40 Ways Cannabis Did (and Didn't) Change – Plus 20 Predictions on What's to Come
A comprehensive list of what's changed, what hasn't, and what's coming next.
Hello and Happy New Year (almost)!
This week’s newsletter will be a bit different in format as we approach a new year, looking back on 2020 and forward on 2021. It’s also being sent a bit later than most, as this took me longer than expected to compile these lists.
A good friend of mine suggested that my unique perspective on how times have changed as they related to cannabis might be an interesting topic for this newsletter, and I couldn’t think of a better time than the end of the year.
Below, I’ve outlined 20 ways that cannabis, our interactions with the plant, and the culture surrounding it have changed since I started smoking it in 2009, as well as 20 ways that cannabis has remained relatively unchanged, and, finally, 20 predictions for cannabis by 2030. These are by no means in any particular order; A few are fun and personal, while others are general and universal.
20 Ways Cannabis Has Changed
In 2009, there were roughly 14 states with medical cannabis laws, and a handful with decriminalization statutes.No states allowed recreational/Adult-Use cannabis. Now, in 2020, 36 states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have "publicly available medical marijuana/cannabis programs." 15 of these states allow adult-use, meaning any 21-year old with valid ID can walk in and legally purchase cannabis.
Source of Product.
As mentioned, back in 2009, we had to go to the black market for cannabis because there wasn’t a legal market. Now, we have the choice of legal, grey market, and black market sources.
Gallup Poling/Social Acceptance.
House Passes Decriminalization Bill.
This has never happened until 2020. In December of this year, the house voted affirmatively to decriminalize cannabis. While I was among the first to shrug the impact of this on legislation (the senate still has to weigh in), this represents a major shift in public opinion and political action.
Preferred method of consumption.
In 2009, the only way we could consume cannabis was to smoke it. I remember googling edibles at one point and realizing how much weed it took to make.** Simply not an option. Now, with the diversity of products on the market, the percentage of overall sales that flower makes up is shrinking year over year as new consumers turn to more accessible, non-smokable options like edibles and vapes. Personally, my preference for consumption has shifted to include high dose edibles and a regular supply of concentrates.
Illegal to Essential.
In 2009, cannabis was all but illegal. Even in medical states, it was not treated with a reverence, or even respect, as it is in some respects now. In 2020, cannabis was deemed essential; that meant that, just like food services and health workers, access to cannabis was seen as essential to our lifestyles, sanity, and, frankly, tax revenues. As a result, cannabis saw a huge spike in sales, and states with legal cannabis felt a reduced burden of tax deficits compared to states without.
Cannabis is on the stock market.
In 2014, Canopy Growth became the first cannabis company to publicly sell shares on Toronto’s TSX Venture Exchange. Now, there are plenty of publicly-traded cannabis companies.
Quantity of consumption.
Personally, my cannabis budget in 2009 pales in comparison to 2020’s budget, both in monetary value and physical weight. For many of us, as access increased and prices decreased, we experienced an increase in our consumption patterns. Plus, who doesn’t love big, fat cannabis cigars?
As I mentioned, we didn’t even have extracts until 2010/2011 in Missouri. Fast forward to 2020, there’s isolate, distillate, CO2, BHO, PHO, Bubble Hash, Pressed Hash, Hash Rosin, Flower Rosin, HCFSE, HTFSE, Sauce, Diamonds, Badders and more. Technology and innovation have continued to rapidly expand our knowledge and ability to create new cannabis concentrates.
Consumers Became Growers.
If you’re like me, a longtime consumer turned grower, the last decade+ brought with it a big change in that you started to grow your own cannabis. That’s awesome! Give yourself a pat on the back. If you haven’t started yet but are on the fence, hopefully this newsletter pushes you to the right side of that fence.
Speaking of, here’s a shot of the Poon Tang Pie, now on Day 23 of Flower. She looks the best out of the entire tent, stacking great and putting out nice large bud sites. She didn’t stretch at all, and seems to be among the most immune to environmental fluctuations. Excited to have a few more of her in Veg for the next cycle.
It’s Professionally “OK” to work in Weed.
In 2009, I was being told to hide NORML from my resume, let alone publicly put it on the web on a site like LinkedIn. In 2020, I’m an open cannabis coauthor, and platforms like LinkedIn are full of true professionals that work in and with cannabis.
Flying with Cannabis is Ok-ish.
