The past year has been a roller coaster for all those involved in or watching the cannabis industry.
Canada fully legalized cannabis. Thailand and South Korea became the first two countries in Asia to legalize cannabis for medical use. Mexico declared their intent to legalize. Michigan became the tenth state to legalize recreational cannabis in November, making it the first state in the Midwest to implement legalization. In January, Vermont became the first U.S. state to legalize marijuana using legislature rather than through ballot initiatives. Utah voted to legalize medical marijuana in November. Missouri residents voted during the mid-terms to pass Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana and at the same time provide taxation guidelines. And on, and on.
To get an idea of how the industry is feeling towards the future moving into 2019, I reached out to seven cannabis industry executives in the U.S and Canada. The first four that I talked to told me about specific product trends we are likely to see:
“While we expect many innovations to continue with the growth of the industry in 2019, we are already seeing a steady shift from flower to concentrates. As a result, we are continuing to innovate our already groundbreaking and U.S. Patented Q-Cup line of products for vaping concentrates directly out of a quartz cup, heated from the outside, as opposed to having a metal coil come in direct contact with the substance. We believe that consumers will continue to move towards better/cleaner tasting and more efficient systems like the Q-Cup in the year to come.”
—Jeff Holman, CEO of Healthier Choices Management Co., a U.S. based publicly traded company specializing in providing consumers with healthier alternatives to everyday lifestyle choices. HCMC has developed the Q-Cup, a quartz delivery system for concentrates akin to K-Cups for coffee. A Q-Cup delivers 8-10 “hits” per cup.
“I think the cartridge trend of 2018 will continue gaining steam through 2019. The ease of use and accessibility of oil cartridges is not only shifting over experienced users but also opening up opportunities for new users to use cannabis who otherwise may not have given it a try. Overall I expect the cartridge market to grow exponentially over the next couple of years and 2019 should be even more significant than 2018.”
—Pantellis Ataliotis, President of Dr. Dabber, a vaporizer company that created the revolutionary SWITCH induction vaporizer. Based in Nevada, Dr. Dabber is focused on developing innovative, technologically advanced products.
“These are what I believe will be some of the biggest industry product trends in 2019:
- 1.Innovation. With the number of individuals and companies looking for opportunities in the cannabis industry, many new products will be released aiming at improving the ease of use and overall user experience. Expect to see new smoking accessories, vaping devices, and edibles hit the market.
- Product safety and quality. These will become paramount, especially in the dabbing/vaping/edibles area. New regulations and information on the waxes, oils or other ingredient being ingested by the public will force companies to improve quality and consistence of these products
- Promotion. Major increase in internet advertising expenditures are expected as new products and brands vie for share of mind.
- New distribution channels. Pharmacies/dispensaries and the emerging home delivery companies will look to expand their product lines to add key smoking accessories.”
— Steve Richardson, CEO of The Helpful Monkey, LLC, maker of Smojo, the world’s first permanent smoking screen that eliminates the need to replace traditional metal smoking screens, and reduces the hassle of cleaning and maintenance.
“With the passage of the Farm Bill legalizing hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids, CBD (and to a lesser extent CBG) products will explode – with many of these products being sold in traditional retail chains rather than marijuana dispensaries. And, as normalization occurs, we will inevitably see more and more cannabis products geared toward novice and casual users. The market share of flower and slow-acting edibles will decline as more and more people opt for vapes and fast-acting mints.”
—Charles Jones, Founder of LucidMood, makers of mood-enhancing cannabis vaporizers that allow for a functional cannabis experience.
The next three were interested in telling me about policy, data, and branding trends that will be prominent in the new year:
“The United States will pass the States Act (The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States), or similar legislation, that will federally legalize the right of states to enforce their own cannabis regulations. The final language in the regulations will ultimately determine its strength, but it should further open up banking services to the cannabis industry. If the current language in the bill is significantly strengthened, there is the low possibility we could see an explosion in investment capital from U.S. financial entities, much like we saw in the 2018 Canadian market (RTO’s, IPO’s, & M&A activity spurred on by the involvement of traditional investment banks & private placements).
Canada will legalize cannabis concentrates & edibles in 2019. On Dec 22nd, Health Canada released the draft legislation regarding the introduction of cannabis concentrates & edibles into the market place with full implementation expected no later then October 17th, 2019. Expect to see more M&A activity & investments by Canadian LP’s regarding this sector in 2019.”
— Richard Huang, CEO of Cloudious9 , a high-tech vaporizer company that’s developed the “Hydrology 9,” the first-ever vaporizer with a built-in water filtration system that allows the user to burn or vaporize their product.
“2019 is going to be the rise of multi-national cannabis brands that are consumer facing. To date, even the largest cannabis companies in the US and Canada have a localized consumer-facing presence. Large portions of the world are ramping up medical cannabis markets in 2019. Many of these markets will ultimately evolve into recreational cannabis markets. Several of the largest cannabis companies in North America and in other established in jurisdictions like Israel are chasing these new emerging markets. This chase has been going on 1-2 years now depending on the country/market. In 2019, this initial legwork will turn into significant volumes of products finally reaching consumers’ hands.
Moreover, these initial establishment of multinational brands will catch the attention of multi-national consumer packaged goods companies (CPG). CPG companies entering the fray will have a considerably larger impact than adult beverage companies investing/acquiring leading cannabis players to date.”
— Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome Grow, a Canadian cannabis conglomerate who are leaders in all areas of the cannabis space – in finance, growing technologies, regulatory affairs, business building and marketing.
“2019 will be the year of cannabis data. As more studies from around the world shed insights on the medical effects of cannabis, more physicians and patients will be able to personalize their cannabis experience based on lab results and empirical evidence. Our understanding of cannabis and its properties is fundamental for changing larger legislation and removing the stigma around this medicine.” — David Goldstein, CEO of Potbotics, a mobile app that gives medical information to patients based on peer-reviewed science to help give the most accurate information on what will help their ailments. Potbotics also launched the RYAH, the world’s first true dose-measuring vaporizer. RYAH promises a high quality vaporizing experience that enables you to accurately track how much you inhale in order to deliver consistent and predictable results.