What can we expect from legal weed in 2023?
As the post-Prohibition landscape continues to take shape before our sweet stoner eyes, we’re witnessing the discovery of new cannabinoids, poring over the effects of therapeutic and medicinal cannabis, and indulging in all manner of novel trends—some that linger (functional mushrooms, anyone?) and others that burn bright only to quickly fade away (single-use, disposable vape pens, I hardly miss you).
And looking forward, we predict that 2023 could be a game-changing year for cannabis. What seem like health and wellness fads could potentially become cultural mainstays, and equity might finally become a priority as workers unite. Smaller craft brands may find ways to merge in order to enrich their businesses on their own terms, and celebs will almost certainly continue to stumble in and out of the cannabis space in a clumsy, uncoordinated ballet that only the most adept will survive.
Whatever your potheaded outlook, there’s no denying the constant evolution, reimagining, and kaleidoscopic metamorphosis of the contemporary cannabis industry. Here are a few highlights we anticipate for 2023:
Small Brand Consolidations
When East Fork Cultivars and Peak Extracts merged late last year, founders Katie Stem and Mason Walker laid out a prospective road map for small craft cannabis brands looking to expand and evolve while still maintaining their core values. The two each helmed a respected business focused on therapeutics, and while East Fork specialized in organic cultivation, Peak Extracts’ strength was in both therapeutic and recreational edibles. We predict more craft brands will use this merger as a model for growth, resulting in a more robust, diverse, and thoughtfully manufactured selection of products.
Diversity in Doses for Edibles
Fantastic as they are, many 100 milligram edibles exclude a large swath of cannabis users. In fact, most are formulated for the highest of high-tolerance stoners. But there’s an ever-developing and constantly growing faction of new users who want less aggressive products and don’t want to be deprived of cookies, brownies or rice crispy treats. We expect to see dispensaries stocked with lower-dose edibles and beverages, effectively filling the vacuum left by the disappearance of 25 and 50 milligram single-serving products.
The cannabis workers community has been fraught long since before weed was legal. Now, even the regulated industry is suffering from a lingering Wild West ethos that leaves workers open to all manner of exploitation—everything from overworking and underpaying farm employees to ignoring calls for improved security for budtenders vulnerable to burglaries and gun violence. And like the millions of other workers fueling billion-dollar industries overseen by old white men, a whole lot of folks have had it. So, in 2023, anticipate more organizing around not only workers rights and safety, but also more big pushes for diversification from the farm to the boardroom.
More Celeb Brands
These bandwagon-jumping celebs are going to keep collaborating with thirsty cannabis brands, especially as the cannabis wellness space continues to expand. If you assumed Martha Stewart shut it down with her CBD gummies, think again. Mike Tyson released chewy, ear-shaped gummies called “Mike Bites,” and Seth Rogen launched a line of ceramics. Place your bets on which Hollywood stoner will weedify an ancestral craft and/or cannamarket their scandals next.
A trend that’s been showing steady growth is “functional” cannabis products (i.e., holistic products with specific benefits) that contain native botanicals, ayurvedic herbs, and an assortment of fungi. Cannabis wellness is an emerging industry nationwide, but its Oregon roots run hella deep (we were the first state to decriminalize cannabis). It feels very correct that Oregon-bred brands already embracing wellness would not just champion this trend for the long term, but also become trailblazers for the rest of the industry.
More Organic Labels
Sun+Earth Certified is the Oregon cannabis industry’s answer to organic certification, going even a few steps further not just to ensure the use of regenerative farming practices, but also set standards for worker empowerment and community engagement. We predict that as cannabis wellness becomes more mainstream, users will demand therapeutic-quality herb in all of their cannabis products, not just those that they keep in the medicine cabinet. We also expect increased demand for transparency in labeling, which should force shady brands into the sun.