Perhaps it’s up to those of us who want a fair, equitable, and diverse cannabis industry to step up and make our voices heard on Capitol Hill and in our own state legislatures. That’s where the industry’s national and state frameworks will be constructed. Amazon’s lobbyists are already shaking hands and forming relationships. If you can be there—go. Talk to your local member of Congress. Book time with your state representative. Tell them about your cannabis job, your medicine, your patients, your place in the community.
If it passes, will Amazon start selling weed? Of course Amazon will start selling weed. Or at least it will try.
The more appropriate analogy is booze. The alcohol industry experienced these same fears four years ago. When Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017, trade publication Drync ran an article headlined, Did Amazon just kill liquor retail as we know it?
Did you know Amazon delivers alcohol?
Will Amazon put your local dispensary out of business? Probably not.
Clark also revealed that, “because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon,” the company’s public policy team would be supporting the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (the MORE Act), the Congressional bill that would end federal prohibition.
They wrote: “Overnight, Amazon gained more than 330 new liquor licenses across 41 US states. This will undoubtedly shift the way consumers acquire and engage with beverage alcohol.”
When people think of Amazon crushing an industry, they commonly think of Uncle Jeff putting America’s bookstores out of business. But bookstores are the wrong analogy. Cheap pre-rolls and top-shelf eighths are not bestsellers or Itty Bitty Book Lights.
The solution? “We need to focus on consumer satisfaction. How do you get your messaging out to your patients? How do you retain them, make them happy, answer their questions? How do you get their loyalty?” Answering those questions, Adams says, is “how you’re going to stay in business in the end”.
But in the end, it comes down to loyalty and marketing: “With beer and wine the marketing and branding is important but the flavours really contrast. Marijuana strains vary, but in terms of actual flavouring there may be less variation. So it has to do with branding.”
“As with any agricultural crop,” Adams says, “there are going to be ongoing issues with pest management that you need to look at.” Energy consumption, too, poses challenges few people consider. “Indoor facilities especially have huge electrical bills,” Adams points out. “For a four- to five-thousand square foot place you’re looking at around $30,000 a month. That’s a lot. That’s $360,000 a year for the lights in just a small facility.”
3. Build a client base – and keep them
So what exactly makes for a good professional manager of marijuana for medical purposes?
There were, of course, “various growers doing it long before it was legal” but even pot veterans find their expertise distinctly lacking. “People have done the best they can given the resources,” Adams says – but growing marijuana for personal use or illegal sale isn’t the same as running a professional operation. “I’ve noticed that there is a pretty big labor shortage in the marijuana industry,” says Adams. “That’s one of the major problems we’re facing right now: there’s no training anyone can take.”
With so much money in the marijuana game, it may be difficult for the independent supplier to stand out – unless independence is seized upon as a virtue.
A marijuana field. Photograph: Stephanie Paschal / Rex Features
“Hey, this is great! Imagine how much I could make if I invested in 10 (or 20, or 50) pounds!”
(One other thing while on the subject of protecting yourself – try to memorize phone numbers, dates, names, amounts and prices, and write down as little as possible. If you do have to take business-related notes, shred or burn them as soon as possible.)
Do some research around the local weed community as soon as you start bringing in some money, and put the best lawyer you can find on retainer. Then keep his or her phone number handy at all times, and keep some cash on hand so you can pay his often-substantial fees if you need him. Hopefully, you’ll never have to call your lawyer for help, but at the very least, you’ll sleep better at night knowing he’s available.
8. Thou Shalt Not Get Too Greedy
If the worst ever happens, you’re going to want to have an experienced cannabis lawyer on your side. And the chances of finding one are slim, if you wait until the cops are giving you one phone call during the booking process. Any good pot lawyer wants to know who their client is before getting a phone call from a stranger in the middle of the night. Just think: would Saul Goodman rush to your rescue, if he’d never heard of you before (unless Walt and Jesse vouched for you)?
Even worse than that, however, is the possibility that you end up on law enforcement’s radar. Can you guess what their first move will be? Hint: it has to do with your personal phone. Never do business on your own phone – and the more business you do, the more frequently you should get a new burner phone.
“The customer is always right” is a great mantra for retail stores and service businesses, but it applies here as well. If a buyer has the potential to be a regular customer (or already is one), go out of your way to make sure he or she is satisfied. That’s how you grow your business: keep customers happy, and there’s a good chance you’ll get lots of referrals from them.
If you’re only selling to friends (remember commandment #6, if you are) you’ll never be able to expand your business to any major extent. If you’re out cruising colleges (when you’re not a student), mall food courts or parks (good luck with that one!), you’re running a probably-unacceptable level of risk and are unlikely to develop a regular base of customers.