So I got a really interesting question from "U," a reader from Deutschland. Is growing weed professionally a good way to make a living?
My initial thought is growing weed professionally would be a really tough way to make a living. Full disclosure: I have not spoken with any commercial growers yet. However, I have talked to a number of dispensary operators about their business who grow weed for their shop. I don't think the macro economic headwinds of a grower and a dispensary owner is all that different. I could be wrong, and I will talk to growers in depth to see if my thesis holds water.
That said, my first thoughts I shared with "U" is proceed with caution because all that grows is not green. Another caveat: this is written from the perspective of growing weed Colorado's ever-changing medical marijuana regulations. Laws, regulations, restrictions and enforcement will vary.
Growing weed for a living sounds like the ultimate "dream job" doesn't it? Operating a legitimate business growing medical marijuana for your clients.
But hold up. Not so fast. First let's talk about your equipment. You need a grow room. Not just any grow room. You'll need something bigger than a small, personal operation. You'll need a large enough room to grow for your clients. Sure it would make sense to start small and grow your business. The following video shows a really nice set up. Take careful note of the equipment. Because you'll need to buy all that or some variation of growing equipment.
Say hello to the first of many startup and operational costs. You'll also need to think about your utilities, supplies, fertilizers, irrigation, etc.
The other issue I would bring up is competition. I always ask dispensary owners how's business. No one ever says, "It's great! I'm rolling in da benjamins and I'm living the dream." Everyone thinks growing weed is a great job so the competition is fierce.
There are more dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks. Two blocks from my home there are three dispensaries within a few doors of each other. Here's how the street looks: flower shop > dispensary > liquor store > cross the street > vacant shop (used to be a glass pipe shop - you know THEY thought they had a slam dunk. Lasted maybe 6 months.) > dispensary > Cuban restaurant > dispensary.
Fortunately, the three dispensaries are still in business. They're obviously running a good business. I do see some dispensaries around town that have shut down. The strong players who provide a service and atmosphere that customers choose to support will survive, while the poorly managed will not. There's only so much resources (read: money) to go around. An over saturation drives supply up, demand down and there are no winners, only losers.
Random anecdote:I don't believe it is the government's job to regulate how many dispensaries can be established. It's none of their damn business. So when a local politician was campaigning for mayor at a festival I took it upon myself to ask him why he is campaigning to regulate (read: OVER regulate) the medical marijuana industry. He was clearly not prepared to explain why he is a typical overreaching government official and why he thinks its his job to save us from ourselves. It was pretty hilarious! Needless to say, he lost the election.
The owner of the first dispensary said he hasn't taken a day off in over a year. He's just recently been able to rotate with other partners to take an occasional day off (they're open 7 days a week). The owner at the middle dispensary said business is, "good despite the competition." He was the first to come to the block. The third dispensary said business was a little slow but they're managing.
The other difficulty I see in growing is the ever-changing regulations. Because our idiot government has nothing better to do than continue to fix problems that don't exist. Those who grow for less than five patients will be forced to register with the state and reveal their grow sites and what they are growing. It's crap like this that continues to hurt small business owners and kill any chance of economic recovery with onerous regulations and bureaucracy. Never mind the Orwellian nature of Big Brother needing to get all up in your business.
I would caution anyone considering growing weed professionally, be ready for new rules, regulations and fees. Again, I could be wrong. Maybe growing weed for profit really is Manna from heaven. But as long as there is meddling from the government, and free market forces continue to be over regulated, the full potential of growing weed and providing an in-demand service and product to an eager and growing customer base will never be fully realized IMHO.