The cannabis industry is slowly-but-surely working its way from back rooms with entries off of dark alleys to prime retail spaces on main streets across the country. 2016 saw cannabis culture take some major strides into the mainstream, including the legalization of recreational marijuana in California.
So as we take our first tentative steps into 2017, we have to ask ourselves, “What’s next for marijuana in the United States?” Will the tide continue to turn in marijuana’s favor? Or, will the whole house of cards fall apart completely?
To answer those questions, here are some cannabis predictions for 2017.
1. The Legalization Dominoes Will Continue To Fall
In 2016, Massachusetts legalized adult (recreational) marijuana use. Soon, we’ll come to see that as the lynchpin that started the spread of legalization up and down the east coast. The next states most likely to fall will be Vermont and Rhode Island.
Both states border Massachusetts, which means that Vermonters and Rhode Islanders can simply step across and into the Bay State to partake in legal marijuana. And it’s not like it is out West where you have to drive hundreds of miles to get to the next state. Even the furthest Rhode Islander can get to Massachusetts in under an hour.
The legislatures of both New England states will no doubt see writing on the wall. They won’t want to miss out on all of the tax dollars that their own residents will be handing to Massachusetts businesses, so they’ll just make recreational use legal.
Other honorable mentions that will likely legalize cannabis consumption in one form or another in 2017 include Hawaii, Texas and Tennessee.
2. The Cannabis Industry Will Continue To Innovate
With the increased focus on cannabidiol (CBD) and its myriad of medical benefits, public interest in synthetic CBD will continue to grow. Companies like Kalytera will capitalize on this demand with synthetic CBD compounds to treat notoriously difficult disorders like osteoporosis, Prader-Willi syndrome, obesity and many more.
As the legalization of medical marijuana continues to precede recreational legalization, medical innovations will increase. PotBotics, for example, is developing an EEG brain scanning technology aimed at the physician/marijuana relationship. Their technology would allow doctors to recommend specific strains of medical marijuana based on the results of a PotBotics EEG scan. This could have huge implications for patients across the country.
In addition, cultivation technology will continue to advance by leaps and bounds, and sustainability will be the major focus of this movement. Innovations in cultivation technology will improve growing conditions across the board, which will make for a better end product.
Heliospectra, a Swedish lighting company, recently introduced the E60 which, according to the manufacturer, is the most powerful, most efficient grow lamp in its lineup. Another company, Hawthorne Gardening Company (founded by Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn) manufactures holistic gardening supplies, liquid nutrients and other soil-enriching products made specifically for indoor growing operations.
Last, but certainly not least, end-user, consumer-level cannabis products will continue to advance and evolve.
Many companies are already taking steps to introduce novel products to the market. I believe that my company, Honest Marijuana in Oak Creek, Colorado is a prime example. We’ve recently released Honest Blunts—the world’s first tobacco-free, organic-hemp-wrapped, whole-flower, machine-rolled blunts. Additionally, we are working on Honest Strips. These paper-thin, cannabis-infused squares—think Listerine Strips with a psychoactive kick—could quickly become one of the more popular methods of THC or CBD distribution. They feature all of the marijuana effects we’ve come to know and love, without the tell-tale smoke or smell.
3. New Investment Opportunities Will Develop
Now that California has legalized recreational marijuana use, San Francisco is poised to become the cannabis capital of its state (if not the entire United States). The culture is already there, the cannabis is already there (being just 163 short miles from the Emerald Triangle), the labor is already there, the money is already there (in the form of forward-thinking entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley) and the infrastructure is already there. That makes San Francisco-based marijuana opportunities a very serious investment opportunity.
The companies that continue to innovate for, and provide products and services to, the burgeoning cannabis industry will be excellent investment opportunities in 2017. Companies like the aforementioned Kalytera and Hawthorne Gardening Company top that list. But other top choices include GW Pharmaceuticals, Insys Therapeutics, Aurora Cannabis Inc. and a handful of others.
4. The Politics Of Trump Could Slow Progress
Donald Trump hasn’t even taken office yet and already marijuana proponents are worried about the future of the industry. Trump’s appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general could have a major impact on the spreading legalization effort. Sessions is an outspoken opponent of cannabis reform and could encourage prosecution in states where marijuana is legal.
Session’s appointment could actually have much broader implications for research into legitimate medical use of marijuana. One example is Connecticut’s investigation into using marijuana as both a treatment for opioid addiction and as an alternative painkiller that would take the place of the more addictive opioids. All of that could be put on hold, or shut down completely, once the Trump administration gets going. No one is quite sure which way the hammer will fall with this one. We’ll just have to wait and see.
5. Regardless Of Politics, The Marijuana Industry Will Continue To Grow
If one thing can be said about marijuana, the cannabis culture and the industry that surrounds them, it’s that they know how to operate under the radar. Marijuana has been illegal for so long that proponents and practitioners are experts at getting things done in back rooms and basements. Yes, the industry has enjoyed a bit of sun these past few years. However, should politics suddenly change course, one of the surest bets will be that marijuana will be just fine and continue to grow.
Sure you may have to find the door off the dark alley again, but was that really so bad in the first place? The industry did it once, it can do it again.
Serge Chistov is the financial partner for Honest Marijuana Company, which utilizes all-natural cultivation methods to produce only the finest organic and eco-conscious cannabis products and preserves the marijuana in its purest form via earth-friendly, reusable tin cans that are brand new to the pot industry. The company is set to launch the first-of its-kind Honest Blunt hemp leaf cannabis cigar this year. https://honestmarijuana.com/
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