In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Since then, a booming industry has emerged, with companies competing to attract millions of new cannabis consumers. While smokeable flower remains the most popular cannabis product category, new technologies and products are quickly growing in popularity, showing that consumers are interested in new cannabis experiences.
Recreational cannabis use has always been rooted in experimentation. Now it’s moving from hobbyists and small operations to sophisticated laboratories and large-scale production. Here’s a look at what’s new—and what’s on the horizon.
The Rise of Vaping
The fastest growing product category in the cannabis industry is vaporizers, which provide a more discreet and portable way of using cannabis. Both flower and concentrates can be used for vaping, though concentrates are becoming more popular.Consumer spending on cannabis concentrates in the United Statesis projected to hit $8.4 billion by 2022, which would nearly match flower sales.
Concentrates are derived from the cannabis plant; during processing, excess plant material is removed, keeping only the desired compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes. These concentrates, also known as rosins, can then be used in disposable vape pens and prefilled cartridges, making them more convenient and portable for consumers. Other types of vaporizers are available, including devices that can sit on tabletops and pens users can load with their own concentrates.
Green Growth Brands has combined the rising popularity of vaping with the qualities of flower products that consumers enjoy. In April,its CAMP brand launched Happy Camper, a solvent-less rosin. The first solvent-less rosin in Nevada, Happy Camper is made without CO2 or butane, and has a more natural, flower-like taste compared to other concentrates.
Not Your Traditional Edibles
Despite the fact that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved edible cannabis products, many companies are trying to create innovative products that will appeal to consumers who are interested in cannabis, but opposed to smoking. This type of cannabis product comes with challenges for consumers, though; edibles may affect the body differently than smokeable products, and the effects may not be felt for hours.
However, companies are trying to make edible cannabis an easier and more predictable experience by creating dissolvable cannabinoid powders. These powders can infuse cannabis in any food or drink, including water. That creates a healthier option for consumers who are not fans of smoking or popular, sweets-based edibles. Because this powder can be controlled by consumers, individuals will be able to use the exact amount they desire. Additionally, these dissolvable powders are also faster-acting than traditional edibles.
One of the companies innovating in this space is Green Growth Brands. As a result of a business combination with Xanthic Biopharma, GGB has access to technology that will allow their brands to create new products that turn THC and CBD into water-soluble substances.
An Industry Built on Innovation
The cannabis industry’s innovative approaches don’t end at consumption methods; some are aiming to change how consumers shop for cannabis and even how cannabis is produced. Companies are attempting to create a genetics test for cannabis, similar to technologies used by 23andMe and Ancestry®. The goal of this technology is to create strains of cannabis that target specific ailments or consumer needs. Other companies are attempting to create automated cannabis kiosks that use artificial intelligence and robotic appendages to allow customers to purchase cannabis products without ever speaking to a human.
But these technologies must keep in mind that cannabis consumers are like all consumers; they want experiences and products that enhance their lives, not complicate them. As the cannabis industry expands across the country, consumers will decide what technologies they favor and which will fall to the cutting room floor.