Contemporary Evolutions: Recreational Cannabis Study

Recreational cannabis represents the most progressive market model seen in the industry today – this is due mainly to the fact that larger consumer bases spur the greatest innovation in the business. As such, recreational cannabis markets most closely resemble other mainstream industries in the U.S. and beyond, where pure consumer demand drives business competition as well as success. In the language of economists, this sort of market structure operates under the banner of “laissez-faire economics.” For those who did not know, the term laissez-faire is defined as “a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights.”

To put laissez-faire economics in the context of the cannabis industry, recreational markets differ from medical markets with the amount of control put on market growth through restrictions on what it means to be a legal consumer. To illustrate, medical programs like that seen in Ohio put firm controls on patient counts and business licenses, immediately creating a “cap” on potential market growth. Conversely, recreational markets allow for the possession and consumption of cannabis for anyone above a certain age threshold – which is generally 21 years old. Therefore, as recreational cannabis industries have the most available consumers to stimulate market growth, they offer the most opportunity for both entrepreneurs and professionals alike.

The same factors of laissez-faire economics that provide opportunities in recreational markets also provide the greatest challenges, as with very little government intervention in business dealings, these markets grow fiercely competitive. Moving forward, competition in recreational markets leads to the development of sophisticated business plans, replete with all the zeal and complexity of any modern industry. Looking throughout the U.S. and Canada, it’s quite amazing to see how quickly the cannabis space has modernized under the pressures of the recreational model, as business innovation arises in conjunction with the arrival of a new marketplace. Nonetheless, with only a 5-year history in the annals of legal business, recreational cannabis has a long way to go in sustaining itself as a stable industry in which to work and thrive.

The Rapid Growth of Recreational Cannabis

In just a few short years, recreational cannabis has hastily pushed the industry to evolve into a sophisticated business, while simultaneously garnering the attention of the globe. The laissez-faire nature of recreational cannabis brings with it a broad new customer base of legal consumers – it’s their purchasing habits that ultimately dictate success and failure in the market. In order to garner the attention of the public, cannabis businesses have quickly modernized with sales, marketing, and operations efforts, to name a few. To this end, recreational cannabis has further stimulated public awareness of the industry, as both corporate interests and media moguls have taken an interest in cannabis. Similarly, ancillary businesses that have had no prior involvement with the cannabis space are now forging powerful business alliances within the fertile new market. As such, recreational cannabis informs the green rush mythos by affording an almost endless legal business opportunity, while also garnering mainstream media attention from the likes of juggernauts such as Forbes, Time, and Bloomberg Law.

The path to professional success in recreational cannabis is difficult, where all opportunity is precariously hinged on unstable foundations – where it takes intelligence, patience, and perseverance to succeed.

The Politics of Cannabis Legalization

The November 2012 elections proved to be historically monumental for the cannabis industry, as the States of Colorado and Washington each passed referendums legalizing recreational cannabis. These watershed votes opened the doors to the seminal recreational cannabis markets in the United States, dealing a huge blow to the prohibition model which had been in place for over a half-century. Just as seen with their groundbreaking counterparts in Washington State, Coloradoans saw a huge financial boon in legalizing and taxing cannabis. Similarly, citizens and politicians in both States saw the additional economic benefit in liberating the legal system from the burden of victimless cannabis crimes.

Looking to Colorado, Amendment 64 ushered in a new era of commerce for the State, where a wave of new business innovation propelled the Rocky Mountain State into the international limelight. As legislation slowly became law and the infrastructure was set for the recreational market in Colorado, “all eyes” were on the state when the program finally launched on January 1, 2014. Initially, conservative drug war zealots were convinced that a rapid moral decline would follow marijuana legalization in Colorado. On the opposing side of the spectrum, cannabis advocates around the world celebrated the progressivity of Colorado, as its citizens had the bravery and gumption to come out with the hard facts about cannabis. Simply stated, most Coloradoans saw no more harm in cannabis than with alcohol or tobacco. Yet, perhaps to the surprise of both parties, as Colorado forged its way into the unknown under the auspices of Amendment 64, things didn’t really change much in the daily lives of your average citizen.

The places where Colorado started to see some real changes have to do with the economy and job creation. For starters, the State of Colorado made a reported $76 million in cannabis-related licensing fees and taxes in 2014, not to mention the money saved in the legal system through decriminalization. Also, the recreational market in Colorado infused the green rush myth with a jolt of fresh energy, as new business opportunities attracted countless entrepreneurial migrants to a State already inundated with explosive growth. In the end, the nation and world would take notice of “the experiment” occurring in Colorado, and subsequent recreational markets sprung up on both national and international stages.

State-controlled recreational cannabis markets offer an intriguing glimpse of what a national cannabis industry could look like in the United States. If growth figures are any indication, we are well on our way to a national legal cannabis industry.

The KCG Content Blog and the Green Rush Series




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