Follow the Money

Perhaps I have just become more cynical as I have gotten older, but watching what is happening in the cannabis space regarding the overwhelming illegal operations seems pretty simple to me: follow the money.

This past week, the US announced that they would change the guidelines of how many drinks people should consume daily. The HHS department also noted that cannabis should be rescheduled to a Schedule 3 drug. That has set off an onslaught of media hype. It will take time for the rescheduling, although the Federal Government should do the right thing and get rid of 280E immediately.

To note, Phillip Morris just bought a prominent cannabis company in Israel. Israel is way ahead of the US in research and data around cannabis.

Fewer people are drinking, fewer people are smoking cigarettes, and the companies behind those vices have bottomless pockets and lobbyists. They have no interest in losing market share or being publicly traded at a lower price. These companies are lobbying for a shift in cannabis laws as they read the future.

Some so many first-time entrepreneurs have jumped into the cannabis world. They are figuring it out as they go along. Dealing with the ridiculous heavy-handed rules and regulations and, of course, taxes. I do fear that as more money pours into the market from the big alcohol and cigarette companies, these founders will find themselves without the promise of opportunity that has been part of the narrative.

Each state is building the cannabis retail landscape differently. The multi-state operators have been able to grow just like a Walmart in some states but not all. Where will this be in ten years?

Nothing functions in this country, or anywhere for that matter, without cash. 

Getting these illegal stores up and running is not inexpensive.  There is security; there are cameras; products that are being imported illegally that seem to seamlessly show up in stores on every block in the city; there is staff; there is rent, which must be exorbitant to get a lease, and more.

When I read about any company starting to grow and making an impact, I look to see who funded it. I am sure the money behind Empire and Cookies is not on Crunchbase.  

Is it Pharma? Is it the alcohol industry? Is it lobbyists?  I have no idea, and by the look of them, I would guess that easily 70% of them are funded by one group.  

Can someone at WAPO, NYT, WSJ, Axios, or any media organizations that still take journalists seriously vs. grabbing eyeballs and slanting our political philosophies take a dive here?  

I hate to say it, but follow the money. That is how our country works, and it has become more apparent in the last few years. I challenge the top journalists to follow the money behind the countless illegal dispensaries because we obviously can’t count on our politicians, too.