Shark Tank Sharks: 'Legal Weed Is Chill; We'll Invest, Maybe'
Weed will survive/thrive with or without Shark Tank money.
In the eight seasons ABC’s Shark Tank has been on the air, Mark Cuban and the rest of the investment panel have injected money into the American dreams of many a hopeful entrepreneur––turning seemingly foolish products and lofty goals into revenue-earning brands. Even if Cuban and crew aren’t inspired enough by each pitch they hear to fund it, most guests on the show are given sage advice on how to grow their companies to the next level.
One industry has yet to take the Shark Tank stage: The weed business. But if cannabis were legal, and any remaining entry niche existed on the ground floor of the emerging space, the Cuban investor crew reportedly say they might just join the Green Revolution.
According to Entrepreneur, the shark majority supports the legalization movement, but also understands the frustrations that prohibition and fragmented legislation cause for cannabis startups. Kevin O’Leary, for instance, told the finance mag that he’s down with weed, but sees a marijuana investment as being too risky, for the time-being.
"I have to hold off for now. I can’t take that risk. I can’t go to jail for being a cannabis investor. My advice to entrepreneurs in this space right now is to stay in the state in which you have your mandate and figure out a way to redeploy your cash because you can’t put it in a bank.”
Fellow Tanker Barbara Corcoran says smoking isn’t for her, but she advised a Shark Tank-funded cake-maker to expand its product line to include edibles, and sees the weed world as a place where youthful, early adopters can thrive:
"Pot’s a big business. People know what the profits are going to be; so I think hitting it fast and early is the number-one prize. . .What’s going to destigmatize marijuana is having the old people die off. Anyone who’s under 30 believes in it.”
The sharks are right, but they’re also wrong.
Part of the reason weed is still stuck in the middle of being legal, and getting people locked up, is because of this very hesitance that mainstream movers and shakers such as Corcoran still hold onto. There is no reason to wait for the old people to die off. The old people are embracing legal cannabis in record numbers. And, to be sure, Silicon Valley is increasingly becoming more active in the cannabis industry, even when its big bets run into brick walls.
Mark Cuban makes a valid point on a high number of competitive startups potentially saturating the market. But he also tells Entrepreneur that Snoop Dogg has the weed game on lock; so why try?
“Snoop’s in it [sic]. And if Snoop Dogg’s in it, it’s over for everyone else.”
The Sharks’ collective shoulder shrug––Weed is chill, but not for us––is easy to brush off as a move to put on a waffle face in the public spotlight, being for it and against it in alternate breaths.
Disrupting the status-quo doesn’t happen overnight. The Sharks understand that. Would an investment in a legal marijuana company coming from the Queen of QVC help the image of the industry at large? Yes. Absolutely. But Lori Greiner not investing in weed won’t come near killing its buzz.