For recreational cannabis, where marketing is king and differentiating one’s products takes creativity and yet importantly demands a reproducible experience for the end user, enter the new marketing trend known as “effects-based” classification, where strains go unnamed in place of words imbuing an anticipated, reproducible outcome for the end user. And for established medicinal cannabis […]

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For recreational cannabis, where marketing is king and differentiating one’s products takes creativity and yet importantly demands a reproducible experience for the end user, enter the new marketing trend known as “effects-based” classification, where strains go unnamed in place of words imbuing an anticipated, reproducible outcome for the end user. And for established medicinal cannabis companies, where shrouding behind proprietary monikers may just work through rebranding with a polished tag in the vain of BigPharma. At this rousing time where the distinction between recreational and medicinal cannabis has high stakes for the entire industry, I present an example of rebranding from both camps.

Leading the wave in “effects-based” cannabis classification is Southern California’s Canndescent. Since you can’t really create any distinction, excitement or proprietary protection on a product made from any given Blue Dream or say an OG Kush strain extract, one could create a marketing campaign based on the effects they might reliably result in. Canndescent is a fully integrated cannabis cultivation and production company aimed at the adult market who hopes to differentiate itself through marketing its premium cannabis-based products much as premium wines are and aimed as recreational consumers who may be naïve when they enter a dispensary. For Canndescent those “effects-based” classifications are called pillars, and there are five: CALM, CRUISE, CREATE, CONNECT or CHARGE. These terms obviously relate to how the products make users feel. I suppose there will be proprietary recipes created through combining various cannabis extracts and perhaps other disclosed or undisclosed chemicals to reach these states of effect. Were the words describing the effects chosen first? Why five? Were trials/tastings held to determine what constitutes a CHARGE vs. a CRUISE effect? Are there product specs to be met? Seeing recognizable singular words on bright packaging may prove to be a smart, distinctive approach to cannabis marketing in the same mode as tried and true generic wine terms: crisp, dry, fruity, full-bodied, oaky or mineral.

Flip the cannabis coin to Bedrocan, the Dutch company with a 20 year heritage in legal medicinal cannabis cultivation and production as the sole supplier of medicinal cannabis to the Dutch government and the world’s first producer of medicinal cannabis to comply with the European Medicines Agency’s good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards without the use of pesticides or solvents. At Bedrocan they grow five cultivars, Afina, Ludina, Elida, Talea, and Resina which they distinguish by tightly maintained cannabinoid content product specifications but marketed under the respective names: BEDROCAN – BEDROBINOL – BEDIOL – BEDICA –- BEDROLITE. Bedrocan supplies their branded cannabis in 12 countries via a physician’s prescription. In addition, Bedrocan supplies pharmaceutical-grade, standardized cannabis flower referred to as FLOS (whole, dried cannabis flower) for research and development as well as a cannabis placebo, that is equivalent minus THCA and CBDA content. Bedrocan also offers clinical trial design and consultancy for R&D efforts worldwide.

While both Canndescent and Bedrocan have taken their own steps to help bring a more meaningful nomenclature to cannabis for their respective markets, they have also provided a promising approach to how recreational and medicinal cannabis can both exist and not intrude into each other’s clearly defined marketing space.
As Chief Scientific Officer at Digipath, Cindy Orser, PhD, is creating a replicable cannabis testing environment with validated protocols to ensure cannabis and cannabis-based products are safe. She is also developing standards and biomarkers to clearly distinguish products derived from specific cannabis strains concomitant with determining the bioavailability of the cannabinoids found in the product.

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