How To Navigate High THC Demand

 THC Potency Hunters 

“I don’t care what it is, as long as it gets me high” This is the cringiest line for cannabis consumers, professionals, and enthusiasts to hear from a cannabis customer. One of the biggest cannabis consumer problems is the high demand for insanely potent cannabis products. 

The issue is not really the demand for potency, but the demand for the THC cannabinoid in particular. It is killing the market price, diminishing the quality of the products, and overall hurting the consumer experience. 

I understand that the number one rule of economics is to supply the demand. However, what if cannabis brands, professionals, and enthusiasts started to explain and prove to consumers that THC is not the most important element found in cannabis? 

The demonization of the Tetrahydrocannabinol compound from world governments has done a good job conditioning people that it is the sole reason that users get the popular psychoactive high; however, it’s not that simple. 

We will go over the biggest cons of the high THC potency demand: 

  • Decreased Quality and Lost Genetics 
  • Impact on the Consumer
  • Impact on producers and retailers. 
  • How to navigate the Issue. 

Impact on the Cannabis Consumer 

Every mammal on earth has an ECS system that regulates homeostasis in our bodies. The Endocannabinoid system is the reason for cannabis psychoactive effects and medical benefits. Consumers are missing out on essential micro cannabinoids that enhance the entourage effect. 

For example CBN helps patients to stay asleep longer –  strains that have a good blend of CBD, THC, and CBN will most likely help the user to fall asleep easier, and stay asleep longer. Isolating only individual compounds might make strains less effective at treating certain medical conditions. 

Breeders hunt for high THC characteristics when they are creating cultivars because of the high demand. Cannabis and hemp have a resin cap. For instance If 35% of the resin contents is THC then the other cannabinoids and terpenes will be in smaller amounts. 

THC-H and THC-P are newly discovered cannabinoids that are far more psychoactive and potent than Delta-9 THC. This might be why 11% flower takes you to outer space. 

Combinations and ratios are the key to cannabis effects. Consumers must learn to focus on the right terpene and cannabinoid assortment to get the desired results. Quality cannabis is so much more than THC. You can get higher with the right profiles. Every user should focus more on their nose and less on the numbers. 

Terpene profiles and combinations tell the user so much more about the effects. The terms Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid must die to fully move away from the THC mindset. For example, having a strain with high levels of limonene might not always make you feel uplifted and creative. We like to put a strain in a specific category based off of the highest terp number. This is dangerous because it is more about the ratio of terps and cannabinoids together that will give the user an understanding of what effects they are going to feel. 

Additionally, cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a condition caused by long-term cannabis (marijuana) use. It seems to be linked to the overuse of highly potent THC. We don’t need 30% THC to get high. Is it worth frying your ECS to the point where you cannot use cannabis to heal yourself anymore? 

Impact on Small Cannabis Businesses 

We hear all of these crazy numbers when it comes to cannabis sales in recreational states. The subject we intentionally avoid facing is the wholesale price decline in highly competitive recreational markets such as Michigan, California, Oregon, and Washington. 

The THC craze turns cannabis into a commodity faster than a pinner. Not all cannabis is created equal to the typical weed enthusiast, but to the average consumer. “The normal” cannabis user just wants to get the highest THC percent at the lowest cost. This customer persona makes up a good percentage of the market if not all of it. Stoners have a hard time changing their purchasing habits and continue to shop underground. 

Growers and processors who focus on producing higher quality products often accumulate a higher cost than the producers who lock in on quantity. 

Most of the time the huge cannabis conglomerates are about maximizing a commercial sized grow operation, and the small businesses are trying to curate a craft product that targets a specific niche. 

Both of these groups are battling for shelf space. If the large grows produce what we like to call “Mids”, that are 25%-30% plus THC, then the big guns will dominate the market with ease. 

It is possible for smaller cannabis companies to optimize their brand online to establish market authority in order to create shelf space opportunities at a fair price despite the market, but this is not an easy feat for a small company without hiring an agency that specializes in cannabis digital marketing. 

The long term sustainable solution is to change the narrative around THC and quality. This is easier said than done. 

Education- Empower Budtenders 

We have proven how the cannabis THC problem is negatively impacting businesses and consumers. It’s also damaging the cannabis plant’s reputation as well. 

The key to solving this problem is to use education to slowly change the narrative. Cannabis owners have the power to implement this change by updating their messaging to their target audience. 

The budtenders are the first line of defense. It is their job to inform the customer about the products they are purchasing. Incentivizing bundtenders to recommend the best overall product by shifting the focus to explaining the importance of terpenes and micro cannabinoids. 

Budtenders should be very direct and tell the patient or customer that they are guaranteed the best cannabis experience once they can narrow down their preferred cannabinoid and terpene combination. 

The challenge is that the recreational industry is starting to move away from personalized budtending and into transactional robots. 

The owners are about serving as many customers as they can in a day without harming the user experience. Ultimately the personal shopping experience will die in many shops in the future rec markets. 

Labels, Signage, and Displays

For the education campaign to be successful, cannabis cultivators and cannabis processors will have to invest in highlighting their complete “COAs” Certificate of analysis

Listing a complete and detailed list of all of the compounds produced in a given harvest batch will aid budtenders in the education process. Dispensaries must pressure their vendors to provide this information in a consumable way. 

The optimal method to clear the smoke on terpenes and cannabinoids is for all cannabis brands to magnify the information on their compliance labels and packaging. 

Customers can easily keep track of what they consumed. Adding a QR code is a smooth way to deliver this essential information for customers. Having it listed physically has additional perks because budtenders can easily spark the conversation with the product in hand. Oftentimes phones are banned in the bud room.  

Informational signage and literature has been extremely important to the cannabis space. Cannabis brands need to ensure that our product profiles are being displayed on any graphical posters, banners, or signs. Additionally Flyers, stickers, and handouts should include product terp information as well. 

Digital Displays have become a staple in many cannabis dispensaries all over the USA and Canada. Most of these displays are used to show menus and promote products. Dispensaries should leverage these gems to provide video content that consistently educates the consumer about the importance of cannabis terpene and cannabinoid profiles. 

Digital Marketing Can Spark Change

The internet has connected us all – giving us the ability to influence each other on a deeper level. The internet is sometimes used to drive narratives with the intent of pushing an agenda. Our goal when communicating with cannabis consumers and businesses should be to annihilate the THC myths and steer the industry and markets on the correct path. THC potency is not the be all!

Integrating this messaging into our digital marketing efforts is key. It will cost money without a clear short term ROI. It will also need to be a collaborative effort from the biggest most established brands. The medium and smaller brands must do their part as well. 

Digital channels like search engines, email marketing, social media, websites, blogs, and press are all important to grow a brand with market authority; however, it will play a strong role in challenging the THC hype. Educate your cannabis fanbase with terpene profiles, cannabinoids, and more effective combinations. 

Roll it up

THC is an amazing element found in cannabis. We all love it, but It needs its terpene partners and cannabinoid counterparts to elevate to a higher level. 

It is our duty as cannabis experts to change the narrative. We must use education as the force to achieve our desired transformation. 

Cannabis business and more importantly cannabis consumers will only benefit if we learn how to navigate our THC potency challenge. 

I encourage you to optimize the 3 keys to success that we highlighted: 

  1. Empower the budtenders 
  2. Utilize graphical displays 
  3. Integrate message in digital marketing strategy  

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