Packaging Design for Cannabis Products: How to Build Trust and Gain Customers

To sell more cannabis products, you must build trust with your customers. Design Shack Magazine explains: “Trust is a key component of user loyalty, and a reason why people come to your company or brand.”

If you don’t get your package design right, people might simply ignore your cannabis products.But building trust is a big challenge for new medical cannabis businesses. That’s where good design can help:“While a lot of trust comes from past performance and a brand’s track-record, it also comes from the design. How a website, poster or package looks can impact how users feel about it and whether they take the leap from casual looker to brand loyalist.”

For a cannabis health supplement business, the product packaging design is one of the most important ways to reassure consumers and build trust.

When a prospective customer first sees your product, they see the packaging before they can touch or see the product. Good product packaging can raise concerns or instill comfort and confidence in a potential buyer.

If you don’t get your package design right, people might simply ignore your cannabis products.

So, let’s take a look at what your business can do to create great product packaging designs that will win over the skeptics and gain customers.

Include the Right Content On Product Packaging

Designing packaging that inspires trust starts with including the right content.

Start by telling people exactly what’s inside your packaging. For example, specify what your product is (CBD Extract Oil vs. Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil Caplets), how much of it there is, a production lot number and a potency level.

Include any qualifiers that may reassure your customers – such as “Organic,” “Non-GMO” or “CO2-Extracted.”

Image courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company

Communicate this information in clean, concise language that shows you have nothing to hide. And, speaking of not hiding – include contact information for your business. Many businesses bury their contact info on their websites and packaging. Don’t do that.

People trust businesses that are transparent and easy to reach. Customers want to know that if they have a question or something goes awry with an order that they can get help.

Including your web address, support email and phone number is a powerful way to reassure clients that your business is legitimate and trustworthy.

And, no packaging is complete without branding elements to help customers identify who your business is and what you’re about. This should include your company’s logo, identifying brand colors and any other small visual elements your brand may use.

Finally, make sure to follow the FDA guidelines for dietary supplement labels.

Your content checklist for product packaging

  • Include the essential details
    • What’s inside?
    • How much?
    • What’s the potency and dosage?
    • When does it expire?
    • What’s the lot number?
  • Include reassuring qualifiers that your audience will value
    • Organic, CO2-Extracted, Full Spectrum, Contains Less Than 0.3% THC, etc.
  • Include your company’s contact info
    • Web Address
    • Customer Support Email
    • Customer Support Phone number
  • Include your visual branding elements
    • Logo
    • Tagline
    • Brand Colors
    • Small branded graphic elements

Keep the Packaging Design Simple

Clean, simple design is reassuring and inspires trust.

Image courtesy of Receptra Naturals

That’s because simple design makes it easy for customers to find what they need or want to know.

It’s easy to miss information in a cluttered design – and people know this.

People naturally mistrust the dense chunks of text at the bottom of many advertisements and product packages. On the other hand, clean, easy-to-read fonts and plenty of white space ensure that your audience can read your product packaging and find the information they want quickly without too much trouble.

With fewer words and graphics competing for attention, the important stuff naturally stands out. And, a simple design also sends the message that there are no hidden loopholes or secrets that may work against your customers.

Keep the Design Of Your Product Packaging Professional

It doesn’t matter how great your product is if your business comes across as unprofessional. And, for medical cannabis businesses, the bar for establishing professionalism is even higher than for most companies.

Keep these tips in mind to communicate professionalism and reliability.

Image courtesy of Sagely Naturals

Make sure your packaging is error-free

Mistakes don’t look professional. How many times have you wondered how an error could have passed through so many hands unnoticed that it made it onto the final version?

Consumers notice errors in your packaging design. They see typos and often, discover incorrect or misleading information. Errors make customers think that your business is incompetent. Or worse – they might think that your business is deliberately misleading them. Make sure you proof-read everything before your packaging goes to production.

Showcase Your Cannabis Products Well Against Competitors

People buying your cannabis products will have other options. Don’t ignore your competition and be sure to understand how other dietary supplements and medicine is packaged.

Want to build trust by encouraging consumers to group your CBD products with other trusted medical brands? Follow these tips:

  • Provide a list of ingredients and instructions for safe dosing and usage. People expect this from reputable medicinal brands. Your product packaging should dothis too. And, remember to follow the FDA’s labeling requirements for dietary supplements.
  • Incorporate a safety seal into your packaging design. You’ll notice that most medicines, vitamins, and supplements have a safety seal to protect the contents. Whether you opt for a shrink-wrapped seal over the lid or a foil seal under the cap, adding a safety seal shows that your product has not been tampered with and implies that it’s safe to use.

