My career in marketing spans over 30 years, 16+ with my own agency. I’ve worked in categories from beer to banks, tea to tourism, and fast food to pharma. But I, and likely everyone reading this blog, had never worked in a multi-billion-dollar industry that was born, almost overnight, simply out of the relaxation of decades-old regulations.
My interest isn’t just based on my recreational enjoyment of cannabis, although it’s a factor. I was brought up in a medical family – my dad was a surgeon, my mom a nurse. Frankly, I am fascinated by the endocannabinoid system – how it works, the benefits and the challenges. Only discovered in 1992, there are purported to be a broad array of health benefits associated with the endocannabinoid system and, to date, one cannabinoid in particular – cannabidiol (CBD). There is a significant lack of clinical data, due mostly to the fact that cannabis is still, at the US federal level, a controlled substance. Despite the lack of scientific due-diligence, there is significant anecdotal evidence, numerous stories in the national media and many heart-wrenching stories from social media that have made CBD a highly sought after solution to just about anything that ails you. All this adds up to a lot of green – researchers forecast the CBD market that could reach $20 billion by 2024.
And let’s not forget CBD’s more popular brother – THC. This cannabinoid attracted most of the attention over the years (some good, some bad). It carries a lot of historical baggage with it but is now starting to be seen in a more positive light – a relatively safe alternative to other psychoactive recreational drugs like alcohol that also carries with it a myriad of therapeutic benefits.
If you think getting your head around these two players completes the cannabis story, think again. Over 113 cannabinoids have been identified, and while most have been lightly studied to date, some of them are already known to be non-psychoactive and may carry with them their own health & wellness benefits.
My interest is in the commercial opportunities, and challenges, of cannabis along the entire supply chain (B2B) and consumer path to purchase (B2C). The legal business opportunities related to medical and recreational cannabis are mind-boggling, complicated even more by multiple levels of government in each country attempting to control and benefit from this new cash crop. And let’s not forget the incumbent – black market illegal dealers of weed that had a stranglehold on this billion dollar business for over 80 years. They are not going to go quietly; data continues to indicate that most consumers still choose to source their product from the trusty guy down the street. And why not – the cost of black market weed continues to be significantly lower than its legal cousin. That’s why I am writing this blog – I will likely not experience the sudden rise of another multi-billion-dollar CPG category in my lifetime; certainly not one as interesting (or fun) as this one! Reach out if there are specific topics you want to see me explore.