Cannabis Industry Leaders Predict 2022 Trends

The rapidly developing cannabis industry is still in its formative years, and where we seek advice as we grow will dictate the foundational qualities of the cannabis space.

Full story after the jump.

Since we just entered a new calendar year, I asked some industry leaders who I trust to move the space forward in a people-focused direction for their insights.

Their answers and shared wisdom are compiled below:


The People’s Ecosystem // Christine De La Rosa Co-Founder & CEO “If California and Oregon are any indications of the future of retail where mass mob robberies are happening with very little intervention or protection from the state I would say that 2022 is going to see an incredible increase in delivery. It is more practical for small operators to implement delivery rather than face the risk to their safety, their employees’ safety, and their business safety in the current climate. And, based on the actions we’ve seen from law enforcement it does not appear that this type of danger to operators and their business will change anytime soon.”

Indacut // Drayten Howell CEO “I feel like this year will be a year of hope and change for all retailers and operators across the supply chain. With the current nature of the California market change must come! Operators are facing over-regulation, risk of robberies, limited banking options, and limited payment options! Everyone’s been fighting a good fight and we’re gearing up for the biggest round! The best is yet to come – brands and companies are rolling out innovative products, tech, and broadening offerings to consumers. This will be the year to make products more affordable, and easily accessible to consumers across the state. Delivery will play a big role in the way people shop this upcoming year and the trends show it. I believe operators will roll out delivery in some capacity to acclimate to the market!”

Cova // Gary Cohen CEO “We’re seeing a move by dispensaries toward their own eCommerce sites to manage their online presence and orders. This has been fueled by two things: a heightened importance of the web in driving business during COVID restrictions, and the need for a unique site experience that reinforces brand identity and leverages SEO to gain more eyeballs and click-through.”


Dr. Greenthumb & Insane Brands // B-Real “You know, I’m sure there are going to be plenty of new cool products coming out, our culture is just so creative. The one thing that I do see coming, that maybe other people may not see, or that may catch some people off guard, is the return of OG Kush in a big way. The exotics are awesome, the colors and flavors, they are for sure here to stay, but I mean, that bright green weed, that famous kush balanced high, it’s just classic. I’ve seen the pendulum swing so far the other way I just think it’s gonna come back to OG Kush a bit. I think 2022 will be the year, I mean, it’s OG Kush, it’s a living legend.”

Wonderbrett // Brett Feldman Founder “If on paper your investor is telling you to grow a huge amount of cannabis every month, don’t do it. That’s what is forcing brands out of business. You need to go slow with your grow. Make moves that are well thought through. Don’t obligate yourself to high overheads, to a point where it’s a 50/50 chance for you to win. Go in thinking, ‘We can’t afford to get hurt. I can make this product, sell it, and not get hurt by it.’ If you can’t do that, then you’re destined to have it fall apart. Just do what you can and don’t over-obligate.”

Product Formulation

Medically Correct // Rick Scarpello Co-Founder & CEO “Though we operate in a matured legalized state, we can’t assume the majority are frequent consumers. Since 2018, Colorado alone has gained more than 300,000 new users and counting. Companies that solve problems and create diverse brands are those that will succeed in 2022 and beyond. Serve the medical patients and connoisseurs; but also those looking for a nuanced experience. Terpene formulations, novel cannabinoids, and lifestyle-oriented products are sure to be one of the manufacturing sector’s top trends this year.”


Trichome Analytical // Kristin Goedde Founder & COO “Standardization is coming! In 2021, there was significant movement from standards organizations on certifying analytical methods for use on cannabis, including several microbiological food testing methods extended to cannabis by the AOAC, one of the world’s leading public health and food safety standards organizations. Spurred by increasing state regulatory pressure for the use of standardized test methods, we can expect to see more and more analytical methods submitted for AOAC certification in 2022.”

SC Labs // Jeff Gray CEO & Co-Founder “I see a lot of change in the regulation of hemp and hemp products in the coming year. While I don’t expect to see any progress at the federal level, I do see the need for parity between cannabis and hemp markets at the state level driving more equitable regulation including and especially testing requirements on parity with cannabis and tax treatment, especially true in California.”


