Cannabis 50: Money Talks
The flow of money is crucial to fueling growth, innovation, and supporting an equitable future in an emerging industry. 2019 was a landmark year that saw major investors test the waters, early-movers’ strategies produce growth, and federal progress spurred by the desire to establish a level playing field.
The Cannabis 50 celebrates the community of investors, advocates and others that have innovated and supported access to capital for organizations and communities seeking to power the future of cannabis, hemp, and CBD.
Cannabis 50 Honorees...
For being an early mover institutional investor
Asset Manager, NY
As private equity and venture capital funding has steadily grown in recent years, the big institutional investors have largely avoided the U.S. cannabis industry. That changed in 2019 when BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset managers, made an investment in Curaleaf Holdings. At the time, the investment was worth $11 million, just a drop in BlackRock’s over $6 trillion of managed assets, but its symbolic impact was significant. The investment represents validation of the economic potential of cannabis.
For providing capital raising options to cannabis businesses
Canadian Securities Exchange
Stock Exchange, ON
Due to a multitude of regulatory complications, U.S.-based cannabis companies have limited options when it comes to raising capital – and are barred from major North American stock exchanges. However, the micro-cap and venture-focused Canadian Securities Exchange has an open-door policy for qualified companies that has led to many U.S. companies crossing the border to benefit from a welcoming investment environment. In 2018, U.S. companies raised nearly $2.8 billion on the CSE. While 2019 totals won’t eclipse that mark, the CSE provides a platform that has driven significant growth for the industry.
For being a leader in venture capital funding for cannabis
Managing Partner, Poseidon, CA
In 2013, Emily co-founded Poseidon Asset Management with her brother Morgan, launching one of the longest-running investment funds focused on cannabis. In addition to providing the capital that has helped build industry leaders, she also actively works with portfolio companies to instill responsible practices across deal structures, product launches, and day-to-day operations. Poseidon has emerged as a VC trend-setter, with over $105 million in assets under management
and a track record for championing top-performing companies. Emily also makes a positive impact through support for organizations like Athletes for CARE, Last Prisoner Project, and The Initiative.
"There was a lot of hyped and exuberant capital moving too quickly leading into this past year. A lack of corporate governance and a prudent operational mindset has led to disappointing results. Cannabis is difficult. This cycle has been the necessary wake up call that acts as an important period of any emerging
- Emily Paxhia, Managing Partner of Poseidon
For showing a path to sensible federal cannabis laws
House of Representatives
Government Body, DC
2019 was a landmark year for cannabis legislation at the federal level. In September, the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the SAFE Banking Act, making it the first cannabis-positive legislation to make it out of the House. Just a month later, the MORE Act, which would deschedule cannabis and expunge offenses, among other things, passed a crucial vote in the House Judiciary Committee. Both bills have a long way to go before becoming law, but bipartisan support for both initiatives has energized hope that real cannabis reform could be within reach.
For being a leader in cannabis lobbying and policy progress
National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)
As the country’s largest cannabis trade association, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) advocates for fair treatment and expanding the potential for operators and investors in the cannabis and hemp sectors. An influential lobbying presence at the state and federal levels, the NCIA has played a part in shaping sensible cannabis laws across the U.S. In 2019, the NCIA helped deliver bi-partisan support for both the SAFE Banking Act and MORE Act, producing historic and measurable progress. Additionally, their industry social and education events help foster an engaged, thriving, and knowledgeable cannabis community.
For providing leadership on tribal cannabis and hemp opportunities
Native American Finance Officers Association
As advocates for economic opportunity and autonomy in tribal communities, the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) has an active role in shaping tribal cannabis policy. The organization makes a positive impact by lobbying in favor of tribal rights and providing regular updates and guidance on legislation. For over five years the organization has held events and educational programming on the economic and political risks and opportunities of cannabis and hemp, including dedicating several panels to cannabis issues at their 2019 annual conference.
For making an impact through lobbying in support of cannabis
Scotts Miracle Gro
There has been much hand-wringing about the impact major consumer brands will have on cannabis once they fully engage the industry. Ohio-based garden supply manufacturer Scott’s Miracle-Gro committed to supplying the cannabis community years ago and has consistently supported cannabis issues. As reported by Politico, Scott’s lobbying efforts were instrumental in winning the support of Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) for the SAFE Banking Act. Rep. Stivers ultimately co-sponsored the bill and delivered bipartisan support that saw the bill pass thought the House. Multinational’s like Scott’s bring a level of resources and influence that can have positive impact when organized in support of cannabis.
For supporting social equity through innovate funding solutions
Founder, Good Tree Capital, WA
Good Tree Capital is an online investing and lending platform focused on providing small business loans to cannabis businesses, emphasizing support for minority entrepreneurs. The investment group earned national headlines when they announced their intention to offer loans of up to $250,000 to social equity applicants seeking to enter the Illinois cannabis market, which comes online in 2020. The program focuses on candidates who have lived in areas disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs, or have been arrested for minor cannabis offenses. Selected applicants will also have access to zero-to-low interest loans to cover the $2,500 application fee.
"I believe wholeheartedly in the concept of restorative justice. The potential for this industry to be a catalyst of change is high. We cannot miss this opportunity to build social cohesion and rebuild communities."
- Seke Ballard, Founder of Good Tree Capital
For forging a path to cannabis banking services
CEO at Partner Colorado Credit Union, CO
In 2015, Seefried and the board of directors at Partner Colorado Credit Union launched Safe Harbor Private Banking, a full-scale banking program for cannabis operators in Colorado. Despite major regulatory scrutiny, today Safe Harbor Private Banking is the an industry leader, demonstrating the importance and feasibility of cannabis banking. Safe Harbor’s service also support financial accountability and public safety by taking cash off the streets. To date, Safe Harbor serves nearly 250 clients generating upwards of $140,000,000 in annual revenue. Seefried increases the impact of her work by serving as an educator for bankers, regulators and businesses.
"People talk about putting the ‘cart before the horse’ and I just laugh. I tell the horse and cart to stay behind. I knew I would have to forge a path, back up, and start again several times. I didn’t need a horse and cart... just a sharp machete."
- Sundie Seefried, CEO at Partner Colorado Credit Union
For providing leading economic and investment research
Managing Director, Cowen & Company, NY
Vivian Azer was the first senior financial analyst to provide detailed coverage on the cannabis industry. In her role as Managing Partner at financial services firm Cowen & Company, Azer provides valuable insight into growth potential and opportunities in global cannabis markets. Detailed financial analysis provided by Azer and other market analysts raises the profile of cannabis companies and supports an informed investment community, opening a path to further involvement from top private equity firms and institutional investors.