Marijuana Backroom Deals and Boardroom Politics
A recent CBS News report that put a spotlight on the big players entering the rarefied air of corporate cannabis.
“Delivery apps are part of a growing push by the cannabis industry to bring technology to bear on everything from growing and testing to selling and delivering their product,” CBS reported. “With marijuana legal in 23 states and big business in places like California, where sales reached $1.1 billion last year, there is no shortage of entrepreneurs and investors interested in getting in on the action.”
Rapper Snoop Dogg invested in the marijuana delivery service EAZE, while Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, put money into Leafly – “A Yelp-like app that works like a marijuana search engine to connect users with suppliers,” as reported by USAToday.
Unfortunately, the playing field is not level.
Some apps enjoy favored status with Apple and Google, while their investors - some of whom are on the board of directors of these tech giants, hob-nob with the elite in Silicon Valley. Other app developers are not so fortunate. Without the boardroom connections, they are languished to the back page, or worse, are kicked off the services completely.
Consequently, although several apps function more or less the same, one will get front-page status, while others get kicked off the virtual shelf.
The Loud Cannabis App was created to provide a “farm-to-table” direct link between growers and medical marijuana patients. The app, which debuted last summer, was recently kicked off the Google store, while others with big name backers remain.
“We are farmers, not Silicon Valley executives,” according to Joshua Artman, founder and CEO of Loud Cannabis. “It’s sad to see Wall Street-type back-room deals, with favored status going to the big guys with lots of money, while the independents get kicked to the curb.”
The pathway for small companies is challenging, according to Artman. “Unfortunately, it looks like legal marijuana is turning into big tobacco, with billionaires and big corporations running the show.”