With the legal cannabis industry generating $6.9 billion in sales in 2016, up 34% from 2015, it’s a no-brainer to say that much is at stake as the business inevitably grows. Much like the independent movie biz, the cannabis industry attracts investors looking for high-risk, high-reward investments, and as marijuana goes more mainstream, so does the funding mechanisms for the industry’s businesses. Just recently, numerous investment firms have cropped up, announcing themselves as major entities in the billion-dollar industry.
The opportunities are wide-ranging: Everything from exotic strains of marijuana to concentrated edibles to topical creams fortified with CBD extracts, as well as clothing and jewelry lines are all being offered to consumers.
CW Hemp, a family-owned company based in Colorado, is known nationwide as the exclusive provider of Charlotte’s Web, which the company has dubbed as “the world’s most trusted hemp extract.” Founded by the Stanley brothers of Colorado, the company’s mission is to provide the best medicinal product to those who are in serious need.
When it came to getting their businesses set up, the Stanley brothers were on an interesting road in terms of investor interaction. “We’ve built one of the strongest marijuana brands in the world, and we’ve done it with less than $4 million in total outside capital, with a majority of that money coming from Florida-based investors who wanted to feel good about what they were doing with their money,” says Joel Stanley, CEO of CW Hemp. “They believed in our mission. We’re constantly asking ourselves if we want to bring in an outside investor, because who doesn’t like to feel more secure? But we’re very proud of how we built a family business with small investments.”
Bonita “Bo” Money, one of the few women of color in the cannabis products industry (“less than 3%” she estimates), has been an enthusiast for years, calling it “a miracle plant,” relying on the medicinal value of the substance as the key ingredient for her popular topical cream That Glass Jar. “People need to be properly educated. There’s too much misinformation and part of my job is to ensure that people understand the benefits,” she says.
Money is also the founder of the networking organization Women Abuv Ground, aimed at what she calls “cannapreneurs.”
“I don’t get high,” she says. “I’m interested in the healing properties of CBDs and how people can heal naturally. My company makes no medical claims and we can only gauge its effectiveness by the people that have used it for various ailments. But from what I’ve seen, this product is of huge benefit for multiple health issues.”
And when looking for investors to work with, she turned to some private sources, while mostly self-funding her endeavor. “I’ve had the chance to work with some very like-minded people who believe in this cause. I’ve been courted by major companies, but I didn’t want to give up control. I’ve been discussing a potential collaboration with my mentor, Dr. Charles Hensley, the creator of Zicam, and I’m developing an animated series called ‘The Pot Headz’ and a reality project centered on the cannabis lifestyle. I’m very excited about what’s coming up.”
Taking a different approach to investors is MedMen, a leading cannabis firm with nationwide exposure, based in Los Angeles. MedMen management offers turnkey services to cannabis license holders, while MedMen Capital operates as a strategic investment group working in key markets across the United States and Canada.
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