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After the Anniversary of Legalization

An Interview with High Park Company CMO Adine Fabiani-Carter

— April 14, 2020 — Business
On October 17th, 2018, the Canadian government made the consumption of marijuana legal and since then, the industry has been incredibly active. From a plethora of different strains for consumers to choose from to other products like edibles, the cannabis space has been nothing less of excitingly dynamic.

The introduction of cannabis as a legal product has definitely been disruptive to companies who have taken it upon themselves to include CBD as an ingredient in a variety of products in the beauty, health and wellness, food, and beverage spaces. In addition, it has been a game-changer for consumers who have had to adapt their lifestyles to meet the potential of this innovation. For example, a recent poll by Ipsos found out that 26% of Canadian parents use cannabis, hence, the question arises how do we balance consumption to meet standards for safety and responsibility.

High Park Company is the owner of well-known and, now, beloved brands like Canada, Chowie Wowie, Irisa, and more. With a promise to deliver "best-in-class quality and real value" to partners and consumers, High Park Company has definitely distinguished itself as a leader in the cannabis space. Trend Hunter spoke to the brand's Chief Marketing Officer, Adine Fabiani-Carter, about the long-term impact of legalization and how that has affected consumers, particularly the family unit.

How has the cannabis industry changed since legalization?

There have been a number of milestones that signal a steady maturation of the cannabis industry in Canada. Most recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen cannabis be considered an ‘essential service’ by many provincial governments. It is pretty remarkable to see a substance that was before considered illicit to become part of the same category as groceries, medicine, and alcohol.

Additionally, new cannabis product formats became available in Canada this past December. New form factors like edibles, vapes, teas, and sparkling beverages provide people with a range of options that allow them to consume cannabis in a way that suits their needs and lifestyles. We are also now starting to see a lot more retail stores open, as well as cannabis-specific media like magazines, radio programs, and podcasts.

At High Park Company, what is the average age of your consumer and how does each age group respond to your product?

We have a diverse portfolio of brands and products designed to meet varying consumer preferences and demographics, consistently delivering high-quality products to people across the country. For example, we've seen those between the ages of 24 and 44 to be drawn to The Batch--our value brand that offers pre-rolls and dried flower--and Canaca which is focused on celebrating Canadian heritage, offering pre-rolls, flower, and all-in-one vapes to consumers.

What measures are taken in the industry—from packaging to retail locations—that ensure safety?

We’re living in an exciting time where consumers have access to safe, quality-tested and regulated cannabis products. All of High Park Company's products are distributed in accordance with Health Canada regulations which places consumers' safety at the forefront. It is mandatory for companies to distribute cannabis products in child-resistant packaging. Of course, there is a government-mandated minimum age for the ability to purchase and consume cannabis. In Ontario, for instance, you need to be 19. Moreover, the government has been prudent in enforcing regulations to ensure that cannabis products do not ‘appeal to children' and as a result, you’re never going to see gummy bears or Paw Patrol candies from licensed producers. There is, of course, a limit to the amount of cannabis each individual can carry--30 grams--but, ultimately, it’s up to you to take responsibility and ensure your cannabis is stored in a safe place, out of the reach of children.

Why is cannabis education essential?

The narrative around cannabis has changed as the industry has matured. It’s no longer broadly about people getting high, but about the plant as a product and its applications. We’ve seen a societal shift from this subject of consuming cannabis as taboo—something you would whisper about so your parents or grandparents wouldn’t overhear—to a global industry that is on track to be comparable to alcohol at a social level. For this reason, continuous education and open dialogue are essential.

A part of our thesis at High Park Company is that cannabis is a mainstream product used by mainstream people. This becomes more true every day. Just like you would talk to your kids about alcohol or internet safety, cannabis is another topic parents need to discuss with their children in order to keep them safe and informed. Where it is typically socially acceptable to offer guests at a dinner party a glass of wine, we’re seeing people stock up on cannabis offerings just the same. Where someone’s typical routine may call for a cup of tea before bed, they’re now turning to CBD tea to wind down after a long day. Cannabis is being integrated into daily routines and lifestyles and we’re only 18 months into legalization. It will increasingly become ‘the norm’ as time goes on.

It can be difficult or intimidating for people to navigate the cannabis landscape because it’s changing rapidly all the time, so knowledge is power.

How does one talk to their kids about cannabis?

As a parent, I know that every parent-child relationship is unique so you need to approach this conversation in a way that works for you—the important thing is that you have the conversation, and you initiate an open and honest dialogue.

Inform your kids about the legal age for cannabis consumption, and explain why it’s important that they wait until they’re of age to try it. When and if they are going to try it, tell them to ensure their products are from a legal source like the Ontario Cannabis Store. These products are government regulated, which means they are free of harmful substances and additives. By law, we’re required to label each product with the exact components (THC and CBD breakdown) so what you see is what you get. Most importantly: start low and go slow. That applies to everyone.