If the state of California were a country, it would have the fifth largest GDP in the world.
Take this kind of spending power and combine it with the recent legalization of recreational cannabis, and it’s fair to say that the Golden State is primed to become the Holy Grail of cannabis opportunities.
But while the market is home to immense potential, this doesn’t mean that the California cannabis business isn’t without its own unique challenges and obstacles to navigate.
Navigating California Cannabis
Today’s infographic comes to us from High Hampton Holdings and it helps set the stage for the boom in California, as well as listing the regulatory hurdles that companies must be prepared to deal with in the jurisdiction.
In the next year, it’s expected that recreational cannabis sales in California will surpass the existing total from the already established medical market.
By 2025, those recreational sales could be $4 billion per year – that’s five times the size of the medical market!
The potential of the California cannabis market may be obvious, but navigating both the state’s notorious regulatory system and tax regime is a clear threat for companies aiming to succeed in the space.
Since legalization, the price of cannabis in California has become an immediate hiccup that has initially angered consumers, reducing expected demand and state revenues.
According to BDS Analytics, the effective sales tax on a gram of cannabis bought in San Jose works out to a hefty 38%. Add this to the higher cost of doing business in the state, and the sticker shock for consumers is real.
After high taxes, companies entering the California market must also navigate the state’s complex rules and regulations about growing, distributing, and selling cannabis.
To give an idea of what this looks like for the average company, here is a brief snapshot of California’s regulatory environment:
- There are three governing bodies for cannabis in the state: California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC)
- There is a dual licensing requirement in the state, in which companies must be licensed both by the state as well as by local authorities
- Companies must get their local license before their state license – and this is complicated: there are 58 counties and 482 incorporated cities, each with their own specific set of rules and requirements
- Currently, many growers do not meet state or local standards
- The supply of zoned, permitted areas for cannabis cultivation are scarce and in high demand
Even further, the rules around cultivating, distributing, and retailing all involve specific and highly-specialized licenses. For example, only those with a full-service distribution license can coordinate required third-party testing, ensure packaging reviews of products, and collect and remit cultivation excise taxes.
Despite the challenges that exist in the California cannabis market, it is still the undisputed jewel in the crown of the global legal cannabis space, offering access to 39 million consumers and large amounts of disposable income at play.
Only companies that can navigate this uncharted territory will be able to take advantage of this lucrative opportunity.
The Consumer Potential of Retail Cannabis
The cannabis industry is evolving fast, and it’s being driven by consumer preferences. See the growth of retail cannabis, and the trends shaping the future.
The Consumer Potential of Retail Cannabis Products
“Eat, drink, and be merry” is becoming an increasingly common mantra for cannabis consumers.
It’s also a refrain that speaks the evolving demand picture for cannabis in a post-legalization environment, as it becomes clearer what products consumers want to see coming from the sector.
Today’s infographic comes to us from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it dives deeper into the profound investor potential in cannabis retail products, like edibles and concentrates.
The Allure of Retail Products
As the business of cannabis matures, several trends are directing its course. Consumer spending in North America is ballooning overall, but growth largely depends on the product type.
|Trend||↓ 14pp total share|
(from 50% to 36%)
|↑ 2pp total share|
(from 12% to 14%)
|↑ 13pp total share|
(from 23% to 36%)
|↓ 1pp total share
(from 15% to 14%)
While seasoned consumers prefer smoking cannabis, other consumers are actually drawn to alternative forms that the plant comes in. Proprietary research from New Frontier Data reveals the products that most appeal to potential U.S. cannabis consumers:
- 69% solid edibles
- 54% liquid edibles
- 44% topicals
- 36% joints or blunts
- 32% vaporizers (vapes)
- 29% tinctures
- 21% concentrates
- 19% pipes / water pipes
The rising popularity in retail cannabis-derived products is being directed by consumers – and they’re using products for everything from relaxation to pain management.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Food and beverages, along with wellness products, are proving to be a huge draw.
Food & Beverages
Most people are aware of pot brownies, even if they haven’t tried them. The best known cannabis edibles are baked goods, and these days they’re also found as candy and chocolate.