Heylo // Lo Friesen CEO “Since mid-2019 cannabis companies in mature markets have faced an exceptionally challenging landscape that has brought an end to a number of high-quality craft growers and processors. As we settle into a new “normal” for the industry, I’m excited by the energy surrounding minor cannabinoids and non-traditional experiences with cannabis. We were shocked by the performance of “The New Workout Plan” in 2021, and hope it sets the stage for additional successes for minor cannabinoid products in 2022. What some call a trend isn’t going away – when people try products with higher concentrations of minor cannabinoids they’re opening a door to a new relationship with cannabis.”

Pure Pressure // Ben Britton CEO & Head of Product Development “2022 will be a pivotal year for solventless extraction as it continues to scale and prove its viability as a commercial extraction solution. Additionally, a sweep of market consolidation should improve the customer experience by seeing complete packaged solutions and training services.”

Tech & Software

Meadow // David Hua Co-Founder “2022 will be the year cannabis delivery really levels up. In 2021, 60% of retail cannabis transactions were delivered, up from 50% in 2020. We foresee this trend accelerating as delivery times, offerings, and overall experience improve for customers, and retailers utilize technology that allows them to expand territory, grow their customer base, and boost sales and margins. Delivery will also be key in competing against the unlicensed market and allowing retailers to reach customers in areas without brick-and-mortar dispensaries.”

Aroya by METER Group // Scott Campbell President & CEO “2022 will be the first year that cultivation productivity increases faster than market growth in unlimited license states. This means that producers who can continually improve cultivation operations will take market share from laggards, especially if wholesale prices drop. The best CFOs and owners will partner with VPs of Cultivation to drive down production costs by increasing yield.”

Node Software // Kevan Mackie CEO “A new trend will be cannabis software platforms prioritizing hardware integrations. Here at Node, we’re integrating our batch tracking software with environmental sensors and machine API’s. Integrations such as these help operators identify environmental fluctuations and understand their impact on the finished product. While this is something that seems elementary, it’s not very common. Imagine what could be accomplished in the future when it is!”


Almost Consulting // Kieryn Wang Founder “With all the restrictions, barriers, and lack of control around social media marketing in the cannabis industry, many cannabis companies are realizing that email marketing is the direction of the future for connecting with consumers. Email newsletters allow for more flexibility around communication and, unlike social media, are more guaranteed to be viewed by audience members by landing in each inbox rather than being subjected to the whims of the “algorithms.” Build your email list and get started!”

Studio Linear // Andrea Beaulieu Founder & Creative Director “Looking back at 2021, we saw a shift in cannabis branding and more importantly, who was behind the brands – women and not only white women but women of color. Prior to 2021, there was a small trickle of women emerging in the cannabis space, an industry dominated primarily by men and white men to be more specific. What we saw last year and what we are predicting for 2022 is a real shift in who is BEHIND these new businesses and the message they are delivering. With this much welcome diversity, we are naturally seeing a shift in marketing as it is geared to like-minded female consumers. We are seeing more brands embrace this and showcasing branding, package design, social strategy based on gaining these women as customers.”

Public Relations

Gallery PR // Sonia Hendrix Founder “In 2022, I expect more advanced media reporting and investigative pieces about new minor cannabinoids, increased competition amongst brands in the press for coverage opps, more celebrities and fashion designers getting into the space for the first time, new technology and design innovations that will enhance the dispensary experience and subsequently prominent luxury media coverage, and I also hope to see more news coverage about the very serious threat corporate MSO lobbyists are creating for small operators in the legislative pipeline.”


Black CannaConference & Expo // Kristi Price Founder “2022 is going to be about face time. Navigating Covid has proven to actually be possible in the live event space. It takes a few extra considerations when hosting in-person events but there is truly no better way to bring cannabis communities together. I predict that the organizers that have figured out how to move through the ambiguity of Covid protocols will win big next year.”

