Article by Matthew Trudeau, Lift
By all accounts the future is certainly green in more ways than one. Many ‘potrepreneurs’ in the US aiming to cash in on the green rush are looking north to Canada. With a medical marijuana program already in place, and legislation to legalize marijuana now on the table, it’s a market many people have set their sights on.
However, if you’re hoping to be one of the few LPs joining those that currently have licenses from Health Canada, you’d better hope your application is already submitted. From thousands, there are still hundreds of applicants in the pipeline, with many complaining of waiting in the interminable limbo that is the LP application process. Given the head start that many of the larger producers already have, it would be foolhardy to believe that new players could hope to capture a significant portion of the market share.
And yet there is still the feeling of money waiting to be made—especially in a recreational market. Where are these new start-ups going to appear? What shape can we expect them to take, and what niches are there yet to be filled? There are some lessons we can hope to learn from our neighbors to the south. But these comparisons should be tempered by remembering that each of the states with fully legalized marijuana on the books has a smaller area and population compared to Canada. Also, they are bordered with at least one other state that does not have similar laws, and their state laws still contravene the federal law that keeps marijuana as a scheduled substance.
Of course, California passed proposition 64 this past November and will plan to have a legal market in place early 2018. Soon they may just set the standard we see applied in many areas, including our own. The population of California was an estimated 39.1 million people in 2015. By comparison the population of Canada was estimated to be 36.2 million the summer of this year. California is also the epicenter of the tech industry in the United States (and some would argue the world). Who knows what might develop where tech and cannabis overlap?
Along with this, there are a few things we can extrapolate from the examples set in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, as well as our own medicinal marijuana market at present.
Where tech meets marijuana
In every industry, web developers are a sought after group. A company’s website is their de facto storefront these days and you can’t hope to compete if your landing page looks like something more than five years old (or god forbid… from the 90’s). With every new marijuana-related business looking to grab a piece of the market, websites will be springing up left, right, and centre. Those developers who are able to capture the needs of their clients while still providing an attractive, modern, and easy-to-use platform (because people out there will be high) for businesses and consumers alike will be in great demand. In fact, a quick Google search will land you at a number of marijuana focused branding agencies and web development companies.
Visit the angel investors website, angel.co (a website dedicated to connecting startups and angel investors) and you’ll see that marijuana focused social networks and apps already exist. You’ll also see that it isn’t preventing everybody and their cousin from trying to be the ‘facebook of weed’, the ‘Yelp of marijuana’, or the ‘Uber Eats of cannabis’.
Can these networks and apps survive in a world flooded with social media services? Once a legal market opens up, the already existing large social networks will make space to incorporate (acquire) the marijuana networks and apps that are currently being developed. It’s the rational choice, given that it will allow them to widen their advertising platform to a new demographic. There are separate apps and communities for food recommendations, book reviews, wine, and everything else under the sun—so why not weed?