Why Franchising in Cannabis Might Be the Next Big Thing

Business in the cannabis world is booming, to say the least. Marijuana is now legal for medical use in 33 states and the district of Colombia, while permitted recreationally in 11 states and counting. 

Public opinion on cannabis has experienced a total sea change in the last generation, and polling indicates more Americans than ever favor legalization at the national level. The latest poll, from the Pew Research Center, found that 67 percent of Americans now back federal legalization, up from 62 percent in 2018

There is no doubt about it – marijuana is having its moment. Sarah Rense captured the shifting national sentiment in Esquire

“Weed is so normalized in America that it’s hardly cool anymore. Once Martha Stewart, Elon Musk, and your aunt—not even the eccentric one—started talking about marijuana like it was ibuprofen, it felt like it lost its gloried grunge. Long gone are the days of dirty bongs, replaced by high-tech vaporizers and edibles ranging from extravagant chocolate candies to curated, catered dining experiences. Oh, and hundred-thousand-dollar bongs that are coveted like art, because they are art. Brewers are dabbling in non-alcoholic THC beers, and the country’s first-ever weed restaurant, where you can smoke and dine in public without feeling anything more than your regular dose of paranoia, opened in West Hollywood. Weed has a golden cloud around it, where traditional fears have been replaced by excitement, at least on the grand scale.”

And as goes the nation, so goes the market. Analysts forecast that the industry is likely to swell to epic proportions in the next five years. New Frontier Data, a D.C.-based cannabis research group, delivered some astonishing figures in their most recent annual report: “Total legal sales of cannabis in current legal states are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14% over the next six years, reaching nearly $30 billion by 2025.” What’s more, they claim these are conservative estimates that don’t account for nationwide legalization. It’s worth noting that market growth predictions vary wildly, with some estimates suggesting that the industry will grow to as much as $77 billion by 2022.

Unsurprisingly, these glowing projections have tempted more and more people to enter the industry. And although many have enthusiasm to spare, navigating a complicated marketplace can be challenging. Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, business banking can be complicated and rife with issues. Other hurdles include the difficult licensing process, high overheads, and everything else that goes into a business, like branding, marketing, and distribution.

Enter franchising. Franchising is a core part of the US business ecosystem and reportedly generated some $451 billion last year. 

Some market watchers claim that the cannabis sector is ripe for franchise opportunities that can allay some hurdles and make mom-n’-pop businesses more likely to succeed and grow. 

Simply put, a franchise is a type of business that is owned and operated by an individual but that is branded and supported by a larger company. When someone buys the rights to a franchise, they gain access to proven business models and systems, with established prices, products, and marketing techniques. They also buy rights to the brand itself, including materials like brand recognition, logos, slogans, and signage.

Although franchising has sometimes been regarded as a vehicle for “big corporate,” it has some serious benefits for local communities and workers. Franchising keeps businesses locally owned, and injects them with know-how, capital, and marketing assistance. Further, being associated with a widely known brand identity can give business owners needed credibility and brand trust. The franchise model also allows for quicker expansion of a business’ reach. 

Legitimate, FTC-regulated cannabis franchise opportunities are limited at the moment. Some shady players have popped up, but you can spot the authentic offers because qualified US companies will have filed a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) in each state where they operate.

Unity Rd., one of the nation’s first regulated cannabis franchisors, has gained attention recently for their success in broadening the tent for those who want to enter the cannabis industry. They partner with industry newcomers, existing dispensary owners, and multi-unit franchisees to help them build compliant and profitable cannabis dispensaries.

Their website delivers a clear-eyed view of the market: “The cannabis industry is not for the faint of heart. It’s a complex world built for risk takers – those who see through the hype and understand the value before them to truly realize the benefits that cannabis has to offer. At Unity Rd., we are committed to extending the legacy of the plant and empowering others to join in. As a dispensary franchise, we’re creating a national community that’s supported by us, a nationwide brand whose owners reside in the neighborhood, hire local and keep the money right on their street. They open their dispensary doors compliantly and with confidence thanks to the tools, products, systems, and training we provide.”

The company’s CEO, Christian Hageseth, is a veteran industry insider with more than 10 years of experience in Colorado: “Above all else, knowledge takes you further in the cannabis industry.” Indeed, the company’s claim of a “recipe for success” is pretty compelling – and may just be the way for new and established cannabis businesses to grow and flourish in these boom times. 

Watch this space for more on the industry and the latest developments!



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