While still in its infancy, the cannabis industry has been experiencing explosive growth and making promising strides toward legalization in the U.S. The pandemic was a pivotal moment for the burgeoning space as it deemed cannabis an essential business due to the benefits it provides as an alternative medicine and the tax revenues it generated in local communities as the economy struggled.
What was a $15bn industry in 2020 rapidly grew in market size and hit over $25bn in adult-use and medicinal sales by 2021, according to the Marijuana Business Factbook and Leafly respectively, putting cannabis on the map – literally.
The current U.S. landscape has 38 states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal use and 18 states including the District of Columbia that allow adult-use consumption – which nearly 141 million Americans or 43 per cent of the U.S. call home, according to Forbes.
Support for legalization is growing and growing
With such growing awareness for the industry, this past year or so there were several states – Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia – that introduced legalization bills to allow medicinal or adult-use cannabis with many new markets quickly emerging.
It is predicted that there will be at least three to five more states that will file ballots to legalize adult-use sales this year with much of the Northeast following suit. The Northeast market itself holds 16 per cent of the U.S. population which will significantly drive sales and increase awareness to new heights.
The ongoing support of legalization and cannabis use is a growing sentiment among consumers with 68 per cent of U.S. adults actively supporting cannabis legalization, according to a November 2021 Gallup poll.
As several states are working toward local reform, the U.S. is beginning to see promising milestones federally as well. Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (“MORE”) Act to decriminalize cannabis and there is continuous momentum with additional bills such as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (“SAFE”) Banking Act to prioritize financial solutions without penalty for operating cannabis businesses.
With the wave of widened acceptance and positive momentum at the state and federal level, the U.S. cannabis industry is expected to reach $50bn in revenue by 2026, according to New Frontier Data.
Unity Rd. leads the way for U.S. dispensary franchises
The U.S. dispensary franchise landscape is growing with brands expanding beyond state borders. Leading the charge is Unity Rd., the first true national cannabis dispensary franchise in the country.
The cannabis pioneer offers one of the most direct routes into the complex cannabis industry by offering time-tested standard operating procedures (SOPs), resources and an experienced team, with a combined 200- plus years in cannabis and franchising. Unity Rd. offers franchise partners the systems, processes and ongoing support they need to successfully and compliantly operate a cannabis dispensary – whether it be securing a license or assisting with cash flow, product selection or changing regulations.
The Arizona-based franchisor, Unity Rd., has seen a surge of interest from existing multi-unit franchisees who want to diversify their business portfolios and enter the cannabis industry on the ground floor as it picks up positive momentum.
“The past few years deemed cannabis an essential business for the value and benefits it consistently provides to consumers and the community,” said Unity Rd. vice president of franchise development, Justin Livingston. “Unity Rd. keeps cannabis in the hands of local entrepreneurs who are looking to diversify their offerings with a fresh concept and invest in a new opportunity that will let them stake their claim in the thriving industry.”
Franchisees succeed with Unity Rd.’s assistance
It has been a banner year of momentous growth for Unity Rd. With two shops open in Colorado and another in Oklahoma, the franchise has a development pipeline packed with more than 20 entrepreneurial groups who are expanding the Unity Rd. brand across 10- plus states. The franchise is quickly expanding into new states that are legalizing medicinal or adult-use cannabis such as New Jersey, Maine, Virginia, Michigan, South Dakota and more.
Most recently, Unity Rd.’s first partners in South Dakota, B.J. Olson and Adam Jorgensen, received state and local approval to open and operate one of the first medicinal cannabis dispensaries in Hartford, a suburb of Sioux Falls.
Prior to partnering with Unity Rd., Olson was a multi-unit franchisee in the technology repair space and has an impressive entrepreneurial background that spans across various industries including wireless technology, retail and clothing.
He said, “Partnering with Unity Rd. was a given for us. Though I have a deep entrepreneurial background and experience in retail, I know operating a cannabis establishment adds a significant level of intricacies to navigate. Unity Rd. paves a path for entry into the cannabis industry and offers us the knowledge, resources and support we need to thrive compliantly in our market.”
The demand for cannabis is rising along with the number of states that will drive reform of the industry. The year ahead will truly be transforming for cannabis with more market access, product innovation and an abundance of opportunities for entrepreneurs to grab a piece of the market share.
At a Glance Unity Rd.
Locations of units: United States (Colorado and Oklahoma)
Investment range: $1m -$2.5m
Minimum required capital: $1m