By Matthew O'Brien
Breaking down the greatest lie the cannabis industry has ever told…
One of the biggest problems in the cannabis industry in 2021?
The widespread adoption of the terms Indica, Sativa & Hybrid to describe the effects cannabis products produce.
The cannabis we all love to consume is said to have originated in East Asia.
The version of cannabis plants being cultivated during this time looked very different to the cannabis being cultivated today — with these wild cannabis plants producing much smaller quantities of THC.
During this time cannabis was cultivated for the plant’s stalks to create fibers as opposed to cultivating cannabis to produce cannabinoids such as THC.
As early as 2737 B.C, the Emperor Shen Neng of China was prescribing the psychoactive version of cannabis for medical purposes, however, North America would have to wait until the 1900s for high THC cannabis to catch on.
While cannabis had been around for many thousands of years prior to making its way to the shores of North America — the changes cannabis underwent in the last 100 years dwarfs all changes seen before this.
Cannabis plants can now produce 30% THC whereas these wild cannabis plants would have produced significantly less THC.
Indica vs Sativa…
In 1785, biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published a description of what he viewed as a second species of cannabis, which he named cannabis Indica.
The distinction made between the two species was that cannabis Indica plants were shorter in height with wide leaves, whereas cannabis Sativa was described as being much taller with narrow leaves.
It was not suggested that these two different species of cannabis produced different effects, and in the time since there has been significant cross breeding of these two variations of cannabis.
The greatest lie…
Based on an accurate application of the terms Indica & Sativa, nearly all cannabis plants cultivated today are hybrids.
It’s very hard to say with any degree of certainty when exactly the cannabis industry began adopting the terms Indica and Sativa as a means to describe the effects cannabis products produce.
What we can say with certainty, however, is that the far majority of cannabis retail stores across North America have adopted these terms when presenting cannabis products to consumers where an Indica product produces a body high and a Sativa product produces a head high.
For consumers, this presentation of cannabis products is problematic as it all too commonly results in consumers purchasing cannabis products that don’t produce the desired effects they are seeking.
If we are willing to acknowledge this problem — the question remains, what’s the solution when these terms remain so ingrained in the cannabis industry?
Platforms like Dutchie and Leafly have started adding products terpene profiles to product listings.
We are also seeing a growing list of cannabis producers listing this information on their products’ packaging.
(Dutchie’s new look)
At its core, this is a data problem.
Understanding and translating the factors that influence the effects cannabis products produce is no easy undertaking.
I am aware of a number of startups that are building solutions to accurately measure the effects cannabis products produce such as Zentrala, who has made significant progress in recent weeks.
This is a very big opportunity to improve the cannabis industry.
Helping consumers find the right cannabis products based on their desired outcome is essential to ensure consumers enjoy consuming cannabis, as opposed to having a negative experience with cannabis.
Fire & Flower’s Marketplace
Breaking down the Canadian cannabis retailer’s latest tech acquisition…
The demand for cannabis deliveries skyrocketed in 2021.
Per Weedmaps, the demand for cannabis deliveries has increased 97% from the first half of 2021 vs the first half of 2020, and the Canadian cannabis retailer Fire & Flower wants in on the action.
Lot’s of M&A…
Fire & Flower has been aggressively acquiring companies since its inception.
Recently they paid $6.5 million USD for cannabis marketplace Wikileaf’s website, their social media accounts, and email list followed by the acquisition of cannabis marketplace Pot Guide for $8.5 million USD.
Fire & Flower is quietly building a large cannabis marketplace where they will control the locations where consumers purchase cannabis products from.
Following up on these acquisitions, they have now completed the acquisition of Pineapple Express Deliver for $9.19 million USD — a company focused on delivering cannabis products in Canada.
With this, Fire & Flower now finds themselves in a great position in the Canadian cannabis market.
Expanding into the U.S…
A large percentage of the traffic Wikileaf and PotGuide receive is from the U.S
- Wikileaf.com — 7 million visits, 53% of traffic coming from the U.S
- Potguide.com — 3.5 million visits, 76% of traffic coming from the U.S
This form of vertical integration has many advantages such as an enhanced understanding of customer’s journey from start to finish in cannabis.
When Fire & Flower expands into the United States, these assets will likely prove very valuable to acquire new customers.
Fire & Flower is one of the most ambitious cannabis retailers in Canada, and they are doing a great job at assembling the right parts to build a marketplace.
I like the approach they are taking in Canada, and it will be very interesting to watch them expand into the U.S.
Protecting Future Generations?
Breaking down New Zealand’s decision to ban Cigarettes moving forward…
New Zealand has announced its plan to ban tobacco for future generations.
Yesterday’s announcement would make them one of the only nations on earth to impose such a ban on cigarettes.
13% of adults in New Zealand smoke.
This rate is much higher among the indigenous Maori population, where close to 30% of adults smoke.
Like Canada & the U.K — the New Zealand government is determined to achieve a national goal of reducing its national smoking rate to 5% by 2025.
Per the details shared, anyone born after 2008 will be unable to buy cigarettes or tobacco products in their lifetime.
The law is expected to be enacted in 2022.
“We want to make sure young people never start smoking,” New Zealand’s Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verall said.
As part of this crackdown on cigarettes, the government is also seeking to significantly restrict the number of locations where cigarettes can be sold.
Currently, there are 8,000 locations where adults can purchase cigarettes, however, by removing them from supermarkets and corner stores they aim to reduce this to less than 500 locations.
Many doctors & health experts in New Zealand have welcomed this reform.
“It will help people quit or switch to less harmful products, and make it much less likely that young people get addicted to nicotine,” said Prof Janet Hook from the University of Otago.
Not everyone has the same positive perspective.
Many have highlighted that this decision to ban the sale of tobacco products will not result in consumers abstaining from consuming these products.
Instead, as we have seen with cannabis — it will simply create an illicit market controlled by criminal organizations who will happily supply cigarettes to any consumer that are seeking them.
I agree cigarettes should be subject to stricter regulations as it’s simply unacceptable that we allow companies to add such harmful ingredients to these products.
That said, regulating products is very different from outright banning them, and New Zealand is on track to create an illicit market with no regulations for a product that needs more regulations — not less.
This is a bad decision by New Zealand.
The cannabis industry understands better than anyone else all of the shortcomings of banning products.
Consumers will continue to consume these products which could become many multiples more harmful as a result of the lack of regulations in place.