High Spirits

#030 - Cannabis Business News Round-up: THC Beverages, Pennsylvania's Legalization, Gallup Poll Results: America Loves Cannabis

February 08, 2024 AnnaRae Grabstein and Ben Larson Episode 30
High Spirits
#030 - Cannabis Business News Round-up: THC Beverages, Pennsylvania's Legalization, Gallup Poll Results: America Loves Cannabis
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join Ben Larson and Anna Rae Grabstein for a spirited recount of CannaDataCon 2024 in Miami, where the mingling of cannabis industry titans led to a rich harvest of insights. Imagine a world where savvy discounts don't just cut costs; they build brand loyalty and encourage adventurous trials of new products. We toast to the innovation bubbling up in hemp-derived cannabinoid beverages, with marketers now skilfully quenching the digital thirst on platforms where traditional cannabis marketing was once parched.

Take a sip of our discussion as we explore the buzz around THC-infused beverages, which are shaking up industry events and luring the attention of alcohol heavyweights. As people who favor cannabis over cocktails, we reflect on how this preference resonates with the values that are increasingly guiding industry trends. We're stirring the pot on the potential for mergers in the beverage sector, the role of advocacy, and the crucial call for a united voice within the cannabis movement.

Cap off your experience with us as we shine a spotlight on Pennsylvania, where Governor Shapiro’s proposed legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis could spark economic fireworks. We hash out what this means for dispensaries on the frontlines and how it could ignite cross-state rivalries, especially with New Jersey.

Wrapping up, we revel in the shift in American attitudes toward cannabis, recognizing a need for the hemp and cannabis industries to band together to blaze trails for clear policies and consumer clarity. This episode is all about fostering connections and fanning the flames of strategic conversation within the cannabis community.

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Speaker 1:

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 30 of High Spirits. I'm Ben Larson and, as always, I'm joined today by my smarter half, anna Rae Grabsty. It's Thursday, february 8th 2024 and we have another Cannabis Business News Roundup for you today. Why am I talking like this? Because we were in Miami last week at CanadaCon and it was way too much fun. How did I do Anna Rae Like my KCKsum or NPR worthy voice?

Speaker 2:

I'm going to be honest, I don't think it sounds that different from your actual voice, Ben. I wonder you know, to our regular listeners out there, can you tell that Ben is screwing around, or does it just sound like?

Speaker 1:

Ben my voice all over the place. Yeah, it was a lot of fun last week. I'm glad to be home and glad to be back in the studio. But, man, miami delivered.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, miami is such a good time. It was like the whole country was having all these crazy weather events and then we went to Miami and it just couldn't have been more perfect. It was just lovely, comfortable and tons of great folks there, really nicely curated group of people that Delta Emerald brought together. So shout out to the whole Delta Emerald Ventures team yeah, loved, loved. Canada to Khan.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's my first time to Miami. I will always be willing to go to Miami in the dead of winter. It was beautiful, no humidity, the conference was great. It was a very intimate group I think about 135 people, they said and it was all held at this hotel right on Miami Beach. On the last day, as the conference was wrapping up, the whole crowd just walked out to the beach with a cooler of hemp beverages and a boombox Two people still call them boomboxes A speaker, a Bluetooth speaker, and just had a happy hour out on the beach and it was just an incredible time. So got to be with the cannabis community a lot of smart, hand-selected leaders in the space and then just good vibes all around help build those relationships.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I really appreciate when spaces are created for people to have intelligent, strategic kind of learning conversations that also build community and that's where the good stuff is made Like when people can really share their ideas and the work that they're doing and then talk about collaboration across the ecosystem.

Speaker 2:

There's so many different people trying to solve different problems, especially on the data side in cannabis, and to get those folks together, you just start seeing all these natural pathways to connection and also an up-leveling and maturing of the space overall. It was so exciting to see the leadership and the content that was coming from Krista Raimer, who we're going to have on the show next month, just in terms of the knowledge and insight that she has and her team into what's happening on the retail side of cannabis and consumer behaviors and the way that promotions and discounts are working or not working in the industry. Like, there's just so much there and yeah, I was just.

