ILLINOIS: Oils and extracts, vaporizers, grow lights and joint rollers filled a marijuana convention in Chicago on Wednesday — without a puff of pot in the air or a single leaf of the drug yet sold legally in Illinois.
More than 2,000 people attended the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, hoping to cash in on a business that is forecast by one industry-backed market research group to grow to $11 billion in annual sales nationwide by 2019, with the prospect of legalization in several more states.
Yet the vast majority of entrepreneurs will have no shot at growing or selling pot legally, said Adam Bierman, managing partner of MedMen, a consulting firm. Since he opened his first “pot shop” for $13,000 in California, he said, the industry has increasingly become controlled by “titans” who have six figures or more to invest.
And as more states — including Illinois, with its fledgling medical pot program — limit and closely regulate who can grow and sell the drug, many seeking a foothold in the business are focused finding their own niches.