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Cannabis Trends: What to Watch (2023)

Cannabis Trends: What to Watch

The cannabis world moves fast and fluidly. Products and consumers evolve. Markets mature as new markets are born, and some companies prosper while others die on the vine. Laws change as new laws are passed. Blink, and you’re guaranteed to miss something! Whether you’re a consumer who wants to know what’s hot or a stakeholder with skin in the game, it’s hard to keep up with what’s new and what’s not. So check out these cannabis industry trends we saw in 2022 that will keep you ahead of the curve in 2023!

The People Want Legal Weed

In 1969, only 12% of Americans favored legal weed. In 2022, the Pew Research Center found that 88% of U.S. adults are cool with legalizing marijuana for recreational or medical use. Recreational cannabis is now legal in 21 states, and there are 39 states with medical cannabis laws. 

The weed world has changed, and the only sure thing is more change is on the cannabis menu everywhere.

Cannabis Product Trends

Before we talk demand, let’s talk supply. The United States grew almost 50 million pounds of weed in 2022. That’s over half a pound of weed for every person in the United States. (Wow. Who goes that hard besides Snoop and Willie?). And if that number sets you down and makes your head spin, consider that cultivation is still ramping up across the country. 

So, back to where all that weed is going. Surprisingly, cannabis users aren’t smoking as much flower. Sales are down 8%. But we may actually be smoking more weed because preroll sales are up 12%. Beverage (10%), edible (+10%), and vape (+5%) sales were also up, hinting that portability and convenience are important to consumers. 

In legal cannabis sales, tinctures took the biggest hit in 2022, down 24%. This may be attributable to a shift from medical to recreational cannabis, with beverages and edibles taking tincture’s market share.

Cannabis Consumer Trends

Well, this whole legalization thing might pan out because more people are smoking weed, and some are making better choices.

Young adults prefer cannabis to cigarettes

For the first time in history, young people are likelier to blaze a joint than smoke a cigarette. That’s pretty rad. Since 2018, cannabis use in young adults has increased by 5% while cigarette smoking has declined to a historic low. While smoking weed may not make you smarter and may not be the cause of decreased tobacco use, it’s still 100% awesome that cannabis is now more socially acceptable than tobacco (a plant that’s been legal forever and kills way more people than weed ever will.)

Young adults prefer cannabis to cigarettes

Weed may help people drink less

Do you do Dry January? For those that don’t know, Dry January is a trend where you quit drinking for the month. Of course, if you prefer, you can also try Sober October. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to back off the booze. In a survey from CivicScience, 21% of Dry January participants replaced alcohol with cannabis (There are no stats on Sober October). 

In that same survey, young people were the largest demographic to replace alcohol with weed. 34% of participants aged 21-24 hit the bong instead of the bottle, followed by 24% of 25-34-year-olds. 

The trend of young people replacing alcohol with cannabis is definitely one to keep an eye on.

More adults are trying cannabis

Eight years ago, only 40% of Americans admitted that they had tried marijuana. According to YouGov, today, 52% say they have used cannabis. So does cannabis make people more honest, or are more people smoking weed? Hmmm. Either way, it’s a win!

It’s also interesting to note that while cannabis use is up in young adults, people between 45 and 64 were the demographic most likely to say that they use marijuana. That is amazing and could lead to some very interesting, multi-generational blunt circles.

More adults are trying cannabis

People are spending more when they buy weed

It seems like cannabis may be one of those things that’s inflation and recession-proof. In a study from Jushi, while 39% of cannabis consumers said they picked up less expensive weed, 73% said they spent more per transaction. We don’t want to read too much into it, but it seems like that means people just smoked more mids. Life’s too short for mids, people! J.K. Smoke what you wanna smoke. We’re with you. You’re our people.

THC content and price matter

Besides world peace and a jelly doughnut that won’t drip on your shirt, people want potent weed for a fair price. Last year, people were all about brand and strain. But this year, they were all about THC testing and the ticket.

Social Justice and Equity

The war on drugs has an ugly racial history. African American men in the U.S. have been incarcerated at four times the rate of black men in South Africa under apartheid. The liberal Center for American Progress and the conservative Cato Foundation both characterize the war on drugs as 50 years of a federal policy based on a false premise and denial of evidence-based research. 

So, what are we doing about it? While we can’t change the past, we can try to make the future better. So, on that front, there’s been some progress.

Social justice in Maryland

When Marland legalized adult use, the law mandated expungement of convictions in which the sole charge was cannabis possession. It also granted individuals incarcerated for cannabis possession the right to petition for resentencing and decriminalized possession for up to 1.5 ounces.

Social justice in Missouri

Missouri expunged all misdemeanor marijuana offenses and decriminalized possession for up to 3 ounces of cannabis flower. It also set a 6% retail tax on nonmedical cannabis sales to support community services.

Social justice nationally

President Biden finally stepped up for marijuana policy reform with a statement focused on three priorities:

  1. Individuals charged or convicted of prior federal offenses for simple possession of marijuana in violation of a limited set of federal and District of Columbia laws will be issued complete and unconditional pardons
  2. Governors are urged to issue identical orders at the state level
  3. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Attorney General have been asked to initiate the administrative process to review marijuana’s
  4. Schedule 1 classification under the CSA 

Did Biden go far enough? Unfortunately, no. But the statement still signals a change in the federal government’s stance on cannabis, and there’s reason to be optimistic that the SAFE Banking Act may pass and cannabis will be taken off Schedule I. These are victories, people. Celebrate them and keep pushing.

