As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, 2024 promises to be a year of significant change, from product development, to retail dynamics, as well as in the hemp/CBD market. Over the past few weeks we put out a call for commentary to our newsletter audience, asking industry professionals and business owners to share their expectations for the coming year. Below, we have rounded up some of the most insightful comments we received, forecasting what could lie ahead for these sectors.

A common theme among the predictions we reviewed was a belief that demand for product personalization and increased consumer awareness will have a significant impact on the market landscape, forcing cannabis brands, dispensaries, and hemp/CBD manufacturers alike to diversify their offerings. The broad consensus is that consumers are likely to care more about craft and high-quality products the more educated they become, meaning that over time it will be less advantageous for brands to focus on volume and market share alone. The potential for new AI technology to affect all aspects of the cannabis supply chain was also a recurring theme, as was the rising popularity of hemp and cannabis-infused beverages.

Cannabis Product Manufacturing & Cultivation

In 2024, craft cannabis is poised to claim a larger slice of the expanding global market, driven by a growing consumer appetite for quality, uniqueness, and sustainable practices. Artisanal producers are set to thrive, leveraging horticultural science methods and distinctive strains to meet the desires of an increasingly sophisticated clientele. Illinois exemplifies this trend, leading the industry with robust regulation that upholds high standards and prices, potentially benefiting small-scale, premium craft cannabis ventures. However, such stringent oversight may also challenge craft entrants financially, underscoring the need for regulatory frameworks that nurture the artisanal segment. Craft cannabis’s success will depend on navigating these regulations while delivering the exceptional products that discerning consumers demand.

Owen Papworth, COO Oregonix

We will continue to see innovation and a shift in products on shelves, particularly in the edibles space. Consumer expectations for “premiumization” and the ongoing momentum in social “mainstreamization” will collide, bringing an eruption of new, innovative products to the market that are effective, friendly, and predictable. Cannabis products that are approachable and easy to use for every (adult) generation and every social and wellness application will become the new normal.

Kim Sanchez Rael, CEO & Cofounder Azuca

Product innovation is going to continue to proliferate as new markets open up, existing ones expand to adult use and more and more consumers, from all walks of life, start buying. These opportunities will be seized by the individuals and cannabis operators that have solid plans and a network of providers that will work with and support their business to not just open their doors but keep them open and successful as they grow.

Kevin Hart, CEO Green Check

Bottom up, AI will revolutionize the cultivation process by facilitating efficient plant cultivation, optimal crop steering, and targeted breeding. Cultivation operations will be able to reliably forecast and plan their production, maximizing the achievable prices and, thus, their profitability. […] Like with any other technological advances, the job landscape will evolve as well and certain jobs will fade out, others will transition, and new jobs will emerge – the most important aspect is that the workforce and the leadership embrace the change to not be left behind.

Elmar Mair, CEO Neatleaf

Brands that solely focus on low-quality, budget pre-roll offerings will continue to decline. Harsh joints kill recurring revenue; nobody comes back to a bad smoke. With their galaxy of opportunities for differentiation and added margins, infused joints will continue to overtake non-infused joints in markets where that hasn’t already happened. Smaller-size joints will continue to grow in popularity, and the convenience and value of multipacks will continue to edge out single-joint offerings. To grow in 2024, brands should strongly consider combining all four: high-quality flower, .5g or smaller, infused-joint multipacks at an approachable price.

Kyle Loucks, CEO RollPros

Retail Business & Consumer Awareness:

Minnesota is well on its way to creating a “heady” cannabis culture with savvy, informed consumers. Before legal cannabis sales start, Minnesota has already allowed adults to purchase cannabis seeds and grow their own cannabis at home. It’s currently one of Royal Queen Seeds’ biggest markets for online sales, so we can see the potential there and the curiosity from consumers. With the ability to grow their own at home, the canna-curious and connoisseurs alike can develop a deeper understanding of the cannabis plant, gain a new appreciation of the natural world and become smarter shoppers overall.

Shai Ramsahai, President Royal Queen Seeds

In the New York market, the settlement of the lawsuit blocking CAURD dispensary licenses from opening, which was incredibly painful for those licensees and the broader market, means that operators can now finally move forward with opening their stores. We are seeing an eightfold increase in the pace of openings from the previous average of two stores per month; however, this is still not nearly enough for a state of roughly 20 million people and over 250 million tourists annually. However, also worth noting is the planned openings of licensed adult-use retail stores by MSOs which previously only held medical licenses. New York’s farmers and producers of any size need more retail stores to sell their products, so I believe these co-located stores will be very important. At this point, New York needs about 200 stores for the legal market to reach its intended revenue projections.