Incorporating these elements will create a mental link between your product and other trusted medicinal products.

Be authentic to your cannabis brand

Last, but not least, your packaging design must align with your brand. When consumers sense a disconnect between the brand identity they’ve come to identify with your business and the packaging design for your products, it creates discomfort.

Image courtesy of Direct Cannabis Network

But packaging that is in line with (or expands upon) the brand identity consumers have come to know will create comfort and trust.

Kevin Keating at PKG Brand Design explains:

Your brand’s packaging design must reflect your company’s story, product, and values. If your packaging claims a “simple” snack product with dozens of ingredients, consumers are going to be left with a disingenuous feeling about your products and company. By ensuring that your messaging, design, and visual impact is in line with your company and your consumer’s preferences, you can build instant trust.

So, ensure that your packaging design is consistent with your existing visual identity. This includes the name of your business or cannabis product, your cannabis business logo, website, and marketing design.

A united and cohesive visual brand presence looks professional and helps to build familiarity – which is key to developing trust. Ultimately, many people judge products based solely on the product packaging. That’s why it’s essential to make sure your product packaging sends the right message.

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Using Cannabis To Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

It turns out, certain people in the cannabis business are more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome than others in the industry. Trimmers suffer the most due to the detailed, repetitive nature of their work. People around the world get carpal tunnel, however, from typing, being a chef, a checker or even by a case of bad luck.

The carpal tunnel is a thin tube in your wrist, pretty much from elbow to palm of the hand, that houses the median nerve, which becomes inflamed when the syndrome kicks in. Fortunately, cannabis is here to save the day yet again.

The NSAIDs or corticosteroids that are commonly used to treat the pain associated with carpal tunnel have side effects that range from weight gain and easy bruising to osteoporosis. On the other hand (no pun intended) cannabis’ side effects are short term and include an increase in appetite, dry mouth and the potential for giggles. CBD has no side effects at all. However, depending on the severity of your carpal tunnel, you still may need to wear a splint to bed in order to combat the numb, tingling feelings.

Another problem with using the anti-inflammatories like NSAIDs and steroids is that your body builds up a tolerance to them over time. This can lead to stronger painkillers, more discomfort and an increased moodiness. Cannabis is a known anti-inflammatory and though you may build up a tolerance if you’ve never tried it before, it evens out pretty quickly. Let’s say in a matter of weeks, though it certainly varies from person to person.

Cannabis is a natural remedy for inflammation in soft tissues, for nerve damage and for joint pain—all associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. It makes the most sense to use a substance that’s able to relieve the three symptoms of carpal tunnel and that has additional benefits like mood elevation and the alleviation of other aches and pains. If you’re using a topical cannabis product, however, it will be non-psychoactive, but it will work wonders.

THC or CBD Topicals are the best bet for workers who fear drug testing and the products work even better in conjunction with CBD tincture, gummies and/or vape pens. If you’re able to get a bit lifted, though, using an edible or smoking/vaping a good strain for pain, like Girl Scout Cookies, will provide deeper relief.

It’s no fun having a syndrome that makes what you’re used to doing either impossible or limited, but there is relief to be had. Incorporating cannabis into your wellness regime may be the difference between a good day and a bad one, a good night’s rest or an awkward tossing and turning to keep your wrists in position. Cannabis is an excellent medicine, especially when it comes to inflammation, and its potential to help mitigate carpal tunnel syndrome is no small miracle.

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A2LA Partners With ATACH

Last week, the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH) announced a new partnership agreement. This partnership is the first of its kind where a laboratory accreditation body and a cannabis trade organization work together under an MOU.

According to the press release, the two organizations hope to promote “foundational standards for quality control testing and regulatory guidelines that promote product safety.” Both organizations will advocate for the adoption of industry standards they deem appropriate for recreational and medical cannabis as well as hemp testing in the United States.

Michael Bronstein, executive director of ATACH, says there is an urgent need for open-source consensus standards and standard test methods for cannabis testing. “In an industry that lacks standard test methods and where testing is such a crucial part of the regulatory landscape, the need for open-source consensus standards is especially significant,” says Bronstein. “The development and adoption of standard test methods for cannabis testing is essential in ensuring consistency between laboratories, encouraging uniformity in state testing regulation, and providing a safe and consistent product to consumers.”

