[Editor’s Note: These Leafly predictions are fabulous. Included are predictions on strains & products, law & justice, business & science.]
History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. And next year, legalization is going to rhyme with normalization, modernization, and Zkittlez, among other trends. Read on for 24 predictions that will most definitely happen in cannabis in 2019, or we owe you a bowl.
Cannabis Strains & Products Predictions
The “dessert” strain craze of scrumptious, high-THC strains like Wedding Cake, Sundae Driver, and Cookies will continue strong in 2019. Look for new second and third- generation crosses of Purple Punch, Zkittlez, Gelato and more.
California’s first licensed cannabis consumption lounges will move beyond the Bay Area. Look for them first in West Hollywood.
Increased Pesticide Awareness
As the feds relax their posture in the post-Sessions era, states will be able to focus on creating more workable systems for consumers instead of prioritizing federal concerns. They’ll realize pesticide levels are too dang high and will step up regulations. Industry will complain that standards are more stringent than food products.
Canada Gets Lit
Canada’s cannabis products and markets will get better. After a rocky start where the few open retailers could push sub-par product, competition in 2019 will drive quality back up.
A bona fide anti-packaging waste movement will emerge in 2019 to counter the increasingly huge cannabis waste stream created by over-regulation.
We’ll see California prices come down down down. Oregon will stay cratered. Washington will drop slightly. Price points will continue to evolve into greater price spectrums. Top-shelf will hit new heights. The bottom will go even lower.
Raw, crude cannabis flower as a product category will continue to lose ground to highly manufactured products like Dosist vape pens and Utopia low-dose edibles. You’ll see the explosion of molecule and effect-driven marketing (THC-V, CBG, THC-A, delta-8-THC. For “Sleep,” “Bliss,” “Relax,” “Passion.”)
Federal and State Cannabis Legalization Predictions
Incremental US Legalization
Sorry, no federal cannabis legalization in 2019. It’s going to take 30+ adult-use states for federal legalization, which will feel like a foregone conclusion when it finally arrives. But Congress will allow more states to chart their own course next year. The medical cannabis shield law Rohrabacher-Farr will be renewed, and maybe expanded to cover the Treasury Department (which will allow expanded banking services), not just the Department of Justice. A Rohrabacher-Farr-type shield bill—most likely some version of the States Act—for adult use will be seriously debated, but fail to pass either chamber.
Cannabis the plant will remain a federally illegal Schedule 1 substance, deemed as dangerous as heroin, while THC the molecule derived from whole plant cannabis could be down-scheduled like dronabinol (synthetic THC), which is already in Schedule 3.
East Coast Catchup
New Jersey will legalize via the state legislature. New York will consider legalization, but the bill will get hung up on the fears of a powerful Democratic committee member, and not pass in 2019.
Windy City Blows Smoke
Illinois will advance new reforms but fall short of full legalization. Machine politics will block a solution this year. The mucky mucks have to fight over the pie another year before they eat it.
Arizona legalization advocates will fight over two separate ballot measures. Neither will make the ballot.
New Research Farms
The first new federally licensed research cannabis farms beyond the one in Mississippi will be granted licenses.
Cannabis Criminal Justice Predictions
Border Crisis and New Clarity
A high-profile border case will force the United States and Canada to amend their antiquated and harmful cannabis border policies.
More Trafficking Blame-Shifting
More US Attorneys will try to score political points by holding individual states responsible for inter-state marijuana trafficking in the US. Legal cannabis industry officials and regulators will team up to quash the illicit market like never before.
Equity’s Time Has Come
We’ll see the advanced spread of equity programs to new legalization states as well as beyond the cannabis sector. New York politicians will take the lead on this, and influence others (New Jersey) to do the same.
Cannabis Business Predictions
More Corporate Giants Enter
More alcohol and tobacco multi-national corporations will buy stakes in cannabis companies using Canadian companies as a global investment vehicle.
Conglomerates Gonna Conglomerate
Stores like MedMen and Have a Heart will expand into newly legal states and capture bigger shares of new licenses, either directly or through acquisitions and/or licensing/management arrangements. The consolidation has just begun.
Expect increasing restrictions on advertising in legal states. Both conservatives and progressives love throttling cannabis free speech, for different reasons. Conservatives dislike cannabis commerce, while progressives never met a nanny state regulation they didn’t like.
The world’s biggest cannabis city, Los Angeles, will continue to be a mess from a regulatory standpoint.
In the world’s biggest cannabis state, California, track-and-trace will be delayed and plagued with problems, creating only the appearance of a traceable system.
The massive legal medical cannabis state of Florida will emerge as a medical marijuana “superstate,” thanks to its population and industry rules.
Cannabis Science Predictions
More CBD Use
The FDA-approved CBD tincture Epidiolex will be used off-label in new studies that verify CBD-derived whole plant botanical efficacy for Parkinson’s and other conditions.
Drugged Driving Breakthrough
New breath, blood, and saliva plus simulator studies will hone in on drugged driving limits for the first time.
Compiled by the Leafly News Team Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and David Downs.