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3 Things to Know if You Are Thinking About Investing in Cannabis

Cannabis is exploding. Not literally (at least not with my clients). But the cannabis industry… wow. It’s officially one of the fastest growing markets in the world. In just North America, spending on cannabis is expected to grow from $9B in 2017 to $42B in 2027. Worldwide, it’ll hit nearly $60B. 

So, it’s hot. And you know what happens when markets get hot… investors want in. I work exclusively with cannabis companies as an outsourced general counsel, or as board advisor, and in these roles can tell you there are no shortage of investors, new and experienced, wanting to get into cannabis. Who can blame them? While no industry is foolproof, cannabis is a good bet right now.

But the thing about this space is the extreme complexity. I tell founders, executives, and especially investors to do very thorough research before jumping in. Here are three things anyone considering investing in cannabis needs to know.

 See the business for yourself

Cannabis is very much a supply chain business. Some businesses cultivate, some process and package, some are retailers, some are wholesalers, some develop the tools, some just distribute, and some do many of these things under one roof. It is imperative that you understand clearly what you’re investing in, because the laws that regulate that business will vary depending on WHAT the business does. If you think you’re investing in a cultivator, and find out they’re also a retailer, you could be facing certain liabilities you didn’t know you had to prepare for.

I advise all potential investors to visit the business in person, a few times, and get to know it well. Check out the facility, talk to the key employees, learn as much as you can about the product(s). Also, research and ask about   competing businesses in the same area, including reviewing available competitive licenses. You need to know what your investment will be up against.

Cannabis is not an investment you want to make blind, you very much need to see and evaluate the physical business before making a decision.

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4 Cannabis Start-up Challenges

Cannabis is one of the hottest, and fastest growing industries in the world. It’s estimated to hit $150B by 2025. 32 states have legalized cannabis in some capacity, with 10 states legalizing it for recreational use. That means the US has a hyper-scale ecosystem of growers, processors, distributors, retailers, infrastructure, and supply chain dedicated purely to cannabis. It’s an exciting time to have a business in this field, which is why so many entrepreneurs and investors are jumping into this blue ocean. 

If you’re thinking about dipping your toe in the cannabis water, or maybe you’ve already started, pause for a hot minute to consider some of the “sticky” challenges you might face. I’ve been working with cannabis companies for many years, in every facet of the industry, and in multiple states. There are some inherent difficulties in getting off the ground. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, it just means you need to do a little more groundwork than your average entrepreneur.

Here are the top 4 challenges you’ll likely face when starting a cannabis business, and how to work through them.

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Are you Playing Russian Roulette or Firing on All Cylinders?

Silver Leaf recently asked friend and strategic partner, Andrejs Bunkse to share his experience with cannabis businesses that lack the proper cannabis inventory software, accounting or business management software.

Having worked as a consultant for state regulators that control who gets (and keeps) commercial medical marijuana or cannabis licenses, as well as for licensed enterprises in numerous states and Canada, I know first-hand how critical it is to rigorously maintain state-of-the-art cannabis inventory software accounting and inventory tracking systems in the cannabis industry. Failure to do so will put any commercial cannabis license in jeopardy (sooner or later). And, when you try to sell your license/business, it could cause your sale transaction to either fall through or result in material price reductions.

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Beacon Information Designs LLC Completes First Ever Medical Marijuana Program Audit

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) contracted with Beacon Information Design LLC and Elliott D. Pollack & Company to provide a system-wide audit looking for potential compliance gaps and best practices that could enhance oversight and management of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program (AMMP).

After meeting with dozens of program leaders from across the country, several areas of potential improvement were identified. These areas including testing for contaminants and potency and packaging, labeling and regulation of infused and edible products. The final result was an unprecedented look at Arizona’s program, including a series of 11 detailed recommendations and the steps needed to implement them, with an toward the likely ongoing expansion of the AMMP

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Scottsdale Firm Looking to Fly High with National Wave of Marijuana Measures

Phoenix Business Journal

April 7, 2016

Andy Bunkse and Chris Ellis are hoping to ride the marijuana legalization wave and take their Scottsdale business to a national platform.

Ellis and Bunkse are co-founders and principals with Scottsdale-based Beacon Information Designs LLC.

The company provides consulting and compliance services to government agencies, businesses and others delving into the world of medical marijuana and legalized cannabis.

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Grassroots Efforts Gone Wild – Good Intentions Can’t Overcome Poor Execution

I recently attended a city council meeting to watch a debate on a controversial commercial permitting issue. I won’t mention the name of the city or the company seeking the permit. The requested permit had been brought before the council on several prior occasions, and this was the company’s last push of a grassroots effort to win approval.

Heading into the meeting, Read more

On Entrepreneurship

DSCN2220-captionBy Andrejs K. Bunkse

Our fascination with entrepreneurship is reflected in the millions of pages analyzing what qualities drive their ability to succeed at going out on their own. I’ve always been inspired by the success stories of some of the more idealistic – Richard Branson, Yvon Chouinard, and Jann Wenner come to mind. And then there’s my personal favorite Sir Ernest Shackleton. Their idealism, coupled with force of will, luck, possibly brilliance and certainly courage created exceptional brands and lasting legacies. Read more

Lemons to Lemonade: How to turn a bet the company disaster into an advantage

By Andrejs K. Bunkse

Years ago, I worked for a public company that manufactured and placed electronic bingo equipment all over the U.S. and in several countries.   One day, I got a call from the Nevada Gaming Commission alerting me that one of our software engineers had likely manipulated our software systems to cause fraudulent jackpots. When the engineer discovered the allegations, Read more

What Can A General Counsel Do For You?

By Andrejs K. Bunkse

Thirty years ago, most CEOs and Boards looked to senior counsel at an outside law firm for their legal support. As the corporate world has evolved in dizzying ways, so has the belief that a company’s outside legal service providers can be expected to holistically assess the challenges their clients face and advise at the enterprise level. Most practicing attorneys don’t have the decision making responsibility of the modern executive and in most cases the standard hourly billing arrangement would blow a hole in a company’s bottom line. Read more