With Massachusetts preparing to open the recreational marijuana marketplace in just a few months, MIT's Sloan School of Management is turning over a new leaf.
The business of pot is now part of Professor Scott Stern’s graduate classroom.
He says the perception of marijuana in our culture is changing, and the mainstream opportunities are too hard to pass up.
"And we’re at that kind of moment, like the end of prohibition, and people preparing for that in America," says Stern.
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He’s using online marketplace “Jane” as a case study.
"People use the analogy of, 'oh, you are becoming the Amazon of cannabis,'" says CEO Socrates Rosenfeld.
Since NBC10 Boston featured the start up last year, this company, which is also a search site helping customers find cannabis dispensaries, has become a budding star in the industry.
"Connects every single product on their store shelf, to local consumers in the area," says Rosenfeld.
For entrepreneurs interested in this growing space, Rosenfeld is offering an invaluable roadmap.
"You can walk away with the diploma and knowledge in the classroom, but these are my friends and we are starting a company together," says Rosenfeld, who's a Newton South High School graduate and one of Stern’s former students.
Rosenfeld was back on campus this week with his team where they were also getting schooled.
"It’s a really big hurdle to get over to incentivize me to actually do something on your platform," says MBA student Andrew Spitz.
Other students are wondering how they will truly monetize the value.
Along with studying Jane’s technology and business model, the MBA students visited Cambridge pot dispensary Sira Naturals to get an up close and personal look.
By some estimates, the weed industry’s growth is outpacing the "dot-com" boom of the late 90s. But Professor Stern says he’s trying to help his students see beyond the dollar signs.
"To see people who are suffering cancer, seeing it as a substitute for opioid addiction, PTSD…those are real issues," says Stern.
He says if entrepreneurs can get that right, everything else will bloom on its own.
Right now, it's only medicinal marijuana that is allowed in Massachusetts, but the recreational marijuana marketplace is opening up in the state sometime in July.