THE POT boom reminds me a lot of when Internet start-ups began to get serious about monetizing, around in 1997, the year after I started writing on the web. In 2014, Justin Hartfield of Weedmaps is an entrepreneurial success story, which is now being covered by the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has it exactly right when he talks about medical marijuana being wrapped up in the politics of pot.
Weedmaps would be the Yelp of the medical- marijuana businesses””a site where medical-marijuana users in California could find doctors and dispensaries, rate them, read reviews and message one another.
Traffic took off. For a year, Mr. Hartfield went “door to door to every single dispensary in California,” he says, offering a free listing on Weedmaps.com. By 2010, he started charging; today prices for listings start at $295 a month.
Last year, the site made more than $25 million. There are 4,121 businesses representing every state with some form of legalization on the site, and Mr. Hartfield employs more than 60 people. Weedmaps is no longer the only game in town””the website Leafly is a fierce competitor””but it has name recognition and four million visitors a month.
Weedmaps’ success has allowed Mr. Hartfield to invest in start-up marijuana ventures through Ghost Group, the operating company that oversees his businesses. Ghost Group is “focusing on technology, software, hardware,” which, like Weedmaps, are entirely legal since they don’t “touch the sun,” in other words, the pot plant. Yet they are all areas of the industry that will be significant if marijuana becomes a legal, regulated product like alcohol.
What weed can do for physical ailments is remarkable. For pain it can be a godsend.
My favorite part of the Wall Street Journal article is citing the Kennedy Patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy, and how he made his first fortune.
In the 1920s and early 1930s, risk-takers who invested in alcohol while it was still underground hit the jackpot when it was legalized. Joseph Kennedy secured “medicinal liquor” permits during Prohibition and in the months before the anti-alcohol law was repealed in 1933 he secured the exclusive import rights to popular liquor brands like Dewar’s whisky and Gordon’s gin.
It’s no longer a joke or just a dream that the prohibition era of pot is slowly coming to an end. On the other side, we’re one right-winger away from the progress being stopped; one Huckabee, Santorum presidency from doom.
What political leader will be the first to announce it’s time to move from the states to the federal level and unshackle the economic power of pot?
Could it be that the so-called “liberty” wing of the Republican Party will be the first to step forward on this? Sen. Rand Paul citing slipping I.Q. points doesn’t sound like he’s interested.
If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee in 2016, what will she say on weed? Somehow I just cannot see her leaning in on this subject, though if anyone could be a champion for medical marijuana, Clinton’s a natural politically, even if her moral conservatism, inner discipline is unlikely to budge.
What about Bernie Sanders, who is moving towards a presidential big?
It will be interesting to see where pot lands in the political debate for 2016, because with the states moving forward to capitalize on the tax revenue, there are a lot of people coming out of the closet in favor of decriminalization, even if we’re still a bit away from full legalization.
When you have medical doctors advocating medical marijuana for children’s epilepsy you know something significant has shifted in modern health and culture.