Four Ways to Profit from Legal Marijuana
by Melanie Marquis
Legal marijuana has grown into a hugely profitable and diverse industry, with Colorado recreational dispensaries alone boasting over 60 million in monthly sales. Dispensaries, cultivation warehouses, testing facilities, and marijuana-infused products manufacturers are without a doubt raking in big money, but opening such a business is no easy task. Application fees and licenses alone can run into the tens of thousands in Colorado, not to mention the enormous amount of red tape that must be successfully traversed. However, there are many other ways to tap into the cannabis market with lower start-up costs and a lot less hassle. If you've ever wondered how you might start your own cannabis-based business, check out these four ways “budding” entrepreneurs just like yourself have found success and profit in legal marijuana:
Marijuana-themed Arts and Crafts: From hand-blown glass pipes to custom-made bong stands, artisans and crafters are creating profitable products that appeal specifically to cannabis enthusiasts. If you're a creative or artistic type, this business might be right for you. Consider your interests and skill set. Do you enjoy painting and have a love of getting high in the Colorado Rockies? Perhaps you could paint mountain scenes on wooden boxes to create one-of-a-kind marijuana stashes. Are you good at making jewelry? There's a strong market for fashion and novelty jewelry featuring special detachable beads that double as pipes, lockets in which to tuck a bud, or hidden pins you can use to poke out a clogged bowl. Love to sew? Maybe you could make some cushioned bags to keep delicate glass pieces safe and snug. Identify your talents and brainstorm creative ways to capitalize. Homemade arts and crafts can be sold online, at local dispensaries and Head shops, and at many community fairs and festivals.
Professional Services: The marijuana industry is serious business, and these businesses require a variety of professional services just like any other serious business. Whether you're an accountant, lawyer, real estate agent, interior designer, copywriter, web developer, carpenter, cleaner, or a consultant, cannabis dispensaries and other big marijuana businesses could likely use your services. Specializing gives your business an edge over competitors, and with its unique needs and broad and ever-expanding customer base, the marijuana industry is a lucrative area of focus. Get to know the owners of your local herb stores, network, hand out business cards, and offer discounts or incentives for referrals to help kick-start your business.
Private Clubs: Private cannabis clubs that allow members to consume (but not purchase) cannabis on the premises are making money as well as headlines in Colorado Springs, Denver, and elsewhere. Such clubs charge a membership fee, and in exchange provide a safe place to chill out and enjoy one's herbs. The rules at these clubs differ and regulations are somewhat ambiguous, as there are currently no state guidelines specifically overseeing or licensing such clubs. Most operate under exceptions established for private clubs which allow indoor smoking at places of employment that employ three or fewer people and where access is restricted to members only. Some clubs only allow outdoor smoking or vaping, some offer food and drink, and some do not. Rules may soon become clearer and licensing requirements stricter, however, under legislation proposed by state Representative Kit Roupe, a Republican from Colorado Springs. The new regulations would establish a statewide system for licensing such clubs, and individual municipalities would be able to set their own additional rules and guidelines. It's unclear at this point what the specific licensing fees and requirements would be as the legislation is still in its draft phase, but it's likely to be a more affordable and streamlined process than it is to open a dispensary or cultivation facility. The proposed legislation is on the slate for the next session of the Colorado General Assembly which is scheduled to meet in early 2016.
Tour Companies: Cannabis-themed tour companies in Colorado and Oregon are offering tourists a convenient and fun way to check out the local herb scene. These tours may visit dispensaries, drive past cultivation facilities, provide information on local laws and weed-friendly establishments, offer tips for making the most of the legal weed, make pit stops at private cannabis clubs, connect travelers with 420-friendly lodging, and more. New tour operators are usually required to pass a criminal background check, obtain proper insurance, and meet other regulations and licensing guidelines that may apply at the state or local level.
These are just a sampling of cannabis-based business ideas that have succeeded, and there are many other business models worth considering. There is definitely money to be made in marijuana, if only you consider your strengths, do your research, consider your resources, and put your mind to it.