Refresh Checked Unchecked Menu Search Shopping bag Geolocation Person Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube Info Icon CBC Icon CBC Shape CBD Icon CBD Shape CBG Icon CBG Shape THC Icon THC Shape THCV Icon THCV Shape Loading…
Advertise on Leafly

20 cannabis predictions for 2020

December 16, 2019
new year predictions, cannabis predictions
We absolutely killed it on our 2019 predictions. Now all the office talk is "regression toward the mean" in 2020. Shut up. We don't even know what that means. (Sudowoodo/iStock)

Call your bookie, lay the bet. In late 2018 the Leafly News team made 24 predictions for the new year—and a fat 68% of them came true. Take that, Nostradamus!

Interest in CBD will come back to earth, while terpenes and THCV take off.

While we totally whiffed on Illinois going legal and New Jersey keeping prohibition alive, we nailed California’s spotty legalization rollout, plus the strains of 2019 and the eco-packaging movement.

Back-patting aside, it’s time to tackle 2020. Where will federal cannabis policy go? What will be the strain of 2020? We’re not backing down from the future—we’re calling it.

Here are Leafly’s 2020 cannabis predictions.

1. Strains gushing with flavor

We see the dessert strain craze extend its run with scrumptious, high-THC strains like Lava Cake and Vanilla Frosting gaining ground in 2020. Leave room for candy, though—Watermelon Zkittlez, Runtz, Gushers, and related crosses will all surge. Also, look for the backlash to dessert—savory “Breath” strains like Garlic Breath and GMO Cookies.

Related

And Leafly’s 2019 strain of the year is…

2. CBD returns to earth

(Leafly)

CBD will experience an inevitable cooling-off period, as adults realize it can be a potent medicine and a helpful wellness product but is not a panacea. News flash: Nothing ever is.

Related

What is CBD oil? A beginner’s guide to cannabidiol extracts

3. Terpenes in season

We’ll see more terpene information offered to consumers, plus new research on potential benefits, as well as information on the harms of consuming high concentrations of terps.

Related

Beyond THC: It’s time to assert the primacy of terpenes

4. Vaping fight

Vaping—both cannabis and nicotine—will rise as a public health and personal liberty issue in 2020. Vast swaths of the US will enact local vape bans.

Governors Jay Inslee (WA) and Charlie Baker (MA) will move to install their all-vape ban as a permanent state law via the legislature. Both efforts will fail, rebuffed by Republicans on largely libertarian grounds and backed by corporate lobbying.

We’ll see renewed marketing around flower, flower vapes, and rosins. A new focus on ‘clean, unmanipulated cannabis’ will come to the fore.

5. Price chops

California prices will fall, Oregon prices will rise, Washington prices should stay flat. Michigan’s sky high opening-month prices will gradually fall, as will the sticker-shock numbers in Illinois.

6. Exotic cannabinoids become more common

THC and CBD are so 2010. 2020 will see the increasing production of rare cannabinoids like THCV and THCA, with more products and modalities like asthma inhalers.

Related

Fight the Munchies With These West Coast THCV Products

7. Congress takes half-steps

In Congress, we’ll see progress but not complete victory. The MORE Act, the leading federal cannabis legalization bill, will pass the House but stall in the Senate. The SAFE Banking Act, which passed the House in 2019, will pass in the Senate in 2020. President Trump will hedge but ultimately sign the banking measure based on a state’s rights argument.

8. FDA cracks down on vaping

(Leafly)

The FDA will act tough on vapes, introducing new nationwide rules that will slow but not kill the industry.

FDA officials will also saber-rattle and brush back CBD marketers. The federal agency will approve more uses for pharmaceutical CBD and assert more of their regulatory authority over non-pharma uses. But the gray area will endure because the FDA lacks the resources, and has bigger priorities, given CBD’s overall safety.

Related

Journey of a tainted vape cartridge: from China’s labs to your lungs

9. Border problems continue

Cannabis problems at international borders—both north and south—won’t abate in 2020. Count on more celebrities getting busted crossing international lines with cannabis, especially in those private jets.

Related

Weed in Your Suitcase? Canada Considering a Fine, Not Felony

10. Lounges spread out

Licensed places to consume cannabis will expand beyond California in 2020. Colorado will finally roll them out, and Illinois may bring them too. Bonus: Tribal operations in legal states will push to open consumption lounges as part of their on-reservation dining-gaming-hotel-spa entertainment offerings.

11. Testing tightens up

Deaths from contaminated THC vaporizer cartridges ended vaping’s age of innocence in 2019. We foresee a year-long reckoning in 2020, with states tightening vaping rules, often beyond what science dictates.

