Getting Into The Cannabiz (Without Selling Weed)

I’ve been in the weed game for a minute now. Outside of selling weed in high school and college here and there, I’ve launched a cannabis accessories and lifestyle brand, opened a head shop with my childhood friends, and taught more than 100 hours of coursework—focused on branding a cannabis enterprise—through the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis. So I have the chops to field a range of inquiries about how one can start a legal weed business, without actually selling weed as the business model.

My background is one of the main reasons why people reach out to me with questions like, “How do I get started in the legal weed business?” Another common inquiry: “What advice do you have for getting in the weed game?” I get these often from customers, random emails, and curious friends, and I think it’s great that people are excited to participate in the weed economy that’s emerging here in the region

Based on some of the questions I get asked on the reg, I put together a few tips to live by as you and your homies consider getting the (legal) weed game. They’re rules I’ve followed through the years as a weed entrepreneur that have gotten me this far.

Tip #1: Ask stoners what they want

You want to sell products (and/or services) to stoners, right? Right. So ask them about their interests. It’s cliche`, I know, but it’s also called market research. Research is key in this field, even if you think you have the best token idea for a new product or service. You can make your research informal by asking friends and family who hit the ganje what they like or don’t like about your idea. Start on social media and continue until you get the feedback you feel is necessary for refining and retooling your idea.

Tip #2: Create something that creates value for customers

For the most part, the cannabis industry is a consumer-based market. Meaning that most of the products are bought and sold for consumption. Think rolling papers, vaporizers, glass pipes, and other accessories. Things I sell at my Kush Groove Shop.

Service is another growing segment of the cannabis economy, with attractive options in the education services arena, legal services, safety services, and many more. The space for getting in the game is open-ended.

As you consider how your product or service can add value to the cannabis consumer marketplace, think about what gaps you can fill in the product (or service) space that exist already, and consider how your set of solutions might complement that void.

Tip #3: Given your passions and expertise, narrow your focus on your skill sets

What are you really good at? What do you really love to do? What are you really passionate about? What is it about the cannabis industry that I love? Although these questions might come off as trivial, they’re extremely important in clarifying what type of business you should invest your time and energy into.

If you’re not into safety and quality control, you probably shouldn’t spend your time and energy into creating or investing in a cannabis testing facility. Similarly, if you love product design and marketing, you should shift your focus toward developing products with a utility purpose, such as vaporizers, rolling trays, grinders, and so on.

Whatever you choose to do, spend some time thinking it through before you dive in. Because your so-called ‘great idea’ could end up being half-baked.

Marcus Johnson Smith