Medical marijuana isn’t legal everywhere in the U.S. yet, and recreational use is only legal in a handful of states. With so many localized marijuana conventions, expos, and events happening all over the country, you may be considering jumping into the industry to see if you can be a part of the green rush.
You and everybody else…
Cannabis Is a Crowded Marketplace
For an illegal underground substance, cannabis already has nearly full market saturation. It’s not like a Snuggie that you have to convince everyone there’s a use for – people already know they need drugs, and marijuana already has a strong following.
There’s a drug dealer practically on every corner in the United States, and all of them are aware of cannabis. Growers and processors already exist for every cannabis strain and form of THC/CBD. Businesses have been up and running for years now with real money behind them and proven concepts.
The truth is there’s no more room for anyone in the industry.
Have a point of sale or inventory software system? Not only have those already existed for every retail, agriculture, and warehouse business (check out Shopify), but there are already multiple competitors specifically making these platforms for marijuana dispensaries (BioTrackTHC and Aggrisoft are just two).
Do you know how to grow? There are already large commercial grow houses set up all over the world . Construction services (GGS Structures and TriQ are among them) already exist to build more grow operations with the proper HVAC (ClimaGrow), lighting (California Light Works), and irrigation (General Hydroponics) needs.
The cannabis industry already has consultants (MedMen), retail packaging (Cannaline), quality testing (CannLabs), locator services (WeedMaps), and identification services (Leafly). Dispensaries, chefs, hygienists, and extractors exist as well.
We know this because there are magazines (High Times), podcasts (Cannabis Radio), television (WeedTV), and websites covering all B2C, B2B, political, medical, and cultural aspects, all of which have countless imitators also covering the pot industry.
All of these companies, products, and services have already existed, many for decades, so what is it you think you could possibly contribute to this industry that doesn’t already have too many competitors?
Decriminalization and the Future of Pot
Anyone already involved in the weed business knows marijuana decriminalization will change the industry. When federal restrictions are removed, huge conglomerates like Altria, Anheuser-Busch, and 7-Eleven will buy out all the companies – we already saw it happen in the vaping industry when Mark-10 and Blu were acquired by tobacco companies.
Having been to a variety of cannabis conventions, I see the same companies over and over, and it stands to reason that these same companies are in the eyesight of the major money looking to invest in the industry. If you’re not represented at these events, you’re not even in the conversation because nobody knows you exist.
When the major companies decide to buy out cannabis companies, they’ll look at companies like GFarmaLabs and Dixie, not some unknown weed grower working with a few pot plants in their closet. Whatever companies don’t get bought out by the big guns will simply merge and become cannabis conglomerates in their own rights.
So while the average rube on the outside of the industry may think they know the industry simply because they’ve been keeping up on trade magazines like Marijuana Business Daily, the actual industry is being driven by the businesses behind it. If you’re not already in the business, you’re probably too late.
People already involved in marijuana are making money hand-over-fist while you’re still figuring out how to do it. You may be able to grow weed, but you still have to market it. You may be good at marketing, but you need product.
And regardless of what you know or have, you need money. Without money, you have no chance competing against those who have it.
Existing marijuana dispensaries are already going to compete against major players like Wal-Mart and Circle K, which will be impossible with the location restrictions imposed on them. Regardless of the state or city, cannabis dispensaries aren’t exactly welcome within range of a school (or each other), and the convenience of existing retailers will smoke most of these pioneering businesses out.
If existing marijuana businesses who already have roots in the industry are facing a struggle, what chance do you have when you’re so far behind the curve?
So as a blanket answer to all those people who see the cannabis industry on TV, in magazines, and online and have dreams of becoming the next big marijuana millionaire, you’re already too late. What you’re seeing is the people who are doing exactly what you wish you were – it’s already done.
You’re just one more face in the large crowd of wishers who were too scared to take the dive, and now you’re on the sidelines, watching an industry take shape that you’re not a part of. Nobody needs the expertise you got online – nobody needs the product you grew inefficiently. We’re already good.
Maybe next time, turbo…
Brian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in High Times, Fast Company, Main Street, Huffington Post, and Hardcore Droid.