Canada’s first cannabis ‘cigarette’ in production

Published on March 12, 2020 by Simon Gerard

After gaining attention when they announced their cigarette-style “pure cannabis sticks” Kelowna-Based THC BioMed has now started production. It will be the first filtered cigarette-style pre-roll available in Canada and aimed at being an alternative for smokers looking to quit.

Intended for a single-use session, they include commercial-grade filters said to “…protect the consumer but not degrade the experience.” They will be filled with THC BioMed’s range of THC strains or CBD strain, starting with availability to medicinal patients. Produced locally in Kelowna, their plant is capable of producing up to 5,000 cigarettes per minute.

I recall but can’t find evidence of cannabis industry people taking shots at the idea on Twitter when it was announced in June. I think it was mainly a knee-jerk reaction from the general disdain cannabis people have for cigarettes. They are notably first in this niche for Canada, and I remember thinking anything that could possibly help people quit smoking (cigarettes) is worth a shot.

Appealing to smokers

The appeal looks to be directed at cigarette smokers, anyone more familiar with tobacco or who may be turned off by traditional weed smoking methods. It also could appeal to anyone wanting to smoke more incognito or someone wanting the more clean, clinical style of a filtered joint, such as a medical patient.

As someone who personally advocates peer-pressuring smokers to try CBD vapes or strains, I’m interested to see how their CBD cigarette is received by smokers. I’ll definitely buy some just to give to a couple of smoker friends of mine. While there are CBD pre-rolls that can serve this purpose, the cigarette disguise gives these ‘cannabis sticks’ an advantage. A study showing smokers trying to quit using a fake cigarette they could inhale on were 3.5 times more likely to quit compared to the group not using fake cigarettes. So the combination of looking just like a cigarette and the benefits of CBD could end up being a tool to help curb smoking.

Looks like butt

A big question I immediately had was what the filters are made of. I personally don’t care if people smoke, but cigarette butts being littered everywhere is the worst. While everyone ganged up on banning plastic straws two years ago, NBC News reported that cigarette butts are the single greatest source of ocean trash, beating out straws. After going down the Google rabbit hole on cigarette butts instead of writing this article, I learned their plastic compositionstores residuals of toxic chemicals used to treat the tobacco and takes over 10 years to decompose. With the chemicals and microplastic fibres seeping into the environment. There is mention of tobacco companies looking into alternative eco-friendly filters, but without much public pressure, they haven’t bothered to follow through.

Cigarette filters were introduced in the 1960s due to smoking being linked to lung cancer. It could be argued filters offer more benefits to marketing than people’s health, with a study finding that the smoother smoking experience can give a sense it’s doing less harm, thus encouraging a user to smoke more. Besides the aesthetic appeal to some of these cannabis sticks, THC BioMed is upfront that they only serve to stop cannabis from being sucked into people’s mouths.

After my rant above, I’m relieved to share that THC BioMed is using natural materials for their filters, including flax, cotton, and manila hemp. They say these filters only take three days to biodegrade in compost, opposed to the decade-plus time needed for cigarette filters.

— Simon Gerard