The Cannabis Green Rush: An Overview
The term “Green Rush” refers to the explosive activity of the legal cannabis industry. The term is a play on “Gold Rush.” Just as miners and prospectors flocked to California during the mid-1800s hoping to cash in on the discovery of gold, a diverse group of people and businesses have started rushing to cash in on the new possibilities of legal cannabis.
Green Rush History
Many people cite the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado as the moment that really sparked the Green Rush.
Colorado Amendment 64 called for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. It was approved by voters in November 2012. In January 2014 the new laws went into effect.
Recreational cannabis has also been legalized in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. And medical cannabis is now legal in 25 states plus Washington D.C. As cannabis becomes legal in more and more places, it’s started opening up increasingly large markets of people looking to purchase and use cannabis and cannabis-derived products. And that demand has catalyzed the growth of an entirely new legal cannabis industry that is attracting cannabis users, cannabis businesses, and investors.
Green Rush For Cannabis Users
One of the most important aspects of the Green Rush is the way it’s affecting cannabis users. Cannabis legalization has helped usher in a new trend of cannabis tourism. This has been especially relevant for states where recreational use has been legalized, as well as states with strong medical marijuana programs.
And many people have started moving to places where it’s easy to access cannabis. In the years immediately following legalization, more than 200,000 people flocked to Colorado.
There has also been a wave of medical marijuana patients moving to states with robust medical cannabis programs. This group has earned the nickname “Marijuana Refugees.” In many cases, families with members who need medical cannabis have moved to states where it’s legal. And an especially large number of wounded military veterans have been moving to 420-friendly states.
A Lucrative New Industry
Along with affecting cannabis users, the Green Rush refers to the new business opportunities being opened up by legal cannabis.
The legal cannabis industry has already started generating huge amounts of revenue. Experts report that it brought in right around $5.4 billion last year. Roughly half of that came from the sale of cannabis flowers, and the other half came from the sale of cannabis edibles.
In early 2016, market analysts from ArcView Market Research and New Frontier Data published a report on the industry. They predicted that the legal cannabis market is on pace to top $22 billion by 2020. This explosive growth is at the root of the Green Rush.
Green Rush For Businesspeople
Changing cannabis laws have led to the creation of many new business opportunities. The growing legal cannabis industry has started attracting development in the following fields:
- Cannabis growers and producers
- Cannabis distributors
- Dispensaries and retail
- Cannabis social media and communications
- Cannabis consultancies
- Cannabis software applications for users and businesses
- Cannabis investing
After his group published their study of the cannabis market, ArcView CEO Troy Dayton concluded that “legalization of cannabis is one of the greatest business opportunities of our time.”
The explosive growth of cannabis trade shows, conferences, and expos is further evidence of Dayton’s optimistic outlook. Just this month, the third annual Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo took place in New York City. It featured hundreds of businesses and presenters, including more than 20 CBD oil companies.
Challenges Facing the Green Rush
Despite increasing legalization, many in the cannabis industry continue facing challenges.
There is still a great deal of cultural stigma attached to cannabis use, and this can negatively affect cannabis users and businesses.
Beyond that stigma is a great deal of legal tension. Although it’s been legalized in a number of states, cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. This tension has created a lot of problems for the industry.
In many places, legal dispensaries are vulnerable to raids from federal law enforcement. In fact, some studies have found that the number of federal raids has risen in recent years despite increasing legalization.
Legal dispensaries and other cannabis businesses also struggle finding banks willing to do business with them. Because of this, many have to operate as cash-only businesses. This leaves them vulnerable to theft and other problems. But a number of tech companies have started working to come up with solutions.
The Final Hit
The cannabis Green Rush is a dynamic and rapidly expanding phenomenon. It affects recreational cannabis users, medicinal cannabis users, and a huge range of cannabis-related businesses.
Despite increasing legalization at the state level, cannabis remains illegal federally. This has led to some serious tensions that continue to pose challenges to the industry as a whole. The future of the Green Rush seems to hinge on future cannabis legislation. But for now, many businesspeople and investors are trying to get in early on what appears to be an industry poised for incredible growth.