In this Cannabis Creative Blog, I sit down with Peter Kasper, founder of Terpli. We dive into why THC is not king, the rise of designer cannabis, and where he sees a picture from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep fitting into our future.
Peter Kasper is trying to make it easier to understand your weed.
One of the most challenging things for cannabis users is the uncertainty in reacting to new strains. Up until very recently, the idea of getting any information on your weed was laughable. You may also be to differentiate between indica and sativa, but no data existed for the average user beyond that.
Kasper first learned of the false dichotomy between indica and sativa when he was in the USC MBA program. When he discovered the world of terpenes and cannabinoids, his mind was blown.
Here’s a quick rundown if you need to catch up:
The indica/sativa divide has been the most popular way to differentiate between weed’s effects for as long as people have been buying dime bags. Indica, or “in-da-couch” is supposed to provide powerful euphoria with a couch-locking body high, while sativa could power you through the day. But ask 10 people if this is true for them, and 5 will say no.
So what gives? The indica/sativa divide can’t accurately tell you the effects of your cannabis because it’s only telling you which plant grew the bud; cannabis indica or cannabis sativa.
The real, interesting, true goodness of cannabis lies in the cannabinoid balances and terpene profiles of our weed, the stuff you need lab equipment to see and reports to understand. It’s possible and increasingly common these days, so it’s a win for the consumer, right?
I mean- have you ever tried to read a lab report? They’re gibberish to the untrained eye.
Terpli is Kasper’s app, currently beta-launched for California consumers.
As an experienced cannabis user, Kasper was excited to dive into the lab data and piece together the results. His background is in finances and applied mathematics, so instead of seeing a report to read, he saw data points to map But he knew the average consumer doesn’t want to do that, so Terpli takes the information and distills it down into digestible pieces.
But also, who wants to look at a map of data points while surveying the available cultivars at a dispensary? We like our apps to know us better than we know ourselves at this point so Terpli goes a step further, giving you personalized recommendations based on consumer reviews and your journal of strains.
Kasper’s ultimate goal is to leave the indica/sativa divide in the past and get lower-level THC products on the shelves. In order to do this, people need to have a better understanding of what affects their high, and just how custom your cannabis can get. Our current cannabis inventory is woefully limited when it comes to exploring the full scope and scale of the terpenes and cannabinoid levels. Prohibition has driven high THC selective breeding, so consumers could get as high as possible with as little as possible.
But we’re leaving those dark days behind.
With Terpli, Kasper hopes to do what no one else in the industry has done yet- create a comprehensive database where customers can understand the effects a strain will have on them before trying it. Rather than waiting for the scientific consensus of the effects of the terpenes, Kasper sees mathematical variables that lead to an outcome. Put enough variables together, and you have mappable trends.
Kasper hopes this new lens of looking at the effects of cannabis will spur companies on to creating more diverse blends. By arming the consumer with more information about their weed, they can put pressure on companies to create more diverse strains.
So, what’s next for Terpli and Kasper? At this stage, it’s all about growth. The more consumers they can get on the app and the more lab results they can digest, the most personalized recommendations they can make. So keep an eye out for Terpli coming to a state near you.
What’s one thing in the industry you’re excited about right now?
PK: This evolution of terpenes and cannabinoids coming more to the forefront of what people think and talk about and what drives the experience for individuals and operators.
There was a really awesome article by the Rolling Stones about a future with terpenes driving a lot of the experience for users and it was a little bit reminiscent in a dystopic way of a book called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which is what the movie Blade Runner is based on. It starts with these people in this world going to their front door and they have this mist that can determine how they want to feel for the day.
The book paints a more dystopic picture of it but I see a lot of ways where, especially considering how naturally this fits in with our endocannabinoid system, people can leverage this for the benefit of whatever they want it to be. It’s the ways in which we can leverage this in minor capacities to take the edge off or even get you in a better mood.
What’s one thing in the industry you think needs to change?
