Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Don’t bogart that joint, my friend. You may need to pass it around at the next management meeting.

Pot isn’t exactly legal in Massachusetts.

Not yet.

It’s been decriminalized – you can get fined but not jailed for possession – and we’re setting up for dispensaries for medical marijuana.

But there are not yet head shops or bong parlors on every corner. No vending machines where you can drop in a few quarters for a bit of bud. (E6 for 0.5 oz. sensi, C8 for a blunt.)

Just a matter of time, I’m guessing.

Whether Massachusetts or some other state is the next to follow Washington and Colorado as a pro-pot haven, high times is a-coming, and businesses are preparing for it.

In fact, ArcView, an angel investment firm from – where else?  San Francisco - recently hosted an event in – where else? Denver – where those in the cannabis biz came to pitch their ideas.

But bar the large pot plants on the stage, in many respects the meeting was no different from other gatherings of American investors and businessfolk. Ties, women and non-white faces were scarce. Pitches were peppered with jargon and cheerfully optimistic revenue projections, though not always a clear indication of the product or service on offer. But there was also a strong atmosphere of camaraderie, a sense that here there was an industry to be built rather than turf wars to be fought. (Source: The Economist.)

I’ve been to a number of investor days, but nothing all that interesting was ever pitched. Oh, I saw some voice activation stuff (when that was new and exciting) and some RFID tagging stuff (when that was new and exciting). But nothing quite like this.

While it’s pretty interesting, the thought of pot becoming big business is enough to weird anyone out, even someone who hasn’t indulged in decades.  But, hey, why not? Someone’s making money off of it illegally, avoiding taxes and no doubt inflicting some pretty inferior, unregulated goods on the market. (Not that the regulated market for anything keeps inferior goods out…)

The legal cannabis market was worth $1.2 billion in 2011, reckons ArcView. By now it will be much bigger. Some look forward to a fully legalized industry worth $100 billion or more.

One hundred large! Wow! (Wowie zowie?)

Not all this will be baggies and spliffs.

In fact:

…says Steve Berg, an adviser to ArcView, investors remain wary of any outfit that “touches the leaf” directly. Thus the heavy presence at ArcView of ancillary businesses in which risks as well as returns are lower: from cannabis-oil extractors to electronic plant-trimmers. Some have built their business models around regulatory schemes: the pitch of Canna Security America, which is seeking $2m to expand, is that it helped write Colorado’s security regulations. Who better to help a dispensary implement them?

Another “ancillary” product plumped at the conference was Buzzkill, which un-highs you if you need to sober up in a hurry. (What an excellent product name! Hudson Nutraceuticals, I salute you!)

Once it all goes corporate and when, god help us, Philip Morris is urging the youth of America to “take a puff, it’s springtime,” and the Centrum Silver and Viagra folks start pushing Boomers to reconnect with their lost youth, some of the charm will go out of the enterprise, that’s for sure. Stoners give way to stone-cold. Harsh!

As for the Arc angels, they’re looking forward to:

“…the day when not a single adult in the world is punished for this plant. With deep industry experience, The ArcView Group is ushering in the next generation of cannabis-related businesses.” (Source: ArcView Group.)

At present, there are over 75 investors in their network, “who gather at least once per quarter to evaluate the best opportunities for investment.”

Now that must be some fun! And the price of entry is only $50K.

There is a palpable camaraderie among the members and everyone values from the knowledge, experience and skills that each other brings to the table.

Bet that occasionally someone brings something else to the table.

No comments: