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2022 is set to be a landmark year for cannabis sales and legalization, building off many of its successes in 2021 despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry. We expect the market to see many new opportunities and challenges, including legalization across the country. Whether you are a business or a consumer, it is important to keep your eye on these top industry trends in 2022.

Top Cannabis Industry Trends in 2022

2022 in green with cannabis leaf isolated on white, cannabis industry trends in 2022

1. Several States Will Legalize Cannabis

While we don’t expect the federal government to legalize cannabis, many states are expected to have cannabis reform initiatives on the November 2022 ballot, and others plan to legalize the drug or expand their current cannabis laws through legislative action.

Recreational cannabis is expected to become legal in Rhode Island, Maryland, and Delaware. Medical cannabis legalization may happen in Mississippi, Kansas, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

2. Congress Will Fail to Pass Cannabis Bills

Congress has introduced several cannabis reform bills (MORE, SAFE, STATES, etc.) without success in recent years. In 2022, we expect Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) to be dead in the water in the Senate.

Cannabis banking reform has been a hot topic of discussion in Congress. Congress may consider the SAFE Banking Act as a separate piece of legislation, but the chances it will be considered before the November election are slim.

3. European Union Will Move Toward Cannabis Legalization

In December 2021, Malta became the first country in the European Union to legalize cannabis. While recreational cannabis sales will not be legal, users can join non-profit collectives to grow and obtain cannabis. For years, many countries in the EU have inched forward with decriminalization and medical cannabis reform.

In 2022, we expect Germany to lead the charge to become the second country to legalize cannabis in the EU. A new German coalition government has stated it is working to legalize cannabis sales. While no bill has been presented, industry experts believe the drug may become legal within two years.

4. Consumption Lounges Will Open

In 2022, we expect cannabis tourism to grow, despite the fluctuations in COVID-19 infections. Currently, users are only allowed to use in the privacy of their homes, but with the opening of consumption lounges in 2022, we predict a rise in communal cannabis use. In Nevada, consumption lounges are expected to open in mid-2022.

5. Severe Weather Will Hurt Cannabis Businesses

As the problem of climate change worsens without significant preventative actions to stop it, we expect the era of severe natural disasters to continue. Environmental factors such as heavy winds, hurricanes, wildfires, and smoke are devastating for outdoor growers. Most times, obtaining affordable crop insurance for these instances is near impossible.

In California, a legislative proposal would require indoor growers to use LED lights by 2023 as part of sustainability measures. If passed, the measure would increase cannabis costs by hundreds of millions of dollars.

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6. More Mergers and Acquisitions Across the Industry

In the U.S. cannabis industry, cannabis companies struggle to work with banks. Most banks refuse to provide services to cannabis businesses since the drug is federally illegal. Companies must seek funding elsewhere, from private investors or credit unions.

In 2022, big companies with plenty of cash reserves will continue to buy smaller cannabis businesses that need capital to survive in this competitive market. Expect multi-state operators to continue their expansion across the country, especially in fast-growing cannabis markets.

7. Cannabis Cyber Crime Will Be on the Rise

While cybercrime fell in 2020, it increased in 2021, and industry experts predict 2022 could see a record increase in cybercrime. In the cannabis industry, point-of-sale technology, seed-to-sale software, and automation solutions are prime targets for hackers and cybercriminals.

In 2022, enhanced IT security systems will become necessary for cannabis companies to protect customer information from hackers. Unfortunately, most cannabis companies are not prepared for a cyberattack. In 2022, cyber coverage will be top of mind.

8. Social Equity Will Be a Priority

Social equity should have always been a priority for new cannabis markets, but now the push for more opportunities for minority groups is at a critical point. Even in markets that have moved forward with social equity initiatives, the roll-outs have been lackluster and have even led to lawsuits over provisions in the bills. In 2022, social equity reform will be in the spotlight.

9. Cannabis Jobs Will Rise Fast

Cannabis industry experts predict the job market will add over 100,000 new cannabis jobs in 2022. A 2022 Cannabis Industry Salary Guide by CannabizTeam Worldwide predicts the industry will increase its need for “on-demand” or temporary workers like cultivation associates, packaging technicians, and HR generalists across every major segment.

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The report also foresees an increase in the cannabis edibles, beverages, and topicals market, increasing the extraction, manufacturing, and testing sector. In addition, industry experts believe cannabis industry salaries will continue to rise to retain top talent.

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