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Cannabis And Hemp: Predictions 2021

This story originally appeared on Forbes.

Cannabis And Hemp: Predictions 2021

Federal Legalization Could Happen If Democrats Win Georgia’s Two Senate Seats In the January Run-off.

Recreational and medical cannabis use ballot victories across the political spectrum this fall show marijuana’s acceptance continues to grow among American voters. Still, politicians mostly act along party lines. Over the past few years, the democrat-lead U.S. Congress has taken up cannabis industry banking and other related legislation. The republican-controlled Senate however, has blocked any liberalization of cannabis laws. If democrats take control of the Senate by winning the two seats up for grabs in the Georgia run-off in January, expect forward movement on federal legalization of cannabis.

Hemp Industry Testing Will Continue to Mature

The legalization of hemp (cannabis’ non-psychoactive cousin) by the 2018 Farm Bill ignited a planting boom as entrepreneurs rushed to meet the growing desire for Hemp-derived CBD that could be added to all consumable, smokable, and beauty products. New to the plant though, some farmers lacked specific knowledge about the crop and how to best store it to keep contaminants like mold, yeast, E.coli, salmonella, bacteria, coliforms, and Aspergillus at bay.

Testing regulations vary state by state, said Jill Ellsworth, founder and chief executive of Willow Industries, a provider of cannabis and hemp decontamination technology. She said hemp farmers that have trouble passing microbial tests, can’t sell their crop to most extraction companies. (Some unethical businesses will accept the crop though and could potentially cause a health problem for consumers.)

Farmers should get to know the regulations in their states and be “proactive about testing their product throughout the harvest and post-harvest processes” she said. They should also think ahead to ensure a smooth transition between key players throughout the supply chain.

Best practices and rules for contaminant testing will continue to be rolled out and eventually could be standardized across states.

The Hiring Boom Will Continue

Sales of cannabis have grown every year in U.S. states where it is legal, and each year that list of states gets longer. Cannabis is a labor-intensive market with jobs from “seed to sale” for applicants at all education and experience levels. Farm and retail workers, professional service providers, marketers, software makers, security personnel and horticulture experts are all needed for the industry to succeed.

Liesl Bernard founder and chief executive of CannabizTeam, a search and staffing firm focused on the cannabis industry, predicts that Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota, which recently voted to allow recreational use, will be adding tens of thousands of new cannabis-related jobs as licenses are granted and regulations are adopted. High demand jobs as the new market rolls out will be in retail, manufacturing, cultivation, financial services and legal help.

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Designing Women

“We’re seeing a huge increase of products in the health and wellness sector and I think we’ll see more women designing cannabis products for women,” said  Judy Yee, chief executive of K-Zen a maker of cannabis-infused drinks. “Women will be a big force in normalizing cannabis” she predicts as the industry prioritizes their needs in product innovation, development and marketing.

Yee also predicts more success for female executives in the industry. She said she has found that working with other like-minded women, “We tend to compete differently, we collaborate better and when we make a promise or an offer or give advice, we really mean it and follow through.” The barriers to entry are high in cannabis, and running a business in the industry takes patience and hard work she said, but women, and “especially those of us of color, are resilient and we’re used to having to overcome obstacles to get where we want to be.

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