Hemp’s been legalized and CBD products are trending. States are pulling in hundreds of millions in tax revenues from legal cannabis sales. At the same time, Federal restrictions still keep business operators in legal limbo and bans on medical cannabis research means US companies are lagging companies in countries like Israel where those studies are legal.
Here, senior cannabis executives weigh in on what keeps them up at night and what they hope for in the coming year
Billions of Dollars and Still Few Banks to Put it In
Access to banking and financial services is the backbone of every company that operates in the United States, said Derek Peterson, chief executive of Terra Tech, a vertically integrated cannabis agriculture company based in California. However, most cannabis businesses still do not have access to basic bank accounts or other financial services like lines of credit, due to federal laws. “Ultimately this affects the entire supply chain and keeps a tremendous amount of the business in the gray market,” he said, “If we’re ever to move this industry out of the Dark Ages banking is a top priority.”
Being an entrepreneur in the cannabis business in 2019 is like raising an adolescent child, said Marji Chimes, chief marketing offer for Coda Signature, a manufacturer of cannabis-infused edibles, topicals and concentrates located in Colorado. “Down deep, you profoundly believe in your offspring but on the surface, it is challenging to manage on a daily basis,” said Chimes. And with regulations changing every day, it feels a bit like managing an adolescent’s mood swings. “One minute you know what to expect,” she said, “and the next minute it is something totally different.”
The constantly changing regulatory environment us still a big problem agrees Peter Vogel, chief executive of LeafWire, a Linkedin-like platform with 6,000 members for the cannabis industry, headquartered in Denver. Because cannabis is still federally illegal, entrepreneurs never know if their bank accounts will be shut down or their payment processing accounts will be turned off with no notice, he said. On the marketing side it’s more of the same. YouTube pages can get deleted, marketing campaigns turned off, and shipments between states can be held-up or confiscated said Vogel. “Until the federal laws change,” he said, ”entrepreneurs in cannabis face multiple extra hurdles that other businesses take for granted”