Investors in cannabis understand the danger for the dollar. Though 28 states and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis, the plant’s future is ambiguous. Cannabis is federally illegal, which means that at any time and regardless of state law, the feds could legitimately shut the entire operation down. While risky, the burgeoning cannabis industry has been abundantly profitable. Here’s the 2016 revenue breakdown to prove it:
- In 2016, the legal cannabis industry was responsible for producing $6.9 billion. That number is predicted to increase to $21.6 billion by 2021.
- Based on 2016 results, the state of Washington is predicted to make about $270 million annually.
- Oregon expects to generate $60 million in tax revenue each year.
- Alaska is predicted to make $19.2 million in pot taxes a year.
- If cannabis is rescheduled and legalized by the federal government, the industry could generate $28 billion in tax revenue each year.
The federal law’s position on marijuana is grounded in bigoted societal views, and ignorance and prejudice are tough adversaries to face. The people who choose to use their money and reputations to invest in cannabis are among those who are bringing legitimacy to the movement. Read on for a list of 10 investors taking on the challenge and pioneering the future of the cannabis industry.
Dick Wolf—Creator of Law and Order
In the criminal justice system, marijuana remains federally illegal although several states have legalized its medical and/or recreational use. A special team of rich people has decided to invest in this emerging market. These are their stories. In April 2014, Dick Wolf, the legendary crime show producer of the Law and Order franchise, invested $1.5 million in DigiPath, an independent marijuana-testing lab.
Nick Lachey—98 Degrees Singer, Actor
Had the November 2015 ballot initiative Issue 3 been passed in Ohio, Nick Lachey, co-owner of a 29-acre farm, would have ruled Ohio’s marijuana industry with a handful of other elite investors controlling the ten ballot-sanctioned growth farms. The ballot failed, but Lachey remains hopeful, tweeting, “Change takes time” in response to the loss.
Oscar Robertson—Former NBA Star
Oscar “The Big O” Robertson is known for being one of the greatest all around athletes in professional basketball history. But he is also an advocate for medical marijuana and invested in the campaign supporting Ohio’s marijuana legalization 2015 ballot initiative, Issue 3. When explaining his motive to invest, Robertson stated, “It’s a terrifying feeling when you can’t help someone suffering from cancer or another debilitating medical condition—I know from personal experience. But medical marijuana can give our loved ones relief.” The Ohio ballot initiative was voted down, maintaining Ohio’s status as a prohibition state.
Frostee Rucker –NFL Player
Disrupting the offense’s quarterback isn’t the only thing Frostee Rucker, defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals, is committed to doing. Rucker’s support of Ohio’s Issue 3, the November 2015 ballot initiative attempting to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, certainly disrupted the stigma associated with cannabis consumption. In fact, Rucker was able to convince Bill Foster, owner of the multimillion-dollar logistics company A1QLS to help fund the campaign by exposing him to cannabis’ powerful therapeutic benefits.
In February 2016, Roseanna Barr, pot advocate, comedian, and a former presidential candidate planned to open a dispensary in Santa Ana, CA called Roseanne’s Joint. Barr is a medical marijuana user herself, harnessing cannabis’ therapeutic qualities to treat her glaucoma and macular degeneration. For mysterious reasons, the dispensary never opened. Barr’s only comment was that “it didn’t work out for [her] and the investor.”
Cliff Robinson—Former NBA Player
This former Portland Trail Blazers star didn’t stop with basketball. Robinson is blazing trails in the cannabis industry as well. He recently opened a grow operation in Portland Oregon. Robinson is motivated to “distill the stigma around cannabis, the misperception that athletes and cannabis are incompatible.” Robinson has also said, “Cannabis is definitely a more positive alternative to pharmaceuticals at the end of the day. Those are synthetics. I’m talking about something that’s natural that can bring the outcomes you’re looking for, be it for muscle tension or relaxation or preparedness. There are a whole lot of different things that are beneficial.”
In 2004, Melissa Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, she is cancer free, and she attributes her recovery to her daily, therapeutic use of cannabis. That’s not surprising given the health benefits of cannabidiol, one of the most therapeutically significant cannabinoids present in the marijuana plant. One of its benefits is the ability to suppress aggressive tumor growth. Etheridge’s company, Etheridge farms, produces a variety of medical cannabis goods including wine tincture, edibles, topicals, and, of course, flower.
In early 2015, the investment company Founders Fund invested millions of dollars in the Seattle-based private equity firm, Privateer Holdings. Founders Fund is known for taking on projects in the fields of science, technology, and engineering. The venture capital fund has invested in companies like Facebook, Spotify, and Airbnb. Privateer Holdings, Founders Fund’s entrance into the marijuana industry, exclusively invests in legal cannabis, and the contribution backed in part by PayPal’s co-founder, Peter Thiel, will help the private equity firm continue to build mainstream cannabis companies and legitimize the market.
Whoopi Goldberg—Actress, Talk Show Host
Whoopi Goldberg has plunged into California’s medical marijuana industry by investing her money and name into the medical cannabis line known as Whoopi & Maya Synergy. The line focuses on women’s health. Specifically, Whoopi and Maya have created cannabis products meant to relieve menstrual discomfort.
Woody Harrelson, actor best known for his role as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games, was one of over sixty people to apply to open a dispensary in Hawaii. Unfortunately, in April 2016, the panel responsible for approving the licenses rejected Harrelson’s company, Single Organic Living. Harrelson has long been a proponent of legalization, saying in 2002, “I think that it’s absurd that you throw people in jail for smoking a joint when alcohol is more destructive.”