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Can Cannabis Consumers Trust Products Labels?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to help consumers trust cannabis labels...
Welcome to Four PM — a daily newsletter that provides cannabis industry news & insights from cannabis industry leaders.
Four months after Canada legalized cannabis, total sales were less than $50 million USD each month. Today this number is over $230 million each month.
In Today’s Issue 💬
→ How Accurate Are Cannabis Labels?
→ Consuming Cannabis At Work.
→ Big Tobacco Circles Cannabis.
Can Consumers Trust Cannabis Labels?
A new study from the National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to help consumers trust cannabis labels.
A majority of cannabis consumers currently care about one key metric — how high is a product's THC percentage?
In Canada, this trend has been playing out since the earliest days of legalization, and in more mature markets such as California, this specific trend has been present for quite some time.
A question that has long been discussed in the cannabis industry is just how accurate are these numbers which play such an influential role in determining which products consumers purchase?
Now, the National Institute of Standards and Technology which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce is seeking to answer this question.
Into The Weeds…
As part of their new report, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is seeking to test the accuracy of cannabis products labeled for THC, CBD, and more than a dozen other cannabinoids.
One of the primary goals is to highlight just how much variability there can be in the results between labs testing cannabis products.
It’s important to note that the NIST made clear that the goal is to make observations and to educate — as opposed to passing judgment on the lab’s techniques or measurements.
In total, 116 laboratories that test cannabis participated in this groundbreaking study, with 83 percent of participants returning the required data.
As per the report, there are some very clear trends:
THC → There was a high level of accuracy in the results they received from the labs testing for THC content, however, some results were significantly above or below the target value.
CBD → Once again, there was a high level of accuracy in the results they received from the labs testing products CBD percentages, however, those that missed the mark tended to fall below the intended value.
Only last year, a class-action claim was filed against fifteen Candian cannabis producers, alleging that the THC and CBD levels in the products purchased didn’t match what was listed on the labels.
As per Lisa Marie Langevin who lead the claim; the named companies sold cannabis products to consumers and patients “with THC or CBD content levels that were drastically different from the amount advertised on the label.”
If successful, the $500-million-plus lawsuit will require these companies to pay out consumers who bought their products dating back to 2016 as repayment for poor quality control standards.
When exposed to prolonged high temperatures, cannabinoids begin to degrade, making it incredibly difficult to accurately predict the cannabinoid content of a cannabis product at the point at which a consumer purchases it.
Even if every cannabis producer was accurately testing their product’s cannabinoids & terpene profiles right before they were sold to wholesalers, the unknown timeline as to how long any product will sit in a warehouse prior to being sold adds so much uncertainty to this already difficult problem.
Does Cannabis Have A Place In The Future Of Work?
New research suggests that 15% of Americans working from home are consuming cannabis.
Consuming cannabis at your employers’ office might not be the best location to consume cannabis.
With more and more people working remotely — consuming cannabis at work is on the rise.
In a poll conducted by AmericanMarijuana.org — 15% of remote workers reported having worked from home under the influence of cannabis.
In total 1001 remote employees were surveyed.
The Main Findings…
It’s said that people over the age of 50 are one of the fastest-growing groups turning to cannabis, however, it’s crystal clear that many are still hesitant to start consuming cannabis during working hours.
Whereas 41.3% of the people under the age of 20-29 reported to having consumed cannabis during work hours — less than 30% of people over the age of 50 said the same.
Additionally, it would appear that both men and women are both equally willing to consume cannabis when working from home with 36.6% of men having consumed cannabis and 37.9% women.
What Do Employers Think?
The report found that 38% of the companies in question changed their cannabis policy during the pandemic.
According to respondents, 8.2% of employers said it was fine to consume cannabis at any time — 36.1% said it was acceptable outside work — 35.3% said it was not allowed, and 20.5% were simply unsure.
72% of people surveyed said they were fine with their employer’s current cannabis policy, and it didn’t need to be altered, whereas 11% wanted things more strict, and 16.8% of people wanted their lob to loosen the rules.
The normalization of cannabis will play an essential role in the future of work.
With 12% of adults consuming cannabis in the U.S, more and more companies are realizing that their failure to update their policies for cannabis is preventing them from hiring hard-working Americans.
Big Tobacco Firms Are Making Moves Into Cannabis
A $60 billion dollar tobacco company sees cannabis as a key part of its future.
The public perception of smoking cigarettes is sharply shifting.
Whereas once, all of the cool kids were the primary brand ambassadors for cigarettes with characters such as James Bond smoking cigarettes in films — the negative health consequences of these products are now undeniable.
From Harm To Health…
British American Tobacco (BAT) is seeking to "accelerate" its transformation from relying on the sale of cigarettes in favor of less harmful products.
In March 2021, BAT took a 20% stake in Canadian cannabis producer Organigram — coming at a cost of $175 million USD.
"As we think about our portfolio for the future, certainly beyond nicotine products are interesting for us as another wave of future growth," British American Tobacco CMO Kingsley Wheaton.
This decision to reduce their reliance on the sale of tobacco products has been an ongoing effort for many years with a third of its UK revenues now coming from their vaping brands.
Sell The Problem + The Solution?
British American Tobacco is by no means the only cigarette company seeking to build a less harmful product portfolio.
The CEO of tobacco company Philip Morris International has even gone as far as to call on the UK government to outright ban the sale of cigarettes in the U.K within a decade.
In the clearest admission that the tides are turning, CEO of Philip Morris Jacek Olczak said he can “see the world without cigarettes … and actually, the sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone”.
The company is targeting 50% of its revenue from non-smoking products in the next decade.
Philip Morris is supposedly aiming to become a “healthcare and wellness company” with executive pay tied to its new mission to “unsmoke the world”.
Along Comes Cannabis….
Cannabis may be many multiples safer than cigarettes, however, from a regulatory standpoint — cannabis & cigarettes share many similarities.
With an ever-increasing number of nations looking to legalize cannabis, getting into the cannabis industry is a perfect fit for these billion-dollar companies.
In addition to BAT’s investment in Canadian cannabis producer Organigram — there have been four additional noteworthy deals:
In 2016, Philip Morris International invested $20 million USD in Syqe Medical, an Israeli company developing a cannabis inhaler.
In 2018, Altria invested a whopping $1.8 billion USD for 45% of Cronos Group, a Canadian cannabis company.
In June 2018, Imperial Brands invested in Cannabinoid Technologies, a biotech company researching medicinal cannabis.
In 2019, Imperial increased their stake in the cannabis market, investing over $100 million USD in Canadian cannabis producer Auxly.
These deals highlight a common thread.
Big tobacco companies are clearly interested in cannabis, and as opposed to building from scratch many of these companies are choosing to invest or acquire existing cannabis companies.
I’m by no means a fan of tobacco companies, however, in order to perform research and develop new products — cannabis companies need capital.
In the short term, it seems a majority of this capital will continue to come from large alcoholic beverage & tobacco companies.
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