Demand for natural solutions oftentimes exceeds what businesses can supply. This rule is obvious, now more than ever, because demand for specific natural solutions increases due to the spread of COVID-19. Demand for medicinal cannabis and various cannabinoids is at an all-time high, pun intended, as consumers look for natural ways to relieve pain (physical and mental) and lessen the toll of chronic illness. Demand must not come at the expense of quality, however.
In a pandemic, amidst so much uncertainty, consumers deserve what they pay to receive: natural solutions. And yet, definitions vary about what is a natural solution. Clarifying the term is a necessity, especially among consumers who use medicinal cannabis as their principal source of treatment. Defining the seed-to-sale process of medicinal cannabis (and cannabinoids) is the best way to ensure a natural solution is what a seller claims it is.
What do we need to know about quality cultivation?
In California, there is a mandatory standard of quality, meaning: All products must be free of pesticide residuals, microbial contamination, and heavy metals, so as to maintain the potency of a given product. These standards are critical to producing clean and safe forms of medicinal cannabis and/or cannabinoids.
For retailers and consumers, quality has a different meaning. That is to say, quality is more than what the law requires or the minimum level of compliance growers must follow. Consumers equate natural solutions with exceptional quality. In turn, growers have to meet or surpass expectations with products that are both all-natural and consistently good. Therein lies the challenge: repeatability. It is not enough for a natural solution to be a quality product. Quality must impress consumers, never failing for reasons known and excusable or causes unknown and inexplicable. In short, natural solutions are attainable, but hard to maintain.
How can consumers know a brand of cannabis is, indeed, an all-natural product?
A movement is underway to certify products that are organic, sustainable, and chemical-free. In the past, it was difficult to certify cannabis as organic because of conflicts between federal and state agencies. Oversight and certification nonetheless exists, which is a good thing, as producers have an independent source to vouch for the authenticity—the organic and all-natural ingredients—of specific types of medicinal cannabis and/or cannabinoids.
What quality control standards are in place?
Regulations vary among individual states, but guidelines restrict the use of pesticides, heavy metals and microbiological contamination before products go to retailers. In addition, growers have robust standard operating procedures and follow best practices to ensure quality throughout the cultivation, distribution, and sale of cannabis. We continue to see growers take the initiative, in terms of surpassing what the law requires.
What is the level of expertise among cannabis growers?
Because commercial cultivation of cannabis is a new industry, expert cultivators need expert counsel regarding the transition from the underground economy to the lawful marketplace. That the majority of cultivators have made this switch voluntarily, that they have done so conscientiously, that they have done so in good conscience, speaks to their commitment to professionalism. Thanks, also, to technology and greater knowledge of manufacturing and packaged goods, the learning curve among growers continues to decrease. Put another way, better processes yield better results; better products reflect demand—by all parties—for natural solutions.
What else should people know about cannabis and sundry natural solutions?
Quality matters to growers and suppliers, in addition to retailers and consumers. For example: We benefit from the guidance of individual experts, like Damian Solomon, who has a degree in plant science and a broad working knowledge of what it means to source and deliver artisanal, all-natural solutions.
Again, people should take comfort in the fact that cannabis growers not only respect the expectations of consumers, but also, that the expectation among growers is that a product must be consistently excellent; that certifications are earned points of validation; that what matters to some matters to all. All-natural products are in demand, rising in tandem with innovations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Or: From a single seed to a mighty stem (with the help of STEM) does a natural solution emerge. Let us ensure this growth continues, with safety for all.
David Albanese is the CEO of High Farms, a Southern California-based provider of business advisory services for cannabis growers and sellers. Eddie Mora is the CEO of High Farms Delivery, which combines technology and personal expertise for retailers and consumers.