The first month of 2019 was a busy one for the cannabis industry. This year is filled with big promises and high aspirations for cannabis entrepreneurs and consumers all over the world, nowhere more so than in the United States. Here’s a recap of the top 5 stories in cannabis from this month:

MEDICAL MARIJUANA SALES BEGIN IN OHIO

A handful of medical marijuana dispensaries opened in Ohio, USA this month after much anticipation. Ohio is a Midwestern state with a Republican governor, known for being an important political swing state.

Ohio’s restrictions on medical marijuana are stringent at the moment. There are 21 identified conditions that warrant a medical marijuana card, and currently less than 10 of the 56 dispensaries with provisional licenses are operational. Sales are limited to flowers (no edibles or topicals) while processing facilities continue to be under review.

Still, getting a few dispensaries open is a major step in Ohio’s march towards legalization. The outlook is good for the full implementation of the state’s medical marijuana program as the year progresses.

BIG NAME IN SPORTS CULTURE INVESTS IN CANNABIS

Joe Montana, football Hall of Famer and former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has become the latest in a string of celebrities backing cannabis ventures.

Montana’s investments are in Caliva, a California based company. Caliva sells products derived from California cannabis. They focus on new edibles, beverages, and other products that highlight the quality of California cannabis.

Caliva’s goal is to be the top selling and most recognized cannabis brand in California, becoming a truly global powerhouse. Montana notes Caliva’s commitment to innovating new products that will combat the opioid crisis.

GREEN GROWTH ANGLES FOR APHRIA

Green Growth Brands is a North American pharmaceutical company that operates in both Canada and select parts of the United States. Green Growth has launched an uninvited bid to take over Aphria, a Canadian company that offers dried marijuana products and cannabis oil for medical marijuana.

This bid is the formalized launch of a proposal made in late 2018. Green Growth’s bid was not received warmly by Aphria, and is widely considered to be a blatantly hostile attempt at a takeover.

If Green Growth’s acquisition is successful, it will make the merger across American and Canadian borders in the cannabis industry. However, all signs point towards Aphria continuing to treat Green Growth’s proposal coldly until the bid improves or another suitor comes to play.

REJECTED SUPER BOWL AD GOES VIRAL

The Super Bowl is the single most watched televised event in the United States. Airing an ad during the Super Bowl is guaranteed to garner your company buzz and traction of some kind, though the response isn’t always positive.

Acreage Holdings, Inc hoped to be the first company to air a pro-cannabis ad during the Super Bowl this year, but CBS crossed the ad off the list after viewing an outline. The ad has since been posted online and quickly went viral.

Acreage Holdings’ ad focuses on those with conditions and hidden injuries for whom medical marijuana is life changing, including a child suffering from seizures and a veteran with combat injuries. Although Acreage’s ad won’t be aired during the Super Bowl itself, the company may well have gotten the better deal this way.

Now the ad has been seen by millions of people without the company paying full Super Bowl ad price, and with all the emotional attachment only a viral video can induce.

While Acreage’s original goal was to bring exposure to their cause by engaging with the societal monolith that is the Super Bowl, perhaps their ad’s rejection by the monolith will actually be the key to moving the campaign forward.

US ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE PENS SUPPORT FOR LAW ABIDING CANNABIS VENTURES

The most exciting and unexpected development this month may have been William Barr’s written declaration to not go after marijuana businesses that abide by state laws and regulations.

Barr is US President Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General (to replace Jeff Sessions). While Barr made a verbal pledge to leave state law-abiding marijuana ventures alone, his written follow up in response to questions from members of Congress make his support that much more powerful.

Barr is not outright supporting marijuana legalization, but his attitude is virtually 180 degrees from Sessions’. If Barr is confirmed as Attorney General his amiable position will be key to continued legalization efforts.

ISRAEL KENESET APPROVES MEDICAL CANNABIS EXPORT

Israel’s cabinet approved a law to allow exports of medical cannabis in a move expected to boost state revenues and the agriculture sector, and which frustrates critics who fear it could lead to more recreational use of the drug. The bill, backed last month by parliament, allows companies approved by the health regulator and police to export medical cannabis to countries that permit its use. Israeli media said exports could start in as little as nine months.

“I have supported the export of medical cannabis from Israel all along, and I welcome the government’s approval today,” said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. “The export of medical cannabis will give the State of Israel a huge advantage in connecting research and development with agriculture and the cannabis industry, it will bring significant foreign currency revenues into the state and will maximize the advantages that the State of Israel possesses throughout the production chain.”

 

Long gone are the days when ordering cannabis was unnecessarily complicated, overly expensive, and sometimes dangerous. The steadily increasing number of countries, regions, and states with legalized cannabis is inspiring an innovative entrepreneurial boom.

Cannabis ordering and delivery is no exception. Check out these 5 companies whose mission is to make the cannabis ordering process as easy for the customer as possible. Each one has a different perspective and focus, but all of them keep the cannabis experience modern and fresh.