The press release also states that A2LA and ATACH seek to “develop regulation and adopt industry standards with goals of advancing and professionalizing the industry.”

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Young People Experience Arthritis Too And Cannabis Can Help

Arthritis is the umbrella term for literally hundreds of joint-related disorders, pretty much all of them painful, including rheumatoid arthritis and the most common form, osteoarthritis. Though often associated with aging, arthritis doesn’t discriminate. Approximately 54 million Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis and 7 percent of those tens of millions are 18-44 year olds.

There are many ways to treat the discomfort that comes with arthritis—from creams to pills to joint wraps—but ofttimes the best medicine is all-natural. In many arthritic cases the very best medicine is actually cannabis, which also comes in a variety of forms, such as capsules, tinctures and salves.

So how best can arthritic pain be relieved with marijuana? It depends on the situation and how active of a lifestyle you lead. For a 21-year-old athlete experiencing arthritic symptoms, salves used in conjunction with what the doctor ordered may just do the trick without any of the side effects of cannabis, like getting high. But truly, whenever possible, the best answer is a combination of cannabis remedies.

Creams and salves are obvious choices, as you can rub in the soothing lotion, which is often combined with other medicinal herbs, right where it hurts. Not all lotions and potions are created equal, though. If you’re in a legal or medical state, use a cream with activated THC along with other cannabinoids and plant components (they won’t alter mindsets if that’s a concern). If you don’t live in a legalized state, a hemp/CBD cream will also help, just look for the words “full-spectrum” or for other cannabinoids to be named.

All told, a mixture of methods will help alleviate the pain in more ways, thus providing more relief. Adding an oral tincture to the rub remedy helps to loosen up stiff joints throughout the body. As arthritis is often caused by inflamed tissue between the joints, the anti-inflammatory aspect of cannabis really helps mitigate tender and sore areas by bringing down swelling.

Luckily, for states that haven’t gone all the way green yet, non-psychoactive CBD concoctions are also known to be anti-inflammatory. All cannabinoids are utilized by the body’s own endocannabinoid system, where they fit in like puzzle pieces. The system runs throughout the body and brain, thus relieving pain pretty much wherever when ingested, smoked or vaped. Layering topicals, tinctures and toking is a surefire way to feel better all around, and all aforementioned methods kick in almost immediately, so they’re easy to gauge if indeed psychoactive.

If the arthritis calls for the big dogs, it’s time to bring in capsules made of full spectrum hemp oil, high-THC cannabis oil or an activated edible. If taking either of the latter two, wait at least an hour after the initial dose before taking more to see where your pain level and headspace land. Unlike vaping, smoking, rubbing lotions or dropping tinctures, edibles and capsules take awhile to kick in, but then they really go to work, offering a heavy body high and maximum relief.

No matter what age arthritis hits, cannabis can help put stiff joints in motion, relieve swollen tissue and make for a higher quality of life. Movement is key whether 44 and under, in the senior bracket or somewhere in between. Add some flexibility and relief to living with arthritis by using the cannabinoids available to you and that work best with your lifestyle.

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Why Marijuana Is A Power Plant For People With Diabetes

The symptoms surround diabetes can vary depending on which type patients have. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin and requires those effected to receive insulin (the hormone that keeps your blood sugar at a normal level) injection multiple times a day.

Type 2 on the other hand is a chronic condition that impacts the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). This disorder usually directs the pancreas to produce more insulin that is necessary.

A study published in the American Journal of Medicine showed that frequent and active cannabis users were able to metabolize carbohydrates more efficiently than those who didn’t use cannabis. The study examined about 4,657 men and women between 2005 and 2010. 48 percent of the participants smoked cannabis at least once and 12 percent of the participants were active cannabis smokers.

After controlling for factors that might put people at risk for diabetes including exercise, economic status, alcohol use and cigarette smoking, researchers observed the results. They found that the active cannabis users had insulin levels that were 16 percent lower than those who once used or never used the drug.

It is fair to assume that this study would have varying results on the two different types of diabetes, but researchers note these results apply for both Type 1 and Type 2.

In Type 1, cannabis was able to lower the fasting level, which might eliminate or reduce, the need for an insulin injection at the time. In Type 2, the cannabis has the ability to make patients less resistant to the insulin and help them manage their glucose levels more effectively.

