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The Future Of Cannabis Is Cultured Cannabinoids
A world in which consumers have access to over 100 different cannabinoids
Welcome to Four PM — a daily newsletter that provides the top cannabis industry news from Canada to California.
Imagine a world in which consumers have unlimited access to over 100 different cannabinoids, at a fraction of the cost of what consumers can currently purchase cannabinoids such as CBD & THC.
As someone who spends a great deal of time researching the cannabis industry in an effort to anticipate what the future might look like, it seems increasingly likely that a distinction between cannabis and cannabinoids will arise in the coming years.
Cannabis vs Cannabinoids
Very few people across the world currently make any meaningful distinction between cannabinoids and cannabis, and for good reason — truth be told, there really isn't a difference between the two today.
As things stand, the preferred method of consuming cannabinoids is to smoke dried flower, with other form factors like tinctures and topicals lagging behind by a significant margin here in North America.
Is Change Coming?
As someone who grew up in a culture where smoking is quite broadly viewed as a bad thing, the idea that a majority of the population around the world will choose to smoke cannabis as their preferred method of consuming cannabinoids—even when presented with a safe, affordable alternative—is hard to believe.
Following this chain of thought, will there be an even greater demand for cannabis extraction facilities to produce these cannabinoids, or is there an alternative solution that solves some of the core problems found within the existing supply chain?
The first problem we will examine is the current inability to access over 95% of the cannabinoids known to exist in large enough quantities, such that these molecules could be added to products.
Who knows just how popular some of these cannabinoids will be relative to THC and CBD?
This inability to access the majority of cannabinoids is a constraint of the current supply chain, as it doesn't allow for the production of these cannabinoids in large enough quantities for these molecules to be commercialized.
Although there have been some new cultivars designed to produce larger quantities of these “rare cannabinoids,” these cultivars remain insufficient to produce the quantities of these molecules required to supply the large CPG companies that are currently being built, otherwise known as the multi-state operators (MSOs).
The second problem we will examine is the current cost of producing cannabinoids.
The current method of producing cannabinoids is extremely expensive, as it requires a grower to cultivate cannabis plants, followed by using expensive equipment to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material.
Despite there being a huge surplus of cannabis in Canada, the price of cannabinoids remains extremely high for consumers, with a gram of CBD isolate currently costing consumers $100 CAD.
These prohibitively high price points makes the regular use of cannabinoids out of reach for many individuals.
From the best information I’ve been able to source, cultured cannabinoids will likely drive down the price of cannabinoids by between 50‒90% in the coming years.
If the price of cannabinoids could be reduced, I see no reason as to why more people wouldn’t choose to consume cannabinoids each day. I know I would.
Just over a year ago, I crossed paths with Ben Chiarelli, CEO of Cellibre.
What I appreciated most about Ben was his willingness to challenge my assumptions and in light of new information, I had a significant change of perspective as to what the future of cannabis may look like, or rather the future of cannabinoids.
At the core of this conversation was the topic of cultured cannabinoids—not to be mistaken with synthetic cannabinoids such as K2 or Spice, which are known to be very inconsistent and even dangerous.
The biggest takeaway from my conversations with Ben is that cultured cannabinoids will be organic products, exact replicas of the cannabinoids we currently consume, only removing the requirement to cultivate plants to produce cannabinoids.
With this new supply chain in place, the cannabis industry will, for the first time in its history, have access to a long list of cannabinoids at price points that could make it inefficient to cultivate cannabis for “value-added cannabis products”—ie. edibles, beverages, vapes, topicals, and more.
Cannabinoids vs. Cannabis
When this change occurs, I foresee a significant shift wherein many individuals currently considered cannabis consumers will be considered cannabinoid consumers, as it would be inaccurate to suggest otherwise.
What will cause this change in terminology?
Well, first and foremost, it’s likely going to be inaccurate to consider these individuals cannabis consumers, as the cannabinoids they consume will increasingly come not from cannabis plants but via biosynthesis.
Secondly, the term cannabis still carries such a strong stigma. Personally, I don’t care enough about this stigma and wouldn’t allow it to affect my behavior, but it would be dishonest to not recognize that this stigma still persists in much of the world.
Consumers Drive Change
When all is said and done, any such changes will be determined by consumers.
With upwards of a 50% reduction in the price point of cannabinoids, alongside access to over 100 different cannabinoids that are currently unavailable, it seems increasingly likely that consumers will adopt cultured cannabinoids in the years to come.
This doesn't mean that dried flower is going away, if anything we will likely see an increase in the number of consumers gravitating to dried cannabis flower as companies add cultured cannabinoids and terpenes to the dried cannabis flower they produce.
Keep an eye out for Perfect Blends as an early innovator in this space! 🚀
When will these changes occur? 🕑
Over time, the overall percentage of the dried flower sector will decline, even as the total number of consumers of dried cannabis will actually be increasing—signifying an increased demand for alternative form factors.
If the underlying technology works as intended, and this innovation can succeed in unlocking hundreds of new cannabinoids that are currently unavailable, then the future has already been decided and change is just a matter of time.
If the underlying technology works as intended, and this innovation unlocks 100 new cannabinoids that are currently unavailable, why wouldn't brands take advantage of this new technology?
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