If 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that legal cannabis is not only here to stay, but will continue to grow. This past year saw a massive expansion of cannabis tech, entertainment, and financing, which are all going to be used as tools to keep this industry moving forward.
Though we can’t predict the future, here are a few trends we’re excited to watch develop in 2018.
As cannabis programming has been popping up on mainstream channels like MSNBC and CBS, it’s no wonder that numerous other outlets have been investing more into cannabis content. However, while some networks might put up a program or two focused on cannabis, there hasn’t been an exclusive channel dedicated to the substance. That is, until 420TV.
The first of its kind, 420TV is a digital-content channel exclusively dedicated to cannabis. This includes anything from comedy and sitcoms to news and health advice. Slated to launch in 2018, 420TV is sure to make a big splash with cannabis enthusiasts.
If there’s one thing that’s going to be necessary to keep up with the rapid demand for legal and medical cannabis, it’s improved infrastructure. The industry is already at a disadvantage because providers aren’t allowed to work with banks or use traditional commerce channels. For these reasons, management has been tough. When you add in the other fluctuations to do with compliance and state or local laws, the whole process can turn into a massive headache.
While the rapid influx has brought about fresh problems, it hasn’t hindered interest among investors or developers. According to Viridian Capital Advisors investments across the cannabis industry exceeded over $1 billion in 2016. Activity in this industry continues to span data, consumer products, payments, ecommerce, and management.
Developments across business lines will continue to help build the foundation for the cannabis industry to thrive, providing a safer and more transparent marketplace for consumers and businesses to connect. 2018 could be the year these companies take off, and they’re definitely something keep an eye on.
How Investments Move
Although we’ve heard about the great “green rush,” investment into the actual industry has varied. On the one hand, people want to inject cash, but don’t know where to do so. On the other, there are people who know exactly where they want to invest, but are afraid of the volatility of the market. However, that’s what made the world of VC for cannabis so interesting.
According to Forbes, the average investment in a cannabis company is $450,000, which is $350,000 more than the average across the board. This makes sense for a few reasons: (1) there are fewer cannabis companies in comparison to the data; (2) because it’s a new venture, there’s high risk (and high rewards) involved; and (3) investors are banking on progress with legislation. Considering that the federal government won’t ease up on regulation anytime soon, expect a lot of the infrastructural aspects mentioned above to be seeing some serious investment.
More States Taking On Legalization
While we can talk all day about the great advancements in the cannabis industry, the greatest catalyst to progress is changes in legislation. After all, this is what opens up new markets, and in return, new customers and businesses to work with. However, all of that is up to the voters, who are continuing to swing toward legalization.
According to Pew Research, approximately 56 percent of Americans believe cannabis should be legalized. We can deduce that even if those people don’t consume it themselves, they’d still vote at the ballot for having cannabis legalized. And as more states have been seeing the financial bonanza reaped by Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, many of them are considering adding it to their referendums. Granted, not every state allows citizens to propose statewide legislation via petitioning, but for the ones that do, legalization might become inevitable.
Finally, because of how many tech startups have sprung up around the cannabis industry, it will be interesting to watch the progress of these firms in 2018. As we stated above, a lot of these businesses are after infrastructural concerns, which has so far boded well. For example, LeafLink just raised $10 million as a commerce platform for dispensaries, which is a significant Series A for such a new venture.
All in all, don’t be surprised if you see more of these companies helping out with the day-to-day transactions of cannabis, as they just might be the missing link.
What innovations are you excited to see out of the cannabis industry in 2018? Comment with your answers below.