Ya know, pre-covid, when we flew on airplanes? TSA has since come out and stated that they are not looking for cannabis on domestic flights anymore. Doesn’t mean it’s technically legal. Just means they aren’t looking for it.
The Glass industry has seen a huge rise and fall over the years. Personally, I remember saving up for my first $25 pipe. Now, I have multiple rigs, and functional glass has permeated the art scene so far as to be included in contemporary art museums alongside smoke shops and galleries.**
Cities will Issue Permits for Cannabis Events.
As long as you follow the rules, it is now possible to get permits for cannabis events in legal states. ** In 2009, it was a trick just to get a conference room for a NORML meeting, let alone an open cannabis event.
Cannabis Delivery is Legal.
Not every state has made this a thing, but more and more are rolling delivery out in the wake of COVID. This is a far cry from the way we ordered weed in 2009, and even later delivery services in Chicago. **
Cannabis is Going/has Gone Corporate.
Depending on who you ask, this has already happened, but cannabis is much more corporate than it was in 2009. With publicly traded cannabis corporations buying up interests as new markets open, it is only a matter of time before the Walmart’s of the weed world are in every legal state.
In 2009, we were limited on what we actually knew about cannabis, and drugs as a whole. Now, we are leaps and bounds further than we were, and research is coming out exponentially faster each year to support claims that have been made for decades as well as offer new insights (Cannabis can help with covid, for example).
You Can Earn a Living In Cannabis.
Not only is it ok to be a professional in the cannabis space, but you don’t have to hold 2-3 other jobs in order to do so.**
When we were buying flower in 2009, some of us were still worrying about finding needles and razorblades in our buds (thanks D.A.R.E.). Now, cannabinoids are being extracted and then recombined in specific rations formulated for specific effects.
The Alcohol Industry is invested in Cannabis.
Yes, big brands like Constellation are now invested in cannabis and hemp markets. In 2009, we were all still dreaming about the day we’d see "Marlboro Greens”.
A few bonus ones:
Rise of the Autoflower.
In 2009, I’d never heard of an auto-flower, and those genetics that were being grown (often known as Ruderalis) were not of great quality. By 2020, we’ve seen a huge spike in breeding of and interest in auto flowers to the point that they are higher in quality than ever before, and beginning to rival many photo period plants.
They’re Teaching Weed in College!
Not just in the dorms, but in actual classes, too. Colleges across the country (and not just cannabis colleges like Oaksterdam) are beginning to roll out cultivation and cannabis-specific classes to bolster the pool of qualified candidates entering legal markets.
Crypto is no longer just for drugs!
In 2009, and throughout college, Crypto (currency like Bitcoin) was used for one purpose: buying drugs on the Dark Web through sites like The Silk Road. Now, Bitcoin, and crypto as a whole, are changing the way we think about finance and programming languages.
Cannabis Seeds are Federally Legal.
Believe it or not, cannabis seeds no longer have to be sold strictly for novelty purposes. With the passage of the Farm Bill, cannabis seeds are now legal to buy and sell (as long as they contain no THC, duh, they’re seeds).
20 Ways Cannabis Has Stayed the Same
Black Market still exists.
While many claim(ed) legal cannabis kills black markets, it still is alive and well, operating to support states that have not yet legalized as well as within states that have for connoisseur purposes.**
Connoisseur cannabis is still just as expensive.
Many also claimed that legal cannabis would bring down the price of cannabis. While it has certainly created more affordable options, true connoisseur, boutique bud continues to fetch premium prices.
I Still Love a Good Blunt.
The first few times I smoked, I smoked blunts. And I still do, though, admittedly, I’m cutting back out of health concerns. They’re just so damn good.
We Still Love to Smoke Outdoors (and It’s Still Just as Illegal, Sorta).
As mentioned, public consumption remains illegal, including enjoying a nice blunt or joint out on a trail like we used to do in 2009. But it is fairly common in places like Colorado to light up in the great outdoors (responsibly of course).
Cannabis has always been photogenic, and with improvements in quality, I will still argue that it is one of the most beautiful plants to grow and enjoy. When I started smoking, cannabis ignited a passion for macro photography that has continued in me to this day, and is something I admire about others in the space (like Dave’s Not Here Man).
The Social Aspect
Cannabis has always been and continues to be a tool for gathering people together over shared interests, even in the midst of COVID when many held virtual “seshes” to remain connected to fellow consumers and and industry professionals.
