Thanks to relaxed regulation, changing socio-demographics and, frankly, bigger problems, the world of legal cannabis is exploding. The UN estimates around 3.9% of the global adult population (190 million people) are cannabis users. Europe leads the way, but that may change if Grand View Research, Inc estimates for 2025 come true. From new startups to distribution, the market for legal cannabis products is growing fast and could grow to $66.3 billion by 2025. Cannabidiol (CBD), the active ingredient in marijuana that was discovered in 1940, alone could be worth around $20 billion alone and is being explored by drinks makers from Coca-Cola to Heineken. Technology is helping bring this product to market.
Instagram is a core legitimizer of the lifestyle and can be used to promote goods in old ways. Freddy Rashid, CEO of Green Care Solutions and Host of ‘Green Talk Show’ podcast; “Instagram has been a game-changer for us. We started slowly in the beginning, but we thought a raffle would be a good way to bring in return customers, get a ticket every purchase and announce the winner live on Instagram. We’d promote days where you’d get two for one on purchases, and because of the visual nature, Instagram just blew up for it. Real people won, and we were proud that we didn’t fake anything. So many people do on Instagram.”
Instagram is well known for banning accounts and for an increasing variety of reasons, Rashid has experienced this but notes that Instagram is just toughening up on false claims and ‘junk’. Rashid is using social tools to research new products too; “We saw the ‘Jungle Boys’ getting talked about because of exotic strains. Once we got the licenses and permits, we started cultivation, but it was only when I saw an adapted Hookah unit that it all clicked together – a THC Hookah. I used Google Trends to see if it existed, but it didn’t. I then printed reams of message board threads for more information and to see what didn’t work. I called my lawyer the next day, and he confirmed no-one had anything like it. A little testing later, and it was ready. Social media is the best market research for the cannabis industry.”
Rashid is also coming out with a CBD infused skincare range along with CBD lemonades, highlighting the diverse and enormous markets CBD products will likely impact in the coming few years. Rashid isn’t the only one creating new products.
Ryan Lewis, Chief Business Developer for Global Cannabinoids, is busy making new delivery mechanics and notes the industry’s heavy reliance on technology; “Technology is playing a pivotal role in the cannabis/hemp industry from transparency and traceability on the compliance side to reliability and consistency on the grow side. Advancements in extraction technology, coupled with larger scale agricultural production of cannabinoid-rich hemp genetics has helped drive the price of hemp-derived cannabinoids lower. Large capital investments into the cannabis industry are fueling the advancements in technology as more and more companies with unique processes and techniques are able to commercialize and integrate their technology into current methods of production and manufacturing.”
Global Cannabinoids recently partnered with Nano Fiber Solutions to develop an FDA-approved dissolvable nanofiber strip, which will lead to quicker absorption of hemp-derived cannabinoids. Much is still unknown about CBD, but the benefits are helping patients with a wide variety of illnesses from cancer to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease to arthritis. Each multi-billion dollar industries in their own right.
Beyond the health benefits, the economic benefits of legalization and taxation have clear effects on black market trade and criminal offences for drug trafficking and possession could each have a hugely disruptive impact on markets and regions.
Competition is increasing. Expect to hear more from the likes of Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth Corporation, Maricann Group, Inc., GW Pharmaceuticals, plc, Aphria, Inc., Tilray, The Cronos Group, ABcann Medicinals, Inc., Lexaria Corp., and Organigram Holding, Inc. to name some of the biggest. Despite big regulatory issues to contend with from the EU and other places around the world, the market, while huge, has limits. Currently there are no clear winners. Technology is being used to gain advantage, speed up adoption and sell smarter, which, in turn, will see public perception change and soften barriers faster than in previous decades.