Invisible Armies: If You Want To Win, Stop Targeting Non-Consumers

New Jack City

Over the past few years, as the larger universe started to understand the money that was collectively being made in cannabis *before* the flooding waves of legalization, there have been a lot of new players coming in trying to capitalize on the ‘green rush’ they’ve heard so much about. VC’s, businessmen, entrepreneurs with continued access to funding despite tanking their last company — they all showed up trying to make a quick buck. Now, I’m not going to get into all the Delta 8 nonsense, the THCa plays, or the folks who think their hemp CBD biz is a cannabis company, but I do want to dig in a bit on a common misstep I’m seeing with these new jacks popping up across our industry that could maybe help our guys too. After all, we’re all going to have to figure out how to play in this new landscape together eventually, no matter how any of us feel about the others.

As could be expected, almost all of the new players that have come in have created products specifically designed for the other new faces arriving to enjoy these newly legal wares – that is to say, non-traditional cannabis consumers. That may seem like a harsh way to identify new consumers, but if you keep reading I think it will become that much clearer why this signifier is important. I don’t mean passive once-in-a-while smokers, either – I mean people who LIKE consuming, and do it often.

So, back to it, these new guys made new products, and they quickly found out the audience they heard was endless really isn’t showing up the way they anticipated. But why? Their products are flashy, the marketing is tight, the pictures look great on Instagram! Why no sales? Well friends, it’s because you didn’t stop to think about who was going to consume these products. Your traditional industry consumer personas aren’t relevant here, and trying to sell what educated consumers would call low quality products isn’t going to make you friends. We’re talking about produce, not plastic, after all.

Consumer Personas

Before we get too far down the road, let’s pause for a second and explain what consumer personas are. Consumer Personas are used in the traditional business world to identify potential target customers and craft marketing plans to and around. While they may be created by the founder or ideator of said product, this is typically a marketing thing, as understanding your customer makes it exponentially easier to sell to them. Good so far?

Now, often many different personas are created, and these are primarily used to map out the various people who would want to buy or consume your product. The goal is to identify all of your *champion* consumers so that everyone feels seen, and the better you know each of those identities – from their loves to their pain points – the easier it is to identify and satisfy your base. You can use things like market research or data to identify commonalities among your potential consumers, and then use those groupings to figure out ways to most effectively communicate with each of your targets. Plugging into a need, or solving a problem for your chosen personas, could be the difference between them tuning in, or out.

For those that are just hearing about this, these are essentially marketing cheat codes. If you’ve ever wondered why a brand you like can seemingly speak to you so well, but also resonates with someone who doesn’t feel anything like you, it’s likely because they’re effectively utilizing their consumer personas in different campaigns, and talking to each in their native tongues, wherever they happen to live. This is far more sophisticated than a one-size-fits-all spray & pray campaign, and typically involves many different campaigns running at once. It gets tricky. But the more you can personalize, and individualize your marketing messages, the more successful they will be.

Now that you understand consumer personas from a high level, it’s time to expose the fact that there is a very, very lucrative persona out there, and targeting her has made many products household names across the world. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but perhaps the most important persona of the bunch is actually wives & moms. Responsible for nearly 80% of household spending (depending which study you read, these numbers came from Gallup & the Federal Reserve), it’s public information that women account for nearly 85% of consumer spending, and control more than 60% of all personal wealth in the U.S. – so it seems like a great target, right? For cannabis, marketers have found the ‘Wine Mom’ to be the cherry on top of this remunerative consumer persona sundae, and they’ve got overboard trying to talk to her, make her feel comfortable, and get her spending. In any other market this might work, but remember, we’re talking cannabis…

Understanding the Wine Mom Play, and its Faults

You’ve likely seen the explosion of infused products targeted at her and her wallet already. Lots of microdosing, lots of topicals, some cute edibles and small cans. They made it pretty, they made it pink, they shrunk it down, they added glitter. Besides the fact that most of these tactics don’t even work in traditional industries (look up Shrink it & pink it), it’s like they think that by adding cannabis to a spritzer they can increase the price and thereby make a much higher profit than they would have had the products not had THC or CBD or some terpene nonsense. As if this is what she has been waiting for forever, and it’s finally here!!!

They are targeting this *persona* because they’re trying to unlock that magical trove of cash they’ve heard she’s been hiding, and wine sometimes leads to bad decisions. However, you’ve likely seen many of these products fail already, too. Why? She has SO MUCH MONEY!

Well, while I appreciate the ‘Wine Mom’ is the decision-maker for a lot of household spending, I have some questions. First, how often does she smoke? Do you really think that’s who’s consuming the most cannabis? That’s why you’re in business, right? You want to sell a lot of something. So, do you think she’s buying it for her kids? Probably not. Is hubby smoking for a family of four? Probably not if she has anything to say about it. While we’re on that subject, do you think she’s buying liquor too? Or is that dad’s job still? Why would weed be different from alcohol?

I digress into gender norms, and that is not my intention, but the point is: why not target the demographics consuming the most? Do you think they don’t have money??

The long and short of this is that the ‘Wine Mom’, while she is of course welcome here, is obviously not the most lucrative consumer base for this particular set of products despite how much potential she has to spend. I doubt she’s buying the majority of the liquor, either. 

But heavy smokers? Now there’s a golden ticket…

Cannabis Golden Tickets

So, all you fresh faces with marketing degrees, you want some consumer personas that will actually work in this space? I’m not talking the heady boys – you don’t stand a chance with that market, but maybe you should focus on consumption habits more than wallet sizes. I bet you’d be amazed to find that those with the lowest disposable income always seem to find room in their budget for the plant that maintains their sanity. I’ve created the below personas – completely on my own with no data to back any of this up – but I will 1000% guarantee adjusting your marketing plans to speak to these consumers will result in a much better shot on the retail floor, and likely in a much longer lifecycle for your brand. 

The Family Guy

You probably won’t see this guy at any of your sesh pop-ups, but there’s a reason why brands like Stiiizy are doing the strong numbers they are, and I’m going to chock a lot of them up to being the belle of the Family Guy’s ball. The Family Guy largely represents the working class – working a job they likely hate to provide for their loved ones all day long, and while they may sneak in a puff or two on the job, and probably toke up on lunch, these are usually the types to let loose after they’ve put the kids to sleep. This persona isn’t celebrating its love of cannabis everywhere, it doesn’t subscribe to most trends. It probably doesn’t have a vibrant social media presence, save for maybe pictures of the wife and kids. But this persona is focused. Focused on getting value in the store (and out of the products they consume), and then getting back to whatever it is they have to do. While this is becoming a more common persona as the stigma continues to fade, let’s just say that there’s a reason beer ads are almost all targeted towards working class men.

The Budget Baller

Like the Family Guy, the Budget Baller doesn’t care about the flash of the hype market – they’re here to get as fucked up as possible, with as small of a break to the bank as possible. Formerly dubbed ‘the Moon Rock crew’, this persona isn’t as focused on quality of product as they are the quality of the high. They’ll take distillate rolled in kief from wherever you can get it, and they often don’t mind spray packs – likely because they were raised smoking cotton candy usb sticks. As I’m sure you could imagine, brands like Jeeter are thriving because of this base, and it’s constantly got new – let’s call them inexperienced – consumers coming to the table all the time. Some of these consumers are in this category situationally, like college students for example, and others are just frugal, but providing a significant bang for a not insignificant buck is the way to win these hearts and minds, and they can be a loyal bunch. It’s worth noting that this isn’t a gender specific category – both men and women find themselves here – it’s more about consumption habits than it is what they’ve got between their legs.

