The cannabis world is ever-evolving, with companies continually coming out with exciting new methods of consumption, new states working on legalization efforts, and 2020 Presidential candidates making the federal decriminalization of cannabis a major focus.
The year 2019 has already seen some drastic changes in the industry, such as groundbreaking new technological advances and fascinating consumption trends. Serge Chistov, financial partner to the Honest Marijuana Company eco-friendly cannabis growery, shared his thoughts on the future of cannabis, major 2019 trends in the industry, the demographic with the most growth in consumption use, and more.
What is the future of cannabis?
“Branded products and repeatable consumer experience will be major industry focuses,” said Serge. “The industry is maturing and American consumers now demand quality, innovation, and ease of use—anything that has to do with buying a product from Amazon. More and more Americans would vote today for the federal legalization. There will be new products, and the same rules will apply to cannabis as they do for other products. I also think that the hemp extract and some of the other cannabinoids will play an important role in dietary supplements, and overall consumption will be greatly extended with a new generation of products.”
What trends are shaping cannabis in 2019 and beyond?
“I think bud smoking will stay with us but will be reduced by the innovations and new technologies that deliver cannabis—like properly designed edibles and dissolving pills,” said Serge. “Seniors and soccer moms will also become bigger consumer groups in the cannabis industry. Older people who [were affected by previous] stigma are slowly but surely catching on with cannabis.... With soccer moms, right now there is a big conversation about more delivery services in the industry, which may take away the stigma of going into the pot shop and associating with the unknown element.”
What technology will have the biggest impact on the cannabis industry?
“There will be a new generation of edibles and topicals,” continued Serge. “I’m talking about a nanotechnological approach that turns non water-soluble substances like cannabinoids into nano size so they can be added into transdermal patches, topical lotions, and more, for the cleanest, most efficient, healthiest, and most discreet cannabis consumption. This would allow for a smokeable-like effect without the smoking. Products made with nanotechnology are effective, as you don’t need to consume a lot to get the desired effect. [They will] also [be more healthful], because they allow you to obtain medical benefits from marijuana without smoking and sacrificing health in exchange.”
Will vape pens replace bud smoking? Why or why not?
“No, I don’t think they will,” said Serge. “They will be an additional method of use. Some people I know who use vape pens are new users or they like the convenience. It is easier to use a vape pen conspicuously in public and while traveling. However, I think bud smoking will stay with us, as it is a traditional and long known way of consuming cannabis. It will be reduced by things that will ‘skip the first pass’ of the human body, which will eventually take a bigger chunk out of the consumers who smoke bud and use vape pens.”
How savvy are cannabis consumers when it comes to knowing about different strains?
“They are not as savvy as we would want them to be, but they are definitely more savvy than they were five years ago,” said Serge. “Consumers are still talking about their perceived values of different strains, without realizing that a majority of them are hybrids. There are no specifically unique indicas or sativas—there are indica or sativa-dominant hybrids because a lot of the cannabis genetics in the country are all mixed and there was no uniform approach to market them. So, yes, there is a long way to go as far as us educating the consumer. There is still a lot of work to be done.”
What demographic do you see having the most growth? Hipsters? Oldsters? Soccer moms?
“Seniors and soccer moms,” said Serge. “Hipsters have been puffing away and legalization is just another opportunity for them to experience new ways of consuming and new, improved technological advances. Baby boomers are a massive demographic! We would love for them to start participating in using cannabis. They are the largest demographic in the country. As more of the industry develops and people can buy cannabis discreetly to use in the safety of their homes, I believe more of [them] will be big participants.”
What new challenges will the industry face going forward?
“Challenges are the continued regulations, the unknown of the federal legalization, and [the fact] that we are not in a competitive state,” said Serge. “Americans are competitive people and now our hands are tied. Canadians have all the funding in the world. Compare our industry to the stock deals done out of Canada. Just think about it. They are coming across the border and are able to accumulate resources and opportunities on our land. All of this is strictly funded by privateers, by people with savings and reinvested earnings. This is an unfair competitive landscape and I hate the sound of it. We are the ones who are pioneering the industry in Colorado and California and it turns out to be like an old joke—pioneers get shot and settlers are the ones who are making money! It’s not good.”
Will the market favor dispensaries or delivery?
“I believe that there will be an online presence where the consumer will be educated just like in any other goods or service industry. Then there will be the consumer who would like to go and actually chat with people who are in the know and in the action, just like you would go and select your wines. In this instance, you go into the store that has a great selection of brands and you will find two or three bottles that you really like, but this does not mean that you would not on occasion order them online just for the convenience of your day to day life. I believe it will be a healthy combination of the two, and it’s for the better.”
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started?
“What I know now that I wish I had known when I was starting is that regulations would continue to change. I understand that the government is trying to find their footing, but because of this the manufacturers and logistical personnel need to continue changing packaging and labeling and adjusting how we bring our product to the market. That would have been helpful to know and I would have thought by now that the banking system would be more available to the cannabis industry as well, but that is still not happening. Other than that, our expectations were very limited, because starting in the industry was a freedom and an opportunity to finally do what we are passionate about and share that with the rest of the world.”