Cannabis-infused drinks are also growing in popularity, in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms. Cannabis-infused water, juice, tea, coffee, and even kombucha are legally making their way onto grocery store shelves.
Of course, before edibles can become fully mainstream, there are a few considerations: stricter regulations for product consistency, not to mention appropriate packaging and labeling to keep them away from children. As an example, Canada will start allowing edibles and other products in October 2019, as they iron out these kinks a year after full legalization.
Health & Wellness
Cannabis has been treasured for its medicinal and therapeutic properties for centuries. In the present, it has re-emerged in an intersection with the wellness industry. In fact, many consumers are already using CBD-infused products in their daily life:
- Relieving anxiety
- Enhancing sleep
- Managing pain
- Personal care
Importantly, retail cannabis products are also helping consumers reduce their dependence on medications, and to kick unhealthy habits.
A Consumer-Driven Future
Consumers are not just eating cannabis up, but they are also drinking, vaping, dabbing — and the list goes on.
For these reasons, investors should keep an eye on the fast-changing multitude of products and trends within the sector, as they provide some of the best opportunities going forward.
In the final part of this series, we’ll dive into the role that the cannabidiol (CBD) compound plays in the cannabis market.
Why Retail Cannabis Could Be the Next Big Investment Boom
Retail cannabis could flourish into a $47.3 billion industry by 2027. What makes this cannabis segment so enticing for investors and consumers alike?
Imagine being an investor in Microsoft at the time of the company’s IPO in 1986. Or better yet, buying Amazon shares while it was still just an aspiring online book store in the late 1990s.
Chances to be an early adopter in the next billion-dollar industry are far and few in between – but it’s exactly what is happening today with the nascent cannabis market. After close to a century of prohibition, cannabis is back in the limelight as legalization rolls across the U.S. and Canada.
Visualizing the Retail Boom
Today’s infographic from Choom Holdings Inc demonstrates the consumer interest in retail cannabis, and the challenges and opportunities that come with this potential.
Legal cannabis today is a lucrative modern market in the U.S. and Canada. In 2018, sales were $10.8 billion – and they are expected to grow to $47.3 billion by 2027.
Who’s driving this growth? A recent survey reveals that:
- 58% of U.S. cannabis consumers use it at least once a week
- 66% of these weekly users are millennials, aged 18 to 34
- 46% of cannabis consumers who also drink, prefer it over alcohol
- 74% of cannabis consumers who also drink, believe it to be safer than alcohol
With more people using cannabis frequently, the disruptive potential of retail cannabis becomes clear.
The Cannabis Supply Issue
Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and most recently California have been among the major U.S. states to legalize recreational cannabis in recent years.
Although cannabis sales across all states have soared, there’s one caveat to mention, which is clearly seen in the case of California. As the state began selling cannabis in stores on January 1st, it also simultaneously ran out of supply when the grey market came rushing up.
This trend of pent-up demand is clear across both mature and new markets – even Canada couldn’t escape the same supply crunch, subjecting customers to long lines and wait times on day one of legalization. For example, only one legal retail store was open in the entire province of British Columbia on October 17th.
It’s not surprising to see why cannabis is such a valuable retail product, though: dispensaries typically outsell Whole Foods and other similar retailers.
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(Source: Marijuana Business Daily)
The Value Play in Cannabis
Seizing an early adoption opportunity is a best-case scenario in the investing world.
Today, such an opportunity may come in the form of retail cannabis. The segment still faces specific hurdles, but these challenges have the potential to convert into golden opportunities as the market matures in North America:
1. Inherited demand
Legal retailers will reach new consumers as the grey market begins to come online.
2. Strong foundation
Retail cannabis is only legal in ten U.S. states, but it already shows strong promise.
3. Building bridges
Retail cannabis stores are just now opening in Canada, but licenses are hard to get.
Retail cannabis is a brave new world for consumers and investors alike – and early entrants to the industry with access to capital and a large retail footprint will likely lead the charge.
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