The craft cannabis market is rapidly expanding. This method of production has found its place among consumers looking for an attention to detail that larger operations can’t provide.
With a small scale, down-to-earth outlook on cultivation, production and retail, the craft cannabis side of the industry is a complete paradigm shift. These carefully prepared products are becoming more and more popular among distinguishing consumers, which is all the more reason to be informed on the subject.
What is Craft Cannabis?
The term craft cannabis describes products that distinguish themselves the same way craft beer or craft coffee does.
Craft cannabis is grown and harvested on a small scale, locally and organically. Each strain is carefully tended and matched to the soil. This requires a lot of extra attention and care. Craft cannabis is grown without the use of pesticides, which can make the process exponentially more difficult if grown outdoors.
There is no mass scale production, everything, up to the trimming, is done by hand. The combination of all of these factors has the result of a more subtle, complete experience. Craft cannabis also ensures that local growers receive support.
The Craft Cannabis Experience
Enjoying craft cannabis is a different experience altogether. The careful way of cultivation pays off in an experience that can’t be compared to anything else.
The organic method of growing, together with hand trimming ensure an even, smooth and flavorful smoke. Craft cannabis is grown locally and small scale – allowing growers to tailor their strains to the degree that can’t be replicated on a large scale. When grown this way, even the best of strains can become better.
The craft cannabis experience is in many ways similar to other artisanal experiences nowadays. All the elements that make craft beer or craft coffee appealing also apply to craft cannabis. These artisanal products can even be combined for a rich experience that satiates all your senses.
Craft Cannabis vs Big Marijuana
One of the more interesting topics regarding craft cannabis is the future of the market.
There are many fears that the marijuana industry will be consolidated and dominated by a few large producers and retailers.
Certainly, one of the more worrying signs of this are the large, high profile investments made by the parent companies of Marlboro and Corona.
Growing investments in Big Marijuana
Constellation Brands, the maker of Corona, invested $3.8 billion in marijuana production last year. There are rumors that even Coca-Cola is exploring avenues in how to get involved in the industry. Big, corporate investments are only going to rise as more and more states legalize recreational use.
Consumer spending on legal marijuana in 2017 reached $8.5 billion, 31% more than the year before. That number is projected to multiply almost threefold, up to $23.4 billion by 2022, so there is certainly a lot of money to be made.
All of this begs the question – can small scale, artisanal, craft cannabis survive in alongside “Big Marijuana”? However, there are promising omens that the artisanal side of the industry will not only manage to survive but thrive in the near future.
The Craft Beer Parallel
There are several factors as to why craft cannabis may be becoming a booming industry. For that, we need to have a look at the craft beer industry and how it is faring.
The craft beer industry has managed to coexist alongside big beer companies. Consumers readily pay more for higher quality products, and regulations have been put in place to help small businesses stay afloat. The similarities are striking
- Consumers have shown a willingness to pay more for products which are locally-sourced and unique. These products are also generally of a higher quality. The additional factor of new, interesting strains also works in favor of craft cannabis here.
- As the market is expanding and maturing, so are the preferences of the consumers. All signs point to a willingness to support local and organic businesses, as well as sustainable and responsible practices that result in high-quality products.
- Regulations can play a positive role in the craft cannabis industry. They ensure that small scale producers have fair access to the marketplace. Beyond that, the federal prohibition on interstate cannabis sales ensures that a state’s market must be supplied by local producers. And in some cases, like in Massachusetts, small growers have lower fees and regulatory burdens than large producers.
Appellations – the future of craft cannabis?
Another promising model for the future of craft cannabis may be found in the wine industry.
Wine has a varied and diverse market, one in which local producers are protected and supported. This is done by appellations – which certify a designation of origin (like Bordeaux for wine, for example). In doing so, regional producers are protected and distinguished from low quality, generic products.
The framework of appellations would allow the growth of a thriving market built on authenticity, quality, regional differences and the local sourcing of products. Some early research even suggests that marijuana exhibits terroir – a pronounced difference in quality and taste unique to the environment it was grown in.
And marijuana appellations are not just an idea – in California, the deadline is 2021 for the establishment of appellations. Across the country, advocacy groups and associations are being formed to demand similar regulations.
Beyond that, these associations of small-scale growers will be able to function as interest groups and fight against any measures which would harm local producers.
The advent of big marijuana is a development that most likely can’t be stopped. Big business will eventually find a foothold in the industry and use its large scale to take the lion’s share of the market.
But this does not mean that the market cannot accommodate local, artisanal producers. With everything taken into account, and all the signs of change observed, craft cannabis assuredly has a place in the market, and a bright future ahead of it.