2023 Bests & 2024 Bets
Recaps, predictions, & precautions.
Wednesday, December 27, 2023
Time to read: About 6 minutes. Contains 1,138 words.
We’ve entered that magical “let’s loop back in the new year” window—a quiet, reflective time of year that I particularly love and one that pairs well with weed. Lots of journalling, cleaning, and planning creative endeavors you may or may not follow through with in the coming year.
Looking back on 2023, I am very grateful for this corner of the internet we’ve cultivated together. Thank you to each of you reading this, to everyone who shared posts with a friend or coworker, to the people who responded to a post with enthusiasm or contrary points of view, the peers who got vulnerable for interviews and roundtables that helped guide so many, and especially the paid subscribers who make this all possible.
Because of your support, The Broccoli Report was able to adapt and evolve into Sticky Bits this year. This newsletter’s focus further crystallized, honing in on its niche blend of legalization, policy, and science news, analysis of marketing and branding trends, and observations of the evolution of cannabis culture through the lens of art and accessories. Plus, supporting entrepreneurs interested in creative and ethical ways of operation. Here are some of the most read, most shared, and stickiest Bits published in 2023.
The follow-up story on the Standard Dose Scandal shed additional light on what happened when one online retailer ghosted several vendors in the CBD space, offered advice for dealing with delinquent distributors, and resulted in at least one brand getting paid what they were owed.
This Cannabis Equity Check-Up got real about the efforts making a real difference in equal access for diverse entrepreneurs and the communities negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition.
The Silent Trend explored a glaring blank space in our industry—cannabis products that target seniors, the fastest-growing demographic in most markets.
A dive into the not-so-silent trend of people getting too high, too often, the products being innovated to Feel Less High, Faster, and the broadening role they’re playing in consumption spaces.
The Lonely Hearts Board is going strong, connecting talented, creative people with peers and brands seeking someone just like them.
According to many readers, The Hemp THC Fallacy was the explainer they’d been waiting for. You can bet we’ll be back on this topic sooner than later, getting more into the chemistry behind the process and the role “hemp-derived” THC plays in not-yet-legalized states.
Thank you for making this reporting possible, and for your patience when frequency waned at times. I have plenty of fresh content in the works and will be providing two dispatches a week more regularly, as well as new opportunities to connect with each other. The future of the Sticky Bits-verse is bright.
Here are some thoughts on what 2024 will bring the rest of the weed scene.
The hemp Delta 9 trend is only going to grow. Especially in states with none/few/expensive options for legal weed. Although even in states with dispensaries on most corners, being able to order real THC online with a credit card still holds plenty of allure. However, I also see more cities and states taking things into their own hands and writing legislation to regulate/ban these “synthetic cannabinoids.” Whether you’re invested in a crackdown on the hemp cannabinoid market running wild or in it continuing to flourish freely, a clear understanding of these compounds and how they relate to licensed farms is going to be increasingly vital.
Harm reduction as the hot new accessory. We’re past getting sky high for high’s sake—people getting so high that they have a bad time is bad for everyone’s business. Chef Nikki Steward had an Undoo activation at her latest High End Affair event, and GreenOut had a presence at a consumption event in Portland last summer—I see products like these that aim to help fade highs faster becoming regular fixtures at consumption-friendly events and social lounges.
A new approach to giving small, local businesses a leg up when states legalize. At least, that’s what I hope will happen because it’s only a matter of time until states cannot legally prioritize residents. ICYMI, a third lawsuit has been filed against New York’s Office of Cannabis Management in attempts to block the issuance of new retail licenses. The plaintiffs claim the department's program is unconstitutional, arguing the system favors New York residents and thus violates the federal Dormant Commerce Clause, which prevents states from discriminating against interstate commerce. This argument has won recent cases in other states. This won’t be the last invocation of the Commerce Clause.
The Commerce Clause may legalize interstate trade. If and when that clause officially overrules prioritizing residents over out-of-state applicants across the board, it will set a precedent that the ban on interstate commerce will be deemed unconstitutional, too. There is pending litigation on this exact issue set for a hearing in January.
The SAFER Banking Act will continue floating in purgatory. With the very conservative Mike Johnson as the House Speaker, who’s routinely voted against legislative changes to federal cannabis policy, it’s not likely he’ll prioritize time to discuss this Act. Not while we’re involved in two expensive wars. No matter how much President Biden wants to rally good favor in the coming election year, I don’t see us getting more than more pardons. We’re grateful to see it, for sure, but it’s not enough.
The rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3. I am slow to predict fast change on the matter, but Morgan Paxhia, co-founder of Poseidon Asset Management, a San Francisco-based cannabis investment firm, recently laid out a perceivable path for Forbes that has me thinking otherwise. Paxhia predicts the Boise Schiller Flexnor lawsuit will result in cannabis shifting to Schedule 3, possibly alongside a memo that protects certain elements of the industry as is. “Rescheduling alone or the rescheduling/memo combo will result in a new wave of liquidity, a surge in M&A activities, equity issuance, and refinanced debts that will bail out many who may not survive otherwise,” says Paxhia. It wouldn’t be crazy to begin to craft a game plan for the profound impacts rescheduling would bring.
Censorship will continue to drive creativity. "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations," said Orson Welles. Limitations are the one constant in this business, and we have made some pretty magical things happen regardless. I don’t see Meta loosening up in 2024, but I do believe in us rising to the challenge and reaching new creative heights to better communicate with and market to consumers. Whether popularizing new slang terms for joints, trying out advertising platforms, or something beyond my wildest dreams.
With high hopes and weediest wishes,
Sticky Bits by Lauren Yoshiko is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.