Cannabis Businesses in Three States Prepare to Meet Recreational Marijuana Demand

Part One: How Free Are You?

Cannabis businesses are looking forward to a greener future – and the high demand for product that will come along with recreational cannabis legalization.

Three states are planning to legalize recreational cannabis in the next year. California plans to open retail cannabis stores by January 1, while Massachusetts and Maine plan to open stores in summer 2018.

Recreational cannabis is already legal in Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

California will issue new regulations for recreational cannabis in November. These could include water usage, licensing rules, and education training.

“We are in the process of stockpiling cannabis in order to fulfill the market needs,” Zach Lazarus, COO of the Green Alternative told KTLA.

“We believe there will be a huge rush. We go through two to four pounds [per day] on average, and we anticipate going through three to four times as much when we open the doors for recreational.”

The cannabis industry had 6.7 billion in sales last year, according to Arcview Market Research. California sales are expected to total $2.76 billion this year. With recreational marijuana, sales are estimated to rise to $3.8 billion in 2018, and to $6.6 billion in 2025, according to New Frontier Data.

In Massachusetts, small farms are lobbying to develop rules that will make it easier for small scale cultivators to compete when recreational cannabis takes off.

Nevada had over $3 million in sales when the state legalized recreational cannabis this July, prompting governor Brian Sandoval to declare a state of emergency so that state officials could increase distribution licenses, Newsweek reported.

Nevada is taxing recreational marijuana at 34 percent. In Colorado, it’s taxed at 28 percent. Colorado tax revenue from legal marijuana was $200 million in 2016.

Meeting regulations, ensuring quality control and packaging challenges are hot issues as cannabis industry leaders across the country anticipate greater demand with recreational legalization, and potentially federal legalization down the road.

“Medical marijuana was one of the “hot topics” at the recent PACK EXPO Las Vegas/Healthcare Packaging EXPO,” according to Packaging World.

“The initiative right now is being able to keep up with growth in the industry while keeping a high level of product integrity. We want to make sure as we’re growing quickly, we’re not losing quality. Quality control is important to the industry,” said Dan Williams, CEO of EnviroGrow.

Although California, Maine and Massachusetts will bring the total of recreational cannabis states up to eight, the U.S. has some catching up to do. Canada plans to have recreational cannabis for sale in July 2018.

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