Retirement Ruff Riders

Grandpa’s off the clock, his joints hurt, and moving around sucks – what do you think he’s doing? As Lauren Yoshiko pointed out in her Sticky Bits newsletter (formerly the Broccoli Report) a few weeks back, there is a surprising lack of products currently focused on a demographic that has nothing if not time to chill. In addition to the brands Lauren mentioned, a company like Old Pal stands out to me as one that seems to have a good infrastructure to capitalize on a lucrative market, with seemingly minimal risk attached, but there are far more ways for people to consume than just flower, and I would imagine this market can be won over with a good selection of edibles. Maybe some sugar cookies, or crumpets. I might have said Grandpa up front, but this goes for Grandma, too. I doubt the old folks frequent the 3.5g blunts, but best believe they’re smoking. Among other things… have you seen the STD rates at retirement homes? That’s probably best left for another time.

Bad Decision Bachelor’s

Finally, the category I’ve created to self-identify with. The Bad Decision Bachelor (or Bachelorette, where necessary) is the type of no-real-responsibility-having arrested-development-ass fool who can afford to spend far too much of his disposable income on toys and drugs because he doesn’t have any alimony or child support payments, or any real responsibilities – or supervision. This guy makes bad decisions regularly, spends way too much time online, and is way over-indexing spending on cannabis, especially when compared to all the other things he should be budgeting in. While similar to the heady boy in the pursuit of quality, this persona also has a love of new formats, and regularly wastes money on new product categories just to try them. They typically have a very specific way to consume, and even in the face of all other options will revert back to their comfort zone. Also known as the ‘Stoned At Home’ bunch, this base consumes almost compulsively. 

Alright – this should be enough to get you started – each of these personas is its own invisible army, waiting to propel your brand to Valhalla. There’s obviously an endless amount of people consuming from all different walks of life, and I just chose a few at random to represent as many as possible, but do these not make more sense? There’s of course more nuance, and sub personas within each of these, sure, but this is a 101 course. Feel free to keep the conversation going in the comments, or pitch some other consumers you’d like to explain to all the people that seem to think that the lady passively consuming on weekends is their meal ticket. I’ll be betting on the kids that actually smoke.

And before I go, I want to be clear here that I’m not mad at the Wine Moms – in fact, I love you all – I just don’t think you’re the best target market for pot. You’ve got responsibilities and shit – brands can focus on those that don’t, as they probably consume a lot more. They’ve got way more time to get lost in the products, and while we don’t want to breed addiction, we do want people to consume like, a lot, right?

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Netflix’s ‘Painkiller’ Is ‘Succession’ for The Sacklers

As someone who was born in the Netherlands and moved to the United States as a teenager, I am often asked what I feel is the biggest difference between America and Europe. To their surprise, it’s not the fact that people on this side of the Atlantic can own semi-automatics, unironically order breakfast at McDonald’s, or have to be 21 to legally drink beer. 

It’s that, whenever you turn on the television, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a commercial for some kind of prescription medication. Antidepressants, immunosuppressants, antipyretics, analgesics, antiseptics, even those DIY colon cancer screeners are advertised alongside cars and Coca-Cola cans. They also all follow the same formula: a Lynchian mix of sappy music, sappier scenes of picnicking families and honeymooning lovers, and long, hastily-read lists of severe and possibly life-threatening side effects. Watching them makes you feel a little ill, and that’s probably the point.

No one, we are told in an episode of Netflix’s Painkiller, was better at marketing drugs than the Sacklers, the family at the head of the disgraced but for some unfathomable reason still operational pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma. Between 1990 and 2020, this family earned an estimated $10 billion in profits pushing OxyContin. During the same time, OxyContin, an extremely addictive painkiller, killed upwards of 564,000 people. 

Painkiller, whose 6 episodes premiered on August 10, explores the link between these two statistics and the unresolved legal battle they sparked. Matthew Broderick stars as Richard Sackler, nephew of the diseased patriarch Arthur Sackler who rebranded OxyContin – initially synthesized by German researchers in 1916 – from an end-of-life painkiller into a wonder cure for ailments both major and minor. Uzo Aduba is Edie Flowers, a fictionalized version of several real-life attorneys that went after derelict doctors, negligent FDA employees, and, finally, the Sacklers themselves. Last but not least, Taylor Kitsch crawls inside the skin of one Glen Kryger, yet another composite character, this one representing the Sacklers’ countless victims. Glen is a friendly-neighborhood mechanic with a loving wife, a young daughter, and good-for-nothing employees whose perfectly imperfect life is turned upside down when one of said employees accidentally breaks his back. An overly friendly and charismatic doctor then prescribes Glen some opioids, to which he inevitably becomes addicted. 

As a work of film and storytelling, Painkiller seems well-crafted enough. Dialogue is layered and impactful. Production quality is high but not overindulgent. Scenes were evidently put together with a sense of purpose. In the opening, Richard Sackler is woken up by a malfunctioning smoke alarm, which he cannot reach because the ceilings in his mansion are too high. The meaning seems obvious: that there is a price to pay for his insane wealth, and also that he is oblivious to warning calls sounding around him. Also worth noting is the introduction of Glen, which takes its time to familiarize the audience with his world before the rather suspensefully executed accident takes place.

As a treatment of one of the country’s biggest and most recent tragedies, however, Painkiller leaves a lot to be desired. At certain points, it feels like you’re watching Succession but for the Sacklers instead of the Roys. There’s a focus on family drama and a slight fetishization of their wealth, power, and even their lack of humanity that clashes with the Edie’s and especially Glen’s perspective: the perspective of the victims. Then again, although documentaries like Heroin(e) and Recovery Boys approached the subject much more respectfully, Painkiller stands poised to attract more eyeballs, raise more awareness about the epidemic, and further antagonize the Sacklers – which are all good things. 

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of fucked up and sickeningly unjust things happen in Europe, but the stuff you see in Painkiller – doctors stealing from Medicare and prescribing medication like they’re selling snake oil – are just such uniquely American phenomena. I like to think I know and trust the healthcare professionals I interact with here in the underserved town in rural Georgia where I am currently based, but the problem is that in a for-profit system you can never be 100% sure that others have your best interests at heart. 

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Name Your Price

In 1983, punk band Minor Threat released their one studio album Out of Step. For the cover, they chose a bold addition: the price. 

Like a lot of retail items, every LP comes with an SRP, or suggested retail price. It’s sometimes referred to as the Manufacturer’s SRP but it’s essentially the number the company thinks a customer should pay for the item before taxes. In electronics or car sales, it’s often referred to as the list, or window price.

For twenty-five years, that record continued to be pressed and printed with the sticker price right on the front, even updating from three-fifty all the way to eight dollars in 2007.

What’s interesting to me is that, as we’ve taken more and more from traditional retail into the world of selling weed, We haven’t seen SRP gain popularity or even be regularly talked about. For years I’ve asked farmers and brands what the suggested retail price of their items are, but it’s only in the last four that the most common response shifted away from “what’s that” to “we don’t like to tell the stores what to do.”

Why is it that brands putting out consistently impressive products often don’t feel like they have a say in the final price of their work?

If you look online for examples of SRP in the cannabis industry, you’ll find mostly beverage companies coming right out and telling people on their websites what they think stores should be charging. You might find that bold for a flower or extract brand but for many retail items, it’s right out of the standard marketing playbook. 

