Cannabis Trends 2023: 10 Professional Predictions
If there is one thing that can be said with certainty about the cannabis industry, it is that it never gets boring. In 2023, this trend will continue as this relatively fledgling industry moves forward in the face of a possible recession, continued oversupply and price erosion while focusing on what consumers actually want and need.
Below, we asked dozens of industry experts what they think will be the big trends and developments in cannabis this year. Here are some of the most common themes.
Price compression and oversupply will continue
The past year has been challenging for much of the industry. The impressive growth seen in 2020 and 2021 did not continue in the same way in 2022. Markets became increasingly saturated, capital became harder to come by and oversupply put prices under pressure. These trends are expected to continue this year.
“As we experience oversupply, we have to make tough business decisions,” said Lilach Mazor Power, executive chair of the Arizona Dispensaries Association. “How do we get more customers to try cannabis? How do we differentiate ourselves and how do we remain profitable? How do we compete with the illegal market?”
“It’s the end of an era,” said Kenny Morrison, founder of CQ. “In many cases, price pressures in the regulated market are now outstripping the low prices in the illicit market, making it difficult for brands or retailers to do well – regulated or not. I think a lot of trade organizations and people still want to blame the illicit market, but now that the risk premium associated with gray areas or illicit activity has been removed, it’s a race to the bottom.”
Consolidation will continue, but at a slower pace
Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) have been a hot topic in the cannabis space, with large, multi-million dollar deals being the norm. In some markets, mergers and acquisitions have been a driving growth strategy for cannabis companies. Still, many believe this will not continue as capital is hard to come by.
Masha Ty, who works in business growth and education at ACS Laboratory said: “Consolidation can bode well as it means the industry is maturing and many of the surviving brands are producing high quality, lab tested products. However, the process also eliminates some well-intentioned craft brands that unfortunately cannot keep up as flower prices fall and regulations become more complex.”
Local cannabis use will continue to evolve in 2023
This year will see new ways to shop for and consume cannabis, with unique and immersive post-pandemic experiences taking the lead.
- Consumption lounges: “Lounges are going to change the game,” said Mason Palmer, co-founder of Smoke Honest. “Through thoughtful design, art and experiential spaces, cannabis lounges will encourage safe, thoughtful consumption and give thanks to the plant. You’re starting to see this in LA/NYC with places like The Woods (Woody Harrelson’s store and lounge) which includes a koi pond, scenic lighting and mood furniture.
- Events: “When we went to leisure, [California] did not incorporate points of sale for the consumption of cannabis. But over the past year, we’ve seen many informal pop-ups and smoking sessions at various locations around the city of LA that provide a social and cultural outlet for weed smokers. In 2023, events and happenings are going to be huge here in California,” said Dan Wilson, Editor at Visit Hollyweed.
- Retail trade: “Head shops need to reinvent their customer experience,” advised Palmer. “Consumers will now be able to test and then buy products in lounges [them]. Mature markets like California, Colorado and Oregon demand a better experience and are willing to pay for it.”
Consumer sophistication will drive product differentiation and branding
“As the cannabis markets mature, cannabis brands need to diversify their product lines to differentiate themselves from the competition,” said Ami Ikemoto, executive vice president of 22Red. “As more and more niche products hit the market, the consumer learns the science and the benefits and becomes more educated, pushing brands to continue offering new and exciting products.”
And as the stigma of cannabis diminishes every day, there has been a surge in unique products and more brands touting potential benefits. “We must constantly innovate, educate our customers and build our community. People want brands that reflect their personal values, to feel like they support the growth of companies that do more than just sell products,” said Lisa Harun, Grenco Science’s chief marketing officer.
More cannabinoids and plant compounds will come onto the market
The two big cannabinoids—THC and CBD—are not going anywhere. And while cannabinoids like CBN and CBG aren’t necessarily new, they’re forecast to gain prominence this year alongside other compounds in cannabis like terpenes.
“CBD, CBN and CBG products will become popular items for a diverse consumer base,” predicted Mike Zens, Chief Operating Officer at High Road Edibles. “Some consumers will become increasingly familiar with the benefits of these specific cannabinoids and seek their healing properties. Others will find the novelty of Ratio products appealing – something different than strain based products.”
