Editors Note: Welcome to our newest bi-weekly column, Classing Up Cannabis. Consider this your go-to spot for fluid, applicable advice regarding the image, design, marketing, and branding of your cannabis business. Right now, most of the content in the cannabis zeitgeist neglects to highlight or speak to the minds behind businesses—you know, those fueling the industry.  Whether you’re just launching a brand or your long-time business has weathered the transitional storm of complex regulation, we dedicate this column to you. 

When medical cannabis was first legalized in California in 1996, the concept of cannabis branding was essentially non-existent. Dispensaries looked less like retail stores and more like back-alley speakeasies with bars on the window and a generally uninviting atmosphere, accented by packaging products in Ziplock baggies.

Fast-forward twenty years, and the landscape is drastically different. Instead of being sketchy holes in the wall, most dispensaries resemble Apple stores. So, what happened? How did cannabis dispensaries change, and what are the design elements that prospective dispensary owners can implement in their stores? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, we’ve got answers for you.

Great Lighting

Good dispensary design starts with good lighting. When the first handful of cannabis dispensaries opened their doors in the late ‘90s, most were illuminated with harsh fluorescent lights that glared in customers’ eyes and made everything feel and look dingy. Most contemporary dispensaries have done away with hospital lighting in favor of a more pleasant experience.

In order to create a more pleasant lighting experience in your cannabis dispensary, try and utilize the three types of lighting: ambient, accent, and task lighting. Ambient lighting is used to illuminate the room, usually in the form of recessed lighting. Task lighting, on the other hand, performs a specific purpose and often appears in the form of direction light fixtures, pendant lighting, or a simple desk lamp. Accent lighting is used for aesthetic purposes, such as a chandelier, although it may also serve a functional purpose as well.

By understanding how the three types of lighting interact, you can help give your cannabis dispensary an inviting atmosphere. Start with your ambient lighting to get a general feel for your store, and then move on to accent lighting. Is there a place in the store that you want people to focus on? Try placing some accent lighting to draw in their attention.

Classing Up Cannabis: The Great Dispensary Design

Courtesy of Good Chemistry

One dispensary that does a good job with lighting is Good Chemistry. This dispensary has been able to create a warm and inviting storefront that would make any shop owner jealous. They use a combination of task and accent lighting to draw customers to the kiosks in the middle of the store. Notice how the ambient lighting illuminates the store, but doesn’t overpower the senses? You don’t have to copy this lighting scheme yourself. Do take note of how the three types of lighting interact, however, and use that to your advantage.

Customer Education

Not everyone is well-versed in what constitutes good cannabis. And for those people, walking into a 420 retail store can be intimidating. What’s the difference between Blueberry Kush and Lemon Kush? Is it the flavor? Will I get too high? These are the kinds of questions customers and patients will ask, and consequently, dispensary owners need to dedicate some of their resources to customer education.

Naturally, this involves having a team of educated budtenders. But it also goes deeper than that. To start, cannabis products need to be displayed in such a way that customers can easily identify and inspect them. For example, MedMen has clear plastic containers that have dry flower in them and vents so customers can get a whiff of the herb. In front of those containers are tablets that contain information about the strain, including: name, potency, and a detailed breakdown of its cannabinoids. Though many customers don’t particularly care about the percentage of THC-A in their cannabis, being able to see and smell what the product will go a long way in terms of improving customer experience.

Another way to improve customers education is to place educational pamphlets in a convenient location. While having great budtenders and hi-tech tablets is great, some people feel uncomfortable asking questions and would rather find out what each cannabinoid does on their own. Simple, easy to read pamphlets are a great way to ensure this customer isn’t left out of an educational experience.

An Open Floor Plan

Going back to the dispensaries of yesterday, one of the most unpleasant parts about old dispensaries is how crowded they felt– they almost felt like pawn shops. Nowadays, strict regulations limit where a dispensary is located. However, no matter the location of your dispensary, the goal should be to give your customers as much space as possible. The best way to do this is by going with an open floor plan.

