Legalized Marijuana – The New England Experience

At our cannabis conference on October 17th, representatives from across the industry gathered to discuss how the landscape of legalized marijuana has changed in recent years, particularly in New England. A panel, consisting of James Alex (Premier Healthcare Group), Jason Sidman (Sanctuary Medicinals), Patricia Rosi (Wellness Connection of Maine), and G. William Eldridge (GW Consulting), talked about specific industry trends they have seen and where they expect the industry to go moving forward. Below are a few highlights from that discussion:

Why should people be interested in getting into the industry?

Everybody has their own story on what drew them to the industry, whether it was a firsthand experience regarding the medicinal effects of cannabis, or the possible societal benefits of its legalization. However, one view that is consistent among all of those involved—including cultivators, retailers, investors, and advocates—is the great potential that exists. Legalized marijuana is already a multi-billion dollar industry, and only looks to be growing with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in many of the northeastern states.

How do you attract an experienced workforce, especially in a budding industry like legalized marijuana?

The answer may be simpler than you expect. Many of the skills that lend themselves to success in legalized marijuana are not necessarily unique to this industry. Growing marijuana is in many ways, “like growing tomatoes,” as one panelist explained. You will certainly need business-savvy leaders and advisors who understand the intricacies of the industry, but much of the workforce talent can be leveraged from areas that span agriculture, chemistry, real estate and retail.

How will companies in the legalized marijuana industry gain a competitive advantage going forward?

As anyone can tell you, there is already plenty of competition in the space, and that figures to only get more intense as recreational marijuana prepares to enter the marketplace. To be successful in this landscape, it requires not only a macro-level understanding of the industry, but also a keen attention to detail. For instance, one panelist explained that a key factor in the continued success of its cultivation site was an analysis of the utility and electricity rates in various locations. Even a seemingly minuscule difference in electricity rates can have a substantial effect on overhead costs.

It is fair to say, judging by the opinions of those involved, that the industry outlook is bright, not to mention profitable. With continued advances in technology cultivation techniques, as well as the forward progress of regulators, the legalized marijuana industry is poised to keep creating many opportunities for those involved.