The United States economy has had a rough few years. Inequality has been rising. The middle class is squeezed harder and harder with each passing year. Innovation is falling off. Outsourcing has become a regular part of doing business for major corporations.
A fresh industry of some sort needed to come along and, fortunately for the economy, it has. Reports from across the board suggest that the “green rush,” or legalization of recreational marijuana, may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
By now, everyone has heard about the impressive $2 million in taxes Colorado collected within the first month of recreational marijuana being legalized, but that is actually just the cherry on top. Tax revenue from marijuana legalization is easy to compute, which is why it is such a popular talking point. The real benefit of legalization is something else entirely: it opens the doors to a slew of ancillary businesses, investment opportunities and even stock options.
The weed market is relatively untapped and provides entrepreneurs with nearly endless opportunities. Where there is marijuana, there is also a simultaneous need for pipes, bongs, containers, growing apparatuses, and everything in between. And this isn’t just the opinion of optimistic, pro-pot activists. The business community agrees.
Chuck S. Arnold, a long time business development and investment consultant who has worked in a variety of industries, is constantly on the lookout for the most innovative new areas to build businesses. Arnold believes the future is looking bright for people who are willing to bet on legal marijuana.
“Marijuana legalization is spurring growth in other industries,” Chuck S. Arnold claims. “From industrial lights to smoking apparatus, the legalization of marijuana is blazing a trail for future businesses to not only be see moderate success, but thrive ostensibly well in an often turbulent contemporary fiscal environment.”
Nearly a dozen states are expected to legalize weed in the upcoming years. And why wouldn’t they? According to Forbes, Colorado could be looking at over $40 million in tax revenue from the first year alone. A report from Marijuana Business Daily estimates that medical and recreational cannabis sales may hit $8 billion by 2018. Right now, Colorado and Washington are the only states who have passed the legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, but that hasn’t stopped some people from staking out the market for the future.
According to the Alaska Dispatch, entrepreneurs are certain that the initiative will pass in Alaska when it is put to voters in August. Bill Fikes, a disabled veteran, already has a website called “Alaska Hemp” and is looking forward to starting a marijuana growth business if the initiative passes.
“I just think marijuana’s going to revolutionize things in Alaska as much as oil ever did,” he told the Dispatch. “The prospect for jobs and new business start-ups is phenomenal.”
In March, when the Dispatch article was written, people were already buying the rights to names such as “Cannabis Inc.,” which was being billed as a “super center for cannabis.” The resident who bought it, Everett Knudson, told the Dispatch he had also “secured” the name Alaska Cannabis Company. Knudson said he was moving early to avoid getting “squashed by corporations with huge checkbooks.”
“We’re sitting in a crystal ball, and we can look into the future of what’s going to happen in Alaska by studying Washington, California and Colorado,” Knudson said.
And looking at those states, it seems as if the sky’s the limit. Previously successful businesses like WeedMaps (like Yelp for marijuana dispensaries) have boomed. There are marijuana vending machines, mCigs (“herbal electronic cigarettes,”) special canister stores, special candy stores with marijuana “edibles” and concentrates. Even stocks for companies involved in the “green rush” are skyrocketing.
MSN recently published “14 Cannabis Stocks to Watch” which included organizations involved in research, hydroponics, hemp nutritional and sexual supplements, and mini vaporizers. People have watched their stock jump from “$23 to $93 a share in a matter of five trading sessions,” according to MSN.
Chuck S. Arnold, for his part, also sees a bright future for marijuana stocks.
“Prospects for the marijuana industry are high,” he says. “There’s no telling how high the stocks could rise based on the way they’ve already jumped. Marijuana will only continue to grow in acceptance with the rest of the country. This will create new consumers of the products that marijuana users need to enjoy the product. It just makes sense.”
Even the most avid anti-marijuana activist cannot argue with how much economic potential it has for changing the country. The jobs it is creating and the prison space being saved by not arresting people over minor offenses is both boosting the tax base and ensuring that tax money will not be wasted. According to FBI Uniform Crime reports, between the years of 2000-2010 there was only one year that saw less that 10,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Colorado, and that year still saw 9,000.
That is quickly changing.
According to data released by the city of Denver, property crime fell 14.6 percent in the first two months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. Violent crime is also down by 2.4 percent. It goes without saying that people who are in jail for pot a.) cannot contribute to the tax base, b.) have trouble finding work and c.) are more likely to end up on public assistance problems. That trifecta has been hampering the United States economy for years and thankfully, politicians are beginning to take notice.
Regardless of one’s moral stance on casual marijuana use, just based on what we have seen from Colorado alone over the past few months, it is difficult to argue with the idea that legalization makes a lot of practical sense.