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In the cannabis sphere, 2022 saw Maryland and Missouri added to the growing list of states legal for adult use – making 21 states and the District of Columbia legal in some form.
More attention was also directed by the states to expunging criminal records for minor cannabis offenses. President Biden ordered this action at the federal level and called on Health and Human Services to consider lifting cannabis’s Schedule I status, as well.
Still, in the bad news category, cannabis took a beating in the stock market and operators’ bottom lines were often severely impacted.
But that was then. What’s ahead for 2023? A number of CEOs and other cannabis experts offered to weigh in. Here are those prognostications:
Prediction: Cannabis prices will plummet, says Jesce Horton, CEO at LOWD:
“I predict a severe suppression of wholesale cannabis prices, as state markets become more competitive. This will require cultivators to do three things: Invest in brand development, grow higher-quality cannabis consistently and operate more efficiently.”
Prediction: More attention will be paid to self-care and holistic wellness, as a positive outgrowth of the pandemic, says Tamara Anderson, founder of Culinary & Cannabis
“I predict industry creatives will find more ways to uniquely and effectively micro-dose the variety of ways in which you consume these plants, while event producers like myself will follow and create experiences where you will learn and experience them.”
Prediction: 2023 will be “the year of brand loyalty,” says Susie Plascencia, brand hero at Humo.
“The California cannabis market is currently flooded with brands, but unfortunately only a fraction of them are expected to remain in business long-term. As marketing budgets continue to shrink, due to industry fluctuations, it will become critical for brands to find cost-effective ways to build the trust necessary to both attract new consumers and convert them into loyal fans. Gone will be the days of gaining and retaining a customer base with potent flower and a nice logo. We’ve now entered an era where leveraging compelling storytelling and community-centric experiences …will be the most powerful way for fleeting consumers and retailers to remember what brand they purchase from and why.”
Prediction: Risk assessment and the long-range picture will be important in 2023, says JM Balbuena, author of The Successful Cann-preneur.
“As exciting as the cannabis industry has become, given the major strides that have been made in recent years with legalization and greater access, the hardships and challenges are still fundamental factors to consider within the business environment. In 2023, it remains paramount for businesses to prioritize and constantly assess their risk strategies while being mindful that cannabis remains a long-term investment.”
Prediction: Internationally speaking, cannabis legalization in Germany will be a big, big deal, says Niklas Kouparanis, CEO and Co-founder of Bloomwell Group.
“Germany is making historic progress as the country moves forward with legalizing cannabis for adult use …once it is executed, we have high expectations that Germany will serve as the cornerstone example for successful adult-use cannabis legalization both in the EU and across the world. With more than 84.3 million inhabitants, all eyes — including entrepreneurs and investors — will be on the German cannabis market, which I believe holds great market potential.”
Prediction: Psychedelics will be big this year, says Shelby Hartman, co-founder and CEO of DoubleBlind.
“We may finally see FDA approval of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Oregon is going to start granting licenses to centers facilitating supported psilocybin sessions. The governor of Colorado is going to appoint an advisory board to figure out what supported psilocybin sessions will look like in the state. The California legislature may vote to decriminalize certain psychedelics. We anticipate more ketamine clinics will open across the country, and more cities will decriminalize psychedelics. We may even see some federal reform.”
Prediction: Retail shops more and more will cater to diverse customer categories, says Arshad Lasi, CEO of The Nirvana Group.
“Cannabis retail stores will continue to become more sophisticated and evolve to cater to various demographics, lifestyles and consumer needs. As a result, distinct and smart branding will become more important for cannabis companies than ever before, as retail stores will carry and showcase different brands based on the consumer audience that they are targeting.”
Prediction: Cannabis investors this year will be skittish about younger companies, says Kim Rael, Co-founder and CEO of Azuca.
“Investors in the cannabis industry will continue to be very conservative in the coming year, which will result in cash-starving early and growth-stage companies that need external capital for expansion. Established, profitable brands will continue to gain market share, and the overall number of brands and players in mature markets will plateau and likely shrink by 20 percent to 30 percent.”