What’s the marijuana Green Rush (and how can I make money in it)?

Jay Lauren

Answer: there isn’t one Green Rush. In fact, there’s three.

Many of us keep hearing the numbers: billions and billions of anticipated annual sales. Market potential of over $50 Billion, more than 3x bigger than the NFL. Massive growth potential for the next 8-10 years. These numbers are based on some forward projection, but in outline they are real: last year, Americans purchased over $53 Billion worth of marijuana. But most of that (87%) was through illicit channels. The massive growth in the industry is not based on something new – marijuana is an established market with existing customers and demand, and the industry’s growth represents the shift from the black market into regulated state industries.

Is there opportunity in this Green Rush? You’ll need to figure out which one you’re rushing into.

1. Startup Green Rush
People are starting businesses every day offering services to the industry. Some offer highly innovative ideas and original solutions. Others offer services that are not “new”, but they’re new to the marijuana industry: we’ve got the Facebook of pot (Massroots) and the UBER of weed (Eaze). The large Expos around the country attract people looking to start businesses in droves. The largest convention in the industry, the Marijuana Business Convention and Expo, held annually in November, was crushed this year following post-election euphoria: they sold out beyond capacity, including Expo Hall passes, early into Day 1, and people who showed up at the event couldn’t get in. All the big industry Expos are a reflection of this: part business, part frenetic energy.
We see innovative solutions being developed in the industry. But there are also many people in this Green Rush attending Expos who are looking for a chance to “get in”. Some launch businesses. Others don’t. Our advice to startups is to at least get a business card (here’s a discount code from PsPrint.com – Take 25% OFF for First Time Customers! Use Code: AFNEW), and get a logo designed (here’s a discount link from DesignCrowd: Creative Logo Designs from $99).
The people cashing-in on this Green Rush are business startup services: lawyers, accounts, consultants, marketing, PR, and branding firms. Don’t get us wrong, we love our lawyer – we even offered a free plug, but he said his firm “has no bandwidth to accept new customers”. A business is remarkably successful when it turns away opportunities for new business.
2. Investor Green Rush
There’s money on the sidelines, looking for opportunities to invest in the industry. There are private Funds (Privateer Holdings, Canopy) making large investments. The industry needs more funds who can vet companies and investment opportunities, create incubators and mentorship programs, and lead startups to success.
Smaller, individual, investors are attending Expos for networking opportunities, talking to exhibiting companies, and looking for a home for their investment dollars. In some cases, these investors are the Green Rush equivalent of new people looking to startup a business – they may have money to invest, but not a fully developed plan, and may not understand the different challenges in each segment of the industry.
Investment dollars are also flowing into the stock market. Publicly-traded marijuana stocks have been buoyed by this, and have fueled the growth of PR firms, Investor Relations companies, publishers, and digital media that helps promote their companies via sponsored messages.
There have also been big plays by forward-thinking companies. Scotts Miracle-Gro’s CEO said last year the company invested “like, half a billion dollars” in the marijuana industry. Marijuana means growing and farming, which is Scotts Miracle-Gro’s market. (After the announcement, their stock surged in from $68 in July 2016 to a high of $96.86 in December, and is trading over $91 today.) There will be more big plays as well-capitalized, publicly-traded, companies look for strategic acquisitions.
3. Suppliers Green Rush
Two years ago, we saw many companies re-brand into Canna-businesses: 75-year old insurance companies, legal firms, packaging firms, and others became “canna-this” and “canna-that”. This trend is reversing now, with established companies promoting themselves and attracting customers in the industry based on experience and brand equity.
While the edges of the other Green Rushes are fuzzy, the suppliers’ Green Rush is real. The marijuana industry is a suppliers/seller’s market. The industry is filled with new businesses and new license holders, with some States still creating regulations, while other States haven’t voted or started yet. These new businesses are BUYERS (hello!). Suppliers to the trade are making sales while these new businesses invest.
As a result, the marijuana Expo scene is getting crowded with more Expos, with new suppliers scrambling to get in. If you are a supplier, how can you capitalize on the industry’s opportunities?
  • If you’d like a list of expos and events, with details on the market segments these reach, sign up and we’ll also keep you posted as new events are added: INDUSTRY EXPO LIST
  • If you’d like to reach buyers, you can advertise in the good old fashioned way. If you’d like to purchase an email marketing list of licensed marijuana businesses, we’ve got that too. Email us: [email protected].
  • If you’d like to reach the Extraction market, dedicated to the audience of people/companies manufacturing what is effectively an essential oil, producing concentrates, vape oils, food products, infused products, and topical lotions, connect with us, or download our Exhibitor Guide.
The real money over the next 5 years will be on the suppliers side. 1000s of companies providing everyday services have not yet entered the market, so there’s tremendous opportunity to capture sales while the market is expanding.
So, yes, there’s an overall Green Rush taking place. But it’s important to keep in mind which Green Rush you’re involved in, which will then dictate where the opportunities are.