Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

Looking to find sustainable success in cannabis? It is important that we strive to manage public expectations in regard to using cannabis products. What does this mean, you might ask? It means that we need to make sure we’re not saying that cannabis is a panacea, a cure-all that everybody can use or a product that promises a special effect that will feel the same to everybody.

I discussed this very subject on my podcast the other month with former chair of the RNC, Michael Steele. When companies are looking to engage the public with their products and the normalization of cannabis, we need to be careful not to create a Tylenol moment. The minute someone has an extreme, adverse reaction due to negligent information, our industry will lose a foothold on credibility. When we set people up with expectations about outcomes rather than setting them up with the tools to figure out how they respond to products, we’re causing a disservice to our industry and the movement. A lack of appropriate education can turn a person from an advocate to someone who is staunchly and actively against cannabis, and that’s a lot of energy to correct.

From my perspective, companies should stay away from naming a product with a specific effect. A product that creates calm in one person can be another person’s anxiety trip. We also need to stop making false promises and highlighting certain cannabinoids as the hot cannabinoid that does everything. In my classes, I jokingly talk about CBD as an example of this: as a panacea for saving your marriage, washing your car and getting you a new lease on life. So not true. But this mentality is common in the industry.

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When CBD is overhyped, a consumer may find they spent a good deal of money on something that will not live up to their expectations. The fact is that cannabis, like anything in life, is not clear-cut. This is an example of the call for more education in conversation. There are subtleties when we look at human beings and cannabis and they all come into play with how we experience products. (For instance, my husband, who is nearly a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier than me, can’t tolerate even half as much cannabis as I can.)

We should be capturing the individuals’ imaginations through the possibilities of different cannabis ratios and dosages and encouraging people to figure out what’s right for them by presenting a set of tools to inquire within themselves about what works well. Cannabis is a call to mindfulness and personal responsibility. It’s a call for harm reduction and it’s all about balance. Cannabis is a unique opportunity to have these conversations and see how they spread into other parts of our lives.

Education is essential in cannabis and will help develop better products and marketing strategies. Cannabis companies need to ramp up their employees on what cannabis is about so they can understand the industry and its goals. Surprisingly, we have people working in the industry who have very little working knowledge about cannabis outside of their own personal experience. By empowering the public to stay safe through education, we can help them understand how it works for them and give them the steps to figure out their personal discovery in which everyone has private ownership. Managing expectations through education can curb stigma, create better products, lower the possibility of bad experiences and increase consumer satisfaction. We owe this to the public, policymakers and the industry.

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