When I founded Wana Brands in 2010, cannabis had just recently come online in Colorado. The early years of edibles were filled with trial and error, adjusting to industry rules and regulations. We were all finding our footing in a fledgling industry.
Since then, Wana Brands has experienced significant growth, demonstrating that the edibles sector is on an upward trajectory with no signs of slowing down. Once an afterthought for many dispensaries, edibles now account for almost $1 out of every $5 spent on cannabis in Colorado. Marijuana-infused brownies once baked in home ovens have blossomed into a dizzying array of edible offerings.
To ensure positive experiences for our customers, edibles companies must take a leadership role in educating budtenders and end users. This means providing the tools, resources and educational insight necessary to keep the industry moving forward.
Implementing a comprehensive budtender training program is paramount to this effort. Knowledgeable budtenders are crucial to the success of the industry and our products; they represent our brands and are often the first line of defense for cannabis consumers. New consumers look to budtenders for suggestions and guidance on infused-product options.
While most dispensaries provide basic information on edibles to their budtenders, edibles manufacturers can supplement their efforts by providing deeper information and training materials to further educate budtenders on how edibles impact the body, strategies for building tolerance levels, dosage guidelines and helping the consumer understand which cannabinoid ratios might be appropriate for different effects. This is particularly important for novice consumers.
Even seasoned consumers of flower and concentrates may be new to consuming edibles, which can provide a different type of elevating experience. Additionally, the delayed onset of effects from edibles can lead new users to conclude that “it isn’t working” and to consume more before the edible has fully metabolized in the system. Used wisely, edibles provide a unique and extremely enjoyable cannabis experience.
Too much too soon and new edibles consumers may find that they have over-consumed. For that reason, newcomers to edibles are advised to “start low and go slow” to acclimate themselves to the edibles for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. They should be hearing this message both from budtenders and through educational materials and industry-generated information.
It’s also imperative that edibles companies hold themselves to a high standard in terms of the source of the information they provide. Too often information is simply pulled off the Internet and presented as fact even though it has not been vetted by a medical professional for accuracy. What begins as a desire to provide helpful information can actually end up contributing to misinformation and confusion. Whenever possible, training materials and consumer information should be developed in conjunction with a medical professional who has hands-on experience with cannabis medicine, including edibles.
In addition to providing training and other information resources, we also need to provide consumers with a variety of dosage and ratio options. Different body types, experience levels and preferences about the degree of psychoactivity desired require different doses of THC and, potentially, different ratios of THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD.
Low dose or microdosed products aren’t just another passing trend. They allow the consumer more control over their experience, and the opportunity to determine their minimum effective dose. They can be used effectively by both new consumers of edibles as well as medical patients who need a steady level of medicine over the course of the day.
Providing credible information, training budtenders and consumers, and creating a range of product options creates the best possible experience for edibles consumers. Long term, it is also the best and most responsible way to grow the edibles market.