Classing Up Cannabis: The Great Dispensary Design

Courtesy of Serra

The term “open floor plan” generally refers to spaces which make use of large and open spaces, and minimizes the use of small rooms. An open floor plan free of clutter can help put your customers at ease and make them feel more comfortable browsing. When considering an open floor plan, keep these things in mind

Keep it clockwise: Most people, at least in North America, look at things and move from left to right. Try arranging your store in such a way that customers move through your store in a clockwise direction. Not only will it make the purchasing processing flow more naturally, but it will help customers relax.

Slow it Down:As much as you would like to have customers coming in and out as fast as possible, great design doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, retailers will strategically place specials or popular items in certain places to help slow down the customer and give them the opportunity to make an impulse purchase. Just make sure that your “speed bumps” don’t end up blocking the customer’s movement through the store.

Use Creative Displays: If you’ve ever been in a grocery store, then the odds are pretty high that you’ve seen creative displays where products (usually soda packs) are put together to create a visually pleasing tiered formation. You don’t necessarily have to create a gigantic pyramid of all your best-selling products, but you should at least experiment with blocking together some of your products (or at least their packaging) and putting them in visually pleasing geometric shapes.

Manage Your Customer Flow

When it comes to owning a dispensary, good days are busy days. Every business owner wants as many customers as possible in their store at all times. But if you don’t have a way to manage all of those customers, it could be a disaster. That’s why it’s critical to design a store that takes customer lines into consideration.

You may find yourself torn over how much space to dedicate to customer lines and browsing, and honestly, there is no simple solution. However, if you’ve adopted an open floor plan you should be able to relieve some of the tension that comes with customer queuing. Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing a space for customer lines.

Classing Up Cannabis: The Great Dispensary Design

Courtesy of Reef Dispensaries

Keep Them Busy: One way to reduce the stress of your customers waiting in line is to find ways of keeping them busy. MedMen, for instance, has a budtender relay a customer’s order, which allows a customer to continue browsing the store while they wait. Not only does this make the wait seem shorter, but it also gives them an opportunity to make any last-minute impulse purchases.

Keep it Fair: Large lines can turn nasty in a flash, and one of the largest contributors to this turn is perceived unfairness. Maybe someone cut someone in line or darted over to another shorter line. Either way, people can become disgruntled quickly. If you can, try implementing a single line or a ticketing system to give everyone waiting for service a sense of fairness and order.

Encourage Customer Feedback: The easiest way to improve your customer flow is by asking your customers about their experience. At the end of the purchasing process, ask your customers to participate in a short survey and find out about their experience. To increase the number of people taking your survey, try offering discounts or free items in exchange for their participation.

Crafting a well-designed dispensary can be difficult, but it is not impossible. You don’t need to be the trendiest or the coolest person on the planet in order to come up with a good dispensary design. Just follow the fundamentals. Make sure your shop is properly lit and gives off an inviting atmosphere, keep educational resources on hand so customers feel comfortable shopping, and make sure you keep your dispensary open and free of clutter.

Most of all, design your dispensary with the customer in mind. Taking their feelings into account will help you achieve a beautiful and well-designed cannabis dispensary.

The post Classing Up Cannabis: Designing A Dispensary For An Ideal Customer Experience appeared first on High Times.

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1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.

CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.

2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?

Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.

3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. organic hemp seedsTypically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!

99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.

In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?

The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.

5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?

colorado growing operationWe feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.

6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?

Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.

7. What is the best method of use?

For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.

8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?

There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.

9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?

Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative CBD Oil Extractside effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.

10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?

As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.

When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.

The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.

For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.

THOSE WHO SUSPECT THEY MAY HAVE A DISEASE OR ARE SEEKING HELP FOR A DISEASE SHOULD CONSULT A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.

11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?

In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.

12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?

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Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.

13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?

No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.

We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor thereCannawell.

14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?

Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†

Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.

15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?

We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. mjna message boardWe also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.

16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?

We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.

17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?

CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.

Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.

18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia

There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).

For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.

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