Despite headwinds and murky pronouncements from the White House, the forward movement of investment and technology in the the cannabis sector is unabated. Insights to the coming year and further evidence of forward movement are seen in these observations from industry experts. A fascinating range of topics is covered, from branding and precision dosing to topics like Canada, California, microbreweries and yes, blockchain.
Sasha Aksenov, CEO of The Blinc Group:
2017 saw the cannabis industry pushing further into the frontiers of science. Medical cannabis product manufacturers are coming up with an increasing number of products and delivery methods targeted at patients with very specific indications.
“We’ve also seen a spike in luxury cannabis brands that are commanding higher prices, as well as the growth of software and data companies that streamline industry operations and help stakeholders address inherent challenges.”
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, so should product quality and consistency. 2018 will also bring increased adoption of blockchain technology that could add much needed transparency, legitimacy and security to the cannabis market, especially in terms the fields of payments and supply chain management.
Bob Fireman, CEO at MariMed Advisors:
The stigma of cannabis continues to fade thanks to education efforts at the state and local levels, a willingness of high profile figures and medical professionals to discuss cannabis’ health benefits backed by international clinical trials, as well as balanced news coverage of the industry. We believe this is a significant factor in increasing the number of medical cannabis patients, even in states that have been legal for years.
From a business standpoint, new levels of standards and professionalism in the industry are helping cannabis transition from its illicit past to legitimate, pure, organic and precision-dosed products with adult labeling and child proof packaging approaching pharmaceutical industry levels.
As we move into 2018, MariMed will focus on meeting patient demand for consistent product experience by further expanding distribution of its precision dosed branded products into multiple states, assisting applicants in applying for cannabis licenses in legal states, and providing ongoing managed services for five new cannabis facilities in Maryland and Massachusetts.
Leslie Bocskor, President at Electrum Partners:
From my perspective, 2017 was all about Nevada and the fruition of our legalization efforts. The legal cannabis industry has achieved revenue levels few expected, with tax dollars flowing into the state’s coffers. Further, the selection of Nevada’s own GB Sciences to manage the medical cannabis operation at Louisiana State University has the potential to significantly advance cannabis research for the betterment of the entire industry.
Other notable events in 2017:
•Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introducing Marijuana Effective Drug Study (MEDS) Act of 2017.
•Proposition 300 in Colorado. A critically important step towards a working model for regulating public consumption within state-licensed establishments.
•The Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Science ETF, the first ever Cannabis ETF launched on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
•Threats about shutting down the industry by Jeff Sessions that never materialized.
“The story for 2018 will be California. Expect delays and hiccups for several months after launch in Cali. However, after they get things worked out, the revenues will grow and mission-critical tax dollars will quickly accumulate to the delight of all stakeholders. On a related note, the regulatory environment in California is going to be difficult to understand and even more difficult to enforce.”
Also, banking remains a top priority for everyone concerned and our expectation is that we will see innovation in this space and positive movement during 2018.
Jim Pakulis, President of Lifestyle Delivery Systems:
We’ve seen a fairly significant increase in the amount of capital being deployed into the cannabis industry, as well as new cannbis-centric funds having been formed. This trend will most likely continue as will an increase in the number of publicly traded entities entering the cannabis market. In 2018, the US will take a chapter out of the Canadian playbook, and we’ll see an increase in the number of US cannabis entities surpass the billion dollar valuation mark. And in 2018 those entities may be operating in California.
“For the first time in history California will permit Adult-Use cannabis to be consumed, conditional on being at least 21 years old. From a population standpoint, California is larger than the seven western cannabis states combined, even larger than Canada. We’ll see tremendous revenue generated in California in 2018 from the 39 million residents and the 251 million visitors per year.”
Lifestyle Delivery Systems recently completed its 20,000 sq. ft. automated facility that includes eight isogenic rooms, agricultural nursery, cultivation, extraction and distillation as well as manufacturing capability for its flagship CannaStrips™. For companies like Lifestyle Delivery Systems, the key to success in 2018 is having permits and licenses in place, being well capitalized, being able to obtain containment free biomass, and having your distribution in place.
Chuck Siegel, CEO of BloomBoss:
We expect to see the home grow market more than double in 2018, in the wake of new legalization measures and a shifting focus to craft quality cannabis. If we model the home grow market after home brewing, which represents ~12% of beer production, we can expect home grown cannabis to represent nearly $3 billion of the market by 2021 – and this is likely a conservative estimate, given the financial advantages of growing your own.
With the average dispensary price of an ounce of cannabis flower approaching $400 (and rising, as more and more dispensaries open in newly legalized areas and face little pricing competition), it’s easy for consumers to do the math and see the immediate payback horizon of growing their own supply. This kind of ROI is impossible to ignore, and will encourage more and more users take cannabis production into, quite literally, their own hands.
Bethany Gomez, Director of Research for Brightfield Group:
In 2017, we saw further maturation of the cannabis market and some important trends.
•Say Goodbye to the Wild West – Long unregulated or legally gray medical markets, including California, Michigan and Montana, are finally becoming regulated. The “Wild West” that characterized the cannabis industry in the past is quickly disappearing and a more transparent, accountable and regulated industry is emerging across the board.
•Flower, Pot Brownies and Hash are in decline – Consumer and brand sophistication pushes forward, with the products initially adopted in early legal markets dropping in popularity. While initially popular in legal markets, Baked Goods are declining rapidly as dispensaries look for products with a longer shelf life and consumers look for more discreet and easily microdosed options which leads to …
•Rise of Microdosing – 2017 was the year where microdosed products emerged right and left, targeting newbies and more sophisticated consumers who want to use cannabis on a regular basis and still be able to function throughout their day. With recreational opening in California and recreational markets taking off in Nevada this trend is expected to explode in 2018.
•2018 will be the year of CBD.
Travis Tharp, COO of CanCore of Keef Brands :
“One of our goals this year has been to consolidate onto systems that can handle scale. We have recently consolidated our CRM and ordering systems onto LeafLink. They have been extremely responsive to development request and feature additions. They have been a great early partner for us as we build to serve our manufacturing partners across different geographies.”
I also asked a few experts about their favorite tech device relevant to cannabis:
“One of my favorite cannabis technological innovations is Manna Molecular Science’s 3D printer. Their application of 3D printing technology to accurate cannabis dosing is a game changer for ensuring cannabis consumers have a consistent consumption experience.” – Krista Whitley, CEO of Altitude Products, a conglomerate of cannabis companies
“Resolve Digital Health is taking a personalized approach to medical cannabis care with the world’s first smart inhaler, the Resolve ONE. The device uses pre-filled pods, curated specifically for a patient’s condition. Using machine learning, the Resolve ONE will gain insights from each individual patient and fine-tune the appropriate dose needed to provide desired relief. All data collected through the device can be shared with the patient’s doctor, creating a patient driven, collaborative health care model.” – Frank Lane, President of CFN Media Group, the leading creative agency and media network dedicated to legal cannabis
“As a frequent traveler and vape enthusiast, it’s great to have the full vapor experience while on the go. I love the DaVinci IQ for its discretion, both in terms of visual appearance and odor, and its highly-customizable temperature settings.” – Evan Nison, Founder and Owner of NisonCo, a cannabis industry media relations firm