As the marijuana industry continues to grow state by state, adding businesses, jobs and revenue, 2018 is poised to be the biggest year in the history of marijuana in America, and beyond.
Here are 8 trends that will be huge in 2018:
1. Impending legalization in NJ will put pressure on NY- With recreational marijuana sales set to begin in Massachusetts over the summer and incoming New Jersey governor Phil Murphy poised to legalize pot as quickly as possible, there's a good chance that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will soon be doing a sort of reverse commute – driving or hopping a train out to the suburbs to pick up legal weed.
2. Legal marijuana lounges– Marijuana is a social drug, so its only natural that marijuana lounges and social clubs are appealing to people. The biggest question is which city will get one open first: Las Vegas, West Hollywood, Boston or Denver. With local governments issuing permits for marijuana social clubs, the race is on. Right now the front-runners include Vape & Play in Denver, The Hitman Coffee Shop in Los Angeles, and the Vegas Cannabis Lounge in Las Vegas.
3 Confusion and chaos in California- Even though California will finally begin allowing the sale of recreational marijuana on January 1st, 2018, a lot of people are very nervous about how that is going to go. The state has had a largely unsupervised medical cannabis program in place since 1996 and now is trying to impose a strict regulatory regime on an enormous population of entrepreneurs and criminals, many of whom have never followed rules before. Expect some turmoil prior to the enlightenment.
4. Increase in home grows- the popularity of growing weed at home is going to rise significantly in the coming year. We expect to see the home grow market more than double in 2018, in the wake of new recreational legalization measures in states like Vermont and Massachusetts, and a shifting focus to craft quality cannabis. If we model the home grow market after home brewing, which represents about 12 percent of beer production, we can expect homegrown cannabis to represent nearly $3 billion of the market by 2021.
5. More legit products than ever- As companies transition out of the gray market, many are upping their game and hiring marketing teams to make sure their brands look legit. In 2018, consumers will see more branded cannabis products than ever as mainstream brands and celebrities enter the market with new products. As competition increases, products like Ultraflo and Nice Steams will continue pushing the boundaries of product quality and consistency.
6. Canada dominates- In these times of prohibition, our kindly neighbors to the north are looking more and more savvy. While the federal government in the United States continues to insist that marijuana has absolutely no medical benefit, making commerce exceedingly difficult for anyone working with state-legal weed, Canada began the process of making pot available to all adults as soon as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office in 2015. Now, with millions of marijuana dollars flowing through Canadian stock exchanges and recreational sales set to begin in 2018, the Canadian cannabis industry seems poised to dominate the globe.
7. Data democratization– Every major industry in America leverages data as a predictive tool for cost-effective decisions. In 2017, several cannabis tech companies have created impressive offerings that harness the power of big data and apply it to the cannabis industry by capturing user/patient demographics and analyzing market trends to create sophisticated predictive models. Leading data platform include the likes of Headset Cannabis Intelligence and 502 Data, which records marijuana taxes and sales for recreational stores in Washington State. 2018 promises to see a large increase in the volume, velocity, and variety of cannabis-related data, as well as technology that will assist various stakeholders to address inherent challenges.
8. Supply chain management with blockchain- Blockchain has the potential to be the ideal mechanism in which regulatory bodies can capture the history of cannabis through the entire supply chain, ultimately ensuring consumer safety and product quality control. By using the immutable ledger than blockchain offers, consumers and operators will have vital information about the product they are dealing with – from seeds, water quality, and fertilizer used, to patient ID’s and doctor certificates. This means less separation between producers, growers, labs, dispensaries, and consumers.