5 Cannabis Innovation Trends to Follow
Ben Hartman
September 11, 2020

It seems it wasn’t all that long ago that the world of cannabis was pretty simple - you had your stash, the papers you liked to use, a rolling tray, maybe even a trusty bong that hadn’t yet crashed to the floor and shattered into a million pieces. But while this may seem like just yesterday, compared to the vast array of cannabis products available today, it might as well be ancient history. 

On September 22, 2020, the webinar “Innovation in the Cannabis Space: CBD, CPG, and Everything in Between,” will take a look at the innovation shaping the cannabis industry of today, and examine ways that cannabis brands can avoid the sameness creeping through the business. In the meantime, here are five areas where innovators and technology are creating better, more appealing cannabis products for an ever-expanding market:   

  1. Bottoms Up: The Tech to Make Better Cannabis Beverages 

A happy hour with no hangovers, and a way to quench your thirst and break the ice — it’s easy to see why cannabis beverages are frequently hyped up as the next big thing in the industry.

According to a BDSA Analytics report from June, cannabis beverages could total more than $4.1 billion in revenue by 2022, and that just between 2019 and 2020, THC beverage sales grew by 69%.

Cannabis beverages allow users to ingest cannabis without smoking, in a refreshing, leisurely manner that’s more appealing to new cannabis users who may have been turned off by the joints, bongs, and dab rigs usually associated with marijuana. 

Before it could ever be ready for prime time though, the THC beverage market has had to get a handle over the tech behind drinkable cannabis. Mainly, this has meant grappling with the fact that THC is fat soluble and doesn’t break down in water - and most people don’t want a gritty drink with chunks floating at the top. But trial and error and advancements in nano-emulsification have allowed cannabis beverage manufacturers to find ways to create THC and CBD drinks that go down easy, opening the door for a whole new way to kick back and ingest cannabis. 

  1. Rapid Onset Edibles 

Edibles produce a powerful high and a tingly sensation that runs across the body — often leaving consumers twisting their way through a serious case of the giggles. One big problem with edibles though, has been the slow onset and the often (very) delayed offset. Traditionally, taking edibles meant waiting around an hour or more for them to kick in, and then 4 hours plus for them to wear off. In other words, it takes a bit of planning, and isn’t exactly built to be an every evening after work wind-down. Not only that, but the delayed onset often leads people to mistakenly consume more — with often less than pleasant results. 

Enter rapid onset edibles. 

A number of companies have developed new technological methods to shorten the onset time, for instance Colorado edibles company 1906, which uses “lipid microencapsulation” that the company says allows their edibles to kick in within 20 minutes or less

Or take the cannabis technology company Vertosa, which uses what it describes as “customized nano-emulsions for infused products,” in order to create far more bioavailable products, including oils that the company says have an average onset of 8 minutes. 

Such rapid onset also affects the length of time for offset. Could edibles soon be like your evening glass of wine, and not require blocking out an hour for onset and four hours of being anchored to the couch? If today’s emulsification tech is any indication, we’re closer than ever before. 

  1. Grab the Inhaler 

One of the main stumbling blocks in the cannabis industry and in medical mairjuana treatment is dosage. Figuring out how to ensure patients get precise doses of their medicine, without any guess work is key to creating more effective treatment regimens, and cannabis innovators are looking at inhalers as a possible way to move the needle on dosing. 

Israel-based Syqe Medical has developed the Syqe Inhaler which uses a cartridge of preloaded VaporChips to provide precise, metered doses of medicinal cannabis at 100 micrograms resolution. 

Not to be outdone, Canadian cannabis tech company Resolve Digital Health has developed the Resolve MD, a “smart flower inhaler designed for the health and research market.” The touch screen device uses single-use pods and provides metered doses. The company also has an app that users can download to track their usage - or that of their patients. 

  1. A dab that’s fab 

Dabbing provides one of the most potent cannabis experiences, and allows users to consume cannabis products that can be more than 90% THC. 

For countless users though, dabbing has been a non-starter. This is largely due to image or the perception of dabbing, which can be seen as a more hardcore way to smoke cannabis. Or to put it differently, once you need to pull out a butane torch and a glass rig, you’re going to turn off a lot of the more casual cannabis users among us. 

With electronic rigs, or “e-rigs,” users can dab concentrate without ever needing a torch or any flame whatsoever. E-rigs are portable and can keep a precise temperature, and are easy to use for even the most novice dabber. Simply put, e-rigs open up the world of dabbing to people who may have been put off by the torch, helping them enjoy the sensation of ultra high-THC  concentrates. 

  1. Know and Track Your Weed 

Strawberry Cough, Blue Dream, Granddaddy Purple - a simple glance down the dispensary shelf can provide enough strain names, THC percentages, and terpene profiles to boggle the mind. But for the cannabis consumer — and producer — knowing the exact makeup of any specific form of cannabis has been something of a guessing game, with medical cannabis lagging far behind traditional pharmaceuticals when it comes to standardization. 

Cannabis innovators today are looking at a variety of ways to determine the makeup of the cannabis you’re smoking — where it came from, and what’s in it. 

Israeli cannatech firm GemmaCert has developed a home testing kit that can be used to gauge the active ingredients and cannabinoid levels of cannabis, simply by placing flowers inside the device, without needing to send it off to a lab. Using near infrared spectroscopy, computer vision algorithms, and machine learning, the device can provide an assessment within one minute, which can be accessed by way of the company’s mobile app. And none of the flowers are destroyed in the process. 

For butter, concentrates, and infusions, the California-based company Tcheck makes a handheld device that can be used to gauge the precise THC and CBD levels. The user simply opens the app, selects the type of infusion being tested (oil, butter, or alcohol), puts five drops on the tray of the device, and then runs a test using the mobile app. Such devices are well-suited for consumers who want to make their own home-made edibles and to be able to gauge the THC and CBD content relative to the amount of infusion used. 

But what if we were able to actually track a specific cannabis flower all the way back to the seed, the farm, the specific farmer who put it in the dirt? One company, New York-based Applied DNA Sciences, has developed “CertainT,” a platform that “tags” raw cannabis materials and products with a molecular identifier. This harmless (and smokable) tag can then be tracked all the way through the supply chain, potentially allowing much higher levels of compliance, quality control, and safety. In other words, by using such a cannabis tracking device, vendors could verify that a batch of cannabis actually is the strain the supplier said it is, and that it can from the specific region or farm advertised, thus helping the industry put better branding in place, as well as help pave the way towards the patenting of proprietary cannabis strains. 

With more and more delivery devices, CPG products and custom formulations flooding the cannabis landscape, the cannabis market is abuzz with innovation. Yet at the same time, it's rapidly morphing into a massive sea of sameness on the product market.

Join us on September 22nd at 11am MT for “Innovation in the cannabis space: CBD, CPG, and everything in between.”

This panel discussion will present ways for brands to leverage their unique elements to stand ahead of the crowd, tackling questions such as:

- What are the distinct differences from one product or brand to the next?

- How can a retailer or a consumer tell the difference and choose the right ones?

- What can innovative brands do to stay ahead of the curve?

Current panel includes VP of Bus Development for BDSA, formerly BDS Analytics, and CSO from a CPG cannabinoid manufacturer.

Moderated by Elana Goldberg/Chief Executive Officer, CannBe, and Julie Suntrup/Chief Growth Officer, Day Three Labs.

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