By Matt Gray, CEO at Herb.
When I was 14, a close friend of mine nearly lost his life. He was battling depression, and, as a result, was given a concoction of pharmaceuticals intended to help him recover. This drug cocktail, however, wasn’t effective. His depression gradually worsened, and one day he threatened his own existence.
This memory altered the course of my life. As I grew older, I continued to research. I opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about mental health, including alternative forms of treatment for ailments like depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Along the way, I discovered cannabis.
Needless to say, the plant holds a special place in my heart.
In 2013 I joined a small and talented team of two to build The Stoner’s Cookbook, a user-generated website for cooking with cannabis. As I began to build a database of recipes and community content, I noticed several interesting trends emerge. It became obvious that people were looking for a lot more information about cannabis than was readily available.
So, we created Herb.
We started with one overall vision: to shape the way the world embraces cannabis. By following the user data and interactions on the website and across social media, we broadened the scope of the platform and begin connecting people to the best products and brands in the industry.
Through the creation of authentic, tasteful, and rich cannabis experiences, Herb provides people with smart recommendations for cannabis products and information. Today, we have an engaged community of over 12 million cannabis enthusiasts worldwide.
A lot has changed since we began, however, and the cannabis industry shows no signs of slowing down. In October, Canada is legalizing edibles, beverages, vaporizers, and topicals, marking the “second wave” of legalization. New brands are popping up every day, and CBD is finding its way into everything from ice cream to hamburgers. Amidst all the noise, a few major trends stand out as cannabis makes its way into the mainstream. Cannabis Will Become Personalized And Simplified
Cannabis consumers face the paradox of choice. With the increasing number of products on the market, it becomes more difficult for cannabis consumers to discern the best products for their needs. Not only are many online resources confusing and overwhelming, but in-store experiences continue to leave many consumers in the dark. In many cases “canna-curious” consumers are left to fend for themselves, and figuring out the right dose and brand is an often ominous task.
Cannabis is an intimate and personal experience for many people—our relationship with cannabis is unique. Some people prefer high THC products to relax while others find that the same products make them paranoid and inspire a bad experience. In order for consumers to become more comfortable with cannabis, the discovery experience will need to become more personalized and “smart.”
Similar to what Spotify has done with your Daily Mix, or Netflix with movie recommendations that capture your attention, the cannabis discovery experience in-store and online will form around your unique tastes, consumption history, and desired frame of mind. This is already clear with brands like Tokyo Smoke, which launched an intent-based system for classifying cannabis products.
The intent system allows consumers to select products that cultivate specific moods, providing a framework that allows consumers to integrate cannabis into their lives. The language of cannabis becomes more approachable, and consumers are more able to use cannabis in a way that blends better into routine living.
Beverages And Edibles Will Bring A New Consumer To Cannabis
Photo by Kaya Blaze for Herb
On October 17, the second wave of cannabis is expected to roll out. Beverages, edibles, and topicals will hit the market, consumption methods that don’t require consumers to inhale. This will ignite yet another new way to experience cannabis, in formats that look more familiar to a greater number of consumers. Cannabis infused beverages are primed become part of the dining experience for those looking for a replacement to alcohol or to elevate their meal.
Already, consumers are seeing a wide range of options from the CBD sector, from infused sparkling water like Recess to smoothies, classy cocktails, and mixed drinks. Last year, Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ), the makers of Corona, made a massive investment in Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC), the largest grossing cannabis conglomerate in Canada. If speculations are accurate, more mainstream brands will follow suit. Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and Pepsi (NYSE: PEP), for example, are encouraged to enter the market and with that, their consumer expertise will lend a hand in globalizing cannabis.
Product Discovery And Education Are More Important Than Ever
Photo by Georgia Kirk for Herb
Cannabis legalization has the power to positively impact people on a global scale. Yet, there continues to be a major gap in balanced education resources that allow consumers to make informed decisions about the cannabis products they ingest. The need for education only will increase when Canadian consumers are able to access edibles.
Since 2014, Colorado experienced 269 times the rate of emergency room visits due to edibles compared to inhaled products when they standardized their sale. In Canada, cannabis-related emergency room visits are expected to increase by 67 percent after doors open to the edible cannabis market. Clearly, when consumers are able to access edibles, meaningful educational resources should be made available.
Photo by Herb
These educational resources should help consumers avoid situations where a lack of understanding causes adverse reactions. The more people know and understand the right dose for them, the better their ability to avoid negative experiences. Similarly, empowering consumers to choose the right products for their unique lives will help individuals discover what works for them and what doesn’t, an understanding that will pave the way for safe consumption in the future.
Lead photo Photo by Georgia Kirk for Herb
The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.
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