As marijuana legalization in the United States continues to gain ground, one factor seems to be swept under the rug in the rush for legal weed. Marijuana business opportunities might as well post a sign out front saying “big business only” since the entrance cost is only affordable if you are a one percenter. Considering it was the little guys who have been leading the push for pot legalization over the years, how did the small business entrepreneur get left out in the cold?
In a related report by The Inquisitr, Florida’s medical marijuana legalization process is already showing signs of favoring big business. The state will only allow five dispensaries to be chosen at random but the lucky business must exceed a list of stipulations that essentially makes it impossible for a small business to apply to become a dispenser.
Just the other day, I was speaking to a Floridian who was excited about the prospect of marijuana business opportunities giving him a future career. The year 2014 has not been kind to this man so far. He was attacked and stabbed nine times while on the job as a motel clerk and the injuries caused him to lose his job and everything else since he’s still trying to recover from his injuries. The only silver lining to his life’s cloud was a $5,000 settlement he was expecting to collect on soon. Using this cash as seed money, he had a dream of starting a small medical marijuana dispensary, with the short term goal involving simply starting a delivery service that drove the trucks for the pot farms.
Unfortunately, I was the one to squash that dream. Big business is already crowding in on the rush to make big marijuana the next big tobacco, although not too many years ago it used to be possible to open a marijuana dispensary with only a few thousand dollars, a small shopfront, and several plants. Besides federal and state regulations making this dream impossible, even the applications fees are almost designed to limit applicants to multi-millionaires. For example, in Colorado the application fees are only $500 but the license fee is between $3,750 and $14,000. Washington State is a little cheaper but even then the renewal fees are $1,000. Washington D.C. has a variety of fees that add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
That’s just the cost getting past barriers set by the government, never mind buying the equipment necessary to actually compete with big business. Even owners of successful marijuana businesses that started out of a wood shed claim “this is not a poor man’s business.” For example, Business 3D owner Toni Fox says it took her $500,000 just to get started.
The reason why big business is crowding out the little guy so early in the game is that they’re considering a $110 billion market which will grow over time. The only good news for the small business owner is that there are alternative ways to be part of the marijuana business without being directly involved. For example, low budget startups could include delivery services, creating software and mobile apps specific to marijuana, and security firms. With the advent of legal weed, even cultivation equipment suppliers and smoking accessories shops can benefit from the business boom.
Are you surprised that the business opportunities created by marijuana legalization in the United States may be limited to the rich?