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Former Barclays banker swaps pounds for ounces in marijuana venture investment

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A green rush is on in the marijuana industry, with celebrities galore hoping to gain market share. 

Comedian Margaret Cho has her own line of “OG Kush” – a strain of marijuana that supposedly delivers full-body relaxation – while TV personality Bethenny Frankel, founder of Skinnygirl Cocktails, has developed what’s been touted as a “munchie-free” version for “diet-conscious users”.

Whoopi Goldberg launched Whoopi & Maya, a line of marijuana-infused balms, bath soaks and “sipping chocolate” aimed to relieve women of period and PMS cramps and pain. She said: “I want to go nice and slow with this. I don’t want this to be a joke to people. It’s not a joke to women.”

Then, of course, there’s Snoop Dogg, who we think is non too secretly trying to create his own marijuana empire.

Snoop Dogg 101: How to build an entire industry around marijuana

His Colorado-based venture, Leafs by Snoop, offers eight strains of edible marijuana flower with unusual names such as “peanut butter gems”.

But celebrities are no longer the only ones seeking to tap into the market. Venture capitalists are pouring millions into marijuana enterprises ranging from computer software and social networks to insurance. Entrepreneurs have also found the industry to be a lucrative one. For example, Founders Fund, co-founded by Peter Thiel, whose portfolio includes Airbnb and SpaceX, invested in Privateer Holdings, a private-equity firm focused on marijuana. And its by no means the preserve of US soil.

Most recently, a former Barclays banker invested in a marijuana farm. One Roger Jenkins, who allegedly worked with the bank when it was still run by Robert Diamond, played a key role in brokering cash injections from the Middle Easts during the financial crisis.

According to The Independent, Jenkins joined an investment fund that had acquired some land in California in order to set up a marijuana business – though the publication noted the information came from a source that couldn’t be mentioned.

The Independent said: “People asked not to be identified as the stake isn’t public. The venture may seek to capitalise on the outcome of the state’s November vote on whether to legalise and tax recreational pot use. Jenkins didn’t return calls to a phone number listed under his name in Malibu.”

As was suggested, and echoed in research by Arcview, if the use of marijuana passes in November then the market is expected to grow from $2.7bn to $6.6bn by 2020

This also follows on from an interview in Forbes which unveiled that the CEO of a UK lawn company, Jim Hafedorn of Scotts Miracle-Gro, was hoping to revive his firm by investing not only in California marijuana businesses, but those in Amsterdam as well. 

A visit to a garden centre in Washington made Hagedorn realise that the average customer spent up to $400 on hydroponics equipment – used to grow marijuana.

“I came back to the UK and I told everyone ‘We’re doing it’,” He said. “If you don’t like it, leave. We’re doing it. It’s beyond stopping. And we’re not getting into pot growing. We’re talking dirt, fertiliser, pesticides, growing systems, lights. You know it’s a multibillion-dollar business, and we’ve got no growth in our core. Are you guys stupid?”

Meanwhile, we found out what the banks  including Barclays  had to say about the wave-making CMA investigation.

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