Weed is legal in about half of the states_but with some caveats
Marijuana is legal in more places than most people probably think. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, recreational use for adults 21 and up is permitted in Colorado, Alaska, Washington state, Oregon, and Washington D.C., with specific limitations and restrictions, much in the same way alcohol is regulated. These places also allow it for prescribed medical use. In twenty other states, it۪s legal for medical use only: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. In addition, some states have removed jail time for possession of small amounts.
The legal industry is still operating like it۪s illegal because it۪s forced to be cash only
While legal marijuana laws are sweeping the country, it۪s actually still an illegal drug under federal laws, which makes doing business really difficult. For one thing, marijuana dispensaries are cut off from opening business accounts at banks, because financial institutions have to comply with federal regulations. Credit card companies won۪t touch the industry either, so there are no electronic transactions. Therefore, everything is done in cash. Dispensaries have a lot of it on hand, and everyone knows it, which means there۪s an increased threat of robberies. Even employees are paid in cash. Businesses have to shell out money for private security to protect their stores and the people who work there. In terms of evolving into a fully compliant industry marijuana businesses are going to have to figure out a way out of the cash business and into the mainstream. Circumventing draconian financial laws has proved to be extremely difficult but also it has created a ton of opportunity in terms of developing unique financial solutions to aid these businesses. From bitcoin-based services to alternative banking solutions, the financial aspects of the growing industry is showing a massive level of opportunity for creative entrepreneurs.
Legalization has led to job creation
Clearly, private security has seen a boost with marijuana legalization, but there are a lot of other growing professions in the industry. The most obvious ones are farmers and retail shop owners, but there are now budtenders, who help people decide on products in shops, edible creators, the people who make marijuana-infused foods, and consultants that advise people who hope to go into the pot business. Weed tourism companies have also popped up in Colorado and Washington and there are regulatory and inspection jobs in states as well, to make sure dispensaries are complying with laws. Legal marijuana is the fastest growing industry in the country, according to investment and research firm The ArcView Group in Colorado alone, 1,000 to 2,000 new jobs were created within the first five months for legalization.
The tax revenue for states is huge
Colorado, the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana in 2012, has been raking in the dough. It collected more than $60 million in tax revenue in 2014, from both regulated recreational and medical sales. Believe it or not, the state is actually collecting more taxes from weed than alcohol. Washington state isn۪t doing too badly either: it collected between $800,000 and $1.75 million per month, in the first five months of legalization in 2014. The legal marijuana industry itself is predicted to hit $6.7 billion this year, up from $5.4 billion in 2015. Staggering figures sure, but especially interesting when you consider how many states (We see you California) are in dire financial straits and could use a hefty infusion of tax revenue for things like, say schools, roads, infrastructure, and the like.
Views and perceptions on marijuana have changed
At this point, the social views on marijuana as a drug have changed dramatically. According to a Gallup poll from last October, 58% of people in the U.S. are okay with legalization and the number or recreationally-legal states could increase as voters in Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and California will get to decide on recreational use this November. Chances are high that the floodgates to near countrywide legalization will be opening soon. In a matter of a few short years, what۪s now a wild west of business and industry (much like Silicon Valley in the 80۪s) could quickly shift into a massively successful and influential industry with massive financial and business potential.