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Legal Cannabis: The Billion Dollar Market Set to Disrupt Consumer Goods

A version of this article originally appeared on Convenience Store Decisions.

North America is at the forefront of the cannabis revolution. Recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada and 10 U.S. states. Medical marijuana is legal in 33 U.S. states, which is a strong precursor to recreational legalization. Euromonitor International expects federal legalization of recreational cannabis in the U.S. within the next five years. In the rest of the world, medicinal marijuana is a strong prospect in large markets like Germany, Czech Republic and Australia, moving forward with liberalized structures.

CBD is the current functional ingredient of choice. The non-psychoactive properties make it more accessible to consumers, both legally and psychologically. As consumers become educated about the potential applications of CBD, conversations are kickstarting around cannabis more broadly. In time, normalization and deregulation will present opportunities with THC-infused products.

These advances promise new opportunities for brands to innovate their offerings. The following industries are proof of how cannabis is already disrupting consumer goods.

Beverages

The alcoholic drinks industry is by far the most embedded in the cannabis sector and arguably the one most impacted by cannabis legalization. At least three leading corporate players have a stake in cannabis producers. With the industry already headed in a low- and non-alcohol direction, a future where THC replaces ABV in alcoholic beverages is on the horizon.

The global soft drinks industry is driven by health and wellness. CBD-infused products are prevalent in soft and hot drinks today. This creates an opportunity for the development of cannabis beverages that fit into social settings with a health and wellness element.

Tobacco

Cannabis legalization is expected to be a transformative dynamic for the tobacco industry, which has seen cigarette volume sales and smoking populations plummet across developed markets, according to Euromonitor International. Some smokers will experiment with CBD or low-THC cannabis products, mainly via vaping, as a form of smoking in moderation. However, the greatest potential for cannabis is to replace tobacco and alcohol in social occasions.

The tobacco industry is uniquely poised to take advantage of the shift in consumer preferences because it understands the restrictive legislation, taxation and the agricultural production chain. In the future, tobacco manufacturers may either own cannabis brands, cultivate value-added strains or produce gadgets for its consumption.

Beauty and Personal Care

Hemp seed oil beauty and personal care products have been on the market for decades. However, the new superhero ingredient in beauty, CBD, has replaced hemp promoting anti-oxidizing, oil-balancing and anti-inflammatory properties.

CBD-infused beauty product launches are largely prevalent in skin care, toiletries and cosmetics. Euromonitor International expects skin care to be the main driver of cannabis beauty growth.

Consumer Health

CBD products exist in a growing variety of consumer health categories, such as dietary supplements, topical analgesics and sleeping aids. The current opioid crisis in mature markets will drive demand for cannabis as a natural, homeopathic alternative to pharmaceuticals for the relief of chronic pain, stress and insomnia.

According to Euromonitor International, the global market for vitamins and dietary supplements is predicted to be the largest cannabis-driven OTC market by 2025, with 2% of total value sales to be CBD or THC-based, followed by topical analgesics, sleeping aids and sports nutrition.

Packaged Food

Hemp-based food products, such as hemp seeds, oil, plant-based milk alternatives and protein bars, have long existed on the shelves of health food stores. Euromonitor International expects global sales of CBD packaged foods to double over the next two years, as consumer awareness of the ingredient’s benefits grows.

Once markets expand, regulations are clarified and cannabinoids as an added ingredient become ubiquitous, cannabis will become prevalent in food categories like sweets, bakery products, savory snacks, pasta and soups.

Future

Today’s CBD-dominated market will drastically change over the next decade. By 2030, the cannabis landscape will be transformed by outcome-based brands made by household brand names.

In the future, consumers will have a pick-me-up cannabis beverage when they wake up, jump in the shower using cannabis toiletries, take a cannabis supplement with lunch, consume cannabis sports nutrition after the gym, head out in the evening for a non-alcoholic THC drink and go to bed at the end of the day with a THC or CBD sleeping aid.

Download Euromonitor International’s report, “Here Comes Cannabis: How Legalisation Will Disrupt Global Industries”, to read more about the disruption of cannabis across consumer goods.

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