Individuals and enterprises that persevere through the myriad of legal, economic and societal roadblocks in the cannabis industry today are in luck. For reals. 

The bass-ackwards way in which the industry is regulated will soon change for the better.  

If it’s not rescheduling cannabis from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 3 Substance (where the DEA is on deck to make a decision) it will be the passage of Safe Banking, another five-year green light to manufacture Hemp Derived THC from the upcoming Farm Bill, or the the day in which cannabis is legally regulated in all 50 states. Heck, within the next 18 months it conceivably could be all of the above. 

Tectonic shifts await all of us currently in the industry. The best thing we have going for us is the ability to work within the high degree of ambiguity in which the quasi-legal commercialization of cannabis requires. 

If you’re not solutions-oriented in cannabis you’re not really in the business. 

The aggregate wisdom accumulated through thousands of routine workarounds for accepting money, transporting product, marketing brands and managing balance sheets without the benefit of routine tax write offs is to some degree in all of our DNA. 

As the market becomes more mainstream, the acuity we develop as practitioners and market-makers will foster what will be described as innovation within less treacherous environments. 

With more predictable markets, of course, will come more capital – and competition. Accordingly, rather than focusing our energies on workarounds to operate more like “normal” businesses, our attention will necessarily be devoted to creating more inventive products and developing greater business processes than whoever else is out there selling the same thing. And by the looks of things in Illinois, Michigan and other markets across the land, there are a lot of buyers of cannabis right now. Yet we are only scratching the surface. 

Beyond the challenges of federal illegality, the cannabis industry is passing its way through an economic downturn that seems eerily similar to the dot-com postmortem period of two decades ago. While we couldn’t see it at the time, the biggest and most sustainable innovations of the 21st century emerged from the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple and others in that period of economic distress for the embryonic Internet industry.

As we prepare to charge these greenfields ahead, innovation will not only come from within organizations that proved to have the fitness to persevere, but to second-mover startup companies that can scale on the cheap and are often run by industry veterans making their second or third go-round in the space.   

Where do you find yourself at this unique moment in time in which everything we thought we knew about the industry is about to change? Now is the time to make waves. 

Cannabis Innovation Lab begins on Monday

The second vintage of Cannabis Innovation Lab, a joint-venture between Grown In and 1871, debuts Monday, January 22.

The first immersive week of programming will include a pair of Lightning Talks from startup companies participating in the Lab’s business accelerator, as well as virtual panels covering companies including AgTech and Cannabis, how the industry might be shaped by the 2024 Elections and and a deep dive into unregulated hemp derived THC Space.

Register for all of this engaging content and learn more about upcoming lab programming here

Avatar photo

Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.