You know what they say: when you have lemons, make lemonade. Or as Ryan Shaw would say, when you have marijuana, make a marijuana business.
Ryan, an IT professional, never thought that he would one day be growing marijuana to make a living.
While working in e-commerce business in Florida, an investor asked him about his opinion on marijuana legalization in Colorado. For $2,000, Ryan said he would check it out. Six months later, he convinced a group of investors to start a business in Colorado.
Moving to Colorado
Ryan wasn’t a Colorado resident when he started CannaSource. Unfortunately, the rules stated that to become an owner of a marijuana business, he had to be a resident for at least two years. “I had to wait a bit before I could actually apply for my retail cultivation license,” Ryan said.
However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Ryan credits this delay with helping him with making better decisions. “It actually improved with how we ran everything,” he recalls. “There were major changes in the industry during that time, which meant that I was able to create a new business plan to be more competitive compared to other companies.”
Unlike other businesses that have to grow and sell their goods at retail storefront location, Ryan opted to focus on growing high-end marijuana in a cleaner, more cost-effective way.
Challenges and Concerns
“I’ve had to stay nimble,” Ryan admits. “There are so many changes that not only come from other businesses, but also from the local, state, and federal government. You really have to be able to read between the lines and be able to guess political outcomes. I’ve had to estimate a lot of things like tax expectations and the legalization process.”
Some of the challenges CannaSource has had to face include finding suitable land to grow their crop and maintaining the complicated machines to grow it. “I’ve also seen the price of marijuana go down from $2,200 per pound to $1,000,” Ryan says. “It’s not an easy industry, and I’ve had to encounter a lot of legal issues so that I can make this a profitable company.”
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Not everyone feels as excited about the cannabis industry as Ryan. In fact, a good 37 percent of Americans still believes that marijuana should be illegal, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.
“I’m well aware that there’s a lot of criticism for what I do,” Ryan says. “I feel that I’m helping people with medicine, something that has successfully helped people to beat (painful complications) from cancer.”
“This is also medicine that keeps multiple children in families I know alive that have severe epilepsy.”
Most importantly, he believes that he’s helping Colorado's economy through his business. “Because of the cannabis industry, I’m one of many who has helped to create tens of thousands of jobs,” he says. “I see our industry as the path forward to create jobs, reduce black market revenues, and give people clean, safe marijuana to consume rather than poisoned goods, which fund the black market.”
As of January 2017, CannaSource has passed testing with their first retail crop. His team has worked hard to produce cost-effective, high-grade cannabis. Ryan now has nine full-time employees and plans to expand into another state over the next 18 months.
He wants to be able to grow his business in the future. “I would love to expand both nationally and internationally,” he says. “I can’t wait to see what this company will turn into.”