04.11.2016
policy

MassRoots Files for NASDAQ Listing; Will Wall Street 'Touch The Plant?'

With weed hitting stock exchanges, what does 'not touching' even mean?

Weed is more visible than ever. 

This is especially true on the elevated and online MassRoots social app, which applied this week to the NASDAQ Capital Market to have its stock listed on the exchange––a first for a cannabis company. 

From Forbes:

"MassRoots went public last April on the OTCQB Marketplace under the symbol MSRT; it’s trading at $1.28, well off its all-time high of $7.01. As of March, there were 90 shareholders of record and roughly 47 million shares issued and outstanding. MassRoots has applied to the NASDAQ Capital Market to list its common stock under the symbol “MSRT.” 

If MassRoots is approved, the Denver-based company will be on the hook for an estimated $150,000 in yearly requirements and fees. 

MassRoots is led by CEO Isaac Dietrich, previously a finalist for Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20 Fellowship, and an entrepreneur with a reported propensity to party with Monica Lewinsky and Wiz Kalifa at major magazine summits. The social app––a safe pocket of the digital ether for posting pot pics––is embraced and utilized by brands and enthusiasts within the cannabis space. Previously, MassRoots has been kicked off of "mainstream" social networks and also caught shade from some tech players at last year's Consumer Electronics Show. 

Skeptics worry that even though the company doesn't "touch the plant," any association with chronic could muddle its NASDAQ filing. 

The touch-the-plant distinction is meant to differentiate ancillary cannabis operations from flat-out weed retailers, growers, distributors, and processors. That determination can be confusing. It mostly indicates which companies can store financial assets in traditional channels such as banks, which ones are most likely to get funded, and the rest—the plant touchers that must find creative means to avoid being robbed, raided, or using cash that reeks like weed to pay taxes.

News of the MassRoots NASDAQ filing comes just one week after reports that Meadow, another tech startup operating at the intersection of zeros and ones and a 420-friendly user-base, received a massive investment from mainstream investors. Meadow is building a platform for people that "touch the plant," at virtually every level of its supply chain from seed-to-sale and doorstep delivery, or "farm-to-flame," as Meadow puts it. However, the tech firm does not technically handle "the product" in its daily operations out of San Francisco. 


All this activity begs a question: As weed becomes more legal, is it becoming less like something that would land Ross William Ulbricht––another innovator who built a platform that functioned as a facilitator of online transactions and not as a direct retailer or delivery platform––a life prison sentence and the harsh branding of Dark Net Drug Lord

This comparison isn't completely fair: The Silk Road had much bigger liabilities than being a place online where folks could find some good nugs. 

But it's all about branding. And weed is still a Schedule 1 No-Chill

So should "touching it" be a determining factor in whether or not a business is publicly traded in the way of other global commodities such as coffee and literally f*cking everything else? 

If the corporations and cartels that populate the pharmaceutical industry––which is profiting from and fueling a global opioid overdose epidemic––can be publicly traded (and their products consumed en masse) on the floors of the New York Stock Exchange, why can't weed come to the party too? 

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