In case you haven’t noticed, cannabis is EVERYWHERE. It’s one of the hot button topics of our generation and nationwide legalization is just over the horizon.
So far, cannabis is completely legal in 10 states and Washington D.C. However, what many people are excited about isn’t the fact that they can freely smoke whenever they feel like it, but rather, the many different uses of the cannabis plant and how it affects different industries. Cannabis (the psychoactive type) has many applications – mainly medical and healthcare related. Hemp (the non-psychoactive type), is one of the most versatile materials in the world and can be used to make everything from textiles to concrete.
Naturally, when it comes to an industry so large and powerful, there are many others that can grow and profit off the back of cannabis legalization. Likewise, there are many industries that are threatened by cannabis and could stand to lose a lot should it become legal anytime soon. So, what industries specifically would benefit and which ones would falter?
Industries that Would Benefit from Cannabis Legalization
Medicine- One of the most obvious industries that could profit tremendously from cannabis legalization is medicine/pharmaceuticals. Medical cannabis has been around for decades now and there are countless studies to attest to its healing powers. The only problem is that, due to its Schedule I status, most medical companies have been staying away from cannabis and doctors are hesitant to even suggest it to their patients. All that would change though should it become federally legal.
Construction- As mentioned above, hemp can be used for nearly anything, and that includes construction and design. Hemp can be pressed into particle board and other building materials, and some companies have discovered ways to turn hemp into an alternative for concrete. The use of hemp materials in construction could be the beginning of a new wave of sustainable and green building, making the process more affordable and better for the environment.
Tourism- Because recreational cannabis is only legal in certain areas, many of the states where it’s permitted have experienced what’s referred to as “pot tourism”. This is especially prominent when there is a big event in the area, such as Coachella or EDC, and other events that attract a large number of youths. Even when it becomes federally legal, each state will have different methods of operation. The more lenient states will continue to encounter visits from people interested in getting the full experience of a recreational dispensary or a cannabis lounge.
Retail- As expected, the retail sector is booming since cannabis products have hit the market. Legal states have seen millions of dollars in tax revenue from the sale of cannabis and related items. This money can be used for a myriad of local and statewide improvements. Plus, many people are opening up their own cannabis related businesses and earning money which then goes back into the economy in one way or another (buying homes and vehicles, shopping, taxes, etc.) The success of the cannabis industry trickles down and has a positive effect on everyone.
Software and Technology- Companies that specialize in technology are making waves in the cannabis industry. First of all, every legal or medical state requires a seed-to-sale tracking system. Many companies offering this service have popped up throughout the country, but BioTrack THC, MJ Freeway, and METRC have been the leaders in this sector. Additionally, many companies are in need of software and technology for supply chain management, e-commerce support, and even artificial intelligence.
Industries Threatened by Cannabis
Biofuels- Hemp is an easy to grow, renewable plant source. Research shows that it can be used to produce biofuels that could power cars, heat and cool homes, and a variety of other things. This discovery could have a huge impact on the current biofuel industry such as decreasing America’s dependence on foreign resources and lessening the need for traditional fossil fuels.
Paper- The very first paper in the world was made from hemp. Hemp is a much more viable option for paper because it has lower lignin and higher cellulose content than wood. It’s eco-friendly as well; an acre of industrial hemp can produce roughly four times the amount of paper that one acre of trees does and hemp can be grown much faster than trees.
Textiles- Hemp-based fabrics are on track to replace cotton, denim, and wool. Even Levi’s is dipping their toes in the hemp pool. Hemp fibers can be spun and woven a fine, linen-like fabric which can be used alone or blended with other fabrics. It’s also resistant to mildew and microbes making it a suitable option for the production of sails, carpets, awnings, and tarps – in addition to clothing of course.
Plastic- Following the 2018 farm bill, entrepreneurs have teamed up with environmentalists to find an eco-friendly alternative to plastic. According to Ocean Conservancy, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our oceans. This is in addition to the 150 million metric tons that already circulate through the water. This affects countless numbers of aquatic species and its an issue that needs to be resolved, fast. Hemp could the answer to this problem.
Medicine- Medicine was on our other list as well – industries that could benefit from cannabis. But it really goes both ways when it comes to pharmaceuticals. Because cannabis has the power to treat numerous conditions, that means many other medications will no longer be needed. Studies show that people use less pain medication when they have access to medical cannabis. Furthermore, 50% of millennials would rather use CBD to treat mental health disorders instead of prescription medications.
Of course, these are just some of the main industries that will be – or already are – affected by cannabis. There are many more industries that will either thrive alongside cannabis or be taken down by it.