I always tell other activists that we stand at the edge of history with the winds of change at our backs. There has truly never been a more exciting time in history for cannabis than right now. From a reform and business perspective, the future looks bright. Very bright. That's not to say that there won't be hurdles, because there will be. And that's not to say that there won't be bumps in the road, because there will be those too. But when you consider the potential for the upcoming decades for the spread of legalization and the growth of the legal industry, it should give you goosebumps. It gives me goosebumps on a daily basis.
I spend long hours speculating with friends about what the future of cannabis will look like. I get asked a lot if I think that big business will try to take over the cannabis industry, and sadly, yes I think they will try very hard. Corporate money is going to follow the profits, and cannabis is very big money right now and the profit potential is growing every minute. With that being said, I don't think that corporate types will take over the industry, at least not as much as other industries of similar size. Maybe it's because cannabis has been part of a counter culture segment of society for so long, but the average cannabis consumer doesn't like generic cannabis.
Cannabis consumers want to know where their cannabis comes from more than other consumers want to know where the products they are consuming come from on average. Cannabis consumers are more conscience than consumers of other products on average. They aren't just going to buy into any branding campaign and think about the quality of the product second like society does for so many things. Cannabis consumers are smarter, and are more likely to support the 'David' than they are the 'Goliath.'
I think that we will see attempts by the alcohol and tobacco industries, and further attempts by the pharmaceutical industry, to enter the cannabis space. But I don't think they will ultimately be successful. Cannabis consumers want products that are grown/made/processed by people that are experts and have been doing it for decades, not guys in lab coats applying irrelevant knowledge on behalf of Phillip Morris. I have been contacted on more than one occasion by a tobacco company reaching out to people in cannabis media, and I have told them to kick rocks every time and that they have no place in this industry, and will continue to do so as long as I'm alive, and I know I'm not alone in feeling that way.
I think that the cannabis industry is going to have a heavier influence from woman than any other industry of comparable size, which is something that I hope gets the credit it deserves. There are so many ridiculously talented women in the cannabis industry. More and more will find new careers in the cannabis industry in the future, and they will thrive. Organizations like Women Grow will help facilitate those transitions and empower women to take the cannabis industry by storm.
I think that oils, pre-rolls, and edibles will continue to grow in popularity. People will always buy ounces of flower, but I think that as the industry continues to grow, and access to cannabis grows with it, people will move to more convenient, smokeless forms of consumption more and more. I know I have personally smoked less and less cannabis each year and eaten/vaped more and more cannabis. There will be more cannabis research conducted in the future
The future will see more cannabis research conducted, more discoveries made, and more people helped as a result. There is so much that we don't know about the cannabis plant still, an I can't wait to see what is discovered about it. I don't think it's far fetched to predict that in the future cannabis will cure a disease that was previously thought to be incurable. I think that in the future people will make more money off of ancillary cannabis-related ideas than growing and selling cannabis. Everyone and their grandma wants to grow and sell cannabis, but the people that will truly strike it rich will be those that come up with original ideas in the industry that no one else has thought of or is doing.
I think that a lot of money will be made in the cannabis education sector of the industry in the future. Cannabis trade schools will become the norm, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more accredited universities offering cannabis courses. In the future we will see cannabis extraction become part of organic chemistry course curriculum for instance. There will be online courses, there will be books, there will be summits, seminars, and expos galore.
I think that there will also be a lot of money to be made dealing with outside industries that want to target and market to the cannabis community. The American cannabis community is made up of tens of millions of people. That's a huge sector of society, and don't think that non-cannabis companies don't recognize that fact. Munchie food companies, clothing companies, etc., you name it and they will be trying to find ways to market to the cannabis demographic. Companies like Jack in the Box are already dipping their toe in the cannabis arena by having commercials that insinuate cannabis consumption. As marijuana goes more mainstream, soon they will quite insinuating and go all out.
I think we will see attempts by mainstream media to try to cover the marijuana industry more and more, and the biases of the past will go away. The snarky, title puns will go the way of the dinosaur. We will see mainstream media using the term 'medical cannabis dispensary' instead of 'pot shop.' Media companies will hire cannabis correspondents, some of which will be better than others. I always hate reading an article about cannabis that was clearly written by someone who doesn't consume cannabis, or really know anything about cannabis. It's like reading a high school research essay. I think that will become less prevalent in the future.
