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6 Ways Millennials Are Forcing The Cannabis Market Into Legitimacy (fortune)

In the past decade one of the most contested political ages which attracted opinions from almost all age demographics rested on the legal status of marijuana.

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For years, coalitions have pushed legal initiatives on the state and federal governments in order to get the substance legalized both medically and recreationally. Furthermore, companies have sprouted out countlessly filling out various angles of the cannabis culture, lifestyle, and general market. Today we sit in a world where millennial lifestyle takes as much influence from alcohol as it does from marijuana.

1. Terminology Changes

More and more the marijuana industry is turning toward more accepted references to the leafy green and related paraphernalia that come with less stigmas and allow for the culture to be more mainstream. The biggest switch in this category is that most references to marijuana use the term "cannabis" rather than marijuana, weed, pot, ganja, etc. since "cannabis" as a whole comes with less detrimental stigmas. Furthermore, dispensaries are more and more branding themselves as collectives both for legal reasons and also to make the establishments seem more like high-end stores and less like legal drug dealers. Finally, terms for new smoking methods, such as "flower" for smoking just marijuana, "dabs" for concentrated marijuana wax, "CO2 oil" which is a highly purified marijuana oil, and other forms of smoking have made getting high much more scientific and mainstream.

2. Legalization Trend

With Millennials and Gen Z reaching the legal voting age recently, major waves of legalization have been pushed across the nation. Already 26 states have legalized marijuana in some form, whether limited medical, medical, or recreational and another 9 states have measures on their November ballots, including California's recreational bill. Between individual statewide movements, politicians such as Gary Johnson and Bernie pushing for federal legalization, and political figures such as Jeb Bush and Obama admitting to have smoked when they were younger, it is clear there is a legalization and socialization trend of marijuana occurring across the nation currently. Within the next decade it seems highly unlikely that marijuana will remain illegal with more Baby Boomers leaving the voting pool and more Gen Z reaching 18, in conjunction with a likely continuance of the spread of cannabis culture.

3. Venture Backed Companies

Funds such as Peter Thiel's Founders Fund and Tech Crunch's Startup Battlefield have begun to showcase marijuana related companies more and more, giving a fairly heavy backing of the industry as both a legitimate business market and as growing movement that ought to be taken more seriously. Companies such as WeedMaps, Agrylyst, GoPuff, Cannabis Cup and more all have shown smoking related companies to have growth potential, viable markets, and competent management teams at their helms. Until major internet companies first began blowing up, naysayers continued to believe the Internet would never catch on with the major public. The fact some of the biggest investors and millions of dollars have been thrown behind the cannabis industry only means huge potential for its continued growth.

4. Crowdfunding Successes

Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have held the debuts of some of the most cutting-edge trends. Pebble launched the first smart watch and raised millions of dollars and a few companies ended up raising millions for drones, interesting clothing brands, etc. Overall, new waves in consumer trends can be identified best by the most successful crowdfunding campaigns. Recently, marijuana companies have received outpouring of support including the recent Tiggie Tubes launch. Tiggie Tubes is releasing the Herbal Solo Cup, which is a disposable cannabis storage container with built-in grinder. Tiggie Tubes were funded within hours of launching and is currently live. Taking cue from one of the biggest products on college campuses, Tiggie Tubes demonstrate just how chill the younger generations are with marijuana in comparison to alcohol.

5. Influencers

Celebrities such as Michael Phelps and Snoop Dogg have developed well-known smoking habits and have become spokesmen for the industry as a whole. Additionally, artists such as Post Malone, Gucci Mane, and Lil Wayne have tied their images to the cannabis culture and are not afraid to be open about their marijuana consumption. Finally, movements online such as the "thug life" meme of putting sunglasses and a joint over someone's face in a picture and the "dank memes" trend notably with Bernie supporters all indicate a socialization of marijuana and its acceptance as something that is a part of this modern generation.

6. Research

In the recent 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, we saw the first Olympics where athletes were allowed to have THC and CBD, the two major components of marijuana, in their systems. After research the International Olympic Committee ended up ruling that THC and CBD do not enough evidence of causing harm or giving unfair advantages for them to rule against them in doping tests. This being the first major athletic competition to effectively legalize the use of marijuana shows that even the world's best athletes can perform and lead some of the healthiest lifestyles all while using marijuana. Additional research on purer smoking methods such as CO2 oil and dabbing, give more and more credibility to the benefits of THC and CBD while eliminating some of the adverse effects of combustion of flower.

Through successful companies, viral movements, and increased knowledge of the substance, the Gen Z and millennial generations are able to push the legitimacy of the cannabis culture and overall credibility of THC and CBD's effects forward in society. The next decade will show a continuance of these trends, the likely federal legalization of the substance, and overall growth of the cannabis industry.

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