Cannabis Commerce: Massachusetts' Medical Marijuana Market

The first dispensaries have yet to open in the state, but already there’s money to be made in medical marijuana.

By | Boston Daily |

Bruce Bedrick, CEO of Medbox and Kind ClinicsBruce Bedrick, CEO of Medbox and Kind Clinics

During those few hours on November 29 when the power went out and Cambridge went dark, 200 people stood in the cold outside the Cambridge Community Center to hear two lawyers, Christian Sederberg and Brian Vicente, talk about medical marijuana, which becomes legal in Massachusetts in January.

Sederberg and Vicente were in town to promote the opening of the Boston office of their Colorado law firm, Vicente Sederberg—to explain, in other words, how the new law works, and to establish themselves as experts who can help their clients seize the business opportunities that will come with medical marijuana. They’ve been through this before, they told the crowd, adding that even though the state regulations for dispensaries haven’t been written yet, they know how to prepare an effective application for a permit to open a medical-marijuana dispensary—35 of which were authorized in last November’s ballot initiative.

What’s in it for the lawyers? “When everyone’s in the gold rush,” Sederberg said, “it’s good to be in the picks-and-shovels business.”

Sederberg and Vicente aren’t alone in sensing that there’s money to be made. “For nearly 40 years,” says Richard Evans, a Northampton attorney, “I never made a dime for my advocacy for the repeal of marijuana prohibition, unless you count the 20 bucks the guy at the hemp store knocked off the price of the shoes I bought.” But now Evans and his law partner, Michael Cutler, are talking to clients who are interested in spending up to $2 million to open and operate dispensaries. Then there’s Bruce Bedrick, the CEO of both the Arizona-based consulting and technology firm Medbox, and Kind Clinics, a turnkey medical-marijuana dispensary that recently opened an office in Natick. He’s consulting on the permitting process, and also grouping together clients with less money to put into partnerships (the minimum is $25,000).

The first dispensary probably won’t open until late 2013 or early 2014, but the market is already here. “A hundred-thousand patients for a state this size would not be unrealistic,” Bedrick says. And it’s only going to get bigger, he says, especially in the ultimate growth scenario: marijuana that’s regulated and taxed for recreational use. “This is going to generate a boon to the economy,” Bedrick says. “It will grow and grow.”

  • Malcolm Kyle

    Legally regulated (manufacture, distribution and consumption) of marijuana is coming to a state near you in 2013:

    CALIFORNIA

    “These laws just don’t make sense anymore. It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users… these are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people.”
    —Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (preparing the way for Governor Jerry Brown to initiate proceedings to legalize and regulate marijuana through the state legislature)

    MAINE

    Maine’s legislature is moving on a legalization-and-regulation bill that could bring the state $8 million a year in new revenue.

    ”The people are far ahead of the politicians on this. Just in the past few weeks we’ve seen the culture shift dramatically.”
    —Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, District 120 (Occupation: Public Relations Consultant)

    NEVADA

    “Thinking we’re not going to have it is unrealistic. It’s just a question of how and when”
    —Assemblyman Richard (Tick) Segerblom of Las Vegas, elected to the Nevada State Senate in 2012

    OREGON

    “We have decades of evidence that says prohibition does not work and it’s counterproductive. it’s a matter of dollars and common sense. There’s a source of revenue that’s reasonable that is rational that is the right policy choice for our state. We are going to get there on legalization.”
    —Peter Buckley, co-chair of the Oregon state legislature’s budget committee.

    RHODE ISLAND

    Rhode Island is also expected to legally regulate marijuana through the state legislature instead of a popular referendum.

    ”Our prohibition has failed, Legalizing and taxing it, just as we did to alcohol, is the way to do it.”
    —Rep. Edith Ajello, chairs the House Committee on Judiciary and is a member of the House Oversight Committee.

    VERMONT

    In November 2012, the state’s Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, cruised to re-election while strongly backing marijuana decriminalization. And the city of Burlington passed a resolution in November 2012 calling for an end to prohibition – with 70 percent support.

    ALASKA

    Most Alaskans already have a clear view of things from their own back garden. Personal use and possession of Marijuana in Alaskan homes has been effectively legal since 1975.

  • Ariel

    When did you count 200 people? Because I counted the crowd multiple times throughout the night. Most I counted inside, after we moved to the gym, was around 100. I know that conference room can’t fit more than 100 people. And outside I counted closer to 50. (And it was pitch black out there, so…) Just sayin’.

  • http://cannabis-commerce.com Lory Kohn

    I wouldn’t be celebrating how much people will make from medical marijuana sales; I’d be bemoaning just how limiting that really is: http://cannabis-commerce.com/2011/06/28/ten-reasons-mmj-is-cannabis-commerces-ball-and-chain/