Wrapping up another year that had its share of soul-crushing moments, the ongoing progress of marijuana legalization and exploding growth of the cannabis industry are two of the few things keeping me cautiously hopeful as we head into 2018. Let’s take a moment to mark the monumental strides for marijuana in the past twelve months. Here, in no particular order, are the 10 key cannabis lifestyle trends that defined the past year:
1. Concentrates get classier
Thanks to devices like the Highlighter by Bloom Farms, Dipper by Dipstick Vapes, Boost by Dr. Dabber and Pax Era, and INDVR Lipstick and Mascara vape pens, consuming concentrates has gone from a hidden habit to a mainstream method. And with each of these brands’ smart marketing and compact design, those who dab can bid adieu to the blowtorch — a major improvement toward its illicit reputation.
2. All things CBD
CBD is part of our regular cannabis lexicon here at The Cannabist, and has formed the basis for our CBD:TBD series and in our High Minded podcast. But for the rest of the world, it might just be the biggest buzzword of the year. Packing a plethora of health and wellness benefits without the mind-altering effects of THC found in the cannabis plant, cannabidiol is poised for its global debut in 2018. The World Health Organization just announced that after an initial review, it doesn’t warrant international scheduling. Whether smoking THC-free strains to combat the symptoms of major illnesses, taking it in pill form as a supplement, infusing smoothies at home, or applying topical products for muscle relief, the options for consuming CBD are endless–and it’s just the beginning.
3. Investment opportunities to the North
With a major beer, wine and spirits corporation like Constellation Brands hedging its bets on the cannabis industry by pouring $190M into Canadian cultivation company Canopy Growth, the market is on a meteoric rise. Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Canada’s top four producers are now worth more than C$10 billion ($7.8 billion).
4. The death of weed puns
We vow to forego ever using weed puns again, thanks to Utah’s senior Republican senator Orrin Hatch, who issued a medical marijuana research bill laced with no less than eight of them in a statement you have to read to believe. The bill itself has gone nowhere since September and with such a strong stance against cannabis, Senator Hatch, you’re the last person who should be making jokes on the matter.
5. Subscription box boom
Whether it’s an easy-to-make meal or best selling beauty products, Americans love their subscription boxes. The cannabis industry has caught on quickly with carefully curated services that are stocked with an array of accessories–most receivable across state lines. A few of our favorites worth subscribing to? Au Box, Hemper, Hippie Butler, Daily High Club, Stashbox, and ClubM.
6. Cannabis curriculum
Following in the groundbreaking footsteps of professors Andrew Matranga and Sam Kamin, who started cannabis journalism and cannabis law courses respectively in 2015, the University of Denver has grown its offerings with the introduction of a “Business of Marijuana” class this spring. In Boulder, Matt (Kind) McCabe, host of the pot business-themed podcast CannaInsider is even offering scholarship dollars to the most passionate, budding weed entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, at Northern Michigan University, students can major in marijuana upon completion of the first-ever 4-year undergraduate program on the subject.
7. Boutique brands
As with concentrates (See item 1 on this list), cannabis overall continues to get classier, and since the hip head shop revolution of 2016, there are now even more beautiful brands lining the shelves, both in dispensaries and dedicated boutiques. In preparation for recreational legalization to commence next year, California creatives are leading the luxury charge with the likes of Beboe, Canndescent, Lowell Farms, Miwak Jr., dosist (formerly Hmblt), Lola Lola, and Lord Jones, who in November, announced an exclusive partnership with the Standard to open a dispensary within the infamous Hollywood hotel. The Seattle-based brand Van der Pop has emerged as the preeminent women-focused cannabis company that in addition to its line of thoughtful and chic products, is changing the stigma while also growing into a true educational community resource.
8. Green gets greener
The Organic Cannabis Association landed on our list in 2016, but its recent merger with the Ethical Cannabis Alliance in Oregon and resulting name change to Cannabis Certification Council (CCC) this year, the non-profit organization has made major strides in advocacy for cultivating and choosing clean cannabis. Save the date (October 17-18, 2018) when they’ll host the third annual Cannabis Sustainability Symposium in Denver. In California, Flow Kana has set the standard of what sustainable cultivation can look like, while empowering artisan farmers to thrive by supporting their small batch, boutique strains.
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9. Pot in print
As a continuation of the cannabis journalism boom of 2016, this year we saw a much-needed niche filled with the launch of highly styled print publications focused on the feminist flower enthusiast. From the former art director of Kinfolk magazine came Broccoli, from former HuffPo staffers Verena von Pfetten and David Weiner came Gossamer, and from West Coasters Abigail Ross and Khara Krawczyk came Push Mag. Also of note, the release of its inaugural issue in November made Kitchen Toke the first-ever printed food journal dedicated to cooking with cannabis.
10. Cannabis conference calendar
When the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo (a.k.a. MJ Biz Con) first started in 2012, it welcomed 402 attendees. This year, more than 18,000 industry professionals descended upon Las Vegas for what is now a must-attend on the cannabis circuit. From the Women Grow Leadership Summit and NCIA Cannabis Business Summit & Expo to New West Summit and CannaTech, there is no shortage of networking and learning opportunities year-round — which culminated this year with the first-ever (and already officially annual) Aspen High Summit earlier this month.