Smoking Flower Without the Smoke? The New Technology Making This Possible.
The American consumer can be a demanding sort: We want beer without all the calories, chewing gum that cleans your teeth, and veggie burgers that don’t taste like carpeting. But what about the cannasseur who wants the joy of old-fashioned flower without all that tell-tale smoke?
A company called Omura has just launched a vape system that uses dose-controlled cannabis cartridges and heat-not-burn technology, basically giving consumers a full flower experience that’s virtually odorless and smokeless. We sat down with BJ Carretta, Omura’s Head of Marketing, to find out more about this little marvel of marijuana technology and how it came to be.
Give us a quick sketch of your background.
I’ve been in the cannabis space for almost 2 yrs now. I was the original CMO of MedMen, took them from medical to recreational, launched Ember magazine, and then I started my own marketing consultancy. I ran into the founders of Omura, through my children actually, and when they told me about the heat-not-burn technology I was fascinated; I told them to let me know when they had a prototype, and when I saw it I was blown away. They had helped developed the heat-not-burn technology in the tobacco industry, and from my perspective on cannabis, this did not exist. As the market moves more into vape pens, edibles, etc, the one thing that’s constant is flower. It’s going to be around forever.
What are the advantages of heat-not-burn technology?
It helps bridge the gap between whole flower and the vape market; you’re combining two ends of the spectrum and bringing them together. There’s nothing purer than whole flower. It’s a better experience than the oils, and there are no additives to it. But if you’re a new consumer or you’re re-entering the market, you tend to stay away from flower -- and I don’t disagree, no one wants to get too high.
Each cartridge that goes into Omura has .125g of whole flower, so it’s controlled usage, it just gives you a proper lift. If you consume an entire stick, which could be 10-12 hits, it’s not like smoking a joint, it’s not even close. And to be able to do it with very minimal smell, very minimal vapor, you can do it while you’re walking down the street, you can put it back in your pocket and throw the stick away, it’s biodegradable…Plus you’re pulling all the terpenes through, what we call the Entourage Effect, because you’re not burning off anything and having it literally go up in smoke. There’s a medical angle as well, which is that most doctors don’t like to prescribe flower because of the smoke, but there’s no smoke here, you’re not getting any combustion inside of your lungs.
Do you think a device like this can change the stigma around cannabis?
I think publicly there’s still a negative connotation to weed, and people associate that with bongs and smoke. If we can deliver cannabis in a more discreet, controlled manner, it’ll help drive the narrative; I view it as a fun challenge for the industry. I’m from Indiana, they only decided last year that they’re gonna look into medical. So this was really interesting to me -- we’re not launching another vape pen, we’re not selling flower, we’re trying to change the narrative.
What was your thinking behind the packaging?
We consider ourselves a design brand, so the packaging was very important. We wanted it to be clean, we wanted it to be simple, we wanted to lead our consumers to water and not confuse them. It was done through that lens: make it feel high-end, but keep it simple.
What brands, either inside or outside the cannabis space, have inspired you?
I think everyone looks up to Apple and how they position their products, but at the end of the day the device is the device. We also looked to Away, and how they made luggage feel cool and creative. If you look at their Instagram it’s all curated photography, it’s really good and with cannabis, you have to give people room to want to talk about it -- how they consume it and why.
Any advice for other entrepreneurs looking to carve out their niche in the industry?
Step outside the box a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with developing and launching a product, a flower, an edible, a vape pen, but first, determine the “why?”