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Everyone talks about the “Green Rush,” but the real question is where and how can everyday Black people make money in cannabis? Discussions on capital often miss nuances that affect Black and Latinx communities due to the fact that access to funding is a major struggle for most startup businesses and some cannabis opportunities require significant amounts of capital. There are also regulations that are crucial for any budding investors to understand.

To help sort through all of this, Courtney Richardson (The Ivy Investor) chatted with Grio contributor Mary Pryor (New York chapter president of Minorities for Medical Marijuana) about the cannabis industry and where communities of color can cash in on what’s coming next.

READ MORE: Black woman business owner to open first luxury cannabis lounge in Southern California

HEMP
The hemp industry is attractive due to the lifting of the Schedule 1 drug designation in the Farm Bill which was passed late 2018. The hemp plant is a multi-faceted material source that is used to create a wide variety of products, including  hempcrete (concrete made from hemp), fabric, packaging material, and the oil (hemp cbd) are utilized globally in countries such as China, Europe, Colombia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. In the United States, farmers are racing to add this crop back into fields and land areas. Before it’s prohibition, hemp was a top performing crop commodity beating out timber and cotton. Another fact to note is that hemp grows very well in South. Our ancestors and elders definitely grew this powerful plant and we should consider adding the science of it back to our knowledge banks.

“Biggest opportunity that no one knows exactly what to do with is Hemp. It seems that people are excited and get the investment opportunity since the passage of the Farm Bill in December 2018 but there’s a bit of trepidation because of this country’s history of cannabis prohibition — hemp and marijuana,” says Richardson. “For the companies that are purely in the hemp/CBD space, many investors are interested to see if these companies like Charlotte’s Web are going to be publicly traded in the US instead of on the Canadian Securities Exchange.  Investors are also looking to see if U.S. cannabis companies are going to spin off their CBD/hemp businesses to take advantage of the improved tax regime, in other words no 280e prohibitions (i.e. the ability to take real business tax deductions).”

READ MORE: OPINION: New York cannabis advocates’ fight for day one equity is important for all of Black America


ANCILLARY BUSINESS 

Richardson’s insights on the ancillary market are important to note given the flexibility and adaptability of that space.  “ The ancillary market consists of businesses that support cannabis, but do not directly touch the plant. Many plant touching businesses will likely operate at a loss for the next few years, but these businesses have a better chance of quicker profit (if they are not already profitable) because of other businesses they may cover,” explains Richardson. Ancillary businesses include marketing firms, accounting, press relations, legal work, packaging, compliance development, security firms, graphic design groups, and delivery services. Creating your own ancillary business or investing in one can be a worthwhile venture and it helps that that these entities do not have the heightened governmental oversight of plant-touching businesses.

 

CORPORATE COMPANIES and STOCKS 

“Many  companies are taking their big cash positions and investing in cash dependent cannabis companies– win, win, for all involved.  The competitors– tobacco and alcohol– get to expand their portfolio and cannabis companies get the infusion of cash and expertise,” Richardson shares. 

Richardson dives into the real details on this because the cannabis stocks idea can come with a lot of fluff. “There’s a lot of improper information being shared about the stock market and cannabis.  For starters, not all cannabis companies are penny stocks.” From my perspective most communities of color should really seek financial literacy on this before making ANY decisions in the stock market place. Just making sure this clear.  

“Penny stocks are small companies that trade below $5 a share. Many ancillary companies are blue chip stocks– large, old companies. Second, the stock market isn’t some random gamble that you only make money if you are ‘lucky.’ Seriously examine each company that you are interested in with a fine tooth comb.” Richardson reiterates.

“If you don’t understand what they do or how they are doing it, then don’t invest; there will be plenty of other opportunities. Finally, investors have gotten so excited about Canada that Canadian stocks are overvalued. You have to do a little bit more work to get good returns,” she says.

Investing in Cannabis stocks  in a responsible manner, means taking the time to get educated. Take investment classes, go to conferences, show up to events, follow the market. Seasoned investors typically use brokers and/or experts to navigate the trends given that it is a full time job to watch what happens globally and domestically across trading companies. Budding and/or educated investors typically utilize Robinhood or E*Trade as a way to start and learn about the marketplace. Either way, you have to constantly read and watch your money. This is dedication and you have to be able to put your money into the market and be able to keep afloat when the market takes a downturn.

 “Honestly, you have to work with the experts in the space to get the best and most up-to-date  information.  It cannot be said enough that the industry is moving at the speed of light– with state and federal legislation and there’s a lot of false narratives being spun to capture uneducated and enthusiastic audiences,” cautions Richardson. 

Stay tuned for theGrio’s on-going cannabis industry coverage with the #BeyondTheSmoke content series.

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Among her colleagues, Mary Pryor is known for being a trendsetting, innovative, passionate and strategic problem-solver for over a decade. Mary has always been ahead of the curve due to being immersed in automotive design, electrical engineering, music, education, digital arts, and marketing, while being raised in Detroit. She is a bicoastal media expert;  co-founder and CEO of Cannaclusive, a collective focused on inclusion in the cannabis industry; New York chapter president of Minorities for Medical Marijuana; and  serves as the current New York advocate for The People’s Dispensary.