05.24.2016
policy

Did the War on Drugs Drive NASDAQ to Reject MassRoots?

Before we pin the tail on prohibition, let's widen the scope.

An application from Cannabis-friendly social network MassRoots, a/k/a Instagram's pothead cousin, to be publicly traded was rejected Monday by Nasdaq. According to a statement from MassRoots CEO and co-founder, Isaac Dietrich, the company filed to be listed on the exchange in April of this year. 

 From Dietrich's statement:

"Yesterday, the Nasdaq denied MassRoots' application to list on its exchange for being cannabis-related. This dangerous precedent will make it more difficult for cannabis entrepreneurs to raise capital and help perpetuate the War on Drugs." 

MassRoots is claiming pot-prejudice, and equating the rejection to prohibition in action. "Moreover, the Nasdaq has already listed at least 4 biotechnology companies that extract compounds, from the cannabis plant for scientific research," Dietrich told Forbes.

Dietrich says that MassRoots doesn't "touch the plant," while some of the listed bio-tech organizations poke, touch, and test weed nugs on the daily. 

Could any factors other than the War on Drugs be at play in the stock exchange's refusal to play chill with MassRoots? Nasdaq reportedly stays quiet on which applicants get the swipe-left treatment. Dietrich is a celebrated young dreamer in the tech and THC-infused industries. Did the world's second-largest stock exchange simply feel that MassRoots isn't yet ready to be traded at its level, despite the weedy social network's claims of possessing the required cash reserves, employing a core team of 30, and meeting all other listing criteria? 

Possibly. Weed is still less legal than Uber in most places. MassRoots is subject to similar banking woes that everyone in this industry faces (or circumvents). So what other scenarios would have Nasdaq calling no-chill on MassRoots?  The KIND investigates.


Nasdaq Was Pissed MassRoots Didn't Include Its Lit Mixtape in This List of Weed Rappers

Though it went unreported in most music mags, the same week that MassRoots applied to be traded on the Nasdaq, the stock exchange dropped a new mixtape. Anyway, if you watch the above video from MassRoots, a Top 10 list that features everyone from Berner to B-Real, you'll notice no mention of the Nasdaq mixtape, aptly titled (and also trading under the ticket) LITAF.  


This Adidas Polo From Isaac Dietrich's Twitter Profile Pic

Makes sense. Burn that thing, dude. Or give it back to the Foot Locker regional manager you stole it from. 


Image via steff26x

As a Prank

The Nasdaq was founded in 1971. In the years since, the New York City financial district has become party central for pulling one over on the American people. Notable Nasdaq pranksters include Bernie Madoff and Jordan Belfort.  Ever since hazing got banned on the trading-room floor, the exchange has found an outlet for its bullying instinct in arbitrary rejection of qualified applications.


Image via danicarakic

Because Weed Is Still a Schedule I Narcotic

It makes sense for Nasdaq––or any mainstream financial institution––to hold off on approving any tech play that hinges on marijuana normalization until weed becomes, well, legal . Not that Wall Street wolves operate by ethically rigorous rules of morality. They're secure in making drug money by slanging legal pharmaceutical grade stocks. Perhaps they've decided to wait until weed's first wave turns to calmer tides. 

Instead of seeing MassRoots' rejection as a blow to the industry from corner to corner, the Nasdaq no-go may simply be a blow to the social network's aspirations to be the first canna-tech firm on the world's second-largest stock exchange. No offense. 

This decision is representative of the difficulties inherent in bringing an industry from prohibition to being publicly traded. Not everyone in the weed game has enough pull to secure individualized legislation. Not everyone can even enter the weed game. Maybe, rather than blaming the War on Drugs for why a cannabis company isn't yet listed on the Nasdaq, we should think about how to reverse the impacts of the DEA's misguided aggression so that the promises of the marijuana green rush are within reach of an entrepreneur who is black, a minority, or someone that has previous drug offenses.  

 

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