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7 Cannabis Considerations for a Growing Industry: What You Need to Know

by Kelsy Chauvin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday February 10, 2022

One of Ascend's retail locations.
One of Ascend's retail locations.  (Source:letsascend.com)

It felt radical when the first U.S. state legalized medical marijuana back in 1996. The California milestone was the spark that changed the course of American history. That legal shift broke open the potential for cannabis to serve as a medical option. It took a while, but by 2012 voters in Colorado and Washington passed the first adult-use recreational marijuana laws.

Cut to 2022: Most states have legalized marijuana either recreationally (18 states) or for medical purposes (38 states). So, the notion of legal weed across America seems like just a matter of time. But the complexities of cannabis use and state-by-state laws can be confusing, so here's a rundown of key points.

Cannabis Basics

Under the "cannabis" umbrella are hemp and marijuana. In basic terms, hemp is farmed for its naturally occurring CBD, which is considered non-psychoactive and used in various products to help alleviate pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and other conditions. Since the 2018 Farm Bill passage, CBD has been legal across the U.S.

Marijuana, on the other hand, contains significant THC, a potent psychoactive compound, so it's different from hemp. Marijuana also can offer medical benefits similar to hemp-derived CBD, but it's more commonly consumed recreationally.

While no single dispensary sells marijuana in all 18 legal adult-use states, Ascend is a rising star in the industry thanks to its state-of-the-art, vertically integrated cannabis production. Currently, Ascend operates 20 stores (as of year's end 2021) throughout Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio.

Already Huge and Growing Fast

There is, of course, plenty of consumer demand for cannabis products. But for state legislators, revenue is the bigger driver for legalization. In 2021, legal, recreational-use marijuana sales reached new levels, generating more than $10.4 billion in tax revenue, according to a report from the Marijuana Policy Project.

That astounding dollar figure doesn't even include medical cannabis tax revenue, other cannabis-related tax income, and government licensing fees. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan were among the top states to pull in nine-figure legal weed revenue totals, with newcomer states like New Jersey expected to perform well in 2022.

(Source: letsascend.com)

Marijuana 2022 Forecast
According to Ballotpedia, there are 20 marijuana-related measures in nine states that could be on 2022 ballots. That means states like Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, and Idaho may either join the 38 states with legal medical use or expand into legal adult use like 18 other states (plus Washington D.C., Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands). In addition, decriminalization of marijuana — a policy of reduced penalties for cannabis offenses — already is in place across 13 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and is expected to factor into near-future voter initiatives in states including Arkansas and Mississippi.

Let's Get Physical
The evolution of legal cannabis in America all comes back to one thing: How it makes you feel. Much of the biological impact of CBD, THC, and scores of other cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants are related to the body's endocannabinoid system, which can help balance the immune, nervous, and other systems. Research about cannabinoids and their proven benefits continues to roll out. Ascend shares details about the "modern medicine" of cannabis on its Education page — a terrific resource for those new to cannabis.

Main Strains
It's downright dizzying to learn about the countless number of marijuana strains available today. At the root are Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica, two plant strains that can stand alone or be bred as hybrid plants with different proportions of each strain. Generally, Indica tends to promote relaxation and calmness, and may contain higher CBD levels along with THC. In contrast, Sativa is considered more uplifting and energizing, and typically has more naturally-occurring THC molecules. With so many choices on the market today, even seasoned cannabis consumers may find it helpful to talk strains and THC vs. CBD proportions with experts at Ascend's 20 different dispensary locations.

Ozone is one of the cannabis industry's premier brands, inspired by heirloom strains and innovative new blends.
Ozone is one of the cannabis industry's premier brands, inspired by heirloom strains and innovative new blends.  (Source: letsascend.com)

A Product for Every Palate
Back in the day, you'd roll up dried cannabis flower to smoke. Then came magic brownies and other baked goodies. Now the methods to consume weed are practically at Willy Wonka levels, with endless choices of edibles, smokables, topicals, and versatile oils. But smokable products are still incredibly popular. At Ascend, Ozone brand pre-rolls, flower, concentrates, and Chillums (pre-packed glass smokables) are customer favorites.

Let's Ascend in 2022
As one of the few multi-state dispensaries in America, Ascend already serves five states. The company also proudly collaborates with the Last Prisoner Project to fight criminal injustice and unfair drug policies and is a proud LGBTQ+ community ally. For residents shopping in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, be sure to join Ascend's A-Lister loyalty program to earn rewards you can redeem for discounts and free merch.


(Currently, Ascend products are only available to residents of IL, MA, MI, NJ and OH.)

Kelsy Chauvin is a writer, photographer and marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in travel, feature journalism, art, theater, architecture, construction and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @kelsycc.