Hot States With Legal Cannabis for Adult Use

Higher Yields Consulting Hot States With Legal Cannabis for Adult Use

States with legal cannabis for adult use are at the highest stage of legalization before the federal level. Upon full legalization, states can be categorized into three layers of adult use: up-and-coming, in-progress, and established.

Adult-use — our preferred term for recreational — cannabis speaks to an individual’s choice to make for themself, as an adult. And while adult-use cannabis is currently legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia, President Biden’s 2022 budget continues to uphold several bans on adult-use sales.

Higher Yields Consulting Hot States With Legal Cannabis for Adult Use

Read on to find out which states with legal cannabis for adult use are hot to enter in each of the three layers of full legalization.

Up & Coming States: New Jersey & New York

Up-and-coming states with legal cannabis, like New Jersey and New York, are fully legalized but have not yet begun adult-use sales. New Jersey has a slight lead over New York, as they’ve spent a lot of time on their social equity program and have already appointed their commission. 

Adult use in New Jersey was officially legalized on February 22, 2021, when Governor Phil Murphy signed three adult-use cannabis reform bills. As a result, New Jersey will have six license types

  1. Grower
  2. Processor
  3. Wholesaler
  4. Distributor
  5. Retailer
  6. Delivery service

So far, grower licenses are the only ones that have been capped in the entire state, at 37. It’s unclear whether the state will leave capping the other licenses up to the discretion of each municipality or the state will do so at a later date.

New York City, on the other hand, can thank its population of nearly 8.4 million (compared, for example, to the state of Colorado’s 5.7 million) for making it a hot state! Legalizing adult-use cannabis is a game changer for the East Coast since the region’s other adult-use states (Maine and Massachusetts) are much smaller.

In-Progress States: Massachusetts & California

An in-progress state has adult-use sales, but the state itself is still finding its footing in the industry. Massachusetts, for example, is hot because it’s still viable — the market is not oversaturated, has no cap on licenses, and isn’t volatile — due to the work of regulatory agencies.

In 2018, the state rolled out METRC inventory tracking in a very hands-on approach. Typically, states with legal cannabis leave things like METRC compliance and inventory tracking to the licensees to figure out on their own, but Massachusetts helped them every step of the way, even offering additional training and resources.

Higher Yields Consulting Hot States With Legal Cannabis for Adult Use

California, on the other hand, left its licensees floundering. Local jurisdictions have the power to make their own rules, creating disparities in operations across the state. The Emerald Triangle, for example, recently decided to ban cannabis altogether, forcing both medical and adult-use licensees to shut down after years of operating.

Despite its issues and thriving black market, California is an expensive market to enter (it’ll cost you roughly $6 million to open a dispensary). That said, it’s a great opportunity for someone who already has connections in their local municipality to make a lot of money, especially on the distribution and retail sides.

If you’re having trouble entering the California cannabis market, though, you might instead consider pivoting to Massachusetts, which has no residency requirement.

Established States: Colorado

Established states with legal cannabis have well-established regulations and operations. Take Colorado, for example. While it’s a fair and common assumption that Colorado is too saturated to enter, there are still pockets of opportunity available — if you know what you’re doing.

Denver is finally opening up a social equity program, with 72 licenses until 2024, which is a big deal as its licenses had been paused for a while. If you qualify for social equity in Denver, and have the experience and knowledge to set yourself apart from other licensees, now might be your chance to get into Colorado’s hottest market.

Experienced multi-state operators who have the capital and are looking to expand are great candidates, too, as long as they maintain the integrity of local mom-and-pop shops.

Other States With Legal Cannabis to Watch

The following states aren’t quite hot states with legal cannabis, but they are in the process of becoming fully legal and have the potential to become hotspots for cannabis businesses in the future.


Illinois is currently delayed in their legalization process. Their few operators were originally medical-only, which meant they got the first crack at early application approval for adult-use. 

Unfortunately, this process has turned into a monopoly where those few operators are making a ton of money, which in turn has skyrocketed prices, caused product shortages, and lowered quality. On top of that, litigation issues on later application rounds for adult use have brought the state’s legalization process to a standstill.

However, there is great promise for the future. With record-breaking sales in the first year, Illinois will be a state to watch once all of the litigation and licensing issues are resolved.

New Mexico

As the most recent state to legalize adult use, New Mexico is on its way to becoming a hot state for adult-use cannabis. Although we don’t know exactly what the future has in store here, New Mexico is certainly worth keeping an eye on for future developments.

Knowing what states with legal cannabis are most suitable to enter — and when — can be crucial for the success of your medical marijuana dispensary. Contact Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting to determine which state is the best fit for you and how you can get in with the strongest application.

Cannabis Consulting: Resources for Businesses of All Stages

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Consulting: Resources for Businesses of All Stages

Whether you’re just starting out in the cannabis industry or you’ve been in operation for years, HYC can help take you to the next level. We’ve received cannabis consulting inquiries on every topic in the industry and have helped people at every stage of establishing and expanding their businesses. 

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Consulting: Resources for Businesses of All Stages

To help you out, we’ve compiled the best resources on our most commonly asked questions to make sure you have all the information you need for success.

Here’s everything you need to know about the cannabis industry (no matter what stage you’re at) from our cannabis consulting experts.

Startup Inquiries

If you’re new to the cannabis industry, you might be at a loss for exactly where to start. The application process is also far more complex and time-consuming than you might think, so you should get the ball rolling as early as possible. 