Speaker 1:

Really One of the things I kept hearing was stop discounting each other into oblivion, Like we need to get smarter, use the data to do just better dynamic pricing and I think there are a lot of anecdotes about ways that you can encourage people to come in and be loyal to your products without just continually dropping your prices. What were some of the exciting learnings that you took away? I knew you were better about going and seeing some of the talks than I was.

Speaker 2:

It always is the stuff that happens in between. But yeah, tons of retail data and conversations about retail and the discounting and the way that we get people in the door using discounts and promotions was a big one, and one of those takeaways had to do with trying to accelerate products that are not the products that people are coming into the store for if you're going to be using discounts and promotions. So that means that if your most popular category at your retail store are vape cartridges for 420, don't do a bunch of vape cart promotions, because then people will come in and buy all the vape carts they need for the year and then they won't come back to your store. Instead, do promotions of other products or brands that are potentially new categories to be introducing consumers to, so that they are growing their basket size and also exploring new form factors that could get them back there. Really, that was a big part of it.

Speaker 2:

And then the other surprise is that, while we were talking a lot about data, there was just this whole undercurrent of hemp-derived cannabinoids and, specifically, beverages. There just seemed to be like I don't know, 25% of the attendees at the conference were in the beverage space, and so it was also undeniable to be having conversations with people about programmatic ads and the way that hemp-derived cannabinoid companies are able to interact in the marketing space to consumers in a very different way than we've seen in cannabis historically. Add to be learning about the ways that people are doing that, both through meta, through TikTok, through email marketing, text messaging, kind of just all these new ways to reach the consumers that have been closed off to regulated cannabis companies.

Speaker 1:

And that was precisely the reason I didn't catch too many of the talks is because I did that a hard time leaving the conversations that I was able to have just out in the open, got to talk with the president of Cheech and Chong Global, ceo of Louis Louis and Wonder Alexi, who you had a panel with.

Speaker 1:

It was awesome to be in the community and really see not even just talking with them about it but there's this shared kind of sentiment that the industries are growing together. In fact, this is how Ian Dominguez from Delta Emerald kind of kicked off the conference and closed it. It was like this focus on collaboration, cooperation and just kind of trying to bring everyone closer to center and like how do we move this whole conversation together as a whole and stop fighting each other? And I thought it was interesting. It was kind of the first time where I saw an entire conference, everyone kind of aligning with that sentiment, and so I think I hope it's setting the stage for 2024, because this is something that's kind of coming up continuously, especially in conversations at the organization level, whether it's NCIA or ATTACH.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, ben, you clearly put your flag in the ground on beverage years ago when you guys started for TOSA and have believed in the category, and that was before hemp beverages were a thing.

Speaker 2:

That was when we were still all looking at regulated cannabis as the pathway to market. But I'd say that no matter where you are on the business front in terms of if you're a business leader and you're in regulated cannabis or you're in hemp, when you come together an event like we were just at and there are coolers of cannabis infused or THC infused beverages and you're hanging out with your friends, it's pretty hard to fight back and see that that's a problem. It's such an easy, social, clear pathway to enjoying cannabis and I have for years felt that at cannabis events. I've been kind of disappointed at just the amount of alcohol that's at them, and there was really very little alcohol at this event and there was a lot more THC infused beverages and so, like all business aside, I just thought it was more values aligned with what we're all trying to do, and that was fun for me, that I liked to see that and I'm just not really as into alcohol these days as I maybe was and not like totally sober, but it's just.

Speaker 2:

I'd rather not. I choose weed every time.

Speaker 1:

Well, you touched on a bunch of points there, so I'm going to use this as a segue to get into the actual news roundup portion of our show. So, yeah, putting a tying it up, you know, thank you to the Delta Emerald team. It was a great event. I encourage everyone to try to get there next year when they do it again. Yeah, incredible time.

Speaker 1:

But what we do want to talk about today are kind of three stories. One, we'll be talking more about hemp beverage and kind of what's happening, how it's influencing the space specifically and just very recently We'll also be getting into that sentiment. You know how people are accepting cannabis and more broadly, and you know the trends we're seeing there through some Gallup polls. And then, finally, you know Pennsylvania legalizing in very quick, quick fashion, it seems like. So those are the three stories we're going to talk about there.