Marijuana has also been noted to treat glaucoma, which can develop from having diabetes. People who have diabetes are 40 percent more likely to develop glaucoma as compared to people who don’t have it. Typically, glaucoma occurs when too much pressure builds inside the eye, but it has been noted that forms of cannabis can help decrease that pressure.

Scientists can’t directly say that cannabis cures diabetes, but they can confirm that it’s a powerful tool that can treat the disease and its subsequent side effects.


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A Province-By-Province Look At Recreational Cannabis In Canada

Federal recreational reform is coming to Canada next month, the second country after Uruguay to take the plunge. For the first time in almost a century, in other words, cannabis is now about to be legal again.

The federal government will license and regulate the industry. However each province and territory (analogous to American states) will set the rules on distribution and sales. As a result, there is quite a bit of difference across the country with implications both for licensed producers (LPs) and consumers.

A quick guide to the general Canadian regulations broken down by Province.

Who Can Buy, Sell and Grow?

With two exceptions, the legal age of consent is 19, home growing of up to 4 plants is allowed across many provinces (with only Quebec, Manitoba and Nunavut banning the practice), and rules vary by province on both public and private consumption.

However what the industry is really looking at right now is where private enterprise will be allowed to flourish at the retail end of the industry. Private retailers will be allowed to operate in 7 provinces and territories where they will compete with government run outlets. In New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and the Yukon, consumers will be required to shop in only government-run establishments.

Nunavut, with no licensed producers, will allow online sales only, even in a recreational market. This gives Tilray an instant advantage with their established online presence not only from the company website, but Leafly.However, the two largest provinces are also where the competition will be most intense nationally.

Power Provinces

One of the most interesting statistics to look at is mapping this information to the number (and size) of licensed producers in each province. For example, Ontario currently clocks in at 59 producers, British Columbia at 23, Quebec at 8 and Alberta at 6, while the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have none. Of these, Ontario and Quebec will not allow producers to sell direct to private establishments but rather mandate sales via government-run dispensaries.

Ontario is slated to become the largest of all provincial markets in the country with Quebec coming in second.

However, the two largest provinces are also where the competition will be most intense nationally.

Where The Big Dogs Lie

Even these statistics do not tell the entire story. The biggest producers (especially those engaged in international rather than just domestic production and distribution) are scattered all over the map. For example, Tilray is in British Columbia. This gives the company the unprecedented ability, via its online portal and information website, Leafly, to engage in direct sales to both patients (via online sales) and recreational users from its home base.

How this will shape regional sales figures once the rec market actually starts is uncharted territory.Aurora is in a similar situation as it is situated in Alberta.

Canopy is headquartered in Ontario, but has grow sites across the country, giving it wide market access, and has just been picked as one of four companies to begin recreational sales in Manitoba.

Aphria and MedReleaf headquarters are also both located in Ontario. But it is not necessarily where such producers are located which will determine market access. Ontario has opened the door to suppliers of all sizes, across the country.

Quebec, in contrast, has signed deals with Canopy, Aphria, Aurora, Tilray, MedReleaf and Hydropothecary with both Aurora and Hydropothecary expected to have large home-court advantage when it comes to branding. MYM Nutraceuticals, with a huge greenhouse in Weedon, Quebec, has now also signed the largest deal in Quebec (as of June). The company represents one of Canada’s largest greenhouses.Canopy_Growth_Corporation_logo

Prince Edward Island and Brunswick have followed a bit of a hybrid model, signing deals with both small local players and the larger national companies.

The interesting twist to the Canadian medical market (that does not exist in Europe for example) is that all licensed producers are allowed to sell directly to patients online. How this will shape regional sales figures once the rec market actually starts is uncharted territory.

Ontario, with 40% of the country’s population and home to more than half of Canada’s registered producers, is slated to become the country’s largest recreational market.

British Columbia, in contrast, is developing as a place where mom and pops can still thrive.

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5 Ways To Incorporate Effective CBD Products Into Your Everyday Life

The cannabis plant itself is both medically and therapeutically beneficial, especially because of the wide variety of cannabinoids it contains. Although cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two well-known and widely used cannabinoids, according to one study, the cannabis plant contains over 400 chemical entities, and more than 60 of those chemicals are known as cannabis cannabinoids.

Despite the latter, specific compounds like CBD are extremely useful, especially in the treatment of different medical conditions and diseases. Since CBD is non-psychoactive, non-addictive, and medically beneficial, numerous people are attracted to it. Whether you’re struggling with a health issue or your quality of life needs a positive boost, CBD could help. There are numerous ways to incorporate and use CBD-based products in your everyday life, which will be discussed as well as examples of CBD products to try.