Stung by its stumbles on EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury), regulators in Washington state must kill the bugs in their testing and track & trace programs and demand that state-licensed cannabis products be tested for pesticides.

Related

Can Washington fix its broken cannabis lab testing system?

12. Three new adult-use states

We wish we could present a rosier picture, but the presidential election is going to take up a lot of oxygen in 2020.

Legalization has already happened in the most likely states (the West Coast, Massachusetts). The next battles will happen in more traditionally conservative regions: the Midwest and the South.

2020 could be a year of consolidating gains, with no new major state or federal progress. We’ll see legislatures debate as only an incremental step. We’ll see new states try ballot initiatives and do well, but ultimately not pass. It took California 30 years to move from medical to adult-use legalization. In many states, voters have yet to fully digest medical legalization and reach a comfort level with the idea of adult use.

In 2020:

  • New York legalization will pass, barely, in the legislature.
  • New Jersey will come close but fail due to petty Democratic party infighting.
  • New Mexico legalization will be hotly debated but ultimately fail in the legislature.
  • No legalization in Connecticut, Rhode Island, or Pennsylvania.
  • Arizona voters will narrowly approve legalization at the ballot box. You gotta have hope.
  • Ohio votes narrowly yes, we hope.
  • Florida voters consider legalization but ultimately vote no.
  • Medical legalization will pass at the ballot box in Idaho and South Dakota.

13. Research shines light on vaping

An accruing body of research will better inform vape regulations, but there will be no breakthrough study that shows vaping to be conclusively harmful or completely without risk.

14. Policing priorities

(Leafly)

  • The DEA and federal task forces are going to make high-profile raids on illicit THC vape cart factories.
  • More local officials are going to be busted for cannabis licensing-related bribery.
  • More vape brands like Kushy Punch will be found to have sold into the illicit market—and lose their licenses.
Related

California vape maker Kushy Punch caught making illegal products

15. California transitions, slowly

California’s transition from illicit to licensed market continues to happen slowly, while cannabis tourism finally takes off. The state will break $2 billion in taxes collected and do another $800 million-plus in taxes in 2020.

16. Los Angeles fiddles while illicit market thrives

Los Angeles will add few new licensed stores and administer a litigated rollout of equity licenses. Threats of property forfeiture and arrest will boost illicit online, mobile, and pop-up outlets.

Related

Tainted vape pens selling 2-for-1 in illegal California stores

17. Advertising fights for air

Look for more restrictions on ads for vaping products. Anti-cannabis public messaging will also ramp up, funded by cannabis tax dollars. Effects claims like “sleep” and “calm” will come under new regulatory scrutiny.

18. Cultivation goes mechanized

The cannabis industry will see more industrialization—fresh-frozen harvest, mechanization in processing hemp, patented strains for sale, more mixed-light greenhouse growing, and oil-cropping, where an entire field gets turned to cannabis oil, instead of flower.

Related

Farm to freezer: Why ‘fresh-frozen’ is taking over the cannabis harvest

19. Hemp dreams not fully realized

Growing hemp will remain a money loser until supply can connect with demand, via USDA rules and state adoption—and even then, there will be gluts and huge amounts of perfectly good plants destroyed for having THC levels above the 0.3% limit.

20. Taxes: Lot of talk, no relief

(Leafly)

Sorry, there will be no federal tax relief from IRS section 280E in 2020. Legal states will open conversations about resetting tax rates in order to battle illicit market sales, but few will act.

Make your own #cannabispredictions2020 in the comments below. We’ll read the best ones on a future episode of our news podcast The Roll-Up.

David Downs and Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

David Downs and Bruce Barcott

David Downs is Leafly's California editor and host of The Hash podcast. Bruce Barcott is Leafly's deputy editor and host of The Roll-Up podcast.

View David Downs and Bruce Barcott's articles

  • What if Joe or Mike Bloomberg get in and try to destroy the marijuana progress…

    • cigarboxguitarguy

      I’d be more concerned about aliens taking over the planet than either of them becoming the nominee, much less, getting “in”.

  • BBH

    We need safe, legal access for all Americans. Now is the time.

  • Eliah Zhitnitskiy

    In terms of legalization, I agree with most of the stuff you said except one thing. I think there will be significant legislation in PA. This is because if Ohio, New York, and New Jersey all make the progress they’re expected to make with legalization, PA will recognize they’re getting squeezed by legal states and are reaping no new revenue from the weed that is inevitably going across their borders

  • breh

    New Jersey will not fail to pass it in 2020 because it was just approved as a ballot initiative for voters to decide, and the polls show a clear majority support legalization.

  • GTG

    5)… Prices NEVER go down on ANYTHING in California. Seriously, don’t look for the Golden State to reduce prices on cannabis and cannabis products any time soon.