The cannabis industry has finally been moved out of the shadows of illegality and into the light of reputable commercial business for 10 American states and the entire nation of Canada. At Northern Lights, we have been a part of this historic change in cannabis culture since opening our doors in 2010. Since those early (but not so long ago) years, one of the most important parts of our business has been talking to our customers and following along with trends in the industry. Our goal is to provide those who enjoy and benefit from using cannabis with the best products that we can while following changes in cannabis culture to see where things might be heading. As more areas of the United States follow suit towards legalization of marijuana, it is clear that cannabis will become more common in both recreational and professional settings. We have already followed the market’s drastic growth in the field of concentrates, which are now the second most popular method of consumption after flowers. Now everyone is wondering, as are we, what is next? What will cannabis consumers be talking about in two or five or ten years?
What Are We Drinking?
We have no crystal ball, unfortunately, but experience is the next best thing. In many ways, the increased popularity of concentrates was based upon convenience—amongst many other factors. People all over the United States and Canada have come to realize over the past decade that in many situations, you just cannot beat the versatility of cannabis concentrates that are so easy to use compared to the traditional flower. Of course, concentrates can also offer higher levels of potency for both recreational and medical applications, which is another potential benefit. One way that a similar trend may show up in the world of edible cannabis is in the potential application of water-soluble beverages. Exactly how cannabis flowers go through the extraction process to become various types of concentrates is a topic all of its own (please see our most recent blog for more information), but suffice it to say that there are many ways to go from plant to extract. Many of the traditional processes use fats or oils to obtain THC, cannabinoids and flavor agents from the flower, but when it comes to producing cannabis beverages, that is not always ideal. Think about some of the things that you have drunk in the past week—probably juice, coffee, tea, beer or wine, or maybe a soft drink. All of those start with one thing, which you hopefully also drank—water. Water is the basis for all of the beverages that we consume, but water, as the old saying tells us, does not get along with oils. Many of the fats and oils used to produce cannabis concentrate do not lend themselves to creating cannabis beverages in the same way that liquor is easily mixed into other water-based liquids to make cocktails.
The Race Is On
This problem is why a variety of different companies are now pursuing water-soluble cannabis technology. The general thinking is that as marijuana consumption moves into the social mainstream, drinking cannabis beverages in a social setting will become commonplace in the same way that drinking alcohol is. The easiest way to get to that goal is to find a way to extract the good stuff from cannabis in a form that is water-soluble and can be easily mixed into a huge variety of different drinks. In early December, Sproutly Canada Inc. “obtained exclusive rights to a patent-pending water-soluble technology”. Similar ventures are currently also underway at Trait Biosciences and a number of other companies that are all looking for the “holy grail” of water-based cannabis beverages. If there is one thing that we have learned in all of our years of experience in the cannabis industry, it is that where there is a demand in the market a product will come along. Obviously, we can see an opening for water-soluble cannabis, but will this end up being the territory of one company that is able to file its patent first?
Experience tells us that the answer is no. In the early years of cannabis concentrates there were dispensaries and startup companies that tried to get their legal foot in the door, claiming ownership of certain “proprietary” types of extraction. The market of today is, thankfully, open to all sorts of different businesses that would like to make their own concentrates, and that is likely the way that water-soluble cannabis drinks will go. The applications of this technology are simply too wide, and the science behind it so general, in order for one company to earn a monopoly. Even if a billionaire puts all their money into becoming the Coca-Cola of cannabis, there will certainly be a Pepsi.