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California Cannabis: A Golden Opportunity With Unique Challenges

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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.

California Cannabis: A Golden Opportunity With Unique Challenges

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!

Sticker Shock

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.

Complex Legislation

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.

Golden Potential

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.

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Cannabis

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

The Big Pharma industry is entering the cannabis space, by swapping patients for patents. But what are the impacts of such a takeover?

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The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless companies.

Today’s infographic comes to us from CB2 Insights, and explores how and why the notorious Big Pharma are interested in the nascent cannabis industry.

Who are “Big Pharma”?

The term refers to some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, considered especially influential as a group. To give a sense of their sheer size, the market cap of the top 10 Big Pharma companies is $1.7 trillion—Johnson & Johnson being the largest, with a market capitalization of $374 billion.

So far, Big Pharma has watched the cannabis industry from the sidelines, deterred by regulatory concerns. What we are seeing now is the sleeping giant’s takeover slowly intensifying as more patents, partnerships, and sponsored clinical trials come to fruition.

Could Cannabis be Sold Over the Counter?

The cannabis plant has been used in medicine for 6,000 years. However, there is still considerable debate around the role it plays in healthcare today. There are currently almost 400 active and completed clinical trials worldwide surrounding cannabidiol (CBD), a type of cannabinoid that makes up 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract.

Cannabis relies on CBD’s therapeutic properties, and recent studies suggest it may be useful in combating a variety of health conditions, such as:

  • Epilepsy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Migraines
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer side effects

As of 2019, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use. Its potential for pain management has led some experts to recommend it as an alternative to addictive painkillers, with one study of 13 states showing opiate-related deaths decreasing by over 33% in the six years since medical cannabis was legalized.

As the industry evolves, data is becoming increasingly important in understanding the potential of cannabis—both as a viable medical treatment, and as a recreational product. The shift away from anecdotal evidence towards big data will inform future policies, and give rise to a new era of consumer education.

Big Pharma’s Foray into Cannabis

Further legalization of cannabis will challenge Big Pharma’s bottom line, and poach more than $4 billion from pharma sales annually. In fact, medical cannabis sales are projected to reach $5.9 billion in 2019, from an estimated 24 million patients.

Seven of Canada’s top 10 cannabis patent holders are major multinational pharmaceutical companies, a trend that is not unique to Canada.

Company Rank🇨🇦 Canadian PatentsCompany Rank🇺🇸 U.S. Patents
1. Novartis211. Abbvie59
2. Pfizer142. Sanofie39
3. GW Pharmaceuticals133. Merck35
4. Ericsson134. Bristol-Myers Squibb34
5. Merck115. GW Pharmaceuticals28
6. Solvay Pharmaceuticals76. Pfizer25
7. Kao Corporation77. Hebrew University of Jerusalem19
8. Ogeda SA78. Roche17
9. Sanofi69. University of Connecticut16
10. University of Connecticut610. U.S. Health and Human Services13

It comes as no surprise that many pharmaceutical giants have already formed strong partnerships with cannabis companies, such as Novartis and Tilray, who will develop and distribute medical cannabis together in legal jurisdictions around the world.

Data is the Missing Link

While the body of knowledge about the many uses of cannabis continue to grow, clinical evidence is key for widespread adoption.

Products backed by data will be a defining criteria for major companies to come into the market en masse. And ultimately, Big Pharma’s entry could accelerate public understanding and confidence in cannabis as a viable option for a range of ailments, and mark the next major milestone for the industry.

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Visualizing the Boom in the CBD Beverage Market

CBD-infused beverages are considered to be the fastest growing segment in the overall cannabis market. How did this partnership of brews and bud come to be?

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Visualizing the Boom in the CBD Beverage Market

It’s safe to say that the cascade of cannabis legislation has sent the world into a constant state of flux. We are witnessing a seismic shift in culture, as cannabis steps out of the black market and into unexpected industries—from big pharma, to beauty, and now to beverages.

According to Zenith Global, the U.S. CBD-infused drinks market will reach an estimated $1.4 billion by 2023, making it one of the fastest-growing segments in the overall industry.

Today’s infographic comes to us from Trait Biosciences, and outlines the magnitude of the CBD-infused beverage segment, along with some of the subsequent challenges and opportunities that will shape the future of cannabis.

CBD and its Benefits

CBD is an abbreviated term for cannabidiol, a type of cannabinoid that makes up 40% of a cannabis plant’s extract. It has become increasingly popular for relieving pain, promoting relaxation, and lifting mood without the psychoactive properties that come with THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the other major cannabinoid.

Recent studies suggest that CBD’s properties may be useful in combating a variety of health conditions such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, migraines, arthritis, and even side effects of cancer.

The New Wave of Beverages

CBD-infused beverages will open the floodgates to new audiences who want to consume cannabis in different formats. They have many benefits, that will rival other methods of ingestion:

  • Easy to Administer
    Beverages are seen as the healthier way to consume CBD, especially compared to smoking.
  • More Accessible
    They are becoming more easily available in restaurants, bars, supermarkets, and online sites.
  • Functionality
    There is some evidence to suggest that CBD in caffeinated products can curtail the feeling of being on “edge”.
  • Higher Precision
    Dosage is controlled and, much like alcohol, consumers will be able to determine how much CBD content they want.
    • Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic product categories are currently being explored, resulting in some unexpected partnerships, such as Molson Coors—the world’s seventh largest brewer—and Hexo Corp, a Canadian cannabis product company.

      Trends Shaping the Future of CBD Beverages

      The CBD product landscape is constantly evolving. Demand for CBD-infused beverages will be fueled by three key trends.

      1. Changing Consumer Preferences: The decline of alcohol sales globally is evidence of changing consumer tastes. Sales are expected to fall further as more people exchange alcohol for cannabis products.
      2. Product Innovation: Sustainable packaging, transparency around ingredients, more convenient ready-to-drink solutions, and personalized strains are driving the furious pace of product innovation.
      3. Big Players and Influencers: Growing knowledge and increasing brand/celebrity endorsements are creating an established CBD industry in mainstream culture. Already, singer Willie Nelson and former NFL star Terrell Davis have put their names to two seperate lines of CBD-infused beverages.

      As these trends evolve, consumers will benefit from more education around CBD, which could lead to more CBD products, like beverages, entering the mainstream across numerous industries.

      What’s Next for the CBD-infused Beverage Market?

      CBD purity is a primary focus area of current scientific studies. For consumers, more transparency is needed around ingredients, dosage levels, and product labeling. For example, the state of Indiana now mandates that manufacturers must label CBD products with QR codes that can be scanned to show whether they contain acceptable levels of THC, CBD, pesticides, and other compounds.

      Most notably, new methods of CBD infusion will transform the beverages market. Many industry players have used nano-emulsion to infuse CBD. However, these fat-based nanoparticles have been known to accumulate in organs, causing health concerns. That’s why creating water-soluble CBD has been an emerging industry priority.

      CBD-infused beverages are poised to become the next big thing and create massive economic growth—despite strict industry regulations. Scientific advancements and changing laws will unlock the potential of the CBD market, potentially disrupting the entire beverage industry.

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