In states with legal cannabis programs, business is booming. States are looking forward to using tax revenue generated from cannabis commerce to better their communities and the entrepreneurs who risked reputation, freedom, and money to dive into an industry surrounding a federally illegal substance are reaping a bountiful harvest. Some of the highest paying jobs in the industry deal directly with the plant; without cannabis, master growers, dispensary store managers, extraction technicians, and edibles chefs would have to take their experience somewhere else.
Business professionals working in ancillary industries, however, have the dual benefit of cashing in on cannabis and avoiding a showdown with the federal government
According to the Controlled Substance Act, the “manufacture, distribution, and dispensation” of cannabis is prohibited, and the exchange of currency for the plant is liable to receive federal money laundering charges. The businesses targeted by these laws are those that touch the plant and banks. Non-plant touching businesses, or ancillary businesses, provide products and services that support the cannabis industry. Given the notorious political pendulum’s swing, these industries are the safest places to invest.
Ancillary Cannabis Businesses
Cultivation Products and Services
Despite the kerfuffle over its legality, cannabis is a plant. Businesses that provide medium, tools, nutrients, and technology can serve all cultivators, including those that grow cannabis.
Scott’s Miracle-Gro, a household name in gardening, has turned its focus on hydroponics, a soil-less cultivation system that cannabis cultivators are turning to for its sustainable benefits. MJardin is an organization that provides its cannabis growing clients with licensure support, systems implementation, facility design, and management consultation. Cultivation is the heart of the cannabis industry, so services that support it are vital to the industry’s survival.
Consulting and Investing
Starting a business is complicated, confusing, and risky. Starting a cannabis business is all of that to the Nth degree.
Cannabis is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, but subject to federal prosecution regardless of these state programs
The financial risk of this industry is enormous. Cannabis entrepreneurs can do a lot, but they can’t do it all. Enter consultants and investors. Nesta, a private equity firm for the cannabis industry, invests in and partners with canna businesses to help build their brand and “future-proof” their success. The Cannabis Global Initiative is an agency comprised of experts in government, canna business, and politics who provide cannabis companies with consulting services and work with local governments to create a streamlined regulated market. The cannabis industry has a long way to go before it becomes normalized, so professionals in this arena will be in high demand for a long time to come.
In the age of information, consumers want more of it, especially if it’s about something they are going to put into their bodies. Testing cannabis for microbial life, mold, pesticides, and potency is essential for consumer protection purposes and the optimization of cannabis’ therapeutic attributes. For example, Steep Hill is an independently owned testing laboratory dedicated to the cannabis industry, and it provides dispensaries, manufacturers, and consumers with a range of services meant to empower them with information.
Legalized states have lots of regulations they want cannabis brands to abide by, and one of those is child-safe packaging. In addition to acting as a childproof barrier, the containers that hold cannabis preserve its freshness and build its company’s brand. A packaging company that can do all of these things well is providing a hot commodity. Cannaline supplies manufacturers with an array of glass jars, concentrate containers, smell proof bags, and custom packaging options.
Marketing and Branding
Attitudes toward cannabis consumption are shifting in a more positive direction. According to an October 2016 Gallup poll, 60% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis for personal use. But that still means that 40% of Americans are under the influence of the prohibitionist movement’s highly effective but horribly biased campaign against pot.
Marketing and branding firms play a huge role in combating weed’s stigma and transforming culture
Cannabrand, self-described as the world’s first marketing agency, works with companies within the industry to help them cultivate recognizable, elite brands removed from the stereotype of the lazy, irresponsible stoner.
A bank that works with a “plant-touching” cannabis business is liable for the money exchanged with that business. That means it could face federal money laundering charges if the Department of Justice decides to pursue it. Consequently, businesses that work with the plant are cash only, and everyone knows it. A business loaded with cash and cannabis is definitely not the safest place to be. A reliable security service is a must. Cannaguard Security provides services designed to protect businesses from illegal and legal threats including electronic security, safes, offsite video monitoring, transportation services, asset protection, IT services and security, security consulting, background checks, and cash and product tracking.
Because of cannabis’ designation as a Schedule I substance, most insurance companies are unlikely to provide coverage to cannabis businesses. Cannasure has been a leading insurance provider for cannabis companies since 2010, providing coverage in the following areas: general liability, product liability, auto, worker’s compensation, all risk property, crime, inland marine, director and officer, kidnap and ransom, and professional liability. In an industry with so much risk, insurance can give entrepreneurs the peace of mind they need to pursue innovation.
Media and Publishing
The wave of cannabis legalization has come at a very convenient time. Federal laws lay down an array of limitations that are hard to overcome. Even in states with legal cannabis, regulations create barriers to advertisement and sale. But the way that the internet has become an integral channel for communication and commerce has helped the cannabis industry to overcome those obstacles in ways that surpass conventional strategies. Wikileaf, for example, was the first website to allow cannabis consumers in legal states to compare dispensaries by price and distance in addition to providing detailed information on strains and timely cultural, political, and medical updates on the plant as the industry continues to rapidly evolve. High Times, a cannabis-specific magazine, has been providing reliable content on weed since 1974 in addition to hosting the Cannabis Cup, the world’s leading marijuana trade show. Social media platforms like Kalogia or Duby provide safe spaces for pot professionals and users to come together to share their love of weed.