Across the U.S., the business of growing pot is fast becoming mainstream, says the Wall Street Journal. Eighteen states and D.C. have approved the use and production of marijuana for medicinal use, including two states, Colorado and Washington, that allow recreational use. That has spurred on a cottage industry of professional growers, with an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 businesses producing it for legal purposes. Total sales: $1.2-1.3 billion last year, says the National Cannabis Industry Association.
It turns out trying to make a profit is harder than expected. When grown and sold legally, marijuana can be an expensive proposition, with high startup costs, operational headaches ,and state regulations that a beet farmer could never imagine. In Colorado, for example, managers must submit to background checks that include revealing tattoos. The state also requires cameras in every room that has plants. Prices for pot have plummeted under growing competition. Bank financing is out because federal law doesn’t allow these businesses. Agents sometimes raid growers even in states where it is legal.