2022 was a big year for cannabis. While it has been a difficult year for cannabis retail sales, the strides made toward cultural acceptance and legalization globally have been great. Legalization and decriminalization have proven to be invaluable in resolving more issues than creating them. Individuals who have been convicted of minor marijuana possession can now get their records erased, and medical users are able to access legal cannabis medicinals more easily than ever.
As we move through this journey of cannabis legalization, the conversation moved closer to center stage in 2022. Here are some developments that highlight just how monumental this year has been for the cannabis industry and what changes it might bring about in years to come.
Uber Can Bring You Weed! … in Canada
By teaming up with Leafly, Uber Eats is now delivering cannabis products from licensed retailers in Toronto – a world first. This milestone marks the initial time ever that a major third-party delivery platform has offered such services. The partnership aims to promote convenience and safety for cannabis consumers in Toronto by providing access to legal, home-delivered cannabis. This initiative hopes to decrease dependence on the unlawful market while simultaneously reducing impaired driving incidents.
Workers in California are Protected from Disciplinary Actions Due to Off-Duty Cannabis Use
In January 2024, the California legislature will enforce a new bill that stops employers from disciplining employees for using cannabis when off-duty. Furthermore, this same legislation safeguards workers and job applicants against discrimination due to failing drug tests that test for inactive cannabis metabolites in body fluids such as urine, blood, hair, or saliva. Connecticut, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island have similar laws already on the books.
Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together: MLB & CBD
Major League Baseball has announced a new partnership with Charlotte’s Web Holdings, one of the most respected hemp-derived CBD brands in the country. This exciting move makes them the “official CBD of MLB” and will see a brand new line of sports cannabis products featuring the MLB logo. The ambitious collaboration has been lauded by the cannabis community, as MLB is now the first professional sports league to join forces with a marijuana brand. Moreover, baseball teams are even able to sell sponsorships for CBD products that meet particular criteria set forth by Major League Baseball.
Meanwhile, in Russia
In February, seven-time All-Star center and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner was detained at a Russian airport after they found a cannabis vape cartridge in her luggage. The incident highlighted the harsh reality that many face when traveling abroad in countries with no tolerance for recreational drug use.
After having been initially handed a nine-year sentence in prison, discussions of a potential prisoner exchange had lingered on for months. But it wasn’t until early December that Griner eventually was released from the Russian jail and permitted to go back home to America through an incarceration swap with Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, aka, “The Merchant of Death.”
Legalization in Missouri and Maryland
With a staggering two-thirds of the votes, Maryland is growing its cannabis market with adult-use cannabis legalization. Experts predict that in just one year alone, this measure will bring up to $600 million into the state’s economy.
By a slim margin, Missouri granted adult-use cannabis approval by 6 percentage points. In the end, it was a victory for marijuana advocates who had been pushing for its legalization.
Maryland can anticipate dispensary retail sales to commence in either 2024 or 2025; meanwhile, Missourians should be able to purchase recreational marijuana as early as February 2023.
President Biden pardoned thousands of individuals convicted for mere possession of cannabis and declared that his administration will analyze the appropriateness of continuing to consider it a Schedule 1 drug. After the announcement, many wondered if President Biden’s actions could lead to a reduction in taxes for cannabis businesses and scientific research. Could this be the start of the federal legalization of cannabis? We’ll see.
President Biden also made history when he signed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act into law, becoming the first U.S. president to pass a standalone federal cannabis reform bill. The law will give the U.S. attorney general a period of sixty days to either approve an application or request further information from any marijuana research applicant. Additionally, it provides researchers with a more efficient procedure for making requests for large amounts of cannabis for use in studies.
Looking to 2023
Despite the setbacks and tribulations that the cannabis industry endured in 2022, it will not be disappearing any time soon. From potential recessions to falling prices to oversupply issues, there are still plenty of storms brewing on the horizon; however, despite these obstacles, this resolute business continues to prove its resilience.
Here are a few cannabis-related stories that may, or may not, develop in 2023:
In 2022, optimism that the SAFE Banking Act would pass was higher than ever before. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer even made a “last ditch effort” to include cannabis banking reform in the omnibus appropriations legislation during its final session.
Regrettably, numerous Republicans in Congress remain staunchly hostile to cannabis banking reform. Schumer’s chances of success this year appear slim; however, the subject will still be discussed during 2023.
Changing Consumer Preferences
Flower reigns supreme in the legal cannabis market. Although, its share of sales has seen a slight decline since 2019 as concentrates, edibles, and vapor pens become more popular with consumers. This trend is projected to continue into 2023.
Legalization Vote in Oklahoma
The Sooner State will vote on adult-use legalization in a special election in March. If passed, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would be formed to oversee cannabis retail, as well as to offer people the opportunity to apply to have their existing cannabis-related convictions erased or modified.
The Last Toke of 2022
At Frost Exotic Cannabis, we are looking confidently towards the future, both for our own business and the cannabis industry in general. We wish you a happy new year and a wonderful 2023!