Now that recreational weed is legal in the Bay State, entrepreneurial pot enthusiasts are starting to get into the marijuana business in Massachusetts. If going green for your next gig piques your interest, you might want to stop by CannaCon Boston 2018 this weekend.
Following a successful debut in the Hub last year, the festivities will return to the Hynes Convention Center July 27 and 28. From informative seminars and talks to vendors geared towards prospective business owners, organizers hope that CannaCon will serve as a one-stop shop for attendees who're eager to make their mark on the cannabis industry.
"What CannaCon’s going to do is give you everything at one location for two days that you’re going to need, period," says CannaCon general manager Nick Smart. "And that’s going to be everything from the seeds that obviously start everything and then all the way to the point-of-sale software that you need to sell the product, and then everything in between."
"What we’ve learned is that if we can teach people how to get through the process quicker and how to do it smarter, we’re going to save a lot of jobs, save a lot of money," he adds. "The whole purpose of this is to make more money. What we really want to teach people is how to streamline and get started as quickly as possible."
Here are three tips from Smart on what to look out for when starting a marijuana business in Massachusetts.
1. Take it seriously
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According to Smart, his home state of Washington brings in $3-4 billion annually in legal cannabis sales. If the Bay State's industry came even come close to those numbers once it takes off, he believes tens of thousands of new jobs could spring up in Massachusetts.
So what does that mean for potential business owners? Don't pull a Cheech & Chong and make a joke out of your ganja venture because there's a lot of money to be made now that weed is legal here. Don't screw things up by making careless decisions.
"I think the biggest mistake that anyone makes is to hastily start without knowing exactly what you’re getting yourself into," says Smart. "Another mistake is [some people] don’t take it seriously. I mean, this is real business. This is real economy. This is a real industry. And if you don’t treat it like that, you’re going to fail."
2. Do your homework
Research is key to any successful business, but it's especially true for those interested in starting a marijuana business in Massachusetts. From hiring the right people to figuring out what gear you need, make sure to do your homework.
"Especially on the grower side, a lot of what you’re doing is hoping that the person you hired can take a grow that they did in a garage to a 20,000-sq.-foot building," Smart says. "I promise you, nine out of 10 times, it’s not going to work. One of the bigger mistakes is people hire the wrong people."
Another aspect of the research phase is figuring out how much product is needed. Unfortunately, many of the first dispensaries to break into a market go out of business because they sell out of weed quickly and can't restock fast enough to meet demands.
"They’re going to get weed, they’re going to sell out and people are going to be pissed that there isn’t any," Smart says.
3. Explore options beyond growing and selling
You don't actually have to grow weed or sell it in its psychoactive, leafy form in order to make money with a marijuana business in Massachusetts. Smart notes that there are plenty of opportunities outside of opening dispensaries and growing operations for aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly when it comes to CBD and hemp products.
"I think the majority of the new businesses that are going to come out in the next two years are going to be CBD and hemp businesses," Smart says. "More than not, it’s that end of the spectrum. And what we see a lot of too is on the extraction side. That’s where we see tthe most growth."
And for all the tech-savvy folks out there, finding ways to automate processes for dispensaries and growers so that they can deliver consistent products each and every time also offers interesting business opportunities.
"I’s going to be software. Really smart people are going to find ways to automate everything," says Smart. "When you can automate everything, you can make a consistent product. And when you can make a consistent product, that’s when real industry happens."
"Coke has to taste the same. Right? it has to. All the time, no matter what, it tastes the same," he adds. "Well, eventually, people want to be able to go get a cannabis product that’s the same every time."
Since big companies will likely swoop in to dominate the sale and growth of marijuana in the near future, the key to finding success with a marijuana business in Massachusetts or anywhere in the U.S. will be figuring out how to help people package and deliver their products by providing them with all the gear and tools they need.
"If you want to make money in this industry, [think about] who made money in the gold rush," Smart says. "Who really made money in the gold rush [were] people who sold to miners."