Colorado-Marijuana Dispensary Boom has Affiliated Businesses Buzzing

Februrary 7, 2010 – Until a few months ago, J.B. Woods was your standard-issue insurance s-MARIJUANA-largeagent. Auto, home, life. Would you like flood coverage with that?

Then, in the middle of 2009, his phone rang: “I need insurance for my medical-marijuana dispensary,” the caller said. And since that moment, few of the policies Woods has set up for clients have been standard-issue.

Instead, Woods has become the guru of ganja insurance. Property insurance, theft insurance, liability insurance. Woods is now even offering crop insurance, in case a medical-marijuana harvest isn’t as bountiful as expected.

“They needed an insurance agent who specializes in this area because of all the complexities involved,” Woods said.

“We just realized that the market was unserved in many ways,” said Woods’ wife, Mary.

The Woodses aren’t the only ones. Across Colorado, as the medical-marijuana industry has boomed, so too have the businesses providing services to it. And as state lawmakers look to regulate the dispensary business, that outward economic ripple has resulted in a widening ring of people watching to see what happens to an industry they are connected to.

Real estate agents scout locations for dispensaries. Contractors do remodeling work. Security companies install cameras and locks. From insurance companies and law firms to growing-supply stores and ventilation companies, thousands of business owners and employees have jumped into the medical-marijuana economic vortex, Denver lawyer Warren Edson said.

A natural connection

“What other new industry has opened 300 businesses in just a year?” Edson, a longtime medical-marijuana attorney, asked. “Probably no other industry in the history of the city.”

Indeed, some of these affiliated businesses are run by people who have a deep interest in the medical- marijuana industry’s cause. Carla Boyd, a medical-marijuana patient who, along with her husband, owns a security company called Leif Alert, has worked with about 20 dispensaries to install alarm systems and security cameras. She said they make it a point of offering dispensaries competitive pricing.

“It’s about giving back to the community,” Boyd said.

But other business owners, like Woods, have been attracted to the industry by little more than economic opportunity.

Ken Dlin, a contractor, began working with dispensaries after seeing a niche he could fill, he said.

“Right now, it’s an extremely slow period for a lot of contractors,” Dlin said. “So it’s helped.”

Dlin said the dispensary owners he’s encountered have been professional and said he approaches the work as he would any other job. Edson, the attorney, said he thinks the proliferation of dispensaries has made some mainstream businesses more inclined to work with them.

“I think for Average Joe, it’s not necessarily a scary thing anymore,” Edson said.

But that is not true for all businesses in the medical-marijuana universe.

At HyGrow, a new hydroponics- supply store north of Denver, there is a reluctance to address marijuana’s place in the business. Products are flying off the shelves.

“My warehouse looks pretty full,” owner Suzanne Rosty said. “But it goes out pretty quickly. . . . It’s definitely a booming business.”

Some wariness remains

But ask a question about how much medical-marijuana growing has contributed to that, and Rosty becomes less chatty.

“We sell indoor gardening supplies,” she said. “What people do with it is none of our business.”

Edson said medical marijuana has helped the hydroponics industry flourish, but said that industry leaders, wary of a federal government crackdown, have been cautious in talking about the issue.

Woods, the insurance agent, is not shy in talking about his new clients. He enthuses over the complexity of his work and he praises the passion of dispensary owners. But mostly, he marvels at the still largely untapped market.

“Just the amount of money they’re putting into the economy is staggering to me,” Woods said. “No pun intended, but this has become a growth industry.”

By John Ingold. Source.

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