The world spins a little bit faster than it used to. Not literally, mind you, but take a look around – what used to fill years up in history books now happens over the course of a week.

With the rapidly advancing plant medicine industry, it can be more than a little difficult to keep your ear to the ground. Despite how welcoming the community is, it can be overwhelming to try to keep up to date on the news.

Take cannabis for example: the plant has been used therapeutically for thousands of years, but the discussion around cannabis legalization has been limited to, in essence, less than a hundred years.

One resource many are turning to, myself included, in order to keep tabs on the ever-evolving community is Four PM. Editor Matthew O’Brien, former budtender and manager of a number of cannabis retail organizations, set out to “provide readers with valuable industry insights, so you can stay up to date on all of the complexity that is the modern cannabis industry.”

I recently spoke with Matthew about the future of the community and the way it shifts as it becomes more and more mainstream. What follows is that conversation.

How did you get into the Canadian cannabis scene?

To unwind the clocks, it is 2016 and I’m reading a book called Narconomics [by Tom Wainwright] and this book effectively blew my mind. Within this book was an argument that we, as a society, need to embrace legalizing drugs.

Growing up I was surrounded by very conservative and pragmatic, “all drugs are evil” viewpoints. This book was very different to the worldview presented to me.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was still in high school, and my mind kept wandering back to it. At the time, I had a lot of uncertainty about university. I decided it was a better decision to explore my curiosity.

Fast forward, I’m in Vancouver working as a budtender. That was my entry point.

The community is very tight-knit. How do you expect it to adapt and grow as it becomes more and more mainstream?

There are many different cannabis retail brands, but it’s important to remember that the industry is still very much in its infancy.

Coming from the perspective of a budtender, I understand that these are the individuals who are going to have collectively the largest impact on the entire industry in the next decade.

To me it’s abundantly clear that the budtenders are the most influential in the industry. Taking a step back, it’s about asking, if these individuals are collectively the most influential, how are they going to use this influence to create a positive outcome?

The biggest issue to date is a huge internal education problem. We have to understand that we’re compensating these workers barely more than minimum wage, while also asking them to have a wealth of knowledge like a doctor or physician.

It’s an unreal expectation we’re placing on these individuals. It is essential to ensure that we support each other.

I consider myself a budtender first and foremost. In a broad sense, a budtender is really just anyone who is educating people on cannabis.

It’s really about willingness and an openness to one another. The community has to be a unified front presented to the general public.

To be frank, the industry is failing at this. The reason I say that is one important metric is the number of producers who market products as “high THC, low price point.”

It’s important that if we convey limited information that we convey the relevant information as to the best way this person can support cannabis in their life.

The disconnect between producers and budtenders is substantial. This can be largely attributed to producers whose businesses are on the verge of collapsing and as such they are not taking a long-term approach. They should be otherwise allocating resources to budtenders to expand information.

What I would like to see happen if a nation is intent on legalizing is arming people on the frontline with education for new customers. Asking, “What are we going to use those taxation dollars to accomplish?”

The wider populace needs a wider understanding of what cannabis is. A producer who identifies that, if they can win over budtenders, has a higher likelihood that budtenders will recommend their products.

So the question becomes, is there a way to create an alignment of resources to educate consumers where the value is reciprocal for brands?

If I was a CEO or a producer, that’s the approach I would take. It’s unorthodox, but the industry is getting more commoditized everyday. We have to get creative with building relationships.

You’re in touch with a number of different cannabis spaces. In some ways, it seems like the United States is behind Canada where you’re located. How would you compare the scenes?

Well, the legislative status for federal legalization in Canada has yet to occur in the States.

That said, I don’t like the model Canada has adopted. I have my own bias towards which model is better. However, the primary objective of the Canadian model was to legalize cannabis in such a manner whereby the tax income is increased. It wasn’t about creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

That is the kryptonite of the Canadian cannabis market. The government is not fostering industry. In the long term, the United States will be better.