Emerald Cup // Tim Blake Founder “With cannabis events being greatly affected by the pandemic over the past two years, 2022 will be the year cannabis is integrated into mainstream events as was imagined when prop 64 was enacted. Small farmers and product makers, as well as large brands, need direct access to consumers. It’s time for the cities, counties, and the state to encourage and permit as many cannabis events as possible. Whether it’s the Emerald Cup or a local farmers market, cannabis events are the key to providing direct access to consumers.”

Hiring & Employment

THC Staffing // Danielle Schumacher Founder “In 2022, licensed cannabis companies will be held accountable for broken promises about diversity hiring and social impact work. Job seekers and equity advocates have been continuously raising awareness of what a diverse and inclusive industry should look like. As system-impacted people and organizations build knowledge and momentum, companies can no longer justify superficial marketing campaigns and misguided “social equity” initiatives. If companies truly want to implement fair chance hiring – intentionally recruiting and retaining people who have been most impacted by drug prohibition – they need to commit to systemic change and invest in real solutions.”

Viridian Staffing // Kara Bradford CEO “Due to a tight labor market and what many are calling ‘The Great Resignation’ or ‘Reshuffling,’ we fully expect that cannabis companies will need to continue leaning on specialty staffing firms, like ours, in order to help secure the talent they need to operate. For companies to avoid production stops or slowdowns, many will likely need to either increase wages, improve working conditions and/or company culture in order to attract talent, and avoid attrition to competitors or other industries.”

FlowerHire // David Belsky CEO “The cannabis sector has been one of the few bright spots in light industrial and retail job growth across the country, and since the majority of the US markets have yet to reach maturity, we’ll continue to see explosive job growth as organizations scale up to meet demand. Vertically-integrated organizations have the unparalleled ability to create a diversity of job types no other industry can, bringing hundreds of jobs at a time to regions left behind by globalization.”


Mainstem // Alen Nguyen Co-founder & CEO “The pandemic has permanently changed the retail experience by expediting consumer movement to the already occurring progression of digital/online shopping. We’re seeing this with the rise of such cannabis tech companies as Dutchie, iHeartjane, Weedmaps, etc. Along with anything digital comes data. The holistic consumer data generated by the customer digital experience will be a much bigger part of how brands and retailers interact with their customers. I also believe that digital consumer data will be utilized throughout the supply chain all the way down to those folks who are actually cultivating the plant.”

AlpineIQ // Nicholas Paschal Co-Founder & CEO “The cannabis category continues to grow, but at the same time retailers are at risk of losing control of their customers’ journey. In 2022, it will be more important than ever to avoid marketplace mechanics that can drive customers closer to your competition, and focus on leveraging data to engage customers on a personal level, keeping them locked in on your business.”

Real Estate

Zoned Properties // Bryan McLaren CEO “Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed an exponential increase in public debate related to legalized cannabis regulations and codes that directly impact the development of cannabis real estate in our local communities. As we look to 2022 and beyond, these multi-billion-dollar conversations, being held at city council meetings nationwide, will directly impact a community’s ability to attract real estate investment capital to subsequently realize changes to economic development, tax revenue, and increased prosperity for community members.”


The People’s Ecosystem // Frederika Easley Director of Strategic Initiatives “In 2022 we’ll continue to see a rising of the people! From ballot measures fighting for regulation and equity program accountability to operators fighting for the services and protection they deserve. Cannabis consumption and business is mainstreaming and the people are pushing back against politics as usual.”

Parabola Center // Shaleen Title CEO “In 2022, more people will recognize the distinction between policies that benefit cannabis consumers and patients versus policies that maximize corporate profits. That line has been blurred until now because legalization in general is good for everyone. But the conversation about federal legislation is elevating the policy dialogue, because now we have detailed data from state markets. I think we’ll see more discussion about how monopolies and oligopolies harm consumers and patients in the long term and what policy decisions might prevent them.”

Thank you to all of the cannabis professionals that provided insight for this Spotlight on the New Year as we step into 2022.

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