Cannabis turning respectable


With the legalisation of cannabis in several US states the industry is moving from gangs to respectability. The suits are moving in.

EVERY stoner has been there. You are sprawled on the couch, smoking trees of the finest Super Lemon Haze, when the phone rings: a friend needs picking up from the station. Happily, help is on the way: pop a Buzzkill, one of several products in development by the masterminds at Hudson Nutraceuticals, and the metabolising of tetrahydrocannabinol in your liver is accelerated, helping you sober up.

Such is the claim of Mike Schreibman, a former NBC executive who co-founded Hudson last summer. He understood he was on to something, he says, when he ate too much cannabis-infused chocolate sauce one day and realised he would do anything to stop the room from spinning.

Mr Schreibman was one of many entrepreneurs peddling their wares this week at a cannabis jamboree in Denver organised by ArcView, an angel-investment group. Together they raised over $1m. But bar the large pot plants on the stage, in many respects the meeting was no different from other gatherings of American investors and businessfolk. Ties, women and non-white faces were scarce. Pitches were peppered with jargon and cheerfully optimistic revenue projections, though not always a clear indication of the product or service on offer. But there was also a strong atmosphere of camaraderie, a sense that here there was an industry to be built rather than turf wars to be fought. 

There is so much that can be learned, earned and created from legalisation of cannabis.

That is because the ground at last appears to be clearing for the cannabis industry in America. In 1996 California became the first state to legalise the drug for medical use (19 others, and Washington, DC, followed). But aggressive enforcement of federal law, under which pot remains illegal, and unpredictable regulatory regimes have made life miserable for growers and dispensary-owners. Investors have largely stayed on the sidelines.

Yet in November 2012 Colorado and Washington became the first states fully to legalise the drug. And last month the federal government indicated that it would not stand in the way of their experiments so long as they were properly regulated. Soon afterwards, says Steve DeAngelo, one of ArcView’s founders, he was contacted by three well-known investors who had previously been unwilling to countenance cannabis. Now they wanted in.

With several more states likely to legalise cannabis in the coming years it is little wonder gold-rush metaphors are being thrown around. The legal cannabis market was worth $1.2 billion in 2011, reckons ArcView. By now it will be much bigger. Some look forward to a fully legalised industry worth $100 billion or more.

New Zealand could be at the forefront of that boom.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.