2023 has been a significant year for cannabis across North America. While we have seen the continued march of cannabis legalisation across US states, few successes have come easily, with states like Ohio and New York continuing their long and complex legal battles.
We’ve also come tantalisingly close to federal reform, with the promise of the SAFER Banking Act and federal rescheduling providing many with optimism for the year ahead.
In the first of three articles looking ahead to 2024, we spoke with a wide roster of industry stakeholders to discuss everything from the anticipated surge of pre-rolls, poised to surpass flower consumption in both Canada and the United States, to legislative reforms and the emergence of new market opportunities, such as cannabinoid therapeutics.
John Yang, Co-Founder & CEO of Treez
In 2024, legislative reform stands as a persistent theme, with rescheduling emerging as the focal point of unprecedented potential. Rescheduling would remove 280e and radically change the trajectory of the industry overnight. However, a collective effort is imperative, to bridge the gap between anticipation and realization, the industry must unite in a concerted effort to normalize and streamline the supply chain of cannabis sales.
In the geographical realm, the momentum of cannabis legalization continues to surge forward, in states like Florida and Pennsylvania. However, the dichotomy persists, as long-established states such as California grapple with ongoing challenges and headwinds. The contrast underscores the complex and dynamic nature of the cannabis industry, where regional dynamics play a pivotal role in shaping the industry’s trajectory.
Matt Hawkins, Founder and Managing Partner, Entourage Effect Capital
2024 will be another important ‘building’ year for the industry. Key regulatory catalysts will take place, but it will take time for their benefits to flow through, albeit they will position the market for significant growth in the years following. SAFER Banking may pass and open up payment providers to retailers, though it will likely not meet the level of banking services and investor capital that the industry requires.
However, rescheduling will likely stimulate waning investor confidence in the industry, and in turn, incoming capital, as it is expected to not only provide regulatory validation around securities laws but also contribute to improved fundamentals for operators that have been challenged by 280E. Muted revenue growth will persist as key markets struggle to implement the appropriate regulatory frameworks and new adult-use states experience delays in their launch programs. We will also see several operators shutting their doors, having exhausted their runway after accruing highly levered balance sheets from debt financings and tax deferrals, making them unattractive consolidation targets.
Though 2024 will only mark the beginning of many defining moments for cannabis, these developments will ripen our industry and raise its credibility as any other business operating in the country. Many investors are still waiting on the sidelines for the next big moves to propel the industry toward what they view as a very promising future for cannabis in the U.S.
Ben Kovler, Founder, CEO and Chairman at Green Thumb Industries
As I reflect on Green Thumb’s performance over the last year, I am optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead in 2024. Our long-term strategy of creating brands and products that resonate with the consumer, remaining disciplined with our capital allocation and driving growth that generates cash flow positions us to continue investing in the business in 2024.
The recent Gallup poll revealing a record 70% of Americans support cannabis legalization shows more than ever that Americans are choosing cannabis for well-being. In 2024, Green Thumb will continue to connect people to the cannabis experience in innovative ways. We are excited to build on the momentum from the recent adult-use sales launch in Maryland as we prepare for transitions in Ohio, Minnesota and hopefully other states that may have adult-use on the ballot in 2024.
Green Thumb is honored to play a role in ending Prohibition 2.0 in America as we continue our mission of promoting well-being through the power of cannabis.
Jason Wild, Executive Chairman, TerrAscend
All of the hard work and discipline of our TerrAscend colleagues is paying off in 2023. Becoming the first US plant-touching operator to list on the TSX, attaining the #2 market share position in New Jersey, and going from zero retail in Maryland at the start of the year to acquiring and now operating four thriving retail locations in the state, are some top highlights.
I’m also proud of how TerrAscend significantly reduced our debt and interest expense while becoming fully free cash flow positive for the second half of 2023, all while driving industry-leading growth. Those accomplishments set us up for a great start to 2024.
Harrison Bard CEO and Co-Founder of Custom Cone USA
We believe pre-rolls will continue to surge in 2024. We expect pre-rolls will surpass Flower as the #1 product category in Canada and will be the #2 product category in the US, driven by multi-pack and infused pre-roll sales. We expect to see increased automation in pre-roll production and decreases in bulk flower/oil prices, which help brands create higher quality pre-rolls for less.
Christine Smith, CEO of Grön
2024 looks promising for the industry, especially as more states legalize in the Midwest and East Coast regions. CPG brands are expected to drive innovation, developing products that cater to a broad range of consumer tastes, with minor cannabinoids becoming increasingly important in their diverse product lines.
Business of Cannabis will be publishing parts 2 and 3 in the coming days.