10 Trends Shaping The Future Of Weed

HIGH-LIGHTS

Today is 4/20, the day the world celebrates all things marijuana.

With medical marijuana legal in 28 U.S. states and recreational marijuana legal in 8, the opening of laws, attitudes and beliefs are continuing to move the market forward in favour of mainstream marijuana use.

The legal cannabis industry in the U.S. alone may grow to $50 billion in the next decade, expanding to more than eight times its current size. Globally, several countries including Israel, Germany, Australia, and Spain have made strides toward full legalisation.

HIGH-END

As support for federal legalisation of marijuana in the U.S. grows, so too do efforts to transform cannabis — and the accessories associated with it — into high-end products.

The industry has seen a surge of innovation from startups and investors - from premium subscription services to celebs cashing in on the ‘green rush’, a new level of luxury and design is taking over cannabis culture.

And with 84% of cannabis consumers in the U.S. in full-time employment, with 65% having a household income of $75,000 or more, there’s no surprise cannabis is shaping up to be the luxury market’s next big opportunity.

Here are 10 trends shaping the future of the high-end cannabis industry...


1. FORMATS

BEYOND THE BAGGIE: The opportunity to capitalise on the legalisation of marijuana goes far beyond than the humble baggie. Formats range from dinner party vape pens, on-the-go pre-rolls & cones, candles & diffusers, to jars, bottles & fresh-seal pouches reimagined through a high-design lens.

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Beboe launched a range of high-end marijuana products ‘engineered for social consumption’. The products were a result of celebrity tattoo artist Scott Campbell & fashion exec Clement Kwan’s desire to fuse marijuana with ‘dinner party culture’ – where once guests would bring a bottle of wine, now they may bring high-quality vaporisers to pass around the table. Beboe’s rose gold pre-loaded single-use vape pens retail at $60 each.

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Celebrity cannabis brands have driven interest in better design & branding solutions, with the notable example of Snoop Dogg choosing to hire design agency Pentagram to create the packaging for ‘Leafs by Snoop’. His range includes a variety of flowers, high concentrate waxes, shatters & edibles (more on edibles to follow).

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Other formats lighting up the high-end cannabis world are Lola Lola’s pre-rolls & cones - perfect for gifting. Format innovation from Allay in the form of edible oils, tabs & wristbands – and it doesn’t stop there - Foria have created a range of oils & suppositories for ‘intimate pleasure’.

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And if you can’t beat a good old baggie – Seven Point & Avitas have redesigned the format through a high-design lens.


2. MICRODOSING

Microdosing is the practice of taking tiny amounts of marijuana to experience it’s benefits with reduced side effects – increasingly embraced by professionals, users say it boosts creativity, increases focus & relieves anxiety.

From edibles to water infused with THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis), to coffee pods & tea-bags, small-dose edibles make up one of the fastest rising sectors of the $6.7 billion legal marijuana industry.

Edibles: Microdosing allows users to control marijuana intake and manage their personal tolerance.

The small-dose trend borrows from the pharmaceutical industry’s ‘minimum effective dose’ principle, with products ranging from marijuana infused chocolates, sweets, mints, sauces and beverages – all containing between 5 & 10mg of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in weed.  

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Défoncé Chocolate was created by an ex-Apple employee looking for a user-friendly edible. His flagship product contains 180mg of THC, which can be divided into 18 pyramids, or 10mg doses – roughly the equivalent to a couple of hits off a pipe.

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Other popular edibles include Snoop’s ‘Dogg Treats’ & chocolates, Petra & Mr Moxey’s mints and 1906 microdosing confectionery.

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Infusions: Brewbudz launched a range of single-serve cannabis infused coffee pods to cater for the increasing demand for marijuana-based beverage products.

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Water Water is marijuana-infused, organic and has very few calories – making it a big hitter with dieters and diabetics. Bottles sell for $12 – $15 in dispensaries.

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Seven Point also show up in the infusions market with their single-dose cannabis teabags.


3. ACCESSORIES

In line with the decriminalization of marijuana, the stigma attached to weed culture has started to shed. As the choice of being a cannabis consumer is normalized, we’re starting to see the design of accessories & lifestyle elements catch-up.

So, less UV blown-glass bongs & Bob Marley paraphernalia and more objects that integrate with a well-designed lifestyle.

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Tetra is a tightly curated online store with accessories that ‘elevate the weed smoking experience’.

Launched by three female design journalists, the store retails both contemporary and vintage pieces – some created by notable designers, others have been custom-made for the site.

“While there is a lot of innovation in the area, most of the players aren’t driven by aesthetics” says Eviana Hartman, one third of Tetra.

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Rendered in luxurious materials like marble, gold, brass, and ceramic, it’s clear that these accoutrements are made to be proudly displayed around the home.

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Fashion brand Vetements is also taking a slice of the ‘green rush’ with their (sold-out before you can even text your dealer) $750 grinder necklaces.


