How Startup Wikileaf Is Legitimizing the Marijuana Gold Rush

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In its current state, the world of marijuana is fairly turbulent. There are two states with legal sales and consumption laws, and a slew of others with medical markets experiencing varying levels of success. Both Colorado and Washington have licensed, operating retail stores where anyone of legal age can now purchase cannabis products, and the rest of the country — and many around the world, for that matter — are watching carefully to see what happens. Even for those who have no interest in marijuana or its byproducts, it’s still an exciting time to watch an entire new industry emerge as a result of deregulation, even if the laws are still a bit tricky and ambiguous.

One reason that the average Joe might want to take note of the recent happenings within the marijuana industry? It’s because we will all get to see the free market work its magic. This may be the first time in recent memory that something like this has happened, and the potential, specifically with cannabis, is huge.

Entrepreneurs are gearing up for a proverbial “gold rush” as prohibition sweeps into other states, from growers to sellers and everyone in between. There are also many new ventures in the virtual space tailored to the marijuana industry in general, taking ideas from other industries and applying them or coming up with new concepts.

One of those is Seattle-based Wikileaf, which has been compared to sites such as Yelp and Priceline. The truth is, Wikileaf isn’t either of those sites, although the comparison isn’t completely off-base. So what does it actually do?

“It’s a price comparison website for marijuana dispensaries and delivery services,” said Dan Nelson, the young company’s founder. And Nelson’s background isn’t exactly what you might expect of a marijuana entrepreneur, either.

“I’ve been running a banking blog since 2008 that specializes in CDs and savings accounts, anything that’s FDIC-insured, and it runs an interest-rate comparison, basically, for all the banks in an area,” he said. “So that’s where I got the idea to apply the same price-comparison dynamics to the legal and medical marijuana marketplace.”