What Awaits Cannabis Industry in 2020?

Legal cannabis moves at a slow pace, often times making us forget that the process has been steady and forward moving. While legalization has stalled in many states, and there have been some snags along the way, the culture surrounding the plant continues to embrace new ideas.

From scouring the web and reading through the opinions of different cannabis experts, here are the most prominent cannabis predictions of 2020.

No major legislative changes

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As an intense election year starts, the focus on marijuana will take a back seat in Washington D.C.. Last year, the Brookings Institution conducted a public opinion survey that showed two-thirds of those polled were open to legal marijuana, but it isn’t a burning issue that drives election decisions. We predict the FDA will continue to focus its attention on medical marijuana, vaping and CBD, but no major changes are expected.

At least two states will legalize marijuana and slightly expand the market, but the decision will be on unlocking additional state income as opposed to massive public support. California and Washington, inadvertently, will continue to promote the black market as they focus on revenue and enact high taxes instead of moving an entire market into the legal space.

Expect continued disruption with illegal products and the ongoing fumbling of the Florida rollout where 71% of the electorate voted for medical marijuana. Canada will refine its rollout providing better access to the end consumer, and as they do, they will highlight effective benchmarks for both Canada and the U.S. markets.

New cannabinoids

It feels like it’s finally time for other cannabinoids to step into the spotlight, giving THC and CBD a much needed break. Some of the options that are being proposed are cannabinoids like CBG, THCV and THCA, which provide different kinds of effects and medicinal support.

Price fluctuations

The cannabis industry is still in its infancy, meaning that prices will rise and fall depending on the state and that there’s not much we can do about it except wait. For legal states like Michigan, this is a good thing, since prices are currently very high and should normalize at some point.

New delivery methods

“Tinctures, gel capsules, and gummies are a thing of the past. In 2020, we can expect to see a continued focus on innovation within the industry, from varying strain types like CBG and CBN, to the creation of new delivery methods that enhance the efficacy of CBD at an incredible rate. We’re also seeing the development of functional products and products that pair CBD with natural ingredients like turmeric and ginger, as well as broad-spectrum, all of which will evolve and improve the consumer experience.” Jay Hartenbach, CEO and co-founder, Medterra

FDA cracks down on vaping

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The FDA will act tough on vapes, introducing new nationwide rules that will slow but not kill the industry.

FDA officials will also saber-rattle and brush back CBD marketers. The federal agency will approve more uses for pharmaceutical CBD and assert more of their regulatory authority over non-pharma uses. But the gray area will endure because the FDA lacks the resources, and has bigger priorities, given CBD’s overall safety.

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Three new adult-use states

wish we could present a rosier picture, but the presidential election is going to take up a lot of oxygen in 2020.

Legalization has already happened in the most likely states (the West Coast, Massachusetts). The next battles will happen in more traditionally conservative regions: the Midwest and the South.

2020 could be a year of consolidating gains, with no new major state or federal progress. We’ll see legislatures debate as only an incremental step. We’ll see new states try ballot initiatives and do well, but ultimately not pass. It took California 30 years to move from medical to adult-use legalization. In many states, voters have yet to fully digest medical legalization and reach a comfort level with the idea of adult use.

In 2020:

New York legalization will pass, barely, in the legislature.
New Jersey will come close but fail due to petty Democratic party infighting.
New Mexico legalization will be hotly debated but ultimately fail in the legislature.
No legalization in Connecticut, Rhode Island, or Pennsylvania.
Arizona voters will narrowly approve legalization at the ballot box. You gotta have hope.
Ohio votes narrowly yes, we hope.
Florida voters consider legalization but ultimately vote no.
Medical legalization will pass at the ballot box in Idaho and South Dakota.

Improved retail experience

“As the ‘digital natives’ of retail, dispensaries will embrace the opportunity to build physical stores with a digital-first experience, making them some of the savviest retailers in 2020. Envision customer check-in systems that can tell you, “Shirley likes hybrid gummies,” and automatically apply a special for her on that product that might be expiring soon. The customer and the retailer both benefit. With nuanced data on individual buying habits, dispensaries will start focusing on personalized purchasing and educational experiences to stand out among the growing pack—which is ultimately the future of all retail. — Kyle Sherman, CEO, Flowhub

CBD will stop being so important

CBD’s rise in popularity and stock has been unprecedented, which is good, but it’s also been extremely fast, which is kind of bad. If a product rises in stock and value so fast, it makes sense then that it’ll fade in popularity just as quick. With more research and scientific support, we can assume people will get confirmation that CBD isn’t a cure for all and they’ll stop taking it every time they get a hang nail.

Rise of the terpenes

“Many cannabis consumers still have no idea what terpenes are, even though they make up a major aspect of the cannabis consumption experience. In 2020, we’ll see more mainstream conversations about terpenes, and more awareness of what terpenes are and why they’re so important. With that, we’ll also see more discussion about the different compounds in cannabis, from CBN and CBG, moving past THC and CBD to learn from the rest of the plant.” —Brian Rice, Director of R&D, Boveda

New flavors in strains

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New strains are developed every year. Next year is primed to become a crazy one in terms of flavor profiles and combination within cannabis strains. You can also expect some wild new names, which is always fun.

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