Unexpected Emerging Markets: Cannabis Amid the Chaos of 2020

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This year has been characterized by chaos and unpredictability, and it shows in cannabis markets across the United States. While some emerging markets have lost momentum in recent months, others have risen to prominence. These up-and-coming states have seen marked increases in the popularity of cannabis legalization.

Unexpected Emerging Markets: Cannabis Amid the Chaos of 2020

Earlier this year, legalization looked promising in states like Nebraska and Oklahoma, but those efforts have since stopped. Fortunately, cannabis is still on the table in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and even Mississippi. 420-friendly legislation in these states shows that there’s hope yet for cannabis in 2020.

Here’s what’s currently happening in cannabis markets around the country.

Markets That Have Fallen Off the Map

Over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that much of eastern Oklahoma belonged to native tribes. The court’s decision created instability throughout the state, but it also opened new doors for budding cannabusinesses. As a result, enthusiasm for legalization continued to grow, and it was even expected to make it to the ballot in November.

Unfortunately, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that this initiative didn’t provide enough relevant information to the voters and ordered it to be removed from the ballot.

Similarly, in Nebraska, support for medicinal cannabis in this emerging market had grown. The issue was placed on the ballot but was recently removed by the Nebraska Supreme Court. The court’s decision cited that the initiative’s language regarding cannabis regulation wasn’t inherently related to the language legalizing medicinal use.

All is not lost, though. Shortly after this decision came down, the organization Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana issued a statement urging Nebraskans not to give up hope, telling them that “this fight is not over.”

Unexpected Emerging Markets Rising to Prominence

While some states have stumbled as a result of court decisions, others have risen to prominence. Whether they’re fighting for full legalization or simply medicinal use, emerging markets in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Mississippi have gained quite a bit of much-needed support.


For years, state legislators in Pennsylvania have fought against the legalization of cannabis. However, an April 2020 poll found that 62% of voters in Pennsylvania favor legal, regulated cannabis sales for adults 21 and older. Now it seems as though the time has come for Pennsylvania to move from medicinal use to full legalization.

In the face of a catastrophic pandemic, the state has lost more than $4 billion. From a purely fiscal standpoint, recreational-use cannabis is a promising solution. For this reason, Tom Wolf — Pennsylvania’s governor and a proponent of legal cannabis — has publicly called for legalization to fill this budgetary gap.


Minnesota is another emerging market in which cannabis seems promising. After a long-awaited expansion of medicinal use in the state, legislation for “responsible adult use” was recently introduced into the state’s House of Representatives.

Minnesotans aren’t just fighting for legalization in their state, though. In August, Minnesota Senator Tina Smith introduced a bill to legalize recreational cannabis on a national level.


This year, cannabis is on the ballot in Mississippi. Initiative 65 would permit the use of cannabis for those with underlying medical conditions. Initiative 65 already has a framework built into it and proposes that licensing should be done by August 2021.

Potential Emerging Markets to Keep an Eye On

As we look toward the future of cannabis in this country, a few states stand out. Already a medicinal use state, Louisiana looks as though it may be ready to legalize cannabis within the next year. Vermont is another potential emerging market. Although cannabis has already been technically legalized in Vermont, there’s no framework in place for it at all. Once the state establishes a framework, then the market can flourish.

Unexpected Emerging Markets Cannabis Amid the Chaos of 2020

Other emerging markets in Montana and South Dakota may be on the horizon as well. Since 2004, Montana has allowed the medicinal use of cannabis. This year, though, there are two 420-friendly initiatives on the ballot — one of which would make 18 the legal age for purchasing, possessing, and consuming cannabis.

Furthermore, South Dakota has some lofty goals for legalization. Through Amendment A and Measure 26, the state seeks to permit the medicinal use of cannabis as well as completely legalize it. These initiatives would also establish a framework for cannabis in the state. This is one of the most ambitious pieces of cannabis legislation we’ve ever seen.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The only consistent thing in 2020 has been inconsistency. Several formerly-prominent markets have lost their momentum while new emerging markets grow. If there’s one thing this year has taught us, it’s that we can’t count anyone out. Markets are volatile and can grow or shrink before our eyes.

Looking ahead, the outcome of this election will dramatically influence the future of cannabis in the United States. A wave of cannabis-friendly legislators can open doors for emerging and established markets alike.

Do you want to succeed in your cannabis market? Contact us to schedule a consultation today!

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