Diddy stands for equity

Sean “Diddy” Combs showed his “commitment to the economic inclusion of underrepresented groups in cannabis” by making a play to pick up assets in New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts from Cresco Labs/Columbia Care. If Diddy can close the deal, it will be the biggest black-owned cannabis company on the planet.

Diddy stands for equity

Consumers care about social equity

In a Weedmaps poll, 57% of marijuana consumers believe in equal access to the cannabis industry. Almost half of those polled would prefer to support cannabis businesses owned by women and/or minorities. Additionally, 37% say they would like to buy from LGBTQ+-owned companies.

Minority ownership declined

According to MJBizDaily, minority ownership of cannabis companies saw a sharp decline from 20.7% in 2021 to 15.4% in 2022. Moreover, minority and female leadership in cannabis companies has declined or stagnated in the last five years.

The states are falling short in the commitment to equity in the marijuana industry. According to The MCBA National Cannabis Equity Report, recreational or medical cannabis is legal in 37 states, but only 15 have social equity programs. In states with social equity programs, they have not been rolled out effectively. Los Angeles is a prime example. The social equity program there is a dumpster fire.

The Weed Business

Make no mistake. The weed business is big business. 

The Weed Business

How big is the weed business?

Today, the U.S. Cannabis Industry is worth 61 billion and growing. How much will it grow? It’s hard to say. Every year analysts predict what the cannabis industry will be worth, and every year growth exceeds expectations.

If you trust Wall Street estimates, by 2030, the cannabis industry will be worth $100 Billion. That’s a lot of zeros, but with consumer demand increasing and new market opening, it could happen.

How much tax revenue was collected?

Billions. California was #1, raking in $774 million. Washington was #3 at $517 million, and Illinois took home the bronze at $466 million. The twelve states that had a full year of tax collection in 2022 collected nearly $3 billion in excise taxes.

Cannabis is getting less expensive

Have you seen how much a dozen eggs costs today? Yikes. But while inflation has made many things we use daily more expensive, cannabis isn’t one of them. According to BDSA Retail Sales Tracking data, weed was 20% cheaper in the Q3 of 2022 than in Q3 of 2021.

You can thank supply and demand for price cuts. Most states produce far more cannabis than they can consume, and shelf space is limited. As a result, prices are in free fall. Some states have seen the price for a pound of cannabis drop by as much as 50%. In California, it’s gotten so difficult for some operators that they’ve shut down or left the state.

It’s a cautionary tale. Be careful what you wish for. Everyone wants to pay less for weed until they can’t find their favorite craft exotic because the farmer can’t pay their light bill. 

Mergers and Acquisitions

2022 saw a significant slowdown in mergers and acquisitions from the previous year. According to Viridian Capital Advisors, total M&A volume was down 62%, with 39% fewer transactions. Experts attribute the slowdown to low cannabis stock prices and rising interest rates, which make M&A cost prohibitive. 

The merger and acquisition slowdown in cannabis is primarily due to rising interest rates and low cannabis stock prices, meaning stock-based M&A deals are more expensive. It’s hard to say what will happen in 2023, but with high profile exits from the California market point to another slow year as the big players wait and see how things shake out.

Marijuana and The Law

The law is responding to the people’s will as more states pass recreational cannabis laws.

How many states permit recreational cannabis?

We kicked off 2023 with legal recreational cannabis in 21 states, Washington D.C. and Guam. Those states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Missouri, and Rhode Island.

Will more states legalize cannabis in 2023?

It seems likely. According to MJBizDaily, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota will likely legalize adult-use cannabis this year. Moreover, in the states that remain, it’s less a question of whether marijuana will be legalized and more a question of when. We may have finally reached the tipping point for legal weed

Will the federal government legalize weed in 2023?

Federal legalization is highly unlikely. While President Biden pardoned federal marijuana prisoners and suggested that cannabis should not be on Schedule I in the CSA, he is not saying to legalize it. Yes, these are steps in the right direction, but that’s all they are.

Did the federal government pass any cannabis legislation?

Yes. In November 2022, the Senate passed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act. This is a huge win, as marijuana’s place on Schedule I has stifled research since the CSA became law in 1973.

Finally, the federal government has recognized that cannabis may have medical benefits. The bill’s purpose is to enable research on the health benefits of cannabis. It will accomplish this by eliminating legal barriers to research and streamlining the application process. It’s worth noting that the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act is the first standalone cannabis legislation to pass the House, Senate and be signed into law by the President.

Global Cannabis Trends

Cannabis is experiencing increased global legalization efforts.

Germany may legalize recreational cannabis

In Europe, Germany is laying the foundation to legalize recreational weed. As the largest economy in Europe, it’s likely the German plan will exert a powerful influence on the European continent just as legalization in the states influenced neighboring states to follow suit.

In the German legalization blueprint, the sale and possession of cannabis for personal use will be decriminalized, and marijuana will be sold in licensed shops. Germany has also learned from the missteps made in the United States regarding regulation, control, and transparency. As a result, their legal framework is expected to set a new standard and be adopted throughout Europe. 

Thailand legalized marijuana

Thailand removed marijuana from the Category 5 narcotics list, effectively decriminalizing cannabis. This policy change permits Thais to grow and sell weed for medical use. Thailand and Southeast Asia are known for having some of the most draconian drug laws on earth. Cannabis reform in Thailand strongly signals that global attitudes about cannabis are changing.

Keep Up With the Latest Trends in Cannabis at Airfield

The cannabis world is fast and fluid, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with the trends, and Airfield is a great place to do that. You can ask us anything. We’re here for you. 

At Airfield, we live and breathe cannabis and make it our business to know what’s good. So fly by Airfield anytime for all your cannabis needs, or order online for pickup or delivery today.

April 13, 2023


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