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DOSING FOR THE RECREATIONAL CANNABIS MARKET
Cannabis offers many benefits via several hundreds of chemicals that interact in ways scientists are just beginning to understand. The balance between a strain, delivery system and amount (SDA), could be the difference between relaxation, euphoria and in some cases, confusion and even paranoia. The challenge for many cannabis consumers is finding the right SDA balance for the outcome they desire with minimum side effects For example, any parent knows the moment when the kids are in bed, but not fully asleep. On the one hand, that’s when you can start to relax, on the other hand you need to be ready to deal with a diaper change or a monster under the bed at any moment. While cannabis can deliver a much-needed relaxation experience to that parent, the wrong SDA balance could lead to an overly euphoric outcome, limiting the parent’s ability to adequately deal with those types of situations. “Dosing” is one of the top buzzwords in the cannabis industry. Since no one has achieved full understanding and control over all possible cannabis outcomes, most innovators draw inspiration from the medical world, marrying the concept of medical dosing with cannabis. The concept is simple: We’re not a 100% sure what the right strain, delivery system or amount of cannabis for the outcome you wish to achieve is, so we’ll enable you to consume cannabis in small portions and do trial and error based on how you end up feeling. Some experts might say that if this approach makes sense for medical cannabis, it should work for the recreational market just fine. But a key point of difference between medical and recreational cannabis is that in the recreational market there are consumers, not patients.
The alcohol market could be a good analogy for recreational cannabis. Why does each alcoholic drink have its own glass type? Because there is a very high risk of going too far, if people would take small sips straight out of a vodka bottle and decide when to stop based on how drunk they feel. A very interesting study conducted by Brian Wansink, head of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University could offer some insight. Basically, people were invited to view a movie and asked to stick around afterward to answer some questions about the concession stand. They were offered free popcorn and drinks if they would help with the study. What they were not told was that the study was about eating habits, not the concession stand. To make a long story short, they were given very large, but different size, containers of popcorn. All the researchers really wanted to know was: Would people with bigger buckets eat more popcorn. As it turned out, they ate 53 percent more translating into 21 extra handfuls and 173 more calories. The experiment was replicated at different location with different movies. The results were consistent: Bigger container equals more eating. Same goes for cannabis, an inexperienced user will easily go too far if he has access to a large reservoir and needs to decide when to stop after he already started to consume cannabis. Dosing might be relevant for the medical domain, but for recreational cannabis “Serving Size” or “Session” is a more suitable concept. Another example is coffee. Why do coffee retailers not offer an espresso coffee in a latte glass serving size? Because the probability of a consumer drinking too much, too fast and end up having a terrible coffee experience is very high and will be very damaging to the image of that coffee retailer. To further strengthen this idea, I would offer a closer look to eVapor. In a way eVapor has its own version of dosing: keep puffing until you reach nicotine satisfaction. While eVapor has many advantages over traditional cigarettes, a clear disadvantage is that many people would vape non-stop until they run out of liquid or battery charge. Developing recreational cannabis products based on the concept of “Sessions” or “Servings” rather than “Doses”, offers a more responsible path to deliver the full positive potential cannabis has to offer. It will simplify the learning curve, enable consumers to better navigate the category and reduce the probability of a negative experience.