Without a doubt, the legalization of marijuana is an exciting new development. Two states have full legalization, and others are weighing the benefits and drawbacks, with more states potentially legalizing over the next several election cycles. But what has many in the business world excited about prohibition ending isn’t that people can freely use cannabis as they want, but the other potential applications that plant has.
Hemp, marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin, may be the panacea for many problems the economy faces. Not only is it relatively cheap and easy to grow, but it’s also one of the most versatile and easy-to-apply materials in the world. Farmers can generate several crops per year, and its malleability allows it to be used in a variety of different ways. Of course, this is simply one other reason to get excited about legalization, but the potential economic effects could be incredible.
There are obvious industries that look to grow and profit in a big way from marijuana legalization, and others that see it as a large threat. But if current political trends continue to develop as they have over the past couple of years, it looks like legalization is set to sweep the country. What does that mean for business and the economy at large? Probably good things.
So, what industries specifically could see a big benefit to marijuana legalization? With the wide range of applications that cannabis poses as both a consumable and as a usable material, there are several. Read on to see which seven stand out.
Perhaps one of the most obvious industries that could harness the power of marijuana for immense profit is pharmaceuticals. The medical marijuana community has been around for decades now, and there is plenty of research to back up the claims that cannabis can effectively treat many medical conditions. The problem, however, is that many companies have been unwilling to touch on cannabis’ healing properties while it still remains on the list of outlawed substances. There are a handful of smaller companies, like GW Pharmaceuticals, that have gone out on a limb to incorporate marijuana into its products with success. As legalization takes hold, look for others to do so as well, with potentially huge results.
2. Food Production
Agriculture — and food production in particular — could be one of the beneficiaries of cannabis legalization. There are startups currently working on improving cultivation methods, indoor farming practices, and even developing plants with natural resistance to insects, which farmers could benefit from by abandoning potentially dangerous insecticides. Farmers may even look to marijuana cultivators — many of whom have been growing indoors for years — to find effective ways to grow hydroponically. As drought conditions in the American west and climate change hit agriculture hard, moving food production indoors may need to take place — at least partially.
One of the most exciting things about hemp is that it can seriously be used for nearly anything, including construction and design. Hemp can be pressed into particle board and other building materials, potentially causing construction costs to drop if it is adopted. Not only that, but some companies have even found ways to turn hemp into a concrete alternative. The adoption of hemp materials by the construction industry could usher in a new age of sustainable and green building, making the entire process better for the environment, and lessen costs on both builders and the clients they serve.
Perhaps the biggest potential application for hemp lies within the manufacturing industry. Again, since hemp is so versatile as a building material, and can be grown quickly and cheaply, manufacturing companies should be champing at the bit to adopt it. Hemp can be turned into paper, which has a multitude of applications on its own. It can be used to make plumbing materials, clothing, makeup — the list goes on. Some people have even made cars out of hemp. With that kind of potential, it’s easy to see why big manufacturing companies may have a large interest in seeing hemp and marijuana become legalized sooner rather than later.
As long as cannabis legalization is relegated to only certain areas of the country, those places are sure to attract some curious customers. Colorado and Washington both have seen ‘pot tourism‘ companies spring up in the wake of legalization, which bring customers around to different retail shops and production areas. As more and more states adopt legalization, look for specialized areas of production to pop up — think the Napa Valley of marijuana. Much in the same way that wine tours and things of that nature exist, tourism companies will capitalize off of the novelty of legalized cannabis.
6. Energy Production
One other potentially huge use for hemp is within the energy sector. Much like corn or algae, hemp can be used to produce biofuels, which can be used to power cars, heat homes, and a variety of other things. There has been research into how feasible an actual hemp biofuel market actually is, and it appears that it can be done. The potential for such a market brings up a lot of possibilities — from lessening America’s dependence on foreign resources to cultivating energy that is much more sustainable and less damaging than traditional fossil fuels. There is still a lot of research to be done, but hemp biofuel is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Perhaps the most obvious beneficiary of marijuana legalization is in the retail sector. Entrepreneurs in both Colorado and Washington have already set up shop, and so far the public has been very receptive. Millions of dollars in revenues have been brought in so far, and the markets in both states are still by-and-large suffering from over-regulation and supply shortages. Once supply can meet with demand, marijuana retail stores will surely cruise right along into profitability. Not only does retail have great potential for success, but so do the people who produce the products which these stores sell — from dried flower to edibles, beverages, and concentrates.
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