Cannabis Pros Answer: What Trends Do You See in the Next 5 Years for Cannabis?

by Stu Waters,

Is your dispensary ready for the change?

We recently ran a contest with 100’s of submissions, and we took this opportunity to ask some of the nation’s frontline cannabis professionals what trends they expect to see in the next five years.

While 2020 is off to a rocky start, there is reason to believe that the next decade is going to bring relief to beleaguered cannabis professionals in a variety of ways. Quiet gains are being made underneath the blaring headlines of daily news cycles, and many of these show promising trends for cannabis use, legalization, and cultural acceptance.

The Future of Cannabis: What Industry Leaders Are Saying

Several broad topics came up repeatedly among our content survey’s respondents. Federal legalization, on-site consumption, and delivery all topped the list. Many also predicted social and cultural shifts, ranging from the wider embrace of cannabis use to specific delivery methods like vaping and edibles.

 

Jordan A. Smith of Green Springs Oklahoma told us:

“Federal legalization or reclassification of cannabis will transform the industry. Interstate commerce is going to be huge, and it is very important that we are ready and set up for it when it happens. We can’t approach it state by state reinventing the wheel every time it will need to be overseen and regulated on a much larger scale. I am looking forward to this, and I hope that I can be involved in making more people successful in this industry.”

 

Nikki Marangon of Evergreen Market in Seattle, Washington sees a promising future for cannabis research alongside federal legalization:

“I think the most transformative thing to happen to our industry within five years would be federal legalization, but aside from that, the ability to research the plant is going to be the biggest game-changer. Since Jessica Tonani has been issued the states first cannabis research permit and is paving the way for others to be able to learn more about the plant than ever before in WA, the more facts and less anecdotal evidence we have to rely on—the more we’ll be able to accurately match people to the cannabis & products that are best for them.”

 

Anna Symonds of East Fork Cultivars in Portland, Oregon also spoke out in favor of federal legalization: 

“With increasing state legalizations of various degrees, I believe that we are moving towards some form of federal legalization or decriminalization in the next five years.”

 

In California, Veena Voravudhi of MexCal Cannabis Factory offered us a picture of how federal banking regulations might change:

“We understand this is an ever-changing, ever-evolving marketplace. To stay at the forefront of the industry, we believe in being strong advocates for right policies on city, state, and federal levels. Most transformative would be banking restrictions opened up to ease the ability to pay taxes, conduct proper banking protocols and make this less of a mandatory cash-based industry. On a larger scale and from a taxation standpoint, we believe 280E requirements will go away altogether, making it easier for all Cannabis companies to properly navigate, record and execute tax returns.”

 

Casandra Kerr of Medusa Dispensary in Vinita, Oklahoma, had a more nuanced view of the environmental role cannabis and hemp will play in the near future: 

“I think it falls between both our environmental impact and the public’s understanding of the entourage effect, cannabinoids, and terpenes. As more earth-friendly supplies become available, hemp products gain more popularity, and the awareness to re-use our bags and containers spreads, I believe most, if not all, dispensaries will be using our great stoner ideas to save the world. Access to studies and the availability of lab work has transformed the public’s understanding of how the plant works. This has already manifested some amazing things. I can only imagine five years from now.”

 

Terpene study also featured prominently. According to Annette at Floyd’s Cannabis Co. in Pullman, Washington: 

“The Terpene movement! I believe it is our duty to inform people about terpenes and guide them towards what will work for their endocannabinoid system. I think this will be the biggest movement because moving people away from “what’s the highest testing?” will be a great feat we must forge through. This is important because once people begin to learn the effects of terpenes on their individual person, we will be able to truly help people alleviate the symptoms around what ails them. The cannabis movement has always been about helping people, and this will be the next big step to really help people. My hope is the Full plant extract movement will come next.”

Broad Themes: Industry Consolidation and Research

While federal legalization and interstate commerce ranked highly among our respondents’ answers, many took their predictions a step further, describing how the industry is likely to look following the launch of a national cannabis market backed by federally funded banks.

Breaking down the federal barrier will lead to interstate franchising made possible by the kinds of standard business loans that cannabis entrepreneurs have so far been excluded from. A broad diversification of cannabis services and consumption environments – from Dutch-style cannabis cafes to on-demand home delivery – will pave the way.

Additionally, the federal government’s position on cannabis remains one of the primary obstacles between researchers and the grant funding they need. The cannabis industry relies on anecdotal evidence to differentiate strains and categorize recreational experiences. In-depth research will lead to more accurate, data-oriented classifications of marijuana experiences ranging far beyond the “indica/sativa” distinction.

Every Response Shares One Thing in Common

If there is a single element woven into every response we received, it is optimism. Cannabis industry professionals are intensely optimistic about the future of the industry. Despite the obstacles and regulatory complexity of the industry in its current state, the prevailing attitude is one of absolute confidence in a cannabis-friendly country.