More states are offering microbusiness licenses to cannabis entrepreneurs in an effort to diversify a market that some fear could become dominated by large, deep-pocketed multistate operators.
But the jury is still out on how successful such efforts will be.
So far, only three states have issued microbusiness licenses that require less capital to launch and operate a small, plant-touching enterprise: California, Massachusetts and Michigan.
Michigan already is moving to tweak its program to make it easier for microbusiness operators to survive and thrive.
“A lot of states are talking about the microbusiness game, but few have enacted it,” said Ed Keating, co-founder and chief data officer of Cannabiz Media, a Connecticut-based firm that provides licensing data and other business intelligence.
New recreational cannabis states that haven’t yet issued licenses – but have developed microbusiness and/or craft grower programs – include Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Virginia.
A draft bill also is in the works in Washington state to provide a “craft cannabis endorsement” designed to allow small, independently owned cultivators and processors to conduct on-site retail sales to individuals 21 and older.
Helping those with less access to capital
The programs have similar goals.
“It’s a way to make the business more accessible to citizens of the state that don’t have access to large amounts of capital,” Keating said.
“It’s often a nod to social equity,” he added, referring to efforts to help entrepreneurs who have been disadvantaged by the war on drugs.
“And it’s also maybe a hedge against big cannabis.”
A microbusiness generally is defined as a small enterprise that employs 10 people or fewer.