Select Page

2021 Industry Trends Dispensary Owners Should Know

published on September 27, 2021
by James Hammer

As a dispensary owner, you must keep a close eye on what’s currently happening within the cannabis industry. Any changes that occur can either make it or break it for your dispensary. The cannabis industry is continuously changing, with new states legalizing marijuana and new products rolling out. If you want to ensure that you are ahead of the competition, you need to keep a close eye on these trends. With the cannabis industry still going through its growing pains, there are many things to keep an eye out for. 

To help you remain on top of things, we’ve compiled the latest trends in the cannabis industry and what you should keep an eye out for throughout 2021. 


Social equity

With legalization starting to increase each year, state and federal attempts to reverse wrongs into rights are a growing interest in social equity programs. This trend isn’t too surprising since it’s been pushed by various marijuana advocacy groups for a while now. The recent legalization of marijuana has overshadowed the individuals who were incarcerated for minor possession amounts or infractions. These incarcerations and felony convictions have kept plenty of diverse individuals in the legal industry. 

To make the industry more welcoming, social equity initiatives are becoming increasingly popular among legalized states. The longest-standing state that has been leading the way for social equity in California. These programs provide incentives to previously charged criminals to become new cannabis company dispensary owners by providing them with a reduced application fee or relaxed licensing requirements. Several dispensary brands are in full support of these social equity programs and will continue to use their platform to raise awareness among their customers. 


Benchmark increase for THC

One of the trends that every dispensary needs to keep in mind is the current race for the highest THC percentage. There is fascinating communication going on between producers and cannabis consumers in the legal cannabis market. Breeders and growers assign what cannabis they choose to grow each year. Consumers can vote on these decisions with their money to signal back to brands, distributors, and cultivators what stains they enjoy the most. 

In the last couple of years, the cannabis industry has been witnessing an increasing demand for higher THC strains. Many cannabis companies have discovered that introducing terpenes in a strain can improve the effect of cannabis. Customers evaluate their options in the best possible way by purchasing the highest THC available in the market. 

Cultivators also have to remain vigilant about these changes if they wish to be aware of the preferred strains in the market or one step ahead of the competition. Tassels and preferences are frequently changing in the cannabis market, partly driven by breeders producing new strains of cannabis. Growers with access to a breeder or employee capable of starting the program should consider developing and naming their own strains. When you become the only producer for a particular strain, your competitive edge enhances. 


Better education on cannabis

In 2020, there was a significant increase in users who have consumed cannabis for the first time. Experts in the industry have credited this growing interest to information and higher forms of education as the reason behind the boost in cannabis users. It also helps that most doctors have come out in support of the usage of medical use for marijuana. 

With an increasingly growing interest in holistic and organic lifestyles, the consumption of cannabis has become the number one source for these users. With the amount of stress that people were dealing with during the previous year, cannabis served as a stress reliever for many of them throughout the pandemic. Plenty of dispensaries and cannabis companies are improving customer service strategies and marketing campaigns. They are focusing on providing customers with medical facts and research on cannabis.


Product expansion 

Back in the good old days, most people would only have the option to purchase a cannabis flower or preroll from a licensed dispensary. In recent years, we have seen several products rolling out of the industry. Some of these products include concentrates, edibles, waxes, vape pens, and much more. These have managed to become increasingly popular among many cannabis users and have even outpaced the traditional methods. The industry is seeing a whole new line of products make it on shelves. 2021 is predicted to see an expansion of even more diverse products within the cannabis industry. 

With the growing interest in consumers due to the beneficial effects provided from consuming cannabis, these new products are more favorable to them. More health-conscious people may not enjoy the idea of inhaling the product. However, they might still be more apt to consume a THC-infused product without having to take a puff of a preroll. They now have the option to consume it through edibles, which have steadily grown even more popular as of late. 

Aside from edibles, there have been other cannabis products that have become accessible for everyday consumers in the last few years. 

  • Topicals
  • Hair and beauty products
  • Beverages
  • THC or CBD transdermal patches
  • THC or CBD suppositories
  • THC or CBD capsules

The trend has been noticeable on the rise, and many in the industry are starting to take advantage of this growing interest. There is going to be a time when we see more products expand the shelves of many dispensaries. The number of brands and marketing will also start to target female cannabis users as the industry expands into beauty products. Furthermore, there is going to be an uptick in cannabis beverages as well. 


Expanding beyond CBD and THC

While THC and CBD are some of the most popular forms of cannabis available in the market, plenty of companies are researching far beyond those two. Many businesses are interested in some of the other varieties of cannabinoids available for production. Industry experts are claiming to see an increase in products that feature some other minor cannabinoids capable of offering significant benefits when consumed. For example, some have stated that CBG could become the next CBD, while CBC and CBN also show signs of similar potential. On the other hand, consumers are finding out more about the effects of THCa, and THCv as well.

The more research that is conducted on these minor cannabinoids and the benefits they have on the users, the higher the demand becomes for these types of products containing them. It also helps that studies have shown 60% of the current customer base in legal markets are using cannabis for health reasons alone. The trend shows us that we’ll continue to see even more research and development for these other cannabinoids, along with customers purchasing the goods when they hit the shelves. 


Technological growth

Last year, there was a growing trend of online services, which is something that has only just started to expand in the cannabis industry. Most businesses had to adapt to the pandemic and find ways to reach out to their customers during these trying times. The increase in technology usage in dispensary and retail storefront operations became increasingly necessary for the survival of these businesses. The number of online menus for dispensaries has increased dramatically, with many of them offering delivery or curbside pickup options just like other online stores. 

Furthermore, brands are also shifting to customer communication tools through the usage of things like email and text messaging to remain in touch and nurture loyalty. For the supply chain, automation and software are becoming increasingly available for cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers alike. These newly introduced tools are helping streamline the process for companies to remain compliant with their state and optimize their overall growth. 


Cannabis banking reform

Back in November, many people in the cannabis industry let out a collective cheer when Joe Biden managed to win the nomination for president of the United States. Former President Donald Trump maintained a hands-off approach to state-level marijuana regulation, with his attorney generals being some of the most anti-cannabis people around. The former president himself kept far away from even speaking about the idea of the legalization of cannabis. 

Throughout the campaign trail, President Biden pledged to decriminalize the usage of marijuana on a federal level and rescheduled the drug from a Schedule I to Schedule II. While this would not legalize cannabis on a federal level, it would remove a significant amount of penalties usually associated with marijuana usage. 

However, one of the most exciting changes that most people in the industry would like to see is a cannabis banking reform. The democratic lead house has previously introduced legislation that would permit banks and credit unions to grant basic financial services for cannabis companies legalized in states without being afraid of federal penalties. 2021 has shown significant momentum for a possibility of banking reform to occur, but much of it will depend on whether the Republican leaders will allow the bill to even make it to the upper house floor for a vote. 


Every trend we have mentioned here is playing a crucial role in the way that 2021 and even 2022 are shaping to become. Dispensary owners need to remain vigilant and watch these trends closely. Once they start noticing the changes made in the industry, they need to take immediate action to prevail ahead of the competition.