In Las Vegas, where recreational marijuana sales began in July, a Waimanalo native is cashing in.
Ranson Shepherd is the co-owner of Pegasus, a marijuana cultivation company in Nevada. And at just 32 years old, he says his company is making millions of dollars a month.
"We exploded right into the market immediately. Once recreational marijuana took off, it's been out of control here in Las Vegas," Shepherd said.
Shepherd says his 22,000-square-foot facility can grow about two tons of marijuana every year. His product line, Virtue, can be found in most Vegas dispensaries. And in this market, he says there is more than enough business to go around.
"There's over 40-plus million people a year that come to this town. And even if we get 1 percent of the 40-plus million people a year, that's still 400,000 patients and users," he said.
Shepherd got involved in the industry through family who saw how talented and driven he was.
He says that determination started at a young age.
After being in the custody of Child Protective Services, he was raised by his grandparents, became an honor roll student at Kailua High, and all-state athlete.
He attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas on scholarship where he walked onto the football team but dropped out during his last semester to get a full-time job to care for his younger brother.
"I took full custody of him at a very young age and raised him. I put him through high school, put him through college," he said.
The now father of two says being successful in this new industry takes patience and persistence.
Pegasus received its cultivation license in November 2014 but didn't put plants in the ground until September 2016.
Prior to recreational pot, the company began selling medical marijuana in March.
"There's so much growing pains and growing challenges to the entire process because what we're doing in this industry. The regulators and some of the state people are still trying to figure out what they're doing and how they're going to regulate this industry," he said.
Shepherd has been following the Hawaii market closely because he says he would love to do business here at home eventually.