As crazy as 2020 was – with COVID-19 upending lives all over the world in the worst ways – it was actually a banner year for the cannabis industry. As of now 36 states have approved medical marijuana and 15 allow adult-use consumption and/or retail sale of cannabis. No doubt, New Year’s feels a lot different than last year. But there’s something about a new year that offers hope. It’s a time to look forward with optimism while reflecting on the previous year. While states like New York, Virginia, Connecticut, New Mexico and Maryland are looking to possibly legalize adult-use marijuana markets in 2021, I thought I’d check in with some Ohioans in the cannabis industry.
But whether it’s medical, recreational or both, cannabis is here to stay for consumers. National pollster Gallup recently found that Americans are more likely now than at any point in the past five decades to support the legalization of marijuana in the U.S, hitting a new all-time high in 2020 at 68 percent of Americans in favor of legalization.
I believe the slow pace of federal reform will continue to frustrate advocates, and I simply can’t imagine federal rescheduling to happen in 2021. However I am optimistic about more positive changes in 2021, considering most states were declared “essential” early in the crisis – a good sign. And just last month, the US House passed the MORE Act, which removes cannabis from the US Controlled Substances Act.
Here’s some thoughts from industry insiders in Ohio – I want to know what they’re looking forward to most in 2021 and what are they looking forward to leaving behind.
Jack Grover, founder and CEO of Grove Bags, a Cleveland-based company that specializes in cannabis packaging specifically tailored for both consumers and cultivators nationwide and worldwide. It’s proprietary TerpLoc technology claims to retain 37 percent more terpenoids and 7 percent more cannabinoids than traditional packaging.
I’m optimistic about 2021. The dog days of late 2018 to 2020 have been a really bad time for stocks. It was a time to learn and evaluate them, but now we are seeing a maturation of the industry, with debt as opposed to investments. With the new administration we’re looking at descheduling, rescheduling or unscheduling cannabis. It will change the way cannabis is regulated. I’ll be glad when cannabis is treated the same way as alcohol, or the food industry, or the pharmaceutical industry.
It’s all up in the air.
But It’s going to be a big year for us. We’re looking forward to opening a new facility outside of Cleveland in 2021. I’m very excited!
Ally Reaves, Founder/President of Midwest CannaWomen: Community Outreach Coordinator for RISE Dispensaries – Ohio
”What I am looking forward to most in the medical cannabis industry here in Ohio in 2021 is more resources and opportunities for minorities to gain within the medical cannabis industry. That means ownership, entrepreneur opportunities, education and employment. Also, I am looking forward to more minorities who are in the medical cannabis industry to be able to earn leadership roles with their employers as well. Lastly, I am looking forward to more minorities to become owners/operators within the Hemp/CBD Industry here in Ohio too!
“The one thing I am so happy to leave behind in 2020 is 2020!!! Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!!!”
Tim Johnson, a 30-year safety and security specialist is the founder of Cannabis Safety First, a company that offers security and safety services to the cannabis and hemp industries. Tim offered input for the creation of Ohio’s cannabis and hemp programs, and he’s co-founder of both the Ohio Cannabis Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Hemp Farmers Cooperative. As an industry consultant who focuses on safety, security, compliance and training, he continues to work with legislators and regulators while advocating for patients by advising several program associations.
“For 2021 in the Ohio cannabis scene we are hoping to see an adult use cannabis bill introduced by the legislators.”
Secondly, in the Ohio Hemp Program we are hoping to see a more rounded full service community develop.”
“As for 2020 I am happy to leave behind the inept minded political gauntlets holding back the advancement to the dismantling of the War On Drugs….2021 here we come. Let’s do this!!!”
Allison Johnson is an integrated pest management technician at Eastlake, Ohio-based Buckeye Relief, a state-of-the art cultivation and processing facility. She takes care of spray applications and monitors the cannabis crop while looking out for plant health and disease.
What am I looking forward to most in 2021? Well as more and more profits are made in the cannabis industry I would really like to see federal legislation changed. It’s not fair to see people in prison still for nonviolent marijuana charges. And I’m hoping that the MORE ACT (The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) reaches the Senate and eventually uses taxes generated to go toward helping disadvantaged communities.
As for what I want to leave behind in 2020 – Stigma! I’m looking forward to leaving behind the stigma that comes with cannabis. When I first got this job a lot of my family members just said, oh you’re going to grow weed. They didn’t see it as a plant that has medicinal value. About a year later, I was happy that one of my grandparents who uses opioids for chronic pain eventually at least tried gummies.
Kevin Greene is vice president of the Cleveland School of Cannabis. The school has a Columbus location as well, and offers online education. The student body ranges from people age 19 to in their 70’s.
“What CSC is looking forward to the most in 2021 is expanding the education program offerings not only to the workforce for cannabis but the governmental and private organizations that have so much power on how our world moves forward. We will do that through a lense of equity. “
Nationwide, according to Leafly’s fourth annual Cannabis Jobs count, legal cannabis supports 243,700 full-time equivalent jobs as of early 2020. That’s a 15 percent increase over the previous year with jobs that range from accounting and logistics to retail, farming and production.
Besides the obvious skills and expertise necessary for various cultivation and sales jobs needed to work in this emerging field, in 2021 Greene would like to see more focus on the range of jobs in the cannabis field that formerly weren’t part of the industry such as head of finance and marketing.
While a growing number of stars and athletes are getting into the cannabis industry nationwide, with branded strains or dispensaries, he says the industry needs labor. And he wants to see more equity in Ohio particularly. “As two African American men leading our organization, it’s crucial that we push forward conversations about equity in workplace policies and social equity.”
Alex Huska, co-owner of Whole Plant, an Ohio-based hemp company that sells CBD products including oils, flower and a recovery freeze gel topical. He started the company with his brother when standard medicine failed with his personal affliction with Chron’s disease. He says alternative solutions gave him relief. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of the most abundant and active substances present in the Cannabis sativa, the hemp plant which has become sought after due to a host of benefits.
“I am most looking forward to continuing to explore the growth of our company, keeping a positive mindset, and seeing how we can evolve,” Huska said.
“I am going to be leaving behind any negativity, pushing forward, while learning from our mistakes.”
Arleen Crider, LPN, is a cannabis nurse entrepreneur and educator. She’s a fourth generation nurse and an expert on cannabinoid therapeutics.
One thing I’m most looking forward to for the cannabis industry is greater access to quality education specific to nurses and nurse assistants. One of my biggest focal points in 2020 has been creating that education that speaks to the nursing community specifically.
One thing I’m excited to leave behind is the lack of diversity and equity within the legal industry.
Considering BIPOC (Black,Indigenous & People of Color Movement) people built the cannabis industry (practically for free), I’m excited to see us get involved because I know we want ALL THE SMOKE.