By Andrew Ward

Cannabis operators tell Benzinga that there is much to be thankful for as the United States heads into Thanksgiving this year.

Dozens of sources cited a range of subjects they’re thankful for, including the eroding stigma against the plant, growing sectors and state marketplaces and improving tech. Some brought up subjects that included the industry’s growth, advancing legislation and their community.

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Thankful For Industry Growth, Shrinking Stigmas

Matt Hawkins, managing partner of Entourage Effect Capital and Interim CEO of Harborside Inc., said he is thankful to see the industry grow into a sophisticated, professional space that he’s happy to help scale.

U.S. sales are slated to reach $26 billion in 2021, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

“This is a consequential period of growth, especially considering how private investment firms like Entourage can access attractive deals before institutional investors -which is virtually unheard of in mainstream sectors,” said Hawkins.

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, several noted that legislative and consumer growth is that much more impressive. They credit the public’s increased cannabis use as a critical component.

“As COVID continues to be a challenge, more and more people are finding cannabis to be a safe and effective option to treat all the anxiety and depression that has come with battling a pandemic,” said Green Chip Stocks founder Jeff Siegel.

Joe Caltabiano, CEO of Choice Consolidation Corp., is also thankful to see the stigma erode as plant access increases.

“Perhaps even better, we are seeing fewer people prosecuted for the use of cannabis, and we are making real progress toward setting right some of the many wrongs that occurred during the War on Drugs,” added Caltabiano.

Thankful For Making An Impact Across Communities

Various educators and operators noted their thanks for being part of community outreach and educational endeavors.

Nick Kovacevich, CEO of Greenlane Holdings Inc., said, “I am thankful to be working in an industry that is doing good for society.” He noted a range of issues, including job creation, tax generation, patient access, crime reduction and addressing some wrongs stemming from the war on drugs.

RELATED: US Cannabis Industry ‘Flourishing’ In Spite Of (Or Because Of?) General Economic Downturn

A web page for KushCo, a Greenlane company Kovacevich founded, notes that it participates in efforts geared towards criminal justice reform, the pandemic, paid day off for Election Day and two additional employee days off to take on philanthropic endeavors.

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Dr. Alicia Reid, faculty lead and chair of the chemistry and environmental sciences department at Medgar Evers College in New York City, is proud to see her school offer its first introductory cannabis class this past August.

Reid said that the cannabis education initiative at Medgar Evers, a predominantly Black student population, is “grateful for the opportunity to educate and intercede on behalf of a population that has been largely sidelined from meaningful participation in this emerging industry.”

The class aims to be the first of several courses the college introduces over time.

Thankful For Legislative Progress

Numerous cannabis operators cited legislative movements on the state level and potential activity on the federal level as reasons why they’re thankful this year.

Cannabis legislation was introduced in 34 states in 2021, passing in 15 as of November 19.

Kameron Norwood, co-founder of Half Day CBD, is thankful for the SAFE Banking Act passing the House in September 2021.

RELATED: How Supply Chain Problems Have Impacted The Cannabis Industry

“This is a huge step forward in removing barriers to bringing the cannabis industry out of the shadows, protecting business owners and consumers and generally legitimizing the industry,” said Norwood, adding he hopes to see the momentum continue for legislation and stigma erosion.

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Morgan Paxhia, managing director for Poseidon Investment Management, said she is thankful for the people leading the legislative charge.

“We are thankful for those teams that have their eyes on the horizon and are building towards a much bigger outcome,” she said.

Numerous sources thanked those around them.

David Farris, VP of sales and marketing for Planet 13 Holdings Inc., thanked the Las Vegas community.

“Every year, we are moved by the generosity of our customers, sponsored vendors, and staff,” he said, adding that Planet 13 works with local nonprofits to donate food and toys to the community during the season.

Operators thanked employees that worked through the pandemic.

Todd Green, director of investor relations at Jushi Holdings Inc., said staff kept Jushi-owned Beyond and Hello locations functional and safe during the pandemic.

“They rose to the occasion time and time again, ensuring the safety and wellness of our patients and customers, fostering a supportive and positive environment, and going beyond to properly educate people on the best products that suit their needs,” Green said.

Meanwhile, Jim Higdon, co-founder of Cornbread Hemp in Kentucky, thanked the state’s organic hemp cultivators despite being one of 14 states without a legal medical cannabis market.

“Thankfully, the Kentucky agricultural climate is so favorable for growing cannabis that our farmers have been able to overcome the challenges of growing exceptional hemp flower in a state without legal marijuana,” Hidgon said.

With much to be thankful for, sources appeared optimistic about continued progress through 2021 and into the new year.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has bee reposted with permission.

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