Only two keys words are needed to describe marijuana industry trends for 2019. They are: constant evolution. As we continue into 2019, the industry keeps reinventing itself — as more and more states legalize marijuana the platform changes — from regulations to consumption methods to finance. Let’s explore some of the trends that stand out the most.
1. Money, honey
Banking: One of the biggest topics in the cannabis industry continues to be about money, and what to do with all the cash many businesses have in their possession. Access to banking services continues to elude the industry for the most part, and finding a solution to this problem is still being discussed. Those businesses that have a relationship with a bank typically pay exorbitant fees for the privilege, and even with banking, actually getting the money to the bank is its own headache. Unfortunately, even with the solutions in place, states are waiting for the federal government to either legalize it or acknowledge in writing that they’ll turn a blind eye to the whole thing.
Investments: As marijuana becomes more palatable socially, it becomes an attractive investment. One of the trends this year is the abundance of investments from non-cannabis corporate players and individuals. Large companies are investing in the industry through distribution deals, branding, and by financially supporting producers. Individuals are contributing to the boom through investment in the Canadian and American stock markets. Cannabis stock has seen thunderous growth throughout 2018 and into 2019, and businesses on the fringe of the industry (think fertilizer companies, nursery equipment, tools, etc.) are benefiting too.
Sales: The trend in sales is high and continues to grow. As states continue to legalize marijuana and the market expands globally, it’s estimated that the recreational cannabis market is anticipated to reach a whopping $31 billion by 2021. Not only that, but according to a 2018 Brightfield Group report, the CBD market alone is expected to top $22 billion by 2022. Not too shabby.
2. More than smoke
It’s delicious: Another trend in the marijuana industry is the method of consumption. Now folks can choose between smoking, eating or drinking their cannabis. Vape pens are a popular item, and technology related to vaping changes at a rapid pace. There’s also a proliferation of edibles like gummies, chocolates, and tinctures. Recent trends also include the popularity of beverages infused with THC and/or CBD, and large corporations like Anheuser Busch and Coca Cola are looking into infused products.
Healthy not high: Experts predict that 2019 is going to be notable for the explosion of the CBD market. This is attributed to the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, which legalized hemp farming nationally. Blend hemp’s legal status and profitability with reputed health benefits, and the sky’s the limit on growth.
Terps: It’s not always CBD or THC that gets all the love. Terpenes are a huge focal point and an emerging industry trend. If you love the taste of some strains and seek out certain scent or flavor profiles, you’re appreciating the terpenes — the organic compounds that give Grape Ape it’s noticeable grape aroma, or Strawberry Cough its signature flavor.
3. Brand marketing
Savvy consumers: As the industry matures, the consumer demographic is shifting dramatically. The average cannabis consumer is middle-aged. Companies are adjusting, marketing toward a sophisticated, discerning customer that wants a lot of product options. Because the marijuana industry isn’t a one-size-fits-all commodity, there’s a growing demand for products with variety — from application method, to potency, to price. As more women and seniors consume cannabis in a variety of forms, the market trends are moving to include additional items, including wellness-enhancing products. An increase in social media influencers also emphasizes the need for smart, effective cannabis branding.
4. Eastward expansion
One of the biggest trends of the year, and one that will continue, is the geographic footprint of marijuana. Every time a state legalizes cannabis, a new state industry is born. Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana in 2018, and within months the state had more than 3000 new industry-related business.
New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois and Minnesota are pinned as the most likely states to legalize in 2019, and many more are considering legalizing medical marijuana. When New York legalizes recreational cannabis it will be the single largest market of its kind in the country, and its success should spur an additional flurry of states clamoring to get it on the ballot.