Nicolas Guarino, CEO Naturae

In 2024, dispensaries and brands will realize their target audiences aren’t spending their time networks that are a constant detriment to their growth, like Facebook or Instagram. Alternative networks like Reddit and Discord will give cannabis companies a way to interact and build communities with true connoisseurs.

Amy Donahue, Owner Hybrid Social

The integration of AI-enabled tools will revolutionize training and ongoing worker engagement processes, making them more accessible, interactive, and tailored to individual needs. This personalized approach to learning will not only enhance workforce readiness but also ensure compliance with evolving regulations. The focus will shift towards micro-certifications and scenario-based learning, enabling employees, especially budtenders, to adapt quickly to market changes and product innovations. Furthermore, enhanced communication tools, including AI-driven interactions, will foster more dynamic and responsive relationships between brands, service providers, and licensed employers. This will lead to a more informed and engaged community, capable of elevating customer experiences.

Mark Oronzio, CEO and Cofounder upLVL, Inc.

We expect to see a contraction of the legal market in California as retailers and suppliers cease operations or leave the state. We have experienced this with several brands who have chosen to stop operating in CA because of the never ending black market, compliance costs and competition from the oversaturation of licensed businesses. Many retailers are struggling to pay taxes and other compliance costs, while customer counts and the average purchase per customer continues to decline due to outside economic factors and too many operators in mature markets like San Francisco and Los Angeles. We also expect to see fewer independent retail operators as larger companies expand by acquiring legacy licenses, and smaller companies struggle to operate profitably.

Lauren Fontein, Co-Founder The Artist Tree

A notable trend is the rise in demand for personalized cannabis products, including a focus on cannabinoid therapeutics​​. THC-infused beverages are also gaining popularity, with consumers often replacing alcohol with these products​​. Retailers that prioritize consumer education, experience, evolving preferences, and specific needs are likely to fare better than those mainly motivated by profits. This approach supports a consumer base seeking a tailored and informed cannabis experience.

Sonia Mangalick, Managing Partner Dank Poet Dispensary

In 2024, we anticipate substantial growth in the hemp industry, especially in low-dose beverages and edibles. Minnesota’s pioneering hemp-derived market model is setting a trend nationwide, expanding product variety for a wider consumer base and integrating cannabis products more seamlessly into mainstream culture. However, it’s crucial that the hemp-derived market not be seen as a substitute for the legalization and regulation of adult-use cannabis. This year is pivotal for policy decisions that will define the relationship between these two markets. While the hemp market broadens consumer reach and aids in destigmatizing cannabis, true social equity hinges on the legalization of adult-use cannabis. This is vital for addressing the needs of communities disproportionately affected by prohibition and those involved in the legacy market. Policy choices made in 2024 will be instrumental in determining the future direction of both markets, significantly impacting public perception and advancing social justice within the cannabis industry.

Leili Fatehi, Partner/Principal Blunt Strategies

Pressures to regulate will slow the hemp CBD market. Synthetic conversions of hemp CBD to THC will get more attention to regulate vs. stop.

Shawn DeNae Wagenseller, CEO/Owner Washington Bud Company

Cannabis products have been diversifying beyond traditional flower and oils. Expect to see more innovative products, including edibles, beverages, topicals, and concentrates. Cannabis-infused products in the wellness and beauty industries might also see growth. As more research is conducted, there may be an increased acceptance of cannabis as a medical treatment for various conditions, potentially leading to more doctor recommendations and insurance coverage for medical cannabis.

Katie Enright, Founder Lavinia

In 2024, hemp beverages will do more to normalize cannabis in the minds of the consumer than any other form factor.

Kenny Morrison, Founder CQ

We foresee the continued rise in popularity of low-dose infused beverages. And we aim to further accelerate this trend, anticipating increased backing from liquor retailers, beverage distributors and a fresh wave of mainstream consumers. Our collective hope is to usher in a cultural turning point where regulations are thoughtfully crafted to provide a sensible framework for this category, rather than seeking its elimination.

Phil McFarland, General Manager, THC Beverages WHBCo

Consumer empowerment takes center stage as products become more tailored to individual needs. The industry will witness a shift from one-size-fits-all to customizable CBD experiences. Brands offering personalized solutions will resonate with a diverse and discerning consumer base.

Jakub Horák, Founder TOKE

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The information provided in these blog posts is intended for general informational and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The use of any information provided in these blog posts is solely at your own risk. The authors and the website do not recommend or endorse any specific products, treatments, or procedures mentioned. Reliance on any information in these blog posts is solely at your own discretion.

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