[Call for Entries: The HOW Logo Design Awards]
Lowell Herb Co is a cannabis brand in southern California known especially for its pre-rolled packs. If you read the Los Angeles Times or watch Jimmy Kimmel, you may have heard of Lowell before. The company earned widespread media attention for its Coachella Cannabis Flower Crown and Valentine’s Day Cannabis Bouquet.
Lowell has a pretty exciting—and a bit tall—backstory too:
Lowell Farms legend has it in the spring of 1909, William “Bull” Lowell began growing what was called Indian Hemp on his farm on the central coast of California. A devious man by the name of Henry J. Finger took a dislike to Bull’s “marihuana being smoked by the wrong kinds of people”. So Finger conspired to outlaw cannabis and later helped pass the 1913 Poison Act (true story). But “Bull” Lowell believed in a man’s right to smoke the dried plant and enjoy its benefits. When the stubborn Bull refused to stop growing his beloved plant, Finger shut down Bull’s farm and later threw him in jail, ushering in the next 100 years of cannabis prohibition. The Finger beat The Bull. (Fun fact: As punishment Henry J. Finger had Lowell’s head transformed into the head of a bull (whether surgically or magically it isn’t clear) until the end of his days… or so smoked legend has it. The evidence is in the portrait of Bull Lowell emblazoned on every pack.)
And it’s that packaging for Lowell’s core products, designed in-house, that shows the company’s design-forward thinking. Every pack is printed in the US on vintage Saroglia equipment. The packs feature holographic tri-foil security seals, special multiple etch dye, blind letterpress and are packaged in recyclable craft paper.
Sean, co-partner at Lowell Farms, took the time to share his thoughts on the company’s flagship cannabis packaging design:
What unique considerations are required when designing packaging for cannabis products?
We wanted to take into account, in order of importance:
1. Preserve the freshness of the flower
2. Preserve the purity of the flower
3. Make the product feel good in your hand and pocket
4. Communicate our company heritage and ethos
Did you intentionally echo cigarette packaging in the shape of the boxes? If so, why was this a goal?
We wanted something that felt both new and familiar. Everyone was doing single joints, but we wanted people to have enough Lowell’s in their pocket to share with their friends and family, so in the end we set out to reinvent the cigarette pack for cannabis… [I]n a way, that sacrificed a little bit of convenience and ease of use for an experience that felt a little more special and an enclosure that kept the flowers very fresh as long as possible.
Please tell me about the color and paper choices you used for the packaging. For example, your packaging differs from other cannabis product packaging, which tends to feature bright oranges and greens, but yours is more understated. What prompted that choice?
Our colors were dictated by our materials. While most cannabis is packaged in plastic or metal manufactured in China that is neither food safe nor chemically inert, we began our packaging with food safe inert materials like French waxed parchment paper and Americna made recycled kraft board. Those materials were chosen to preserve the purity of our flowers and they dictated the aesthetic of our packaging. We also believe our pledge, which we boldly print on our packs, communicates our brand ideals better than any of the flashy legacy stoner designs you see on cannabis packaging out there.
Why was it important to include Lowell’s story on the packaging interior?
Bull Lowell’s story is a parable with multiple truths and lessons depending on how deeply you read into it. We hope his story inspires our smokers.
Are these products sold only in California? Are there plans to distribute them in other states where it is legal?
For now just California with no other plans right now.
Did you encounter any challenges or restrictions when designing packaging for an industry that isn’t federally legal?
Far less challenges than Bull Lowell faced from Henry J. Finger, and we are grateful for the sacrifice he and everyone else made over the last 100 years that got us to a day where we can be legally growing and sharing a plant we all love so much.