Editor’s note: Sarah Browne is founder of Redmond Browne Research, London.

In early 2017 I predicted that your next market research project might involve the cannabis industry. The boom in new product development, job creation, investment and marketplace disruption boosts the odds you’ll soon need to know the difference between indica and sativa; vaping and dabbing; and medical and recreational marijuana. You’ll need to know the impact of cannabis culture on product purchase and the influencers and influences that power today’s green rush.

The cannabis industry has the potential to impact the majority of market research categories. Whatever your specialty, your skills will be put to good use. In part one of this two-part article I’ll take a look at the industries that will be most heavily affected by cannabis, along with research and recruitment challenges. In part two I will provide tips on recruiting, looking at medical vs. recreational cannabis as well as tips for managing your project. 

Your career may depend on your ability to dive into the cannabis industry, especially if you’re already working in sectors such as health and wellness; retail; consumer packaged goods; beauty; cryptocurrency; food and beverage; packaging; technology; financial services; and entertainment and media. Let’s take a look at a few examples to see how this is happening right now. 

The beverage business: Cannabis is already jolting product use. Over 82 percent of people surveyed in a 2016 study said that using marijuana has caused them to reduce their alcohol intake. A whopping 12 percent of respondents said that they’ve quit drinking entirely because of marijuana. And after 30 years of brewing German wheat ale the founder of Blue Moon moved on to a new venture, Ceria, which is experimenting with cannabis beer.

Big pharma: The U.S. makes up 35 percent of the global pharma market. If the entire country legaliz...