The new year has barely begun and the marijuana market is already off to a running start with California’s legalization of recreational weed on New Year’s Day. With the widespread legalization of medical and now recreational marijuana, the cannabis industry is transforming and expanding at rapid rate. 2017 was already a big year for the industry, and 2018 promises to be even bigger. Here are some predictions from the general consensus about what’s in store for the cannabis community this year:

California Front and Center

California kicked off its sales of recreational weed on January 1 and is officially the largest market for legalized recreational marijuana, with an estimated value of $7 billion dollars for 2018. The recent legalization of recreational weed means that there will be brand new terrain to pioneer. An uneven and chaotic transition is anticipated as new regulations are imposed as legislators attempt to rein in a diverse group of everyone from entrepreneurs to criminals. It’s predicted that there’ll be a 12-24 month period of trial and error as things fall into place. Jason Pinsky of Viceland’s Bong Appetit has stated that the key word in 2018 will be enforcement.

Canada Is Winning

Canada began fast tracking its legitimization of marijuana when Prime Minister Trudeau took office in 2015. Flash forward to today, where millions of dollars already are flowing through the Canadian stock exchanges. The Wall Street Journal reported in September that approximately half of the trading activity on the Canadian Securities Exchange involved cannabis companies. On top of that, Canadian companies are starting to buy into foreign pot companies in countries such as Australia, Brazil and Germany.

Furthermore, California’s very recent legalization of recreational weed and it subsequent explosion in sales has already sent Canadian stocks roaring. All of this puts Canada into a predominant position in the market.

Home Growing on the Rise

It’s predicted that the home grow market will more than double in 2018, thanks to an increased focus on craft quality cannabis. Chuck Siegel, the CEO of BloomBoss, posits that emulating home brewing for the home grow market will result in cannabis representing nearly $3 billion of the market by 2021.

Branding

Expect to see more celebrities and mainstream products entering the market this year (case in point: Mike Tyson is the latest big name to ride the wave of the Green Rush as he just broke ground on his 40-acre marijuana ranch near Death Valley). Greater competition means that growers and distributors will have to up their game with higher quality products and greater consistency. Advertising and marketing will be in full force, employing higher-end branding and packaging. This includes flower product, which will have its own personalized branding. We’ll also see an increase in educational information on packaging in order to appeal to the pot newbies, as well as help better regulate the consumption of edibles.

Bring Your A-Game

Greater competition in the marijuana market means that there will be more luxury experiences on offer. The United States is expected to introduce legal lounges by the end of the year. Although it’s unknown at this point where the first one will launch, Las Vegas, West Hollywood, Boston and Denver are all in the running. Denver may very well be the first, although it’s unlikely that customers will be able to smoke inside. Vegas is a better bet for finding a smoking lounge, and they expect to have their ordinance approved by March or April. Several Californian cities like West Hollywood, Palm Springs, San Francisco and Oakland have also expressed interest in having social spaces for weed where you can order and consume on-site.

Dispensaries will also have to start upping their game in order to roll out the hospitality. Meanwhile, marijuana-related wellness centers, clinics and retreats will cater to a more high-brow crowd and offer high-end experiences.

CBD Pet Products

More pet owners are becoming aware of the health benefits for their furry friends and demand for these types of products is growing. Expect to see an explosion of products made with superfoods, organic ingredients and medical grade hemp to treat conditions from anxiety to joint pain.

Eat, Drink and Be Mary

The legalization of recreational weed will become a catalyst for the cannabis-foodie market to explode. Chefs are teaming up with investors and we’ll see cannabis appear in a wide variety of cuisines. Everything from THC-infused wine out of Napa and Sonoma valleys to pot-pairing supper clubs and private dinner parties prepared by celebrity chefs will be also on offer. States like Oregon, California, Colorado and Washington have already gotten a head start with exclusive THC-themed dinner parties featuring James Beard nominated chefs. In addition, expect to see a spike in the sale of edibles as the recreational marijuana market is expected exceed $100 million in sales in 2018.

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