Cannabis is one industry that’s actually coming out of Covid even stronger
Despite a global pandemic, discombobulated supply chains, ballooning inflation and an ongoing fight to legalize marijuana on a federal level, the cannabis industry in America is flourishing.
“These are potentially conservative numbers with what we see playing out,” Walsh said during the kickoff to the three-day event.
But the past 12 to 18 months show there is more to the story than a Covid bump, Walsh said. Sales continued to accelerate at a record pace in markets across the US — notably in established states, such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon, Walsh said.
“You’re seeing the next phase of a maturing industry take hold here,” Walsh told CNN Business.
The industry is also expanding rapidly and creating jobs, said Karson Humiston, CEO and founder of Vangst, which runs a cannabis industry-centric job recruiting site.
“Take a look around,” Humiston said, gesturing to bustling crowds in the exposition hall. “People want to get out of their old-school, dying industry, and they want to move into cannabis. This is it. Now is the moment to get involved, because it’s never going to be this small again.”
Still, plenty of challenges and uncertainties persist.
Some want incremental, but necessary, steps such as banking and tax reform. Others hope to tackle legalization in one fell swoop with comprehensive legislation.
The waiting game is nothing new for the cannabis industry. Although it has been growing and expanding in leaps and bounds, its legal progress has come in inches.
“I agree that it’s an uphill slog to see federal legalization, but what we’re putting on the table is inevitability,” Steven Hawkins, CEO of the US Cannabis Council and executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said during a MJBizCon panel on federal legalization. “When you get to the point when half of the country has legalized for adult-use, we have now set a stage for inevitability. And that begins to change the tone and tenor in Washington.”