For cannabis, SRP can help retailers and brands have a valuable conversation about what competition someone’s product(s) would have at their desired range and how much meat is on the bone for both parties. With things being what they are for California’s legal cannabis industry, these are conversations about mutual self-preservation and respect for each other’s craft. 

Also, it helps have a chat with customers who often feel like knowing SRP gives them a better position to shop from. Hell, for cars. The idea of showing people a sticker price listing out pricing was made a law in 1958. In 1996 AriZona printed 99¢ on the front of their iced tea cans.

Should growers or manufacturers have a suggested price stickered on the front of the bags or jars? I’m not entirely certain, but I do know that corporate cannabis is already starting to try it.

St. Ides—part of Pabst Labs who, along with Schlitz, Lone Star, Pabst, is owned by Blue Ribbon Partners—just released a THC beverage with a $7.99 price printed right on the can, just like that Minor Threat album we talked about.

Even though education on the concept of brands suggesting a price to your vendors is happening, and the St. Ides move isn’t rocket science, smaller brands still don’t feel empowered to make that clear, suggestion using this prevailing retail strategy.

Meanwhile, most of us can attest to seeing items priced anywhere from a five to fifteen dollar difference before taxes from spot to spot, and most times, you can guarantee the brand was paid the same price. For someone who might have just stopped into a shop while on the road, it can sometimes spoil a sale or make someone feel less inclined to stick with a company when they see pricing jump as soon as they leave their local selection.

You can’t villainize retail by resting the blame solely on their shoulders. Though you hear plenty of stories about the bad apples in the bunch unloading sale items at full price or seeing just how high they can get an item in heavy demand. The cost of doing business rises every year and relief from state officials gets more and more far fetched.

Given the strict taxation, lack of banking options, and claimable exemptions cannabis stores face, most are forced by necessity, not greed, to create their own pricing structure based on a multiplier or percentage markup that becomes their golden ratio for how much something hits the sales floor at. 

It’s something we did in music retail when distributors increased the cost of goods while holding that list price the same but there were also plenty of companies for whom SRP represented a way to help create opportunity and temper expectations.

Instead of some bold assertion, SRP should come into the cannabis industry as a way for brands to state their worth and for retailers to gauge their possibility of success. We might not need to go as far as putting the price onto the packaging but starting with listing it on your website or in your literature just like these larger companies do might just be a good start.

Giving a grower or maker some power in that conversation doesn’t mean a retailer is going to adhere to it, (we are talking about a suggestion after all), but like I said before, it opens up a dialogue where both parties get to express what they think the response would be with regards to a location and/or its clientele, or market viability. 

Taxation and regulation create an often difficult and challenging landscape for us to work in. Making something like SRP go across the board is a thing that would take time and customization for our industry, along with someone willing to make the long jump (though it seems there’s already a brand aiming for the blue ribbon there). 

Regardless, there’s an overdue need for brands to have a voice in this regard. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll see an ad saying they’re slashing prices on eighths, and you’ll know whose price they mean.

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A Love Letter To The Mylar Bag

I get stoked every time I see a discarded weed bag on the sidewalk.

Okay yeah, litter is a bummer and the bags themselves aren’t great for the environment, but I can’t help it. Every time I walk past a mylar bag lying on the street I stop to check it out, kicking it around and flipping it over against the cracks in the sidewalk until I can see the art, the strain name, the branding, and every word of text. As cannabis and the cannabis community mesh further into the fabric of American life, the mylar bag has quickly become the artistic bellwether for the industry, pushing creativity, trends, and creating a lasting record of the culture akin to skateboard graphics, album covers, craft beer labels and countless other visual staples of counterculture scenes.

Existing both in concert and completely separate from the weed inside, graphic bags have hit all the early hallmarks of subculture evolution, creating a design language that extends past the cannabis community into its own distinct style of art complete with moral panic, bootleggers and copycats, regional intricacies, and iconic standouts. 

The intersection of commerce and counterculture is always contentious, no matter how niche, and while the artistic merits of each particular bag are certainly up to personal interpretation, it is already clear that graphic bags have reshaped the world of weed at damn near every level.

Evolving from RX labels scribbled with a strain name and stuck to black, silver, or plastic windowed bags in California’s pre-recreational medical market, as soon as cannabis sellers turned into cannabis companies the open space on the front of every bag became a billboard for branding and expression, setting strains and sellers apart on dispensary shelves and black market menus. 

Fueled by an influx of legalization laws, increased competition amongst distributors, a flood of flower, and tons of custom print shops and pre-printed bags a Google search away, graphic bags grew from the domain of top-shelf brands and exclusive suppliers to a ubiquitous facet of the regulated and unregulated markets. In 2020, with pack prices high, traditional businesses on hold, hustlers and smokers flush with extra pandemic unemployment funds put the bag game into overdrive, turning branded bud into a status symbol, with dye-cut shapes, holographic printing, and wilder subject matter – the more outlandish the bag, the more clout on social media, the faster it flies out of dispensaries and backpacks alike. 

Just like limited-edition Nikes and Supreme t-shirts, the exclusive aesthetics were immediately bootlegged, with overseas printers churning out cheap knockoffs of every popular brand and bag under the sun, turning downtown L.A. into Canal Street for trappers, with blocks of storefronts dedicated to fake packaging. It might piss off brand owners, but for the culture as a whole the bootleg obsession is a mark of legitimacy to be proud of. 

Outside the culture, cannabis bag art has become a convenient boogyman for prohibitionists, who argue that cartoon characters and bubble letters appeal to kids. Disregarding decades of rated R (or worse) animation holding a significant place in pop culture, a number of legal markets have sided with the prohibitionists on the limits of adult artistic expression, strictly restricting bag designs.

But if the past is any indicator, loud, newsworthy, and eventually unsuccessful protests against rap, metal, controversial movies back to Elvis’ hip shaking and countless other moral outrages aimed at saving kids from deviant art, the long-term odds are in our favor. Besides, you can’t ban cartoon art or bubble letters on the black market, no matter how sick of red eye Rick & Morty we all are.

Like the culture’s cousins in skateboarding, graffiti, and streetwear, the design language that dominates bag art from seshes to sidewalks is highly referential, drenched in parody, nostalgic, psychedelic, obsessed with local flavor, global ambitions, and luxury aspirations. 

Be it licensed collaborations with superstar athletes like Cookies’ Gary Payton and 33 by Backpack Boyz, a very unofficial dye-cut Supreme Air Force One sneaker by Shiest Bubz and The Smoker’s Club, a genre-defining run by Jokes Up culminating in the, um, unique, Coochie Runtz bag, hyper-local creations like Chopped Cheese by Buddy’s Bodega, all the way to dime bags printed with hastily photoshopped collages of The Joker, graphic bags are an amalgamation of every corner of cannabis culture, highbrow to lowbrow, political to patronizing, original to bootleg, calligraphy to cartoon and everywhere in between. At the end of the day, seeing a graphic weed bag on the sidewalk – an unavoidable happenstance walking through any American city these days – is saying the same thing – weed is here, weed is everywhere, and you’re gonna see it. 

Because bags can be designed and produced so quickly, mylar art is constantly rotating and reacting at the pace of our collective attention span, with print houses like Sticker Farmer dropping new bags memorializing every Academy Awards slap, viral challenge, and athlete, celebrity, or politician to be “turned into a pack,” all dropping days if not hours after the event itself. 