Cannabidiol Delivery Methods and Ways to Use This Cannabinoid

Cannabidiol can be derived from both industrial hemp and the whole cannabis plant. However, individuals can reap CBD’s benefits regardless of where it was derived from. In general, there are numerous medicinal and therapeutic benefits that users can experience from consuming various CBD-based products. Thus far, studies have revealed CBD’s ability to treat different medical conditions, diseases, and illnesses, which has led to an increase of people looking into and using this alternative form of medicine. Also, CBD can improve one’s quality of life and well-being. Regardless of where you are in your life, you can benefit from consuming CBD.

In addition, there are different ways that CBD can be consumed, as well as the usage of various CBD products. For example, there are five main delivery methods that can be utilized, such as inhalation, oral, sublingual, topical, and transdermal administration. And there are numerous CBD-based products that can easily be incorporated into one’s life. Due to the variety of benefits cannabidiol contains, people consume this cannabinoid to improve their well-being and to achieve medicinal and therapeutic relief in their daily life.

Highly Recognized Medicinal Properties of CBD

Furthermore, people consume CBD for different reasons, but some of the cannabinoid’s most common and highly recognized medicinal properties include: analgesic, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, anti-spasm, anti-epileptic, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, neuroprotective, and anti-tumoral. CBD contains many more medicinal properties, but recently, these properties have been the reason for countless people consuming this cannabinoid: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasm, anti-anxiety, and anti-epileptic. Aside from CBD’s medicinal properties, therapeutic benefits can be delivered too. Thus, regardless of your current state of being, different CBD-based products could be incorporated into your life.

Topical and Transdermal CBD-Based Products to Implement into Your Daily Routine

Regardless of the medical condition you have or the health issues you experience, CBD could be very useful. There’s not one particular product that works for everyone, which allows individuals to find CBD-based products that work best for them. Depending on the reasons for CBD usage, certain products may be more beneficial than others.

For instance, if your goal is to experience localized relief, it’s suggested to use a topical CBD-based lotion, cream, or ointment that can be applied onto certain body parts or joints that need relief. Generally, topical CBD products are ideal for relieving muscle soreness, cramps, muscle spasms, and neck, knee, or joint pain. Topical CBD products are increasing in usage for several reasons, but especially because they don’t deliver psycho-active effects since they seep into the skin’s pores rather than entering the body’s bloodstream. If you’re interested in using a topical CBD product, check out this lotion, which is produced and sold by a Colorado company called Infinite CBD.

Besides topical CBD products, individuals can use CBD transdermal patches.

Transdermal CBD patches are similar to nicotine and birth control patches in terms of where they’re placed on the body and the medicine that’s distributed throughout the body. These patches consist of an adhesive patch that’s infused with cannabis-based oils or cannabis-based isolates like CBD, THC, or a combination of them. Then, the patches gradually deliver the cannabinoid medicine through the body’s skin and via the capillaries, which permit the cannabinoids to enter the body’s bloodstream.

In the past, a study was conducted on the impact transdermal CBD patches had on rodents. It was found that the patches were successful, and they provided relief to the rats. Another similar study discovered that the transdermal application of CBD disallowed inflammation. Via transdermal usage, the active cannabinoid medicine doesn’t process through the body’s respiratory and digestive systems as compared to inhalation and oral consumption.

Also, transdermal CBD patches are convenient and easy to use, they provide a gradual release of relief, long-lasting effects, and they’re sold with pre-loaded doses of cannabinoids to provide users with more control regarding the quantity of medicine they’re taking. If you’re interested in trying this form of CBD, check out the patches sold by Mary’s Medicinals.

Oral, Sublingual, and Inhalation CBD-Based Products to Implement into Your Daily Routine:

Oftentimes, CBD products are consumed orally via infused food and drinks. However, the effects take longer to kick in as compared to other methods. It’s important to know that oral CBD products enter the bloodstream while passing through the digestive system. For immediate relief, this isn’t the best option. To prevent pain and related symptoms from occurring, individuals can consume CBD-based oral products like infused capsules and infused gummies or other foods. If this is the route you want to take, check out Infinite CBD’s infused capsules and flavorful infused gummies.

