Massachusetts pot business a ‘gold mine’

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Creating a recreational marijuana industry from scratch in the Bay State could be a potential “gold mine” not just for pot dispensaries, but the countless other companies that are looking to take advantage of a brand-new customer base, industry analysts say.

The impending boom was on full display yesterday at a conference for marijuana businesses at the Hynes Convention Center, where companies selling equipment for refining and growing marijuana showcased their wares while weed-focused law firms and marketing companies hoped to woo customers before the market officially opens for business next year. Among the grow lights and planting equipment were plenty of other companies hoping their products would bloom in the new industry.

“It’s pretty wide open,” said Rob Napkori, a manager with InterMetro Industries Corp., which makes metal tables, shelves and more, and sells to companies in the food service, health care and science and cannabis industries.

“Our equipment is used in the manufacturing, the handling, the transport of cannabis,” Napkori said. “Whether it’s the drying racks, whether it’s the growing racks, or security, handling, all phases.”

Other companies offering everything from safes and security cameras to custom cardboard packaging were trying to secure their piece of what is expected to be a multibillion-dollar market in Massachusetts.

“This is going to be a gold mine,” said Dan Humiston, founder of Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo, which put on the conference.

“We feel this is really the next big area, that New England is going to be the next big boom area, especially with the passage of adult use in Massachusetts and Maine,” Humiston said. “The rest of this area is just all going to come together. I think it’s going to be the perfect storm.”

Massachusetts consumers are expected to buy about $1 billion in marijuana products by 2020, according to estimates from New Frontier Data, though the overall impact including cultivation, refining and distribution will be far higher.

“Once you factor in both the supply chain, growers, manufacturers and producers, as well as the entire ancillary value chain, we would expect it to be a magnitude order larger,” said John Kagia, an analyst with New Frontier.

“We see estimates that suggest in totality the rest of the industry is four to 12 times larger than the retail dispensary sales.”

The sheer size of the industry — and the nearly blank slate from which it is starting — has prompted many entrepreneurs to jump into the marijuana business. Danny Davis, founder of Convectium, said he had never used marijuana when he started his company but decided to switch from e-cigarettes to marijuana products when opportunity knocked.

“Why continue selling products in an industry that keeps getting regulated?” Davis said. “We can sell in an industry that’s being deregulated.”

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