The legal cannabis industry is rapidly rising in the United States, however, there is a gaping hole in consumer knowledge surrounding the facts on cannabis. Due to its illegal nature in certain states and in the recent past, as well as because of the War on Drugs, there is a barrage of misinformation surrounding the plant. Everything from “reefer madness” to people not understanding the basic workings of cannabis and its compounds contributes to this lack of knowledge, but let’s not focus on the gap – let’s focus, rather, on closing it.
The Growth Of Legal Cannabis
According to a Gallup study conducted in August 2021, 12 percent of adults in the United States currently consume cannabis, up from 7% in 2013.
Legal cannabis sales in Massachusetts have already reached $1 billion per year, according to the 2022 MJBiz Factbook, and are expected to reach $2.6 billion by 2025.
According to some estimates, the worldwide cannabis market will rise from $28.3 billion in 2021 to $197.74 billion in 2028.
Suffice to say, it’s likely that we will be seeing this growth of the cannabis market, and an influx of customers into dispensaries and other cannabis businesses along with it.
The Lack Of Consumer Cannabis Education
As any budtender will tell you, the majority of customers have no prior knowledge of cannabis when they walk into a store for the first time.
Only a few traditional market participants make the changeover, and even those are frequently under-informed on matters other than flowers.
The majority of people are still astonished that cannabis can be consumed as a drink. The lack of understanding becomes much more apparent when topicals, concentrates, oils, and the works are introduced.
The list of cannabis products mentioned above just barely scrapes the surface of the cannabis market today which tells us one thing: there’s really a lot for people to learn about cannabis.
It takes some time to grasp everything, from THC and CBD to all the other three-letter cannabinoids, to the hundreds of terpenes found in a flower, to extracts – BHO, EHO, CO2, rosin, hash – to nanoemulsions, delta-9 THC metabolism, and our own endocannabinoid system.
With the rate of consumer education on cannabis being so much less than the rate of growth of the cannabis market, it’s not far-fetched to assume that this lack of understanding will continue if something is not done to address it. Part of the responsibility lies with consumers yes, everyone should educate themselves on products they choose to put into their bodies.
However, the responsibility to educate also lies with producers, retailers, and dispensaries.. Those within the industry have the knowledge (at least they should – and we hope they do) that is needed to help customers make informed decisions. Sharing knowledge is a bit like a wildfire in that it spreads quickly from person to person even if you have only told one person. And the more customers you educate, the faster the information spreads.
Remember that people learn faster if you give them concise, memorable messages. If you’re a brand, concentrate on informing people about your product’s message. Your friend is brevity.
Another important factor to consider is that if you expect your customers to be educated on the facts about your product and cannabis as a whole, you need to have staff that is knowledgeable about those facts.
Consumer education is still crucial, and putting a focus on budtender training – the people who do this for a career – is the best method to efficiently convey knowledge to customers and train real advisers who aid people.
This is especially true for medical cannabis users, as there are still a large number of new patients who rely on MMJ to get by.
If brands and dispensaries provide accurate information and make it easy to engage with, budtenders can be a strong source for both sales and factual information.
If your product relies on a well-educated consumer with the time to study everything there is to know before deciding whether or not to buy it, you will lose market share to those who incorporate that quality into their communication.
Consumers cannot keep pace with the vast amount of cannabis information there is to learn and you’re kidding yourself if you think most people will read those terpene certificates of analysis and comprehend what they’re looking at.
The cannabis market is on the rise, as we well know by now, and it’s time for cannabis dispensaries to work on closing the knowledge gap surrounding cannabis today.
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