Speaker 1:

But let's continue on with this, this hemp beverage narrative. Last week there was the WSWA conference, which is the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, and at the show there was the hemp village, first of its kind, and in the hemp village it was all beverage, but, you know, full on booths. Looks like you're walking around Expo West with, like you know, just really creative, amazing showings from these brands talking to mainstream beverage distributors. And this is a big show like this is one of these shows for poor beverage of the year and I got to say it's. It is really exciting to see THC embraced by the leadership of these major beverage organizations.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, it's totally exciting and let's let's not be short sighted about the fact that there's a business imperative for these businesses to embrace it.

Speaker 2:

Like what? What the reality is is that the traditional alcohol consumer is broadening their, their palette and exploring all different form factors of intoxicating beverages and non intoxicating beverages, like we've also seen growth of things like non alcoholic seltzers at the same time as we've seen the growth of THC beverages. So I think it is exciting, but it's also smart, it's also good business and if, if these companies, if anything they're, they're slow, they're slow to show up. In my opinion, and I'm happy to see them embracing it now and it's about time I think it will be it will be really exciting to see what, what the growth looks like and how much traditional alcohol companies are choosing to play into the space themselves or or what the M&A starts to look like. Like my guess is that that in the next 12 months, like a prediction that I would say is that we're going to see a couple of traditional alcohol Bev companies acquire THC beverage companies as pathways into market. Yeah, yeah, that's a prediction that I have.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, also, what it's kind of showing is that there is this opportunity kind of isolating beverage right, it's not like you had gummies or pre roles represented at the WSWA event, right, and I actually brought this up during my panel at Canada At a con, where cannabis is just really complicated and we keep hitting this wall when it comes to organizing the voices to advocate for legalization.

Speaker 1:

And I believe there's this opportunity where we kind of separate the conversation, focus on beverage and find a path forward that allows the, the, the alcohol industry, to adopt beverage and start fighting for it and pulling it into kind of a more legalized market. And and also recently speaking with Diana Everlane of the president at the CBA, the cannabis beverage association, there's a new initiative that is going to be pushed forward where it's like we are speaking for THC beverages, hemp or cannabis. So again, getting to that unification right and trying to get it in front of the TTB and all these alcohol distributors and lobbyists and in finding ways to progress that conversation and, as I've said in the past, this isn't about leaving the rest of the cannabis industry behind. This really is an opportunity to be the tip of the spear in one of the most acceptable, but also like often pushing the envelope, form factors and categories.

Speaker 2:

Thank, you, I hear you and I think that it makes sense what you're saying and that consumers and probably legislators, elected regulators all have a level of comfortability with beverage, because Americans really humans are used to intoxicating substances coming in liquid form.

Speaker 2:

I have a bit of a differ this is one of these areas where I think that you and I don't totally agree, which is fine and great. While I'm a huge advocate for beverage category, I just think that what we're talking about when we're talking about regulating THC beverages, we're talking about a low-dose category as a highly accessible category that consumers should have access to. I would like to see other form factors also included in the non-enhalable form factors included in the conversation. It's more complicated because with beverage it's just a replacement of a can Take the beer off the shelf and put the THC beverage on the shelf but things like gummies or mints don't have that same corollary to just substitute out. There's no alcohol gummies. There's no intoxicating chewables that we have. It's a more confusing place because of the way that our retail spaces exist. I hear you and I do think that low-dose form factors and beverages have the opportunity to be the tip of the spear and moving forward broader acceptance.

Speaker 1:

I'm all for having low-dose gummies in the open marketplace as well. But to steal a phrase from my days back on marijuana today, betty Aldsworth used to always say like this radical incrementalism. I think there's an opportunity where we don't have to convolut the conversation with a number of different form factors that suddenly make certain organizations uncomfortable. I think gummies, not far departed from a low-dose beverage, still comes loaded with more challenges than the beverage form factor. Beverages have established adult use pathways. If we were to get Beveragen then the conversation could quickly expand into oh, here's another form factor. If you're comfortable with that. The world hasn't burned down. We're seeing great success already. It's like top 10 liquors in Minnesota in January identified that a THC brand and I know dry January. This is a loaded opportunity but for the first time a THC SKU has broken into the top 10 SKUs sold in a liquor store.

