P.E.I. cannabis companies aim to move industry to next phase

Two companies on P.E.I. are working to reach a new consumer of cannabis whose primary motivation for using their products may not be getting high.

‘It’s going to shift more like the craft beer industry’

Andrew Costa, general manager of Retro Cannabis
Experienced users of cannabis are looking for more nuanced products, says Andrew Costa. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Two companies on P.E.I. are working to reach a new consumer of cannabis whose primary motivation for using their products may not be getting high.

While medical uses for cannabis pre-date its legalization as a recreational drug in 2018, its mind-altering properties have been a major driver of the market, said Andrew Costa, general manager of Retro Cannabis.

"Right now the market in the cannabis industry is mostly driven by THC per cent and dollars, so what's the best bang for your buck, so to speak," said Costa.

"We want to kind of shift that market over time. It's going to shift more like the craft beer industry."

Samples of Remidose Aerosols products
Remidose Aerosols also makes topical creams. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

A honey oil from Retro boasts of sweet fruits and spices. Pre-rolls are described as pungent citrus with earthy and floral notes.

It's the kind of multi-layered experience, some flavour to go with your high, that experienced users are looking for, said Costa.

Reaching new consumers

Retro also produces entirely flavourless products, that can be added to food or drinks or consumed directly, which are more aimed at consumers interested in medicinal effects.

It is this market that Remidose Aerosols is aiming squarely at.

Remidose is focused on an entirely different method of delivering cannabinoids — inhalers.

"I saw a huge need for accurate dosing," said company president Michael Mayne.

Michael Mayne in the Remidose Aerosols production facility.
Michael Mayne would eventually like to see his company's products sold in pharmacies. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

"The inhaler can really do that. It gives you really accurate dosing, and it works really quickly. You feel it quickly."

With the inhaler the oils are released and cannabinoids can pass quickly from your lungs into your blood.

Since legalization, research into the medical benefits of cannabis have ramped up, said Mayne. Benefits have been found for pain management and insomnia, but many are reluctant to try it because a stigma around smoking cannabis remains.

In addition, smoking any product and inhaling it come with its own health risks.

"The no smoking aspect is a huge feature, because there's no carcinogens that are created during the combustion of the oil, because it never goes above room temperature," said Mayne.

"It's very safe to take that way."

The accurate dosing is also a big feature, he said, because some potential consumers who are interested in the health benefits may not want to become intoxicated. Each dose delivers two milligrams of THC.

"To those in the cannabis community two milligrams is low," said Mayne.

"We do that on purpose because we want to make products so you don't get high."

While the Remidose product doesn't need to be smoked, Mayne said the company still has challenges ahead with people concerned about stigma attached to cannabis.

While it doesn't have to be smoked, it still will be available only at cannabis stores. Ideally, Mayne said he would eventually like to see the product sold in pharmacies.

With files from Tony Davis