Interested in the functional effects of cannabis without the euphoric high associated with THC?
Many consumers are leaning toward products that contain little (0.3 percent) to no THC and are higher in non-intoxicating compounds such as CBD.
Rebecca Brown, founder and cannabis marketer of Crowns Agency, thinks the no-THC claim has the potential to garner mass appeal. “As we continue to educate the consumer about the fact that there are different cannabinoids that have different impacts, I think a claim of no THC is definitely something that could entice a consumer,” Brown says.
Because of the continual growth and trendiness of CBD, she equates THC-free to CBD-only products.
Nick Pateras, vice president of strategy for Lift & Co., agrees with Brown, but wonders “when this claim will be possible in the market, as almost all products today still have at least trace amounts of THC.”
Which markets could capitalize on the THC-free approach?
“As with THC, you’ll see CBD consumers across every demographic,” Brown says. This is because CBD products are beneficial for various demographics and particularly pique the interests of women and aging populations, she notes.
Pateras says non-THC products would initially be targeted towards those who have heard of CBD and are interested in exploring its benefits, but remain cautious about what they understand to be the THC-induced high. “These are likely the newer, cannabis-curious consumers who fall into the sphere of health and wellness, and want certainty they won’t become intoxicated upon consumption,” he says.
Since new cannabis consumers are spending considerably more on balanced and lower THC-products, such as oils, sprays and topicals, Pateras says there is an appetite among these consumers for products that have no THC.
What are some anticipated benefits and drawbacks?
“If consumers gravitate towards the claim of ‘no THC’, brands will leverage this as a point of differentiation in their positioning,” Pateras expects. Theoretically, he says, this is better for the market because it would offer consumers more varied product attributes by which to shop.
A potential drawback, though, would be if the claims garner a perception of being healthier or safer in the eyes of consumers without the scientific backing, Pateras cautions.
Lisa Campbell, CEO of Lifford Cannabis Solutions, foresees another possible drawback. “Some producers are attempting to make this claim, although products still have residual THC,” Campbell says. While it is possible to extract 99 percent CBD isolate, she says that hemp-based CBD can still contain minuscule amounts of THC.
Pateras says he thinks the reliability of the no-THC claim hinges on new research and whether or not extraction technology is successfully commercialized.
How to market THC-free products
Brown is certain that CBD-only products will come to fruition given the high demand. The key to successfully marketing them, she says, will be to capitalize on the non-euphoric element. “It removes some of the perceived stigma around cannabis,” she argues.
Brown further suggests that non-smokable products will dominate the CBD-only category.
For her part, Campbell doubts that existing regulations would prevent companies from labeling their product as CBD-only. Under the new regulations, CBD-only products will not be required to be labeled as THC.
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