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Goodbye 2022: Looking Back at the Year and 2023 Cannabis Predictions

Keegan Williams

By Keegan Williams

December 21, 2022

Cannabis Modern Banner Background, Medical Marijuana Plant with Purple Bud. Colorful and Aesthetic Medicinal Cannabis Hemp. Marijuana Long Banner with Space for Text.

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If you’re finding yourself a bit stunned that 2023 is already around the corner, you’re surely not alone. The year flew by, and it was surely eventful on its own, especially looking at the progress and changes in the cannabis market. As we enjoy the cozy comforts of the holidays, family and hopefully a bit of well-earned time off before we trudge ahead into 2023, take a look back at the year in cannabis with High There and 2023 cannabis predictions from

.

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The U.S. Legal Market Continues to Expand, With a Few Snags

Recreational cannabis was on the ballot in five states this year: Maryland, Missouri, Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota. Voters in two of the five states (Maryland and Missouri) ultimately decided to approve their respective proposals. 

While these two states press forward and lawmakers begin tackling the many regulatory hoops ahead of them, a number of states also kicked off recreational sales this year, including Montana at the start of 2022, followed by Vermont in March and New Jersey and New Mexico in April. Rhode Island just made the cut, beginning cannabis sales in the state at the start of December. Connecticut is also set to

in January 2023.

The Virginia State General Assembly enacted recreational cannabis legalization through a bill in 2021, with the intent for the market to go live at the start of 2024, though a September 2022 Axios report suggested that the state may struggle to meet that deadline.

Similarly, New York legalized cannabis for adult recreational use in March 2021. Some have cited the departure of former Governor Andrew Cuomo, following sexual misconduct allegations, and the introduction of Governor Kathy Hochul as one reason for the initial delays, though Hochul was quick to assert her intention to get the ball rolling once she took office. While the state

last month, it’s still unclear exactly when sales are set to begin in the state.

Plant shadow and marijuana leaves branch background. Nature cannabis branch, dark shadow and light from sunlight dappled on a pastel pink background.
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These delays, in turn, have led to “grey markets” in both states, causing concern for public health. Earlier this month, a study

that approximately 40 percent of illicit cannabis products purchased from unlicensed New York City retails were found to contain potentially dangerous contaminants including bacteria and heavy metals, according to a report from a trio of regulated cannabis industry trade groups.

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A Year of ‘Highs’ and Lows

Cannabis was in the news… a lot this year. And there were surely some wins.

President Joe Biden

after announcing he would issue pardons to all federal offenses for simple cannabis possession, additionally suggesting state lawmakers do the same in their jurisdictions and prompting a re-evaluation of cannabis’ Schedule I status. 

Cannabis also increasingly became an issue with bipartisan support, with Democrats and Republicans alike showing their support for cannabis reform. This can be seen in Missouri, generally known as a red state, which still voted to approve legal adult-use cannabis. Polling in non-legal states throughout the year has also shown support for cannabis policy reform, regardless of part affiliation.

While we’re happy to report that cannabis became even more accessible for a number of Americans throughout 2022, the industry itself is not immune to the pitfalls of the modern world.

While cannabis is often touted as “recession-proof,” between supply chain issues and the overall effects of inflation on both consumers and professionals, it’s clear that’s not truly the case.

It’s true that states like

saw its lowest cannabis prices yet in 2022, but cannabis consumers overall have had to adjust to increasing prices to combat inflation costs. However, it appears that the cannabis community is fairly resilient in adapting to these changes, according to the results of Jushi Holding Inc.’s second-annual “.”

Though 63 percent of respondents said that inflation was “painful or very painful,” the poll found that the vast majority of cannabis consumers are consuming more, or about the same amount, of cannabis they were a year ago. Jushi CEO, Chairman and Founder Jim Cacioppo

this shows the “very resilient” demand for cannabis, even with the mounting pressures of inflation and the rise in cost-saving behaviors.

