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Watch: Beyond the Red Pill: The State of Cannabis Edibles

Even as states adopt cannabis legalization, and cannabidiol (CBD) products promise calm to consumers, the cannabis market remains murky. In a presentation at NOSH Live Winter 2019 this month, Jessica Lukas, research firm BDS Analytics’ SVP of commercial development, addressed the state of both marijuana and hemp products, calling cannabis “a major disruptor across the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, across every consumer product category,” and noting that edibles play a major role.

With growing consumer acceptance of cannabis, BDS analytics estimates the global regulated market will reach $41 billion by 2024, fueled largely by legal sales in California. Additionally, mass retailers slowly allowing sales of non-THC products, namely CBD products, will contribute $13 billion, Lukas noted. Despite a lack of nationwide legalization, there’s great opportunity in edibles: in fully legal markets, 31% of consumers prefer edibles, while 62% consume them. In 2019, candy drove about half of edible sales, with gummies contributing 82% of sales. But understanding when and why cannabis consumers use these products is key.

“Consumption varies from 100% medical to 100% recreational and social — and every consumer need state in between,” she said.

Lukas noted that 26% of consumers prefer low doses of THC to better control their experiences — something brands should consider in formulating products. Above all, consumers need to trust cannabis products, brands and experiences to drive repeat purchases, she added.

“Even cannabis connoisseurs want to have a good experience,” Lukas said. “Branding, messaging and consistency matter.”

Of course, CBD is a big driver of interest: 54% of consumers have picked edible products based on CBD content rather than THC. But without Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for CBD food and drink, packaging varies and is often confusing. And while entrepreneurs capitalize on CBD excitement across channels, education is still needed: other cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN), will likely gain more interest as the market evolves, Lukas said.

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