It’s hard to argue with 301 economists. If marijuana was legalized in the U.S., American economist and Harvard University professor, Jeffrey Miron contends that the government could save $7.7 billion annually in enforcement costs at the federal, state, and local levels combined. His findings, reported in “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” were supported by 300 economists.
January 1, 2015 marked one year since the Colorado government made its groundbreaking move to regulate the production and sale of marijuana for recreational use in the state. From what CNN reports, it appears to have been a happy anniversary. The state earned $53 million in annual tax revenue as a result. Collectively, across America, Miron’s report estimates that “marijuana legalization would yield tax revenue of $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like all other goods and $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco.”
Calling all budtenders, dispensary managers, and cannabis chefs! And, let’s not forget the more traditional roles of accountants, marketers, and lawyers—they are needed, too. There are more projections for new job creation in the marijuana industry than there are seeds in a dime bag. But one fact all sources agree on is that the U.S. labor market should be stoked, legal cannabis is reported to be the country’s fastest growing industry.
As 2014 came to a close, “The Washington Post” was bold enough to project that by 2020, the cannabis industry could sack the NFL in annual revenues. They based their odds on a report by GreenWave Advisors that stated that “U.S. retail marijuana sales revenues could reach ~$35 billion/year by 2020, if full legalization occurs in all 50 States and D.C.”
“The GreenWave Report: State of the Emerging Marijuana Industry Current Trends and Projections” advises those interested in investing in legalized cannabis should start to prepare themselves now for before they get caught in a market frenzy. The report stated: “We firmly believe that history (i.e. the end of alcohol prohibition) is about to repeat itself. Those who educate themselves now will be best positioned to profit from the coming opportunities and will therefore have a distinct advantage over those who wait.”
Budding “ganjapreneurs” take note. Business incubators that support start-ups are popping up all over the country. CanopyBoulder bills itself as “a seed-stage, mentorship-driven business accelerator for companies developing ancillary products and services for the legal cannabis industry.” Their recent call for applicants saw some 115 pre-seed startups from all over the world vie to be selected for one of 10 spots in their spring 13-week intensive business accelerator program. They are also currently accepting applicants for another intensive to begin in September.
Legalizing pot opens up a field of possibilities for technology innovators as if other industries aren’t keeping them busy enough. For instance, Surna, Inc. based in Colorado designs climate control systems for commercial indoor cannabis cultivation facilities. Software to track cannabis manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing and ensuring government compliance is designed by Agrisoft Development Group. And the competition is fierce in the pen vaporizer market—the weed industry’s version of a hand-held device.
Energy companies are looking at hemp, a separate strain of the cannabis plant, to be used to produce biofuels. While still in the early research stage, proponents point to advantages such as improved sustainability over current fossil fuels, and a lessening America’s dependence on foreign sources.
While legalization of pot increases, CNBC reports that currently zoning regulations in many cities prohibit operating a cannabis business. So for the municipalities who do have approved zones, property values are significantly on the rise.
The local storefronts of yesteryear are making a comeback after being kicked to the curb by big box chain stores over recent decades. But, they may look a little different than traditional mom-and-pop shops—unless mom and pop sold weed out of the backroom. Colorado and Washington have already seen millions of dollars in revenue at retail marijuana stores.