By now you probably realize that CannaReps is extremely passionate about cannabis education, but did you know the people behind CannaReps do much more than just run this hands-on, interactive workshop? Here at Connekta Design Solutions, we want to introduce ourselves and walk you through our journey of creating CannaReps with our passion for design.
Cannabis meets design
Design is all about problem-solving.
Design is all about problem-solving. Designers are constantly asking ‘what if’ questions, identifying problems and working out solutions. We design artifacts to facilitate and test our assumptions based on interactions with people we design for, and then with further research and conversation, we improve these artifacts with better understanding. Design can never be called design if without the design process if there is no identified audience or explored problem space. We value this principle greatly and believe that this is the only way to create things that are meaningful to people.
We adapted this kind of design principle to the cannabis world.
Even though many people think that ‘budtending’ is just bagging weed, the reality is more complicated. Every day we speak with members of the patient community, dispensary owners and workers, as well as the young people who want to get their foot in the door. These conversations helped us quickly identify a problem: the overall frustrating experience of those who want to have a deeper understanding of cannabis.
On one hand, patients are swamped with the incredible amount of information available online which is often contradictory, leaving them frustrated and confused. They sometimes turn to dispensaries for hopeful answers. On the other hand, curious budtenders become overwhelmed in that same pool of data and find themselves going down a rabbit hole. Without proper guidance they sometimes simply refer to information online that is not verified or they end up losing sight of the most pertinent information or develop an oversimplified understanding of complex information.
The problem can be attributed to the lack of understanding about cannabis in general. We investigated more closely and identified the following three major problem areas
1. Lack of Cannabis knowledge
Because of the current state of the cannabis industry, training is not necessarily required, therefore dispensary workers lack an in-depth understanding of the products they are selling. In an ideal world, dispensary workers would be connoisseurs in their field and have a high level of understanding of cannabis. They should be able to accurately detect terpenes, strains or genetics by looking, smelling and touching the cannabis flower, just like a wine sommelier would when tasting wine. They should also understand that cannabis is alive, therefore know how to properly store their products to keep them in their best state, while also managing their suppliers for quality control via standard product intake protocols.
2. Lack of understanding of the medical use of cannabis
Since the current cannabis market has been underground for so long, it can be very difficult for patients to find a credible source on how to use cannabis medicinally. They usually have to go through many trials and errors until they find effective dosages and products. You can imagine how frustrating it could be, especially for those who are suffering from severe conditions. They are eager to find the quickest way to promote their healing as, in many cases, they have already exhausted most treatment options and have turned to cannabis as a last resort.
The same thing applies to dispensary workers. In fact, they are the main point of contact since many of them interact with these patients more than anyone else. It is critical for them to know how products work and how to best use them with an understanding of what has worked in the past.
3. Lack of cannabis dispensing skills and customer service.
Because many patients have put their hope in dispensaries, it is critical for dispensary workers to provide accurate and responsible information and guidance. Their attitude towards this potential medicine should provide their customers with grounded support, truth and honesty, — what we know and what we don’t know. Empathy is important in these touchy situations, so are managing their customers’ expectations. After all, it is the dispensary workers, — the front line workers’ role to help their customers stay safe while using this medicine.
Cann Help Deck
As stated before, designers design artifacts to facilitate the solutions to the problems. In this case, we asked ourselves: since there is a lack of training in terms of the knowledge of medical cannabis use, can we create a tool for this information to be shared? And how can such vast amount of information be shared in an effective manner, since people are already burdened by the overwhelming nature?
Can we create a tool for cannabis information to be shared?
How can such vast amount of information be shared in an effective manner?
We are blessed with the raw material we work with, which is the information on cannabis use collected over a span of a decade. Thanks to Connekta’s co-owner, Adolfo has gained a rich experience working as a frontline worker in Vancouver dispensaries. We filtered the information many times to condensed the essential information useful to patients. We designed the Cann Help Deck.
Studies show that tactile experiences and visual elements play a significant role in learning and retaining new information. We applied this theory to our design. We used colours and graphics to represent the most relevant anecdotal information about treatable conditions, methods of dosing, and the best product options. We wanted to reinforce the tactile experience, so the information is presented in a card deck format as it conveys a sense of playfulness.
The Cann Help Deck provides an experience unlike an app or software. It is easy to reference, tangible, shareable and can be matched up with other cards to find the best treatment options. Dispensary workers can use the deck as a learning tool or refer to it when dealing with a new patient or condition with which they are unfamiliar.
CannaReps Workshops: A Platform For Information, Experience, and Connection
When asked, the most experienced cannabis connoisseurs in the field all agree that to thoroughly understand cannabis it must be experienced. How can a wine sommelier understand wine if they never drink any? That’s why, aside from the deck, we put together a series of workshops for people so they can interact with and handle cannabis while they learn about its many attributes. We provide the ideal scenarios for dispensary workers with lab test results and designed product intake protocols. They learn to read the test results and use these tools so that hopefully they can be industry leaders and push for higher standards.
How can a wine sommelier understand wine if they never drink any?
Since we are bringing together both patients and budtenders, these workshops also act as a means of bringing together and forming an education-focused cannabis community. From there we see conversations, support groups and relationships form organically. Together this creates a strong community foundation and helps us work together and learn from each other.
We use this kind of philosophy when working on other projects with our other clients. We understand our audience, meet them where they stand, while also sharing with them our long-term visions and aspirations.
Alongside CannaReps we are working with many innovative brands, new product categories, and independent research initiatives, all with the same intention of enhancing the industry in ways that benefit consumers and patients.
This is our vision. Wherever there are gaps, Connekta will be working to design solutions to fill them.