There Are Many People Claiming To Be A Cannabis Industry Expert, But Are They Really?
Ever since I started writing more marijuana industry/business articles, I have been getting a lot of e-mails from people asking for advice about how to invest in the marijuana industry. These people usually come from a traditional business background, but are having a hard time navigating the emerging marijuana industry and don't know if the investment they are considering is solid, or if it's just BS. Most of the time they are already talking to a marijuana industry 'expert', and they want to know if that person is really an expert.
I usually don't feel comfortable naming and grading names, because I know most of the people that they are talking about on a personal level, and while I like them as a friend, I definitely don't consider them to be a marijuana industry expert. So I figured the best thing to do would be to describe elements that make someone a marijuana industry expert, and then leave it open for others to comment with things that I didn't include. Below are some, but not all, attributes that I would look for when determining if someone is truly a marijuana industry expert:
Knowledge of Politics
The marijuana industry is largely made up of areas that are 'grey' at best. Local laws, state laws, and federal laws are often different, conflicting, and outright confusing. At the local and state level, laws are in constant motion as elected officials fight over an area (marijuana) of politics that is very contentious right now. A marijuana industry expert needs to have a solid knowledge of what's going on in the political world at every level. This knowledge needs to not only be 'overall trends' and things that anyone can read in the media, it also needs to be an insider knowledge. A true marijuana industry expert is working directly with one or more campaigns at any given time.
Business Knowledge (with flexibility)
Obviously a marijuana industry expert needs to have traditional business knowledge as well. So many people that have made a lot of money off of the marijuana industry so far are not actually business experts, they just got into a quasi-legal industry before others did because they had nothing to lose, and they got lucky. However, these people have either been replaced, or will be replaced, by someone that is better at business than they are, assuming all other things are equal. It's important to point out though that the downfall to many marijuana industry business people is their inability to accept that the marijuana industry is different in some ways than all other industries. A true marijuana industry expert recognizes this fact, and remains flexible and adaptable. After all, there isn't exactly a 'play book' for people to follow in the legal marijuana industry.
Knowledge Of Marijuana Cultivation
A person doesn't have to be a phenomenal green thumb to be an expert in the marijuana industry, but they need to have a good grasp on the the growing process. At the very least because there are so many marijuana industry ideas that revolve around growing products and services. If someone doesn't know how the growing process works from start to finish, how will they be able to call BS on a product that clearly doesn't work in the eyes of a true marijuana expert?
Proven Track Record That Is Easy To Provide
You can always spot a non-expert in the marijuana industry by their inability to point at something that they did that was truly successful. They will talk a lot about 'the future' and about the marijuana industry in general (and how big it will be), but they will be much slower to provide something that they did that was successful beyond a reasonable doubt. These are people that should be avoided if possible. That's not to say that there aren't people out there with solid visions that will no doubt be successful, but unless they are presenting an idea that is so mind blowing and logical, chances are they are just blowing smoke (no pun intended) and you aren't the first person that they have swindled.
From A State At The Forefront Of Marijuana
Hopefully this doesn't rub people the wrong way, but if you are from a state that is not progressive when it comes to marijuana reform, it's almost guaranteed that you are not a marijuana industry expert. You might think that you are, because you know more about marijuana than anyone else in your area. However, unless you have spent significant time on the West Coast, or in Colorado, or another state that is at the forefront of marijuana reform, you probably have a very limited knowledge of the marijuana industry. If you think that you are a marijuana industry expert and you live in, say, Kansas, you should move to one of the areas I previously mentioned and if your mind isn't blown by what you see, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.
Knowledge Of Several States
People often don't realize just how different the marijuana industry is from state to state. Oregon is different than Colorado, California is different than Washington, etc. What works in one state might not work in another state. I certainly know that things I have seen in Colorado and California would never fly in Oregon for instance. A true marijuana industry expert recognizes this, and makes a solid effort to learn the practices from multiple states first hand.
Industry Connections Without Baggage
There are numerous people out there that probably could pass as a marijuana industry expert, but they should be avoided because of their baggage. Do a Google search on the person, Google their products, and talk to others in the industry to see what they have to say. If someone has a significant amount of baggage, it's probably for a reason. They might fit every other description that I have in this article and in the comments below, but they should still be avoided because they are likely about to swindle you, just as they have done to others in the past.
Knowledge Of Marijuana History And Culture
The history of the marijuana movement and culture is ingrained in the marijuana industry. Anyone who thinks that they can separate these things from the industry is in for a rude awakening. For decades the same people that are buying products and services with their disposable incomes are often the same people that are seen at rallies, counterculture events, headshops, etc. I've heard so many investors lately complain about 'how the consumer looks' and that it needs to be changed. I always point out that THAT'S THE CONSUMER BASE YOU ARE TRYING TO CAPITALIZE OFF OF. It's not going to change. New demographics are consuming marijuana these days, but that doesn't mean that they are going to spend their disposable income at a headshop or to go to an event. If you don't understand the consumer base, and why the consumer thinks the number 420 is cool, and why they are carrying around torches, and why they are wearing a shirt with a guy named Jack Herer on it, than they WILL NOT succeed in the marijuana industry. They will likely try to team up with someone that also agrees with their views, who is not an expert, and they will both fail together. There are many nuances that are a part of the marijuana industry/movement/culture that absolutely need to be understood on a level that can only be acquired by living it day in day out for a long time.
There are no doubt many other factors that make someone a marijuana industry expert, but those are the most important ones in my opinion. If you are a reader and you want to pass along any other pointers to would-be investors that are looking for a marijuana industry expert, please do. Others will benefit from your knowleadge! If you are a would-be investor and you are looking for a marijuana industry expert, always remember to watch out for fast talkers, and remember that actions speak louder than words!