Sweets & Snacks Takes a Closer Look at Cannabis  

In-person industry event to feature series of CBD educational opportunities
Photograph: Shutterstock

What’s better than a return to live industry events? For those considering expanding their cannabinoid-based product offerings, its Sweets & Snacks at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Ind., June 23-25, 2021.

One of the first live industry events in more than a year, Sweets & Snacks will feature a series of cannabis sessions, including The Future of Cannabis and CBD in Confectionery Products, which will explore the rapid changes and challenges in cannabis with regard to legalities and trends in FDA-regulated products.

Led by Chris Walsh, CEO of Hemp Industry Daily and lawyer Tish Pahl, a counseler to drug, cosmetic, dietary supplement and food companies, this session will offer a regulatory update on the safety, federal and state laws, and the risks and rewards of entering the cannabis market.

Additionally, the Future of Cannabis and CBD session will provide an overview of the market for CBD products, with a specific focus on edibles, say Sweets & Snacks organizers. Attendees will learn what types of products are resonating with consumers; gain a closer look at sales data and estimates, including a breakdown of CBD-infused candy and gum sales; and discover where the opportunities lie for confectionery and snack companies.

Also on deck at Sweets & Snacks, the “Queen of Legal Weed” or “Martha Stewart of Edibles” Nancy Whiteman, CEO of Wana Brands, will lead a session titled,Considering Cannabis? What You Need to Know Before Entering the Industry.

With federal legalization of cannabis on the horizon, many CPGs may be eager to get in the game. But there’s a huge learning curve in launching a cannabis product, cautions Whiteman, CEO of North America’s largest cannabis-infused edibles producer.

“What would be really exciting for me to see in the next year would be FDA clarification on CBD regulations so that mainstream retail would feel comfortable bringing CBD products to their shelves,” Whiteman told WGB.  

Whiteman’s session at Sweets & Snacks will examine building a cannabis brand and preparing a company for partnerships with the cannabis industry. She will also discuss the challenges in the industry, including licensing and regulations, and the necessary steps to build a cannabis brand when regular marketing channels and strategies are not an option.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing the industry move to differentiated product formulations,” added Whiteman. “Currently we see a lot of generic CBD products just like we saw in the beginning of the legal regulated cannabis industry. There’s a wide range of ways to differentiate a product, from functional ingredients to different onset times to more specific formulations for use case needs. It’s all part of the evolution of the industry.”

In addition to leading Wana Brand’s strategic vision and directing the development of partnerships and licensing agreements domestically and internationally, Whiteman also serves on the Marijuana Business Daily Advisory Board and the Benzinga Cannabis Advisory Board.

Three Things on Whiteman’s Mind

1. Edibles are not candy. Whether CBD or THC or other cannabinoid-based products, these products are very different than other confectionary products, she says. As a long-established industry with a reputation for being family friendly and wholesome, it is essential that confectionary companies enter the industry in a way that protects their image and does not jeopardize their core business. 

2. What will a post-federal legalization world look like? The cannabis industry is on the edge of its seat with expectations of the Schumer/Booker bill to be introduced at any minute, says Whiteman. What are the implications for THC products and CPG in a federal legalization scenario?

3. How to position a brand. Broadly speaking, she says, there are two major ways to position a cannabis brand—recreational use or health and wellness. While cannabis products can be consumed for purely recreational purposes, a significant percentage of consumers are also using products to address specific health and wellness issues. 






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