Making predictions about California’s marijuana industry was a challenge even before a global pandemic changed everything.

It’s not just that the legal cannabis market, which launched three years ago in California, is so new. It’s also the singularity of an industry in which licensed, legal operators still compete against a much larger illicit market, even as the industry’s core consumer product — which is medicine for some people — remains illegal at the federal level.

Some of the trends that were expected to shake up California’s marijuana industry at the start of 2020 were overshadowed or fully sidelined by the coronavirus. Still, California’s marijuana businesses fared better than some other sectors thanks to their “essential” designation, which allowed retailers and others in the supply chain to stay open and generate revenue during lockdowns.

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