PK: The indica/sativia/hybrid dynamic and the obsession with THC percentages, leading to a lack of diversity in product types.
What I’ve found is that operators really have to play down to the lowest education level of the consumer in order to sell products, and the lowest education level is indica/sativa, what is the highest THC percentage, what will get me the highest? As a result of that, if a product isn’t above 20% it won’t even fit on shelves in retailers My dream is to have super low THC joints that you can just puff on in a business setting, where it doesn’t just blast you out of capacity but you can be functionally chill and share it with people and not be unable to function.
But it’s really getting to explore the different ways cannabis can really unlock therapeutic value for users everywhere. It’s departing from that stigma or expectation that THC is king and really starting to explore these other components which really drive more of the quality for the high.
What’s the future of the cannabis industry?
PK: I see education driving a much more important role in things; terpenes and minor cannabinoids being much more important especially when it comes to some of the more accessible products when it comes to early consumers, things like edibles. I think as we become more aware of the value of these components, it will definitely start to drive new, more innovative products. Especially as research starts to prove the therapeutic value they can yield.
With that in mind, what I hope for is more designer cannabis, where people start to understand with unique cultivation practices or manufacturing processes how to really optimize certain chemotypes within the plant itself, something that’s high in alpha-pinene or linalool, and drive more unique experiences separate from the really dominant THC, myrcene high.
Interstate commerce and the availability of different products from across the markets will really open up more diversity when it comes to product selection and that is something I’m very excited about. It’ll be crazy and massively disruptive both towards the way people currently grow in their own markets and also to the current MSOs. What that will look like is pretty exciting. It’s such a dynamic space right.
What do you want customers to take away from an experience with you?
PK: That you can design cannabis for a variety of different contests.
There’s more than just getting high and THC isn’t king. It’s about the outcome from the experience. THC is alcohol percentage and everyone’s going for Everclear right now. I think if you can design it to cater to specific effects, specific experiences, then it opens up the door to these rich opportunities for individuals. Something that I like to call conscious cannabis, where you’re using cannabis to consciously cater to specific environments and experiences in a way that adds value. You’re not just trying to get high. I’ve gotten so much value personally from looking at cannabis in that kind of light.
What’s your favorite fun fact about cannabis?
PK: The fact that we’ve evolved physiologically with this plant. For something that was so shunned, seen as so wrong has such an important and key built-in functionality in our bodies through the endocannabinoid system.
It’s magical when you think about it in that kind of light. It just seems like it has unlimited and infinite potential and we’re now in this unique period where we can research, explore, and uncover its benefits. The therapeutic potential is undeniable. All we have to do now going forward is unlock the potential.
Talk to me about diversity and inclusion on your team
PK: We’re trying to leverage more diverse practices when it comes to our hiring, and I think so much of that comes down to prioritizing that. Where at the forefront when I first launched, it was need-based hiring, I had an idea, I had very little resources and I needed to move quickly. But as I’ve been going down this path, we’ve been able to really focus on having diverse hiring practices in place and really to prioritize things I see as important which is hiring women and hiring people of color and instilling it in the company culture that we’re building moving forward.
So much of it comes down to a choice and trying to install that as how you’re trying to build up a company and culture you want to have. As we continue to grow, ensuring that’s in the fabric of how we hire people and the culture we want to have. There’s an opportunity at such an early stage to really build that into it, and I’m excited about that going forward.
What’s one thing every consumer should know?
PK: Check the package date. That’s the first thing. Yeah, terpenes, cannabinoids, they’re extremely important for driving the experience but they also degrade quickly, especially in different conditions and environments.
A lot of the time the lab testing will be completely obsolete if you look at a product that’s 6 to 9 months out from when it was packaged. And a lot of times you’re just going to get a straight THC high but if you really want a unique blend to get everything the product has to offer for you. You have to check the package date to make sure you’re getting a product that’s fresh, within one to three months of the package date. There is a shelf life and it’s an extremely fickle product too.