06.16.2016
policy

Some Weed Companies Get Unicorn Investors; Some Get Raided

In California, making extracts makes you a criminal, mining data makes you an innovator.

This week, marijuana-extract makers in Sonoma County–– AbsoluteXtracts and Care By Design––were reportedly raided by local law enforcement and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration. Meanwhile, Confident Cannabis—San Francisco weed-tech business that is building what mainstream media is calling the "sticky-icky stock exchange" (though it's more, like, logistics and weed analysis software)—received millions of dollars in fundraising from "founders of Silicon Valley Unicorn companies that probably want to remain nameless."

So what differentiates the firms? The Sonoma businesses "touch the plant" at some point. They do so to make medicine. In Silicon Valley, they're mining data. Why does one arm of the weed biz get funding, and the other seemingly fucked over?

From The Press Democrat

"Sonoma County law enforcement officers raided five properties Wednesday morning associated with two well-known local cannabis product brands. . . that appeared to use illegal and hazardous production methods and was in violation of a variety of city codes."

Both Sonoma County brands were owned by one man, who was charged with manufacturing a controlled substance. From Silicon Valley, TechCrunch reports on Confident Cannabis.

"The growth [of Confident Cannabis] attracted the $3 million seed from Slow Ventures, Noosphere Ventures, TEEC Angel Fund. . . Built by four Stanford grads, the Y Combinator and StartX company wants to corner a critical data stream in the fast-growing ganja business. For now, it’s the CarFax of weed."

The raided extract-makers say their businesses were in full compliance of local and state laws; that they use "a non-volatile, supercritical CO2 extraction method." Confident Cannabis's intended client base is made up, theoretically at least, of operations just like AbsoluteXtracts and Care By Design.

The inequity in policing California's barely gray-area marijuana landscape, in this case, is fairly blatant: If you have an Ivy League education, and can spin your weed app into a commodity-building digital tool that can be playfully described as "Uber," or "CarFax,"–– you're given millions of dollars––even if your investors don't want anyone to know where those funds came from––and an enthusiastic, Go get em', Tiger, from the state.

If you make extracts and medicinal weed products, even "legally," that have potential to help thousands of California patients; you're something along the lines of a meth cook. 

Lori Ajax and the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation have until 2018 to figure out how this West Coast weed game will play fair. In the meantime, how many small businesses and people who were involved in the industry before it became the sandbox of pot profiteers, will fall victim to misguided law enforcement? 

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