It also has a larger population. It will be the largest cannabis market in the world in the next 5 years. Beyond that, I think there is better intent behind policymakers in the United States.

In your reporting, you’ve extensively covered cannabis lounges or cannabis cafes. How do you think this scales with the industry as it grows?

The best comparison is the alcoholic beverage industry. For example, both industries have been subject to prohibition, although much different lengths.

There are many lessons to be learned from alcohol prohibition. After prohibition there was a creation of safe spaces, bars, to consume these substances with education ultimately provided by the business owners.

This also came with the responsibility of the business owners not to over serve.

Cannabis lounges are the missing link. We, as an industry, really need to emphasize the importance of these spaces sooner rather than later.

It’s hard to educate in a cannabis retail store. There’s not much time, you can’t try the products.

A defining moment for the cannabis industry will be when it’s permitted to educate consumers in an environment whereby they can actually consume cannabis

If you were to just walk in, I would have a difficult time recommending amounts or how to consume it. It’s important to be in a safe space to learn.

I’m unsure what the timeline for this will be, however, what’s clear is that it’s something that needs to happen in order for the industry to become the best version of itself.

What has inspired you the most during your time working on Four PM?

To be honest, probably the publication detailing the timeline I perceive it will take for the industry to move away from using terms such as Indica, Sativa & Hybrid.

[Editor’s note: article found here.]

The reason why, it’s something I see as an inevitable change that will occur within our industry, the removal of terms like indica-sativa hybrid in order for consumers to choose which products will work best for them.

With the indica/sativa hybrid, a lot of people are aware that these terms are a classification based on leaf structure, however, in spite of this 99% of the industry seems to think that ignoring this information is within our best interests?

That’s not actually how the pharmacokinetics of cannabis operates. The reality is, there is a much better alternative to these terms which is to focus on products terpene profiles.

My perspective is that this is an inevitable shift in the industry. Questions like “why are cannabis cultivars (strains) producing the effects they do?”

The reason why, it’s something I see as an inevitable change that will occur within our industry, the removal of terms like indica-sativa hybrid in order for consumers to choose which products will work best for them.

With the indica/sativa hybrid, a lot of people are aware that these terms are a classification based on leaf structure, however, in spite of this 99% of the industry seems to think that ignoring this information is within our best interests?

That’s not actually how the pharmacokinetics of cannabis operates. The reality is, there is a much better alternative to these terms which is to focus on products terpene profiles.

My perspective is that this is an inevitable shift in the industry. Questions like “why are cannabis cultivars (strains) producing the effects they do?”

What does the public have to look forward to from the cannabis industry in the next five years?

It’s important to note that the cannabis industry is very much in its infancy, albeit we have been consuming cannabis likely since the dawn of Homo sapiens.

The legal cannabis industry is still young. What the cannabis industry looks like today is not an accurate reflection five, ten years from now.

One thing I’m keeping an eye on is cultured cannabinoids. They are created through a process of biosynthesis, and the cost could potentially be reduced 50, 60, even 70 percent.

Another exciting trend is the availability of rare cannabinoids. In cannabis retail stores, it’s all been the same cannabinoids to date. 99% of products are either CBD or THC.

There are 180 other cannabinoids. What do they produce? I’m excited to learn.

The world loves CBD and THC. The only way for these other cannabinoids to become widely available is to create an alternative supply chain with cellular agriculture powering this supply chain.

I personally suspect that upwards of 80% of all cannabinoids that are consumed a decade from now will be cultured cannabinoids as opposed to cannabinoids that are produced by cultivating a cannabis plant.

I’m sure a majority of people will disagree with analysis, however, the reason why I’m so confident that these changes will come into effect is that it’s for the benefit of consumers, and at the end of the day it’s consumers who will vote with their dollars when given the opportunity.

The post The Missing Link: Four PM’s Matthew O’Brien on the Future of Cannabis appeared first on ketamine.news.

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