High Times Growth Fund is one investment firm, founded by High Times Magazine which has been around for decades, and another is Privateer Holdings who bill themselves as the first private equity company that is investing openly in the cannabis industry. High Times Growth has announced that it is planning to invest $300 million in pot-related industries. But the co-founder of Privateer Holdings, Christian Groh, says it has actually raised the most money thus far.
$22 million is the figure Privateer Holdings claims, and Groh says they’ll reach $50 million pretty soon. Groh’s company has invested in six companies in North America already. Tilray is one such company, based in Canada, which grows, packages, and delivers medical cannabis to patients as if it were a gourmet delicacy. Groh says, “You can see the packaging is very clean and mature. It lists the exact THC and CBD content. It’s precise. It’s predictable.”
THC is the psychoactive property that gives a user that euphoric feeling, though medical scientists have discovered that it shrinks cancerous tumors. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is supposed to have many impressive medical properties, including seriously curtailing the number of seizures epileptics have.
The venture capitalist, Groh, has been seen at pot-related events and interviewed by The Huffington Post with Leafly founder Cy Scott. Leafly is an app that allows users to learn about different strains of marijuana and where to buy marijuana. Privateer Holdings helps to fund Leafly. 34-year-old Scott told HuffPo “Cannabis gets a lot of press. We saw it last week with the opening of the first recreational shops in Washington. All the media was there to cover it. So we want to be there for that. We want to be a good representative for the industry.”Scott dispenses a pamphlet entitled “Cannabis 101,” which he says is a set of guidelines and parameters in order to become a “responsible and mature cannabis consumer.”
Both Scott and Groh say the imagery and aesthetic around marijuana are too juvenile. Groh says, “Its bad optics for the industry.” Scott then posits their take, “We think the only way cannabis will be taken seriously is if we take it seriously.”
Arcview Market Research says the legal marijuana industry in the U.S. is worth $2.5 billion today and is projected to reach $10 billion somewhere within the next five years, whereas Harvard economist, Jeffrey Miron, says the black market marijuana industry is worth somewhere between $18 billion and $20 billion.
Launched in 2010, Leafly says it gets 2,500 to 3,000 people downloading its app each day. Privateer Holdings bought the app in 2011 for a sum that hasn’t been disclosed. With so many thinking marijuana should be legal, the majority in the U.S. according to a Gallup poll, and so much business to be had, it’s no wonder that the cannabis industry wants to grow up.