Marijuana big business: Marijuana legalization is good for consumers and communities. But who else will it affect, as marijuana plant types and cannabis product offerings expand, while technology and business acumen meet weed lovers’ demand in legal marijuana states?
While green states establish track records and create legislative precedent for other states, the benefits of legalizing marijuana become increasingly clear: quality control, consumer safety, choice of different strains and cannabis products, and smarter investment of public resources (e.g. marijuana tax windfalls, police forces focused on serious and/or violent crime, and not petty drug law infringements).
But there is another potential winner(s), here, who may emerge victorious from the battle for legal marijuana. Of course we are talking about big business, corporations, and tech savvy start-ups, some with seriously big name and dollar backers (the names and details of which are coming up).
The questions being raised here, though, are these: can the nature of marijuana as a product, its history, and the culture surrounding cannabis possibly prevent big businesses and capital flows from pushing out the little guy, especially as more and more marijuana legal states–that is, more business and legal demand–up the ante? (Imagine your friendly marijuana dispensary on the corner, or the family owned and run, independent weed farmer with the buds you’ve come to know and love.)
Will big corporations use their dollars to set up marijuana monopolies, begin to exert a new kind of cannabis clout? Or will favored, underdog of buds come out okay?
Now, fewer people are asking should marijuana be legalized, and instead where and when it will become legal, as the still inchoate cannabis industry enters a new phase of growth.
The pressures to expand are indeed serious, the stakes higher than ever, because consumers, advocates and lobbyists continue to fight for cannabis rights and successfully legalize marijuana. The size of the weed industry continues to grow prodigiously—practically blow up, in fact—as do potential profits. The Colorado marijuana market is already estimated at $1 billion for 2016.
Naturally, much of the initial hype and growth is taking place in states where marijuana is legal. Philip Morris, for example, the cigarette company, is selling their “Marlboro M” brand of cigarettes in Colorado and Washington D.C. Packs are going for $89 and can only be purchased if you are at least 21 years old.
Then, the actual Ben and Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream have also hinted at the possibility of a weed-infused flavor of ice cream that would be distributed and sold in states with legal marijuana. Willie Nelson is getting in on the action with his own brand of bud, including individual strains and other marijuana products.
Watch Willie himself speak fondly of his bud-er days, as a young musician and ganja smoker.
Another celeb serious about his cannabis as well as his business is Snoop Dogg, as he not only launches his own line of marijuana, Leafs, but also becomes an investor in Eaze, the California-based marijuana delivery start-up. More than $10 million in funding has already been raised from a number of investors.
Surely, there will be more of these recognized cannabis connoisseurs, using their names and faces to build marijuana brands. To be followed.