LAS VEGAS -- Cannabis is big business. How big? This is the seventh year of MJBizCon, a conference and trade show about all things cannabis, and the Las Vegas Convention Center was packed Nov. 14-16 with 26,000 attendees from every state and more than a dozen countries. More than 1,000 exhibitors showed everything from mold inhibitors for growers to flavor and color additives for products produced by others.
There was shiny equipment for extracting and infusing, grow pods, all types of grow lights, misters and air circulators, and packaging companies to neatly wrap and market the end products.
This is mainstream—and clearly lucrative.
Here are five things we learned from the show …
1. The Midwest is next
After approving recreational marijuana in this month’s midterm elections, Michigan is poised to become the second largest recreational market after California, with $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion in sales. It will surpass Colorado. As the first Midwest state to legalize marijuana, it likely will lead the way for others, said Chris Walsh, vice president and founding editor of Marijuana Business Daily. Illinois, for example, elected a new governor who supports legalizing marijuana. Also, three states approved medical marijuana: Oklahoma, Missouri and Utah. Combined, they represent about $450,000 in sales in the coming year.
2. Spreading the wealth
Multistate cannabis operators are aggressively expanding as more capital is being invested in marijuana, hemp production soars and mergers and acquisitions are on the rise. As a result, the growth of recreational sales in Colorado and Washington is decreasing as more states make marijuana legal, but it is still respectable at 5% to 15% annual growth, Walsh said.
4. Retail opportunities abound
While opportunity abounds for brick-and-mortar retail of cannabis and related products, sales today are largely transacted online. This includes CBD (cannabidiol) products (made from a derivative of cannabis that doesn’t contain any psychoactive ingredients such as THC that makes a user high), which is legal in all 50 states. Source CBD, a producer of tinctures, salves and infused honey for humans, dogs and horses, sells much of its inventory online, but also has a presence in a Phoenix health-store outlet called Healthy Habits, where its 500-milligram CBD oil is the No. 1 selling SKU. Nancy Zangari, regional sales manager, said health stores are a favored outlet in California, while dispensaries are most common in Colorado. “Convenience stores would be ideal, but there is still a fear of more lax adherence to age restrictions,” she said.