Speaker 1:

That's huge for an entire month Going up against seltzers and big brands like Budweiser and Captain Morgan's to see as THC brand. There is really exciting. We've mentioned total wine and more expanding from one end cap to two end caps, now in Minnesota and going into Connecticut and other states. I think there's this momentum that, if we can allow it to continue to grow and expand and we get the right partners to help lobby that to have more resources than the cannabis industry and at least we can normalize cannabis. And maybe you'll wonder it's like well, if it's okay in this form factor, why not start to explore gummies and other form factors?

Speaker 2:

I'm all for it. You and I both talked to somebody last week that we'll hopefully have on the show that is, launching a fund specifically focused on THC beverages. There's a lot of momentum right now.

Speaker 1:

Capital is deploying. That's another sign. A fund specifically designed for hemp beverages we'll just call them low-dose THC beverages but also just knowing that there's a number of different investors that I'm talking to right now are actively deploying into the space. Anyone that's wondering if capital is coming back I think it is, but I have a focused beverage.

Speaker 2:

I don't want to talk about this topic for too much longer, but I think it is important to highlight a couple of things about what the supply chain looks like, because you brought up the TTV. We're seeing that there is a lot of e-commerce activity going on with hemp beverages, but then there's also companies that are taking traditional distribution pathways and forming partnerships with local, regionalized beverage distribution companies, often ones in the beer space, because similar packaging form factors, things like that. I think that there's there's pluses and minuses to both and we're gonna have more shows talking about this stuff and have more people on. But one thing about the TTB being a regulating body is that it could potentially shut down Using the US Postal Service for shipping. I'm curious of what your thoughts are on that. The short version, and we can dive in on future episodes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I really want to get Aaron Nospish from from Breeze on the show because I didn't mention him earlier. He was. He was another person that I talked to at length last week. You know his specialty is is digital marketing and and online sales, and that is a big concern, you know. Can we create a carve out for it? You know, I think there's a lot of conversations that would have to be had to to kind of procure that, but it might just be one of those things that we have to sacrifice to get the, the broader exposure that is, you know, mainstream retail, and I think Aaron understands that. I'd like him to speak for himself, but it's it's. You know, if we are relying on, on the lobbying dollars of beverage distributors, who are the most wealthy in the category, I'd say, then they're probably gonna fight for their right Sorry for the Beastie Boys reference, but they're gonna fight for their right to to distribute these products and probably don't want to seed that ground to online sales.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the USPS has been an incredible partner to a lot of these companies.

Speaker 1:

Not just hemp. They're delivering a lot of consumables to the American people.

Speaker 2:

Amazing. Well, any last thoughts on hemp beverage, or should we move on to Pennsylvania?

Speaker 1:

No, there will be plenty more opportunities for us to opine on on hemp beverage in the future.

Speaker 2:

All right, pennsylvania, let's talk about that. So At the beginning of this week, governor Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, in his annual budget address called for the legalization of adult use, and even put it straight up in his budget, and he's not able to to legalize adult use cannabis on his own.

Speaker 2:

It does need to move through both sides of the Pennsylvania legislature, which is split One side is Democrat, one side is Republican so it won't necessarily be a super easy path forward, but this is big news in cannabis. Governor Shapiro says that cannabis in Pennsylvania could generate 250 million dollars of annual revenue into the state, and he also said that it's time for Pennsylvania to keep up with their neighbors like Ohio, that they have a rivalry with New York, new Jersey All of these states right around Pennsylvania have adult use programs and what the governor is saying is that we are losing revenue opportunity because Pennsylvanians are leaving Pennsylvania to purchase cannabis and come and bring it back into our state. So let's fix it amazing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it makes me.

Speaker 1:

I did. I had to do a quick look up. It turns out Josh Shapiro is a lawyer, but I'm like was he an entrepreneur? Because entrepreneurs so often just like speak things into existence and he's like I'm just gonna pretend this is actually happening and I'm gonna build it into the budget. I like that fortitude. That's. That's pretty awesome. One of the ways that.

