From marijuana edibles to apps: Legal weed unleashes new wave of cannabis entrepreneurs
Millions of visitors flock to Colorado each year for legal weed, launching a niche marijuana tourism industry. At Colorado Cannabis Tours, guests ride a party bus and smoke marijuana to their heart’s delight. Doug Hood
This story is part of the HIGH HOPES series from the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey, which sent journalists to Colorado & California to see how legal weed could impact the Garden State.
LOS ANGELES — Matthew Feinstein spent most of his recent career in the DVD business until streaming video made it obsolete. Randy Cruzado sold real estate until the market crashed.
Both turned to marijuana businesses after their earlier vocations collapsed, joining a river of entrepreneurship that has grown from a trickle after Californians voted to make marijuana legal for all adults.
Feinstein, who plans a Starbucks-like chain of dispensaries, and Cruzado, who’s expanding his Los Angeles dispensary to include marijuana growing, are among the entrepreneurs grabbing a piece of what’s expected to be a $3.7 billion market for legal marijuana in California this year.
That figure, from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, includes only sales of marijuana and marijuana products, such as cookies, energy drinks and oils that are vaped or placed on the tongue or the body. Legal weed has birthed a seemingly endless array of related products and services, such as smartphone apps to guide people on cannabis strains and retailers, an ad-supported TV network that airs in dispensaries, agricultural suppliers for marijuana growing operations, a marijuana vaporizer, marijuana testing and compliance software, and social media marketing firms devoted to the cannabis lifestyle.
The home of the Gold Rush, the internet bubble and much of the mortgage meltdown is now high on legal marijuana, bringing concerns of another inevitable crash. For now, though, it’s an entrepreneurial free-for-all.
“As with any industry, there will be a shakeout and the most professional people will succeed,” said Feinstein, 48, who touts his two decades in the retail DVD field, during which he ran 400 outlets.
Since legal marijuana sales to adults began Jan. 1, professionalism has been the industry buzzword. The so-called OGs – original gangsters – who went into business after California permitted medical sales in 1997 are yielding to a new crop of entrepreneurs with experience in other industries and product design that mimics Apple, Starbucks and other iconic companies.
“Silicon Valley has produced top talent in the tech industry but likely some of its success stories have moved on to greener pastures in cannabis,” said Matt Karnes, founder of the New York-based GreenWave Advisors LLC.
Some of the OGs are adapting to the new era of marijuana professionalism.
Cruzado opened the Relief Collective in 2007 on a stretch of Pico Boulevard with so many medical dispensaries that it was known as the “Green Mile.” After California lifted the medical requirement for marijuana sales, Cruzado expanded into a 7,000-square-foot space that’s five times as big as the previous location, with an airy motif he describes as “upscale industrial.” He’s ditching the medical-sounding name in favor of calling his store “The Growcery.”
To Read The Rest Of This Article By James Nash on NorthJersey.com
Published: May 22, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News