4. RETAIL

Retail is one of the most interesting opportunities shaping the future of the high-end cannabis industry. As legalisation spreads, so does the acceptance of walking into a dispensary – and with restrictions on shipping products, more focus will be put on retail experiences and shopping tourism.

Luxury cannabis retail becomes so much more than a transactional experience – decoding flavours, sampling edibles, product education, sensory experiences, play, technology, third spaces & gifting all play a part in the future of weed-tail.

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Silverpeak

Colorado’s Silverpeak Apothecary balances traditional retail design with the unique display and service challenges faced by the cannabis retail industry.

For example – retailers are permitted  to display sample jars with a plastic or metal mesh screen to allow customers the ability to smell the product before purchasing. However, open marijuana products are not allowed inside a licensed retail outlet.

Vertically integrated, with a growing facility just 20 miles away from their store, Silverpeak points to how high-quality marijuana may be retailed as legalisation spreads across the U.S.

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Diego Pellicer

Diego Pellicer in Seattle isn’t short of luxury cannabis lovers – with buds retailing at $2,000 and a single marijuana cigar* selling for $3,600 – the ‘cannabis connoisseurs’ go above and beyond to provide bespoke luxury items for their fanatics.

*The cigar holds 28grams of flower & 7 grams of oil

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Serra

With three stand-out sites across Portland, Serra’s Marketing Director, Cambria Benson, set out to create spaces where customers felt comfortable shopping for cannabis - without any sense of wrongdoing.

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From the greenhouse displays to the origami-wrapped chopsticks used for measuring buds to the La Marzocco espresso machine – Serra feels more like walking into an Anthropologie store than a ‘head shop’.


5. THIRD SPACE

With the legalization of cannabis in motion, it’s unsurprising that entrepreneurs have recognized lucrative business opportunities in a market on the brink of skyrocketing success.

But whilst many have focused their efforts on legally offering a product that is, more or less, already available on the market, there has been less mention of those seeking to elevate the experience around the culture.

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With locations in Toronto, Seattle & a pop up in Venice Beach, Tokyo Smoke dub themselves as a ‘lifestyle collective for cannabis, coffee & culture’.

Founded by former Google employee Alan Gertner & his father, Tokyo Smoke sells custom roast coffees, food, cannabis accessories and high-design homeware.

As the industry becomes more public, Tokyo Smoke aim to provide experiences that reflect the evolving perception of marijuana.

When regulations catch up with their ambition, they will also sell four strains of their ‘house marijuana’ – Go, Relax, Relief & Balance.

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Founded by former Google employee Alan Gertner & his father, Tokyo Smoke sells custom roast coffees, food, cannabis accessories and high-design homeware.

As the industry becomes more public, Tokyo Smoke aim to provide experiences that reflect the evolving perception of marijuana.

When regulations catch up with their ambition, they will also sell four strains of their ‘house marijuana’ – Go, Relax, Relief & Balance.


6. TO YOUR DOOR

 In the U.S. alone, the subscription box market generates approximately $5 billion dollars annually. Customers are signing up for monthly & on-demand curated care packages – from socks to sex toys, artisanal bacon to pet treats.

With cannabis still being a surreptitious purchase for many, even where it’s legal, luxury subscription services are a no brainer – and with a high-end luxury marijuana market that caters for people willing to spend almost $3,000 for one joint, there really are no limits when it comes to subscription boxes.

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FROM PRESCRIPTION TO SUBSCRIPTION: Au offer a range of subscription packages starting at $140 a month – from edibles, sampler joints & flowers to an ‘intimates’ box containing oils, candles, beauty products and 24-karat gold rolling papers.

California based subscription brand, Club M started selling similar curated cannabis goodies – but found the offer wasn’t cutting it, with customers demanding rarer strains of cannabis & more luxurious accessories.  The company shifted their focus and now offer limited edition $1,000 & $2,000 boxes to their subscribers, of which 60% are women.

Subscription company Potbox have launched an on-demand service, enabling the customisation of when & how often San Franciscans receive their bundles. It also enables people outside of Potbox’s normal delivery area to purchase a single Potbox whilst in town.

Nestdrop started life as an alcohol delivery service and later expanded into marijuana - delivering prescriptions to Angelenos with a medical marijuana I.D – think Deliveroo, but for weed.


7. FOOD

The luxury cannabis market is not just about getting high – it’s about the taste, texture, quality, feeling and environment in which it can be enjoyed. So it’s not surprising that in our food obsessed world, the luxury weed industry is taking dining to a whole new level.

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Cooking With Cannabis: Los Angeles ‘canna-cuisine’ chef Chris Sayegh cooks elaborate multicourse meals infused with THC – customers can book private dinners or join supper clubs with menus ranging from $250 - $500 per person.  

