Late last night we attended an event at Level 39, Canary Wharf, London. It was an event to launch a new kind of crypto platform.
We knew a few of the other guests and quickly got chatting.
The usual small talk ensued…
‘Hi Sam, how’s it going? What have you been up to?’
‘I came in to London today for the event, but also to attend a cannabis conference over at the Barbican Centre.’
‘Did you say cannabis?’
Shock was the first reaction we got. Then curiosity. And finally the usual ignorance we come to expect for the uninformed…
‘I bet everyone was high on life there…’
‘Was Snoop Dogg presenting?’
‘I bet it was full of stoners.’
‘Did the lunch break munchies go quickly?’
Fortunately at a crypto event the conversation turns back to that pretty quick.
But those reactions are everything that’s wrong with understanding the opportunity in cannabis right now.
We get massively excited about the potential for crypto. We believe it will change the world.
But we get equally excited about the potential for cannabis too. It will also change the world. Just in a different way.
It’s funny because crypto and cannabis actually share a lot in common. And if you can cut through the mainstream ‘BS’ then you start to see how huge the cannabis opportunity really is.
Sins of the past
You can trace the demonisation of marijuana back decades. But there is once very precise moment when things took a turn for the worst.
2:30pm, Sunday, 21 September 1969.
The Nixon government was certain the primary source of marijuana in the US was from Mexico. They decided to shut off the flow across the border. It would be swift and vicious.
The New York Times reported at the time:
‘In personnel and equipment it will be the nation’s largest peacetime search and seizure operation by civil authorities.’
Operation Intercept was a failure. 20 days after it started it ended. For all the expense it failed to reduce drug flow into the US.
Nixon needed another strategy.
By 1970 his administration enacted the Controlled Substances Act. This would prove to be the most damaging piece of legislation the cannabis industry would ever face.
It’s a piece of legislation that to this day still affects the development of the industry.
The Act had a number of schedules. These rank certain drugs from Schedule 1 (drugs of maximum danger with no therapeutic value) to Schedule 5.
A Schedule 5 drug is something like codeine.
A Schedule 1 drug is something like heroin, LSD and MDMA.
Oh, and marijuana.
That’s right. In 1970 Nixon added marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. That technically makes it as dangerous as heroin or bath salts.
You can look at the list of Schedule 1 drugs today. See for yourself that marijuana is still on the list.
This is even knowing there is tangible therapeutic use for it in medicine.
Nixon didn’t stop with the Controlled Substances Act. On June 18 1971, Nixon gave a press conference where he declared a ‘War on Drugs’.
More recently in 2016, Dan Baum wrote a piece on the War on Drugs for Harper’s magazine. In his piece he quotes a conversation he had with John Ehrlichman in 1994 (five years before Ehrlichman’s death).
Ehrlichman was counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs during Nixon’s presidency.
Astonishingly Ehrlichman told Baum:
‘The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people.’
‘We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.’
The US has spent more than US$1 trillion on the War on Drugs. And the numbers continue to grow.
Imagine the possibilities if that US$1 trillion was put towards research and development instead…
Nixon helped demonise marijuana. But now the tide is turning. And it’s creating massive opportunity.
The new world of understanding
In 2000 Canadian courts ruled cannabis prohibition was unconstitutional.
By 2003 Canada had put in place medical access regulations. This enabled licensing for the growth of cannabis.
The following years had some difficulties.
But in 2013 the government created a commercially licenced industry. This was for production and distribution. It had a medicinal focus but it was a huge step forward.
They figured it was best to regulate not restrict.
And now in 2018 the Canadian government is set to legalise cannabis for adult use. This has created a commercial recreational marijuana industry.
Finally Canada has broken through to shake off the 40 years of stigma.
Thanks to ‘The Canada Model’ this same process is happening in other countries. And in Australia it’s happening in an almost identical roadmap.
We were at the Cannabis Europa conference this week. It was dedicated to the burgeoning cannabis industry.
We had the chance to ask a question of Jordan Sinclair, Vice President of Communications at Canopy Growth Corporation [TSX:WEED]. Canopy is one of the biggest, licensed cannabis companies in the world.
Our question was simple.
Considering the growth of the Canadian market, where do you see Australia in comparison today?
His answer, ‘the spring of 2014.’
We’ve been researching the opportunities in cannabis markets for several years.
Only now is the mainstream starting to really understand the potential of cannabis.
We can use it for medicine. We can use it in therapies. We can even use forms of it in nutraceuticals like protein powders.
It’s not just about ‘getting high’. It’s a medical technology breakthrough. And we think it will rival the discovery of penicillin.
What if Australia really is in the ‘spring of 2014’? If so, the next four years could see growth like no other industry we’ve ever seen.
The ‘cannabis rush’ is only just getting started. We think that it’s one of the most exciting areas of research we’ve ever seen. Our view is you’d be crazy to ignore the opportunity.