The Cannabis and Hemp Industries in 2020 – A Recap

Who could have ever guessed how the world would change in 2020 when the year began? A global pandemic, quarantines, and economic shutdowns were not part of the conversation when cannabis and hemp businesses developed their plans for 2020.

As we near the end of 2020, let’s look back at the topics and events that defined this year of surprises.


You can’t start a recap of 2020 without COVID-19 – the pandemic that halted the economy and changed the way people work and do business. Cannabis license holders and ancillary businesses are led by a savvy group of people though, and as the world changed, cannabis businesses became essential businesses in many states.

This distinction showed broader audiences that the cannabis industry is poised to grow significantly in the very near future – something that many in the industry hoped would become even more likely with a new administration in the White House in 2021.

The 2020 Election

Those hopes become more likely to turn into reality when Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Already, he has pledged to make changes to cannabis policies, and with time, federal legalization could become more likely.

However, it wasn’t just the presidential election that would have a big impact on the cannabis industry in 2020. Down-ballot initiatives passed across the country added more medical and/or adult-use state programs in South Dakota, Mississippi, Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey.

These votes show that the country and its citizens have evolved. Today, a record number of American adults approve of cannabis legalization. In fact, 68% of American adults approve legal cannabis according to a new Gallup poll. Here’s the breakdown of approval percentages by demographic:

  • Gender: 69% of men and 66% of women approve cannabis legalization
  • Age: 79% between the ages 18-29, 75% between the ages 30-49, 60% between the ages 50 and 64, and 55% age 65 and over approve cannabis legalization
  • Education: 76% of college graduates and 64% of non-college graduates approve cannabis legalization
  • Household Income: 67% of people with less than $40,000 annual household income, 68% of people with annual household income of $40,000-$100,000, and 74% of people with annual household income above $100,000 approve cannabis legalization
  • Political Party: 48% of Republicans, 72% of Independents, and 83% of Democrats approve cannabis legalization

Hemp Pilot Programs

The best way to summarize hemp pilot programs in 2020 is confusion – confusion about the USDA’s interim pilot program rules, confusion among states, and confusion added by an October 1 hemp pilot program extension signed by President Trump on October 1, 2020, which extended the sunset date to September 30, 2021.

Cannabiz Media’s Director of Regulatory Research, Jason Kikel, wrote a great summarization of what’s been happening with hemp pilot programs in 2020 and what might be coming in 2021. Follow the preceding link to read it and learn where things stand.


And now for some good news. In 2020, Cannabiz Media launched Cannacurio, including the Cannacurio podcast and data-packed Cannacurio blog posts.

The Cannacurio podcast, hosted by Cannabiz Media’s co-founder and Chief Data Officer, Ed Keating, and Director of Sales and Trade Associations, Amanda Guerrero, debuted on April 1, 2020 featuring an insightful interview with Chaz Hermanowski of Grove Bags.

Over the past eight months, Ed and Amanda have spoken with a wide variety of Cannabiz Media’s clients on the podcast sharing stories, advice, and more to help businesses operating in and with the cannabis industry across the supply chain.

Weekly Cannacurio blog posts, written by Ed Keating and filled with data from the Cannabiz Media License Database, first appeared on the Cannabiz Media blog on January 27, 2020 with a deep dive into new active licenses for dispensaries and retailers in 2019 by state.

Since then, Ed and the Cannabiz Media research team have published Cannacurio articles about everything from license counts across the supply chain, state-by-state data insights, software and point-of-sale platform data, and more.

Keep your eyes on the Cannabiz Media blog for future Cannacurio podcasts and blog posts coming throughout 2021. To get the latest podcasts and articles delivered to your email inbox, subscribe to the Cannabiz Media newsletter.

Key Takeaways about the Cannabis and Hemp Industries in 2020

Every year, there are challenges, obstacles, surprises, and opportunities that businesses have to face, but 2020 was certainly one of the most unique years businesses have endured in a very long time.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still here and will continue to affect everyone, including cannabis and hemp license holders and ancillary businesses in the coming year. Watch for an upcoming post here on the Cannabiz Media blog for insights about what we can expect in the cannabis and hemp industries in 2021. It has to be better than 2020, right?

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