The top 10 cannabis industry moments from 2021
By Matthew O'Brien
10. Cannabis In Malta
Last Saturday, Malta’s president George Vella signed legislation into law that legalized the home cultivation of cannabis.
This move makes Malta — a nation home to over 525,000 people the very first European nation to legalize cannabis, albeit they aren’t seeking to commercialize cannabis in the same way North America has.
Moving forward, all adults living in Malta will have the means to legally possess up to 7 grams of cannabis in public, and 50 grams in their home residence.
Malta will also have cannabis clubs who can distribute up to 50 grams of cannabis to each member monthly, with clubs being capped at 500 members.
I love this alternative approach Malta is taking, not that I know it will be successful, but simply for the reason that we haven’t tested this model before.
9. The Rise Of Delta 8 THC
Delta 8 THC is an isomer of delta 9 THC which means these molecules have identical molecular formulas, and consequently, they produce similar effects.
As a result of the Farm bill in 2018 which legalized hemp in the U.S, delta 8 THC suddenly became legal despite it being so similar to delta 9 THC.
I was very skeptical of any cannabis brand that sought to associate itself with delta 8 THC throughout this year, however, courtesy of a recent conversation I’ve had to update my perspective on delta 8 THC.
With U.S cannabis brands being unable to ship products outside of the state they operate within, it seems possible that successful cannabis brands could create delta 8 THC products in 2022 to obtain national distribution.
8. Canadian Cannabis Consolidation
Canadian cannabis sales continue to increase, however, for certain Canadian producers this is coming at a time where they are losing market share.
From August 2020 to August 2021, the top five Canadian cannabis producers’ total market share declined by 20%.
This during a time where they have collectively spent billions of dollars acquiring many of their main competitors.
Acquiring another Canadian cannabis producer is a sure way to increase your revenues in the short term, and this strategy has helped the top 5 Canadian cannabis companies retain 80% of their market share.
Building a successful cannabis brand takes significant resources.
At a time where these producers need to focus on building the brands they have already started building, they are absorbing two additional items that they don’t need; more cultivation facilities and more cannabis brands.
7. Federal vs State Cannabis Policies
Despite the fact that cannabis remains federally legal in the United States, the legal cannabis industry continues to succeed as states continue to display a willingness to move faster than the federal government.
U.S cannabis sales will exceed $24 billion USD this year, and cannabis economist Beau Whitney estimates that the legal cannabis industry will employ more than 400,000 people by the end of 2021.
This willingness by states to lead the charge on cannabis is the very catalyst that has created this multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S.
We can’t say with certainty when the U.S will federally legalize cannabis.
What we can say with certainty is that the cannabis industry will continue to grow despite the federal government’s inability to enact this change.
6. Cannabis In Sports
In July Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for cannabis, just weeks before she was expected to compete in the Olympics.
Sha’Carri Richardson was not able to compete in the Olympics and this put a spotlight on the lack of logic behind banning athletes for consuming cannabis.
As a result of this event, the World anti doping agency is conducting a “scientific review” of cannabis next year to determine whether they will continue to impose an international ban on consuming cannabis.
Additionally, the UFC stopped banning players for cannabis in 2021, and basketball stars Chris Webber & Kevin Durant have both expanded their interest in cannabis.
The National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, The National Basketball, The National football league & the UFC have now all updated their policies in favor of allowing athletes to consume cannabis.
As a result, more athletes are openly discussing their positive relationship with cannabis which is fantastic to see.
5. The Success Of Cannabis Software
There have been a number of success stories in the cannabis industry in 2021, however, few greater than the success of cannabis software companies.
In the early stages of the cannabis industry nearly all of the capital flowed to the companies producing cannabis products.
Today, Weedmaps is a publicly traded company on the NYSE, Leafly is on track to go public and Dutchie is valued at $3.75 billion USD.
Cannabis software company SpringBig is also going public in a deal worth an estimated $500 million USD.
Many of these companies have built products that have become an essential part of the industry’s continued success.
As result, investors will continue to bet on cannabis software companies.
4. Apple & Amazon Embrace Cannabis
Two of the most valuable companies in the world decided it was the right time to update their policies to reflect the normalization of cannabis.
Apple announced in July that licensed cannabis companies would once again have permission to list apps on its app store.
Amazon also announced they would be excluding cannabis from its pre-employment drug screening program for positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation.
Cannabis sales in the United States are expected to exceed $24 billion USD in 2021 such that it only makes sense that these companies would update their policies to reflect this new reality.
3. A Republican Cannabis Bill.
In November, several Republican members of Congress introduced a bill to federally legalize cannabis.
This marks the first time the Republicans have proposed a bill to legalize cannabis titled the States Reform Act.
The bill comes at a time where the Democratic party is divided as to which bill they should support to legalize cannabis.
68% of people in America support the legalization of cannabis.
Having both the Republicans and the Democrats competing to legalize cannabis will likely reduce the timeline for cannabis being federally legalized.
2. The Largest Cannabis Acquisition
The largest acquisition in the history of cannabis took place in February, when Irish firm Jazz Pharmaceuticals paid some $7.2 billion USD for UK-based medical cannabis firm GW Pharmaceuticals.
In 2020, GW Pharmaceuticals was generating $500 million USD in revenue.
What was very interesting about this acquisition is not even the large price tag, but that GW Pharmaceuticals chose to focus explicitly on medical cannabis.
Companies can generate very significant amounts of revenue from solely focusing on medical cannabis, and GW Pharmaceuticals proved to be a great example of the successful outcomes companies can have.
As an Irish man, it’s great to see a company headquartered in Ireland solely focusing on developing medical cannabis products.
1. Germany’s Legalization plans
The new German government has announced its plans to legalize cannabis.
With a population of over 83 million people, legal cannabis sales could surpass $4 billion USD in Germany annually.
All going according to plan Germany will have passed this legislation by 2023, with sales starting one year later in 2024.
Times are changing in Europe as more and more nations are looking to accelerate the creation of a legal cannabis industry.
The simple fact that Germany is on course to legalize cannabis may be enough for other European nations to follow suit.