Businesses Staking Claims in the Marijuana Industry

The marijuana industry in the state of Washington brought rise to more than just the opportunity for anyone over 21 to legally purchase a variety of marijuana products—it opened the doors to a variety of investment opportunities and new businesses, while also extending the legitimacy of businesses decades old. It is essentially de-vilifying an entire retail segment. If someone is interested in a new career, there are a number of options in the marijuana market.

In Bellingham, Washington, alone, there are a number of local businesses supporting and supplying the local marijuana stores and the general lifestyle. While it is a college town, it is still only a city of 82,000 people and a lot is happening. Local businesses include six recreational dispensaries; 13 producers of varying tiers; chocolatiers, Crescendo Chocolates and Verdelux Chocolates; and glass makers, Gathering Glass Designs and Nebula Glass.

In Washington, businesses that cultivate marijuana or produce THC products, under a non-retail license, are generally separated into three tiers, which are determined by the size of the established operation. Tier 1 businesses are smaller, with 2,000 square feet or less of dedicated plant space. Tier 2 is between 2,000 and 10,000 square feet, and Tier 3 is between 10,000 and 30,000 square feet.

As far as peripherals, don’t imagine a dingy head shop. Gathering Glass Designs is a great example of a Bellingham-based glass designer that sees its intricate products as works of art. These are not simple pipes and smoking accouterment, and local glass artists are featured in its cozy storefront.

If you are interested in getting a foot in the marijuana market, there are courses available that can help you get started. The Washington Cannabis Institute has branches in Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane, offering one-on-one training, group seminars and online courses. Its mission is to educate interested entrepreneurs about Washington’s I-502 laws and regulations to help keep everything compliant. This includes everything from growing operations, retail stores, dispensaries and delivery services.

While it is true that it is an industry that is largely fueled by local businesses, this is increasingly not the case. The reason for the local focus is mainly because at a federal level, marijuana is still considered a schedule I drug. Transporting items across state lines poses large issues, and basic banking is still a problem.

The status of marijuana as a federal crime actually closes off several banking options, even though the Treasury Department has assured that there would be no prosecution for legitimate businesses. Some banks are still worried they will be hit with money laundering charges.

There is still a lot to learn about the marijuana investment market, but it is proving viable. With medical marijuana legal in almost half of the country, it is a market that isn’t going away. The ArcView Group is an example of an investment group that focuses on the cannabis industry, and has over 470 investor members and more than $40 million invested over 53 companies. In 2014, it more than doubled its investments.

If it is an industry that piques the attention of people looking to branch out in their careers or even begin new ones, the marijuana industry is not only proving a diverse field but also a profitable one. As more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, the market has the potential of becoming the next great American industry.

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