CANNABUSINESS

Canada recently passed a federal law allowing them to join a growing number of US states, including Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, where recreational cannabis is fully legalized.

You will now be able to pop into a dispensary, a liquor store, a pharmacy or a café anywhere from Juneau to San Jose to Saskatoon and buy weed just for fun. Legally.

If you’re keeping count, that means around 100 million North Americans live in a jurisdiction where weed is now legal. Put that in your pipe and smoke it…a hundred million times over.

And get this: Beyond full recreational legalization, some form of legal or decriminalized cannabis use is allowed in nearly every state. (Apologies to anyone living in Idaho, Kansas, or Arkansas, you’ll get there eventually.)

So this must mean that everyone is stoned all the time and that all the weed store owners are billionaires already right? Wrong.  

We set out to take a look at the pioneers blazing fresh trails in this space … and to think about the future of it for both brands and investors.

CANNABUSINESS: THE WEED EFFECT ON THE BUSINESS WORLD


Key Findings


THERE’S ONE BIG ONE: PEOPLE. LIKE. WEED.

Over the past 40 years we’ve watched perceptions of pot move from menace to mainstream. Its acceptance among the general public has evolved from a somewhat tolerated mainstay of youthful counterculture to an accepted part of life or even embraced as a miracle drug.

That, and the numbers behind this blossoming category are irrefutable. A LOT of people … just really like weed.

…AND THEY LIKE CANNABIS EVEN MORE

The biggest advancement in this category is that’s it’s not just about rolling up a fat joint and getting stoned anymore. As legalization spreads across North America, we’re now seeing something even wilder happening: an evolution in how people think about and use the plant itself.

It’s about cannabis-infused candles and bath bombs. High-end canapés with subtly cannabis-laden ingredients. Cannabis skin care, cannabis-related gadgets and appliances.

Where weed was once limited to smokers, cannabis isn’t limited to anyone – or anything. You don’t have to ingest it, or even get high off it.

PLUS: IT’S TRULY UNIVERSAL CATEGORY

People who use cannabis or buy cannabis-related products range from rap artists to stay at home dads to cancer patients to astrophysicists and everyone in between.

In fact, when you talk to weed users and weed brand owners, you quickly learn you’re talking to an incredibly informed and passionate group of people. Weed users are concerned with things like efficacy, origins, ethics and the corporate practices of growers and brands. Talking weed is a lot like talking about craft beer, craft coffee or small batch spirits.

All of this is to say that the target audience for cannabis is pretty much anyone “of age”. Its appeal spans race, income and social boundaries making it a truly universal category in a very unique way.

THE BATTLE TO BECOME THE BUDWEISER OF BUD HAD BEGUN

While cannabis isn’t legal everywhere, many companies, both large and small, are preparing themselves to go national when it does.

But: there’s a battle for the soul of the category.

That is, whether the industry should be dominated by profit-driven corporations or by purpose-driven craft / small businesses of America’s main streets.
Some companies, like Privateer holdings unabashedly desire to be “Big Marijuana”. Among others with grand aspirations, a common refrain is to become the “Starbucks of Weed”.

Many others in the industry — including noted advocate Willie Nelson — want to fight against the corporatization of the industry in hopes that it might help revitalize small farms, support small businesses and grow in environmentally responsible ways.

AND BRANDS ARE TRYING THEIR BEST TO STAND OUT IN AN INCREASINGLY-CROWDED CATEGORY

As the category matures we’re already seeing growers or producers shift from selling in bulk, to packaging and selling branded products. Not surprisingly, manufacturers want to stand out vs the competition, and people are accustomed to knowing where a product comes from.

Currently, the cannabis brandscape looks immature and is dominated by wacky strain types, like Schnazzelberry, Lucky Charms or Skrunk Special.

More recently celebrity licensing agreements have exploded. Tommy Chong, Snoop Dog and Bob Marley’s family are of the many that have already inked deals with weed brands, accessories and other cannabis-related products.  

That being said, licensing or co-branding isn’t necessarily a long term strategy to build any brand … and that’s going to be an incredibly interesting space to watch.

Read:Puff, puff, pass: Let’s hear what the tokers have to say
Read:GANJA. Legalise it! What’s the big deal about Ganja?
Read:Pot Talk with the PoPo
Read:Move that Dope: Entrepreneurship in the Black Market

Would you like to know more?


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