Denver's cannabis market is taking up the equivalent of 78 football fields worth of real estate. The Oregon cannabis market is becoming such a powerhouse, it's putting a strain on the state's power resources. It's a continuous stream of stories like this that inspired us to take a snapshot of six fast-growing sectors in the the cannabis economy.
1. Real estate
Growing and dispensing legal cannabis requires opening up retail spaces and other facilities. Oregon is seeing a real estate boom since opening up its medical/recreational markets as entrepreneurs seek space for cultivation, dispensaries, and future retail locations. Matching up entrepreneurs with the right space, as well as ancillary services dealing with mould, water, and odour issues for cultivators, currently present some serious opportunities.
Cannabis delivery start-up Eaze hit an unprecedented $10-million Series A funding round milestone in the spring of 2015. It's been followed by a deluge of similar cannabis-on-demand apps and services. Connecting medical patients with dispensaries is good news for tech companies in cannabis: "It signals that technology services can be successful servic[ing] the cannabis category," Eaze CEO and founder Keith McCarty told Forbes. "It also signals that regulatory landscapes are loosening up, and venture capitalists see the broader market continuing in that direction."
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, "cannabis packaging" was pretty much synonymous with "plastic baggie." Now that dispensaries have to comply with laws regarding childproofing, opaque packaging, and clear dosage information, major brands like Dixie Elixirs and Leafs by Snoop would be completely at home on the shelves at any high-end pharmacy or beauty supply store. Investors, take note of the trends.
Before the recreational market launched in Colorado, analysts debated whether legalization would boost, or decimate, alcohol sales in the Evergreen State. Almost three years later, the answer's in: it's definitely a good thing, at least according to some retailers. Bars and specialty liquor stores in Colorado have seen sales climb since 2012: as Leafly puts it, "considering the fact that Colorado raked in a record $18.6-billion in tourism dollars in 2014, it's no wonder the state's alcohol industry is sitting pretty thanks to the Green Rush."
Folks flocking to states with legal recreational markets are shunning traditional hotel chains in favour of expressly pro-cannabis accommodations. The result? A proliferation of weed-friendly B&Bs, guest houses, luxury hotels, and Airbnb-like short term rentals. With California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Hawaii, and other states poised to legalize, the hospitality and tourism industries in those states will expand to provide 420-friendly lodgings for all budgets, demographics, and aesthetics.
Indoor growing operations are notoriously energy-intensive: it takes about 2,000 kilowatt-hours to produce a single pound of product, according to The Cannabist. By comparison, aluminum takes around seven kwh per pound. Fortunately, the search is on for ways to reduce the industry's carbon footprint. Whether it's the Tesla Battery or solutions to protect the notoriously finicky plants during power outages, improving the current means of powering growing operations is a hot ticket.