(This story has been updated to include our look at the Massachusetts market, which shot to the top of the list despite a Dec. 23, 2022, publishing date.)
From huge marijuana-plant seizures in Canada to adult use in New Jersey and a fluctuation in wholesale prices in California, the cannabis market has certainly seen its share of peaks and valleys this year.
Here’s a look back at MJBizDaily’s 10 most-read marijuana business stories of 2022:
Massachusetts joined the unfortunate ranks of more mature recreational cannabis markets where prices have taken a dive as production ramps up and supply outweighs demand.
Prices across several sectors fell by up to 50% during the year, and marijuana companies in the state continue to build out cultivation facilities and increase their output.
The key difference between Massachusetts and mature markets such as Colorado or Washington state is that the drop-off in pricing occurred more rapidly – which could be an ongoing trend in the industry as companies simply improve their ability to produce cannabis products.
Canada’s cannabis regulator seized more than 35 million grams (77,162 pounds) of marijuana products and thousands of plants from federal license holders for regulatory shortfalls in the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Most of the products were destroyed, with the remaining held by Health Canada to be returned to licensees who had regained compliance.
The report shed new light on a tumultuous period in the early years of Canada’s burgeoning adult-use cannabis industry.
All eyes were on New Jersey in 2022, as the recreational marijuana market was poised to become one of the largest on the East Coast with annual sales projected to top $2 billion within a few years.
The state’s adult-use cannabis businesses recorded nearly $79.7 million in total sales between April 21 and June 30 of the state’s second fiscal quarter.
That included nearly $1.9 million in recreational sales on April 21, the day New Jersey recreational sales launched with a dozen stores.
Readers were hungry for good news out of California, and signs of a rebounding wholesale market drew their attention.
In February, the price of bulk flower was starting to rebound amid an uptick in sales, according to several operators in the state who told MJBizDaily they closed the books in January on a high note.
Signs indicate those prices didn’t hold, but publishing a story about a positive development in California’s struggling market was nice while it lasted.
In a bid to slash costs and become profitable, Aurora Cannabis closed its flagship Aurora Sky facility in Edmonton, Alberta, and also shuttered an outdoor farm in British Columbia as well as the company’s prized Anandia testing and genetics division.
The closure of the flagship Sky facility was a serious setback to Aurora after the company significantly overshot the production capacity needed to meet Canadian and international cannabis demand.
That’s been a common refrain across the industry as production outpaces sales in more mature markets.
Industry watchers were optimistic that several states would legalize marijuana through state legislatures, including Delaware (recreational), Kansas (medical) and North and South Carolina (medical).
Those didn’t happen, but key legislative victories were won in Maryland, Mississippi and Rhode Island, laying the groundwork for hundreds of millions of dollars in combined sales for recreational and medical cannabis companies in those states.
The common theme of this year: Industry headwinds caused by macroeconomic conditions as well as factors unique to the marijuana market.
As mainstream businesses coped with surging inflation and the threat of a recession, many adult-use marijuana companies – growers, retailers and ancillary businesses alike – struggled with their own host of problems.
Falling prices and a product glut in more established state marijuana markets forced companies out of business, triggering layoffs and setting off an industrywide scramble to stay afloat.
A well-known and outspoken CEO and chair of a multistate marijuana operator getting charged with assault sent a ripple through the industry.
Some in the cannabis business ecosystem have been trying to ensure the market doesn’t succumb to the same pitfalls as other male-dominated and discriminatory industries with efforts that include promoting women-owned or -led businesses as well as social equity efforts.
The battery charge against Abner Kurtin was later dropped after the alleged victim and a witness did not cooperate with the police and prosecutor.
But the story still raised the hackles of industry critics and led to Kurtin giving up his CEO role and becoming executive chair of the Ascend board.
As cannabis entrepreneurs looked for new angles on the market outside of THC and CBD, minor cannabinoids also drew plenty of interest.
For example, over the past year, cannabis companies leveraged CBN’s reputation as a sleep aid with growing success.
Sales of products containing CBN totaled more than $65 million over four quarters for adult-use retailers in California, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon.
Safe to say it was the sleeper cannabinoid of the summer, pun intended.
Anything about federal lawmakers discussing marijuana legalization is sure to raise some eyebrows.
And the U.S. Senate holding a committee hearing on marijuana legalization for the first time did just that.
Of course, the body took no action in that July hearing, which was more of a symbolic placement of marijuana issues in the political spotlight than it was an actual debate on the bill.
But the move still held significance to the industry and our readers.
Bart Schaneman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.