Industry Leaders’ Predictions for 2021

By Alex Halperin
Dec 29, 2020

We asked cannabis world luminaries for predictions about the California cannabis market in 2021. Some of our favorites follow. In another post, we took a look at the challenges facing the California industry in 2021:

Henry Baskerville, Managing Partner, Fortis Law Partners

Baskerville notes that a new DEA interim final rule seeks to criminalize certain cannabinoids, most notably Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the use of which has rapidly expanded. In my opinion, this new rule appears to be a direct contravention of the letter and spirit of the Farm Bill. The cannabis industry needs better clarity on what is and what is not legal. To the extent that the DEA was trying to resolve confusion with its interim rule, I applaud it. But it should be obvious by now that the result has generated more, not less, confusion.”

Joe Caltabiano, Founder JSC Fund and co-founder of Cresco Labs

“Expect to see a lot of M&As in the news. The industry thrives when strong companies have access to capital, creating an ongoing influx of new investors. Looking forward to 2021, MSOs see tremendous growth opportunities, and investors are eager to get into the game. There are benefits to being a large operator in multiple states, including access to capital. I also believe we will see more M&A when things are up, instead of operators selling when distressed.” 

James Eichner, Co-founder and CSO, Sana Packaging

“We are confident we will continue to see an increase in awareness about cannabis packaging waste as more and more cannabis companies transition to sustainable packaging products and practices. We expect this trend to grow exponentially in 2021 and beyond, especially when we look at the new state markets that are just beginning to develop their cannabis packaging regulations and best practices.”

Meital Manzuri, Managing Partner, Manzuri Law

“It feels like expansion is the name of the game for 2021 with an emphasis on top line revenues and an eye towards liquidation. Although the increase in local municipalities’ issuance of licenses throughout California will open up new opportunities for everyone, these new opportunities will likely go to existing operators looking to gobble up market share.”

Vince Ning, Founder and CEO, Nabis

“2021 will be the year of the cannabis brand. Top talent and more funding coming to the cannabis industry means that there will be a proliferation of brands on the market. Consumers want to try new cannabis products, but with less of an in-store experience, they will likely stick to what they know. Companies will need to find stronger ways to differentiate and market themselves, particularly now that everyone is remote.”

Christopher Shade, Ph.D. Founder and CEO, Quicksilver Scientific

“We see beverages becoming a stronger category across the board, for a variety of reasons. There is more and more interest in cannabinoid beverages, and consumers continue to move away from sugar-based, high-calorie drinks. We’re looking forward to a lot of interesting developments in beverages this coming year,” Dr. Shade says.

Kim Stuck, CEO & Founder, Allay Cannabis Consulting

“As we near 2021, we’ve already seen crackdowns of compliance–most recently with the Federal Trade Commission and illegal CBD health claims. Reef Industries and CannaTera of Costa Mesa, California is a great example. Fined $85,000, these consequences are only the beginning, and we’re sure to see California companies face fines and shutdowns for CBD/cannabinoid product regulations such as food safety, extraction processes, track and trace and packaging/labeling.”  

Dominick Volpini, VP, Cloudious9

Although the House of Representatives recently passed the MORE Act, a historic comprehensive bill that would federally legalize cannabis, senate roadblocks will continue to prevent cannabis from being federally legal in 2021.  Even if Democrats take control of the senate after the Georgia Senate runoff race, no major federal cannabis changes would take place until the end of 2021 or 2022 at the earliest

Nancy Whiteman, CEO, Wana Brands

In 2021, we will see increasing stratification in cannabis-infused products. A few years ago, the biggest challenge for manufacturers was getting their product into stores. Consumers had few choices when it came to cannabis-infused products, so whatever was on the shelves sold. Now, consumers have multiple product options geared toward different lifestyles, tastes and budgets.

Ethan Woods, Founder and CEO, Desert Underground

“Cannabis cultivators will begin to experiment and implement more sustainable practices, joining a global movement for creating climate-positive industries. Grow facilities will explore ways to conserve water, reduce power consumption and even utilize more natural anti-pest control methods by expanding the use of predatory insects. Beneficial bugs will become more prevalent in cannabis cultivation as the industry adopts more practices from sustainable agriculture.” 

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