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Starting a legal marijuana business

Attitudes to marijuana are certainly changing around the world. For example, in the United States, the recent General Social Survey revealed that more than 51% of Americans were in favour of legalising the substance while around 40% opposed it.

This trend has largely been climbing ever since 1987, when approximately 15% of Americans believed cannabis should be legalised. Bearing these results in mind, it is almost inevitable that marijuana use will be completely lawful one day. Therefore, what does this mean for the future and how will society adapt to legal cannabis?

For states such as Washington, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, recreational marijuana use is a reality. Therefore, to find out how this has impacted businesses, we spoke to Julie’s Baked Goods in Colorado – an organisation which specialises in producing cannabis-related baking products.

Marijuana in Colorado

In 2012, citizens in Colorado voted to legalise marijuana. By the start of 2014, these demands were implemented and the region became the first US State to sell cannabis legally. Since then, companies have adapted to the change by offering citizens a wide variety of experiences. In fact, the BBC has gone so far as to describe this as a “Green Rush”.

SimiJulie from Julie's baked Goodslar to how people visit vineyards or breweries and sample the wares, tourists are visiting Colorado to try a variety of cannabis strains and products. Looking to get in on the action, companies have been coming up with new ways to involve marijuana in their wares and, so far, business is booming.

Julie’s Baked Goods has been operating in Denver since 2009 – as medical marijuana has been legal in the state since the year 2000.

When asked about how easy it was to enter the profession, Julie explained, “it was relatively easy to get involved in the medical marijuana industry. As long as you lived in the state of Colorado and have not committed a felony, the opportunity was there. Licenses were not too costly at that time.”

Starting a marijuana bakery

The idea for Julie’s Baked Goods was born from its medical properties as Julie was suffering from the symptoms of celiac disease. An autoimmune disorder, this results in the sufferer developing an adverse reaction to products containing wheat or gluten.

This means the body’s immune system mistakes gluten for a harmful substance, attacking it. As a result, individuals could experience a range of symptoms, such as weight loss, tiredness, or might even suffer from malnutrition.

Marijuana is often used by patients with celiac disease to control the symptoms and Julie realised there was a gap in the market:

“The idea for Julie’s Natural Edibles came from a personal need for relief from celiac symptoms as well as the interest from my friends who encouraged me to continue studying the process of extracting cannabis.”

She continues:

“Our product is tailored to the health food industry demographic. People who care about what they put in their body, as well as the source of their cannabis, tend to purchase our product.”

Canna butterProducing a range of marijuana edibles, such as seed mixes, canna-butters, canna-coconut oil, and granola bars, the organisation’s items are gluten-free and designed to be pleasant as well as effective. Currently shipping products to more than 50 locations throughout Colorado, including Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins, Julie’s Baked Goods is expected to further develop over the coming years:

” The most rewarding thing about operating this business has been watching my idea become a reality” States Julie “We produce approximately 1,000 units a week and anticipate doubling that in a year.”

“Currently our most popular product is our Groovy Granola Bar as well as a maple syrup almond candy called a ‘Nutty Bite’”.

Things to bear in mind before breaking into the marijuana industry

Obviously, starting a legal cannabis business – even a bakery – is not all fun and games. There are many factors to bear in mind before jumping into the sector, as Julie explained:

“As an owner of a business in the new marijuana industry, it is imperative to pay close attention to all marijuana legislation. Currently, this industry is more regulated than tobacco and alcohol combined.”

“Safety for the employees of the industry is a concern voiced often. Another concern is regarding the consumption and safety of cannabis itself. However, new scientific research is proving that marijuana benefits outweigh any risk.”

As we can see, the attitudes to cannabis are certainly changing. With public perceptions improving and scientists talking openly about the medical benefits, it is only a matter of time before other businesses follow in Julie’s footsteps.

David Colgate / 6th May 2015

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