Four years ago today, Grown In debuted with the modest ambition of making sense of the Illinois cannabis market, which expanded to adult-use sales a few weeks thereafter. 

Like everything in cannabis, that endeavor – the Illinois program and any one organization’s ability to comprehend it – remains a work in progress. Same goes for the U.S. and global cannabis industries writ large. That’s the way it works for ascending industries before they reach normalization and consumer critical mass. 

Thank you, dear reader, for sharing this pioneering ride with us.

While nobody would have predicted what would be in store for the U.S. cannabis industry over the last four years – most notably dispensaries becoming an essential businesses due to Covid-19, a financial boom that yielded multibillion valuations for ancillary digital startups and the emergence of a $28 billion market for hemp-derived THC products – that doesn’t mean we can’t take out our crystal bowl to forecast (or better yet, manifest) what lays ahead over the next four years. 

So, without further adoobage, here are our predictive recommendations of what the global cannabis industry should look like circa December 2027. 

Regulators will catch up to reality

As was the case with same-sex marriage, favored by an overwhelming number of Americans before ushered into law, citizen sentiment towards legalizing cannabis is ahead of the voting proclivities of their elected officials. Heading into the election year of 2024, weed will be the wedge issue that will influence the outcome of the presidential and congressional races. 

Here’s why.

Each year more than three million Americans turn 18 and become eligible to vote. Young adults are notoriously fickle when it comes to voting, yet are overwhelmingly in favor of cannabis legalization. According to an October 2023 Gallup Poll, 79 percent of all 18-to-32-year-olds – regardless of political party – want legal weed. In fact, 70 percent of all U.S. adults – including a majority of republicans – also want to see the end of marijuana prohibition in the United States. 

Cannabis is not a blue state issue nor a red state issue heading into 2024. The Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services recommendation to reschedule Cannabis to something more akin to Advil than Heroine was the first true tell. He’s looking for votes. Despite protestations from the rank and file in the Drug Enforcement Agency, cannabis will move to a Schedule 3 Substance in 2024

SAFER Banking will not pass this House of Representatives in 2024. While some believe that speaker Mike Johnson will allow for a vote co-mingling SAFER Banking with gun rights, the staunch opponent of the plant is not likely to prioritize this issue. However, a democrat-controlled House of Representatives – combined with whichever party has control of the Senate and occupies – will pass SAFER Banking in 2025.   

Mainstream corporations will embrace cannabis commerce 

A congressional green light to bank the cannabis sector combined with an executive branch rescheduling of the plant will do more than just unlock billions of dollars of capital waiting to be deployed. Beginning in 2026, household name corporations in the financial services, consumer-packaged goods, pharmaceutical and media sectors will be all in on cannabis.  

Bud beverages will breakout 

As cannabis commerce and consumption becomes more ubiquitous, form factors beyond flower and traditional edibles will emerge. According to a research report from BDSA, state-licensed cannabis beverages today only account for only one percent of total sales. This is because consumers have minimal exposure to beverages.

The inventory today is too large for most dispensaries to allocate much shelf space to cans and bottles. However, hemp-derived THC beverages are a growing part of that category’s $28 billion in annual sales. 

As trial increases, cannabis beverages will be the fastest growing category and achieve more than 10 percent of overall sales by 2027.

Physicians will prescribe reefer remedies Due to rescheduling, the Food and Drug Administration will be able to validate what humans have anecdotally understood for 5,000 years – cannabis has therapeutic properties. Avoidance of basic research and a prohibition to prescribe what is legal in 40 state markets is unsustainable given both the arc of history and today’s popular sentiment as described above. By 2027, the FDA and associated agencies will set guidelines and parameters as to how physicians can talk about and prescribe cannabis to their patients. 

While Snoop may have smoked weed during the half-time show of Super Bowl LVI, cannabis ads have up to this point been rejected.

And the first cannabis Super Bowl ad goes to…

Super Bowl LX in 2026 will be the first to feature a cannabis television commercial. Budweiser fittingly will be the first Super Bowl Advertiser as the Chicago Bears go on to defeat the Houston Texans by the score of 42 to 0. 

You heard it here first. Thank you for your support and readership over the past four years. #OnlyTheBeginning 

Applications Now Open for the 2024 Cannabis Innovation Lab, Produced by 1871 and Grown In

Building on the success of its inaugural year, Grown In is partnering once again on the execution of the 2024 Cannabis Innovation Lab, with Grown In’s own CEO, Brad Spirrison, as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

This lab connects growth-stage startups with late-stage lab partners, corporate innovators, investors, and experts in the cannabis industry to explore the rapidly evolving field of cannatech. This year, the program includes innovation within CBD, THC, and Hemp.

Learn more about the program curriculum, 2024 focus areas, and the significance of Cannabis in Chicago at our public information sessions on 12.05 & 12.19 or apply now for consideration!

Upcoming Events

Our friends at OKAY Cannabis are hosting a Grown In 4th Anniversary social consumption soiree and industry networking event at their Wheeling location!

 Limited sponsorship opportunities remain, ping for more details.

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.