Then, sublingual CBD administration is different than other methods because of how it’s consumed and its nearly immediate effects. To prevent and/or relieve anxiety, stress, or pain, many individuals use CBD sublingual sprays or droppers. The medicine is placed underneath the tongue, and the effects occur very quickly. Several CBD sublingual sprays and droppers are on the market, but you choose which one has the right CBD:THC ratio based on your needs, wants, and financial state. One popular CBD-based sublingual product is by Care by Design, which has a ratio of 18:1 CBD to THC.

Lastly, inhalation is another method that’s still used nowadays. Some people smoke high CBD strains whereas others vape instead. One study found that when one vapes, they absorb up to 33 percent of the total cannabinoids that are present in that product or cannabis strain. For health purposes, vaping is better than smoking because combustion is avoided. If you’re interested in experiencing a positive quality of life and well-being while putting your health first, consider checking out Infinite CBD’s vape juice that can be added into your favorite vaporizer. Or, you can purchase vape cartridges depending on your preference.

Overall, CBD has a non-addictive makeup, non-toxic properties, incredible safety profile, and a wide variety of medicinal and therapeutic benefits, which can be useful to anyone. If you’d like to improve your quality of life, well-being, and achieve much-needed relief, consider implementing a CBD-based product or two into your daily life. Leave a comment below about which CBD product you’d be willing to try and/or the success you’ve had with CBD products so far!

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GW Pharma’s Enormous Price for Epidiolex

In a fascinating early August conference call with Seeking Alpha, British-based GW Pharmaceuticals finally revealed their retail price point for CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, as it goes into distribution in the U.S.

The drug is designed for the treatment of certain kinds of childhood epilepsy – although not all kinds. Also notable of course, is that GW Pharma’s “other” drug for treatment of resistant epilepsy failed in late stage trials in Eastern Europe earlier this year. It also knocked off 5% of the price of the company’s stock.The company is estimating it has a potential patient pool of between 25,000- 30,000 patients in the U.S.

British Advocacy Over Access And Pricing

The ineffectiveness of GW Pharma’s drugs for many patients (along with the cost charged for them) was responsible for pre-empting the entire access discussion in the UK this year. The mother of an epileptic British child tried to import a personal store of cannabis oil (produced by Canadian LP Tilray) only to have it confiscated at the airport this summer. Her son ended up in the hospital shortly thereafter.

The national uproar this caused pushed forward the country’s new medical cannabis policy– indeed drug rescheduling is due to go into effect in October. Conveniently, right as Epidiolex goes on sale in the U.S. (where cannabis remains a Schedule I drug).

The company is estimating it has a potential patient pool of between 25,000- 30,000 patients in the U.S.

Price Tags and Politics

What is the price of Epidiolex? $32,500 per patient, per year. If that sounds high, the company insists it is pricing the drug to be “in line” with other drugs for this segment of the market.

The majority of this cost will not be picked up by private health insurers but rather the federal governmentActually, according to industry analysis, this is about 70% more than the price of one comparable drug (Onfi), and slightly more expensive than Banzel, the two competing (non-cannabinoid based) medications now available in the U.S. for this market.

Here is the other (widely unreported) kicker. The majority of this cost will not be picked up by private health insurers but rather the federal government, which is also not negotiating with GW Pharma about that high price  (unlike for example what is going on in Europe and the German bid).

Why the difference?

Two reasons. The first is that Epidiolex has obtained “orphan drug” status (a medication for a disease that affects fewer than 200,000 patients in the U.S.) The second is that the majority of the insurance that will be picking up this tab is Medicaid. The patient pool will be unable to afford this. As a result, the bulk of the money will remit not from private insurance companies but rather federal taxpayers. And, unlike in say, Germany, none of this is pre-negotiated in bulk.

Epidiolex-GW
What is the price of Epidiolex? $32,500 per patient, per year.

Co-payments are expected to range from $5 to $200 per month per patient after insurance (read: the government) picks up the tab. This essentially means that the company plans to base participation at first at least on a sliding scale, highly subsidized by a government that has yet to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I in the U.S.

Creating, in other words, a new monopoly position for GW Pharmaceuticals in North America.

A Hypocrisy Both Patients And The Industry Should Fight

The sordid, underhanded politicking that has created this canna monster is hardly surprising given the current political environment in both the U.S. and the U.K. right now. The people who benefit the most from this development are not patients, or even everyday shareholders, not to mention the burgeoning legitimate North American cannabis industry, but in fact highly placed politicians (like British Prime Minister Theresa May). Philip May, the PM’s husband’s firm is the majority shareholder in GW Pharma. Her former drugs minister (with a strong stand against medical cannabis) is married to the managing director of British Sugar, the company that grows GW Pharma’s cannabis stock domestically.

