Most cannabis business licenses simply don't exist

Published Jan 3, 2022 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / PashaIgnatov

It’s an exciting time for millions of consumers who’ve waited decades for the ability to get involved with cannabis without fear of legal repercussions. We can toke in public, gather in high-class venues, and strut our stuff with a style that’s never before been witnessed.

Empowerment, education, and reparations are all important aspects of the cannabis industry, which is a really wonderful thing to experience. However, there aren’t anywhere near as many opportunities as there should be for people to thrive financially in this market, and much of it comes down to a sheer lack of available licensing.

1. Cannabis club

Almost every stoner and medical patient craves a fun and safe place to consume, especially with so many homes being rented with no smoking clauses that make it nearly impossible to enjoy a small gathering of friends with the focal point being cannabis. In a club, the atmosphere is typically more upbeat, with plenty of entertainment options to choose from, but as you’ve probably noticed, there are very few, and those that do exist, operate mainly in tourist destinations where rules sort of go out the window and normal just isn’t a thing.

The reason behind this is most cities simply do not offer licenses for these kinds of establishments. Canada, in particular, is tricky now that so many municipalities have banned smoking inside of businesses entirely, and even those who’d prefer to serve up infused food or drink are out of luck because it’s simply not a legal possibility in most areas. This cannabis business plan sounds exciting, but it’s just not viable for more entrepreneurs at the moment.

2. Cannabis trucks

Like food trucks, cannabis trucks offer a level of convenience and accessibility that cannot be beaten by a stationary location. They could sell anything from infused foods and drinks to jars of flower or concentrates, and you’ll find them when you least expect to; Outside of workplaces or happening venues that are hosting big events. It all sounds almost too good to be true, and that’s because it is for most consumers and entrepreneurs.

They’ve made headlines in big cities like Toronto and Las Vegas after making appearances outside high-end events and festivals, but even those aren’t legal yet. That’s right! Much like the original legacy market, taking huge risks in hopes of producing a ripple effect, increasing demand, and normalizing the idea, these people are putting it all on the line under the assumption that eventually, they’ll be able to run a far more legitimate cannabis business.

3. Cannabis bar

Hitting the dance floor while flying high is an amazing proposition for consumers. The ability to listen to great music and enhance a buzz with a bit of booze is also in demand. Cannabis clubs are quieter, more low key, and better suited for a casual gathering, but when you want to go big, the bar is where it’s at – or is it? In theory, it would be wonderful, but very few exist because there is no way to obtain this kind of cannabis business license.

Cannabis drinks cannot be served either alone or in the presence of alcohol. Vaporizers can’t be rented or offered, and in most cases, the few that do exist can’t offer the plant in any form, hence the frequent conjoining of dispensaries and regular alcohol-serving bars/clubs. It could be a huge money-making cannabis business, but the laws and restrictions in place very rarely allow such venues to exist.

4. Cannabis events

Cannabis events of all kinds took place prior to legalization, as millions gathered from all corners of the globe in major city centers to protest the unjust treatment and restrictions looming over the average consumer and legacy vendors. It was daring and history-making, drawing in crowds and clouds of smoke that could be seen from miles away. These days, festivities that highlight cannabis are much more reserved, and it all comes down to the issues with licensing.

It doesn’t take much research to see that most events are geared towards industry members and investors, with massive conferences like Grow Up, O’Cannabiz, and Lift & Co taking front and center stage. Vendors pay thousands to show off their wares, and those with money or the need for a particular service grab up tickets just to learn about what’s out there. It’s a fascinating experience, but it comes with major hurdles, like the fact that real products can’t be out on the floor.

Could you imagine going to a big industry show with a significant amount of money to invest, only to find out that you can’t even see the machinery you’d like to buy in action or strains you’d like to support being shown? It’s a hot mess, and though they draw in a lot of money and seem to somewhat function, for now, everyone is disappointed by the end of it all because what they came out to see isn’t even on display, all thanks to the fact that it’s impossible to get permission to do it.

Consumer shows are no different, with cannabis business owners doing everything possible to get exposure without being allowed to reveal the real products/services on-site. No one can serve cannabis or sell it, and in some cases, those in attendance can’t even smoke it without having to remove themselves completely from whatever entertainment is on tap. For this reason, events like the ones we used to expect on 420 each year are no longer, and everyone is itching for it to return.

5. Cannabis café

Last but not least we have the traditional cannabis café – a place where stoners and medical patients hope to go to relax in a quiet environment where they can enjoy a bite to eat or a cup of coffee with their plant products. It sounds like the perfect afternoon “in”, especially when your only other choice is being exposed to the elements, and it offers a layer of discretion which is greatly appreciated by those who fear the continuing stigma surrounding cannabis.

It’s the perfect cannabis business plan, with plenty of opportunities to make money off both consumers and non-consumers alike. However, in most municipalities, it’s just not legal. Adults may purchase cannabis and use it anywhere the law allows, but for some reason, most regulators agree that it’s simply too much risk for them to have a safe, dedicated indoor space to do it in.

What you can do to change it

Too much oversight and too few reasonable assumptions from far too many unknowledgeable politicians and it’s all driving this wedge between consumers and the opportunities they’ve always dreamt of. Over time these rules are bound to soften as society more broadly accepts cannabis and its place on the market, but they aren’t going to change overnight, and if we do little to intervene, this terribly stifled industry will never get the chance to truly thrive.

That’s why we need the people, entrepreneurs and open-minded politicians to speak up and apply pressure on regulators to see this world from our point of view. Cannabis might be legal, but we’ve got a long road to travel before the market is free, and we need to do everything we can to make that happen! Be it a call to your MP, mayor, or another decision-maker, be a voice of reason in this crazy new world of weed.

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