The evolution of bag graphics is still in its early stages, and if cannabis giants, small brands, and local trappers continue to put significant creative effort and funding into creating the next bag to set their strains apart, go viral on IG stories, and sell out on menus, weed bags are going to continue to solidify a place in the pantheon of modern art. 

I have high hopes, but for the medium to really stick, it is time to start giving respect to the artists and graphic designers behind the bags. Brands, start tagging the artists more frequently on posts, put a signature on the back of the bag, sponsor and host art shows. Smokers, if you like a bag seek out the artist, give them a follow on IG and see if they have any pieces for sale – anything you can do to continue pushing their art as a core facet of the industry and culture. 

The possibilities for bag art are endless going forward and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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New Frontier Data Explores How Packaging Affects Consumer Purchasing Habits

Cannabis retail marketing must be heavily researched to best catch the eye of potential customers, especially in markets where there is a lot of competition. New Frontier Data provides a fascinating look behind the scenes at what brand packaging says about a product, and how it is perceived by consumers. New Frontier Data uses information collected and published in its recently published Cannabis Consumers in America report, which identifies consumers based on their purchasing behavior and trends in the industry (categorized as Savvy Connoisseurs, Contemporary Lifestylers, Legacy Lifestylers, Medical Lifestylers, Modern Medicinals, Engaged Explorers, Social Nibblers, Holistic Healers, and Infrequent Partakers.)

Fifty-one percent of consumers choose products based on the desired effect, such as sleep, energy, chill or create. While potency is also a contributing factor, New Frontier Data’s newest report explored the end result of popular brand packaging appearances, and shared which ones people tend to prefer the most.

For this product survey, participants were asked if they seek out flower from particular brands or companies: 43% answered “sometimes,” 21% said “always,” 19% said “rarely,” and 17% answered “never.” Overall, 28% added that branding and packaging is “very or extremely important” when considering what to buy.

Six image varieties of flower packaging, with percentages of consumers who most preferred those packaging themes: Black Minimalist Jar (7%), Gold Jar (9%), Craft Paper Jar (14%) Mountain Landscape Jar (16%), Hippie Colorful Jar (17%), and Prescription White Jar (36%).

The Black Minimalist Jar is described as a common choice between a variety of age groups, but often chosen because it was “cool, modern, and masculine.” Those who preferred this jar usually spend between $50-$199 per transaction and are more likely to consume cannabis every day.

The Gold Jar was most popular with consumers over 55, describing it as “cool, natural, or modern.” Some described it as feminine, but it was slightly more preferred by men. Those who were drawn to this jar usually purchase between 3.5 grams to 14 grams per month, and tend to purchase about $50-$99 in a single purchase. This particular consumer is also more likely to consider topicals or transdermal products as their favorite.

The Craft Paper Jar featured a simple brown exterior with black text, which attracted consumers who like to consume cannabis in a social setting because it is “natural, authentic, and cool.” Those who are drawn to this packaging tend to buy $20-$99 worth of product in a single purchase. 

The Mountain Landscape Jar attracted younger consumers because it was “cool, natural, and authentic.” They were also the customers most likely to choose vaping as their primary way to consume.

The Hippie Colorful Jar was the most colorful of the bunch, which attracted medical cannabis consumers more than adult-use consumers, describing the jar as “cool, authentic, and modern.” Sixty-four percent of these consumers usually spend between $20-$99 in a single purchase, and prefer edibles over other consumption methods.

Finally, the Prescription White Jar was the most popular of all of these designs, appealing to all age groups and consumer types for its “medicinal, authentic, and natural” approach to design. Those who chose this tend to purchase more than one ounce of cannabis every month, and favored flower over all other product types.

New Frontier Data cites Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman, an expert on marketing who is also a co-founder of consultant firm Olson Zaltman Associates, which has worked with some of the world’s largest brands. According to Zaltman’s book How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious, and 93% of people will “rely on visual cues when considering new products.”

With this in mind, New Frontier Data recommends a continued thoughtfulness when companies create their brand product identity. “As consumers become increasingly diverse and delineated in both their motives and methods for consumption, brands should aim to directly articulate how a given product suits a consumer’s goals, rather than settle simply for selling flower.

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Weedmaps Promoting Illegal Brands Again – A Sign of the Times? 

Weedmaps is once again under fire for promoting illegal or unlicensed dispensaries and brands, mainly in California. Several businesses have reported the issue to the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), claiming that Weedmaps is “allowing vast amounts of black-market activity through their website, and they know about it but won’t do anything about it.” 

Although this has long been a problem in California, business owners who put in the money and effort to operate legally aren’t too pleased about their unlicensed competitors getting a leg up in advertising. Among the many comments made, the general opinion on the matter is that Weedmaps is completely eroding the fabric of the legal cannabis marketplace.  

What’s the story? 

I personally noticed the issue after shopping at Riverside County dispensary that I found on Weedmaps a couple of weeks ago. I very quickly realized the store was not operating legally when I got there and they had no type of check-in process, whatsoever – they didn’t even ask for my ID. I knew this had been an ongoing issue with Weedmaps in the past, but they did make some attempts to remedy the situation and clean up their appearance back in 2020.  

However, that all seemed to change (at least on a noticeable) late last year. The most recent complaints were filed in May of this year by Canex Delivery out of Los Angeles. In their statement, Canex claims that they made numerous attempts to contact Weedmaps regarding the issue, but nothing was resolved. At that point, CEO Jim Damask and CFO Joseph Bitzer decided to take legal action against the advertising giant. Using documents and screenshots to make their case, they filed a lawsuit claiming that their company “suffered significant losses due to Weedmaps – quite possibly into the tens of millions (of dollars).” 

The court documents also stated that “by allowing illegal operators to advertise on their site they are misleading investors by unethically increasing their revenue, which is being reported as legitimate in quarterly reports.” In response, Weedmaps simply went on the record with MJBizDaily as saying “We have not received any communications from the DCC or SEC regarding complaints made by Jim Damask and/or (Joseph) Bitzer of Canex Delivery.” 

In addition to promoting illegal storefronts and delivery services, Weedmaps has also been pushing illegal products; for example, 1,000 milligram brownies and gummies (when the legal limit in California and all other adult-use markets is 10 mg per serving). They also have dispensaries with operating hours that are out the legal range, like some that offer delivery past midnight or 24 hours. Legally, cannabis retailers in California between the hours of 6am and 10pm.  

Despite repeated attempts for clarification from MJBizDaily and other media sources, Weedmaps declined to provide and additional information. Regardless, numerous sources have been able to confirm that as late as June 28th, Weedmaps had multiple listings for illegal for retailers, brands, and products. It’s hard to say exactly what kind of monetary effects these advertisements had on other dispensaries in the area, but it’s quite likely that at least some legal businesses were impacted.  

A DCC spokesperson stated that this is still an “open investigation,” adding that, “Those dealing with unlicensed activity are immediately referred to our law enforcement division. DCC provides publicly accessible data, available to private companies like Weedmaps, so it is simple to follow the law by verifying whether a cannabis company is licensed in California.” 

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Why would Weedmaps take the risk?  

Honestly, the answer seems pretty simple to me: The industry is struggling and they need money. Why else would they put themselves on the line to jeopardize their reputation and entire website like that? I assume it’s because they were making a decent profit from these illegal ads. 

