With Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposing a bill to decriminalize marijuana (in a huge reversal of established policy from the Democratic leadership), this 4/20 gives cannabis-focused startups and their investors a lot to celebrate.
Since investment in cannabis companies first took off in 2014, there’s been over $700 million invested in cannabis companies, according to data from Crunchbase.
Companies that have proven to be more than one-hitters in the high-stakes industry run the gamut from conglomerates operating several business units including cultivation, delivery and branded products, to businesses that focus on delivery or point of sales and logistics solutions.
Investing in cannabis is tricky for most venture funds, because many of the pension funds and institutions that finance them restrict investments in things like alcohol, drugs or guns through what’s colloquially known as a “sin clause.”
Firms typically skirt those requirements by investing in enabling technologies or backing companies whose primary focus is medicinal.
And while the industry celebrates its success, it’s important to know that these changing times haven’t come without a huge social cost for those that bore the brunt of the country’s misguided “war on drugs.” As the Marshall Project notes:
Even if the decriminalization push goes through, it’s unlikely that you’ll see many investment firms getting into recreational marijuana — unless they’re backed by wealthy individuals or get some kind of exception for cannabis startups.
Either way, it looks like these nine investments — in some cases with tens of millions behind them — are unlikely to go up in smoke.
But just in case, investors may want to heed the advice of the industry’s merry godfather: