The world of cannabis is expanding quickly, driven by companies’ commitment to satisfying customer requests, innovation, sustainability…and a lot of creativity. Forget flying cars — these are some of the fun, future-focused trends we’re excited to see on the horizon.
1. Cannabinoids: Beyond CBD & THC
You probably know about two of the “Big Six” cannabinoids, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), but a few others are moving into the spotlight too, including cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN). Neither CBG nor CBN are intoxicating when consumed, and lots more research on their effects is needed. But there’s lots of interest in the “entourage effect,” which explores how the hundreds of cannabinoids in cannabis interact with one another. Expect to see more product producers and consumers experimenting with the compounds found in their strains.
2. Terp Sauce
No, it’s not the newest condiment, though it is all about flavour and aroma. “Terp sauce” is a cannabis extract made up of more than 50% terpenes (the fragrant oils found in many plants, including cannabis, that create the plant’s unique taste and smell), plus the usual cannabinoids and other compounds. You can consume it as you would most other extracts, usually by dabbing or adding it to your vaporizer, joint, bong or pipe. You’ll also find terp sauce packaged in vape cartridges (a.k.a., “sauce carts”).
3. New Topical Products
Beyond cannabinoids, cannabis is rich in fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid — staples already found in many creams and lotions. Other cannabis-infused products, such as massage and lubricating oils, bath bombs and bath salts, are just the beginning of what’s to come.
4. Cannabis Agri-Tourism
While your travel plans may be on hold, soon it may be possible to visit a licensed cannabis farm or facility near you. One destination option is the Tweed Visitor Centre in Smiths Falls, where you’ll see real grow rooms and (in a nod to the facility’s previous life as a Hershey’s factory) watch chocolate edibles being made.
5. DIY Cannabis
From growing your own flower to cooking to creating topicals, the do-it-yourself cannabis experience is a trend that’s sure to keep flourishing. Recipes and cooking shows abound — so you can hand-craft your cannabis experience from seed…to seasonings!
6. Commitment to Social Justice
This one’s more than a trend — more like a long overdue social movement. The cannabis industry is making social justice a top priority, introducing social equity initiatives that provide opportunities for people (thousands in Canada alone) set back as a result of being charged for non-violent, minor cannabis offences — especially in racialized communities that are disproportionately overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Licensed Retailers such as Calyx and Trichomes in Kingston, Ont., are adopting hiring policies that give employment opportunities to people with previous cannabis-related charges. Producers such as Hexo Corp. and Aurora Cannabis have donated to the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty a non-profit organization that advocates for the amnesty of cannabis possession offences in Canada. Doja is also contributing with its Pardon apparel line — proceeds from sales support the campaign.￼ Brands like Dosist and Pax are Brand Advocates for the Last Prisoner Project a similar organization in the United States.
7. Innovative Cannabis Accessories
While cannabis has been around for centuries, producers are offering up new, interesting and stylish ways to ingest and share it. Take the guesswork out of homemade edibles with the sleek Levo II, which automates the infusion process with the help of an app. Or check out the Bello Vapor Tap, a sophisticated and safe way to share individual “sips” of vapour at your next gathering.
8. Outdoor Growing
Look for more cannabis nurtured by Mother Nature to pop up soon: Health Canada reports that the number of producers applying for outdoor growing licenses is doubling every year. Where the environmental conditions are ideal, especially in B.C.’s warm interior and southwestern Ontario, producers such as 48North Cannabis Corp. are taking advantage of free sunlight and growing their crops outdoors. Saving on electricity and water can keep costs low, allowing producers to pass those savings on to the consumer, too.
9. Nanotechnology that Reduces Onset Times
Science has evolved the way we consume cannabis and even reduced the onset time of potential effects. NanoSphere Cannabis International has developed a proprietary process that “smashes” cannabinoid molecules and encapsulates them to make tiny nanospheres. While edibles and oils are processed through the liver, which means potential effects may not become apparent for up to an hour or two, cannabis nanospheres go right through the mucous membrane into the bloodstream (as it happens when you smoke), so the onset time is reduced to five to 10 minutes.
10. More Craft Cannabis
The hands-on attention that goes into craft cannabis is not a trend — that’s how the plant was cultivated from the start. But what’s growing is our interest in product that’s still produced this way. Drying, trimming and packaging flower by hand preserves the delicate trichomes and maximizes flavour. Craft is also produced in small batches that allow producers to explore strains that are new and unique or require a bit more TLC to grow.
