The U.S. cannabis industry has undergone a wide variety of shifts in the past few years, ranging from individual states legalizing adult-use consumption at record paces to high-profile legislators warming up to the benefits of de-scheduling the substance. Whether we’re examining changes on municipal levels or the federal government’s evolving stance on legalization, one thing is clear: things are changing, and quickly.
Leaders in the cannabis industry are closely following the near-daily changes in the nationwide cannabis industry, and have ideas of their own as to where the winds are blowing. Here’s what four industry executives have to say on what’s next in cannabis:
Access to Financial Institutions
“I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t see some clear legislative shifts coming down the road. Access to financial institutions and concrete banking solutions are on the horizon for the cannabis industry. There are far too many resources and cooperating businesses and municipalities for the legitimate cannabis industry to stay stagnant as far as money management and compliance. As the push for deschedulization gets stronger, the need for steadfast reliable compliance and management systems will be of utmost importance and very popular.”
— Mike Kramer, Co-Founder and CEO of 420 Blockchain, the first enterprise-level seed-to-sale Blockchain solution in the cannabis industry
“As we watch the developments in the news about the national conversation on cannabis federal legalization and/or de-scheduling from the controlled substances act, it looks to the casual observer as if we might really finally be at the end. That the Senate are right on the cusp of this major change in view, with Cory Gardner & Mitch McConnell making positive noises from the “right” about cannabis, states’ rights and hemp, while we now also have Chuck Schumer, a long-time drug warrior from the “left” saying it is time to de-schedule, it is critical to remember that this is an election year.
Our most trusted political sources are highly skeptical that anything happens this year at all on de-scheduling beyond the posturing, as this is seen by most political professionals as merely positioning on a positive polling issue to determine which party gets to “own” cannabis for this cycle. Our position is that even with all these positive signs of change, it is still up to the House of Representatives to be willing to make it happen even if key senators are evolving. We don’t expect any change to national policy around de-scheduling until and unless the house flips to the democrats this cycle. Even then, it won’t happen fast. Look for changes to banking rules long before you see de-scheduling. While all of this is positive news, and moving us in the right direction, people should be patient and look to 2019-2020 changes to federal cannabis laws with a democrat-controlled house. If the republicans retain control, we are still looking post-2020 for any significant changes to federal law.”
— Adam Jason Cohen, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Electrum Partners, an advisory services firm specializing in medical and recreational cannabis and ancillary businesses
Increased Focus on Full Legalization on the State Level
“I think what we will see next is more states skip the medical legalization step, and go straight to recreational based on the success its having in several states already. One thing to keep an eye on the next couple of years is public consumption laws. I know there are several cities looking at potentially doing this, and I think places like Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle and especially Las Vegas could see a move towards this in the next couple of years. Cities where tourism is strong, there will be a strong demand to have things like restaurants with infused foods, bars or lounges where people can enjoy entertainment or social aspects while consuming cannabis, etc. Unfortunately, while I see some exciting potential progress at the state or city levels, I am highly skeptical there will be any significant progress at the federal levels while the current administration is in the White House. I think a more realistic timeline is at least 5 years out because even if we get a new administration in the next election that see the merits to decriminalize, it still will take time as it’s going to need to be addressed at many levels of the government from regulation, legislation, taxation, banking, etc.”
— Jason Santos, CEO of BurnTV, a Netflix-type digital lifestyle and entertainment platform embracing the legal cannabis industry
A Growing Tide
“With former prohibitionist John Boehner joining the board of a cannabis company and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposing legislation to provide clarity around CBD, the tide towards federal legalization continues to grow. The fight for decriminalization is hardly over, but I believe many leaders agree that it isn’t an “if”, but a “when” federal legalization happens for the cannabis industry. Given how slow moving our government is, I do not anticipate federal legalization in place any sooner than five years. It is imperative that advocates, entrepreneurs, and community leaders continue to fight for common sense regulation and decriminalization of THC and CBD at the federal level.”
— Krista Whitley, CEO of Altitude Products, a conglomerate of cannabis companies including Social Media Unicorn, a canna-brand marketing & sales agency, Bella, a line of cannabis products designed by and tailored to women, and The Weekend Box, a monthly variety box of the top products in cannabis