Similarly, ‘Jeff The 4/20 Chef’ travels to celebrity homes (and yachts) to cook up infused feasts – kale salads and hazy Thai wings with doses of around 10mg per person – which he says would have about the same effect as having two glasses of wine.

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Chef to Chelsea Handler, Andrea Drummer balances delicate flavours and sources only high grade buds for her dishes. Her creations were recently showcased at The Grammys with a 10 course menu.

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And it’s not all celebrity chefs – VICE’s Bong Appetit uncovers cannabis cooks from around the world, including the Ganja Grandma & Koreatown’s Kimchi Kush cooks.

Cannabis sommelier courses are also a ‘thing’. Every marijuana variety has a unique structure that produce very specific scents - by distinguishing those nuances, exciting weed pairing menus can be offered as an alternative to wine pairing.


8. WELLNESS & BEAUTY

With vampire facials, snail serums and placenta face masks, the wellness & beauty industry have always been innovators - and whilst it seems as though ‘Cannabis Beauty’ is a sudden trend, brands such as Malin & Goetz and Dr Bronner’s have been using the ingredient long before legalization.

Cannabis is an antioxidant which helps slow down damage to skin cells - rich in supplements, cannabis properties are beneficial for many skin conditions and helps to prevent aging.

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Featured in the pages of Vogue, brands such as Apothecanna and Defined dominate the cannabis beauty market – with anti aging serums retailing at $64 for 2oz.

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Whoppi Goldberg’s home-spa range ‘Whoopi & Maya’ claims targeted relief for cramps and is picking up momentum with beauty bloggers after being featured in Vanity Fair.

And it’s not just start-ups - established luxury brands such as  Malin + Goetz and Balenciaga infuse cannabis into their perfumes and oils.

Cannabis is also playing a role in wellness and active lifestyles:

Exercise and weed may seem like an unusual combination, however Everx CBD infused water claims to be the sports drink ‘athletes trust’ for it’s ability to relax the body and relieve pain post-workout.

Meanwhile, reality TV personality Bethenny Frankel found success with her ‘Skinnygirl’ line of low-calorie alcoholic drinks and is now looking to further her business into ‘wellness cannabis’ – developing a new strain of marijuana that eliminates the munchies.


9. TRAVEL

For a long time, Amsterdam was known as the capital of cannabis tourism, however with the legalisation of marijuana sweeping across the U.S & Europe, the ‘green traveler's’ map has started to shift.

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BUD & BREAKFAST: Thanks to 4/20 specific travel agents like Bud & Breakfast (essentially the Airbnb of the weed world) you can upgrade your pokey hammocks & tie-dye sheets to luxury holiday rentals ranging from weed-friendly 15,000sqft mansions in Colorado, to tropical beach-side bungalows in Hawaii.

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Billed as the ‘nation’s first cannabis-friendly’ resort, 170 acre Colorado ranch ‘Cannacamp’ is a lot like a vineyard - you can tour the grounds, take in the views, buy from the on-site dispensary and enjoy a farm-to-table meal.

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Cannacamp prices start from around $400 per person, per night. For a more affordable option The Nativ Hotel in Denver offers 4/20 friendly stays from around $160.


10. MEDIA

As cannabis emerges from the black market into legal legitimacy, new publications – in print & online – are popping up with regularity, whilst mainstream press and lifestyle titles are also leaning into ‘weedia’.

For an industry of it’s size, there’s no surprise media outlets are dedicating themselves to pot culture.

Marijuana.com recently hired a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist to lead it’s editorial operations, whilst High Times magazine has been reporting on marijuana counterculture since it was founded more than 40 years ago.

Mainstream media has also joined the push into marijuana coverage – The Denver Post hired the paper’s first ever marijuana critic and introduced ‘The Cannabist’, a website dedicated to the cannabis industry.

And weedia doesn’t stop there – with a significant proportion of the luxury cannabis market being female, there’s no surprise publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair & Elle are dedicating ink to cannabis content.

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PR powerhouse Cheryl Shuman says “It’s becoming more chic to talk about marijuana, it’s like being part of a tribe, if you will”.

It’s not often entire industries are born, so it feels like an exciting opportunity to break all traditions - legal marijuana could be the first billion dollar industry not dominated by men.

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For as long as VICE has existed, cannabis-culture has always played part in their reporting. Now, with verticals such as their food dedicated platform ‘Munchies’ and their TV channel VICELAND, VICE’s role in cannabis culture has shifted from ‘report’ to ‘create’.

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With ambassadors such as rapper & chef Action Bronson and host of ‘Huang’s World’ Eddie Huang, the breadth of VICE’s cannabis-content has appeal far beyond the hardcore ‘Ancient Aliens’ community.

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VICELAND will be celebrating 4/20 all week with a wave of content, social takeovers & pop-ups across NY & LA.


Kat Towers - Head of Culture 

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