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During this last week of 2023, the MJBizDaily staff is looking back on some of the top stories we’ve covered this year in the cannabis industry.
As readers of MJBizMagazine know, each month we take a deep dive into a topic facing marijuana operators and ancillary companies.
From launching new retail markets to plant genetics and rescheduling, here’s a look back at where we’ve been and where we’re going as an industry – based on the MJBizMagazine cover packages over the past year:
January 2023: Year of Opportunity
Several states plan to launch new marijuana markets
Cannabis entrepreneurs often bemoan changing regulations and how different the rules can be from one market to the next.
For marijuana companies looking to enter new markets, it is imperative to become familiar with each state’s regulations – and recognize when they are not a good fit.
In “Year of Opportunity,” the cover story of the January issue, we outlined the regulations, timelines and opportunities for those looking to enter some of North America’s newest marijuana markets, including Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, New York and Rhode Island.
February 2023: Property Management
“Green tax” starting to dissipate for cannabis-zoned real estate in mature markets, but other pitfalls await entrepreneurs looking to set up shop
As anyone who has launched a marijuana business in a newly legal market can tell you: Vendors smell money the moment you bring up the word “cannabis.”
And when it comes to renting space for marijuana cultivation, manufacturing or retail, the price that landlords ask per month seems to magically multiply.
Given the limited lending options available to plant-touching companies, some cannabis entrepreneurs sacrifice board seats and voting shares in order to access capital that traditional business owners can get by walking into their nearest bank.
To learn more, check out the February cover story.
March 2023: Science, Seeds and Breeds
Cultivators use old-school pheno hunting and cutting-edge technology to take cannabis to new heights
A lot of time and ink are devoted to growing good plants, but not nearly as much attention is paid to what happens when cannabis is a seed, a cutting from a mother plant or cells in a petri dish.
Advanced scientific techniques have been used for decades in other agricultural industries, and they’ve recently begun to make inroads into cannabis.
This includes rigorous data collection, research and development, gene editing and tissue culture.
“We have this whole toolbox that’s been developed for all these other things, and it’s just a matter of knowing how to use these tools and picking them up and applying them,” said Matthew Indest, technical director of agronomy and plant development at New York-based marijuana multistate operator Curaleaf Holdings.
The sooner these tools become more widely adopted by the industry, the better cannabis businesses will be able to serve their customers. Read the March cover story to get the details.
April 2023: What Law Enforcement Wants You to Know
Regulators, security experts and police offer tips to help marijuana companies stay on the right side of the law
MJBizMagazine asked regulators, cannabis security experts and patrol officers-turned-marijuana operators about law enforcement’s priorities for plant-touching companies.
Their answers mostly revolved around public safety, from keeping marijuana out of the hands of underage individuals to responding to disturbances in progress.
In communities introducing regulated marijuana for the first time, law enforcement officers often have misconceptions about how the businesses will affect the communities they are paid to protect.
It can be understandably difficult to seek advice from individuals who made their living locking up citizens for marijuana sales and use. But you’ll find solid advice in this issue about security and crime prevention.
May-June 2023: Reimagining Retail
Cannabis business owners rethink traditional store model in favor of special events and co-located offerings
With more than 16,500 adult-use and medical marijuana retailers operating in the United States, the retail sector represents about 25% of plant-touching businesses, according to the 2023 MJBiz Factbook.
New adult-use markets such as Connecticut, Missouri and New York will see the number of regulated retail outlets and sales increase exponentially over the next year.
But at the individual-business level, goals remain largely the same: Get people into the store and encourage them to purchase products and return for more.
For this issue dedicated to cannabis retail, the editorial staff of MJBizMagazine spoke with marijuana shop owners from across the country about creative retail tactics that differentiate and create loyal consumers.
July 2023: Manufacturing Milestones
Evolving consumer attitudes and technological advances help blaze new trails
“There’s room for everyone” is something we hear a lot in the cannabis industry.
Usually, it refers to small and large players coexisting in this heavily regulated space.
The phrase also has applications in the ways plant-touching companies tackle business plans and product offerings.
The individuals and companies featured in “Manufacturing Milestones,” the July cover package, have taken widely differing approaches to achieving manufacturing excellence.
Whether it’s marijuana multistate operator MariMed or tiny Rose Los Angeles, a producer of gourmet infused edibles, you are sure to get great insights into how plant-touching companies of all sizes can use the skills and tools at their disposal to stand out from the competition.
August 2023: Applied Science
Marijuana harvesting enters the modern age but remains a c craft practiced by few
With most regulated U.S. marijuana operations taking place indoors, harvest is a year-round concern for most growers, not a once-per-year affair.
For this issue, MJBizMagazine interviewed indoor marijuana cultivators from across the country to learn what steps they take to prepare for harvest, how they identify when plants are at their peak, what strategies they use to retain terpenes and cannabinoids as well as when to use flash freezing, fresh freezing and other technologies.
In the absence of federally funded research available to mainstream agriculture, longtime marijuana cultivators have conducted their own trials, testing and research and development. Turn to “Applied Science” to find out what they’ve learned along the way.
September 2023: Labor Relations
Cannabis employers enter a new chapter that includes unionization, pay transparency and turnover
The highest-paid positions in the regulated marijuana industry are held by individuals who often don’t work in the same building where cannabis plants and products are made and sold.
Meanwhile, the lowest-paid workers in cannabis are given what is arguably the heaviest lift.
As executives consider strategies to battle economic headwinds as well as burdensome taxes and fees, creating a more equitable corporate pay structure with the intention of retaining employees should be among the top considerations.
The September cover story offers input from cannabis companies, recruiters and human resources executives on trends such as fractional executives, pay transparency and other novel concepts to help business leaders retain talent and prosper during this turbulent time.
October 2023: Side Hustle
Cannabis companies lean on alternative revenue streams to battle economic headwinds
Chicken farms. Glamping sites. Massage therapists. MJBizMagazine doesn’t typically cover such endeavors.
This year, however – as multimillion-dollar cannabis acquisitions fall through and investors discard their interests in the industry – many veterans of the marijuana space embraced business partnerships and ventures that once seemed improbable.
For the October issue, we sought out cannabis companies traveling nontraditional paths to drive revenue and build brand recognition.
Read the October cover story to learn how plant-touching operators embrace mainstream practices to boost their bottom lines.
November-December 2023: Rescheduling Roulette
Recommendation to move marijuana to Schedule 3 could save cannabis companies millions in taxes each year, but concerns about banking and interstate commerce remain
In the months since a letter was leaked from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advising the Drug Enforcement Administration to move marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 on the list of controlled substances, regulated cannabis operators have dreamed – and fretted – about what rescheduling might mean for them.
Many legal and policy experts believe the rescheduling process now unfolding offers insights into what federal marijuana legalization might look like.
For the final issue of 2023, the staff of MJBizMagazine asked cannabis operators, lobbyists and others to peek into a crystal ball and imagine the future of the regulated marijuana industry if the plant is moved to Schedule 3. Here’s what we found out.
Omar Sacirbey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate Lavin can be reached at email@example.com.