Cannabis has very quickly transformed into a big business. Within the regulated market selling products through licensed dispensaries, BDSA, Boulder, projects total sales for all cannabis products to exceed $21 billion in 2021, up 25% over 2020, which ended the year around $17.6 billion. BDSA forecasts a total U.S. market of $41.3 billion by 2026.

“Growth for the industry has been a function of new markets getting established—such as greater development in the Illinois and Michigan markets—as well as growth within established markets,” says Kelly Nielsen, vice president, insights and analytics, BDSA. “This year is already off to an exciting start for newly legal markets, with Arizona starting adult-use sales in January and approval for adult use passing in New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Connecticut, and Virginia.” BDSA expects sales in these markets to begin in 2022.

Nielsen notes infused food and beverage products make up about 13% of dollar volume of the total cannabis space across all BDSA-tracked markets. “But, growth in this category is outpacing the industry, and we expect edibles to be closer to 15% share by 2025,” she says. “Edibles are a very accessible product form. 70% of cannabis consumers consume edibles, and 34% actually prefer this format over inhalables or topical products.”

Clearly, the U.S. is ready for cannabis. But are you ready?

Many in the industry have cited FDA approval as the necessary linchpin in the system. And we’re getting closer to that reality.

This past March, the cannabis industry received the welcome news that initial FDA-requested testing regarding cannabidiol (CBD) safety—particularly in terms of how the liver can handle processing the cannabinoid—isn’t raising any red flags.

CBD product developer HempFusion Wellness and Validcare, the organization coordinating the CBD human observational, liver, and human toxicology study, released initial findings from its industry-sponsored, decentralized human safety study of hemp-derived CBD products. Preliminary findings have not shown any evidence of liver toxicity in the 839 participants in the clinical trials.

Principal investigators met with FDA on March 15 to review these preliminary liver safety study results. The parties also discussed establishing a direct communication feed to FDA so it can receive raw, blinded, aggregate data for its analysis.

It appears that it’s only a matter of time before CBD is out of the gate and off to the races. Will you be ready to compete?

Of course, Cannabis Products will be there every step of the journey, providing essential product development and processing information for cannabis-infused foods and beverages. As we navigate this path, it’s always enlightening to receive industry feedback regarding how folks in legalized markets across the U.S. are navigating top challenges posed by the cannabis supply chain, product development, processing, packaging, branding, and more. Along those lines, we’d love to hear from you. Please reach out and make a connection. Together, we can grow the cannabis-infused food and beverage market to untold heights—safely, sustainably, and backed by science the whole way.