Laws regulating marijuana are changing dramatically and quickly all over the U.S. and, with a few ignoble exceptions (thanks for nothing, North Carolina), the changes have been for the better. Four states, plus the District of Columbia, have now eased up on recreational-use laws, and more states are lining up to follow, with Ohio likely to be the next to join the ranks of the legal—possibly by November of this year.
Some ganjapreneurs in the Buckeye State are preparing for the inevitable changes in legislation. Crain’s Cleveland Business reported recently on the diversification of asset manager Darrin Farrow, who has been investing in business opportunities associated with the cultivation and production of medical marijuana. Farrow co-founded MAD Farmaceuticals, which, among other things, will support cultivators with software to monitor and analyze their operations.
Farrow said property-owners and investors who are eager to convert real estate into cultivation facilities are calling him regularly and often.
“It’s just like post-Prohibition,” he explained. “There are a lot of ancillary opportunities. This is the fastest-growing industry in the world, and by far the fastest in the U.S. There are not many things that have been illegal for so many years and are now becoming mainstream.”
Another Ohio entrepreneur, Garett Fortune, has adapted products from his firm OdorNo, which makes odor-proof bags for human and animal waste, to meet the needs of ganja users. Under the branding FunkSac, Fortune makes odor- (and child-) proof bags for storing pungent marijuana.
Some companies based in Ohio have been reaping the rewards of legal weed in other states. Cannasure, for example, a Westlake, Ohio insurance company, provides coverage for dispensaries, cultivators, doctors and ancillary businesses in all of the medical and adult-use states. It should be well-positioned for the Ohio market when the time comes.
There is some concern that Ohio’s coming marijuana economy might end up under the control of a cartel-like organization, since one of the more well-heeled political action committees pushing for legalization wants to limit commercial cultivation to just 10 sites in the state. But the PAC, ResponsibleOhio, is trying to alleviate fears that it will take over the weed sector. According its website, the proposed commercial sites “will be operated by separate companies and have to compete with each other on price and quality, which is the exact opposite of a monopoly.”
ResponsibleOhio has the backing of a number of real estate and financial investors, as well as some local athlete-celebrities, such as former NFL player Frostee Rucker, who played for both the Browns and the Bengals, and NBA Hall of Famer and former University of Cincinnati star Oscar Robertson. It also just scored the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, representing some 30,000 workers from supermarkets, drug stores, food processing and packing plants and health care facilities in Ohio and neighboring states.
Also moving in on Ohio action will be the state’s most famous surname: Taft. The brothers Woody and Dudley Taft—descendants of President William Howard Taft and cousins of former Senator Robert A. Taft Jr. and former Governor Robert A. Taft III—recently announced they would be investing in NG Green Investments, one of the lucky 10 companies that would own and operate a growing site, theirs on 40 acres in Butler County.
While Ohio voters are in favor of legalization, Governor John Kasich is not.
“We’re not going to do that if I have any say about it,” he said last fall, idiotically conflating marijuana with prescription-drug abuse and heroin. Hopefully he won’t have any say about it, and Ohio cannabusinesses will flourish.