Marijuana, Weed Tourism and Other Pot Related Business Ideas
This morning, I was browsing the internet studying the photographs taken by an assortment of commercial photographers, I ended up stumbling on a “Taking a Trip, Literary on Colorado’s Pot Trail.” The article was written by Alen Feur and published in the New York times on April 2016. The article got me thinking about the cannabis industry and the potential business opportunities. I live and work in the Colorado Springs, Colorado where both medical and recreational marijuana are legal. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana. It has been interesting to watch the cannabis industry, which includes marijuana and hemp, as it grows and evolves.
In the last six years, public opinion toward cannabis and marijuana has changed so much that I am expecting it to eventually become legal in the United States. I’ll be honest. I grew up thinking marijuana was bad. Yet, the more I have learned; the more I tend to think the truth about cannabis and marijuana probably lies somewhere in the middle of what the marijuana advocates and opponents say. As part of my learning “journey,” I decided to go on a marijuana tour in Denver earlier this summer.
I took a tour that was hosted by 420 Tours. Even though I do not smoke – pot or cigarettes, I enjoyed the tour. In fact, I found it to be so educational that I am planning on going on some of their other tours as time permits. Anyway, as I read the article, I was happy to see that Alen Feur’s trip that he took was arranged by them also I was also thrilled to see the picture of the girl eating ice cream in one of the pictures in the article.
Why? There was a little ice cream shop next door to a retail pot shop that we visited. The pot shop was small, so only a few people could go in at a time. We were encouraged to visit the ice cream store while we were waiting for everyone to have their chance of going into the shop.
Since I live in Colorado, I can visit a retail pot shop any time that I want. So, I opted to skip the pot shop and just eat ice cream. (Admittedly, I could eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner.) Although I didn’t count, I think about half the people on the tour decided to get an ice cream or shake. Oh…there were so many flavors to choose from. Even though I do not remember the name of the ice cream shop, their ice cream was great. I am certain that the ice cream shop’s owner loves having the 420 Tours bus stopping at the dispensary next door.
So, getting to the real point of this article – as more and more states legalize cannabis, there are a growing number of potential business opportunities that involve cannabis, marijuana and/or hemp.
First, my cautionary comments:
1. Every state that has legalized medical or recreational marijuana has different rules.
2. Anyone doing a business plan for a cannabis related business needs to factor in the constantly changing legal environment and business environment. Unexpected changes in the law can quickly cause financial losses.
3. There is a LOT of red tape and compliance issues for businesses that are directly involved with cannabis products – especially cannabis grows, dispensaries and retail stores.
4. Most industry observers or participants expect the big pharmaceutical companies and industries to take over the market. In my opinion, it is not a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN. Even 2016, the New York Time’s article discussed that there were dark clouds looming on the horizon that the small cannabis business owners needed to be concerned about.
While cannabis has been illegal on the federal level, the alcohol and pharmaceutical companies have supported the anti legalization efforts presumably because they are concerned that marijuana products will reduce their profitability. One example is this 2016 NASDAQ.com article – Pfizer, Merck and other Big Pharmas Likely to Acquire Marijuana Based Medical Companies . Another report is this 2017 Forbes article: Beer Industry Could Lose 2 billion From Legal Marijuana
Yet, marijuana is legalized in more and more states, the big companies are getting themselves positioned to participate in the legalized marijuana market. In June 2018 – this year, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first approved drug that contains a drug substance derived from marijuana.
5. As with any other business, the better funded you are, the easier it will be to weather the challenges that will accompany starting and operating your business.
Business opportunities related to owning/operating a marijuana grow:
As a reminder, my perspective comes as someone that lives and works in Colorado. Every state that has legalized medical or recreational marijuana has different rules.
I do not have not researched the statistics, but most marijuana cultivation facilities in Colorado seem to be indoor facilities rather than greenhouse or field crops. Our winters are long and cold – especially compared to places like California. High winds and hail storms are common occurrences in the summer. So, I think it would be challenging and risky to grow a high dollar crop outdoors. One hail storm could quickly wipe it out, just as it does many people’s gardens.
Yet, as marijuana is legalized in more and more states, prices for marijuana will continue to drop. Thus, the current practices of growing indoors under lights does not seem like it will be a sustainable practice for large scale producers. I’ve read and heard about many small grow operations with 40 – 200 plants having $4,000 – $6,000 a month electric bills. Again – I have not actually seen any of these bills myself. I am just telling you about what I have been told or read in news reports.
Even if big industry ends up controlling the majority of marijuana and hemp sales, they will still need to purchase the marijuana from someone. They may purchase the marijuana products from farmers similar to the way that beef is purchased from ranchers or corn is purchased from farmers.
Depending on laws, regulations and economics, the cannabis might adopt the model that the large egg and poultry producers are using. In the case of eggs and poultry, the farmers invest in the buildings. The company provides the chicks, the feed, the veterinary support etc. The companies may pays the farmers to grow and harvest the marijuana but they actually own the plants and dictate how they are grown.
- Regardless which model ends up prevailing, the marijuana cultivators that can become proficient with greenhouse systems and/or natural light will have a competitive advantage.
- At the same time, the artisinal cannabis niche is projected to grow. Marijuana plants are similar to grapes. Where and how they are grown will affect the taste. There will be cheap marijuana that appeals to the discount or super price conscience shoppers. Then, there will also be the really good stuff. Here is another New York Times article that discussed the artisinal marijuana niche. Wine Industry Finds a Companion in a Competitor: Marijuana
Cannabis Related Support Industries
Regulatory compliance specialists
Advertising & Marketing
Electricians & Plumbers
Suppliers of fertilizers, pesticides, pots, planting materials, lights, a/c units, ventilation systems, watering systems
Waste removal at marijuana grows
“Environmental” remediation specialists (mold, water damage, smells – from grows that were improperly installed)
Human Resource Consultants/Specialists
Products made with hemp or marijuana
Cannabis themed products
Products that help consumers use cannabis products
Papers to roll the joints
Tours of dispensaries, grow facilities, etc.
Hotels/Lodging that approve of marijuana use in rooms or on the property.
420 friendly transportation & party buses
Classes or activities that encourage participants to use pot during the activity. Examples are yoga, painting, skiing, cooking, etc.
When consuing marijuana, please use caution. Everyone reacts differently to marijuana. Different strains of marijuana will also produce different “experiences.” In addition, it is easy to consume too much marijuana when eating eatibles. Do NOT drive impaired.
If you are interested in seeing marijuana legalized in the United States, it is even more important that you consume responsibly. Otherwise, your actions WILL be added to the statistics that opponents are using to keep cannabis use illegal.
The cannabis industry includes both marijuana and hemp. If the current trends continue, more and more states, cities, towns and potentially countries will be legalizing cannabis. Of course, it could theoretically become illegal everywhere again. So, it is very important to prepare a thourough business plan if you would like to start a business that is related to cannabis, marijuana or industrial hemp. This list is the result of this morning’s brainstorming. I am certain there are hundreds of more business ideas related to this quickly growing industry. It simply is a matter of figuring out what the end consumer needs/wants.
Do you have any ideas of things that I should include on this list? Comments?
Thanks for reading.