In addition to cannabis consulting, these next resources can answer any questions you have along the way.

Business Plan & Roadmap

Feasibility Study


Financial Models

Layouts of Facilities

Emerging States & Regulations

Hemp Brokerage

We get a lot of cannabis consulting inquiries about hemp brokerage support because, frankly, hemp isn’t moving well these days. People are looking for wholesale opportunities, but there aren’t many buyers. 

However, we are seeing movement with cultivators processing their harvest into ready-to-buy products like concentrates and creams. If you’re in the hemp industry, here are some helpful resources:


State regulations vary and are constantly changing. While many states now require the use of METRC for seed-to-sale tracking, not all METRC regulations are identical. Cannabis consulting can help businesses meet METRC compliance, and the following links can help you get started:

Real Estate 

Choosing the right property for your cannabis business depends on the type of business you intend to operate, and it’s also an important first step that will impact the overall success of your business. Whether you’re looking to buy, lease, or sell your property, these resources can provide guidance:

Native American Cannabis Opportunities 

We’re currently providing cannabis consulting for a Native American tribe in New York to help shape their regulations based on industry best practices. If you’re looking for more information about Native American cannabis opportunities, here are some helpful resources.

International Cannabis 

As cannabis markets expand around the world, many international manufacturers are interested in breaking into the U.S. market. Others are relocating from expensive countries like Canada to less expensive ones like Mexico.

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Consulting: Resources for Businesses of All Stages

Recently, we even received an inquiry about helping a company move 3 million pounds of CBD out of Germany. Established and aspiring international cannabis businesses should take a look at the following resources:

Design Build & Blueprints

Using our design-build method, our team can help you every step of the way through designing, constructing, and setting up your cannabis facility for business. Here are some resources to help you design and build your facility. 

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Having the right systems in place is key to operating your business successfully. These resources can help you create and implement the right SOPs for your cannabis facility.

Because the industry is so new, even the most seasoned pro is likely to run into a few hurdles here and there. Thankfully, cannabis consulting and the above resources can help you mitigate potential challenges and provide clarity on your journey to find success in the cannabis industry.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our cannabis experts!

The Hottest Topics in Cannabis News

Higher Yields Consulting The Hottest Topics in Cannabis News

From tight application windows to ever-shifting regulations, the cannabis industry is in constant limbo. With so many changes happening every day, staying up-to-date with all of the state-by-state, federal, and international cannabis news is virtually impossible. Luckily, we’ve done all of the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.

Higher Yields Consulting The Hottest Topics in Cannabis News

At Higher Yields Consulting, we want to help operators stay informed of relevant industry-related news, so we keep track of the latest cannabis news across the country and even around the globe.

Here are some of the hottest topics in the cannabis industry!

What’s Happening in Ohio

At the forefront of cannabis news sits the great state of Ohio. The state has recently announced that it will be opening up another round of strictly medical dispensary applications. Ohio will award 73 additional licenses to meet its goal of 130 total awards.

Some patients have to drive more than an hour to get their medically prescribed cannabis. As a result, this round focuses on need: Awarding licenses to communities with few or no dispensaries is a top priority.

In particular, Cleveland and Columbus are looking to increase their numbers. Additionally, the state wants to maintain a ratio of about one dispensary per 1,200 customers. Thus, any area with fewer than 1,200 customers per dispensary will not be awarded any new licenses.

We’ll update you as this cannabis news progresses, but we expect the request for applications to open up sometime this summer. For now, you can get started on the prep work. Strategically choosing your location will dictate your ability to win a license, so be sure to keep customer ratios and patient need in mind when doing so.

Once the application period has opened, talk to an experienced professional like one of our HYC consultants to get everything in order.

Cannabis News out of Connecticut

On June 17 during a special session, the Connecticut state legislature passed a bill that would make recreational cannabis legal for everyone over the age of 21 beginning on July 1.

The bill is expected to generate millions in tax revenue — as much as $10 million in the first year and around $75 million in five years. Although revenue plays a role, this cannabis news places more emphasis on social equity, and a significant number of the awards will go to individuals in negatively affected communities.

Because of the emphasis on social equity, applications will be competitive. To make room for the social equity candidates, the state is working to curb current medical license holders. So if you plan to apply for a license in Connecticut, be sure to keep social equity in mind while building your team.

Federal Cannabis News

Given that cannabis is still a Schedule I drug at the federal level, interstate commerce and banking is pretty much impossible. However, things are starting to look up. Although cannabis lobbying was down in 2020 — likely due to the pandemic outweighing cannabis news — lobbying is up in 2021.

During the pandemic, cannabis operations were considered essential, thus allowing them to stay open throughout 2020 and reinforcing the cannabis industry’s legitimacy. To build on that legitimacy, federal descheduling and decriminalization must happen — which might be closer than we think.

Introduced by Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, the Safe Banking Act enables banks to work with cannabis operations without consequences. If the bill were to become law, operators would be eligible for federally backed loans and banking services.

This kind of cannabis news shows a lot of promise for the future of the industry. The Safe Banking Act has the potential to be the catalyst for full legalization and decriminalization.

Your Premier Source of Industry Insights

Around the country, the future of cannabis looks promising. But Ohio, Connecticut, and even the federal government are far from the entirety of cannabis news. Staying current with relevant industry news can give you valuable insights and an edge over the competition.

To keep up with more of the hottest topics in cannabis news, sign up for our newsletter!