YOUR PLACE OF WORK
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND JOURNEY INTO CANNABIS
I began my time in the cannabis industry as a Member Consultant at the San Francisco Patient and Resource Center (SPARC) in 2015. After two years there and working my way up to Dispensary Supervisor, I left SPARC to go work for Lynette Shaw at the oldest dispensary in California in Fairfax. Unfortunately, this partnership did not work out, and, after unsuccessfully attempting to open a dispensary in San Anselmo, CA, I returned to SPARC in 2019 as Dispensary Manager. In mid-2020, I discovered that retail management during a pandemic was not for me, so I left SPARC and enrolled in the Ganjier Program. This program really helped fill the gaps in my cannabis knowledge, and it allowed me to start my own company, Fog City Cannabis, where I focus on special events and consulting to educate the consumer about all of the benefits of cannabis.
EXPLAIN YOUR CURRENT ROLE
I am the Founder/CEO and Certified Ganjier at Fog City Cannabis. At Fog City, I focus on special events and consulting, with my mission being to educate the consumer. The events I have been working on have been mainly focused on cannabis beverages, which I think is a niche primed for exponential growth. I have landed CANN as a sponsor, and they provide me with products for many of these events to help promote their brand. I’ve also done events at dispensaries helping to promote brands that they carry while educating their customers on the benefits of cannabis beverages.
WHAT TRENDS DO YOU SEE IN CANNABIS BEVERAGES?
I think the sky is the limit for cannabis beverages. As more consumers move toward a “microdose” model of consumption, beverages are perfect for that. With many options out there containing only a few milligrams of THC, as well as adding in other cannabinoids, these companies are catering to the new and inexperienced cannabis user, which is a huge blossoming market. Many new consumers are also hesitant to try edibles due to horror stories they’ve heard or experienced themselves, so low-dose beverages are a great alternative to gummies or chocolates. I definitely see people moving away from alcohol and toward cannabis beverages in the future.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE ON GROWING THE CATEGORY WHEN IT COMES TO PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT?
I have enjoyed showing consumers different ways that they can consume cannabis beverages. For example, I ran a “bubbly brunch” at a dispensary, where we gave free samples of promo units of beverages and tinctures to customers, who could then purchase those products directly from the dispensary and have them turned into craft brunch cocktails, such as Bloody Marys, Bellinis, and Mimosas. Showing people the versatility of cannabis beverages while educating them on the benefits and advantages of edibles will help take cannabis beverages to the next level.
WHAT ARE THE 3 THINGS THAT WE CAN EDUCATE END CONSUMERS MORE ON IN GROWING END-CONSUMER AWARENESS?
1) Entourage effect between cannabinoids. Educate people on how different cannabinoids have a synergistic effect on one another, and how something with lower THC but added CBD, CBG, THCV, etc. can provide a more balanced and desired effect than a product with just high THC. 2) Terpenes! The end consumer needs to be educated on the effects and benefits of different terpenes. This doesn’t come into play with beverages as much, but the industry is starting to steer away from the strict “sativa vs indica” classifications to a more terpene-based classification system. It’s not the “sativa” that’s giving you energy, it’s the Terpinolene. It’s not the “indicia” that’s making you tired, it’s the Myrcene. More terpene education is definitely needed in this industry. 3) Dosing. We are always looking for our MED (minimum effective dose), and that can be different for everyone. Tolerance levels do NOT correlate across smokeable and edibles/beverages! Just because someone is an experienced cannabis smoker, does not mean they will have a high edible tolerance and vice versa. Educating people on proper dosing will help alleviate the horror stories of cannabis overdosing and help in reducing the stigma around cannabis.
WHICH STATES / MARKETS DO YOU THINK PRESENT GOOD GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES FOR CANNABIS BEVERAGES IN 2023-2024
I think Las Vegas is a GREAT market for cannabis beverages, although they haven’t gained traction there yet. Las Vegas is a drinking city, but it is also a GREAT cannabis city. I love taking an edible and walking down The Strip, meandering in and out of hotels and shops. Seeing as Las Vegas has no open container laws, it would be easy for consumers to walk The Strip with their favorite cannabis beverage. Increasing the popularity of these products will all start with education. I am working with consumption lounge builders in NV to try and figure out the best way to educate Vegas consumers on cannabis beverages. Las Vegas is the next cannabis beverage hotbed!
