Colorado Marijuana Businesses: Breaking Into the “Dot-Bong”

As Colorado stands poised to become the first state to allow legal sales of marijuana for recreation, the industry has attracted an explosion of entrepreneurs with corporate cash.
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These individuals are trying to move away from the days when the business was plastic baggies on street corners and move it into a more sophisticated direction, with clearly-defined brands and sales centers that offer a unique experience. Some are calling it the “dot-bong” revolution – a wide-open opportunity for those with an eye for business.

However, our Colorado marijuana lawyers want to make it clear that while there is indeed money to be made and market niches to be carved, it must all be done very carefully in order to ensure that it is sustainable under state guidelines. Doing this is key to ensuring that federal authorities aren’t going to be drawn to aggressive criminal enforcement and civil forfeiture action, like what we have seen against medical marijuana providers in states like California. Having an experienced marijuana lawyer to walk you through each process – from cultivation practices to banking – will help to protect your investment.

Some economists say they are “guardedly optimistic” about how the marijuana market will unfold in both Colorado and Washington state. By some estimates, a fully legalized market will generate some $20 billion in yearly retail sales.

However, nothing at this point is moving at any sort of a rapid clip. Colorado is slightly ahead of Washington at this point, as it is just now beginning to accept applications for recreational dispensaries. As of right now, the only applicants being accepted are already medicinal marijuana providers.

Still, there is a fair amount of room for creativity. One entrepreneur, describing his plans to an ABC News reporter, revealed his idea to open a “weed harmony” service, modeled after the dating website E-Harmony. The service would match consumers with certain varieties of marijuana, based on the properties of the pot and the person.

The possibilities are endless. But growers and retailers may not want to branch out too far just yet, as the industry is still so new. The entire country – including federal authorities and prosecutors – are watching very closely. So too is the international community. Colorado was recently the destination for dignitaries and drug policy experts from Canada, Mexico and Uruguay. They were in town for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, with representatives noting Colorado’s regulation on cultivation and sales, adding “This is where we are going.”

State officials recognize that tightly-enforced legal parameters are essential to ensuring these efforts don’t fail. For business owners, getting a solid foothold in the market while staying within the parameters set by the state may mean reigning in the creativity, at least for a time, in order to remain in business.

The state is still working out a number of regulatory kinks, according to the Denver Post, including:

  • Determining how to audit stores that can’t accept credit cards and do business almost exclusively in $10 and $20 bills;
  • Figuring out the best way to track inventory of each business to the gram, even though the weight of marijuana can fluctuate by the day when you factor in things like humidity;
  • Establishing safeguards to prevent both marijuana and money from seeping into the black market.

All of this is going to mean that businesses too will face a host of challenges in making sure they are on the right side of the law. Having solid legal representation will help to make sure your operation is a success.

The Colorado CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
How To Get A Job In The Booming Legal Marijuana Business, Oct. 10, 2013, By Walter Hickey, Business Insider
More Blog Entries:
Marijuana Businesses Need Better Banking Options, Governors Say, Oct. 15, 2013, Colorado Marijuana Lawyer Blog