Medical marijuana dispensaries are a vastly different business from recreational dispensaries. Most states have much more stringent licensing requirements for medical dispensaries, and dispensary staff requires more training and knowledge than the average recreational budtender. Yet, despite the extra hurdles required of medical marijuana dispensary owners, there are more markets where medical marijuana is permitted, giving greater opportunities to entrepreneurs in the medicinal space.
California is the largest and most populous state where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, and it is the state with the longest-lived medical marijuana program. Both recreational and medicinal dispensaries have generated several billions of dollars in sales, despite fighting a booming black market. Because taxes for recreational weed are exorbitant and driving many adult recreational users away, entrepreneurs in this state should seriously consider starting with a medicinal shop, which is subject to lower fees and taxes. Even better, there are many counties and municipalities that have banned recreational marijuana businesses but permit medical marijuana use, so entrepreneurs in this space have greater access to less saturated markets.
Arizona is poised to pass recreational marijuana regulations, which means the state is on the verge of a major uptick in cannabis interest. Already, marijuana use has been on the rise in the state, with medical marijuana sales growing significantly in every year since 2016. Greater acceptance of all cannabis use throughout the state will undoubtedly drive patients toward medicinal marijuana, especially within the next few years. Both recreational and medicinal dispensary licenses are available to entrepreneurs interested in capitalizing on a market yet to see serious competition.
Oklahoma boasts one of the more fascinating medical marijuana programs in the country. Unlike other states, where patients must suffer from one (or more) qualifying health conditions, Oklahoma allows patients to work with their doctors to determine whether marijuana might be a viable solution to their health concern. As a result, it is much easier to get medical marijuana in Oklahoma — which means the medical marijuana industry in the state is booming. Though the market is smaller than in states like California and Oregon, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry is booming, and there aren’t nearly enough dispensaries to keep up with demand.
Though sparsely populated, remarkably rural and quite conservative in its politics, Alaska has enjoyed a long and generally positive relationship with the good green herb. Technically, the state was the first to legalize recreational marijuana — way back in 1975 — but a few complications thwarted recreational sales until 2014.
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Currently, the medical and recreational marijuana industries in Alaska are earning hundreds of millions of dollars per year, and considering that marijuana tourism in the state is also popular, there is plenty of promise for entrepreneurs in this area. However, it might be worth noting that while dispensaries do good business, growers in Alaska are in particularly high demand. Starting a grow op and running a partnered shop might be a lucrative model to ensure enough supply of medicinal-quality goods.
Though Oregon wasn’t the first state to pass any marijuana legalization, it has quickly become the nation’s posterchild of how marijuana regulation can go incredibly right. Oregon’s marijuana industry is perhaps the booming-est, generating record-breaking incomes for almost every month in 2020. Not only is the state’s dominant culture incredibly weed-friendly, but Oregon borders three states with remarkably strict marijuana laws and attracts millions of marijuana tourists every year.
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What’s more, Oregon weed growers are currently producing more bud than current dispensaries can manage, so there is plenty of space for entrepreneurs to hang their shingle and thrive. Plus, fees and taxes are much lower for Oregon cannabis business owners than they are in other states. If you can’t get ahold of a license, you should be able to find a licensed business for sale.
Even as recreational marijuana laws are enacted in more states, medical marijuana businesses will continue to be valuable and thrive. The sooner you open your medicinal weed shop, the sooner your establishment can see success.
This article originally appeared on Green Market Report and has been reposted with permission.