But now, if they are found guilty (which based on the evidence, it seems highly likely that they will be), they will get hit with some huge fines would could be very damaging to the already struggling company. Not to mention, this is a publicly traded company, so getting charged with illegally boosting revenue could be a problem for investors. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if some have already started to sell their shares.  

Four years ago, the company landed in hot water for similar issues, but after repeated warnings and legal threats, they removed all the illegal ads from their site in 2020, before their parent company went public. It’s unclear whether removing the ads will be enough to help them, but as of now, they still have illegal products and dispensaries listed on their site. So it doesn’t appear that they are even making the same kind of effort to get things back on the level like they did a few years prior.  

The future of Weedmaps 

Obviously, a bit of what happens in their future hinges on how this lawsuit fares for them. Having said that, Weedmaps seems to be on a bit of a downward spiral anyway. Weedmaps’ parent company announced recently that they will be laying off roughly 25% of their staff, adding up to about 175 employees. “This decision was based on cost-reduction initiatives intended to reduce operating expenses and sharpen the company’s focus on key growth priorities,” WM Technology disclosed in a Nov. 29 regulatory filing. 

Sadly, many are not surprised by all this. In my opinion, Weedmaps’ entire business model only thrives in a prohibition environment. Sure, Weedmaps has been incredibly useful and convenient, and it’s been around, helping us find pot for years now. But once weed is federally legal, that opens up many doors in the advertising sector and Weedmaps will be forced to complete with some of the world’s largest tech and marketing companies… and it may not go well for them.  

The reason I mention this is because, a lot of times, it simply does not work as advertised. Pricing, strain, availability, much is it is inaccurate as listed online. You can go to a store’s menu, pick and choose a bunch of items, then go to checkout only to be informed what you ordered is out of stock. Or even worse, you get to the dispensary and then they tell you that what you ordered is not available.  

Final thoughts 

Honestly, doing illegal things is not really basis for turning on a company, especially not in this industry, because, let’s face it, if it weren’t for people who are willing to bend some rules, the cannabis market wouldn’t even exist as it does today. That said, based on everything that’s been going on with Weedmaps lately, it’s hard to imagine their stock will succeed in the long run if they keep deceiving investors and running illegal business schemes.

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The post Weedmaps Promoting Illegal Brands Again – A Sign of the Times?  appeared first on Cannadelics.

Quality Genetics: The Most Important Factor in Cannabis Sales and Marketing

You can have a state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation facility, but if you don’t have the quality strains people demand, you won’t generate as much money as you could. That is, if you care about making money. Don’t believe me? Try to grow out and sell some strains like AK-47, White Widow, Early Pearl, Great White Shark, Skunk, Jack Herer, Durban Poison, or any of the classic strains that are currently not in demand. As a commercial cultivator and/or dispensary owner, it isn’t about what you like, it’s what’s in demand, and currently driving sales. There are very few classics that still stand the test of time like all the “Chemdog”, “Sour Diesel”, and “OG Kush” variants. The “Gas” Family as I like to call it.  No one is lining up, or camping out to get some “old” genetics, flower, or concentrates unfortunately. If you want to sell those strains, your target demographic market is going to be in the 40 and up age range. 

If cannabis genetics wasn’t such a major force in driving sales, dispensaries/cultivators wouldn’t be linking up to do licensing deals with these seed companies and brands, specifically for the genetics they possess under their brand. Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this tactic, if the cultivators acquiring the licensing deal actually grew good weed. Currently, most of the big cultivators who grow all these “Dessert-Themed” strains don’t grow good enough weed to justify the prices they are getting. You can only take people for a fool once, MAYBE twice, but the people falling for the hype are getting taken for a fool, and they are paying top dollar to look like a fool. How can you justify paying about $80 for 3.5g of weed that isn’t good? But some will overlook it because the mylar is flashy, and the strain name is trendy, but grown horribly. And you want to flex with that on social media when other people that know good quality know you are promoting garbage? You are making yourselves look like fools. The sales are mainly based off major advertising power that pushes these new strains. If you strip the marketing, branding, and strain from these licensed strains, 99% of them wouldn’t be able to stand on their own merits. It would probably collect dust on a shelf.

Years before recreational cannabis legalization, elite cannabis genetics were hard to acquire. Now, it’s available to the highest bidder. Currently, there’s an incredible amount of “Seed Banks” or “Clone Nurseries” that will send you just about every clone out there if you look hard enough. But everything will be irrelevant in a few months. It’s almost like fashion, or anything else trendy. Very few strains have the staying power to last in today’s quickly-evolving market. Due to that, we have almost every dispensary around the country wanting to grow the same genetics, based off of hype demand, and/or yield. If there was no hype, and demand for those genetics; they wouldn’t cultivate them. Just about all that hype, branding, and demand stems from the black market. Let’s be real for a minute. You really think dispensaries or RECREATIONAL cultivation facilities that are vertically integrated, that specialize in commercial flower production, are the ones making the next new strain to blow up? Ninety nine percent of them can barely grow good weed, and are usually last to grow the trendy strains because they don’t want to pay top dollar to source the genetics upon release, so you expect me to think they are putting in all that work that goes into breeding, hunting, and selecting strains properly? Let alone make anything anyone wants? Usually if I hear of a dispensary/licensed cultivation facility making seeds, it’s almost never intentional. I’d like to help be apart of that change. The end-user is the one who is driving demand, so it is up to the cultivators, budtenders, or someone on your team to know what’s currently popular, in-demand, coming up, and all that. It pays to have someone on your team whose got their ear to the streets. That is an important position to hold for the company. It always pays to be two steps ahead of your competition. That is partially what I have been doing with Dark Horse Genetics for the past five years.

Unfortunately, the end-user’s interest and demand has been changing faster than ever, due to social media always hyping up a new strain or brand. We’ve reached a point in time where smell, taste, burn, and efficacy are secondary, while visual appeal is driving sales. The flashier the mylar, and the darker the weed, the easier it is to make the sale it seems. Nowadays, something can LOOK flawless, but smell, taste, burn, and hit like garbage, and it will still sell. Add a flashy, die-cut mylar, slap a dessert name on it, market and brand it properly, and BAM! You are selling mids for a higher price point that you would have in unbranded bulk pounds. This tactic can only get you so far, and will only last for so long. If you want to future-proof yourself, here are a few recommendations I have for you to start your own wave, that is if you’d like to take my advice:


Have an area where you can “pheno hunt” a good variety of several strains. Try and avoid growing all the same or similar type of genetics. Do you really need 12 different kinds of Gelatos, or RuntZ that all look, smell, and taste similar, with different dessert names? What makes you stand out above all the rest is having a good variety of something everyone wants, but no one can access unless it’s through you. If you grew out some seeds, and potentially found the next game-changer, like the next RuntZ, Gelato, ZkittleZ, something like that, there is A LOT of money to be made if you can market it properly and get it to the right hands.

Document and record the entire life cycle for the public to access. 

It seems to me since I have started making my own seeds under the brand #NYCeeds, documenting the entire growing cycle from start to finish will put you far ahead of your competition when it comes to data collected. I have slowly been building buzz on my new strains that I am planning on releasing in December. If there was no documentation, there would be no buzz, and nothing to build hype and demand. No one would know what I am doing, and what I plan on releasing if I don’t document the growth, and have some kind of social media presence. For me, it has been difficult to get off the ground since February 2022, but once everything started going, the momentum doesn’t look like it going to slow down. I have only been building more and more interest and demand since I started earlier this year. As of recent, I reversed SpritZer, and made several feminized crosses. All are currently being tested and documented on multiple platforms with a select few testers and will not release until testing is completed. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube,  Twitch, TikTok, Twitter, Reddit, and ESPECIALLY Discord are all vital tools you should be using to build a community of followers, and supporters. I can not stress this enough. USE DISCORD. It might take some time to learn, but this is one of the best platforms for cannabis documentation. These other platforms do not have draconian censorship rules in place like Instagram now does.