Speaker 2:

I have been able to understand most about how policy is going to move in the states that I've operated in in cannabis is to follow budgets and it's kind of like the secret weapon. A lot of people follow policy that's moving through and you should. But ultimately, if you want to watch, like if you want to be able to predict how much enforcement is going to happen in a state, Look at how much money they're putting in their enforcement line item in their cannabis regulatory agency and you're going to be able to to decide If you think that this is going to be a big enforcement year or not. So the fact that he put this money in the budget and he is saying the governor put it in the budget to be starting you know I'm not saying the governor put it in the budget to be starting legal adult use sales in January of 25. So about 11 months from now the governor is predicting that tax revenue from adult use cannabis will be able to flow through. It seems pretty fast for a state to be able to move a legalization initiative through their legislature and implement.

Speaker 2:

But there are some unique things about Pennsylvania Using that lens of trying to make predictions based on budget and based on reality. Here are some predictions that I have based on what the market looks like. So there currently is over 150 dispensaries that are open today in the medical market in Pennsylvania. The medical market has been pretty constrained and it's very limited amount of qualifiers to be a medical patient, although they did add anxiety later. But the fact that they are planning for revenue to be coming in for adult use so fast says to me that there is a vision to quickly streamline and fast track letting all of the existing dispensaries transition to adult use pretty easily and quickly, Not a whole new process and similarly then all the way up the supply chain, they are probably looking at the existing operators in the market and they're going to provide a quick on ramp to make sure that they can all start supplying an adult use market in the state.

Speaker 1:

That's wild. Yeah, I just wanted to bring up this map of Pennsylvania because I always like to think about the impacts to the neighboring states and those economies. And I mean most people probably know this about Philly is it's basically part of New Jersey. You just like there's a bunch of roadways that cross over. It's super easy to get from one side to the other and it's like you have this concentration where you'll probably expect to see a lot of dispensaries on both the left and the right side of the border there. So if the rules or products available in one state vastly exceed that of the neighboring state, you're going to see that huge shift in revenue which we know. New Jersey hasn't been the smoothest and most open market from a product standpoint. We talked about that on an earlier episode. So it will be interesting to see how this impacts the Jersey cannabis economy.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a great point and in some of the discussion around adult use in New Jersey or in Pennsylvania, it was brought up how it's been a historic thing that Pennsylvania's loses revenue to New Jersey, particularly in gaming, with Atlantic City so close Second biggest gaming city in the US super close, like as close as 20, 30 minutes away from lots of Pennsylvanians just going over to Atlantic City, and that's a huge revenue driver for the state of New Jersey. So I think Pennsylvania is feeling like they need to keep up with the Joneses, the Joneses being New Jersey and Ohio and New York right next door.

Speaker 1:

As they should yeah.

Speaker 2:

So there's something else about Pennsylvania is that those existing dispensaries and supply chain businesses that are feeding the medical market really most of the public cannabis companies are represented amongst those, so this is predicted to be a major driver for public company stock performance as well. You saw a lot of the public company CEOs give the big high five and kudos to Governor Shapiro on all of the different social media platforms after this happened. Ben Kovler of GTI, jason Wilde of Terrison I think Curely put something out there. Everybody is saying woohoo, josh Shapiro doing the right thing for Pennsylvanians.

Speaker 1:

And he is, he's the right thing for ever.

Speaker 2:

so, but also, yes, doing the right thing for MSOs. So this will be interesting to see if there's going to be new entrants into the Pennsylvania market or if this is going to be a opportunity for the existing businesses to really just take it to the next level, for what they've been waiting for, which is a more open market from a highly contained medical environment.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and you were saying that Pennsylvania is the fifth largest state in the US and when we had the passing of Ohio we were celebrating being past that 50% mark in the states. Like I just feel like things are I mean, we've always felt like things were getting to a point where we just have like a critical mass of acceptance, but this really does feel like it's making that continuity on the Eastern seaboard. It really starts to create the gravity for those conversations around regional, maybe interstate commerce. It does feel like pretty transformational to have Pennsylvania fill that void that was there around New York, jersey, ohio.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely yeah, We've got 13 million people in Pennsylvania. The states that are larger than Pennsylvania are in order California, Texas, Florida and New York. That means of those four that are bigger than Pennsylvania, we only have adult use programs in two of them, California and New York, both of which are highly challenged from a regulatory perspective. Maybe Pennsylvania is going to be one of the largest states by population, with a positive regulatory environment to be determined, but if you're listening, Pennsylvania.

