5 cannabis trends to watch out for in LA in 2022

What will LA’s cannabis landscape look like in 2022? Which trends and factors will shape the appearance of the local grass scene?

While there are roughly as many opinions in LA County as there are legal places to buy a bag of weed, a recent poll of five industry insiders found that five topics kept coming up when I asked them to predict what would radically change (or, in the case of a state ban, not change the way cannabis and consumers interact.

Consolidation is coming

Expect the tide of mergers and acquisitions that marked the cannabis space last year to continue – if not accelerate – into 2022, especially at the individual pharmacy level.

“I really believe that the little ones [retail] The operators just looked after their lives, ”said Rama Mayo, co-founder of a downtown LA cannabis business center called Green Street and the Hall of Flowers. “Your retail valuation is low, there is the cost of having stationary space and I think we’ll see M&A among the big ones which will result in smaller operators doing the same. The cultivation will merge with the sales department, which will merge into a brand house, or three individual pharmacies will be merged under one banner. “

Mayo said he sees a future where cannabis retail is very different.

“Maybe not this year, but in a few years,” he said, “there will be three ways to buy weed: a BevMo! some kind of situation like a MedMen or a Planet 13 – a badass commercial that has a million things in it; the convenience [store] Option, like a 7-Eleven on every corner; and the independent companies that don’t work with anyone, that will be like bodegas or corner shops – unique places. “

Troy Datcher, CEO of vertically integrated cannabis power player The Parent Company, based in San Jose, also puts M&A at the top of its trend list for 2022.

With cannabis illegal at the federal level, traditional pharmacy banking services are not a viable option.

“I think there will be further consolidation just because there is no access to banking,” he said. “I think there are a lot of people who have stood on the sidelines with little capital reserves and no access to capital, so I think that in a year we will see more people who actually do not find themselves in the industry.” This is a big challenge, especially for the smaller organizations with one or two pharmacies. “

And so is … expansion

While there may be fewer companies in the local marijuana market in the coming years, some believe that 2022 will see SoCal expand, with the number of pharmacies increasing and expanding into new cities.

“The City of Los Angeles may have legalized cannabis, but there just aren’t enough cannabis retailers there,” said Chris Beals, CEO of Irvine-based cannabis e-commerce platform Weedmaps. “And I think this year – knock on wood – we’re actually going to see an increase in the number of cannabis retailers, which I believe should help bring prices down, improve access and increase convenience.”

There are 254 pharmacies in Los Angeles County, according to the U.S. Department of Cannabis Control’s database.

Beals said the number per capita – one legal retail store per 39,370 people – was not high enough to contain the illegal cannabis market.

As more legal pharmacies move in, they could begin to crowd out illegal ones.

“The turning point we found was that around one [dispensary] per 10,000 [people]you can end up in a place where the legal market could really emerge and gain market share over the illegal market, ”he said.

While The Parent Company’s Datcher agrees with Beals’ assessment that LA County’s underprivileged pharmacies are per capita, he’s less confident about the 2022 landscape. “I think there will be fewer pharmacies,” said Datcher. “Because people just can’t do it.”

However, he also believes that some of the towns across the Southland that have been reluctant to allow retail cannabis will reconsider this.

“Angelenos sometimes tend to forget that LA County is a very big place, and there are some places – especially if you drive further east, south, or into the mountains – where access to cannabis is still quite spartan. Hopefully we’ll see some independent cities realize that whatever they do is promoting the illegal market by not actually actually promoting it [allowing] Pharmacies. “

Ebony Andersen, chief operating officer of Josephine & Billie’s pharmacy at Exposition Park and local cannabis grower Ball Family Farms, agrees. “I think … some cities that initially had cannabis concerns and some of the larger cities did so are going to start allowing retailers,” she said.

There will be an emphasis on empirical values

Andersen is among those industry insiders who believe the cannabis trade experience will be the focus for the next year.

“I think one [trend] We will see the cannabis experience next year, and possibly for years to come, ”she said. “I think we’ll see more entertainments in cannabis, we’ll see more Josephine & Billie’s entertainment-meets-cannabis experiences in the industry … [and consumption] I think lounges will be a hot topic in 2022. “

Inside the Josephine & Billie’s office hour. Chief Operating Officer Ebony Andersen is among those predicting an increase in the experience side of the local cannabis industry in 2022.

(Lauren Crew / For the Time)

While some of this has to do with the communal aspect of cannabis use, Andersen says that equity also matters.

“When it comes to wellness, we are talking about people who live in social housing or apartments that strictly prohibit cannabis use. Where do these people have access to drugs like cannabis? I think we will see a lot of consumer lounges and I think cities will start designing them in the context of accessibility. “

Tracy Anderson, co-founder of LA-based cannabis brand Pure Beauty, said he was eager – both from a personal and branding perspective – to put the isolation caused by a pandemic in the rearview mirror.

“We can’t wait to get back to live physical programming. We missed that so much. In the fall when there was a little respite [from COVID-19]we did an art exhibition and it was fantastic to see people in person and really get out there. Whether it’s a party or any other kind of experience, really live and personal is really important. Cannabis is a very collaborative cause so we really hope to see more of it. “

Mayo of Green Street is so optimistic about the prospect of weed-focused gatherings that he has pulled the trigger on plans to host a festival-style event – complete with on-site entertainment, food, and cannabis sales and use – on the 13th and 12th May 14th to bring to the DTLA. “People are getting out [the pandemic] Isolation and want to get out, ”said Mayo. “That’s the whole thing about the Roaring ’20s. I know we heard it last year, but I believe there will be this real desire to go out. “

Mayo envisions turning it into a 60,000-seat cannabis festival. “I absolutely believe that there could be entire brands that are only available from [these kinds] of events, ”he said of the future of canna branding.

He also points out the handful of on-site consumption lounges slated to open in West Hollywood this year (also named by Weedmaps’ Beals as a 2022 game changer). “There are about eight or nine that open around the same time, and they’re beautiful – they spend millions and millions of dollars building them. I predict they will have a really big one [impact]both in terms of presence and sales on site, absolutely. “

Branding will be the key

Expect brand building efforts to intensify over the next 12 months.

“I think people are realizing the importance of brand recognition more than ever,” said Anderson of Pure Beauty. “There are so many products on the shelf and so little space for them. If you fail to reach the consumer in some way – really connect – it gets really difficult. You have to brand. “

Datcher also points out the increasing importance of branding in the cannabis space.

“People want brands that offer consistency that can be relied on, that are predictable and secure. I think branding is going to make a huge difference in this industry – especially when it comes to [highlighting] the differences between the [legal and the] illegal markets. “

And absolutely nothing will happen at the federal level

Although the number of states legalizing recreational cannabis use has increased in 2021 (now there are 18 plus the District of Columbia), no one I’ve asked for a forecast for the coming year believes that cannabis will be in the next year by this time it will be legal at the federal level.

“The current bills just didn’t stand a chance,” says Beals of Weedmaps. “I think they were good for PR and the press, but not that good in terms of probability of success.”

“We don’t think this will be the rescue for the industry in the next 12 months,” said Datcher of The Parent Company. “Part of the support from both [political] Parties was promising, but we’re not counting on it to happen. “

“Zero percent chance,” said Andersen of Josephine & Billie. “I don’t see it happening now. And I don’t see that it will happen in the near future. “

“My prediction is that whoever wants to win the presidency [in 2024] must bring that [topic] said Mayo from Green Street.

“We might talk a little bit by midterms 2022,” said Anderson of Pure Beauty. “But I think that’s all it will be.”

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