Cannabis + Art
Cannabis use has always been associated with the art scene, and remains an integral part of visual, audio, and interpretive arts including music, movies, and paintings. The cannabis industry continues to embraces these associations and strengthen their connections to the surrounding communities.
People are Still in Jail for Cannabis.
It sucks. Fuck places like Kansas, man. Luckily, many are being pardoned and released early in recent years, and efforts to expunge cannabis convictions are on the rise.
Illegal to Consume in Public.
In 2009, if I sparked a joint on a sidewalk, it was illegal. In 2020, it’s still illegal, though the penalties are less in most places…ahem…Kansas...
Polyconsumption is Illegal.
Similarly, in 2009 and in 2020, lighting up in a bar that serves alcohol will not only get you in trouble (public place) but also the establishment, who could lose a variety of licenses necessary to operate its business.
Cannabis Banking is Still Questionable at Best.
Cannabis businesses still can’t get (reliable, affordable) banking and the industry remains largely cash only as a result. You’d think with more than half the country operating legal cannabis businesses that banks would want to be involved, but there’s that pesky risk of federal drug laws.
Most people still buy their weed.
This one should come as no surprise: more people buy their cannabis than grow it. And that trend is likely to continue as the masses grow to accept and enjoy the ability to legally purchase cannabis products.
Just as much drama (if not more).
The joke in any industry is that it’s “like high school” in regards to the amount of drama, and cannabis is no different. Back in the day, thee was drama between dealers. Now, there’s public drama between cannabis “influencers”.
Just as much love for the plant (if not more).
As more people open up to legality and the benefits of cannabis, the love for the plant remains strong among consumers and activists, as well as cultivators and producers, in spite of the growing corporatization and commercialization of cannabis as a cash crop. I’d say this is especially true for those that transition from consumer to grower and consumer.
Plant still grows the same.
Alright, this is an easy one, but plants still grow from seed or clone, veg, flower, and are harvested. That’s how it works. We’ve got tissue culture as an option now, and a variety of methods for getting from seed/clone/tissue to harvest, but the plant still grows the same.
THC Still Gets You High
THC is still the active ingredient that is responsible for most psychoactive properties, but we now know about a plethora of other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes working together to create different effects.
Price ≠ Quality.
The best weed isn’t the most expensive but, rather, is typically the hardest to get.**
Drug Tests Still Suck.
Drug tests are still a common and (largely) protected practice, even in states with legal cannabis.
They still exist, but are largely becoming outdated as more people like you and me prove that you can be successful, motivated, and professional, all while enjoying one of the best plants on the planet.
0 Cannabis Overdoses to Date.
20 Predictions for Cannabis by 2030
Cannabis will be legal nationwide by 2030.
Cannabis consumption will be regulated to allow for public cannabis events.
Cannabis will be traded on the NYSE.
Cannabis businesses will have access to all traditional banking services.
Top Shelf Cannabis products will surpass $100/8th (Flower) in many markets. (Some markets will see $100 grams).
Most cannabis will be hybridized (lack of true sativa and indica expressions).
Vapes will become increasingly regulated.
Tobacco industry will get more involved in cannabis.
Alcohol industry will get more involved in cannabis.
Corporations will continue consolidating individual “mom & pop” retailers and producers. (Support your local growers and shops!)
More people will try their hand at home grows (hopefully inspired by this newsletter!).
More people will try cannabis for their first time.
More people will replace pharmaceuticals with cannabis.
More closet cannabis users will come out about their cannabis usage.
Formulated cannabis products will become much more common and accessible.
There will be more auto-flower grows (easier, quicker, less overhead).
More cannabinoids will be discovered and researched (including weird ones like sesqui cannabinoids).
Drug testing will be replaced by impairment testing.
Big Marijuana will (unsuccessfully) attempt to restrict home grows.
Organic certifications (True ones, like OMRI) will come to cannabis.
** Means there’s a story there, but I didn’t want to inundate everyone with even more details. Respond to this email or leave a comment with the category (changes, similarities, predictions) and the number, and I’ll tell you more.
Next week, we will be back to our regularly scheduled programming and format as we dive in to the new year. In at least a handful of new states, that also means it is now legal to grow and possess cannabis. Congratulations! Let’s see if I can’t convince you to plant a seed or two in 2021.
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