As more and more states legalize recreational and medical cananbis, there will be a trend towards heavy regulation. You are already seeing it. Think that ResponsibleOhio's model sucks because it only allows ten entities to grow cannabis for profit? Consider the fact that on the medical side of the equation states like Minnesota only allow 2 and New York only allows 5. That's the model that governments (and some reform organizations whether they admit it or not) are going to push for. It's not how I want it to be, but how it will be nonetheless I think.
I always say that the average cannabis consumer gets more sophisticated everyday, and I expect that trend to continue. Cannabis consumers are more educated than ever before, consume cannabis in more forms than ever before, and expect more out of the cannabis purchasing and consuming experiences. Long gone are the day when you just 'got what you got' and didn't know what it was or where it came from or what's in it, at least on the West Coast and some Midwest and Eastern states.
In the future we will see better cannabis stocks on the market. I issued a challenge once upon a time that if someone could show me a company in the cannabis industry that is offering stock and has a solid end product I would buy into the company. That has yet to happen. Admittedly, I haven't researched every company that offers stock. However, each and everyone I have seen relies on hype to push its stock, and not solid ideas. I want to buy stock in a company because I like their direction and see that people are swooping up their products and/or services more and more. Instead people are marketing their stocks as a good by because 'my goodness, just think of how big the industry will be!' That might work for some people, but not the masses. In the future I expect to purchase cannabis stocks, and for them to actual do well and hopefully help me retire from my cubicle job!
In the future there will be 'cannabis everything,' and what I mean by that is that there will be a cannabis version of just about every idea out there. Now that it's fall you will see pumpkin spice everything everywhere you go. Someday cannabis will be like that. A cannabis flavored latte, cannabis flavored food, a cannabis theme park, a cannabis arcade, etc.. That is a day that I can't wait for!
From a reform movement perspective, we will finally see the end of cannabis prohibition in the future, and in the future generations will look back on prohibition as one of the biggest black eyes in American history. All the ruined lives, all the misery, all the patients that were treated like criminals - history books will not look back kindly on the prohibition era. Our grand kids will read about people like Kevin Sabet and wonder why someone wanted to see prohibition maintained, and the injustices that went along with it.
As a result Kevin Sabet will have to move on and find other work. What that will be, who knows, but when people find out about how he feels, what he has fought for, and how he was a puppet for the pharmaceutical industry, I'd imagine not many people will want to hire him. But then again, there are cannabis companies that have hired ex-narcotics officers from federal agencies, so who knows.
In the future we will see more public acceptance of cannabis consumers, to the point that they are treated equally compared to alcohol consumers. More and more people are coming out of the 'cannabis closet' everyday, and that trend will continue. Cannabis will continue to go mainstream, until it's so common that people don't even think about it differently anymore.
Activists will continue to fight into the future, fighting for workplace protections against workplace discrimination, for the freeing of cannabis POWs, for the expungement of past convictions, and for distinctions for patients. Patients shouldn't be taxed for their medicine, and should have special, compassionate protections. I think in the future we will see cannabis candidates for public office, and what I mean by that is that we will see long time cannabis figures run for office themselves, and win. We have seen candidates before, but they have never been taken seriously up until this point. And there have been candidates that are pro-cannabis, but it's just one of their many views. I'm talking about a bone-a-fide cannabis candidate, like Vivian McPeak for Seattle mayor, or something like that.
Anyone who looks at the future of cannabis knows that the writing is on the wall for prohibition, and that prohibition will be ended sooner than later. I have always felt that when that happens, the cannabis community can still do a lot of good fighting for other social issues. The cannabis community is second to none when it comes to pooling together resources, spreading awareness, and many other things. I'd hate to see that framework go to waste, and would love to see the cannabis community's skill set be used to support other good things. I know that if I can ever get out of my cubicle job, there is one particular idea that I'd like to pursue, but we will have to see if that ever happens for me.
The future of the cannabis world is bright, and this is a very exciting time to be a part of the cannabis scene. We are literally in the midst of history being made, and if that doesn't get you fired up, then you must not have a pulse. The freedom that comes with cannabis legalization is something that everyone in America will experience in the future, and that makes me smile. The cannabis plant is a wonderful thing, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for it.
What do TWB readers think about the future of cannabis. Any predictions? I look forward to reading your comments.