The art of craft edibles, and the risks and appeal to kids
by Alexis Morrell
Craft beers, cross stitching, Etsy homemades: modern consumers, especially those in the 18-35 demographic, have been buying artisan products; fueled by the desire for both a higher quality good and a more positive perception of what they believe to be lovingly crafted items. When McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts are capitalizing on a hot new word, it would stand to reason that said word has already exploded in global markets. The word artisan has snuggled up to the booming marijuana industry as well; even Edible Arrangements has decided to dig their hands into the alluring and newly legal edibles market. Although the green rush is tantalizing to up and coming companies, there are concerns over the legalities of marketing legal edibles to teens and children.
The artisan market has been booming online, albeit competition has started to get stiff. According to this report by Arcview and BDS Analytics called “The Tasty Future of Cannabis Edibles”, the edible cannabis industry is expected to quadruple in the United States and Canada by 2022. The world’s largest brewery has decided to make a risky $100 million investment in THC-infused sparkling water. Similar investments have been made by alcohol beverage giant Constellation Brands into Canadian cannabis firm, Canopy Growth Corporation. Big businesses are already dipping their toes in the water and small online and brick-and-mortar craft sellers are starting to see their profits wane as the trend increases. Even so, small independent sellers are still making profits, as the cannabis tag on Etsy and several indie edible sites online can attest. Legalization does prove to be a thorn in the sides of sellers and buyers alike however as items can’t be shipped to non-legal states.
While it is illegal to directly market these products to minors, evidence has surfaced that under 18’s are finding ways to circumvent the law and are often exposed to edibles via social media. About 94% of the adolescent subjects in this survey reported seeing advertisements for marijuana and CBD products on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The government has been trying to curtail marijuana advertisements that may appeal to minors, as well as restricting the sale of products that are shaped like fruit or animals. And while there has been an influx of hysteria on the web over the supposed ease of ordering marijuana edibles online, the reality is much less worrying. Packages containing THC or CBD infused edibles are intercepted and confiscated when shipped to states where they aren’t legal, or to recipients under 21, more often than not.
Specialty marijuana-based goods are a niche that is in the process of being tapped out already, and in spite of reassurances that they will only reach the hands and mouths of paying adults they are (possibly) slipping through the cracks to underage users. The current success of the market is an indicator that newer generations of cannabis and CBD users appreciate what they see as a more “personalized” and high quality product. If the alcohol industry is any precedent to follow, edible markets will continue to grow at a gradually stippled rate until it gets difficult, but not impossible, to profit as an indie craft maker. As bigger businesses take over the industry, it remains to be seen if this will change.