As cannabis becomes more popular for medicinal and recreational use, it’s important to consider how this will affect the economy from a global standpoint all the way to the individual growers. I know the state of CT will be expanding to 16 approved growers as of the time I’m writing this along with the countless home growers that will pop up as well so supply will be increasing fast. As with any commodity as supply increases, demand needs to increase as well, or prices will begin to decline.
At first glance I thought this would set the industry up for a steep decline in profit per unit of product. However, to get an accurate picture for the demand of cannabis you need to look at all its uses, not just the psychoactive effect.
I like to view the future of the cannabis market similar to how I view most fruits and vegetables. You have many growers of all different sizes, and each can play a role in delivering various products that a cannabis plant produces to consumers. If smaller growers of items like tomatoes, corn, etc can remain profitable when much larger commercial growers exist in these areas, I don’t see why cannabis growers can’t do the same.
In other ways I view cannabis similar to the liquor industry, especially when strictly referring to the psychoactive effect of cannabis. Not everyone is going to walk in and purchase top-shelf whiskey or micro-brewed IPAs. Some people, including myself, don’t mind the taste of a Natural Light every now and then to send me back to my college days or don’t mind saving a buck or two on cheaper, but still good cannabis.
The versatility of cannabis is what eased my worries about a potentially flooded market. The resinous flowers that we love to roll-up aren’t the only usable portion of the cannabis plant.
The Seeds: Cannabis seeds are full of protein and oils that make it a great food source especially for farm animals. These seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and contain all 9 of the essential amino acids which are the ones us humans can’t make on our own. The oils produced by these seeds are also utilized in many skin care products due to their anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties. Cannabis plants can make hundreds to thousands of seeds each.
The Stalk: The use of the fibrous stalk of the cannabis plant dates back thousands of years. There are multiple accounts of the founding fathers of the United States utilizing the stalks to make rope, cloth, and paper. I think this is only the tip of the iceberg though as these stalks are being explored in many other industries including plant-based concrete, cooking and probably much more in the coming years.
The Cannabinoids: The major reason most of us utilize cannabis is for the two major cannabinoids delta-9 THC and CBD for the medicinal and recreational benefit. More people are trying cannabis daily due to ease of access, so I expect this to still be the main driver for demand. On top of that, the terpenes being isolated from these plants are being looked at for other disease states and conditions. If any of the data results in these terpenes being utilized medicinally this will also affect the demand of cannabis plants.
Long story short, I expect the cannabis industry to remain viable for growers of all sizes with one key caveat. The ability to adapt and innovate to a rapidly changing market. If you harvest your plants strictly for the fruit (flowers), think about how much money you’re leaving on the table. There will be plenty of options for commercial, specialty, and individual growers in the coming decades.
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