Law firms, recruiters, and marketers dish on how they're gearing up for a gold rush from New York's blockbuster move to legalize cannabis
- New York’s legal marijuana market could eventually reach $7 billion.
- As cannabis companies gear up, firms that service the industry are readying for a gold rush.
- Law firms, PR companies, and recruiters that specialize in cannabis are seeing a surge in business.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Over the past 15 months, the law firm Feuerstein Kulick has hired 11 new attorneys, almost doubling in size.
Feuerstein Kulick focuses on cannabis. Some of the hires were to handle increased business from states where marijuana is already legal, but Jeff Schultz, a partner there, told Insider that his firm was also preparing for the potential of East Coast legalization.
Now that bet is starting to pay off. Schultz said his phone is “ringing off the hook” after New York legalized recreational cannabis in late March on the heels of New Jersey and two other states.
“I see the next 18 to 24 months being extremely busy,” he said. “We’re at the center of the storm.”
New York’s legal cannabis market has the potential to balloon into a multibillion-dollar industry, and it’s creating a gold rush for law firms, public relations companies, recruiters, and compliance startups that service the industry.
Cannabis sales aren’t expected to begin until mid- to late 2022, but companies are spending money, staffing up, and building out their New York operations to prepare.
Legal cannabis could help create 60,000 jobs in New York
Six companies that work with the cannabis industry told Insider that they’ve seen a rush of clients and business since New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed cannabis legislation into law in late March.
The cannabis industry is set to create close to 60,000 jobs in New York by 2027, both within the industry itself as well as in support roles, according to an economic-impact analysis from Cuomo’s office. The total economic impact could hit $6 billion that year, per the analysis.
Annual recreational marijuana sales could be as high as $5 billion to $7 billion once New York’s market is fully realized, according to estimates from analysts at Stifel and Cantor Fitzgerald.
Schultz said that he’s taking two to three calls a day just from clients and potential clients across the country asking about New York and how they could potentially get a license.
Scott Greiper, president and founder of Viridian Capital Advisors, a New York-based cannabis-advisory firm, told Insider that this past quarter was the best in the company’s history. He attributes that mainly to a flood of investment in cannabis and a spate of mergers and acquisitions across the country.
To gear up for New York specifically, Greiper said he’s been talking with hemp operators in the state looking to apply for THC licenses as well as companies and investors who want to enter the market. He said he expects New York to become a larger part of the company’s practice over the next year.
Greiper added that he expects the influx in business to extend beyond companies that handle cannabis. Law firms and media companies based in New York are more likely to get involved in the industry, too, he said.
“Ultimately this is a consumer-packaged-good brand industry, no different from alcohol or snack foods or tobacco,” Greiper said.
Chad Bronstein, the CEO of Fyllo, a cannabis software and compliance startup that just raised $30 million, said that more law firms in New York and New Jersey have started to use the service.
“We saw a huge uptick when New York approved,” he said.
‘I’m dying to get in’
Karson Humiston, the CEO of Colorado-based cannabis recruiting firm Vangst, said she recently hired a point person for East Coast hiring.
“People are really pumped and excited,” Humiston said. She said Vangst is getting far more calls from prospective applicants than there are jobs available.
“We have all these candidates across the board from sales, to marketing, to cultivation, to finance, saying: I’m dying to get in. Help me get a job today,” Humiston said. “But we don’t have any jobs yet.”
Humiston said that will change as dispensaries open next year. For now most hiring is on the consulting side — either to help established cannabis companies apply for licenses or to advise companies from other industries on how they can profit from New York legalization.
“Consultants are going to do incredibly well,” Humiston said.
Cannabis jobs are shifting east
Sloane Barbour, the chief revenue officer at FlowerHire, a recruiting firm focused on six-figure salaried positions in the cannabis industry, told Insider that he’s seen a shift from the West Coast to the Northeast over the past few months.
The Northeast made up 24% of placements on the platform in 2020 but 40% in the first quarter of this year, Barbour said.