Speaker 2:

Feel free to give me a call. I'd love to give you some advice about how to make this not so hard for businesses and still safe for consumers. Let's talk.

Speaker 1:

Maybe we should nitpick that budget line item a little bit and see if it's over ambitious on the taxation or not. That could be telling.

Speaker 2:

One thing. In researching to talk about this today, I stumbled upon a new podcast called Planting Seeds that is being co-hosted by Senator Sharif Street, who is a senator in the state of Pennsylvania state senator. Joe Hodus, who's the CMO of Wannabrands, the edible company. Yeah, I love that They've launched this podcast to de-stigmatize and to publicly discuss the legalization process in Pennsylvania. They've put out one episode so far, but I think that they're planning on doing a handful of topically focused episodes specifically about Pennsylvania.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, very interesting. Yeah, we've had conversations in some of the exploratory calls that we've had with Canra, which we are excited to have them on the show later this month. Regulators are just very careful about being perceived as colluding with the enemy us the cannabis industry not to perpetuate that narrative. But it is great to see someone like a senator interacting with Wannabrands on a podcast. I'm not going to take it as competitive, so that's okay.

Speaker 2:

No, everyone should go listen to it. I listened to the first half of the first episode and I was just really excited to hear an elected representative being so open about engaging in their own evolution of thought related to cannabis and also finding that it was a worthy topic to resource their time on. I can't think of any other elected official that was still in office that decided to do a podcast specifically about cannabis multi-episodes. Shout out to Senator Street.

Speaker 1:

Thanks to Wannabrands, for I'm sure whatever it was that they did behind the scenes to get that conversation queued up, it's about progress and this is the best there Do you think it's possible that people are starting to finally see these graphs that the Gallup polls have been putting out for the last couple decades? Steadily climbing, I think. But what's it say that 70% of Americans support marijuana legalization?

Speaker 2:

Just a thought.

Speaker 1:

Maybe they're starting to realize.

Speaker 2:

I agree, perfect segue. There's been some fun news this week about a new Gallup poll that was just released. The news has been taking that Gallup poll and comparing it to smoking of cannabis compared to smoking of cigarettes. Basically, where we landed is that we have crossed the threshold and that more Americans say they smoked cannabis in the last week than smoked cigarettes. That's it yeah, hooray.

Speaker 1:

I'm always weirded out when we're having that. I know it's both smoking formats, but very different products. This is great. People are getting healthier, and people are getting healthier on both ends of the spectrum.

Speaker 2:

Those numbers. Looking at it, 17% of Americans said they smoked cannabis in the past week and 12% said they smoked cigarettes. It's a notable shift since Gallup has been doing this poll. Ten years ago, in 2013, the number was just 7% said that they smoked cannabis in the last week. I wonder if in 2013, and people felt less comfortable telling the truth, or if it actually has increased that much over time.

Speaker 1:

I mean, 2013 wasn't that long ago. I don't know Most of the people I know I'm in California, but most of the people that I know that smoked cannabis are arguably proud of it and want to admit it. I don't know if that's always the case. Are we focusing on a certain age demographic here?

Speaker 2:

I think that this is all adult Americans. It's a 34.

Speaker 1:

If I'm an 18-year-old or a 34-year-old. I'm admitting it, if I'm consuming it. I'll take these numbers as accurate.

Speaker 2:

If you think about it, because what the Gallup poll was doing was just talking about smoking, the truth is is that if you're listening to this podcast, you know that smoking is just one segment of cannabis consumption. We've got vaping and we've got edibles, as well as form factors and topicals all kinds of crazy wild things happening.

Speaker 1:

I got to get a contact at Gallup and start having them do polls on if you drink your cannabis Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

This is good stuff. I think that overall, I love to see big polling companies like Gallup even paying attention to the space. It helps, when we have a lot of industry-created data, to have folks from outside the industry that are just straight up polling companies to be looking at our space and giving us a different perspective.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, look at this, this is great. We talk about crossing that 50% threshold of Americans having access to cannabis. Look at that. That just coincides with 50% of Americans who reported trying. Well, they say marijuana. Look at that trend.

