Cannabis culture goes mainstream

Rade Kovacevic of Canopy Growth talks about the marketplace a year after legalization and where his company will go next

Rade Kovacevic is president of Canopy Growth Corp.

Rade Kovacevic Canopy Growth Corp Cannabis
Rade Kovacevic

What is Canopy Growth and what does it do?

Kovacevic: Our story began in an abandoned chocolate factory in a rural Canadian town. From that humble start, where we began serving Canada’s medical cannabis market, Canopy Growth has become a world-leading, diversified, cannabis company traded on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges.

Across our expanding range of products and retail outlets, we are dedicated to growing exceptionally well-curated cannabis, driving innovation and creating meaningful customer experiences.

Tell me about a recent survey you did and the key findings from that?

Kovacevic: Recently, we commissioned a Leger research study through our recreational brand, Tweed, asking a sample group from the 55-plus age demographic to reflect on a half-century of cannabis culture. Respondents shared insights and opinions on how perceptions of the plant and the cannabis industry have changed over time, particularly since legalization in October 2018.

Overall, the study demonstrated that Canadians 55 years of age and older report overwhelmingly positive effects from the legalization of cannabis. Over 70 per cent of people surveyed correlated legalization with decreased stigma, improved community education and increased product safety.

What has been the impact of legalization on cannabis use?

Kovacevic: The legalization of recreational cannabis has opened the door for many Canadians to feel comfortable asking questions about products, uses and consumption methods.

According to the survey, one in five members of the 55-plus demographic was using cannabis prior to legalization. Now, almost a year later, through increased education and destigmatization, we see this age group having an increased acceptance of cannabis.

Licensed producers and retail operators – such as Tweed and Tokyo Smoke – provide the educational tools to support this transition.

Do you think the market is too saturated?

Kovacevic: Not at all. As stigma is lifted and adult Canadians are educated about cannabis products, we see continued increasing demand for access to cannabis products through the regulated market.

New product formats, such as beverages, and more retail locations will support this nascent market. Being able to access cannabis from a local retailer, receiving in-person education, and having cannabis in a product format known to consumers will help Canadians make informed decisions.

Are there any trends you’re seeing that you find interesting when it comes to cannabis in Canada?

Kovacevic: The preconceived notion of who uses cannabis is shifting. People from different walks of life are consuming cannabis, have used it before, or are curious to try it for a variety of reasons, from relaxation to social engagement.

Recreational cannabis is gaining momentum as the legalization of new formats roll out. Edibles, beverages and vapes will hit the market before the end of 2019.

Canopy is committed to continue to support and drive research and education as the industry moves forward.  We’re also seeing CBD gaining momentum as a category. There’s a lot of interest in CBD products and many Canadians are already incorporating CBD into their wellness regimens, including the 55-plus demographic, and athletes looking for alternative recovery options. We expect this trend to keep growing as CBD becomes more readily available across new formats.

© Calgary’s Business

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