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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Mild-strength Marijuana is the Future of Pot

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Cannabis product potency is dropping as the industry matures. Above, the new Stokes Micro line (via SF Green Delivery)

Think of it as bud — light.

Despite the police headlines about increased potency, the legal marijuana landscape is actually becoming more mellow and mild thanks to the influence of moderate, mainstream consumers as well as state regulations.

These mild pot products now include: mints that pack a barely noticeable body buzz and unwind stress; pre-rolled joints with the strength of a craft beer; and topical rubs that zap shoulder pain without any high or danger of failing a drug test.

All three categories are taking marketshare in California, Colorado, Washington and other states with medical and adult-use cannabis laws. While the media cannot get enough stories of how potent pot can be — upwards of 30 percent — the real innovation is in the light and ultra-light sector, which appeals to far more consumers.

“In any kind of industry, it’s a bell curve. Everything is a bell curve,” said Amanda Reiman — a public health researcher at UC Berkeley and marijuana policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance. “The stuff in the middle doesn’t get the attention, or the stuff on the low end. It’s the stuff on the top standard deviation. It’s very rare and exciting to people.”

“It’s kind of like everclear. Everyone knows it exists, but who sits down with a bottle of everclear on a Friday night to get some relaxation?” she said. “As people become more sophisticated in their use this kind of thing will peter out.”

Only a tiny fraction of the population consumes cannabis daily, develops a tolerance to its effects, and a taste for super-potent pot. Daily heavy users, combined with higher black market profits for more potent bud, have driven production values up until legalization. Ironically, legalization has created room in the market for mild marijuana and even no-high, therapeutic pot.

“I would ask anybody who says all marijuana is high-potency marijuana to go and sit in a well-established dispensary in Colorado or place like California where it’s normalized and see what [customers] are choosing. They’re not choosing the 30 percent THC cannabis,” Reiman said.

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