A Busy Year in Cannabis: 2018 Lessons Learned and 2019 Predictions
Top photo: © Aleksandr | Adobe Stock

A Busy Year in Cannabis: 2018 Lessons Learned and 2019 Predictions

Cannabis Business Times’ advisory board members share their biggest lessons from this past year, as well as their 2019 industry forecasts.

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December 28, 2018

It’s been a tumultuous year for the cannabis industry, from the Department of Justice’s Jan. 4 repeal of the Cole Memo to President Trump’s Dec. 20 signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized industrial hemp.

Last December, we asked industry experts from legal adult-use states to share forecasts about their respective markets for the upcoming year. This year, as we reflect on how many of these predictions became reality, we asked Cannabis Business Times’ advisory board members to share their favorite lessons learned in 2018—and their predictions on where the industry is headed in 2019.

David Bonvillain, Founder/CEO, Elite Enterprises

2018 Lesson: “Stay relentlessly focused on your plan and avoid distractions whenever possible. Be prepared to fail, but never quit. Stay adaptable. Communicate better. If you are considering a partnership/merger/acquisition/whatever, don’t get too enamored with ‘the deal’ or be intimidated to do your due diligence on their team just like they do on yours. Lots of marriages end in divorce, so you definitely want to know who you are getting into a relationship with. Get shit done.”

2019 Prediction: “The industry is going to continue to mature and change dramatically from what many probably thought it was going to be like (or what they were going to be able to influence it [to be] like). Consolidation is happening quickly—there have been more legitimate deals, acquisitions and mergers over the last eight months or so than ever before. Those that know how to adapt and either play the bigger game or find a unique niche in which they can thrive will be critical to any sort of success. The days of ‘Hey, I know how to do this stuff and I am pretty smart—I’ll just do it all myself’ will be soon be untenable (if it’s not already). There is a good quote: ‘Genius is way more work than just being a genius,’ and those that have the drive, adaptability, work ethic and communication have an entirely new industry in front of them with all new challenges and promise.”

Kenneth Morrow, Founder, Trichome Technologies

2018 Lesson: “You can’t predict unpredictability, meaning the vast disparity in rules and regs from city to city, county to county and state to state that even now keep changing, [and which have] created, for lack of a better term, ‘chaos.’”

2019 Prediction: “With the hopeful passage of the Farm Bill, I expect the lifting of the ban of interstate cannabis commerce to hopefully follow next. Continued large foreign/Canadian investments in the U.S. cannabis industry, as well as conglomeration of currently existing U.S. companies and the beginning of foreign production and export—meaning even more conglomeration worldwide—will allow for importation in some countries, making it difficult for domestic producers to match the cost of production of most foreign countries.”

Crystal Oliver, Co-Founder, Washington's Finest Cannabis

2018 Lesson: “There is no such thing as a final rule, policy, law or ordinance. Six years into legalization in Washington, I still find myself advocating for my right to farm cannabis before the same agencies, councils and commissions.”

2019 Prediction: “2019 will be both the year of ‘big marijuana,’ as well as the year of ‘craft cannabis.’ Large investments, acquisitions and consolidation will continue, but I think we will also see an increase in consumers’ and policy makers’ interest in supporting independent, sungrown and sustainable cannabis farms."