THE FARM – ONLINE ORDERING AND SAME DAY PICK UP

The Farm is a Colorado-based dispensary with a sister medical marijuana dispensary. The Farm originated as a medical dispensary and expanded to include recreational use following the passage of Amendment 64.

The Farm prides itself on maintaining the highest quality setting an example in compliance at local and state levels. They are active in the movement to legalize cannabis nationally in the United States.

The Farm offers a highly responsive, modern online shopping interface. While The Farm does not deliver or ship cannabis (as part of their dedication to safety and compliance), they do offer same-day pre-order pick up at their dispensary. Their website boasts high-quality photos and descriptions of all available products, as well as clear quantity and pricing breakdowns.

The Farm’s online interface is a great example of a dispensary committed to professionalism and upholding the law, while simultaneously giving the best possible service to their local customers.

CANNABIS NL – SHIPPING & EDUCATION IN CANADA

Cannabis NL is the sole online proprietor of recreational cannabis in the Canadian province of Newfoundland. Cannabis NL is the line of business within the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation that regulates non-medical cannabis.

The website features more than 9 different brands. You can also shop by product, selecting from dried whole flowers, pre-rolls, capsules, and topical oils. Or, if you want to grow your own – cloning plants and seeds will be available soon.

Your order goes through Cannabis NL straight to the brand(s) you have chosen to shop with. From there, the supplier processes and ships your order to you.

In short, Cannabis NL serves as a central hub for shopping and education about cannabis. The purpose of this company is to ensure the regulation of online cannabis sales in Newfoundland. It makes ordering cannabis quick and easy while maintaining the safety of all online consumers.

VIREO HEALTH NEW YORK – HOME DELIVERY FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Vireo Health New York is part of the Vireo Health Network. Vireo Health focuses on connecting people who need medical marijuana with qualified doctors who can support them, and then getting those patients the medicine they need.

Vireo Health has an online shopping portal where you can order various cannabis-based medicines for pick up or delivery to their county network. Vireo Health is even offering free delivery for a limited time to select areas. They emphasize the importance of getting this medicine to the patients who need it, and often those who need it most are unable to leave their homes to visit a greenhouse or dispensary.

New York is only a medical marijuana state, and you won’t find anything remotely recreational about Vireo Health New York’s interface or content. For now, they are purely focused on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. However, they are well positioned to expand to include recreational products if New York fully legalizes in the future.

STEMLESS – ONLINE ORDER AND DELIVERY SYSTEM

If you love the easy scrolling and selection of food delivery on apps like Grubhub and Doordash, you will love Stemless. Stemless takes everything great about food service apps and translates it into the cannabis industry.

Stemless offers both home delivery and pick up options, depending on your location and local regulations. You can order and pay online (with select exceptions) with a quick no-line in store pick up, or get your order delivered straight to your door with tracking in recreational states where shipping cannabis is permitted.

Portland-based Stemless is United States focused with an emphasis in recreational states. However, Stemless has a progressive and innovative business model that improves on several well-established conventions. It has garnered positive press and heavy hitting investors and is likely to rapidly expand with each new legalization.

WEEDMAPS – ONLINE COMMUNITY IN NORTH AMERICA

Weedmaps is part Yelp, part Facebook, part Reddit, and all cannabis. Weedmaps’ business model is not in cannabis delivery, but instead it connects you to those who do.

They refer to themselves as an online community where medical marijuana patients can connect with doctors and dispensaries, and recreational users can trade notes about strains, shops, and gadgets.

Weedmaps features an in-depth online map system where you can search for dispensaries near you who deliver, doctors who are nearby, storefronts to visit, and even whether or not a location is handicap accessible.

The goal of this post was to highlight interesting cannabis consumer tech products and companies that will be showcasing at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Interestingly enough, that was much easier said than done.

You would expect that with the massive hype around the cannabis industry, this would be the year that consumer-oriented companies put their best products forward. After all, investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into weed-related startups, resulting in a flood of weed gadgets aimed at both medical and recreational users.

Between e-vapes, oil pens, dab rigs, automatic grinders, and smart cannabis inspired products; there’s no shortage of weed tech on the market right now. But yet, finding out what will be presented ahead of time has proven to be a challenge.

Despite the fact that cannabis is an incredibly hot industry right now it’s practically nonexistent at the world’s largest consumer tech trade show. Something’s got to be off. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with rules and regulations.

CES VS. THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY

The Consumer Technology Association (the organization that runs CES) has no rules on the books that prevent or discourage companies from exhibiting marijuana-related products at the show. But for the most part, there’s a clear “no cannabis allow” rule that shadows the consumer tech event.

You can’t blame the state or local marijuana laws, either. Recreational and medical use of marijuana is completely legal in Nevada, and while the state does have a few restrictions on where and how cannabis consumption devices can be sold, there are no regulations that prevent weed-tech startups from peddling their wares at trade shows.

PAX Labs is one of the leading vaporizer companies that plan to make a bit of history at the buttoned-down Consumer Electronics Show. It believes it will be the first to demonstrate cannabis products at the country’s premier technology conference.


