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Lawyer Up: Where is the Starbucks of Cannabis

Posted by   /  June 19, 2018  /  No Comments

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Laura Bianchi

The rise of national marijuana brands is still a long way off. How is that ever going to change — and do we even want it to?

By Laura Bianchi | Merry Jane

Disclaimer: This column is written for educational purposes only. It does not provide specific legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This column should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.

Judging from news reports, the Starbucks of cannabis is just around the corner. Media outlets from Fast Company and Bloomberg to Food and Wine have all predicted that various cannabis dispensary chains or marijuana brands are poised to become as powerful and ubiquitous as the coffee behemoth.

Here’s the bad news for all of these up-and-coming cannabis brands and the hyperbole-prone journalists writing about them: None of these companies are going to become the Starbucks of cannabis anytime soon. Nor is any other company, for that matter. That’s because despite the rapidly blooming and evolving legal cannabis market, the industry is still incredibly fractured and inconsistent. A Colorado resident can’t fly to California and find a dispensary that’s exactly like the cannabis shop she’s used to in Denver. She won’t be able to find cannabis products that feature the exact same ingredients that she has grown to depend on at home. Sure, maybe she’ll find dispensaries and products with the same or similar names and ingredients, but the dispensaries and products themselves will be slightly but fundamentally different.

And despite the bold claims of various cannabis entrepreneurs and the millions being poured into promising cannabis brands, it would seem there is nothing on the horizon that will change this scenario in the near future. For the time being, the rise of one or more true national cannabis brands seems to be a distant goal, even for those companies considered to be large industry leaders.


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