I have lived in Oregon my entire life. I have watched the cannabis industry go from people growing secretly in their basements, closets, sheds, and secret rooms, to close friends renting out large warehouses or outdoor plots and populating them with hundreds of plants legally. My grandfather grew marijuana, as did my father. I used to grow marijuana once upon a time when it was cheaper to do so than buying it, although that has changed, at least for me. There is so much marijuana in Oregon right now that I haven't had to purchase any for a few years now because so many people that I know are willing to give it away for no consideration to their close friends and family. It's a truly amazing time to be a consumer in Oregon.
For those that aren't lucky enough to get cannabis for free, and if they are an Oregon medical marijuana patient, there are hundreds and hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries to visit, many of which have very low prices for cannabis. There is a dispensary about three blocks from where I live that has $160 ounces of top shelf cannabis every day of the week. That's awesome for consumers. But you know what's not as awesome for the owners of cannabis outlets? The fact that there are so many of them now, and more opening everyday. That same dispensary near me with $160 ounces has dispensaries about every 1,000 ft from it in any given direction, many of which also have ounces for the same price.
I remember when there were only two dispensaries in the city where I live in Oregon. Now there are dozens, and I see a new one open just about every week or two. The industry in Oregon is very crowded, and will be getting more and more crowded as recreational sales likely begin in the Fall. This has a lot of industry members worried. Per Marijuana Business Daily:
Licensed medical marijuana businesses in Oregon are worried that a surge in dispensary applications will further crowd an already-saturated market.
The state has received 411 dispensary applications since voters legalized recreational marijuana in November, according to the Associated Press. Of that total, 51 were filed since the start of July when lawmakers passed a bill that would allow dispensaries to start selling limited amounts of recreational marijuana on Oct. 1.
That bill has yet to be signed by Gov. Kate Brown.
With more than 300 dispensaries already open in Oregon, licensing more would only add to a glut that's caused three storefronts to shut their doors, the AP reported.
If you think that there are a lot of outlets in Oregon, please realize that there are way, way more growers than there are dispensaries in Oregon. So many growers that most dispensary owners will tell you that they only accept a very small fraction of what's being brought in. Yes, part of it is turned away due to testing or quality issues, but much more is turned away because there is just so much stock out there. I think that recreational marijuana sales via dispensaries starting on October 1st (assuming the bill is signed by Governor Brown, which I'm sure it will be) will help balance out the supply and demand unbalance, but only a bit. Because just as more people will be going into storefronts to purchase marijuana in Oregon the 'fall flood' will be occurring, during which Oregon will see more outdoor marijuana than it has probably every seen before. So just as demand is picking up, supply is going to go bonkers. Also, every residence in Oregon can now grow up to four plants, and I know a big percentage of Oregonians will, so not everyone will have to visit retail locations to get their cannabis.
Oregon has the lowest barrier to entry than any other state that has a legal marijuana industry. Oregon is also a great place to grow marijuana. That combined with the fact that everyone and their grandma wants in on the industry is creating a very crowded Oregon cannabis scene. It doesn't mean that people will be pushed out of the industry by default, but it does mean that those that are in the industry, or are going to get in on the industry, need to step up their game. Branding is going to be VITAL moving forward in the Oregon cannabis industry. Any company that doesn't have an effective branding strategy in place is going to struggle as a result, no matter how good their products are.
I get asked all the time what people can do to make their cannabis brand stand out from the crowd. There's actually a lot of things that they can do. I am by no means a branding expert myself, but I recognize the importance of distinguishing one's brand from the never ending supply of other brands that are out there. For a long time simply 'existing' was enough to make money in the cannabis industry, but those days are long gone. Companies have to catch the attention of consumers, and keep that attention by being genuine. If you are part of a company, or own a company, that needs to beef up your branding strategy, I strong urge you to check out the book below. It's an affordable way to get your feet wet and get a good understanding of what branding is, why it's important, and how to do it. Click on the banner and it will take you to the best cannabis branding book I have ever come across. It may mean the difference between becoming a cannabis tycoon, or just being another brand on a shelf collecting dust: