By now I'm sure that you're aware of the major breakthrough in the marijuana culture after the state of Colorado legalized the drug for recreational use earlier this year. Where some people see a new recreation, others see a new opportunity, and for some companies this opportunity is the art of recreation.
As analysts try to determine which direction the market will head for your standard companies and dissect financial opportunities with groups that grow marijuana, provide growth mediums, and handle R & D for medical use, we are still forgetting something. Cultural opportunity.
Some businesses have started turning a profit on the growth of the plant while their customers pay for smoking and ingesting pot as an actual recreation. Whether its MJ tours, "bud and breakfasts", limo & bus parties, 420 Friendly hotels, or even simply buying products from the local dispensary, Colorado's burgeoning pot industry is growing far beyond simple cultivation and resale of the much sought after crop. We're now actually seeing spin off business opportunities that look to take advantage of this fledgling industry of 420 tours and in my opinion, the stage is set for more states to get ready for the exact same type of green rush!
According to travel data site, Hopper, Colorado is quickly gaining in popularity as a tourist destination. On average, the relative demand for Denver as a travel site has risen by 6.3% since December 1st 2013, with a peak of 14% higher during the first week of January (when pot originally became legal for recreational use). The data also shows that flight search online to Denver has increased at least 25% relative to average national demand since Dec 1st.
As the recreational movement continues to grow, there's no doubt that travel search companies like Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) and Expedia, Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE) have an opportunity to take part in the benefits of this increase in travel. This of course is in addition to major airlines such as American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) and Delta (NYSE:DAL) both of which have major hubs across the US. It's becoming more obvious that all of those now searching for Colorado aren't really looking to go for just your average ski weekend but are going for the opportunity to use the drug recreationally.
In fact a private company called My420 Tours has already begun to capitalize on the recreation of recreational marijuana. According to a CNN interview with Matt Brown, founder of the company, there's a lot of excitement in the air. Mr. Brown stated that the company offers a complete end-to-end experience in what the marijuana industry in Colorado has to offer. Customers can be picked up from the air port, tour grow rooms, attend "tastings, get set up at a "420 friendly" hotel, take cooking classes, and even have the ability to be driven around anywhere while on their stay. The reporter, Brooke Baldwin, related this experience with that of the wine industry in areas where grapes are turned into tasty libations.
When it comes to the public sector, one of the players expanding into multiple niches (including tours) is a company called The Mary Jane Group, Inc. (OTCPK:MJMJ). This OTC Company markets itself as an "experiential marijuana company" with a mission to deliver premium products and experiences for "cannabis connoisseurs". Not only does Maryjane Group host marijuana tours, which include travel services to recreational dispensaries & grow facilities, the company also hosts an array of additional entertainment experiences.
MJMJ handles limo buses & parties, bookings for 420 friendly entertainment, and a unique twist to an old "go-to" getaway idea; Bud + Breakfast. Through this unusual concept, customers can book a smoke friendly suite, have a continental or made to order breakfast, have a set time to grab a "wake and bake sampler", and there's even a happy hour that starts promptly at…4:20. They also cap the night off with cannabis cookies and milk. For this early stage industry, I think companies like MJMJ have identified a huge desire in the marketplace for entertainment driven experiences as opposed to simply going to a dispensary and lighting up so the potential for growth could be even greater as more states begin to follow the trend.
What's even more interesting is that recreational legalization has become favored more than things like online gambling (a market once heavily battled for its legalization in the US)! I'm serious, according to the most recent national survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind, by a ratio of more than two-to-one Americans say legalized marijuana (52%) is preferable to online gambling (20%). Even more specific, the poll found that Americans age 18 to 29 (65%), Democrats (63%), and Independent voters (58%) were most likely to support legalizing marijuana, while those age 60 and older (36%) and Republicans (32%) were least supportive.
So when you talk about putting the recreation in recreational marijuana, Colorado is teaching the nation a thing or two about the incredibly positive effects this movement has with regard to spawning new markets related to marijuana as entertainment. Additionally, laws have limited where and how growers and dispensaries can advertise products (limited to outlets where no one under age 21 can access the ad media) BUT businesses that don't actually handle the plant and only engage in entertainment or recreation (tours, hotels, driving services) can advertise anywhere they choose because they don't sell marijuana to their customers or members. This opens a huge door when considering the mass appeal and access to additional media that will generate more attention for recreation based businesses in places where marijuana is legal. The bottom line is that recreation based services specific to recreational marijuana will be a "must have" business as more states fall in line.