Other herbal ingredients such as adaptogens, nootropics and active ingredients from other plants will also receive more attention from industry and consumers alike.
“Brands won’t be able to compete on THC’s potency and price alone. They need to offer their consumers more, e.g. B. Products that produce certain effects such as sleep, concentration, pain relief and creativity. These effects can be achieved through the use of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and herbal supplements,” shared Ikemoto.
Infused pre-rolls and drinks will make a splash
Pre-rolls continued to grow in popularity throughout 2022, with 2023 predicted to be the year of the infused pre-rolls. The future success of drinks has been debated, but 2023 could be the year they gain a foothold with consumers.
- Infused Pre-Rolls: “If you want [infused pre-rolls], it’s not necessarily something you can make yourself,” said Brandon Dorsky, Chief Operating Officer of Fruit Slabs. And I think there’s going to be a market demand for it because some people just never get the skill, just like some people just never get the skill to roll a joint. Even fewer people have the skill to do a good pre-roll.”
- Cannabis Drinks: “Edibles, especially elixirs and beverages, will gain prominence this year. The Cali Sober movement is real as younger generations wake up to the realization that alcohol is toxic to humans. Once it is recognized that you can consume a substance in a social setting in the same way with little to no side effects, the shift is evident,” said Lance Lambert, chief marketing officer at Grove Bags.
Not much will happen at the federal level, but state legalization will continue
There is a lot going on at the federal level in 2023. With no movement expected at the federal level, states will continue to create their own markets for medical and adult uses.
“Little will happen in 2023 with the shift in majority parties in the House and Senate,” said Jacquie Cohen Roth, MS, Founder and CEO of CannabizMD. “Federal legislation will not be a priority, but there is a priority for the executive branch following Biden’s October 2022 announcement in which he asked the Department of Health and Human Services to review the current Schedule 1 status of cannabis.
As for the states, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Ohio and Hawaii are among the most debated for possible legalization of adult use in 2023.
Consumers will want clean, safe and sustainable weed more than ever
Demand for clean, safe, and sustainable cannabis is predicted to increase this year as consumers continue to educate themselves about cultivation, extraction, and production methods.
“In many ways, we’ve seen the vertical for cannabis edibles follow broader food trends, and just as Americans have come to love their all-natural or organic products at the grocery store, cannabis consumers will be looking for products made with solvent-free extracts and concentrates – even beyond edibles and into other products like vapes. These products are getting more expensive, but there’s definitely a demand for them,” Zens said.
“The issue of ‘clean cannabis’ will be a major focus for both cannabis users and growers in 2023,” said Mark Clemons, general manager of VJ Scientific. “There is a growing concern about all types of contaminants that may be present in our cannabis. As the industry matures and regulations evolve to ensure safe products for all, we anticipate more consistent and stringent limits on testing requirements. “
There will be movement regarding unregulated hemp products and worker protections
Hemp regulations and worker protections will increase this year as both movements gain media prominence.
- Hemp Regulations: “Intoxicating, unregulated, untrustworthy hemp products are being distributed through unlicensed retailers,” said Adam Goers, Columbia Care’s senior vice president of corporate affairs Age gives up limitations [the products]. This problem has certainly come up like never before in the last 12 – 18 months. One prediction for 2023 is that we will see increasing legislation, regulation and enforcement across the country.”
- Employee protection: “Worker health and safety issues will plague the headlines – without victims having any real recourse outside of costly litigation. Hopefully this will encourage cannabis business owners to invest the necessary resources to protect the people who show up every day to keep their businesses afloat. Expect increased efforts from organized labor to better protect workers,” said Lezli Engelking, founder of the Foundation for Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS).
Scientific research will make great strides
The science of cannabis is constantly evolving, and exciting feats lie ahead as cannabis research receives increased funding across the board.
“In November 2022, the U.S. Senate voted yes to the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, the first-ever marijuana-specific legislation in decades,” Ty exponentially said, focusing on areas like cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and pain management. “
Roth of CannabizMD agreed, saying, “The bill focuses on provisions that will streamline the application process for researchers and will also make it much easier for researchers to access larger quantities of cannabis. This will have a significant impact on how the majority of our healthcare providers view cannabis with stigma and little to no scientific understanding. We will see an increase in testing of cannabis delivery methods and devices, which will provide much-needed research data.”