By Andrew Behringer & Amna Shamim
People talk about the West Coast as if the cannabis industry stops when you cross the Mississippi. While that was true 10 years ago, times are changing fast. The fact is, the East Coast cannabis industry is about to explode. While traditionally California and Colorado have been the big names, this is set to change, and soon.
In New York, Cuomo is talking about legalizing cannabis for recreational users. New Jersey has recreational legalization on the ballot this November. Virginia’s state government is under a blue wave, with the house, senate, and governor all being democrats who are pushing through cannabis legalization at a rapid rate.
Cannabis has finally been acknowledged as an essential industry during the covid-19 pandemic and that changes things, whether politicians are ready to acknowledge it or not. Staring down the barrel of massive tax shortfalls, legislators are focusing on the potential revenue. Simultaneously consumers are demanding better access and better products and businesses are springing up to serve that demand. Edibles businesses are doing particularly well with consumers who are skittish about smoking, who are new, and/or who just need a little extra help dealing with the world in 2020.
Education and access to expert insights is easier than ever today as well, thanks to the internet and the cannabis industry’s willingness to pivot to virtual platforms. While there is no single perfectly reliable and easily-accessible resource for the entire cannabis industry, there are several good options. The Medical Cannabis Community has always been a reliable digital resource for patients and caregivers, and now virtual events are booming too. Big names like Benzinga are moving their investor summits online and focused events like Everything Edibles are providing community and education to edibles enthusiasts and businesses. The industry has always pivoted rapidly - in 2020, the pace of change has quickened even more. As we all grow more comfortable online, information will continue to become more accessible to those of us who experience socioeconomic barriers (financial, physical, schedule, etc) or who do not want to travel to conferences (COVID, flight disruptions, etc) or take long courses.
For those of us who have been in the industry for a while, it’s incredibly exciting to see the potential of the East Coast cannabis industry and watch as people begin to legally discover the potential of the cannabis plant, both personally and professionally.