High Times May Be in Store
Right now, despite the current rising popularity of CBD, it doesn’t seem likely that mainstream supermarket operators would embrace recreational cannabis — but that could change.
“I think there is a multiphase opportunity here for grocers — in particular the leading edge of which is the CBD market,” observes Keith Merker, CEO of Aylmer, Ontario-based WeedMD, a licensed Canadian cannabis producer. “People now are getting very comfortable with this substance as an additive to beverages and edibles, as well as other products. They understand that CBD is nonpsychoactive and so is seen as more of a wellness product or nutraceutical additive, versus a substance that people look to engage in more social environments such as intoxicants.”
That being said, Merker believes that these nonpsychoactive items are just the gateway products, as it were, for mainstream consumers exploring the cannabis space.
“CBD represents that first wave, and we do see it in topical format and beverage, and again in some edible formats, and then ultimately over the long term, I do think we will see the development of THC-based products that grocers will be able to sell in the same aisle where they sell beer, spirits and wine,” he predicts. “We’re a long way off from that comfortability as a society, but I do envision a time when THC-based products will be more acceptable and readily available.”
In the meantime, Merker advises, “I think it is important to message and definitively delineate safe and tested products from those that are not, and I think that is the biggest opportunity in the near term, to give consumers comfort that what they are consuming is going to be safe and sourced through legal channels.”
Once all of the regulatory issues have been resolved, however, buying these products should become routine. Notes Adrienne Uthe, VP of sales and marketing at the Milwaukee-based National Association of Cannabis Businesses, “I’m looking forward to the day [when] the public can pull up to their local store pharmacy and pick up their cannabis-forward prescription like any other.”
That day might not be as far away as it now seems. According to Florida attorney Jessica Shraybman, the quick advances with regard to medical legalization efforts in red states, along with various organizations' work in support of recreational legalization, “tell me that the country is moving toward federal legality.”