Marijuana is going mainstream.
In November, nine states will vote on whether to legalise pot, reports Business Insider’s Ben Gilbert, and five of those votes will include recreational use as well as medicinal: Massachusetts, Maine, California, Arizona, and Nevada.
If those ballots pass along with medicinal marijuana ballot measures in Montana and Florida, reports Business Insider’s Melia Robinson, those markets will account for $2.7 billion in additional marijuana sales in 2018. Research by Arcview Market Research, a leading publisher of marijuana market research, and its big-data partner New Frontier projects this number to grow to nearly $8 billion by 2020.
At a late September breakfast in Beverly Hills, Entrepreneur’s Kim Lachance Shandrow asked five of the six Shark Tank sharks how they feel about the growing marijuana industry, and whether they’d invest. Shark Kevin O’Leary told Shandrow that if his lawyers allowed it, he’d “love” to invest in the industry:
“This is like the end of prohibition. It’s going to be a remarkable opportunity. The cashflow in Colorado is three times what they thought it was going to be. They did the right thing by legalizing it and it’s now a huge cash crop. People should not be going to jail for marijuana. This is substance that’s been used by humans for thousands of years. It’s stupid what we’ve done to it, and I think it has to be federally legal.”
However, he’s waiting to invest until the legality is resolved. He said:
“I have to hold off for now. I can’t take that risk. I can’t go to jail for being a cannabis investor. My advice to entrepreneurs in this space right now is to stay in the state in which you have your mandate and figure out a way to redeploy your cash because you can’t put it in a bank.
O’Leary’s perspective is the opposite of fellow Shark Mark Cuban, who told Entrepreneur that prospective investors are already too late on the trend. “I think the oversaturation of the market creates a very difficult challenge,” he said. “Plus, Snoop’s in it [laughs]. And if Snoop Dogg’s in it, it’s over for everyone else.”
You can read O’Leary’s entire reaction and the rest of the Sharks’ responses — with the exception of Daymond John, who wasn’t present — on Entrepreneur.