Editorial Note: There is a lot to learn about cannabis business outside of the legal cannabis industry. We will be occasionally featuring other sites with valuable content that cannabis entrepreneurs may find valuable. While it is not the opinion of Craft Mary Jane that cannabis is accurately categorized as a “drug”, we do understand that much of the world still labels it as such in its prohibition. /Editorial Note

Exploring the results of the 2014 Global Drug Study bring a few considerations about cannabis to the surface.

It’s not a random sampling by any stretch, but The Global Drug Survey has insider information like no one else when it comes to understanding how drugs are used across the world. The study has a nice summary review by Dr. Adam Winstock where he reflects on the results of the world’s biggest ever drug survey.


Right off the top there are some interesting details worth considering for cannabis entrepreneurs. Given that this survey is made up of self-reported users, there isn’t any other study that gives us such clear insights into what cannabis consumers are thinking.

The vault of unknowns in the new industry of legal cannabis are extensive due to its culturally necessary secrecy. Much of what we know about consumers is anecdotal or so specific that applying a broad stroked brush to cannabis consumers as a whole is a less than pragmatic way of understanding the customers of cannabis business.

Identifying Opportunities for Growth & Education

In our enthusiasm for the end of prohibition, it is important that we do not overlook the shortcomings of overindulgence in cannabis as well. Sure, compare it to literally anything else, and it seems harmless. But one should not ignore insights about the negatives of cannabis.

“…cannabis was the drug that most people wanted to use less of and help with in reducing their use. This confirms that for some users (perhaps 10-20%) cannabis can be associated with problems.”

For those struggling with excessive cannabis use, the end of prohibition gives them an opportunity to speak with someone about it. When admitting a problem is no longer associated with a threat of losing your job, custody of your children, and life ruining legal issues, people who struggle will be empowered to seek help.

Understanding Customer Preferences

For a significant section of the cannabis consumer industry, high THC has been a natural evolution of a culture who consumes marijuana for it’s less socially acceptable purposes. Stoner culture, the rebel cousin of legitimate cannabis, has supported the growth and evolution of cannabis throughout its years of prohibition. Yet cannabis is starting to reach unexpected demographics as the stigma of cannabis consumption begins to slide with legalization. What does this larger, more affluent group of consumers want most from their weed?

This summary from Winstock touches on some areas that cannabis business owners would be smart to consider. (Emphasis added.)

Cannabis and the perfect weed

Our huge study of over 38,000 cannabis users showed that the USA was home to safest smokers – with only 7% choosing to smoke cannabis with tobacco followed by NZ (25%) , compared to over 80% of smokers in most other countries. Although the most sensible cannabis smokers, the USA was the worst place to get caught with cannabis with over 17% reporting that it impacted on their education, employment, and travel. Our section defining the ‘perfect cannabis’ showed that the global dominance of high potency herbal preparation leaves many users far from satisfied.

Despite high potency forms typically being rated the most potent and preferred form of cannabis across the globe, such forms were not without significant shortcomings. Memory, paranoia, impaired ability function, feeling uncomfortable when talking to others, distraction, the munchies, the urge to use more, restlessness, hangover effects, and harmful effects on the lungs were all aspects of the ‘stone’ on hydroponic / high potency preparations they users wanted less off. Users indicated they wanted more sensory perpetual enhancement, more giggling, improved taste, stronger cannabis and an overall 25% increase in pleasurable effects.

Looking at the results there does appears to be a paradox in the way people describe their perfect cannabis. This is because most of the effects of being ‘high’ are due to THC but higher doses of this drug are associated with more negative psychological effects. So while people describe wanting a preparation with overall more pleasurable effects, that is stronger, more relaxing, with greater sensory perceptual disturbance and enhanced ability to function they also describe wanting less of the negative effects that are also due to THC such as sedation, munchies, memory impairment, restlessness.

It might well be what they are describing is a high potency THC containing preparation balanced by CBD which is missing from many current strains. Further analysis of our data should help us identify the ‘perfect weed’ and hypothesize what the balance and precise % of THC and CBD should be for the ‘perfect stone, ‘more pleasure, less unwanted effects’. We know that different people will of course have their personal preferences but it will be an interesting exercise.

It remains to be seen whether regulated markets such as those appearing in Colorado will allow the development of more balanced preparations and of course the promotion of healthier forms of use such as vaporizing and the avoidance of tobacco.

Users...wanted more sensory perceptual enhancement, more giggling, improved taste... pleasurable effects. Click To Tweet

This topic is discussed in greater depth in Cannabis: Highlights from Global Drug Survey 2014, a video from Global Drug Study. We found some really interesting stuff at the 2:20 mark, so the video shown is skipped ahead a bit – but it’s definitely worth a watch all the way through.

How much has high-THC cannabis trend been influencing your customers purchasing decisions? Our suggestion would be to get this exact preference chart, and get your customers to fill it out, and start looking for strains and growers who are producing “my perfect weed”.

This is essentially scraping the surface of this study for a few easy nuggets to share. We will probably visit this topic again.

What do you think? We’re discussing this on Twitter, if you want to join the discussion.

About The Author

Starlight is the founder of Craft Mary Jane. She is a mix of innovative thinking, maverick leadership and startup nerd-ery, with a healthy dab of spirited swagger and technological whiz-bang, If Woody Harrelson, Richard Branson, Gertrude Stein and Andre 3000 had a love child, it would be Starlight.

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