Investing in the Next Generation of Legal Cannabis
It's Time for Top Shelf Cannabis
Last week, while taking in a few meetings in Denver just two days prior to the obligatory 420 celebrations that fall on April 20th, I had an epiphany.
Although the economic, social, and health benefits of the legal cannabis market are taken very seriously by supporters and consumers, they're still not taken seriously by prohibitionists and those who are still “on the fence” in terms of legalization.
For many, cannabis is still associated solely with crime, drug abuse and the decline of western civilization. These attitudes can be attributed to two things:
1.) The nearly century-long propaganda campaign that has been waged against this truly fascinating plant.
2.) The nearly century-long drug war which facilitated any related crime. In other words, folks weren’t going around shooting each other over cannabis until the nation’s first drug czar, Harry J. Anslinger, came into power.
The truth is, most folks who oppose legalization, oppose it because they don’t understand what cannabis is or its many benefits. All they know are the lies and misinformation they’ve been fed since seeing their first “Just Say No” commercials.
Of course, more and more we are starting to see folks become better educated about cannabis and the war on drugs. And certainly this has helped the legalization movement. But it’s still a long, uphill battle.
This isn't your College Dorm Room
Certainly over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of doctors, politicians, and celebrities become very vocal about their support for legalization. This has helped the cause immensely.
And of course, the people who are now making millions of dollars by investing in this space are some of the loudest advocates. There’s no denying that when there’s money to be made - both for individuals and the government - it’s not that hard to change hearts and minds.
Still, even with so much headway being made, the battle continues to persuade opponents of legalization that it truly is a solution to many of the economic, social, and health problems we face today.
One way to alleviate some of the negativity associated with legal cannabis is for the industry to stop identifying various cannabis strains with names and monikers that sound like they were thought up in a college dorm room.
I Don't Smoke Crack
Golden Goat, Green Crack, Triple Diesel.
These are all names of different cannabis strains.
To me, as a 45-year old professional who’s not opposed to consuming every now and then, these names sound, for lack of a better word - stupid.
I don’t want to go somewhere and ask for an eighth of Green Crack. And certainly if I’m sick and using cannabis as a way to treat an illness, I definitely don’t think I’d feel particularly confident consuming a medication called Golden Goat.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that the majority of consumers probably don’t think twice about this stuff. But there’s also a group of folks who think it’s time for the industry to up its game and start finding a way to cater to a different subset of cannabis consumers, too.
For instance, when I walk into a dispensary, I really don’t feel like waiting in a waiting room with a bunch of wide-eyed college kids giggling about cannabis lube, and then tell some overzealous budtender that I’d like to buy an eighth of Sticky Ape and a couple of Space Brownies.
Understand, I don’t say this to come off as a snob or to offend college kids or budtenders. In fact, I love that every budtender I’ve ever met can fill me with an enormous amount of knowledge inside of a 3 to 5 minute retail transaction.
What I am saying, however, is that there are a lot of folks just like me. Older, professional, and blessed with a significant amount of discretionary income who would love nothing more than to spend a boatload of cash at a “high-end” dispensary or private cannabis club.
Top Shelf Cannabis
In terms of dispensaries, there are actually a handful that are more in line with what I, as a consumer, would like to see more of. At least in terms of how they’re laid out.
Barbary Coast in San Francisco is nice …
I’m also a fan of the Silverpeak Apothecary in Aspen …
In terms of a private cannabis club, I would love to see something like this …
… along with a nice selection of craft, organic cannabis, like the stuff they produce at Hifi Farms in Portland. This would not be the alternative, but instead, the standard.
It would also be fully equipped with top shelf scotch, properly-brewed coffee, artisan cheeses and meats, and a variety of edibles, not in the form of gummy bears and cookies, but in the forms of Pecan Linzer Tortes, Green Tea Macarons, and Dark Chocolate Cremeaux.
When I recently brought this up to a colleague, I was told I was getting ahead of myself. But the way I see it, if you can’t aim high, what’s the point of aiming at all?
I’m not saying I particularly mind buying the occasional edible at your typical dispensary in downtown Denver. And I certainly don’t mind consuming in the comfort of my own hotel room. But I also refuse to accept this idea that cannabis users are less-than-deserving of high-end options.
Certainly I can go to an upscale liquor store and drop $400 on a bottle of Don Julio Real. As well, I can pay thousands of dollars to join a private club where I can sip that heavenly agave goodness while networking with other investors and entrepreneurs.
But doing this on the same scale with cannabis is nearly impossible - today. However, it won’t always be like this.
Give it a few more years, and you’re going to start seeing more dispensaries catering specifically to professionals and high-net-worth individuals.
Cannabis strains will not be referred to as various forms of crack and magic. Posters of neon pot leafs will not greet you at the door and you’ll never have to take a number like you’re waiting to order a half pound of cooked Ham.
Again, I’m not criticizing these business practices that are currently quite common. Certainly these things work, and they work for a reason.
But if the legal cannabis industry doesn’t want to be treated like a second-class industry, similar to those industries that peddle black market weapons systems and cheap Chinese hoverboards, then it must not become complacent. There's just too much money at stake here. Certainly we've already been taking our fair share.
Whether it's by taking part in early-stage seed rounds or buying shares of publicly-traded legal cannabis stocks, the profits continue to roll in.
In fact, one of our best-performers in the legal cannabis space this year is OrganiGram Holdings (TSX-V: OGI). This is a Canadian producer of organic cannabis. We picked up shares of OGI last year for $0.40. Today, the stock trades for more than $1.20.
Of course, OrganiGram isn't the only legal cannabis stock that continues to crush it. In fact, in our recent legal cannabis research report, we highlight five legal cannabis stocks that are getting a lot of attention right now.
The report is called Marijuana Outlook: Stocks to Buy in 2016, and you can get a free download of it by clicking this link.
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