Weed is winning: 4 signs the marijuana business is booming

Buds are removed from a container at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. Over 20 Oregon cities and counties are moving to temporarily ban medical marijuana dispensaries ahead of a May deadline, reflecting a divide between liberal Portland and more conservative rural areas wary about allowing medical weed. Portland, Oregon's largest city, already has a number of medical marijuana clinics and has not moved to ban them. Picture taken April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola (UNITED STATES - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY POLITICS HEALTH) - RTR3KMHE

Marijuana is going mainstream fast, and so is the marijuana industry. In a time of sluggish growth, the pot business is bursting with energy. It’s a weird mix of righteous exhilaration at the victory of the weed over the dark forces of repression (at least in some places) and people walking around with dollar signs in their eyes. But like it or not, pot is hot.

Here are some signs of the times:

1. Weed Outsold Booze in Aspen for a Couple of Months Last Year. There’s nothing better than a nice cognac while relaxing before the blazing fire at the ski lodge after a hard day of running the trails (or so I hear). Or is there? Well, as theAspen Times reported, marijuana sales exceeded alcohol sales in the months of March and April 2015.

March, which just happens to include spring break, also saw the year’s highest marijuana sales total, at $998,000. Pot sales plummeted nearly by half the next month, as the snow melted and the resort went into its in-between season doldrums, but they still exceeded booze sales in April, too.

In all, the city’s seven pot shops sold $8.3 million worth of medical and just-plain marijuana in 2015, with the city collecting a nifty $200,000 in taxes and fees.

2. The Industry Is Attracting a New Kind of Celebrity. Popular figures such as Snoop Dogg, Tommy Chong, and Willie Nelson have been eagerly embraced by the marijuana industry as weed-friendly celebrities, but now the industry is seeking out celebrities of a different sort—people who have made a name for themselves not in part as famous stoners but for being accomplished in their fields.

She’s the author of the award-winning cookbook “Cookie Love” and won the James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2012.
And now, she’s hooking up with Cresco Labs, which has three Illinois medical marijuana cultivation licenses, to create a line of marijuana-infused sweets, including chocolate brittle bars, granola bites, hot chocolate, and ready-made cake and cookie mixes. Cresco will provide the extracted THC and other ingredients, while Segal will put her baking skills to work creating the final product, which will carry her brand. “I feel like this is an industry that is going to grow at rapid rates. I feel like I’m getting in at a time where the future is now,” Segal said. “I think I’m the first sort of well-known chef who has somewhat of a credible reputation to come forward and say, you know what, I’m entering this market.” According to the Daily, the collaborative effort between Segal and Cresco is also “part of a larger trend in which cannabis companies are hooking up with celebrities and mainstream professionals who bring a new air of legitimacy to the business.”

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