Growth Strategies / Cannabis

Business Is Booming for Product You Don't Inhale

Go ahead and bogart that joint: Smoking is just one way to consume marijuana and might eventually become the least common way to do it.
Business Is Booming for Product You Don't Inhale
Image credit: Ethan Miller | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
3 min read

News flash: Lots of people were consuming marijuana long before it was legal to do so. But aside from the occasional pot brownie, that consumption nearly always meant inhaling smoke, whether from a joint, a pipe, or a bong.

Now legalization has unleashed entrepreneurial innovation resulting in countless new products catering to marijuana consumers and, more importantly for market growth, the marijuana-curious who have never smoked and aren’t willing to start. There is a growing variety of cannabis products, medicinal and recreational, for those who never have and never will inhale.

Related: Cannabis Edibles Market Set to Quadruple in U.S., Canada to $4B


Tinctures predate not only legalization but prohibition, back to when hemp was legal and smoking marijuana was largely unknown. These oily extracts of marijuana leaf and flowers allow precise dosing. With nothing more complicated than a measured drop, tinctures can be added to a drink -- just your own, please -- or applied under the tongue. Tinctures are fast-acting, unlike edibles, so the user knows quickly to add more or just settle in for the ride.

Edibles and beverages

Humans have a long -- think 6,000 bc -- history of eating marijuana, but things have come a long way in recent years since the aforementioned pot brownies. Cannabis, at least in the states where it’s legal, is available in many food products, with a decided tilt toward treats such as gummies, candies and pastries.

But what is food without drink? The marijuana business world was rocked recently by news that Constellation Brands, maker of dozens of beers including Corona, sank $3.8 billion into Canopy Growth, a major Canadian grower. The move makes particular sense with growing evidence that legal recreational marijuana correlates with reduced beer consumption.

Related: 5 Valuable Things To Know Before Digging Into the Edibles and Beverage Biz


Marijuana extracts are infused into lotions, balms, creams and similar products applied to the skin for relief of aches and pains. There is evidence topicals are helpful for relieving pain from headaches and cramps. It is a near certainty that expanding legalization in the U.S. will drive research into marijuana as a pain reliever, including as an alternative to opioids.


Transdermal patches are familiar for applying, through the skin, precise measures of nicotine to help smokers quit cigarettes and motion sickness medicine for those who get queasy on boats and in the back seats of cars on winding roads. An increasingly large selection of CBD patches are coming onto the market for pain relief and ailments such as seizures.

Related: Flower, Vape or Edible? Survey Offers a Glimpse of What California Cannabis Users Prefer

Breath mints

All indications are that making your breath pleasant is just a side benefit of marijuana breath mints. While there are mints packing enough THC for intoxication purposes, the mints are a good way to partake discreetly for those consuming cannabis for anxiety and pain, among other ailments, and convenient for microdosing enthusiasts.

Many of the nonsmoking marijuana products coming onto the market blur the sharp legal line between medical and recreational marijuana in that consumption can be metered low enough for pain or tension relief, without acute intoxication, or as a smoke-free recreational consumption alternative. It’s a safe bet that as the law allows it, entrepreneurs will bring more new products to market.

By Javier Hasse
From retailers to growers, producers, and suppliers, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of startup opportunities in this emerging market. In Start Your Own Cannabis Business, marijuana, biotech, and entrepreneurship reporter Javier Hasse introduces forward-thinking entrepreneurs like you to the industry and shares hard-earned tips and success stories from pioneers and visionaries in the marijuana industry.
Learn More

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