So far, despite a domestic outcry over this in the UK (including rescheduling), there has been no political backlash in the United States over this announcement. Why not?

Look To Europe For A More Competitive Medical Market

This kind of pricing strategy is also a complete no go in just about every other market – including medical-only markets where GW Pharma already has a footprint.

For example, German health insurers are already complaining about this kind of pricing strategy for cannabis (see the Cannabis Report from one of the country’s largest insurers TK – out earlier this year). And this in an environment where the government, in fact, does negotiate a bulk rate for most of the drugs in the market. Currently most German cannabis patients are being given dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC which costs far less.

GW logo-2On top of this, there are also moves afoot by the German government to begin to bring the costs of medical cannabis and medicines down, dramatically. And this too will impact the market – not only in Europe, but hopefully spark a debate in every country where prices are also too high.

The currently pending German cultivation bid for medical cannabis has already set an informal “reference” price of at most 7 euros a gram (and probably will see bid competitors come in at under half that). In other words, the government wholesale price of raw, unprocessed cannabis flower if not lightly processed cannabis oil is expected to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3-4 euros per gram come early next year. If not, as some expect, potentially even lower than that.

Processed Cannabis Medicine vs. Whole Plant Treatment

The debate that is really raging, beyond pricing, is whether unprocessed cannabis and cannabis oil is actually “medicine.” At the moment, the status quo in the U.S. is that it is not.

GW Pharmaceuticals, in other words, a British company importing a CBD-based derivative, is the only real “medical cannabis” company in the country, per the FDA. Everyone else, at least according to this logic, is placed in the “recreational camp.” And further, hampered still, with a lack of rescheduling, that affects everyone.

If that is not an organizing issue for the American cannabis industry, still struggling with the many issues inherent in the status quo (from insurance coverage and banking to national distribution across state lines) leading up to the midterms, nothing will be.

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Are LED Grow Lights Worth It?

There really is no question that Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) work, but just how well do they work?

For the last 50+ years, indoor cannabis cultivators have used High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights to illuminate their flowering crops. This technology was developed for, and is still used, as street lighting and there really hasn’t been a fundamental change to the output in the last half century.LED technology showed great promise to solve some of the primary drawbacks to the use of HPS technology for indoor cannabis cultivation. 

We are often asked why this technology was used to grow cannabis, and the answers are simple: 1) due to strict legislation and even stricter penalties for growing cannabis, growers wished to move their crops indoors, and, 2) there really hasn’t been another technology that would allow us to cheaply place 400, 600, or even 1000W of light on a crop. In addition, HPS technology is rich in certain frequencies of red light, which is so important to flowering crops. Unfortunately, HPS lamps have their drawbacks, such as high heat output and lack of other “colors,” along the lighting spectrum. In fact, up to 95% of light produced by an HPS lamp is emitted in the infrared range, which we perceive as heat.

Enter the Light Emitting Diode. LED technology showed great promise to solve some of the primary drawbacks to the use of HPS technology for indoor cannabis cultivation. The ability to manipulate spectrum, precision delivery of light, elimination of dangerous heat, and lack of substantive toxic chemical makeup are a few reasons to deploy LEDs. However, as with any new technology, there were some significant hurdles to overcome.

Early experimentation using Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to grow cannabis, suffice to say, did not go well.  Poor performance, misleading advertising and equipment failures plagued the first mass-produced LED grow lights. The aspect of poor performance can be blamed on several factors, but the most prominent are very low efficacy, in terms of light produced per Watt consumed, and incorrect application of spectrum (color) for horticultural purposes. Causes of “misleading advertising” was a mixed bag of dubious sales pitches and lack of understanding the technology and of horticultural lighting requirements. Additionally, there certainly were some quality control issues with LEDs and electronics equipment in general, especially from offshore manufacturers in China and Korea.

A plant in flowering under an LED fixture

That legacy of poor performance still has a partial hold on the current indoor cannabis cultivation industry. Many of the current “Master Growers” have tried LEDs at some point and for the various reasons mentioned above, reverted to HPS lighting. Some of this reluctance to embrace LEDs comes from unfamiliarity with application of the technology to grow better cannabis, while some can be attributed to stubbornness to deviate from a decades-long, tried-and-true application of HPS lighting.