Public phenotype hunting

I noticed specific brands who grow from seed, getting the public involved in their pheno hunts. This is a great idea. The public is making you $, so why not get them involved in the process, and get lots of feedback to see which phenotype suits your customer-base best. The last thing you want to be is out of touch when it comes to knowing what sells, what is in demand, and what next strain wave is coming. If you want to be in the loop with all of that, you need to keep an ear to the streets. Find out what each customer likes if possible. Grow those strains, or something with that strain in it. DO NOT be afraid to ask questions. BE AFRAID to lose money, and be out of the loop. Include them in helping you narrow down your keeper(s). It isn’t always about yields, but some corporate entity reading this will probably laugh at that statement. Certain strains can yield high and test high in THC, but smell and taste like nothing. Those aren’t enjoyable. The strains with the most flavor usually don’t test high in THC. Look at ZkittleZ. Sour Diesel. Tangie. They don’t test high in THC, but their terpene content is out of this world. Aroma drives more sales than you might think. If something smells so good that I can taste it, I probably would want to spend my money on that. No strain has won more cannabis awards than ZkittleZ has in one year. It has nothing to do with yields, because it yields low. Not for it’s THC percentage, because it tests around 17%-19% THC. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE TERPS. You can keep your 40% THC. Show me the flower with 6-7% Terps! Custies and uneducated consumers buy weed based off the percentage. If you drink, do you go into a liquor store asking for their strongest? It’s usually Everclear, or do you get the lower percentage stuff which is more enjoyable? The lower percentage stuff usually is cheaper, but definitely more enjoyable.

Social media presence

I can not stress this enough. Without utilizing these tools at your disposal, you will not be able to reach as many potential customers as you could. Stop it with the old mentality, and learn something new for once. Especially if it’s beneficial. Just about every successful cannabis strain, breeder, or brand is out there is using social media. Not only do you have to use it, you have to keep it constantly updated with fresh content, or you will become irrelevant faster than you think. Utilizing these various tools to maximize outreach to create a larger audience with eyes on your product, brand, strain, etc. You better put that strain in front of everyone’s face as much as you can, as often as you can to get them interested. Get other big social media accounts to talk about your product. Cross-promoting is HUGE. If you can get people from not knowing about you, into wanting to try your product, you are doing something right. Just about all social media is free. Utilize it. You might need to pay someone monthly to operate your social media, but if they know how to build that audience, and get that reach, they are worth what they are asking. Content creation is making more and more money as we go deeper and deeper into this digitized world. 

Release your keeper clone as your upcoming project(s) is/are about to drop to maximize hype and demand.

It usually takes up to 2 years for a specific clone to gain popularity once it has been released. If the public sees it as good, you will see it being passed around, sold, bred with, and if it’s really good or popular, you will see everyone else but you make S1’s of your strain and sell it before you. If you want to avoid that, do all that work yourself before you release your genetics to the world. Be ahead of what others will try to do once you make your release. Look at M.A.C. from Capulator. The hype and demand was there once the seeds were available because he built that up with him releasing the M.A.C #1 Clone, only to those who deserved it. By the time the seeds were available to the public to access, Cap already made crosses with M.A.C, knowing everyone else would want to cash in on the hype. Once he released those seeds, several seed companies bred with the MAC, but Capulator was already ahead of everyone else by then. Look what happened with Purple Punch, Gorilla Glue #4, RuntZ, Gelato, OreoZ, Bruce Banner #3, ZkittleZ, etc. As soon as your genetics are accessible to the public, you’ll start seeing other people make a name off your work. This isn’t something you ask for to happen, it just happens if the genetics are worth it to the public eye, nose, and lungs. No one wants to breed with genetics that are bad, so everyone is always after the quality genetics or the hype genetics. You can be humbled if your work is being copied, or you can just future-proof yourself. Like Cap and other breeders/seed companies do, because they know what is to come once your Intellectual Property (your strains) are out there. Try staying ahead of the game if possible so you don’t get people capitalizing on your own wave. Most people get mad when they see their genetics get released through someone else other than the person who made or found that specific strain. If you made a strain that is in such high demand that people are wanting to take credit for it, you can always make another strain that people will want. If they know it came from you or you made it, you have a customer for life.

Be open to collaborating with other brands for maximum exposure/reach.

It really helps with exposure, and getting to other customers you normally wouldn’t have reached. If you can find a brand that is bigger than you to collaborate with you, this is what you would ultimately want, but feel free to uplift the smaller companies trying to make a name as well. One hand washes the other. It can be an ancillary brand as well. Non-cannabis-related brands can be just as successful as the cannabis brands, and vice-versa. It’s all about coming together with great ideas that both markets can appreciate and enjoy. These analogies might be a little out there, but look at Kanye West + Adidas, Travis Scott + McDonald’s, Fortnite + EVERYONE, Supreme + EVERYTHING; collaborations are a great way to generate alternate avenues of revenue and build a new following/customer base with the company you are collaborating with. Open yourself up to wanting to work with other cannabis, and non-cannabis brands. Cannabis breeders and seed companies collaborate all the time to make new strains, plus they help cross-promote each other. If you are a licensed cultivation facility, look for a good breeder/seed company with good references, and good public feedback from within the cannabis community.  Think about signing a licensing deal with that specific breeder/seed company  that actually has great genetics and great weed. Good person, good genetics, good strains, good ethics, and good public perception. Those are the people you want to align yourself with. You’d be surprised at the amount of seed companies that have okay genetics bred and ran by a sketchy, shady person that people in the cannabis community would never respect or support. 

Honesty is key. Don’t rename strains—be transparent.

No one who knows about good weed cares about celebrity-branded cannabis products. Most of the deals are complete garbage, and it seems people with the most money to spend on marketing tend to use this marketing tactic with celebrities to push their mediocre brands and product. Just about every cannabis brand backed by some celebrity is complete garbage. It is one of the worst bait-and-switches you could think of. You would think if a celebrity is going to be putting their name on a cannabis brand, that this would be their seal of approval. It’s completely false and unethical. It’s simply a cash grab.

Also, don’t rename the breeder’s strain name. It is one of the worst ethics violations in cannabis. If you don’t like the name, don’t grow it. Simple as that. Pheno hunt something else and put in the same work that others have done., vs. just buy a good clone and rename it and take the credit like you did something special. Breeders put hard work into branding strains and thinking of names only for you to just act like you can do whatever you want with the name is not okay. Call your specific phenotype whatever you want, but if someone asks what the cross is, do not lie about it. Some people don’t know the newer strain names, but will make their decision on the lineage. No one is out here renaming “vodka” to “tequila,” so how do you stand to benefit from withholding information, or switching stuff around, and calling things “indica” when you know that they are “sativa” and vice versa? It’s like erasing my name on my homework, and you submit it with your name on it.

