Article by Ephrat Livni, Quartz
“If you have a passion—any passion—we need advocates and allies. If you’re a baker, we need bakers. If you’re a lawyer, we need lawyers. Anyone who has empathy for people who need weed, and is driven, is welcome in the marijuana industry,” says Lisa Harun, co-founder of Vapium, a Canadian cannabis vape-maker. “There’s still so much opportunity.”
Indeed, the marijuana industry seems set to explode. This week, Arcview Market Research announced that in 2016, the legal weed market in North America generated $6.7 billion, up 30% from 2015, when marijuana was the second-biggest growth industry in the US (after peer-to-peer lending platforms).
Washington DC, and 28 states have passed laws, with various caveats, allowing medical marijuana use. As of this month, recreational cannabis is legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and DC. Possession has been decriminalized in 13 states. Overall, more than 20% of adult Americans now have access to weed, medically or recreationally.
Marijuana projects are cropping up all over the US, and beyond. In Massachusetts, a cannabis business park covering more than a million square feet is planned for construction. In California, some marketers offer monthly luxury mail subscriptions to the upscale cannabis consumer, while others cater to the elderly whose weed needs are unique. One company in California has a subsidiary business in Mexico, which will sell its medicinal marijuana products there and plans to expand to Colombia. In Israel, the Health Ministry has approved cannabis inhalers for use in hospitals this year.
Harun was manufacturing robotic toys before she considered cannabis as a business. In 2012, she was living in Hong Kong and her interest was piqued when her partner, Vapium co-founder Michael Trzecieski, an engineer, was called into a factory they worked with to assist on an e-cigarette fix. He came back and proposed they shift their business model, from toys to e-cigs.