Cannabis extracts, topicals, and edibles can now be purchased for your store. This change in product mix marks an important shift for legal retailers, who are now able to serve their customers products that make up as much as 60% of the legal market in jurisdictions like Washington and Colorado.
These categories include highly sought-after products like cannabis concentrates (also known as hash oil, or colloquially as ‘dabs’) as well as edibles like infused gummies and baked goods, and cannabis topicals like creams and ointments. These products are in high demand in the US, and many analysts believe that these products could attract a significant new demographic to the legal retail system.
For legal retailers who do not have significant experience working with these products, this change can be both exciting and intimidating, as it represents a significant increase in products to carry.
It will also dramatically increase the product knowledge required to operate a retail store effectively, as it marks a significant shift in the types of products consumers have access to. Customers will have questions about extraction methods, solvents used, purging methods, and other highly technical questions that require real product knowledge.
The first thing for retailers to know is that these products need specialized display and storage methods. While cannabis edibles are required by law to be shelf-stable and therefore do not require refrigeration, it may still benefit retailers to invest in climate control to minimize spoilage and product degradation.
Edibles are also highly regulated, with dosages capped at 10mg. While this low dose is ideal for novice users and will result in fewer instances of overconsumption for individuals with a low tolerance, it is a very low dosage for even a semi-regular cannabis user, and will likely require staff guidance regarding effective dosage.
Hash oil products will require cool, dark storage, as they are prone to melt when warm, which can result in messy containers and unhappy customers. Hash oil products also require specialized display and scent jar setups, and may also need additional shelf space for ancillary products like specialized hash oil bongs and vapourizers as well as bangers, carb caps, and other peripherals.
The last new product category is cannabis topicals, which represent an interesting challenge for retailers. Most cannabis topical products are in fact designed with a medical or therapeutic goal in mind, such as relieving pain or treating topical skin conditions like eczema, so staff should be trained carefully not to cross the line between a recreational product recommendation and medical advice. Staff must avoid providing unlicensed medical advice or recommendations that may conflict with their customers’ existing treatment plans.
The bottom line for cannabis retailers is that Cannabis 2.0 marks a significant increase in not only the number and variety of products, but in the specialty staff knowledge and training that will be required.
Retailers should treat these new product categories as significantly different from flower and oil, and do their homework accordingly. Those who are able to rise to this challenge will be rewarded with a significant increase in sales and a bright future as full-service cannabis retailers.
Jaclynn Pehota is retail licensing specialist and a principal consultant at Althing Consulting Services. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES).