While the drug is legal for medicinal purposes in 23 of these United States and for the recreational in four, the marijuana business is difficult to enter. Most other industries, most significantly, finance, are unwilling to collaborate with this sector, making day-to-day operations more difficult. Nevertheless, jobs are being created and around $6.7bn is expected to be generated in 2016, compared to $5.4bn the previous year.
But someone’s trying it
One company that is attempting just that is Baker Technologies, which produces software for the marijuana business. The CEO, Joel Milton, has spoken of his travails. He raised $1.6 million of venture capital, although this required 200 meetings, even though there was massive interest from venture capitalists.
Venture capitalists could be prohibited from investing by their Limited Partnership Agreements, which might rank the marijuana business alongside porn or tobacco. The cash might originate from states or the pension funds of teachers and police, who would understandably not wish to be associated with cannabis. Milton imagined a situation where a state invested in weapons manufacturers and then there was a school shooting, following which headlines would rail that Texas had helped fund the murders.
Baker Technologies does not itself touch cannabis, but the link is close enough to prevent the company from opening a bank account with a major institution, advertising with Google AdWords or obtaining a credit card processing tool. In the marijuana business, operations are, by necessity, all-cash, requiring armed guards. As Milton remarked, ?We’re not coming out with a new type of hand soap.? He foresees problems continuing for so long as cannabis is a Schedule 1 narcotic like heroin.
But don’t be deterred!
There are certainly problems, but an entirely new industry does not appear very often, and the marijuana business could be on a par with the internet in its inchoate days; it might be worth over $200bn before long. In the United States, people spend an average of more than $1,500 a year on their pets and $1,869 on their drug habit. Startup costs are modest, with a third of cannabis wholesalers reporting that they had to stump up less than $50,000. A half of companies are in profit, which stage 62 percent of firms stated they achieved within 12 months.
One sign of the increasing acceptability of cannabis is that Microsoft is now involved, working with KIND Financial on software for the cannabis industry. Allen St Pierre, executive director of NORML, a non-profit that supports reform of laws against cannabis, exclaimed, ?We?re psyched to see a major company like Microsoft jump into this space. It?s only going to encourage other companies to do it” – Microsoft is one of the first big names to take this step.
Although there are doubtless problems, Merle Haggard, a legend of country and western music, was not deterred by them. Nor was he deterred by the small matter of being dead as of April 6 2016, on what would have been his 79th birthday. He toiled alongside the Colorado Weed Co to develop very high quality marijuana.
Haggard continued to tour despite being in his 70s, performing 100 times a year. His daughter, Jessica Haggard-Bennett, insists that cannabis helped keep him going; he believed it ?could cure a whole bunch of things? (which it can). The strains will be known as Merle’s Girls.