Cannabis culture is changing almost by the day as big brands like Molson-Coors and Estée Lauder release plans to enter the market, and products like sublingual cannabis strips change perceptions of how you can consume cannabis.
To find out what's next for cannabis culture, we asked insiders to weigh in on the big trends they're seeing right now.
“We are seeing a rapidly growing interest in terpenes," Tran told Civilized. "Cannabis consumers are not only asking about THC and CBD percentages when they step through the doors of their favorite brick-and-mortar shops and dispensaries, but are turning their interests towards the terpene profiles found in their most coveted strains.
"These essential oils produced by plants are known to act as key players in the effects of cannabis—known to relieve stress, promote sleep and mitigate symptoms of anxiety, terpenes are by-and-large one aspect of recreational and medicinal use that more and more people are sniffing out as cannabis becomes a mainstream commodity."
Tran added that he's also hearing a lot of buzz about tools that make home cultivation easier.
"We are also noticing an increase in interest surrounding automated grow systems like those being manufactured by TerraCube and TriGrow™ Systems. These systems and software products are designed for those looking to reduce their environmental footprint in a controlled, cultivation environment while keeping a watchful eye over their cannabis crops. Systems like these are already being used in food production, so it’s no surprise that the cannabis arena took notice to develop technology like this."
"While people will always love flower, we are seeing so much exciting innovation on the consumer goods side of this business", said Amy Margolis, Founder of The Initiative. "As more states and countries come online, we will see increased creativeness in processed goods and freedom to build new and exciting products."
Brad Bogus - VP of Growth and Marketing for Confident Cannabis - advises that, "For the consumer market, microdosing is all the rage—from edibles as low as 1 mg, to vape devices that let you dial in a specific dosage. This trend is going to be required to capture the hot spot in the market right now: customers over age 50 and the "canna-curious."
An Expanding Cannabis Lifestyle
"The tired, old stereotypes are creating markets for products that appeal to people outside of said stereotype," says Sam Campbell, Director of Marketing for MJ Arsenal. "For example, you’re not just a 'stoner'. It’s how you smoke, what you smoke, what you smoke out of, that’s becoming a larger part of how people identify, both personally and socially. Lifestyles and trends will always change and there will always be a new way to identify with cannabis."
Craft beer is huge - so why not craft cannabis? Danny Sloat, Founder of AlpinStash says that "the rise of true craft and artisan cannabis is trending. As the consumer becomes more informed and is exposed to higher quality products, the demand for quality will grow as well. However, this will take time and education. One example is the stereotype of coughing. Sure, smoke can sometimes cause lung irritation, but the majority of the irritation is caused by growing techniques, cleanliness and improper curing. An artisan product should produce a smooth and flavorful experience from first hit to last with no throat or lung irritation."
Baby Boomers On Cannabis
Cannador CEO Zane Witzel sees cannabis culture expanding to include the 'just say no' generation: "More states are pushing to legalize recreational cannabis," he explains, "so we're seeing the boomer generation come out of cannabis hibernation in droves as they retire from their careers and shake off Nancy Reagan's advice. This, to me, is the most important aspect of legalization's push forward since this generation has the most economic and political power."
Cannabis consumers may be familiar with CBD. But in a post-legalization world, more and more people are going to discover its benefits, says cannabis educator & consultant Emma Chasen.
"One of the most notable market trends we are experiencing right now is the rise of CBD-dominant products. For those who don’t know, CBD stands for cannabidiol and it is the second most prominent compound found in the cannabis matrix next to THC. However, CBD does not cause the intoxicating experience we so often associate with cannabis. Instead, CBD can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes, such as relief from inflammation, pain, seizures and anxiety, all while delivering a generally relaxing experience.
"I like to describe the feeling of CBD as analogous to getting out of a hot tub after soaking for a few hours. CBD products typically produce a dreamy, relaxed feeling without the anxiety, paranoia or overwhelming intoxication that THC can induce. And because CBD is also found in hemp, it is accessible nationwide. This is wonderful for people who don’t live in legal cannabis states.
"However, it is important to be careful from where and from whom you are sourcing CBD products. Many people looking to capitalize on the CBD market will sell products that have not been tested for potency and pesticides. This is most likely snake oil and may do more harm than good if ingested. When sourcing CBD products, consumers should reach out to the companies so that they may provide information about product testing. This is the only way to ensure that the product has potent CBD concentrations and no pesticide residue.
"The trend towards CBD gives me hope that the market will move in such a way that values all chemical compounds in the plant matrix. Moving forward, I think we will see a movement towards whole plant extracts with more of a focus on terpenes and other cannabinoids and less of a focus on THC. Research that has been done thus far on cannabis compounds has shown promise in the validity of The Entourage Effect theory. The Entourage Effect states that all cannabis compounds work together to produce the overall experience. My hope is that as consumers and industry professionals alike become more educated about the potential of the plant, the market will demand craft, ethically produced products with a greater range and diversity of compounds."
Oregrown Industries Founder and VP of Retail and Branding Chrissy Hadar thinks that we'll be expanding our horizons beyond CBD and THC. "Moving forward, I believe that there will be less emphasis on THC potency and more attention to terpene profiles and other lesser known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant that effect the ultimate experience."
“There are a lot of new trends in the cannabis industry, and they are all over the place. That is one of the fun and inspiring things about a blossoming new industry—the innovation and the cultural shifts. One area I’ve been really excited about is the drive for better education," says GoldLeaf founder Charles McElroy. "This comes from not only cannabis users," McElroy says, "but also medical professionals and business owners. The industry has some unique challenges that are easily solved by a collective education (or re-education in some cases). There are plenty of myths that need to be dispelled, new tech, and new ways to enjoy the product that many people have never seen.
"There is an inherent fascination about these advancements, partly because the imagery can be intimidating and remind many people of things that scare them (like a dab rig, quartz nail or BHO wax). For that reason, you are seeing lots of interest in educational publications, books, websites, community groups and even schools being set up to inform a new generation of professionals and consumers alike.
"At my company, we’ve long been interested in showcasing the science behind cannabis in an approachable, useful and beautiful way. Education, and the normalization of cannabis, is at the core of our passion. Through our work, we’ve seen so much interest from nearly everyone in the industry: budtenders, dispensary owners, RN’s and physicians and the humble end user who simply wants to understand the simple questions that everyone asks. It is refreshing to see this thirst for information and I believe providing these answers is important for nurturing a healthy consumer culture and industry."
A Greater Understanding
"The cannabis industry changes so incredibly quickly, and I only expect it to speed up as more states and countries end prohibition," says East Fork Cultivars CEO Mason Walker. "I predict we'll soon see the death of "indica" and "sativa" as descriptors, replaced by a more sophisticated taxonomy that considers the chemical composition of each variety."