Wellness Not Euphoria
Updated: Oct 13
New cannabis consumers are driving a profound shift in product demand
Emerging cannabis consumers visit dispensaries seeking products to keep them well, not get them high. This is driving a profound shift away from the product types that have historically dominated the California cannabis market. These new consumers are seeking a very different type of product than the majority of those currently available in dispensaries. These new consumers, from whom we developed our mission at Alento, were the driving inspiration behind our company’s design and formulation decisions. These emerging consumers are seeking the medicinal benefits of Cannabinoids, but consider the THC Euphoria to be an unwanted side-effect to minimize. Few of the established players in this industry (the “OG’s”), especially dispensary owners and buyers, fully recognize how quickly their consumer base will shift in the next few years.
Emerging consumers have many legitimate reasons for not consistently seeking euphoria (i.e. getting high). For these consumers, the change of conscious state created by high doses of THC is powerfully incomprehensible and therefore unwelcome. For them, the euphoria induces too much of a perceptual shift, which can be uncomfortable, in the worst cases leading to anxiety or panic. Their euphoria can keep them from their best when performing routine daily tasks. I’ve found cannabis to be a performance enhancer for tasks I already enjoy and/or am expert (music, working with XLS models), but detrimental for other, often contrary activities (forced networking, learning quantum physics). It is indeed a strange and highly evolved creature that can enthrall large crowds of strangers while highly medicated!
Heavy daily users have often adapted well to the THC-induced shift of consciousness and perception. For them, living “the high life” is legitimately no big deal. When designing Alento, we met with a range of middle-aged and high-functioning female power users. For them, cannabis enhanced daily life. These power users often have difficulty relating to consumers who do not seek euphoria. We’ve all heard stories of (or witnessed first-hand) budtenders making recommendations for new or casual users for products and doses that are way beyond what is needed. For the power users, there is no concept of minimum effective dose!
Currently, the vast majority of revenue generated in California is from the sale of flower and smokable concentrates. The 20% of heavy, daily users also generate close to 80% of the sales. These consumers are unquestionably seeking the Euphoria provided by THC, and have learned to adapt their lifestyles to function optimally even when under the influence of “high” does. This is the base of the current market, but will not be the base of the future market. The shift from smokeables to edibles and topicals is already underway, and is already more advanced in markets like Washington and Colorado that are more mature. The emerging consumer who does not already smoke or vape is unlikely to start smoking or vaping to try cannabis.
At Alento, we feel strongly that all cannabis use (not abuse) is medicinal. This holds true regardless of the form – edible, topical, capsule, flower, concentrate, dabs, shatter, diamonds, rosin, RSO, hash, kief, wax (and on and on). Yet, we accept that most people, most of the time, do not enjoy straying too far from their typical mental and physical baseline. For me, getting too stoned can be (almost) as unpleasant an experience as getting too drunk (although the day after effects are not at all comparable). It is not something I, or other high-functioning adults, are still seeking on a regular basis. My industry needs to catch up. It needs to better serve the huge emerging pool of the canna-curious who would benefit from more frequent consumption of the herb - to ease our pain, our anxiety, help us sleep, or just take the edge off the stresses of life. During this summer of COVID, there has never been a better time.
John is the Founder and CEO of Alento, a medicinal cannabis company based in Los Angeles. He is committed to bringing the benefits of cannabis to a wider audience.