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What We’ve Learned

What We’ve Learned

Welcome back CannaGather community. Happy Cinco de Mayo! May 5 commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Here in the United States, the holiday has become associated with a general celebration of Mexican-American culture.

Are you enjoying a cannabis-infused Cinco de Mayo? 
Reach out to us — we would love to hear from you.

Join us on May 7 for a live CannaGather Digital: History & Science of Culinary & Cannabis. You can RSVP here (use promo code jbdigital for a discount). This week, we host master hashishin Frenchy Cannoli, celebrity Chef Nikko, and cannabis activist/researcher Gaetano Lardieri.

Would you like to sponsor our weekly Leaflet? Email me for more information. 

Make sure your canna-curious friends and colleagues are up to date on the latest news. Share this newsletter to keep them in the loop.

// CannaGather Calendar

May 7 // CannaGather Digital // History & Science of Culinary & Cannabis

Our live, online events feature insight from the cannabis industry’s top thought leaders and ensure our community stays up-to-date without leaving the house.

If you’d like to speak at, sponsor, or otherwise collaborate on a CannaGather Digital, let us know!

// Entrepreneurship

What We’ve Learned

Entrepreneurs have had to switch things up amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With most stores closed, companies have had to rely on digital solutions to reach customers. Marijuana Business Daily spoke to a number of cannabusinesses about marketing lessons they’ve learned recently.

Alexis Mora, head of marketing, Harborside: “Streaming events and digital advertising are going to become more prevalent in the future. It will challenge marketers, particularly brands, to think about new and unique ways to get the product and brand education out there, as it has the potential to get your message to either a wider audience or drill down to specific demographics.”

Harry Kazazian, CEO, 22Red: “Even before the pandemic, we relied heavily on social media for brand awareness and engagement. The long-term plan is to increase our efforts online and continue to find new and interesting ways to communicate to our followers.”

Case Mandel, founder and CEO, Cannadips: “Email marketing is one hell of a drug. We have an amazing email list from our four years in business across cannabis and hemp. We also realized the power of working with actual celebrities and athletes. We kicked off a quit-tobacco-dip campaign with comedian Bob Menery, and it has been huge.”

Katie Mattox, director of marketing, Spherex: “We’ve witnessed the impact of communication platforms such as Zoom and online chat rooms like those featured in the Virtual 420 Party. These digital event platforms provide convenience for the end user where they can connect with brands from the comfort of their homes. In the past, we directed our focus toward live events, but now we’re seeing that online spaces can be equally interactive and engaging.”

What this means and why you care: Businesses have made a significant shift to online marketing efforts in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Social media, video conferencing, and email marketing have become more important.

// Finance

Wholesale Cannabis Prices

After a strong end to 2019, wholesale cannabis prices in the U.S. have fluctuated in the first four months of 2020. They hit a high in February, but remain above the numbers from last year. The U.S. Spot Index from Cannabis Benchmarks tracks wholesale prices for medical and recreational markets in 17 states and Washington, D.C.

Some might chalk up the recent downturn as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. But others note that declines are just characteristic of this time of year, and that countless state-level variables from the pandemic make it hard to construct a nation-wide conclusion.

Through it all, many experts predict that prices will not bottom out like they did in 2019. There has been a clear increase in adult-use sales (from new and existing markets), improved supply-chain management, and “an acceleration of business failures that allow stronger companies to thrive and reduce the overall number of cultivators.”

What this means and why you care: The strong prices that defined the end of 2019 and early 2020 are positive news for cannabis growers. Although prices have stayed high, recent fluctuations have left some cultivators with less certainty.

// Legal

Fed Sues CBD Company Over Cancer & COVID-19 Claims

California-based Whole Leaf Organics was sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over unsanctioned claims that the company’s CBD line could help treat cancer and coronavirus. Whole Leaf’s owner Marc Ching, who previously received a warning letter from the FDA regarding his CBD products, agreed to a preliminary order to stop making these claims. A hearing for the case is set for January 2021.

There’s “no proof that any product will prevent or treat COVID-19 or that any CBD product will treat cancer,” said the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director. “Companies making these claims can look forward to an FTC lawsuit like this one.” This represents an amplification by the FTC and FDA, as both previously had only sent warning letters to businesses that made unsanctioned claims that their cannabis products could treat these types of conditions.

The FTC released a blog post last week to address the claims by Whole Leaf Organics and their stance on the relationship among CBD, cancer treatment, and COVID-19. “Unproven claims about COVID-19 and cancer can cost lives,” it states. “Even at this early stage, the filing of this case demonstrates the FTC’s unwavering commitment to protecting Americans from products falsely advertised to prevent or treat serious diseases.”

What this means and why you care: The FTC and FDA made it clear last week that they will take significant steps to block companies from making claims that they do not sanction.

// Medicine, Science, & Technology

Medical Marijuana Spike in Massachusetts

More people than ever are receiving medical marijuana cards in Massachusetts since the state’s governor declared recreational cannabis shops as “nonessential.” 7,235 new patients registered for the MA medical marijuana program from March 23 to April 21 (a 245% increase from the prior month’s sales). 

“The increase doesn’t surprise me — we’ve always believed that more than a majority of [recreational] customers are using cannabis for medical needs such as anxiety, pain relief, and sleep disorders,” said David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association. “There’s a direct relation to the recreational shutdown.” Despite that belief, he added that with the dominating “hybrid recreational-medical retail” market closed, even new medical cannabis patients won’t come close to offsetting the lost sales, and that many recreational consumers would likely turn back to the illicit market. 

You can read more about the situation in Massachusetts here.

What this means and why you care: Each state is going through unique challenges as they battle COVID-19. For Massachusetts, this means very different realities for the adult-use and medical cannabis markets moving forward.

// Community

Piecing Together the Puzzle

Last week, we hosted a special live CannaGather Digital. The in-depth conversation centered around the complicated relationship between medical cannabis and autism.

We were joined by Dr. Sandra Carrillo (President of the Colombian Medical Association of Cannabis Medicine), Mieko Hester-Perez (Healthcare Ambassador at CannaSafe Analytics), and Dr. Rachel Knox (endocannabinologist & certified cannabinoid medicine specialist).

You can check out a recap of the event here.

Would you like to sponsor our weekly Leaflet? Email me for more information.

Interested in joining the CannaGather team? Reach out to us. We would love to have you on board as we grow.

Make sure your canna-curious friends and colleagues are up to date on the latest news. Share this newsletter to keep them in the loop.

Written by Justin Bernstein

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