Weed stories to watch in 2020

We saw huge steps forward this year, but it’s in 2020 that legalization is expected to explode

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1. Legalization 2.0 promises a few surprises

Edibles, concentrates, shatter, wax…  you name it, will legally go on sale in 2020 in the largest expansion of the cannabis market since legalization.

Large players are betting on Legalization 2.0 being the antidote to a year of chaos, instability and uncertainty in the marijuana marketplace. Upstarts see it as a way to break into the market. Legalization 2.0 will carry a lot of hopes and dreams.

But just what products will make it to market remains to be seen. One thing we do know is that many more products will be coming from smaller, previously unheard-of manufacturers.

Will edibles be a bigger hit than in the U.S., where they account for about one in five sales?

Will cannabis-infused drinks, which have been the subject of millions in investment dollars, finally take off? And what of the products sold to more hardcore stoners – hash, shatter, etc. – how will they do?

We’re in for a few surprises.

2. Ontario – finally a place to grow

There has been a lot of talk about how Canada’s cannabis industry has had a sluggish year. All of it is true, but it also comes with a big caveat.

That’s because Ontario, which makes up around half the population of weed smokers in Canada, completely, totally, indisputably botched the weed rollout.

The Ford government is now trying to correct this, with an 11th-hour reset on cannabis policy.

The lottery system is being replaced with a more sensible policy of vetting applicants who want to open cannabis stores. The move will increase the number of stores exponentially. Some predictions have suggested that cannabis demand in Ontario could support more than 1,000 stores.

The Ford government is also going to lift some of the more pointless restrictions on cannabis sales, like not allowing stores to sell branded merchandise. Licensed Producers will also be able to sell directly from their facilities. All of this will help improve access and finally give Canadians a clearer picture of what demand looks like.

With only 27 stores in Ontario right now, it’s like the Canadian cannabis economy has been driving with two wheels instead of four. And if this year makes anything clear, it’s how healthy the country’s weed economy can run on all cylinders.

3. THC Trumps U.S. presidential election 

As unlikely as it might seem with everything going on around Trump, cannabis has emerged as an important side plot in the Democratic primary. It’s been a candidate-killer.

It wasn’t until Kamala Harris was called out for enforcing the drug war that her candidacy was well and truly dead. Even front-runner Joe Biden… well, you never know what is going to come out of his mouth. Usually, it’s bad. Often it makes no sense.

Among the other candidates, however, there have been plenty of pot promises. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and most other candidates have promised some kind of reform at the federal level.

Moreover, there are the ballot initiatives pushing the legalization of cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes in a dozen or so states, which tend to drive young people to the polls – and favour the election of progressive candidates.

The effect that pot has on the election could be huge, even if you may need to rip a bowl or two to get through it.

4. Pro sports leagues reach for the blunt

Another story worth watching is what various pro sports leagues do about cannabis. With more sports franchises located in states – and countries – where cannabis is legal, it’s becoming an unavoidable question.

This off-season, Major League Baseball announced that it plans to lift its weed ban for minor leaguers. Major leaguers haven’t been tested regularly for pot for nearly two decades. They are now looking at formalizing the policy to remove cannabinoids altogether.

The National Basketball Association has already started talks with its players’ union on the league’s pot policy. The National Hockey League’s problem, on the other hand, is players doing harder drugs. It’s a similar story in the National Football League, which is the harshest when it comes to weed.

The league has relaxed the rules slightly in recent years to allow its use to treat pain from concussions and as a substitute for opioids. The discussions will be consequential for players who like to reach for a blunt after a tough game.

5. Who will break away from the pack in Europe?

There were huge steps forward in global legalization in 2019, but it’s in 2020 that the ranks of legalized countries is expected to blow up.

Mexico, which delayed doing so, will go legal sometime in early 2020. Other South American countries, including Colombia and Ecuador, have made moves on the medical front. New Zealanders will get to vote in a referendum next year.

But it’s in Europe where we should expect the biggest moves. Industry analysts predict that the first country to break away from the pack among those considering legalization will set off a chain reaction.

 

Tags Politics