Marijuana is a topic I’ve been wanting to cover on The WP Crowd for a while, we even tried recording the episode a few times, but had issues. So finally, a conversation about a relatively new (newly legalized) industry and how we as WordPress consultants will be affected by it.
The first thing I’d like to mention is that while a lot of what we are talking about applies to US States (and Canadian provinces) where it is now legal to smoke marijuana recreationally or even through medical programs, it is not legal everywhere. Keep that in mind when you are getting a request for a dispensary, or someone selling, because you may be helping someone build their illegal business.
For the areas where it is legal to smoke and grow marijuana, there is still a lot of gray market and “iffy” things going on. We see it a lot in California, because even though it has been legal for medical use here for a very long time, it is still very easy to get marijuana through illegal ways.
Moral of the story, which should apply to any business but more so here, be careful with who you work with.
One of the more interesting things we speculated on was that moving forward since Marijuana is becoming legal in “medical use” for some states, will the storage of patient information from dispensaries on a website for customers fall under the same guidelines as any other doctor? HIPAA for example is something that every medical website needs to follow if they are in any way storing medical patient information online. Think of this like PCI Compliance for credit card processing, but for medical information, and its a lot harder (with much higher fines).
If this does become a thing that we need to worry about, will WordPress be a good fit for dispensary websites? If so, what kind of ecosystem may be built around it? Plugins for dispensary patients? Curious to see how this may change or add a new ecosystem within WordPress.
Another interesting topic of conversation during the podcast was the “taboo” factor of marijuana. Marijuana is one of the United State’s polarizing topics, many people aren’t fond of how its becoming more and more legal, while the other side is happy to see a medicinal plant become mainstream. No matter your opinion, there may be something of a taboo involved, and usually that leads to getting stuck in like-minded businesses only.
I compare this to the adult entertainment industry. I have known a few people who have worked for adult content websites, and while the pay is great typically, you get stuck basically only applying and working for other adult entertainment companies. It is hard to go from that industry into something more wholesome, as there is a stigma or taboo that may revolve around you.
I’m not sure how true this is nowadays, especially with developers, I would overlook where a developer is coming from professionally if the tech that they were using was on par with what we needed for a new hire. However, this isn’t always going to be the case, and you may be in a non-engineering role. So this taboo niche exists, and I’m curious to see if marijuana gets the same stigma, or if it becomes main stream enough to remove itself.
This may also be on a state by state basis.
Overall, since legalization of marijuana is slowly rolling out across the United States & Canada, it is proving that a new industry is forming, as well as all the businesses that support that industry. From those who grow and manufacture, to those who sell, every business along the chain will need a website. I think consulting with WordPress and WordPress itself will play a huge role in this. As small companies turn to .com for their small business website needs and medium to larger companies come to consultants for their expertise in building something more custom. I think WordPress which currently only has a few items including WP Dispensary will see a sub-industry emerge for plugins and themes that are focused on every part of the chain too.
The WP Crowd does not promote or advise smoking Marijuana in any form where it is not legal to do so.