The barriers of entry into the marijuana business still remain high, coupled with major challenges to grow the industry from a financial standpoint, but it appears that the times are slowly changing. Microsoft has entered the cannabis industry, offering data insights to help shape how information is collected for this industry. While other larger companies start to enter the marketplace, it forces change to how finances are handled.
Banking has been a challenge, since legalized marijuana is still technically illegal by the Fed, which is mandated on a federal level. November is a critical month and when legalization is passed in California, the world’s 6th largest economy, it will force more mainstream companies into the marijuana business. If they do not jump on board, the marijuana ship will sail without them. Who do you think is the next big company to join in? Google? Facebook?
The California Gold Rush era (1848-55) was about people wanting to make their fortunes by mining precious minerals or finding their “Texas tea” on the ground. Today, there’s a new player in the hood. And her name is Mary Jane.
As of March of this year, there were 301 banks and credit unions willing to handle “pot money” — a jump from just 51 in 2014. As public attitudes toward cannabis evolve, so has the business sector. But that sector still needs to play catch-up.
It’s hard to ignore the massive shift in policy. Corporations like Microsoft have noticed and are getting involved. Breaking corporate taboo, the tech giant teamed up with a “weed financing start-up,” creating cloud apps that are able to track plants from “seed to sale,” while remaining in full compliance with existing laws.
While such a move may be easier for Microsoft, which is based in Washington State, where the sale of cannabis is legal, many in corporate America still see the industry as a turn-off. I can say that until recently, I was in full agreement with that statement.
Like the gold rush or oil booms of the past, one thing to note is that fortunes were not made by those doing the mining or the drilling, but by those who saw the opportunity of the industry as a whole.