2019 is closing out with the introduction of the cannabis industry as a national player that is on the same level as top Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) sectors. Consistent, accessible, approachable products across a raft of formats, tailored to any need or mood-state, are pushing cannabis to the next level.
Here are some of the biggest trends we saw in 2019 and what we can expect in 2020.
Adult-Use Legalization Goes National
2019 witnessed booming markets and market shortfalls as various states sought to pass bills or open adult-use sales, while legalization efforts have sped up considerably across the country. Illinois became the first state to pass adult-use legalization and regulation through legislation, as new Gov. J.B. Pritzker made good on a 2018 campaign promise.
Michigan set up regulations for adult-use and launched sales Dec. 1. Three Ann Arbor dispensaries raked in $221,000 in sales the first day alone, according to The Detroit News.
Massachusetts also opened its doors to adult-use with relative success, while conservative stalwart Oklahoma made the cannabis newswire by opening an extremely relaxed medical market. Oklahoma accepted more than 200,000 patients (which equates to about 5% of the state population) to its program and thousands of dispensaries in what has become one of the hottest markets in the county.
New Markets Same as the Old Markets?
Many long-time industry folks will watch and nod as these new markets encounter the various pitfalls of adult-use legalization: supply shortages, licensing delays, late regulatory changes, and other well-established bugaboos.
That said, there is evidence to suggest that these new markets, and others coming, may not look like the early West Coast openings. Governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut met late this year to discuss a bloc legalization strategy focused on common taxation and cooperative regulatory structures. Other states have began to explore possibilities outside of dispensary retail, with Pennsylvania floating a bill permitting delivery on day one, and possible regulatory structures matching its state-run beverage alcohol program.
Meanwhile, Utah abandoned its attempt to establish state-run medical outlets, speaking to the need of legislators and regulators to tailor the rules to their constituents and circumstances.
Products Grow Up
More broadly, the industry saw seismic shifts as technology advancements push edibles to higher levels. Edibles took a huge step forward this year as buzzwords like “nanotechnology,” “bioavailability,” “rapid-onset” and others signaled a maturation in the format. Addressing key weaknesses inherent in edibles, firms have pushed advancements in consistent products with clear and reliable dosages, all of which boost the format as flower share declines continued.
Edible gummy packs have become two of the top three units in sales in California and will hit new market shelves with fully formed, approachable product lines.
As the industry grows and reaches new consumers, it is imperative that new products allay consumer concerns and meet them in new occasions and need-states.