As public support for the legalization of marijuana has grown, so has the speculation that the cannabis industry could be poised for a major boom if the US federal government changes its policy toward the drug. Like any other emerging market, the cannabis industry has piqued the interest of many venture capital and investment firms around the globe. Recently, Ganjapreneur, a website dedicated to the growing industry, published an interview with Douglas Leighton, founding partner of Dutchess Capital, an investment group which has recently focused its investments on cannabis start-ups.
In the interview, Leighton discusses how Dutchess Capital came to view the cannabis industry as an opportunity and what led to their eventual decision to invest in several start-ups. “It took us about 10 months of due diligence before we were comfortable to make the first investment,” he states. “We joined ArcView, the angel network for the cannabis industry, in the summer of 2013 and met Isaac Dietrich of MassRoots and subsequently made the first investment.” MassRoots is a popular, pseudo-anonymous social network for cannabis users. Leighton elaborates, “They are largest social networking site for the cannabis community and have grown over 2,000% year over year. They are anonymously collecting a tremendous amount of data from their user base such as a user’s strain preference, time of day they consume, consumption method among other key data collection points. They will be able to monetize this data via sponsored posts of either localized merchants and/or national brands.”
Leighton also discusses his predictions for the future of the industry as more and more states begin to legalize cannabis. “The largest market will be pharmaceutical marijuana. This will be a genetically modified version of what is used today for medicinal purposes. The power of this plant is not fully understood; once big pharma understands it, they will get involved.”
Beyond a thriving medical market, Leighton believes that every niche associated with cannabis or hemp will likely see major growth over the next several years. However, this doesn’t mean that every business will prove to be successful. Leighton explains, “investing in this industry is like playing chess without being able to see the board. Eventually ignorance will abate, the banking issue will be fixed and the drug will be rescheduled.”
The full interview can be found on Ganjapreneur’s website, or via their Android app which was launched on the Google Play market earlier this year. Ganjapreneur has announced that their app will also be available in the Apple App Store in the near future. The site launched over the summer, and has since published a large volume of business-related articles and interviews pertaining to cannabis.