The New York Times has been a great advocate to the cannabis industry ever since it called for legalization in the summer of 2014. Most of the coverage has been from a political angle, so it is great to see a discussion today of the industry and its opportunities and challenges. Much of the focus in Farhad Manjoo’s article is on HelloMD, a platform that connects patients, prescribers and providers of medical cannabis, but he also discusses Meadow and SpeedWeed along with WeedMaps and Privateer Holdings and its Tilray and Leafly investments.
While Manjoo details delivery platforms and other technologies, he is careful to point to the continuing challenges, including quotes from Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings, and AJ Gentile, CEO of SpeedWeed:
“Everything in this industry is harder,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Things that would be check-the-box items for any Silicon Valley technology company, like opening a bank account or hiring a marketing firm or finding a lawyer to represent you, becomes a three- or four-month project in this business.”
And because the federal government considers marijuana illegal, many cannabis companies are not allowed to write off business expenses on their tax returns. “Every other industry only pays taxes on their profits,” said AJ Gentile, the chief executive of the marijuana delivery company SpeedWeed, which serves the Los Angeles area. “I have to pay federal tax on gross revenue.”
The article discusses the well-known investment by Founders Fund into Privateer Holdings, but it teases with an as-yet unrevealed recent investment made by traditional technology incubator Y Combinator, an investor in Meadow previously, into the space. Yes, cannabis is going mainstream!
Read Farhad Manjoo’s “The Next Internet? Marijuana Delivered as Easy as Pizza”: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/12/technology/marijuana-start-ups-see-an-industry-on-the-cusp-of-a-breakthrough.html