As marijuana becomes more mainstream, I often wonder what the industry will look like in two years, five years, ten years, and beyond. One thing is for sure – it isn’t going to look like it does now. As more and more states legalize marijuana, and marijuana becomes more mainstream, things are no doubt going to evolve. But how? There are normal trends that industries usually follow, and the marijuana industry will exhibit some traits of those trends, but there will also be a lot of unorthodox things that will pop up.
A lot of people that I talk to look to the end of alcohol prohibition as an example, and I think that’s logical considering it’s the closest thing to marijuana prohibition that America has seen. However, I always point out that marijuana prohibition has been much longer, and that regulating a liquid based industry is different than one that revolves around a plant and the things people do with it (concentrates, edibles, etc). Regulating marijuana like alcohol is a good thing in a lot of ways, but there are going to need to be some details worked out.
Everyone seems to agree that the marijuana industry will grow exponentially in size in the future. I remember not that long ago it seemed like marijuana was hard to find, and that the taboo stigma was much higher. Now marijuana is all over the West Coast and beyond. It’s far easier to get than ever before, and there’s no signs that trend is going to slow down. Once people all across America can get as much marijuana as they want for recreational purposes, even one ounce at a time, the industry is going to be massive. It will likely dwarf almost any industry in America.
As a result of the massive size, corporations are going to start infiltrating more and more. I’ve already seen a little bit of it myself in business dealings with this site, and the business side of things is often not pretty. For a long, long time the marijuana industry was a black market, cottage industry. There was a lot of etiquette involved and most good business partnerships were forged on trust and respect. More and more the industry will be decided by the bottom line. Can you imagine what will happen when national corporations start trying to take over the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry? Things are going to get nasty, and I’m not talking about the quality of the weed.
A lot of the little guys are going to get pushed out. One thing that I always think of is dispensary locating based businesses. I’d imagine the larger ones that are diversifying their business model will be OK, but businesses that solely rely on listing dispensaries might be in trouble. For a long time it was a niche service that large companies like Yellow Pages didn’t want to list, let alone allow reviews. After all, it was taboo. But now things are different.
I just did a search on Yelp.Com for dispensaries in Portland, Oregon, and of course there are lots of locations, with lots of reviews. A Google map is listed with icons for locations, etc. How long will dispensaries be willing to pay a premium for something that large companies are giving away for free? That’s just one example of many areas of the marijuana industry that are going to have to find new ways to stand out against the big boys.
Ancillary businesses are going to be a much larger industry than outside ‘experts’ are predicting. Anyone who is already involved in the ancillary part of the industry sees the potential. There are a lot of people that are fighting to be the largest grower, or to have the largest dispensary or collective. But what more people should be looking into is having the best grow equipment, or best smoking device, or something else that all of those people that are scrambling to become the ultimate green thumb or toker will want. Plus, there are no city ordinances against which grow buckets you can use, whereas there are lots of ordinances (and more popping up) limiting where gardens and outlets can be located.
I’m really curious to see what the ‘economic overflow’ from the industry will look like. How much more snack food will be sold? With certain parts of the country having a head start on the industry, will we see a significant population shift to those areas to fill those jobs that come along with the boom? If people are making tons of money off of the cannabis industry in say, Denver, won’t they be pumping a lot of that money into the local economy, which then also creates even more jobs and business opportunities? I have always felt that marijuana could save the economy in America and beyond, and I’m really excited that the beginning of the process is in full swing.
What do TWB readers think? What are you looking forward to? What do you fear? What areas do you think will improve for the little person and what areas do you think will succumb to the corporate wrath? What things do you think are going to exist that don’t currently? Do you think that money and greed will eventually ruin a movement that has worked so hard to get to a point where an industry can even exist? I look forward to your thoughts.