging is what we draw and write on it. On the branding front we have developed the name and logo and colors (navy and purple), and the purple smoke motif, homage to Jimi Hendrix. Curved is a big word. Not only the package shows the shape of the papers, the logo shows the curved edge. It’s all pretty smiley.
We’ve now done Curved Canada and Curved Mexico in response to political events. We have the ability to white label topically, to be journalistic; and for commercial purposes, too, to print branded Curved Papers as promotional items, or to private label for licensees. The package has become a platform.
As one of the oldest industries, rolling papers has a rich history of evolving packaging design. My friend, Paul Rolhom, has a collection of 13,500 booklets from as far back as the early 1700′s. They are amazing. So we wanted to have a beautiful enough package to be compared in such a grand tradition. We have been included in Paul’s amazing collection.
Actually, we’re in kind of a golden age on the cannabis side, and this rolling paper package tradition goes forward. Everybody and their kin can now each easily have their own branded papers, and this has been a lot of fun the past couple of years. You can even print on the rolling papers now. Who would want to do that? People smoke weird things, but ink? Makes no sense. There are so many bad ideas out there.
There are all kinds of local and regional and international standards and they are constantly changing. Everywhere you go, there are different regulations, and you have to have a certain level of business in the area to justify the separate print jobs required for specific compliant text and markings
Other Good Ideas on Packaging from Curved Papers
- HEMP Tube
I have to talk about a pet peeve and mystery that is bothering me. When I first visited Denver, for the first MJBA Denver Meetup, I went to a dispensary and tried to buy a joint. The whole experience was interesting, after buying weed on the streets of New York and Boston my whole life. The packaging aspect of it was perplexing. First of all, you couldn’t get a joint, you had to buy a cone. It’s funny how people have strong preferences about these things. After all, it’s a habit. Habits are easy to develop, and hard to change. But I hate cones. Cones are for people who can’t roll joints. They make no sense otherwise. The most horrifying thing was that the wretched cone came in a big PLASTIC tube, bigger than it really had to be, too, since it should have been for a joint, not a cone. It was huge. Curved Papers has developed a new product, a sleek tube that holds one joint, and is made of biodegradable HEMP.
I would like to know the politics and economics of how the people who got the contracts to produce pre-packaged doobies got them, and how they came to introduce cones as the standard, and plastic tubes. I think the FDA may have been involved and required the plastic tubes? Any investigative journalists from Colorado want to help me out?
- Curved Blunts
We also see the beauty of having the cigarette wrap be made of the same material as the smoking material, like hemp or tobacco. Of course it’s quite popular to mix them. Hence our other new product: CURVED BLUNTS.
- Hemp Wear
We have begun a new t-shirt joint venture to provide a platform for a t-shirt museum and on-demand one-off t-shirt printing, with crowd-pricing for popular styles. Pushing the brand out through appropriate product and merchandise channels is another revenue opportunity.
A Hierarchy of Packaging Values
Integrated Product Enhancement: Packaging exists first and foremost to optimize the delivery of the product.
Sustainability: Too much packaging is generally bad. More contents, less packaging. Green packaging.
Brand Manifestation: Packaging is often the most important, and is clearly a literal, branding touch point.
Compliance: There are regulatory packaging and labeling requirements which must be fulfilled by packaging.