Home / Cannabis / Business / MJBizCon: It’s Not Just Pot Companies in Broadening Cannabis Industry
Guard Dogs

MJBizCon: It’s Not Just Pot Companies in Broadening Cannabis Industry

As the cannabis industry grows, companies that have nothing to do with pot are interested in getting a piece of the action

David Royse | LedeTree

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Dogs like Bailey the Belgian Malinois could one day become totally different kinds of “drug dogs.”

Rather than sniffing out illegal drugs, dogs like Bailey, trained by an Arizona-based company called Armor K9, could soon be helping people who sell legal marijuana, by protecting a risky business from those who might want to steal the cash, or the marijuana, from a dispensary or other cannabis business.

Bailey and another Belgian Malinois named Ki showed off their training Wednesday at the MJBizCon in Las Vegas, which bills itself as the world’s largest cannabis business conference and trade show.

The company the dogs work for, Armor K9, is just one of thousands of ancillary companies finding ways to get into the fast-growing and potentially lucrative market of selling their goods and services to people and businesses in the legal cannabis market.

The security dog trainers there realized sometime last year that marijuana is a business that needs security options – and saw the growth in the industry with more and more states legalizing the product providing a new opportunity.

While this enormous conference has plenty of products and services directly in the chain of marijuana production – purveyors of the sorts of things you’d expect to see at a marijuana conference, like vaping devices, grow lights or actual growers – the proof of the industry’s growth and potential may be how wide it is starting to reach into the broader economy, drawing companies that don’t have anything to do specifically with marijuana to seek ways to get in on the market.

So many companies that sell products that aren’t necessarily related to marijuana are looking to break into the marijuana market, the MJBizCon conference has exploded to more than 650 exhibitors and had to move to a bigger venue, the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center, where more than 15,000 were expected to attend this week.

Companies like Armor K9, from the Phoenix suburb of Prescott Valley, Arizona.

The security dog trainers there realized sometime last year that marijuana is a business that needs security options – and saw the growth in the industry with more and more states legalizing the product providing a new opportunity.

In the cash-heavy business, marijuana providers “walk around with a very large target on their back,” said Armor K9 owner and dog trainer Neal Mestas. And many are in places where owners aren’t allowed to carry guns, or don’t want to. And while cameras – and there are several security camera companies at the trade show, too – may provide help to police if there’s been a crime, trained dogs provide a deterrent.

“We’re new in this industry, we’re kind of in the vanguard,” Mestas said. He didn’t disclose sales figures, but said the company has had several orders, including some from the show.

The company showed off the dogs training, with Ki and Bailey, who were off-leash going immediately from friendly dogs just sitting next to the company’s booth, to fearsome, barking animals that chomped down hard on Mestas’ padded arm at a command.

Armor K9 has been marketing its dogs – it trains them and provides them, and can also provide security guard-handlers – to cannabis companies for about a year.

“We’re new in this industry, we’re kind of in the vanguard,” Mestas said. He didn’t disclose sales figures, but said the company has had several orders, including some from the show.

The kinds of indirect companies looking to get in on the pot business ranges from those you’d expect, like the security companies, the industrial manufacturers that make the tools and machines used in extraction of parts of the plant, and companies that sell software to help dispensers market and sell their product. There are lots of companies that make agricultural equipment such as enormous greenhouse fans, or irrigation systems. And those that make packaging or labels.

But there also are companies that could sell their products and services to anyone – but see a market that has been one of the fastest growing industries in the country over the last few years. They’re not necessarily passionate – or even that interested – in pot, per se, but are interested in the emerging market it represents. They’re companies that coolers, or sell insurance, for example. Or fertilizer.

Chris Bradway and Jackson Bagley-Bonner sell fertilizer for a company called Down to Earth Distributors. And most of their customers don’t use it for marijuana, but for more mundane plants like tomatoes out in the garden.

Fertilizer Booth at Trade Show
Chris Bradway mans the Down to Earth Fertilizer Booth at a cannabis conference in Las Vegas

“In fact, our number one product’s got a picture of a carrot on the bag,” notes Bradway, pointing to a bag of the Eugene, Ore.-based company’s top-seller, Bio-Live Fertilizer.

Bradway said his company got interested in selling to marijuana growers not because they were seeking out a new market, necessarily, but because marijuana growers kept seeking them out.

“They came to us for the quality of the product,” Bradway said. But he’s noticed growth in the market – enough to head to Vegas to get some visibility among growers.

“It’s definitely been sustaining growth over the last three, four years,” Bradway said. “And we expect the growth to continue.”

Read more cannabis stories at LedeTree

About David Royse

David Royse
David Royse is the Editor-in-Chief of Ledetree.com. He has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years, including stints with The Associated Press and The News Service of Florida. He enjoys writing about health and medical science, and hopeful stories about scientific breakthroughs and new technology.

Check Also

Aurora Cannabis Logo

Coke and Cannabis: Coca-Cola in Talks With Aurora

The Coca-Cola Co. is in “serious talks” with Aurora Cannabis Inc. to develop cannabis-infused beverages, …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.