After the Covid-fueled boom of 2020 – 2021, followed by the bottom falling out of many state markets in 2022, 2023 was something of a reset year for legal cannabis in the U.S. with relatively less volatility in supply, demand, and wholesale prices.
However, “relatively less volatility” in cannabis means there were still a number of significant developments to track and unpack. From the possibility of federal cannabis reform to shifting fundamentals in major West Coast states to the growing pains of new adult use markets coming online, there was no shortage of interesting stories playing out across the country.
As 2024 gets underway, we look back on the stories that Cannabis Benchmarks readers clicked on the most in 2023.
1) Unlocking Change: HHS Recommends Rescheduling Cannabis to Schedule III (September 6. 2023)
Perhaps the most talked-about development of last year was the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) recommendation that cannabis be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III on the federal government’s list of controlled substances. The HHS recommendation came after President Joe Biden ordered a review of cannabis’ Schedule I status.
In this article, we spoke to regulatory expert Shawn Hauser, a partner at the Denver-based Vicente LLP law firm, about the prospects for rescheduling, what it would entail for cannabis businesses across the country, and how it might impact state-licensed markets.
With the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration currently considering whether to sign off on HHS’s recommendation, this article remains as relevant as when it was published.
2) Oregon Outdoor Cannabis Harvest Declines Significantly in 2023 (September 12, 2023)
With one of the country’s most storied cannabis production hubs in the southwest portion of the state, Oregon has historically been an oversupplied market. After generating larger and larger harvests each year after the state’s adult use market opened in 2016, summer data and reports from stakeholders in the state indicated that growers were pulling back on production in 2023, as the state’s supply glut led to low prices and distressed businesses.
While data through September pointed to contracting supply in Oregon this year, subsequent information showed that October 2023 saw a 15% year-on-year increase in its outdoor harvest volume, putting last year’s total production about even with 2022’s and maintaining the state’s oversupply. Subscribe to Cannabis Benchmarks Premium Reports for the most current wholesale price data and analysis of market fundamentals in 21 state markets and counting.
3) How Big Are Retail Markups for Cannabis Flower? (November 7, 2023)
As wholesale cannabis prices vary across the U.S., so to do retail prices and the size of wholesale to retail markups. This analysis looks at wholesale to retail markups in a half-dozen state markets, with some surprising findings. Analyzing retail markup data for cannabis flower and other products using Cannabis Benchmarks’ validated, unbiased wholesale price data is essential for those evaluating opportunities in different legal cannabis markets.
4) Does Anyone Know How Much Marijuana is Grown in California? (August 22, 2023)
America’s largest legal cannabis market has also been one of the most unsettled. Six years after California’s licensed adult use market opened for business, the cultivation sector is still seeing big changes that are impacting supply and wholesale prices in the state. This article delves into licensing statistics and information from publicly traded companies to provide context for wholesale price action that took place in 2023.
New Mexico’s adult use market opened for business in April 2022, making it one of a cohort of states that have legalized and begun sales more recently. The state has shown characteristics common to a number of new markets, including quickly achieving a baseline sales level and wholesale prices dropping in short order after adult use sales began. In this article, Cannabis Benchmarks spoke to Ben Lewinger, head of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, for insights on the state’s dynamic market.