Cannabis is still a long way from being legal at the federal level in the United States, but startups in the space — and their investors — aren’t deterred. Indeed, many are braving a tough journey because they see the potential and opportunity in the long term.
To understand where the cannabis market is going, we talked to four investors who have been quite active in backing cannabis-related startups in the country. And it appears, downturn or not, now is a good time to invest in companies that operate at the back end and those dealing with the plant directly.
Emily Paxhia, managing director at Poseidon, said that her firm believes there is a benefit to investing in both ancillary and plant-touching companies. “We have an open perspective on how the market works, and we feel our approach unlocks more opportunities to generate returns. An investment in a plant-touching or operational business can inform future investing around ancillary companies or vice versa.”
Some types of cannabis companies, however, are more attractive to generalist investors. “Given regulatory hurdles surrounding plant-touching companies, investing in ancillary businesses has also provided us an opportunity to bring in more traditional investors into the space,” said Casa Verde Capital partner Yoni Meyer.
Generalist investors have long had a troubled relationship with cannabis. After a period of curiosity for the space, interest seems to have cooled down, and the public market’s woes haven’t helped.
However, the overall consensus seems to be that this lack of enthusiasm is temporary. For one, some limited partners are keen to buy the dip. Entourage Effect Capital has been seeing this firsthand, said its managing partner Matt Hawkins. “We have multiple new investors in our third fund that see the opportunity since valuations are at rock-bottom levels,” he said.
In the longer term, specialist cannabis investors expect more traditional capital to see the opportunity for what it is. For Highlands Venture Partners managing partner and co-founder, Jacqueline Bennett, it is “impossible to not see opportunity after being submerged in the industry and exposed to the endless potential of both the plant and resulting innovation across verticals.”
Read the full survey to get an inside look at why these investors are still bullish about cannabis, where they are placing bets, the best way to pitch them and more.