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We will next see you in 2022, so this is an appropriate time to make our year-end predictions on what lies ahead for the cannabis industry and insurance marketplace. These are some of the things we foresee:

Limited Movement Toward Federal Decriminalization. It’s nice to have support in Congress for the MORE Act, SAFE Act and other cannabis initiatives, but there are other priorities lawmakers will be attending to before the midterm elections. And as long as COVID-19 continues to present uncertainties, the path forward will be slow going. So while we remain optimistic it will happen, we’ll be very surprised if it does so in the first half of the year.

Significant Movement By Individual States. Increasingly, even in traditionally red states, people are accepting cannabis and its derivatives without the stigma of old — and paying very close attention to health benefits. What’s more, municipalities everywhere are looking for more revenue and don’t enjoy seeing consumers cross to neighboring states to make cannabis purchases — looking at you, Ohio. COVID-19 actually changed many attitudes toward cannabis, with consumers seeking better, more natural ways to relieve stress and anxiety.

New Forms Of Consumption. 2022 will see the first cannabis lounges open in Nevada, which is likely to cause a groundswell of other open-to-the-public social spaces in other states. These will include restaurants specializing in cannabis-focused cuisine, and there will be an explosion of canna beverages created to offer patrons of such lounges, restaurants and bars an alternative high that is both non-alcoholic and non-hangover inducing.

Advances In Cultivation Methods. In their search for clean, natural, minimally-processed foods, consumers still face one obstacle: food grown in dirt is dirty. So we see faster development of new growing technologies: aquaponics, grow pods, modular containers and other systems that have the potential to be upscaled and provide a substantial ROI.

More Risks For Cannabis Companies. The substantial growth of the industry has caught the attention of cybercriminals, who now have cannabis businesses in their targets — especially those who deal exclusively in cash transactions. Ransomware attacks and other cybercrimes will affect the unprepared in 2022 who have not hardened their IT infrastructures and taken steps to minimize their exposure. This will accentuate the need for businesses to work with their insurance brokers on risk prevention and avoiding hidden exclusions.