You remember those toys from when you were a kid called Kaleidoscopes? They looked like a telescope, but when you looked through them you saw a beautiful pattern of colors that shifted as you spun the lens. You had to shine a light through them to get the most out of the experience. The magic was in the patterns and colors that you formed, but the power came from the light. Turn out the light and you saw nothing. This is a productive way to envision the cannabis spectrum. THC is the light. The beauty is in the patterns. In this analogy the patterns are patterns of the minor cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenoid spectrums. You cannot experience them without the light behind them, and without the patterns the light itself grows boring very quickly.
By pursuing a fast onset as the primary goal in nano formulated edibles and beverages, the beauty and complexity of the patterns is being stripped away. Many of the active components that form the patterns will delay the onset of your experience, but this is only a part of their overall impact on the experience. One part cannot be had without the other. When you build for speed, it comes at the cost of being boring.
There are hundreds of active compounds in the cannabis plant. Over 100 cannabinoids, over 100 terpenes, and at least 26 flavonoids. Many of these modulate your perceptions. The range of experiences people have with the range of cultivars is endless. I mean that literally. We may never fully catalog the full range of patterns and combinations of them that exist.
The addition of a little more complexity is needed to enrich the experience. The current, sub-15-minute onsets have too little complexity, strength, and duration to remain interesting. That can only be changed by shining the light through a bigger selection of the spectrum.
Nanoemulsions, upon which all fast-acting products are based, are the most predictable delivery system we know to get the unadulterated cannabis compounds into the bloodstream. Most commercial nanoemulsions are not up to the task, but when speaking of properly formulated nanoemulsions, nothing is more predictable than they are. They are so predictable, they not only work similarly from use to use, but work similarly from person to person.
If you stop and think about that for a second, it means you can brand products around subsets of the cannabis experience. You can predict the tone and character of the experience sufficiently to predict when it will be appreciated. In other words, you can design products for specific occasions of use. You can sell a feeling.
Nano-based products are amongst the most social in their uses. You can take them at a baseball game more easily than sparking up a pre-roll, for example. So, a carefully curated subset of the endlessly variable cannabis experiences that would make a baseball game more enjoyable, could be highlighted in a brand. It might not just be for baseball, of course. It might also work equally well for a day at the beach and many other occasions, but it might not work so well for drafting an essay or a report for work. That experience would be better enhanced by a different subset of the cannabis experience. One that favors focus and concentration.
By encouraging the extractors to explore the spectrum in the extracts being used as input material for nanoemulsion based products, you can craft more appealing, more experience-driven brands. Brands optimized for specific occasions of use. This is not a new idea, but it is one that seems to have been abandoned in favor of onset speed.
It is time move more boldly into the next generation of products. To do this you will need “experience designers” who understand what the brand stands for, and which components of the spectrum will support the activities most associated with the brand. That person may be with the extractor, may be with the product team, the marketing team, or be an independent consultant, but he or she needs to drive the composition of the extracts used. They will be the pattern builders.
Nanoemulsion technology itself either makes the grade or it doesn’t. It either protects the active compounds all the way to the bloodstream, or it does not. It does so reliably, predictably, and yes even quickly, or it does not. The truth is that most do not, but some do. If you make your selection carefully, you need only do it once. None of what I am describing will work with a low quality nanoemulsion. A milky, large-particle size, nanoemulsion that passes through the portal vein on the way to the bloodstream will not work. It will not be spectrum transparent, nor dependable, nor stable.
Once you have a solid nano foundation, you can build patterns with precision and provide commonality in the experiences you create. Whomever you have as the pattern builder must work closely with the extractors to evaluate the experiential character of the extract or combination of extracts to ensure it is in line with each brand’s voice and values.
The marketers and the consumer researchers should be encouraged to ask the consumers who are not re-buying fast acting products why they are not. I believe I know why. Not one commercial nano product I have tried in the last six months would satisfy a daily consumer. I have made many nano formulations that would, but none of them had onsets under 15 minutes. It is time to choose predictability over speed and stop building products for people who are just putting a toe in the pool. Let’s make powerful products first and foremost for people who love cannabis. Find the power and the beauty hidden in the patterns and light them up with THC. The market is waiting.
Credit: Mark Scott, President, Activated Nano