Trends that will affect people in the cannabis industry 2019
The growing popularity and wide-ranging fandom in the cannabis industry have shaped the way the public thinks about legalization. Social media has certainly played a factor in more recent years. With laws changing, the media has had to adjust as this booming community continues to grow. Between the different kinds of crowds, the industry has had to up their restrictions in policy and regulation. In a growing community with the differing laws, regulations, and policies make it very confusing to be sure of where medical patients stand legally. With so many variations of the same law, the industry policies are going to vary from place to place.
1.Social media use and "safe spaces" for content
These past couple years quickly led up to a cannabis community take over on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube as these outlets have had to adapt and update their Terms and Conditions to parallel the ideologies of their concerned online community members. These outlets have repeatedly deleted valued members who have huge fan bases in the community like @silencedhippie, whose YouTube was deleted at 429k followers.
A recent bill that went into effect as of January 1, 2019, was Assembly Bill 3067, which under the Adult Use Marijuana Act would protect minors and youth under age 21 from advertisements that include anything cannabis-related.
Luckily, the cannabis community is innovative, and with alternative platforms like The WeedTube, creators are able to safely share their content in a legal manner. Although cannabis is legal in some form in many states, there are still many people with extreme views and concerns on the way this industry will influence society and the internet.
According to Instagram's official policy regarding marijuana: “Instagram doesn’t allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. However, we do allow people to include a website link in their bio information.”
This policy says a lot about how much support the industry has retained and how it has created online waves so big they are reinventing the way social media is monitored. Recently Instagram has had a crackdown on users “feed” or “for you” which is normally a place to come across trends similar to ones you tend to interact with. This is measured through likes, comments, or shares and is based on accounts or hashtags that you already follow.
2. Mainstream use - bigger celebrities slowly coming out about their usage, influencers for cannabis
From the original celebrity stoners like Tommy Chong and Snoop Dogg, to modern influencers like Koala Puffs and MacDizzle, it’s no secret that celebrities have been smoking for years. Many well-known celebrities, however, have felt obligated to hide this from the general public in fear of losing otherwise devoted fans and receiving general backlash. Now Celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg have not only advocated for cannabis-related products, including CBD but even started their own line and made their mark in the industry. 2019 has definitely been a revolutionary year for online influencers where their fan base has rooted around promoting, reviewing, and vlogging about cannabis. In these past years, we’ve seen influencers like Andrea Russet, actress and beauty guru come out with videos like “Online shopping while high” or rapper Berner, release his own brand inspired by his quality cannabis strain, Cookies. With more people open to sharing their experiences on social media and how they have benefited the social support is beginning to outnumber the backlash.
No matter what community you find yourself most committed to, there is always going to be someone who is judging you because they think you are wrong.
3. Widening demographic - moms and older generations taking an interest
As more credible sources come out confirming the benefits of medical marijuana use, people from across every walk of life have really started to tune in on how the legal herb can help them individually. From millennials to the older generation, east coast to the west coast, across cultures, and even worldwide this industry is becoming more broadly accepted. Not only do we have icons like Tommy Chong but even more modern accounts like @dabbing_granny, a cannabis advocate who has inspired others to join in on the community. With marijuana becoming more widely recognized as a medicine instead of a drug, different types of groups have come forward in the all-inclusive industry as it continues to prove it’s medicinal properties as beneficial. Among the different beneficial properties, people have claimed to have quit smoking nicotine, find anxiety relief, get better sleep, and experience pain relief which has drawn a multitude of new consumers into the cannabis community. It is no longer widely perceived as a young act of rebellion or “experiment,” even older people are giving it a shot after retirement when it is less of a risk socially and professionally.
4. Rescheduling/legalization - could mean bigger things for brands and products hoping to cross state lines
With 33 states now legalizing marijuana, these all come with separate restrictions from packaging policies to different possession limitations - the laws will vary from place to place. Although more companies are growing their name and appearing across the market hoping to be the next big brand, the geographical restrictions make it really difficult to be recognized on a national level. The restrictions have changed tremendously and as some states work toward panning out things completely, others will have already enacted their restrictions. For example, carrying laws vary even for medicinal patients where it is legal to carry up to 2.5 ounces in Arizona, yet just next door in California the legal possession limit is one ounce. Many brands are limited to promotions in their area as laws vary from place to place. These localities can lead to a lot of confusion within the technicalities of the legalization process.
Laws and cannabis policies not only vary from state to state but can also differ on a more localized level, even from city to city, which makes it extremely difficult for a product to establish their name. As brands recognize that not all places are working towards paralleling cannabis policies, they are able to still dive upon the product, but this makes it more expensive for consumers as the bulk specials are becoming a thing of the past, unregulated industry.
5. Branding - the plant is taking on new forms and big business is here to profit on it
As cannabis laws develop, the states have generally become more in favor of pushing for full legalization. Going fully state compliant has demanded a lot of change in the industry; from cultivation to well-defined selling policies, each state will have varying policies. In California, growers will now have to obtain a license and get lab tested and approved before they are able to sell to vendors, which makes it hard for local, small farmers who may not have the profits or finances to move forward with the licensing process. This new lab testing law makes it difficult for any previous cannabis growers to continue making a profit off of their product because these legal and licensed brand names are already overwhelming the industry.
Although these could be beneficial for local, quality brands, many fully compliant growers are not able to get lab tested for a multitude of minuscule, and sometimes unnecessary, barriers.
Vendors are also required to collect taxes on cannabis product as well, which completely switches the market so that everything is pricier. From extra grow regulations to increased taxes, the profit boom was not as anticipated right out the gate. Not only are these growing brands being forced to tax product that would not otherwise be taxed, but they have far more restrictions on packaging like child seal requirements or potency limits.
Times have certainly changed, especially within the last year but many of the changes aim to make the community safer. As the community comes together and continuously grows, there will be a lot more change to be made, however, I think this goes to show just how much of an impact cannabis advocates have, locally, state-wide, and even on a national level!