These nascent and fledgling cannabis industries notched a historic win when Privateer Holdings announced the closing of a $75 million fund raise on March 6, 2015. The largest capital raise announced in the cannabis industry to date, Privateer Holdings solidifies itself as the leading private equity firm in the cannabis industry. With interests in Tilray, Leafly and Marley Naturals, Privateer identified early on that a super-majority of younger Americans are supportive of legalization (64% of those aged 18 to 34). As Gallup states, it seems inevitable that prohibition will eventually change.
Alone, this news validates Privateer’s strategy, “to acquire and create mainstream brands, professionalizing the cannabis business landscape through the power of private enterprise.” But it also speaks to a broader acceptance of cannabis capitalism and the ability of business to drive social change. Cannabis capitalists, including CanopyBoulder, stand on the shoulders of the advocacy groups and business pioneers, like Privateer, who have come before us and we owe them a debt of gratitude. When we think of ourselves of pioneers, I remind the team how much groups like the Marijuana Policy Project, SAFER, Drug Policy Alliance, National Cannabis Industry Association and Students for Sensible Drug Policy have done on our behalf.
Clearly, the experiment that was Colorado in 2014 has proven without a doubt that legalization and responsible regulation of the cannabis industry is a safe and responsible undertaking. “To say that marijuana has been given a bad rap over the past few decades is an understatement,” notes SAFER, a marijuana advocacy group based in Denver. And Colorado is changing that perception every day through the safe and responsible use and sale of cannabis.
To some, the result of legalization in Colorado was unclear. But for those of us who experienced the industry firsthand, the perception of risk was far greater than the actual risk on the ground. This strategic gap, along with others, contributed to the founding of CanopyBoulder and the launch of its first class of entrepreneurs on March 31, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado.
Hats off to Privateer. They’ve raised the bar and set expectations higher or the entire industry and to that we salute you. Chapeau.