A Perfect Combination
The future of cannabis-infused products.
By Shehzad Hoosein
When one thinks of cannabis-infused products, one’s mind probably goes to brownies or gummies provided by your local dispensary. However, the future of cannabis-infused products is much more than that. In order to capitalize on the myriad of benefits the cannabis flower can deliver through cannabis-infused product, a company must first fully understand consumers’ needs and wants before tackling the creation and production of a cannabis-infused product. If we are able to harness the perfect combination of pharmaceutical, food and beverage and agricultural technologies, the future of cannabis-infused products will be bright.
The Consumer’s Dilemma
The core consumer’s needs when it comes to cannabis products can be boiled down to five necessities:
1. Safety/Reliability – When a customer consumes any product, they want to know the product is safe and will not do any harm.
2. Efficacy – Will the product therapeutically treat the consumer’s condition?
3. Consistency – Outcome of the product is the same each time.
4. Rapid Onset – Your product should not take very much time to affect the body.
5. Practicality – Your product should be easy to use and handle.
Unfortunately, consumers face a dilemma as very few cannabis-infused products available today can meet these basic needs. For example, an edible brownie tastes delicious and is practical to consume, but the rapidity of onset for this product is very slow. It could take hours for the cannabinoids to affect your body, and the experience could be inconsistent or unpredictable.
A pre-rolled joint will certainly have rapid onset, but requires a consumer to inhale combustion chemicals into their lungs (i.e. smoke) and will leave one smelling like cannabis for a while afterward, which is not ideal for most when going about our lives. Within the cannabis industry, there is a unique opportunity to harness aspects from the food and beverage, agriculture and pharmaceutical industries to capitalize on the consumer’s dilemma.
Answering The Consumer’s Dilemma
In order to solve the consumer’s dilemma, we must learn from what we already know. From the food and beverage industry, we know how to formulate complex ingredients to make them taste good and remain stable. This is critical for the consumption of cannabis-infused products as a consumer wants the actual act of consuming a product to be enjoyable.
We also know how to create functional food. For example, adding ginger to your tea can help with digestion or adding citrus ups your intake of vitamin C. We also know how to package food effectively, which is imperative when it comes to cannabis-infused products in order to ensure shelf-life and longevity.
From the agricultural sector, the most important things we know are how to maximize crop yield and cross-breed species of plants in order to select for desirable traits. In terms of cannabis, this is paramount. We want to hone-in on specific constituents within the plant in attempt to maximize the expression of these constituents as the plant grows. Each of these components and their relative ratios to each other will, in turn, affect the body differently.
The pharmaceutical industry brings knowledge of drug delivery systems to cannabis. We have a good understanding of how to gauge the efficacy of the active compounds of the plant on the body. This is important when deciding what kind of cannabis-infused product you want to create and to help what ailment. Is an ointment the best remedy or should one apply a patch onto the skin? The pharmaceutical industry has also mastered child-resistant packaging, which allows for safety measures for your product.
Taking these known technologies from each of these three sectors is paramount to solving the consumer’s dilemma when it comes to cannabis-infused products. If we look at these three industries’ technologies together, we can solve the entirety of the consumer’s dilemma as opposed to only a few aspects.
What is Next?
The next question to ask oneself when developing a product, is where do we believe those consumer needs will be in the future and can we anticipate those preferences today? If we can anticipate consumer needs, we can institute transformational change within the cannabis-infused product market. This means, developing breakthroughs and markets for products that do not exist yet, requiring an investment in research and development.
There is still much research to be done on the cannabis plant. There are over 100 cannabinoids (besides CBD and THC), many of whose properties are unknown to scientists. These compounds have the potential for therapeutic benefits beyond what any product on the market today can offer.
Bringing together the existing technical knowledge from pharma, agriculture, and food and beverage will propel the cannabis industry towards the transformational change needed to create new cannabis-infused products. Smart companies are already preparing for the future by investing in research and development, and are rushing to meet consumer demands for safe, effective and practical products.
Shehzad Hoosein is the executive vice president at Cannabistry Labs and is responsible for overseeing all product development and innovation efforts. Over the past two years, he has spearheaded the creation of a world-class research and development team, which has successfully brought numerous products and technologies to market. Hoosein brings both business acumen and experience in innovation to his role, which stems from a 15-year tenure at DIAGEO, a Fortune 500 company and the world’s No. 1 premium spirits company. At DIAGEO, Hoosein was responsible for the overall development and implementation of the operations management strategy for the entire North America whiskey portfolio. He also led its science and technology platform in the field of beverage fermentation, distillation, maturation, and blending quality. Hoosein received five separate awards during his time at DIAGEO, and developed and commercialized nearly 100 new and wide-ranging products.