As we kick off a new year, Grown In asked four Midwest advocates and activists to share their predictions and thoughts on what to expect from 2022.
As Illinois applicants navigate an uncertain future for dispensary and craft grow licenses, Peter Contos, deputy director of Cannabis Equity Coalition Illinois, posed two big questions, rather than predictions.
The number one question on everybody’s mind: When will the state’s 245 new licenses ever make their way out of the litigation?
“Dispensaries, new craft grows, and more, are still stuck in legal limbo,” Contos said. “We don’t know what to expect from this but recognize whatever happens will massively impact Illinois’ program.”
Contos also questioned whether $45 million in second-round R3, Restore, Reinvest, Renew, funding that’s expected to be released in 2022 to support organizations working in communities impacted by failed War on Drugs, will go to intended grassroots organizations.
“Or will they once again go to larger non-profits like United Way and police departments?” Contos questioned. Although much of the last round of funding went to larger organizations, some smaller groups, like Sherrod’s Independent Mentoring Program, in rural Illinois, or Boxing Out Negativity on Chicago’s West Side, were also grant recipients.
Missouri activist Abrahama Keys, owner of We Cann, a business organization aimed at creating connections within the cannabis community through patient and community engagement, and executive director of Greater St. Louis NORML, predicts lower prices as pressure from the community, demand, and profits increase in Missouri.
“People want lower priced medicine,” Keys shared. “The amount of revenue being generated is growing which means that a lot of companies are growing, and they can meet the demands for lower prices.”
Missouri wholesale slower prices have stayed at a steady $3,500 a pound since the medical market launched in October 2020.
Increased accessibility for everyone is what Keys anticipates in 2022.
“There are more and more people caregiving, more dispensaries getting full scale, more and more legislation and initiatives being pushed across the state decriminalizing and providing increased protections for patients, will all provide more accessibility on a number of levels,” Keys told Grown In.
Rick Thompson, executive director of NORML of Michigan predicts more movement at local levels to open up communities for cannabis businesses.
“Out of 1,700 municipalities in Michigan, less than 140 have said yes to either medical or adult-use cannabis businesses,” Thompson pointed out. “Now, the business interests will line up to influence cities and townships to open their streets to the cannabis industry. Money talks, and big cannabis businesses have the money to make things happen and a powerful need to open new retail stores. Also, expect to see an increase in lawsuits against those cities, whenever big money is denied a license.”
As more legal cannabis is produced in Michigan, cannabis company values will drop, Thompson also predicts.
“Michigan tripled the number of cannabis plants under cultivation in the regulated market in approximately seven months during 2021. The number of new retail stores coming online is not keeping pace with the influx of greenhouse and indoor cannabis, creating a market that’s obviously trending toward an oversupply problem.”
Mergers and acquisitions will be big in 2022, he predicts.
“Skymint just bought 3Fifteen; that brings them up to 27 retail outlets in the state. Neither Gage nor Cookies has expanded as quickly as industry observers predicted, but that can change in 2022. Multi-state operators like to buy chains of cannabis retail outlets, not just a single store,” said Thompson, a prediction not far from what CEOs of AYR Wellness and PharmaCann told Grown In last year.
Tim Johnson, a cannabis lobbyist and founder of dispensary security company Cannabis Safety First, keeps an eye on Ohio legislation, and he thinks that’s where most of Ohio’s action will be in 2022.
Johnson sees SB261, a bill that expands the state’s medical marijuana program, which passed the very conservate Ohio State Senate, of passing the House and having a big impact on the state’s cannabis industry.
“As far as adult-use, what I see happening is we’ve got HB382, introduced by the Democrats and HB498, introduced by Republicans, are both in the House. There’s quite a possibility that the House renders over a compilation of those two bills, possibly getting to the Senate and the Senate introduces the bill,” said Johnson, referring to two bills that would legalize adult-use, but each one with different restrictions.
Johnson also predicts Ohio lawmakers will reject language from The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s proposed initiated statute, which was recently submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State. Ohio law allows voters to petition to force the legislature to vote on a bill, and Coalition to Regulate’s initiated statute would allow adults to legally use and grow marijuana plants.
“Lawmakers will say no to their language and then the group will go back out and collect more signatures and then it will go on the ballot for November of 2022 unless the General Assembly goes ahead and introduces a full adult choice bill,” opined Johnson.