Does unit-dose packaging influence understanding of serving size information for cannabis edibles?
Background: Edible cannabis products have increased in popularity, particularly in jurisdictions that have legalized non-medical cannabis. Rates of adverse events from cannabis edibles have also increased, in part due to difficulties identifying and titrating THC levels in edible products. The current study tested approaches whether packaging cannabis in separate units (‘unit-dose’ packaging) can enhance consumer understanding of serving sizes.
Methods: An experimental task was conducted as part of the 2018 International Cannabis Policy Study online survey, recruited from the Nielsen Global Insights Consumer Panel. A total of 26,894 respondents aged 16-65 years from Canada and the US were randomly assigned to view a cannabis brownie packaged according to one of three conditions: 1) multi-serving edible (whole brownie ‘control’ condition); 2) single serving edibles (brownie bites); and 3) single-serving edibles (brownie bites) packaged separately ‘unit-dose packaging’). Participants were asked to identify a standard serving based on information on the product label. Logistic regression was used to test the influence of packaging condition on the likelihood of a correct response, adjusting for key covariates (age, sex, visible minority status, education level, jurisdiction, self-reported THC knowledge, and use of edibles in past 12 months). Adjusted odds ratios (AORs) are reported.
Results: Compared to the multi-serving edible ‘control’ condition, participants were significantly more likely to correctly identify the serving size in the single serving edible condition (55.3%, AOR=1.22, 1.15-1.29, p<0.001), and the ‘unit dose packaging’ condition (54.3%, AOR=1.17, 1.10-1.24, p<0.001).
Conclusions: Packaging in which each product ‘unit’ contained one dose of THC enhanced consumers’ ability to identify how much of a product constitutes a standard serving or ‘dose’. Packaging products as individual doses eliminates the need for mental math and could reduce the risk of accidental over-ingestion of cannabis.