As more states legalize recreational use of cannabis or marijuana—California being the most recent—questions about its harvesting, processing, and use as a food additive, against the backdrop of a complex legislative environment, come to the fore. In what is projected to be a $10 billion industry in 2018—as a point of comparison, note that ice cream is a $5 billion sector—the growth of cannabis as a food additive should therefore be of considerable interest to food manufacturers and processors.
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Explore this issueApril/May 2018
As of January 2018, cannabis is legal for recreational use in eight states, in addition to the District of Columbia—Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine. An additional 22 states have approved it for medicinal use, meaning that the majority of the country now has some type of legal access to marijuana. With widespread legitimacy comes the need to plan for scaled production—a new opportunity that holds unique challenges but also great economic promise.
In Canada, where marijuana has been legal for medical use since 2001 and where recreational use as a food additive is expected to pass by 2019, early stage rumblings include an M&A deal between beverage giant Constellation Brands and Canopy Growth Corp., the largest publicly traded cannabis company in the world. Constellation wants to extract liquid from cannabis and put it into beverages, getting in on the ground floor of a new industry of nonalcoholic, marijuana-infused drinks.
From growing and harvesting to processing, packaging, and distribution, as more states legalize cannabis use, the legislative environment will need to keep up with establishing what regulations need to be in place as food verification and worker safety issues emerge.
The Start of the Cycle: Growing and Harvesting
What is known about growing and harvesting cannabis is largely because the experiment in Colorado has lasted as long as it has—more than five years have passed since Colorado Amendment 64 was signed into law, legalizing marijuana for recreational use a year later, in January 2014. Since that time, the industry has found a market for medical as well as entertainment purposes. The main focus right now is to credentialize the production of cannabis as a legitimate business.| | | Next → | Single Page