I can call out too many dispensaries putting strains on their sativa shelf, when the genetics clearly state it isn’t a sativa. If an indica takes 8-9 weeks to flower, and a sativa takes 12-14 weeks to flower, why would I sell you something that took me longer, and cost more to produce for the same price as the stuff that took less time, effort, energy, work, and resources?  This is a major reason why real sativa strains aren’t on dispensary shelves. Greedy cultivators want more harvest in a year of the fastest flowering strain, but won’t grow the longer stuff to satisfy the sativa market, but will instead recategorize indicas and sell them as sativa when they know it is not. That can do some form of harm to someone who isn’t used to the opposite of what they are asking for, and it is not okay.

ESPECIALLY DO NOT rename someone else’s strain “Calm,” “Joy,” “Bliss,” or anything stupid like that. I don’t buy drinks called “Quench,” “Drink,” “Parched,” or food called “Hunger,” “Food,” or “Meal,” so why would I purchase my weed labeled in a similar fashion? No one buys weed like that, and no one should; if they do, it’s because of their lack of education. Teach them the effects and terpene profiles of different “indica” and “sativa” strains. How about trying to teach them correct information vs. perpetuating a lie? People should be making their decisions based on the strain lineage, terpene profiles, test results, and such. People loved being lied to, but no one wants to be lied to. I am incredibly blunt. I love telling the truth, because people hate to hear it. I do get a lot of hate for my blunt attitude, but it all comes from confidence, ethics, and passion which all stems from personal experience. I hate to see anyone get taken advantage of—especially in cannabis—so I highly suggest taking the time to learn more, or educate others with proper sources.

Please, if anyone needs help with specific cannabis genetics-related questions, I might be able to forward you to someone who can help if I can not. Please feel free to contact via email or my several social media links, or contact info down below.

(303)390-1234 Ext 703
Brand Ambassador of Dark Horse Genetics
Chief Genetics Officer of Dark Horse Clones

Twitch: thcaeczar_

The post Quality Genetics: The Most Important Factor in Cannabis Sales and Marketing appeared first on High Times.

Global cannabis sales will grow to $57B but depend on new markets

As prohibition lifts an ugly grasp on cannabis, the new market prospers. BDSA is an analytics firm that tracks the industry through an enormous point-of-sale network. A recent report by the firm suggests global cannabis sales will grow to $57 Billion by 2026. This author spoke with the Founder and CEO but also Andy Seeger […]

The post Global cannabis sales will grow to $57B but depend on new markets appeared first on Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana | News.

I’m Over Cannabis Brands That Don’t Like Cannabis Users

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a new cannabis brand launches. The marketing is dialed in, and presented with buzzy words and pithy phrases. The packaging is minimalist and well-designed, with sleek fonts, clean lines, and a tasteful-but-neutral color scheme. Maybe there’s even a celebrity involved. The weed, which should be the focus, exists, but it’s boilerplate, grown en masse and sometimes flavored with botanical terpenes from other plants. It almost seems like an afterthought, and often it is. “Press release weed,” my friend and colleague Jimi Devine likes to call it.

For some people, the new wave of sexy-branding-meets-mediocre-product hits. Marketers expect this—many are banking their entire businesses on the fact that cannabis is scary to many people, thanks to the efforts of prohibitionists over the years. They’re hoping that there’s some untold “canna-curious” customer who has just been waiting for the OK from Uncle Sam to light up, and once they do, they’ll be hooked for life. Personally, I think that consumer archetype is one that type of marketing is intended for.

But for anyone who’s been smoking weed long and frequently enough, encountering sleek branding in today’s continually legalizing cannabis industry can be a bit of a mindfuck.

“Who, exactly, is this for?” I often find myself wondering, especially as a person who finds herself at the intersection of a few seemingly high-priority target groups for cannabis marketers: I’m a woman who, at 36-years-old, is approaching middle age. I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, as well as ADHD. I also stopped drinking heavily over two years ago, swapping in more weed for less booze. According to the panels I’ve moderated and sat in on, the people I’ve interviewed, and the trend reports I’ve read, those are all prime targets for cannabis companies, especially the middle-aged woman bit. But the truth is that I’ve always smoked weed and the only thing I care about when buying it is whether it’s good or not, not the package it came in nor the lifestyle it promises, however cute it all may be.

Interestingly, though, the one aspect of my life that should seem attractive to cannabis marketers—the fact that I’m what my primary care physician calls a “heavy cannabis user”—seems to be not particularly sought after by brands or the people who market them. On its face, that seems kind of obvious, because why should anyone build something for a population that’s already arrived when growth at all costs is the target goal? But it seems a bit disrespectful that branding and marketing efforts in cannabis increasingly ignores its core customer, instead peacocking for an imaginary would-be toker who is, honestly, probably never going to purchase more than a bag of low-dose edibles every few months or so.

Adding insult to injury, cannabis is not just another consumer-packaged good. It’s a criminalized controlled substance, the prohibition of which has gotten many people killed and imprisoned, a legacy that continues to this day. It may seem quaint in the age of dispensaries that look like Apple stores or high-end boutiques, but not too long ago, it wasn’t actually normal or even safe to buy or sell weed! Those of us who did so, whether we were trying to or not, were engaging in an act of resistance to some extent. We were at risk. To me, I think that means we get to have our weed brands be as weedy and stonery as we like. Bring on the tie-dye, the Grateful Dead kitsch, the wide array of dabs. We fought for this and we deserve to enjoy it.

Instead, I find myself scanning display cases at dispensaries, often not even able to see or smell the weed inside the pretty packages and utterly unsure of what I’m even purchasing. I read glowing profiles of cannabis executives, many of whom are quoted saying something along the lines of, “our weed brand transcends the stoner stereotype and image.”

Cool, I guess, but what does that even mean? So many types of people smoke weed, and on paper and at first glance, I’m probably not what most people would picture when they hear “stoner,” yet here I am. Plus, I’m not actually ashamed to be a pothead, especially when considering how much cannabis has enhanced my life and helped me heal from a variety of maladies. My consumption isn’t the issue, it’s the rest of society’s view of it that’s actually the problem.

That being said, there are certain aspects of the culture that I am glad are starting to change, like different types of consumption being celebrated more and more. The fact that lower- and mid-range-THC products are being shouted for alongside a greater focus on terpenes is music to my ears. And while there is still a very long way to go, I do appreciate that the serious bro culture of the cannabis world is starting to dissipate, however slowly. I look around at consumption lounges, parties, industry events, dispensaries, board rooms, and cannabis media companies, and more and more women are present than ever before. To me, that’s more meaningful than a pretty pre-roll with “feminine” design attributes.

To that point, I was recently on a panel with cannabis attorney Heidi Urness, who also agreed with me that cannabis brands need to stop focusing on this fake customer they want so badly to appear out of thin air. “You might make a product that appeals to a customer you didn’t intend for it to appeal to,” she said. “That’s your customer now! Serve them!” I couldn’t agree more.

The post I’m Over Cannabis Brands That Don’t Like Cannabis Users appeared first on High Times.

How Magic Mushrooms Can Help You Lose Weight

The struggle is real, guys! Somewhere along the way, getting rid of a few extra pounds turned into fending off diabetes, worrying about heart problems, and giving up on fitting into anything within 10 sizes. The obesity issue has ballooned out (all pun intended), and the collective health of America has been hit in the jugular. Products that promise to help often fall short, and the ability to keep weight off becomes harder and harder to do. Perhaps it won’t be the cure-all that people hope for when something new comes out, but it’s possible that magic mushrooms are a new answer to the growing issue of how to lose weight.

