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2024 Massachusetts Cannabis Predictions: Business & Industry Edition

Ethics and accountability, close alignments, shit lists, fireworks, closures, and artificial intelligence

We are reporters, not soothsayers. The journalism we produce might put us in a position to make some predictions and publish the occasional in-house editorial when such measures are called for, but in looking at the year in front of us, we thought it would be best to leave the informed guesswork to direct industry stakeholders.

The comments below about business and industry, as well as our roundups of predictions regarding equity and regulation and retail and products, come from a mix of sources who have appeared in Talking Joints Memo before and impressed us, as well as some new contacts who are among many we hope to hear more from in 2024. Without further ado, here is what they have to say … 

Megan Dobro of SafeTiva Labs

“I am hopeful that 2024 will be a reckoning for Massachusetts cannabis that will include pressure on businesses to pay their bills, to be transparent to consumers, and to play fairly. Ethical businesses have had enough and I’m finally seeing the wave of organizing needed to do something about it. Many businesses will close, but hopefully, it’ll be the honest, local companies run by talented people who are passionate about this plant that will stay in business.”

Tim McNamara of Suncrafted Cannabis

“I believe like businesses—i.e. independent operators, sun growers, quality craft producers, and timely bill payers in particular—are increasingly finding ways to collaborate, share resources, or even form organizations that advance common goals. There’s always been interest, but I’m seeing a lot more actions based on the real value in long-term business relationships. And with the passage of time, behavior patterns and track records of both good and not so good establishments are available, so people can better evaluate who they want to work with.”

Jordan Mackenzie Whittaker of  The Weedaker Group

“2024 will be the year of ‘accountability’ for the industry. The momentum comes from operators advocating for such accountability and systematic changes this year, as well as the whistleblowers and lawsuits that have entered the chat.”

Meg Sanders of Canna Provisions

“It’ll get harder before it gets easier. This is really hard. Cash flow, taxes, payroll, and inventory will continue to be pillars to manage in order to emerge from the price compression that has defined 2023 in Massachusetts. In my opinion, the biggest issue in the industry at large is the receivables crisis in this state. Lawsuits have already been filed, and it will remain a significant issue. When you have legal operators robbing Peter to pay Paul, at some point they are going to run out of Peters. So what the industry needs is some type of way to communicate about the companies that have no intention of paying their vendors on time and perhaps some not at all. One way or another the wholesalers, labs, and third-party vendors in this state are going to come together and make sure everyone understands who is paying their bills and who isn’t.”

Devin Alexander of Rolling Releaf

“I think a public list will be revealed [of companies that don’t pay]. Layoffs are going to happen due to people owing people money.”

Dr. Marion McNabb of Cannabis Center of Excellence

“The new HCA laws taking effect in March 2024 are bound to produce some fireworks in some municipalities. There are several municipalities around the commonwealth that have in one way or another not complied in the past, yet have still collected fees, from either having no documentation of impacts despite collecting fees, to entering into agreements that were outside of the bounds of the initial HCA law and guidance. With the CCC reviewing HCAs moving forward and creating a model HCA in January 2024, this will inevitably help operators who are facing paying fees without the proper justification for collecting them in the first place.”

Howard Schacter of MariMed

“There are implications for AI in every aspect of cannabis across cultivation, operations, marketing, and more. Used correctly, AI will become a critical and powerful tool that will help all of us save time and money and deliver better customer experiences. At MariMed, we’re learning about how to further integrate AI into our business and excited about its potential.”

Pete Gallagher of Insa

“We think artificial intelligence will be a positive for the cannabis industry in 2024. At Insa, we have already started to adopt AI solutions and realized efficiencies. As the technology improves and more of our team members adopt it, we continue to find applications and productivity improvements.”

Payton Shubrick of 6 Brick’s

“The customer experience will be one of the core factors in whether or not a dispensary thrives or does not survive. The days of building a dispensary and automatically receiving customers are long over. This means that poorly run or managed dispensaries will be faced with harsh realities.”

Ann Brum of Joint Venture & Co.

“We’re on the cusp of a major shift where cannabis brands transform into something more community-centric. This is about moving beyond mere transactions. Brands will become hubs for learning, discussion, and sharing experiences. The exciting part? The community gets a say in this evolution. It’s the people, their needs, and their voices that will shape how a brand interacts with its consumer community. This is a two-way street where feedback and engagement directly influence the brand’s direction and offerings. This means that people from all walks of life can explore cannabis in a space where they feel heard and respected. Brands will facilitate this by not just providing products, but also by being a reliable source of information, support, and connection.”

Shaleen Title of the Parabola Center

“We are focused on telling people that the same bills that the movement is working on are being pushed by Amazon, by Philip Morris, by Reynolds American, potentially by big pharma. And they don’t have any intentional protections for craft cannabis or for small business. This is the point that we wanted to get across and we wanted to let people know that if we just flipped the switch on legalization, we could potentially lose this culture that we all know and love.” [Comment excerpted from a speech given by Title in September.]

Pete Gallagher of Insa

“We are very optimistic about the cannabis industry in 2024. There are a number of positive catalysts on the horizon including cannabis rescheduling, legalization of adult-use cannabis in Florida, and the start of adult-use cannabis sales in Ohio.”

Howard Schacter of MariMed

“The industry has faced serious macro and micro challenges the last few years, but we can’t forget that we’re still in the early innings and the best years are still ahead of us. We’re not counting our chickens yet, but we’re cautiously optimistic that 2024 will finally see a decision about rescheduling. Most important, we’re seeing incredible momentum behind the mainstreaming of cannabis, with more states adopting legalization and polls showing stronger numbers than ever before that US adults want legalization. The numbers don’t lie.”

Ruben Seyde of Delivered Inc.

“Not all will be sunshine and rainbows. There’s going to be at least a few more companies to close their doors in the coming months. I don’t know how public it is, but Budzee just closed their doors, along with two other dispensaries in Western Mass. The chickens are coming home to roost. Certain sections of the market, like Western Mass, are oversaturated and the market has no choice but to correct itself. The businesses that survive this correction, and I truly believe that SEs with access to the trust fund will be some of the best positioned to do just that and will be best positioned to survive in this market for decades to come.”

Alex Mazin of Bud’s Goods & Provisions

“More independent operators will go under in 2024. Tax burdens and liabilities will hit the industry operators hard in 2024. 2024 will be the final shake out in Massachusetts.”

Jason Reposa of Good Feels

“Many small operators will continue to be squeezed, and some will not survive. But Massachusetts cannabis will continue to grow.”