CBD News Pick – LA Weekly
In many ways, Scott Greiper is what you’d expect of a New York finance guy. He’s confident, well-dressed, and articulate. His face lights up when he’s talking about building capital, or putting together a board. What separates Greiper from the rest of Wall Street’s brood, though, is the nature of assets he deals in. Greiper is President of Veridian Capital Advisors, a New York investment firm that specializes in legal cannabis companies. Veridian consults with cannabis-based companies and helps pair them up with investors. It has also created the world’s first cannabis stock index, which tracks progress of the world’s 50 most viable publicly traded pot companies.
Last Friday at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition in Los Angeles, Greiper gave a seminar entitled “Follow the Money: Analyzing the Capital Flow Into the Legal Cannabis Industry.” In it, he detailed the ways in which the impending expansion of legal marijuana is poised to bring about what he believes will be the next Industrial Revolution. Due to the nature of cannabis production, and the wide range of possible uses the plant offers, a boom in legal marijuana sales will very likely create substantial economic growth in a number of ancillary sectors, including: agriculture; biotech; real estate; software; investment; consulting; and security. “There was the dot com from 1995 to 2000. From 2005-2008 there was social media. Now, we have cannabis,” Greiper explained.
Not only is cannabis poised to stimulate the national economy, it is also about to make a lot of individuals a lot of money. The time to invest in cannabis, said Greiper, is now. With recreational use up for legalization in more than a dozen states on the 2016 election ballot, investors expect a large a uptick in the market after the state votes in November.
Currently, said, Greiper, many publicly traded companies are selling low, as the market has flattened out following its initial spike in 2014, when adult use cannabis laws went into effect in Colorado and Washington. This downward trend, said Greiper, is actually a healthy thing, as it is representative of a “thinning out” of companies that are badly managed. The problem within the cannabis industry, said Greiper, is that a number of professional cannabis companies are behaving like amateurs. Success in this industry, particularly while cannabis remains federally illegal, requires things like a strong board and diligence when it comes to filing reports in time.
A large part of what Greiper and his team at Viridian do is matching up executives who have a successful track record with cannabis companies that show promise for growth. He has, for example, seated the former CEO of Mars candy on the board for one of the edibles companies he works with. “There’s a guy,” said Greiper, “who knows how to run a successful multi-national candy company.” While large corporations remain shy about entering the cannabis space, due to what Greiper speculates are concerns about stigma, many of the heavy hitters at these companies have begun to enter the industry. For example, Michael Cohl, the former chairman of LiveNation, has recently become one of Viridian’s advisors. Last year, Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, made waves when he announced that his Founder’s Fund would be buying a share in leafly.com, the popular website that is often referred to as “Yelp for pot.”
“There’s just something about cannabis that excites people,” said Greiper, describing the buzz that surrounds his work. One of those things, said Greiper, is the fact that “We don’t need new customers.” The biggest new users, he explained, are people in their 50s and 60s — who finally have kids out of the house, or who have been turned on by edibles and other modes of consumption that might be palatable to an individual averse to smoking. Currently, it is estimated that 50 billion dollars a year are generated in cannabis sales within the United States. Only 5.4 billion of that is legal sales.
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