If magic mushrooms can help humans lose weight, it will sure shake up the weight loss industry. We’ll find out soon enough how useful these fungi are for keeping the pounds off. This publication reports on the cannabis and psychedelics industries of today, which you can follow along with by subscribing to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter. This will put you in first place for all new psychedelic product promotions as they come out, though you can already take advantage of deals for cannabinoids, like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC.

Can magic mushrooms help a person lose weight?

Let’s jump right in, shall we? There isn’t a large body of research on mushrooms in general (though it’s certainly growing), and the majority is geared toward mental health issues. This first look into mushrooms as a measure to lose weight is a new concept, and the research on it is sparse. Here is what there is to know.

In 2018, researchers put out this review called Anti-Obesity Effects of Medicinal and Edible Mushrooms, in which they investigated research done into the “cellular mechanisms of obesity that attenuate by antioxidant potentials of medicinal and edible mushrooms.” The idea being that “studies have showed that mushrooms potentially have antioxidant capacities, which increase the antioxidant defense systems in cells.” And that “they boost anti-inflammatory actions and thereby protect against obesity-related hypertension and dyslipidemia.”

It was pointed out within the review that mushrooms “produce low energy which is favorable for weight loss; they contain low glucose, and high mannitol, that is exactly appropriate for diabetics; and have no cholesterol and low sodium, which is good for people suffering from hypertension.”

The authors cite previous research that states “mushrooms help to regulate dysbiosis and augment antiobesity effects.” And that “modulating microbiota with the consumption of mushroom could also help maintain glucose homeostasis and reduce insulin resistance linked to diabetes and obesity.”

They concluded, “mushrooms are highly nutritive species containing enormous amounts of bioactive compounds (polysaccharides, fibers, terpenes, polyphenols, sterols, flavonoids, and alkaloids) that are potentially antioxidant-rich constituents with effects on numerous cardiac biomarkers to treat obesity-related cardiovascular system illnesses.

Various animal studies have demonstrated that regular consumption of mushrooms significantly reduces hypertension, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia, inflammation, and obesity. Nevertheless, this practice ought to be combined with regular physical exercise, as well as dietary and lifestyle alterations. The practice of regular consumption of mushroom might however result in synergistic and improved effects.”

Preclinical trials

Before testing on people is done, there is often experimentation done on animals. As such, whether a person agrees with this idea or not, a lot is often gained from animal research. In this case lab rats were used in trials relating to the use of psilocybin for appetite control, ran by a company called NeonMind.

For the trials, the rats were fed a very high calorie diet of Nutella. Some rats received small doses of psilocybin, some received bigger doses, and some were part of a control group that did not receive psilocybin at all. The results showed that rats fed more psilocybin were less likely to eat as much, with a thought being that the psilocybin might suppress appetite.

This offers two possible benefits. One is the possible ability to suppress the appetite leading to less desire for food. And the other is the ability to change patterned thinking, allowing for new thought processes to be made, which can help a person get out of their old eating habits, and establish new, healthier ones. This ability for neuroplasticity is seen with other hallucinogens as well.

Overall, investigators concluded a few things. First, that there was statistical significance in terms of weight gain between the control group and the experimental groups. Second, that results were seen within a few days. Third, that the experimental groups did consume less food than the control. And four, there weren’t any safety issues with using psilocybin. Next up come clinical trials for humans.

NeonMind wants to use mushrooms to lose weight

Magic mushrooms aren’t legal yet, but there is already a whole industry sprouting up around them. Many companies are currently selling non-psychedelic mushrooms in an effort to get things going while waiting for new regulation. And some companies are already planning for impending legal changes. NeonMind is a company out of Canada which is behind the trials mentioned above.

NeonMind Biosciences is a publicly traded biotech company that is currently examining how magic mushrooms, and specifically psilocybin, can help a person lose weight by helping to improve eating habits, and change patterned thinking about food. The company functions on two main pathways, 1) as a pharmaceutical company developing psychedelic drugs targeting obesity, and 2) providing medical services through specialty mental health clinics.

lose weight

Says CEO of NeonMind Penny White, “psilocybin causes neuroplasticity, which means it can remove our Pavlovian-like responses to environmental stimuli”, and that “psilocybin has the potential to serve as a new and different tool to help people lose weight and maintain their weight loss by changing neural pathways.” She explained, “changed habits and cognitions can increase caloric expenditure and reset the behaviors and cognitions that link life stress and trauma to eating behavior.”

In terms of clinical trials, White stated, “psilocybin is known to activate serotonin receptors. Serotonin can curb cravings, shut off appetite and reduce eating.” She explained the initial trials, saying, “we are currently conducting a preclinical trial at the University of British Columbia examining psilocybin as a treatment for weight loss. We are also designing a phase 2 human clinical trial which we hope will be application ready by the spring.”

This came from an interview in early 2021, and the Phase I trials were released in 2022. The preclinical trials were done with the backing of Health Canada. NeonMind has since then filed five US provisional patent applications for weight loss therapeutics, including for compulsive eating disorders; obesity or related issues; and for altering diets for better health.

The company completed its IPO in late 2020, raising $4.6 million. The stock is traded under NEON on the Canadian Securities Exchange. This makes them one of the growing number of psychedelics companies that are now publicly traded.

NeonMind isn’t the only organization looking into magic mushrooms for weight-related issues. The company COMPASS Pathways (Nasdaq – CMPS) is investigating treating anorexia-nervosa with psilocybin in Phase II trials, and the company Tryp Therapeutics (CSE – TRYP) (OTCQB – TRYPF) is recruiting for Phase II trials to treat binge eating with its own version of psilocybin.

The overweight epidemic

How big is the overweight issue in America, and how much do we need to pay attention? Oh, it’s pretty bad. First let’s define things. There’s a difference between the terms ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’. Whereas ‘overweight’ implies a body mass index (BMI) of over 25%, ‘obese’ refers to those who are 30% above the weight they should be. BMI is a measure of a person’s weight (measured in kg), divided by their height (in m2). It’s written like this: mg/kg. Standard BMI’s are about 18.5-24.9%.

In terms of how this problem can be explained for a population, consider that as of a CDC reporting for 2017-2018, 42.4% of the US population weighed in as obese. Not overweight, remember, but obese, meaning this entire 42.4% of the population has a BMI of 30% or more.

This qualifies nearly half the population as being incredibly overweight. Considering the requirement to be called overweight is several percentages less, it implies that over half the population could be considered heavier than what is healthy.

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This hasn’t always been a problem, and there’s been a steady increase in the last couple decades. Between 1999-2018, the rate of obesity shot up 30.5% signaling major issues in the food we eat, and the sedentary way we live our lives. Within that period, the incidence of severe obesity (BMI of 40%+) also went up to 9.2% from 4.7%.

I’ll make this even worse. It’s not just the adults it affects, but the children of the country too. From 1975 to 2016, the rate of obesity among children aged 5-19 shot up from 4% to 18%, according to the WHO’s global burden of disease statistics from 2017. This means not only are we not able to control ourselves in terms of what we eat, but we can’t helpfully impact children with healthy eating habits, either.


Though magic mushrooms propose an interesting solution to the problem, possibly offering users a way to lose weight, the entire idea of using them comes with a major stipulation. Just like with tons of other medications, and supplements, how well they work, is often determined by how much effort we’re willing to put in.

Magic mushrooms might prove to be a good aid to lose weight, but it probably won’t be accomplished without changing eating and exercise habits. This might not be the super easy answer hoped for by a country with out-of-control weight issues, but it might be the only one in reality for those who want lasting results.

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