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Canadian Cannabis: 5 Things We’re Watching in 2019

Enough has been written about the historic year in Canadian cannabis. For patients, for consumers, for the general public and for the industry - 2018 was a big year for cannabis in Canada.

But before we settle into 2019, we wanted to share five things that we will be following closely here in the coming year:

Products People Want

Yes, legalization happened - but only with flower, oil and seeds. That’s a big step, but the bigger step will come before Oct. 17, 2019 with edibles and concentrates. We know from other jurisdictions, these are the products people want and while it may be cliche to say, vape pens are going to be a game changer - and we (and folks!) are wagering that they will be more so even than edibles. However, when, how and where these products roll out will be a critical component to industry success - with the higher margins and increased opportunities for product differentiation.

Emergence of Brands

The roll-out of adult use recreational cannabis has been - ahem - challenging. Supply shortages, marketing restrictions, lack of retail outlets and long waits for shipments all had their effect. But as things continue to normalize - and producers, Provinces and retailers are able to keep shelves stocked, brands will slowly emerge. Coupled with more saleable products coming online and more/different regulations about their packaging, toward the end of the year, 2019 will be the first, true year of Canadian cannabis brands emerging.

Companies Converging

Twenty Eighteen saw its fair share of takeovers, hostile and otherwise. But the landscape is not settled yet. We expect to see smaller producers being gobbled up by larger ones and large producers being targets for non-cannabis-industry players entering the fray. The coming 365 days will see the true entrance of pharmaceutical and CPG, food companies into the sector - joining big tobacco and big beverage companies.

Hope for America, Maybe?

Yes, the Farm Bill in the US is opening wide the door for hemp in America. And, yes, more and more states are entering the adult-use recreational cannabis fray - including New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania - who are joining California, Colorado, Massachusetts and others. But, 2019 will not see a major push for a national policy on cannabis in the US. Why? Because US politics is a little fractured right now, you may have heard...

Retail, Retail, Retail

While Alberta may be ahead of the rest of the country in terms of retail offerings, 2019 will be the year that other Provinces do their best to catch up. Specifically, BC and Ontario will end 2019 in a much better retail place than they are both starting. It won’t be enough and it may not be smooth - but the first chapter in the country-wide cannabis retail story will be written in 2019 (with 2018 as the preface).

As you head out bravely into 2019 - we look forward to connecting with as many of you as possible.  There are new stories to tell and to share, new ideas to test and certainly new markets to conquer. We look forward to exploring it all with you.  

If you have something to share with the BofC team, please connect with us at editor@businessofcannabis.ca.

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