Cannabis edibles are not only transforming the way people consume cannabis, but they are also influencing the industry’s expansion, according to Amanda Reiman, chief knowledge officer at New Frontier Data.
Reiman, who has studied the relationship between cannabis consumers and evolving policies for more than 20 years, spoke with Green Market Report about how the annual survey conducted by her company shows shifting consumer habits. According to her, over the last year consumers have increasingly expressed a preference for edibles and non-smoked forms of cannabis, especially older consumers.
According to New Frontier Data’s survey, 60% of consumers still use flower the most, and 56% say it’s their favorite form of consumption. Edibles, however, are the most frequently used form for 21% of consumers, with 24% stating it’s their favorite.
Reiman also highlighted how these shifts might be influenced by increased access and technology advancements. In states with legal adult-use cannabis, 73% of consumers have access to flower, while 65% have access to edibles.
Nano-emulsified beverages and other edibles also are driving adoption, creating opportunities for quicker onset times and breaking past other barriers that hindered edible adoption.
“For consumers that want lower-dose products, edibles are appealing to them,” Reiman added.
The shift towards edibles isn’t limited to existing consumers. When potential consumers – those who haven’t yet tried cannabis but are considering it – were asked about their preferred form of consumption, a whopping 71% chose edibles over 22% for flower.
The trend of edibles extends into social situations as well. As smoking can be stigmatized and banned in many places, consumers are turning to more discreet options. Reiman said that 45% of consumers choose different forms of cannabis for different activities, and 80% choose different forms for different locations.
On the Ground
When it comes to advanced formulations and non-inhalable cannabis delivery systems, Azuca’s CEO and co-founder, Kim Rael, said her company has focused on creating fast-acting and predictable edibles through licensing agreements with brands and manufacturers.
The company has more than 50 license agreements across 20 states, plus Canada and Puerto Rico, with more than 230 million servings (5 milligram) dispensed. Rael said that while the company has seen positive growth, part of the issue that handicaps the category is solving the challenge of delivering edibles that offer consistent experiences, similar to the predictability of alcohol consumption.
“Yesterday’s traditional edibles is dead, right? That category where you’re waiting for 45 minutes or an hour or longer to understand the effect that an edible is going to have on you – they’re not going to survive this trend of most consumers looking for predictable experiences,” Rael told Green Market Report.
She acknowledged that taste is a crucial aspect often overlooked by other fast-acting solutions in the market.
To ensure scalability and widespread accessibility, Azuca developed a business model that focuses on its non-infused “activator” ingredients. These activators are shipped globally and used by manufacturers and brands to create their own cannabis-infused products. The approach enables partners to control the manufacturing process and tailor it to market needs.
“Now we need to get the industry infrastructure to kind of catch up where the product is,” Rael noted. She added that regulations around social consumption and economics specific to ready-to-drink products are hurdles that need to be overcome to normalize cannabis beverages.
Rael mentioned that partnerships with alcohol companies are a possibility, especially as Azuca expands its presence in the beverage industry. While no official partnerships have been announced, the company recently launched its “activator” for ready-to-drink beverages, signaling its focus on the segment.