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While consumers paid more attention to strains and branding in 2021, the poll found that consumers were more concerned with price and THC level, once again likely nodding to consumers’ cost-effective shopping measures.

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What are the 2023 cannabis predictions?

On the industry side, most cannabis leaders seem to be optimistic about the future, even though they also recognized the current state of the U.S. economy and concerns surrounding inflation. A new

, “State of the Cannabis Economy: An Inside Look” asked business leaders to forecast their sales, spending and hiring over the next 12 months, along with their views on the national and cannabis economies. 

Across the board, the majority of cannabis leaders expected their sales, spending and hiring to all increase over the next year, much more optimistic when compared to responses from leaders of more “traditional” industries. 

Even though cannabis leaders were hopeful about the future, they shared similar economic concerns with mainstream business leaders, with inflation, labor and an uncertain economy as shared concerns for leaders across all sectors. 

Predictions from Industry Innovators

Of course, no one knows for certain what cannabis consumers and professionals can expect in 2023, but that hasn’t stopped those in the industry from trying. 

Using her more than 13 years of experience in the industry, this is the fifth year Akerna Corp CEO Jessica Billingsley has made 2023 cannabis predictions for the industry. According to her, she’s gotten between 80-90 percent of her predictions correct each year.

Among her top 10 predictions, which she

, Billingsley said that the competitive pressure will continue, making differentiation essential for retailers and brands. Citing the increasingly saturated market, and the lack of many national brands, Billingsley said that there is an “urgency” behind quickly differentiating cannabis brands, especially as the recession impacts consumer purchasing habits.

With almost two years before another election, Billingsley also expects more partnerships next year, a trend that gained momentum this year. Remember the headline-grabbing news that Green Thumb Industries plans to partner with a number of

across Florida for medical patient product pickup locations?

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And if you think the political landscape is focusing heavily on cannabis today, Billingsley predicts this trend to persist, namely those in the GOP shifting their focus toward federally legal cannabis. Additionally, she predicts that the American South will establish cannabis as a major driving economic force and that Latin America will also lead the pack among emerging, global cannabis markets.

Looking toward consumers, Christine De La Rosa, CEO and co-founder at The People’s Ecosystem, told

: “a prominent cannabis trend we’ll see is consumers more interested in how cannabis products, outside of flower, are made and produced.” 

Stone Road Founder and CEO

shared his 2023 cannabis predictions. He believes the new year will be “pivotal” for cannabis, not only with the expected passing of the SAFE Banking Act but the potential federal rescheduling of cannabis. 

“This influx of fresh capital will allow brands that have proven themselves in their home market to expand out into new states,” Corwin told Ganjapreneur. “We will continue to see a wave of M&A activity as companies prepare for the eventual entry of the alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industries.”

When it comes to cannabis research, there is much hope with President Biden

the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act in early December. Researchers everywhere are predicting that this move will make it much easier for researchers to obtain cannabis for medical research purposes. This sentiment was reflected in the progressive shift that Dr. Oludare Osumosu, CEO of Zelira Therapeutics, predicts for cannabis research developments in 2023.

“In 2023 and the years to follow, one of the most significant shifts in the cannabis industry, both in the US and around the world, will be a major influx in investment in the pharma space vis a vis cannabinoid research and drug development,” Osumosu said in a statement. “Whereas the foundation of the cannabis industry – both medical and adult use – was focused on cultivation operations, dispensary, and product brand building, the momentum of Cannabis 2.0 is going to be powered by breaking one of the final barriers between cannabis and traditional medicine: pharmaceutical drug development.”

There’s also the loose ends of 2022, like New York’s pending cannabis market. While the ongoing delays in launching sales will surely impede future growth, the state is ultimately likely to become one of the U.S. cannabis industry’s main opportunities for growth in the future.

Of course, these 2023 cannabis predictions are all speculation, albeit from experts in the field based on past and present trends. What’s actually going to happen next in cannabis? 

There’s only one way to find out… Onward to 2023!

Keegan Williams

About The Author

Keegan Williams

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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