9 things we learned about cannabis in 2018

CBD is here to stay, retail can work and beer has a serious competitor

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Cannabis is growing fast
Cannabis is growing fast Credit: iStock

It turns out 2018 was a bumper year for weed. While not legal nationwide, laws are in flux across the country, providing marketers with ample opportunity -- and not a little confusion -- in the midst of this green rush. Here are a few things we learned about the sticky icky this year.

CBD is here to stay

More than just pot lite, cannabidiol appeals to a wide audience that doesn't necessarily want to get high, and there's been an explosion of CBD-infused retail products.

Big business is ready

Multinationals like Coca-Cola are deciding how to buy into the boom. This month, Altria (né Philip Morris) put $1.8 billion into Canadian pot producer Cronos Group.

Retail can work

Sleek brick-and-mortar locations are drawing high-end clientele. There will be 10 CBD retail stores in New York City by January, and California-based MedMen plans to grow from 19 facilities to 66 in 2019.

Goodbye "pothead"

When marketing, "you have to look like a CPG brand, not a CBD brand," says Mary Pryor, co-founder of the cannabis awareness collective Cannaclusive. An ad campaign from MedMen, for instance, struck "stoner" from the lexicon.

Ballot initiatives can be lucrative

Most progress is at the state level, often through questions on the ballot. Sellers who properly predict which markets will open have a head start on the competition.

Get creative with media buys

Pot ad rules are byzantine, making large buys complicated. For now, podcasts or events are good bets.

Beer has a serious competitor

As pot grows in popularity, what product will it replace? Cheap beer, says investment firm Cowen & Co.

CBD is the real gateway drug

Every "CBD-only" seller is well-positioned to begin selling actual marijuana or THC-infused products as soon as regulations change.

Look to the north

Canada legalized recreational marijuana in October, so entrepreneurs and eager corporations are setting up shop.

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