Big money is slowly starting to sink its teeth into the cannabis industry.
This should come as no surprise, as the industry is projected to reach a valuation of $50 billion by 2026, and big money is known to get involved when more money can be made. For the local dispensary with one location, this could mean problems.
This urges the question; as a grassroots movement that has gotten to where it is because of the people, will we let the industry become commercialized and commoditized by these big time players? This could already be happening in California, where new regulations and costly fees are pushing out the small business owners and opening the door for big players to come in and clean up.
The commercial dispensary
Just in Denver, there are already several dispensary chains with multiple locations throughout the city, who get their supplies from large-scale commercial growers who are pumping out hundreds of pounds in a single harvest and distributing to multiple stores. There are still those small-scale, artisan or craft grows that focus on providing a quality product to their customers, whether it’s a boutique dispensary with it’s own operation, or a small-scale grower that works with small dispensary businesses.
But will they be able to withstand the exponential growth that continues to bring in entrepreneurs with more money, and the demand for even more product?
Quality vs. Quantity
The shift from traditional forms of cultivation like outdoor, seasonal cultivation, to newer indoor methods has put a wedge between the cannabis community. There are those who think pumping out as much cannabis as possible to get the best prices and highest sales is what is important. Then there are those who want to grow small-batch, quality product using less chemicals and additives for a more organic and natural product, usually at the cost of quantity.
The issue arises when these small-scale growers can’t get their cannabis into storefronts because the commercial growers offer their product at a fraction of the price that the store will be able to make a greater profit from. This puts small businesses in a hard spot as well.
With business already suffering due to big players getting involved, boutique dispensaries either save money by getting commercial cannabis, or they provide better quality products at a higher price and risk going out of business even faster.
It will be the latter dispensary that the people want in the end.
The people’s choice
Voters and cannabis consumers have a choice to make in the future. Do we want to keep our small businesses that may cost more, but provide a better, full experience? Or do we want cannabis to become like alcohol, where no matter where you go you will always see the same product, from the same brand, for the same price? Seems like an easy choice to me.