My Top 5 Cannabis Industry Highlights For 2020 🕓

2020 will undoubtedly be remembered as a defining year for the cannabis industry.

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When the history books are finally written, the year 2020 will undoubtedly go down as one of the most challenging times any business leader has had to navigate. 

At the beginning of this year, while many executives were meticulously planning out each quarter, an unknown virus in China had plans of its own.

We all know what happened next. Needless to say, plans were quickly scrapped as we all scrambled to adapt to this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event. 

In the midst of all this chaos, an industry that’s operated on the fringes of society for the past decade not only survived, it thrived: cannabis

While 2020 has proven fatal for many industries, just the opposite is true for the cannabis industry, which has experienced one of the most remarkable years to date. 

As we look back on the year that’s been, the following are my top five cannabis industry highlights for 2020.

1️⃣ Cannabis Businesses Were Designated Essential Services

In the midst of all this mayhem, who would have thought that cannabis businesses would get the coveted essential service designation in nearly every region where cannabis is legal?

Even as an optimist, I personally thought the chances of cannabis being viewed as essential during an unprecedented pandemic were extremely slim. Yet, here we are.

This designation has sparked much discussion surrounding the current legislative status of cannabis in many nations around the 🌍, and will only serve to further increase the pressure on many politicians to support cannabis legislation. 

2️⃣ Canadian Producers Brought Their Value-added Products To Market

Canada is one of the more interesting cannabis markets in the world for a variety of reasons, but what currently stands out are the R&D efforts underway in the region. 

With Canada being the first G7 nation in the world to legalize cannabis, and it being widely recognized that the cannabis industry will become one of the most lucrative industries in the world, many Fortune 500 companies have poured hundreds of millions—and in some cases, billions of dollars—to plant their flags as early as possible. 💸

At the beginning of this year we gained a first glimpse into the types of products these R&D dollars can produce, with Truss beverages and Canopy Growth leveraging their respective relationships with the Molson Coors and Constellation brands to bring cannabis beverages to markets across Canada. 

(📸 / Truss Beverages)

3️⃣ The U.S. Marched Closer To Full Federal Legalization

If it was unclear to anyone at the beginning of this year that the U.S. is on a fast-track towards federal legalization, then it should be crystal clear by now that the federal legalization of cannabis is no longer a question of if—it’s a matter of when. 

The passing of the MORE Act in the House of Representatives is another telltale sign that the current status of cannabis as a Schedule I substance is temporary at best, with a strong bipartisan appetite for change. 

In the meantime, a majority of U.S. states aren't waiting for the politicians in Washington to catch up with the times: New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana all legalized cannabis for adult use, while Mississippi legalized cannabis for medical purposes.

(📸 / Comics Beast)

4️⃣ Cannabis Sales Continued To Increase In Spite Of A Recession

With cannabis being such a new industry, there are still many unanswered questions: for example, how well would cannabis perform during a recession?

Cannabis sales in Canada have continued to grow at a steady rate in spite of the economy officially entering a recession, with monthly sales increasing over 60% to $240 million CAD since January of this year and cannabis sales in the U.S increasing over 40% this year with sales expected to exceed $15 billion USD.

5️⃣ The U.N. Reclassified Cannabis As A Less Dangerous Drug

The biggest constraint currently inhibiting the growth of the cannabis industry is the legislative status of cannabis outside of North America. 

In a historic vote on December 2nd, cannabis was removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, where it had been listed alongside dangerous and highly addictive opioids like heroin. A total of 27 nations voted in favor of this recommendation made by the World Health Organization, including the U.S. 

With both Mexico and Luxembourg on track to legalize cannabis in 2021, keep a close eye on each of the 27 nations that voted in favor of reclassifying cannabis as a less dangerous drug. As the dominos continue to fall, a growing roster of nations are asking: How should we legalize cannabis? 

Happy New Year! 🎉


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