It’s no secret we at Craft Mary Jane think craft cannabis is the future of legalized marijuana.

There are several easily understood reasons why: craft cannabis supports it’s local economy, retains the unique characteristics of the growers geography, and caters to the values of its consumers. It’s no secret that organic, sustainable and local is good business. But those are not the only reasons craft is a good idea for cannabusiness.

Here are a few less unexpected reasons craft is the future of cannabis:

Won’t somebody please think of the rebels!

With the exception of the medical marijuana movement, “stoner culture” has been one of the loudest and most resilient to the prohibition. Fashion, apps, smoking gear, publications and online content all pitch to this demographic of proud stoners. Vines fill with clouds of dab smoke and Instagram is a veritable forest of #weedporn.

If we look deeper into this wildly lucrative subculture, we find a common thread of rebellion. Pragmatists are unlikely to post public photos of blunts and their personal stash. What will this mean when cannabis is legalized and its taboo lifted? Where will the rebels turn to differentiate themselves from their grandparents who are the new consumers?

They will specialize. Sure, when someone is 22, you don’t blame them for thinking Coors-Light is the only beer worth drinking. But the 28 year olds with greater expendable income aren’t drinking Coors. You’ll find them discussing IPA’s from various regions in Oregon, waxing poetic about hops, and pawing through ice chests for an elusive bottle of Rogue. As the image of cannabis consumerism matures, the way cannabis is socialized and consumed will mature as well.

When your mom has a favorite strain and a vape pen, what is “cool” about cannabis will get increasingly more meta.

What goes up…

The biggest growth arena for cannabusiness right now is growers. When marijuana sells for $1500 to $3000 per pound and the market expecting to explode with legalization, the reasons for getting into growing are obvious. It is important to remember that these prices are inflated. Black markets, grey markets, federal risk, the fact your business could literally be uprooted and destroyed over night create artificially high prices.

With legalization, more supply and diffused demand, prices will drop and what differentiates your products from someone else needs to be clear and magnetic to your customers.

What’s the cheapest beer you’ve ever paid for? A dollar fifty for a PBR? What’s the cheapest craft beer you’ve ever purchased? Five dollars? Seven? What’s the most you’ve paid for a beer? With the global accessibility of a bottle of Bud or Arrogant Bastard, craft beer is at an all-time high in market share, while mass produced “big brands” dropped by 11% last year.

We saw this price issue in Washington State as their market became erratic after legalization. We are seeing it again organically as the market in Colorado stabilizes and the businesses have had time to establish themselves in the new industry. Artisanal products that take into account the preferences and values of their customers will be able to charge top dollar.

Grower-centricity is inevitable

Farm to table, organic, sustainable and local; the values gaining traction in modern consumerism apply to cannabis as well. The most significant aspect of craft cannabis is missing from the current industry – grower recognition. Unlike craft beer, where the brewers are the central heartbeat of craft beer, cannabis has kept its growers in the closet to protect them during the prohibition. But that is changing, and quick.

Willie Nelson has his own craft brand of cannabis, the Marley family is capitalizing on “Bob’s favorite strain”, and edible companies are realizing that a brownie in a ziplock with a sticker is no longer enough to stand out from the varied selections available at your local dispensary. The craft of cannabis is already in motion.

Ask any grower who has the best weed, and they will answer “I do”. The bond formed between growers and their plants is passionate and spirited – and you will be incapable of convincing them otherwise. Unfortunately, most customers don’t know who they are or where their weed came from, or why it’s “seriously, the best ever”.

Growers who are tainting the industry with shoddy techniques and chemicals exist alongside artisans specializing in organics and permaculture.

With legalization, customers will have access to a diverse choice of growers. They will be able to associate a purchase with a specific grower – not just a strain likely mis-labelled in the dispensary with no detail about growing conditions. When growers are no longer hidden away from the public eye they will be recognized for their talents, and the cream of cannabis growers will surface.

Conclusion

The unexpected influences in cannabis like the huge market of “stoner culture”, price drops and the shift from a dispensary focused industry to a grower-centric one will have profound effects on how business is conducted in cannabis. Awareness of these influences can help cannabusinesses decide now what they will do to ensure their growth in the coming years. The competition for cannabis has been such a small pond that much will change as the industry catches up.

We believe craft cannabis is the future of legal cannabis, and that businesses who consider what it means to be truly crafted will realize greater success in the years to come.

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