COLUMN: Women are key to the cannabis green rush

We have entered the new world of cannabis.

The legalization of recreational cannabis has galvanized entrepreneurs, provided lucrative opportunities in a variety of sectors, and given Canada the opportunity to be known on the world stage as the country that pioneers groundbreaking cannabis research.

After such a historic year, what’s next?

Opportunities are knocking and attitudes are shifting, but what will it take to elevate the cannabis industry to the next level?

Many believe female consumers are the key to phase two of the green rush.

Statistics Canada estimates that Canadians spent approximately $6 billion on cannabis last year, and many studies show women account for about 40 percent of the market. But is that just the tip of the iceberg?

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Women have an undeniable buying power, and they have a significant influence on the spending choices of their family and in their circle of friends.

When it comes to cannabis, health and wellness will play a key role in luring millions of new female customers.

In particular, the industry is looking at professional women, including mothers, as a key player in the relatively untapped “recreational wellness” and “self-care” market.

Cannabis has been shown to provide effective relief from stress, anxiety, insomnia and menstrual cramps, and it is a beneficial aid for health and fitness.

And once Canada legalizes edibles and topical products in 2019, female consumers are expected to be an important focus of that market.

Many predict that the normalization of cannabis that will take place post-legalization will also attract more female consumers.

A societal shift will occur—one where people who consume cannabis don’t suffer stigmatization and aren’t forced to hide it for fear of being shamed.

Cannabis will take its place among more common commodities in our culture, and society will fully understand that, for some people, cannabis is medicine. And for others, it’s a lifestyle choice—their “glass of wine.”

The new world of cannabis is also a world where product quality reigns supreme with today’s conscious consumer.

People—especially women— are looking for trusted brands, and they have a vested interest in knowing where their cannabis comes from and how it was produced. They are not only demanding quality assurance; they also want information as to why one product is superior to another.

As we enter this new era, women will play a significant role in shaping success in the industry and driving product innovation. The companies that recognize the importance of this can set themselves apart from the competition, create a loyal customer base and build long-term success in the industry.

Barinder Rasode is the board president of the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education.