Portland entrepreneurs see opportunity in cannabis industry, wit - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland entrepreneurs see opportunity in cannabis industry, without selling marijuana products

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Source: KPTV Source: KPTV

Local entrepreneurs have found you don’t have to sell cannabis or marijuana products to make money in the cannabis industry.

With recreational pot legal in three states and Oregon preparing to issue licenses for retail shops, processors and wholesalers, there are many opportunities to meet the unique needs of marijuana-based businesses.

Additionally, several states are considering legislation or ballot measures this year that would legalize medical marijuana.

“It's very expensive and time consuming to create it from scratch, but for those companies that take that time and spend that money to do it, there's big opportunity as it grows across the country,” said Noah Stokes.

He launched CannaGuard, a security company catering to marijuana grow sites, dispensaries and retail shops, in 2014 after discovering a need in the cannabis industry.

His security systems are now in more than 150 dispensaries and grow sites in five states.

The idea for CannaGuard was hatched after Stokes, who also runs a home and business security company, started receiving phone calls from people in the medical marijuana industry.

“The first couple were odd,” he laughed. “’You guys do security right? Can you meet me at a Starbucks and I want to talk to you about a project.’”

Stokes said owners of dispensaries and grow sites told him they had a hard time finding a security company willing to work with them because of the stigma and legal issues around cannabis.

Many cannabis related businesses also need unique security features, such as state-required 24/7 security camera recording in Oregon dispensaries.

They are often the target of burglars and robbers.

“They’re a legal medical business. It's an all cash industry, so its cash and cannabis and they can't have a gun on site,” he said. “So security is a big deal.”

Because the cannabis industry is changing quickly, “you can be a year into this industry and you are an expert,” Stokes said.

It’s an opportunity other entrepreneurs can’t resist.

Scott Kveton and Steven Osborn, who previously started a mobile marketing company, are now launching Odava, a point-of-sale and product tracking system for dispensaries and retail shops.

“When you look at the marijuana industry nationally, it's the fastest growing industry in the U.S. I wanted to be part of that,” said Kveton.

Launching a start-up is risk, but Osborn and Kveton are excited.

They have six customers now, but hope to expand across the state and eventually, across the country.

“It’s one of those things where you have to follow your gut,” said Kveton.

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