It is easy to imagine a not-so-distant future with a legalized cannabis market nationwide. What this would look like is hard to say, but some cannabis evangelists believe the budding industry might mirror that of the alcohol industry. Don’t bank on it happening so quickly.
For cannabis to be sold in a similar manner to alcohol, a strong national brand with passionate customers is needed. Imagine Grey Goose without branding, the alcohol with so many loyal buyers would just be moonshine. Nothing special about that. For cannabis to be sold in a manner that looks anything like the way alcohol is sold today, a few big national cannabis brands will have to develop.
The cannabis industry is especially tough to develop strong brand awareness. Today, there are over 60,000 different cannabis brands in North America. Compare this with the 6,000 breweries in North America, and you can see what a challenge it will be to get your name out there on a national scale. The competition is fierce.
As cannabis companies try to develop strong national brands, they are challenged not only by their rivals in the industry, but also by the federal government. Nationwide advertising for cannabis is not allowed, making it difficult to advertise. This is unlikely to change anytime soon with Attorney General Jeff Sessions adamantly opposed to cannabis legalization. What cannabis companies are left with is a confusing and complex maze of regulations that vary state by state making the development of national brand near impossible.
One day, you will be able to walk into any CVS in America and buy a six pack of Budweiser and a pack of pre-rolled joints. It will be produced by one of the big national cannabis brands that will come to dominate the American market. That day is coming, but not until the cannabis market has stabilized, and when millennial have greater power to implement the necessary legislative changes.