Let’s get right to the point: what is the quality of service like in the average dispensary? Where is the standardized language around guiding people through the finer nuances of various cannabis products? Equally important, what differentiates a good cannabis product from a great cannabis product? Where among stakeholders and industry players is the foundation of cannabis knowledge needed to move every part of the cannabis industry forward with integrity, cohesion, clarity, and trust?
These are essential questions that apply throughout the cannabis supply chain, where there is a lot of tremendous work going on, yet that missing standard around service and quality has prevented the cannabis industry from even beginning to realize its full potential.
Enter the Ganjier – an entirely new class of cannabis professional, the cannabis sommelier – your ultimate purveyor of cannabis knowledge and insights, ready to bring credibility and sustainability to cannabis brands everywhere.
Standardized Quality Service For The Cannabis Industry
“In cannabis right now, there is no standardized way to provide quality service,” says Max Simon, CEO of Green Flower, which oversees the development of Ganjier business. “As a result, you have all these completely untrained people who are essentially making things up. They’re using the wrong terminology; they’re giving completely inaccurate suggestions; they don’t have any good training in terms of how to guide people to the right products, and many times they don’t even fundamentally understand what makes for a high quality product in the first place. They only have these buzzy talking points that are not based on anything accurate.”
Case in point: just look at the fixation on THC content and the lack of conversation around other important elements in cannabis such as terpenes, which are the true driver of unique effects among different cannabis cultivars. In the alcohol industry, for example, we certainly don’t judge product quality through the single lens of potency. Why would cannabis be any less nuanced?
“Every other epicurean industry, such as coffee, wine, beer, or chocolate has trained professionals that assess the quality and guide consumers in their experience and their product choices. We don’t have that in cannabis today,” says Green Flower’s Derek Gilman, who is the Managing Director of the Ganjier.
“In cannabis, we have budtenders on the frontlines of client interaction, and yet the role is often seen as an entry-level position. Today’s budtender typically has limited personal experience, and that’s about it. They don’t have a true working foundational knowledge in the history of cannabis, the science of cannabis, the cultivation of cannabis, and each of these factors that play a role in the ultimate quality of cannabis.”
Every time a person experiences terrible service, an inferior product, the wrong product, or poor guidance in cannabis – it actually hurts the legitimacy and credibility of an industry that wants to expand, Simon adds. “It’s stunting the growth of the industry because of how bad it is. A lot of the ways that industry people talk about cannabis and the protocols they use – or don’t use – are very intimidating and turn people off. This is a huge hindrance to the industry to have these poorly trained employees because it’s not helping people who are new to cannabis understand that it’s safe, how to use it properly, and how to engage with the plant in any meaningful way.”
Whether it’s propagating misinformation or mistruths, putting inferior products on the marketplace, or turning newcomers away from cannabis completely after a negative experience, industry stakeholders cannot afford to let this lack of standardization around quality service go unchecked any longer.
This is just the beginning of where the Ganjier comes into play at every level of cannabis business.
The Industry Is Out Of Low-Hanging Fruit
While cannabis continues to hit a lot of inspiring milestones – namely shattered sales records during COVID-19 and a few new states voting to legalize – the industry still has plenty of uphill battles to navigate if it is going to reach its ultimate potential.
“The industry needs this right now because we’re pretty much out of low hanging fruit when it comes to states that are looking towards legalization,” says Amanda Reiman, PhD, VP of Community Development at Flow Kana, and part of the founding Ganjier Council.
“And in order to move to the next step, we need people who have had amazing experiences with cannabis, who can go back to states like Kansas and Nebraska and Louisiana and talk about those experiences and question prohibition – and that all starts with a better understanding of the plant and how to maximize its benefits.”
As the canna-curious crowd continues to expand and act on that curiosity, what levels of quality are they going to find in their first cannabis experiences and transactions? For anybody with a vested interest in the success of cannabis as a whole, the current lack of quality service disseminated throughout the industry today, should be alarming to say the least.
“As the laws change and we continue to see whole new generations of folks, young and old, showing interest in cannabis consumption, it’s important that we pair that with the expert voice and guidance to ensure their use of cannabis is smooth and successful,” Reiman says.
“After all, young people who use cannabis for fun today are going to be using it for medicine in 50 years, maybe even sooner. So, establishing a healthy relationship with cannabis from the beginning, based on facts, is crucial.”
The Ganjier Is For Every Sector Of The Cannabis Industry
While the cannabis retail sector may be one of the most logical starting places, the Ganjier will add value to every sector of the industry in addition to the consumer-facing side.
“As a cannabis sommelier, the Ganjier will add tremendous value to every sector of cannabis – manufacturing, distribution, retail, cultivation, extraction, etc. – because the Ganjier will be the signal of credibility and trust in quality assessment and service to consumers,” Simon explains.
“Just like a wine sommelier, if you look where they make an impact – restaurants, wine businesses, product development, marketing, entrepreneurship, consulting, events, etc. – there is a huge range of roles that a sommelier plays, and the Ganjier cannabis sommelier will be no different.”
In other words, every cannabis brand will absolutely need to have a Ganjier on staff, overseeing and training others not just in quality service, but also engaging in R&D, sourcing, and other forms of cannabis product development.
“There is no better time for the Ganjier than right now. The industry desperately needs Ganjiers to help impart accurate, validated, science-backed information to the broadest number of people possible,” says Jeffrey Raber, PhD, CEO of the Werc Shop, and part of the founding Ganjier Council.
“Through a community-based approach, we have this multiplier and amplifier effect,” Raber continues, adding that if the right number of people are educated, they can go and impart that education amongst others. “We can much more rapidly bring together the entire population and everybody that wants to gain a level of solid, science-based understanding of cannabis – transcending conjecture, hearsay, and the lack of understanding that gained so much prevalence before the advent of scientific interjection via testing.”
Raber believes that perhaps the greatest need revolves around better serving cannabis patients – current and future – who need to be properly informed and educated. “It will make a greater impact on a larger number of lives much faster if the Ganjiers are out there and providing the information to as many people as possible.”
Building A Trillion-Dollar Industry With Integrity
In 2017, the alcohol industry was valued at nearly $1.5 trillion. Despite the adverse health effects and literally killing millions of people each year, alcohol does not face the same type of stigma or low-quality service that continues to hinder cannabis.
“Cannabis is such an interesting substance because it has this enormously long history of being looked at as something quite bad for you. And at the same time, outside of that, it actually has some of the most extraordinary potential of any substance we have on planet Earth quite frankly,” Simon notes.
“And so there is a big disparity between the perception people have and the reality of what’s possible. Not just for people’s experience, but also for the industry.”
Compared to alcohol, cannabis is still tiny as a $15-billion-a-year industry just in the United States for example, Simon adds.
“This comparison shows we haven’t even started the game yet in terms of adoption in the world. The lack of training and credibility in our industry combined with the feeling that most people are still uncertain about cannabis shows our greatest opportunities for growth have yet to be realized.”
If we don’t do this right, Simon continues, it will take us a lot longer to gain that trust, to gain that universal adoption – for us to gain that value exchange.
“So the importance of Ganjier lies in being amongst the world’s first, trusted guides in cannabis. Doing that well will lead to an extraordinary increase in business driven by greater effectiveness and elevated customer engagement, which will multiply as more people talk about it, bolstering cannabis adoption worldwide.”
That vision hinges on quality of service, quality products, and quality assessment – which is why the time for the cannabis Ganjier is now.
Enrollment for the first Certified Ganjier class will open in Winter 2020. Join the interest list if you want to be among the first Ganjiers to transform the cannabis industry as we know it.