Certainly, growing with LEDs require some changes in methodology. For instance, when using true “full spectrum” grow lights, more nutrients are consumed. This is caused by stimulation of more photoreceptors in plants. To further explain, photoreceptors are the trigger mechanisms in plants that start the process of photosynthesis, and each photoreceptor is color/frequency-dependent. True full spectrum LED systems fulfill spectrum shortages experienced with HPS technology. Anyone that grows with LEDs will at some time experience “cotton top,” or bleaching at the upper regions of their plants.  Increased nutrient delivery solves this issue.

As we continue to uncover the vast medical potential of cannabis, precise phytochemical composition and consistent quality will become all-important.While the industry is still saturated with confusing rhetoric and some poorly performing equipment, LEDs are gaining momentum in the cannabis market. LED efficacies have increased to levels far greater than any other lighting technology. Broad spectrum white and narrow-frequency LEDs in all visible (and some invisible to the human eye) colors are being produced with great precision and consistency. Quality control in manufacturing is at an all-time high and longevity of LEDs has been proven by the passage of time since their introduction as illumination sources.

As the world embraces LED horticultural lighting, probably the most encouraging news is that current and upcoming generations of cannabis growers are more receptive to new ideas and are much more tech-savvy than their predecessors. Better understanding of cannabis-related photobiology is helping LED grow light manufacturers produce lighting that increases crop yields and perhaps more importantly, cannabis quality. As we continue to uncover the vast medical potential of cannabis, precise phytochemical composition and consistent quality will become all-important.

Obviously, the indoor cannabis industry is expanding rapidly and this expansion raises deep environmental concerns. More power is being used for indoor lighting, and for the cooling required by this lighting. Power systems are being taxed beyond forecasts and in some cases, beyond the capabilities of the infrastructure and power companies’ ability to produce and deliver electricity.  Some states have proposed cannabis-related legislature to limit power consumed per square foot, and some are specifically requiring that LEDs be used to grow cannabis. While some business leaders and cultivation operators may groan at the acquisition cost and change in operating procedures when deploying LEDs, common sense states that it is imperative we produce cannabis applying the most environmentally friendly practices available.

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LabVantage Launches Cannabis-Specific LIMS

LabVantage Solutions, known in other testing industries as a leader in laboratory information management systems (LIMS), has launched their own cannabis-specific LIMS. Unveiled at the Cannabis Science Conference in Portland, OR, the purpose-built software is designed specifically for cannabis testing and certification.

Here are a few key highlights of their system, taken from the press release:lab vantage logo

  • Available through perpetual licensing or SaaS
  • One platform for all tests, instruments, sample information, and results data, with option to embed ELN, LES, and other modules
  • Registers sample requests, including a portal for remote requests from growers and distributors
  • Fully audited sample lifecycle and audit trail
  • Certificates of Analysis customized for local regulatory requirements
  • Includes American Herbal Pharmacopoeia® tests for Cannabis Inforescense.
Bob Voelkner, vice president of sales and marketing
Bob Voelkner, vice president of sales and marketing

LabVantage says their system can support ISO/IEC 17025 compliance, ISO 9001:2015, 21 CFR Part 11 and Annex 11 and GLPs as well. According to Bob Voelkner, vice president of sales and marketing, it has a very open architecture as well as web services technology, which allows for integration with METRC and other traceability software platforms. “We know the testing methodologies these labs use, so the customer doesn’t have to create that from scratch,” says Voelkner. “This is meant to be out of the box and ready-to-use, so the customer can get up and running with minimal lag time.” LabVantage has actually been a provider of LIMS solutions for over 30 years and they serve a broad range of lab types.

A screenshot showing the details collected in a harvest lot

Voelkner says they’ve been working with clients at cannabis labs over the past few years to configure their LIMS for this space specifically. “The lab managers can modify workflows on their own without having to write code,” says Voelkner. “We have a well-established solution with a good track record, that’s been around for a while and is proven. Some other players that are brand new to the space may be new to LIMS and that may not be a good thing. We are a market leader in the global LIMS space with a proven product that is very well established and very powerful.” Voelkner adds that lab managers get to own their data, not LabVantage. “You own the data. It is your database and it is proprietary to you. It is yours to use as you see fit.”

Lab managers have the option to configure the system to adapt to new compliance issues themselves, or work with the LabVantage professional services team to build it out further. “This particular space is new and emerging, it is pretty dynamic — we see a lot of change happening,” says Voelkner. “We believe this space needs a highly flexible platform and this is a proven technology solution with a lot of configurability built into it.”

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