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE CURRENT CHALLENGES IN THE CANNABIS BEVERAGE CATEGORY
The biggest challenge facing the cannabis beverage industry is education. Beverages and edibles should not be in the same category. While the method of ingestion is the same, that’s also the case with flowers and concentrates, yet we separate those. Edibles come with a certain stigma, correct or not, due to horror stories of overconsumption. Low-dose beverages help mediate that concern, and with more education, the consumer will come to realize that the risks of overconsumption are mitigated with beverages.
IF YOU WERE TO GIVE ADVICE TO A FIRST-TIME CANNABIS BEVERAGE CONSUMER, WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE?
Know your tolerance level, and if you don’t, start low and slow, just as with any edible. A benefit of cannabis beverages is that onset of effects happens much more quickly due to rapid absorption and nanotechnology. Due to this, it doesn’t take as long to be able to recognize if you should have more or not. I would suggest a new consumer who is unsure of their edible/beverage tolerance should start with a low-dose beverage, something with around 2mg of THC. Give it 30 minutes to see how it affects you, but the effects should be felt within 15 minutes. Another tip I like to give is that beverages don’t need to be consumed “as is.” There are lots of fun cannabis cocktails that can be made using dispensary-bought beverages as ingredients or mixers in your favorite cocktail.
YOUR FAVOURITE CANNABIS BEVERAGE BRANDS?
CANN, Artet, Kwik-Ease, Kwik-ZZZ
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN YOU PURCHASE A CANNABIS BEVERAGE BRAND?
It really depends on what I’m using them for. I have a high tolerance, so if I’m looking for something to be psychoactive or help me sleep, I look for the best bang for my buck. That’s why I like Kwik-Ease and Kwik-ZZZ. I get 100mg of THC for a reasonable price. If I’m looking for something to sip and enjoy throughout an event, then I look for flavor over everything else. This is why I like brands like Cann and Artet. They have really nice flavor profiles without being too sweet, and the low dose makes it easy to enjoy several throughout the event.
ANY OUT-OF-THE-BOX IDEAS YOU HAVE FOR BUD-TENDERS IN PROMOTING AND EDUCATING THE CANNABIS BEVERAGE CATEGORY?
Be familiar with the product. It’s hard to sell something that you aren’t familiar with yourself. Think of fun and interesting uses for cannabis beverages. Talk up the social advantages of beverages over edibles. Craft cocktails, shots, and drinking games; we want to make sure we are consuming responsibly, but there are lots of fun ways to incorporate cannabis beverages into your social life.
IF YOU WERE TO MAKE A NEW CANNABIS BEVERAGE TODAY? WHAT SORT OF PRODUCT WOULD YOU MAKE AND WHY
Although I’m not a beer drinker, I think there is a market for “beer-flavored” cannabis beverages. There are a couple out there, but the vast majority of cannabis beverages on the market are fruity sodas and seltzers. While these allow for some great flavor profiles, there are lots of people out there who enjoy the taste of a crisp, cold beer. I know several people who would love to enjoy a low dose of cannabis beer at the end of the day or to bring a six-pack of cannabis beer to a sporting event or tailgate.
IF YOU WERE TO MARKET AND DISTRIBUTE THAT CANNABIS BEVERAGE, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP 3 AREAS YOU WOULD FOCUS ON?
1) Marketing and Education – I think these two go hand in hand. Make sure customers know your product exists, and educate them on the benefits of your product. 2) Cannabinoid Synergy – I would love to play around with different cannabinoid combinations and ratios to discover different effects and benefits. Once consumers begin to understand that there is more than just THC, it opens up a whole new world of cannabis possibilities. 3) Products with different dosages – Many beverage companies on the market either focus on low-dose or high-dose beverages, without much in between. If I released a line of beverages, I’d have dosages ranging from 2 mg THC to 100 mg THC, with options in between. Companies that only release low-dose or high-dose options cut out a large section of their potential customer base.