Faizan Raza

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E-Commerce Redefining Cannabis Industry: Online Shopping Takes Over Retail

After decades of being a controversial subject in the United States, medical marijuana is now being decriminalized and legalized. 33 states have made it accessible for 13 million people so that they can take advantage of its medical and recreational purposes. A study was conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) which showed that 69% of surveyed individuals thought marijuana to be less harmful than alcohol.
The Budding Online Cannabis Industry
In 2017 alone the cannabis market grew by 37% with 90% of the global market concentrated in the United States. Some pundits even go on to say that it is the gold rush of the current time with marijuana being sold more than Oreos. It is going to be one agricultural product which will be traded around the globe. The only thing stopping all this is that the government still hasn’t legalized it and this limits its potential.
Considering the ever-increasing scope and demand for cannabis-related products, it is hard to bring a halt to this industry. According to the estimates given by the experts, the current value of medical and recreational marijuana is around $8.3 billion. The industry is set to create 340,000 more jobs generating an economic impact of $80 billion within the next four years.
Statista.com reveals that surveys have continuously shown an upward trend of the masses in favor of medical marijuana, remaining above 77% since 2011. By the end of 2019, the retail sales of medical and recreational marijuana are going to mount up to $12 billion, and it is projected to reach $30 billion by 2023. The following table shows the sales estimates for both recreational and medical marijuana.
Issues with Online Selling
While 10 states have even legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, there is a still long way to go when it comes to online selling. There are multiple apprehensions related to e-commerce marijuana with the foremost being the reluctance of banks to make transactions. Since it is illegal on the national level, big names like PayPal, MailChimp, and Shopify are choosing to stick to the laws of the federal government.
Even Google considers cannabis and marijuana to be restricted words in Adwords Campaign. This causes immense problems for online marketers as they are unable to get leads and turn traffic towards their webpages. Even the campaigns on social media are highly restricted and there aren’t many third-party tools available to resolve the issue.
Sending marijuana through the mail is still illegal, even for medical purposes. This prohibition applies not only to the United States Postal Service but also to FedEx and UPS. Even if the state has legalized the use of marijuana, shipping it into the territory is still considered illegal. Despite all this, the restrictions do not stop the growers and sellers to share valuable information with their prospects online.
Major Concerns of the Cannabis Industry
The cannabis industry is regulated and has some set priorities lying ahead. While they would love to get the opportunity to sell their products online, there are a few other things which have consumed their focus. These concerns include legalization on the federal level, ease in taxation, and easily accessible banking facilities.
As the legal marijuana industry finds a strong place in the market, other established companies are preparing to get involved in significant ways. Stalwart beer manufacturer of Canada, Constellation Brands, has invested $4 billion in the cannabis industry. The interest of such huge companies in this industry is going to bring a significant change to the landscape of the industry.
With medical and recreational marijuana legal in only a handful of states, online selling is a huge issue for sellers as they require proper licensing to do so. The e-commerce stores provide national or semi-national coverage, thus, arises the dire need to achieve national licensing. Even cannabis marketers inhabit a gray area without the unpublished rules for advertising and this can only be resolved through nationwide legalization.
The Bottom Line
With time, the uses of marijuana in different kind of products are going to increase manifolds given the potential of this industry. It has already created a milestone in the form of Bluetooth vaporizer technology, which is set to be high in demand because of its recreational purposes.
There are 9,397 active licenses for marijuana businesses as of 2017 and with time, the opportunities which one can yield from this industry will grow. There will be unprecedented growth once the industry stakeholders can get rid of the restrictions and discover more beneficial uses of marijuana.

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