2020: Successes and Surprises. 2021: Excitement and Predictions

Founding Partners Diane and Jay Czarkowski reflect on the successes and surprises of 2020 and look to 2021 with excitement and promising predictions.


What happened in 2020 that you had predicted?

Stalls, delays, lawsuits…the usual. We also predicted wins on all of the ballot initiatives. We expect a big push whenever there is a big election year.

What happened in 2020 that was a surprise?

In cannabis, we are used to surprises. It is not uncommon for a new market to get stalled even before it gets going. Lawsuits can hold up programs for years. What we didn’t expect was a global pandemic. It certainly put some things on hold, understandably. We were pleasantly surprised with the declaration that cannabis businesses are essential and the way those businesses stepped it up and were some of the first to open safely with new procedures in place for social distancing. 

We’ve also continued to see expansion globally. The United Nations reclassified cannabis and acknowledged that it’s time the rest of the world followed suit. Mexico is closer to legalization as well, which will put more pressure on the US who could be sandwiched between two countries with legalization and the opportunity for import/export business.

What do you predict for 2021? What are you watching most closely?

Cannabis is going to be recognized for helping our local economies recover. New jobs and tax revenues will help our nation recover. More and more states are going to realize this and pass legalization legislatively. We are going to have a big expansion with the ballot initiatives that passed this November rolling out and the programs that continue to open at a more local level.

We should also see several states pass legalization legislatively: Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, New Mexico, Maryland. Many Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states will feel the pressure to do so since New Jersey did. These are highly populated states and will create a tremendous amount of growth in the industry. More brands that got their start on the west coast will expand to the east coast.

We are expecting some corrections from the over-inflated valuations that many businesses were trying to justify. Investment activity slowed almost to a halt in 2020, but we expect it to pick up significantly by Q2 of 2021. 

What are you most excited about for 2021?

Having the opportunity to help new businesses get started. More awareness of the need for social equity. The new administration has already stated the desire to decriminalize cannabis as well as increase expungements and social equity programs. 

What were the biggest successes for Canna Advisors and clients for 2020? 

We had a record number of license wins for our clients in Missouri and West Virginia, We also had license wins for clients in additional states as some clients won licenses on appeals. 

2020 also saw our clients get started as multi-state operators with license wins in states beyond their first rounds of success. 

With the application release in Georgia, we’ve now worked with clients in 30 states. And, our international work grew, with a new client in Portugal!

What’s your best advice for cannabis hopefuls/entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities in 2021? 

Start with a gut check – what is your tolerance for risk? Are you truly comfortable being a first-mover? Have you had experience starting a business before? If you are considering partnering with someone else, trust but verify. Don’t jump in without doing a lot of investigating.


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