11. Thinking Beyond the Brownie
Edibles have come a long way in their first year of legalization in Canada. While you can whip up your own cannabis-infused foods at home with the help of the latest infusion machines, producers are also coming to the table with tropically flavoured soft chews, mints, chocolate truffles, chocolate with popping candy, maple sweets and other creative confections.
12. Using Tech to Personalize Experiences
You can now have your cannabis products and accessories with a side of tech. Vaporizers such as the Pax use apps that customize the temperature, flavour and vapour output, and provide details on the oils you’re consuming. Dosist vape pens include an innovative technology that allows you to perfectly control the amount you consume — the pen vibrates when you’ve inhaled one set dose and then shuts off automatically. FIGR is accessing the tracing capabilities of SENTRI, which is used by 300,000 farmers (not just in the cannabis industry) around the world to give consumers insight about where their products come from. With the Figr Budtender app, which uses SENTRI technology, you can track your dried flower from seed to sale — including images of the growing process, where and how it was grown, and its exact terpene profile, The Figr app also lets you grow your own virtual bud for fun.
13. More Sustainable Production
Just like any farming practice, cultivating cannabis requires lots of resources — so producers are always striving for efficiency. Tantalus Labs created an innovative rain water and filtration system , while Aqualitas uses proprietary aquaponics that involves fish to manage its water use and fertilization. While good for the earth, these practices are often good for your wallet too.
14. Fresh Beverage Options
Thanks to scientific advances like dissolvable cannabis powder and nanoemulsion — in which spheres of cannabis distillate are uniformly suspended in liquid — the cannabis beverage marketplace offers a wealth with choices. From sodas to waters to teas, the options really are something to toast. There’s also a world of mocktail recipes that can be enhanced by adding your own oils or extracts.
15. Genetic Diversity
Legalization makes it easier for growers to experiment with and share strains to widen the (previously narrowing) cannabis gene pool and create new options for consumers. Independent and craft-focused operations really help drive this experimentation, as they’re able to try a new crop on a smaller scale. Maybe your next favourite strain is heirloom — or something no one has even thought of yet.
16. Greener Packaging
Taking the “green” trend literally, forward-thinking cannabis companies are investing in more earth-friendly packaging, as seen in Simply Bare’s recyclable glass jars and Muskoka Grown’s tin cans (see the other big benefit of Muskoka’s canning process below). Blissco packages its pre-rolls and dried flower in recycled ocean plastic and milk jugs. Completing the product life cycle, TerraCycle is working with LPs such as Tweed to develop recycling programs for cannabis packaging and spent vape cartridges.
17. Nitro Packaging
A little shot of nitrogen is changing everything for cannabis producers (and consumers) looking for the freshest possible product. Producers such as Muskoka Grown and Truro Cannabis are using nitrogen to eliminate light and oxygen, and then hermetically sealing cannabis in a container to not only increase its shelf life but also prevent contamination and preserve the terpene and cannabinoid content.
18. Community Focus
Staying true to their roots, cannabis producers and retailers are giving back to their communities, allowing you to make a purchase and make a difference. For example, TREC — which stands for trust, respect, equality and compassion — gives 10 percent of the proceeds from its Blissed, Thumbs Up Brand and Wink products to causes that put people and the planet first . Hill Street Beverage Co., which is just diving in the cannabis beverages business, has given nearly $2 million to charities such as March of Dimes and Prostate Cancer Canada.
19. Organic Certification
While the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which regulates all food or seed labelled as “organic,” doesn’t cover cannabis, Licensed Producers (such as Simply Bare, ANKR Organics and the Green Organic Dutchman) have been able to get organic certification from third-party groups like the Fraser Valley Organic Producers Association and Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd. Expect to see more regulatory bodies around the world make similar moves, ensuring that if you prefer it, you’ll be able to choose organic.
20. Data Sharing
The legal cannabis industry is so new in Canada that all the trailblazing data flowing in is an immensely valuable resource for producers, retailers, educators, economists, scientists and consumers alike. OCS is invested in democratizing cannabis data, by sharing unbiased data reports full of detailed sales figures by category and brand, pricing information and consumer trends with our partners to help us all grow.
Foodies may be familiar with appellations: protected areas that identify where a specific product is made (for example, true Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can only be made in the Italian provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia ). Expect to see the same thing cropping up in cannabis country, too, as California is establishing its own cannabis appellations. This helps customers recognize — and appreciate — the quality, flavour and effects in their favourite products that are influenced by a region’s climate, soil and terrain (known as “terroir” in the food and beverage industry). The move will help support small-batch cultivators who hone their craft in highly prized areas. Could Canada, specifically B.C., be next?