Speaker 2:

Describe for our listeners what you're looking at here.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Sorry. This is a trend of Americans who have reported openly about trying marijuana. This past year it was at 50%. It's one thing to say that you support legalization we're at the 70% mark there but to actually have tried it just shows just that broad level of acceptance and mainstreaming of the industry and the products, and to see how vastly it's climbed. Well, this chart that I'm looking at goes back as far as 1970, which it was sub 5%. I know it's been 54 years, but that's pretty damn good yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, this goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning, with the WSWA including THC beverages in their expo. You said you were excited and I said well, it's about time. I think of anything. This data shows that it's about time this category is here to stay. There's no going back. I think that it's still messy. There's still a lot of things that we don't know. From a policy perspective. We couldn't cover all the news this week, but if you're watching the headlines, there's more talk of the feds finally rescheduling soon. Well, we'll certainly cover it when it's real. Who knows what's happening with the Farm Bill? Again, there's so much messiness, but what the data shows us is that it proves what we know People love cannabis, they love cannabinoids, consuming them, and that's not going to change.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I want to tie one of our previous topics to this topic and point out that we're talking about WSWA, we're talking about trying it, we're talking about broad acceptance and this is independent, I believe, of hemp versus cannabis. If you go and ask a typical consumer, it's like how have you tried cannabis in the last month or year? They aren't going to discern between hemp THC or cannabis THC. We talk about cannabis access with the WSWA. We're not specifying hemp or cannabis. We need to stop splitting hairs here and really try to find a way to advocate for the two industries together and stop pretending that they're different.

Speaker 1:

And I know there's a lot of people listening to this. Well, a lot of a percentage of the people listening to this. I don't know how many people are actually listening, but if you're still saying them versus us and I know that there's things that drive that being a licensed operator certainly creates complexities and pain when you're having a segment of products that are competing openly and aren't held back the way you are I know that that pain is there, but from an industry and advocacy perspective, we need to learn some way to unify these voices and being on the executive board of NCIA, I know that's my role as well. I'm just putting it out there, I'm just going to keep saying it so that hopefully everyone else starts saying it as well.

Speaker 2:

I'm totally with you and, as someone working as a strategist in the space and helping companies try to transform and grow and be leaders and see new pathways, consumers don't know the difference. When Gallup is asking people if they have consumed cannabis, I think that consumers might have said yes when maybe they consume to hemp product. They really don't know the difference and I think that there is not a good reason for them to know the difference. That is the job of both the business environment and the policymakers and the regulators to create safety for what's out in the marketplace, and that's what we're all working towards is a safe and economically thriving environment for consumers and businesses, and I'm with you.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Well, yeah, it feels good to be back. I love being out on the road. It's fun to kind of do ad hoc shows on the conference floor in Miami, but nothing beats really being back here and just being able to have this conversation. It's been a while since we've connected one on one. You know I love our guests. We have more guests coming on starting next week, but to do this periodically, we should make this a regular thing.

Speaker 2:

I think we're going for about once a month We'll try to come to you guys with some news and just me and Ben chopping it up. We'll see. It kind of depends on the flow of guests and how it all comes together, but we've got some really fun guests coming up too, so don't want to detract from those conversations and we'll be posting stuff ahead to let you know if you want to tune in live as we get it coordinated and drop the new, new, new new.

Speaker 1:

The new, new.

Speaker 2:

All right.

Speaker 1:

Well, very good, folks. What do you think? The dialogue doesn't have to end here. We invite you to continue the conversation. We'd love to hear your thoughts. Who would you like to see on the show? What topics would you like us to cover? We are immensely grateful to have you. We've been checking the numbers they're picking up every week. We're really excited about the trajectory and, of course, we couldn't do it without you, your engagement, your comments, your shares. It's encouraging us to keep this going. We're going to keep investing more and more into this, so keep sharing, subscribing, doing all the liking. Thank you so much. Stay curious, stay informed and keep your spirits high Until next time. That's the show.

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