Cannabis Industry 420: What’s New in 2022

The cannabis industry has covered some treacherous ground over the past few years during the pandemic, from positive legal developments and sales trends, to supply chain issues, operating costs, and cutbacks. So far, 2022 has seen some ups and downs as well, with the slow but steady recovery to normal life easing some of the strains.

While there is much to be cautious about, there is a lot more to celebrate. The annual 4/20 landmark is always a welcome event - here are some key developments to highlight this year’s 420 celebration.

Traditionally, 420 has been the biggest shopping day for cannabis products. The upward trends in edibles, concentrates, and flower seen in 2021 will likely be focal points for cannabis retailers this year. This is a big move in the positive direction for cannabis processors and testing labs, upon which commercial retailers depend for high-quality production and testing standards. A post-pandemic restriction-free boost in estimated sales of on average 30-50% means business will be up for all parties involved, a trend that hopefully will be sustained throughout the year.

Reports indicate that recreational cannabis sales produced over $3.7 billion in revenue in 2021, a 34% increase over 2020. This number does not include medical cannabis sales, which itself is trending upward as well. This rate of growth, if sustained, equates to a potential climb to over $100 billion by 2026. The tax and regulatory revenue alone will lead to a bounty of programs and initiatives to benefit local and public communities. Importantly, this rate of growth will lead to significant increases in the processing and testing sectors of the industry, and be a major driver for instrument and consumables manufacturers supplying the equipment to meet demand.

The outlook for medical cannabis research and development is very promising as well, with several key milestones achieved so far this year.  Following up on the initiative to approve more cultivators for research-grade cannabis, the drug enforcement agency has given the proverbial green light to several such companies. Five entities registered with the DEA as “Bulk Manufacturer Marihuana Growers” have been approved to grow and supply researchers with DEA licensed status.

The goal of these and others that hope to become registered is to be sources for not only research, but for eventual cannabis-based pharmaceutical development. The presence of these additional cannabis suppliers will very likely be a winner for many areas of research, the lack of which has been a major limitation for the industry until this point.

Clinical research studies are moving into the larger arena with efforts like the 5,000-patient clinical trial for chronic pain sponsored by the National Health Service (NHS) slated to begin this year. Other large clinical studies are in the works, as the industry and medical community becomes convinced of the potential health benefits and the need for evidenced-based research to support these claims.

On the legislative front, the US House of Representatives passed the Medical Marijuana Research Act meant to provide funding and lower barriers for research. The legislation promises to serve as a gateway for even more entities to gain approval to supply research-grade cannabis, which inevitably will help legalization efforts and industry markets.

The US Senate, on the other hand, recently approved the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act intended to streamline access for researchers who want to study cannabis and work with the federal drug administration (FDA) to develop cannabis-based medicines. This was the most recent version of the bill which was original introduced in 2020. Both Acts are being considered in a final measure, and the fact that both chambers agree on this progress bodes well for research and the industry as a whole.

Hot on the heels of this research legislation was the introduction of a federal legalization vote, which passed the House. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act now requires Senate approval for full-approval.

In total, these developments have helped push the industry into new territory, which will translate to significant progress for the processing and testing sectors of the industry and the equipment vendors, instruments, and services that supply these sectors.

With that we'll leave you with plenty of good thoughts to fill your head as you partake in another momentous 420 celebration.

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