There is a catch, however. A ban on cannabis at the show has forced the San Francisco-based company to demo its vaporizer with CBD/THC pods at Planet 13, a local dispensary. (At a CES event Monday evening, placebo pods containing flavors such as blueberry cheesecake will have to suffice.)

“We are a technology company in the pot field,” PAX Labs Chief Executive Bharat Vasan told Barron’s in a phone interview. “We want to bring more and more acceptance to the field.”

A CES spokeswoman said there are no cannabis or e-cigarette products on the exhibit floor because the show does not have a category for the market.

If CES is reticent about such technology, several venture capitalists have shown no hesitation to plow money into the startup, which has raised more than $50 million from the likes of Tao Capital Partners and Tiger Global Management. The company is in the midst of another “substantial” round, Vasan said, which could lead to a potential IPO.

Overall, 2019 is set to be a year when investors start looking for results from cannabis picks in Canada, while the US is expected to continue to gain momentum from key policymakers. As a result, investors may be motivated to pay more attention below the border.

But that’s just the tip of the icebergs with regards to what we can expect in the year ahead. Read on to learn our global outlook of the Cannabis industry in 2019. But before we dive in, let’s take a quick look back at what made the past year so memorable.

2018 saw major improvement for the global cannabis industry. The pace of legalization and technical innovation picked up speed exponentially and shows no signs of slowing down. So what can we expect for our rapidly growing cannabis industry in 2019?

Three major trends standout for the next year:

  1. Legalization
  2. Innovation
  3. Industry Oversight
LEGALIZATION

Much of the buzz last year surrounded movement of the industry in the United States and Canada. For good reason – Canada is now five months into full federal legalization, 32 states in the USA have legalized medicinal use, and 10 states and Washington, DC boast legal recreational use.

The cannabis industry in the United States reached a significant milestone in reaching conservative states that are historically deeply resistant to legalization. Michigan became the first Midwest state to legalize recreational use for adults. Utah, Oklahoma, and Missouri – three of the most conservative states in the US – all approved measures in favor of medical marijuana for select patient groups.

Conservative states coming on board with legalization signals a change in the perception of the cannabis industry in the United States. Colorado will enter its seventh year of recreational legalization in 2019. In that time, Colorado, as proven the cannabis industry, is not only profitable in the short term, but also viable and sustainable in the long term.

Midwestern states are typically the last to join any progressive movement, so with states like Michigan approving ballots, the industry is very close to overcoming the last vestiges of cultural stigma. Vermont’s landmark legalization by the legislature and the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalizing hemp growth are two considerable hurdles overcome on the journey to federal legalization.

Countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa are quickly moving towards the legalization of cannabis.

The top four countries to keep an eye on in 2019:

  • Luxembourg: this tiny European nation is on the verge of being the first country in Europe to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
  • Israel: Export of medical cannabis is expected to begin in mid-2019 to countries around the world, including Australia, Germany, Austria,and Mexico.
  • South Africa: one of the most globally well known African countries already allows private use, but all signs point towards a continued discussion on broader legalization.
  • Australia: Many individuals in Australia now increasingly support recreational cannabis legalization, with the support rate increased from 26% to 35.4% from 2013-2016.

INNOVATION

Historically, smoking was the main method through which an individual experienced cannabis. Now, the possibilities seem almost limitless. The industry will continue to see innovations in the experience of cannabis in 2019.

Agricultural research and development mean the strength and effect of a cannabis strand are virtually customizable to the person. Industry improvements allow for the manipulation of THC and CBD levels in ways that could not have been imagined ten years ago.

Each technological stride opens a new potential market to the cannabis industry. The once relatively simple, easy to please consumer has developed a complex palate that demands variety and quality.

The key demographic for 2019 is the millennial consumer. Millennials are known for their ability to make or break an industry depending on their perception of its value and affordability. Cannabis industry leaders should expect (and encourage) exploration of new products and methods of delivery, and continue to work towards mastery of the methods already available.

Consumption methods to watch:

  • Edibles
  • Drinks
  • Oils and creams
  • Vaporizer juice

INDUSTRY OVERSIGHT

One of the greatest advantages of widespread legalization of cannabis is the ability to invest in research and development. The medicinal benefits of cannabis are well known, but scientists and engineers now have access to resources that will revolutionize our understanding of cannabis’ properties.

However, the flip side is the behemoth of Big Pharma now has eyes on the industry and how its growth may affect Big Pharma’s own profit margins. Decades of strict regulation and exhaustive research give the pharmaceutical industry the undisputed upper hand.

The rise of the non-smoking consumable market requires the cannabis industry to pay close attention to food safety laws and regulations. The purity of product is of the utmost importance to maintain the required levels of sanitation for legal food products.

It will be crucial for the cannabis industry to continue staunch support of well-substantiated research, to drive continuous improvement in both agricultural and retail safety, and to nurture professional business practices at all levels.