As a relatively new legal market in the United States, the cannabis industry has been growing rapidly in a short time. What began as a largely underground industry is now widely accepted. More than 40% of U.S. adults now live in an area that legalizes cannabis use. With 88% of U.S. adults saying cannabis should be legal for medical or recreational use, there are endless opportunities for the cannabis industry to expand and grow.
About a decade ago, around 80% of all cannabis product sales were from flower sales. Today, less than 50% of cannabis sales are flower products. This change indicates there are more options for cannabis users today, with room for more to come. As the industry grows, here are some trends to look out for in the next year and beyond.
Broader legalization is the most impactful 2023 trend in the cannabis industry. Currently, cannabis is legal in 38 states medically and 21 recreationally, and 11 states have initiatives up to vote to legalize recreational use. This explosion of legalization bodes well for the industry and opens up new avenues for products. Plus, the recent Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Act that President Biden signed into law in December 2022 helps expand production for research, paving the way for potentially more cannabis uses.
Growing legalization means cannabis retailers can market more broadly. Current cannabinoid marketing trends focus on cannabinoid benefits and speaking to social issues that matter to consumers.
When it comes to highlighting benefits, the goal is to go beyond pure recreation or specific medical use. Marketers are looking to showcase how cannabis can be used to calm mild anxiety, decrease pain and discomfort, and overall benefit wellness.
Regarding social issues, cannabinoid retailers are responding to trends showing consumers care more about what a company stands for in terms of societal issues. Almost 50% of consumers today say that brand is important to them, practically superseding product offerings.
Along with paying attention to societal issues is a trend in “greening” cannabis packaging. What was once an industry dominated by single-use plastic containers is shifting to use more sustainable materials like glass, paper, and metal. There is also a move to employ reusable or compostable containers, and some retailers have programs to recycle containers in-house.
THC and CBD are the dominant cannabinoids of the day, but there are new types on the horizon. These include CBN, CBG, and Delta-8. Cannabinol (CBN) is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid, while CBG (cannabigerol) has no psychoactive effects but is being researched for its potential to help with sleeplessness, pain, and low energy. Delta-8 has a unique blend of CBD and THC effects, with a mild psychoactive feeling that helps bring calm, relaxation, and pain relief.
The first are terpenes, naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant. Terpenes are what produce a plant’s aroma. Essential oils are created using terpenes from plants like lavender and eucalyptus, and cannabis terpenes are made the same way. They are the essence of the cannabis plants dispersed via aroma, bringing the same effects as CBD or THC that is ingested.
Pre rolls are another cannabis product that is rising in popularity. Pre rolled cones are premade joints using the same wood, hemp, or other pulp paper, making them “smoke ready” straight out of the package. Their popularity is tied to their convenience and relatively low cost. Infused pre rolls are particularly popular as they pack an extra punch with infused THC like kief or hash rosin.
A final new frontier in cannabis products is beverages. Cannabis-infused beverages are becoming popular as they’re a more widely socially acceptable way to ingest cannabis. Plus, many find they feel the “high” that alcohol gives, but there is no hangover effect with cannabis beverages.
These are just a few of the most common cannabis industry trends leading the market today. What trends do you plan to try? What do you think will stay, and what do you see in store for next year? With such a dynamic industry, who knows what we’ll see next?