Recreational marijuana use is fully legal in four states (Colorado, Washington, and now Oregon and Alaska, which will open stores next year), and the elections in 2016 are sure to bring a handful of other states to the legal side of the table — I'm looking at you Massachusetts, Nevada, California, Arizona and Maine. The interest in the business of legal cannabis has never been higher ... I mean, broader.
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent this year on legal marijuana by consumers in Colorado and Washington, with tens and hundreds of billions of dollars more to roll in as others states rewrite their laws and legalize. When you're talking about that kind of money, you start to attract a lot of attention. I've covered the world of marijuana venture capital before (see below for my story about the future of marijuana) and have been watching the industry evolve in just the few short years it has existed. The industry could hardly be more dynamic.
So what's a person to do if he wants to get more involved in this crazy new world of business? What do you do if you want to invest money in a legal marijuana business? What if you want to start a legal marijuana business yourself?
Whatever your motivations, if you need some help getting your head wrapped around legal marijuana, you've come to the right place. I've pulled together seven great resources for dipping your toes into the next great American industry.
The Cannabist is a marijuana news site published by The Denver Post and is one of the best places on the Web to stay current on the subject of cannabis. The producers focus a lot of attention on what's going on in Colorado but also make sure to keep an eye on the industry at-large. The Cannabist is also home to Jake Browne, who might just have the coolest job in the world as the world's first legal marijuana critic.
The Cannabist is a daily must-read.
Let's get my involvement out of the way early. I'm the producer of "Marijuana Today," a podcast that focuses on the business and politics of legal marijuana. My partner, Kris Lotlikar, hosts our weekly show along with a rotating cast of regular panelists drawn from the worlds of marijuana business and activism. We discuss the week in news and examine the numbers, people and stories that are driving the legal marijuana narrative. If you're looking for a bunch of stoner jokes and bong sound effects, you won't find them here. If, however, you like hearing huge dorks geek out about the nerdier side of marijuana, then "Marijuana Today" is the show for you. You can find us on Twitter @MJTodayPodcast.
The ArcView Group is a venture capital network that deals exclusively in cannabis-related deals. Their investor members meet multiple times a year to evaluate pitches by entrepreneurs with big ideas that need funding. My good friend Troy Dayton started up ArcView years before there were any legal marijuana markets and has become one of the most connected people in the industry. (He's also a panelist on Marijuana Today.) If you are either an investor looking to put your money to work in the legal marijuana industry or a cannabis entrepreneur looking for funding, the ArcView Group needs to be one of your first stops.
4Front Advisors is a consulting company that has had great success helping its clients find their way around starting up and running medical and recreational marijuana stores. It was started by another good friend of mine, Kris Krane (who is also a panelist on Marijuana Today). While 4Front saves its choicest bits of industry wisdom for paying clients, the company recently announced a move to begin publishing marijuana-industry news and information geared more towards the general public — more specifically, the general public that is interested in cannabis. The company's publishing division, 4Front Publishing, is still working to get off the ground but it should be a great resource for anyone in the industry.
And if you're looking to get into the business yourself but don't have the right background, the folks at 4Front are the ones you should talk to about guiding you through everything there is to know.
Marijuana Business Daily is another comprehensive news site that focuses entirely on the business side of marijuana. It's been around since 2011 — a lifetime in this industry — and this group also publishes a website, a printed trade magazine, an annual fact book, an industry directory, and they just recently put on an annual business trade show in Las Vegas that attracted more than 3,200 attendees.
I suppose if there is any one entity that could someday get tagged with the term "Big Marijuana," it's the NCIA, or National Cannabis Industry Association. Like any industry association, the NCIA exists to advance the interests of its members. In this case, that means ending the "War on Marijuana" and enacting good, sensible policy in its wake. NCIA is funded entirely by its members and is based in Denver. NCIA hosted a large business conference this past summer in Denver and has regular educational events planned throughout the year. Check out the calendar of events for more information.
And finally, what do you do if you just want to find a job in legal marijuana? You could walk around from dispensary to dispensary, resume in hand, looking for openings, or you could contact someone like the pros at THC Staffing Group. THC was started by my friend Shaleen Title and her partner, Danielle Schumacher, and connects people who want marijuana jobs with employers who need marijuana workers.
Good luck and be safe!
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