By Todd Harrison
I was first drawn to the cannabis space in 2012, when I called it my single best investment theme for the next decade.
I was early, but I was also wrong. I had pointed to the pragmatic foundation behind the eventual legalization—job growth, tax revenue, crime rates and prison population—but it wasn’t until a few years later when I realized those weren’t the catalysts; they were the residuals.
I became fascinated by a company called GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) given its backstory. The U.S. and U.K. both ran tests on cannabis in the nineties and both determined there to be potential efficacy in the cannabis plant; a plant, I might add, that’s been used by virtually every civilization in various capacities for thousands of years.
The U.S. continued its War on Drugs (!!) while the U.K. underwrote GW; and in the 20-odd years since, they’ve done amazing research and uncovered an emerging truth: there are wellness properties in the cannabis plant—cannabinoids—that interact with the most ubiquitous receptor cells in the human body, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), to promote homeostasis.
While it remained illegal to test cannabis in the United States, the rest of the world thankfully continued to explore—and they’ve discovered a world of possibilities: a retrograde pathway that could help address a host of currently unmet medical conditions and diseases. Not just pain management, mind you; we’re talking efficacious agility.
I had searched for advantageous risk-reward in the cannabis space for many years but like so many others, I decided to avoid the potential pitfalls; and what if I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams? How would I declare my income at the Federal level?
But a wellness lens; that made sense. This is impact investing, I thought; it’ll disrupt healthcare, improve lives and oh-by-the-way, recent estimates say there’s almost $300 billion of built-in global demand every year.
And it fit squarely in my wheelhouse. With 28 years of Wall Street experience, I’ve managed millions—and at time billions— through bubbles and busts and crises and more. If only more companies came online; if only other countries adopted this undeniable reality. If only liquidity increased, and the science continued to confirm the thesis.
Several years ago, while researching endocannabinoids, I couldn’t help but notice a Twitter handle, The King of Cannabinoids. “It’s good to be the King,” I smiled to myself, as I gave him a ping. We started comparing notes and sharing information. When we learned we live a half-hour from each other, we met for a drink. I almost got out of my house without having to tell my wife I was going to meet a man I met on the internet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Loren told me his story; he was traveling for business ten years ago and collapsed at an airport. He was subsequently diagnosed with epileptic seizure disorder and doctors began stacking on numerous ‘meds.’ Frustrated by his constant cognitive impairment and a litany of adverse side-effects, he decided to try something drastic. He began a strict regimen of cannabinoids, diet and exercise. Miraculously, his seizure activity disappeared. Vanished. “No longer detected.”
He was hooked, and he’s studied the space since—and keep in mind the ECS wasn’t taught in U.S. schools until a handful of universities adopted a curriculum in the second half of 2017— and when we connected over a drink at Rothman’s Steakhouse, he found someone who shared his passion and desire to learn and explore.
We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time studying the science, speaking with pioneers, and shaping the strategy. I knew the public market was littered with false hope and empty promises, but I also knew the eventual winners would reshape the global economy for generations to come.
Others came aboard; our other partner Jon Tyras (Mr. COB, Chief of the Boat) manages operations, legal and compliance and he runs a tight ship. Ryder Jeanes, (“Toots”) has been with us from day two and helps keep things running. And Josh Felker, a wunderkind Canadian with a savant-like knack for finding value amongst growth.
When we began this journey in February 2017, we began a morning recap of news in the cannabinoid wellness space. To say the coverage was limited to fringe publications would be an understatement. Now, our morning note—which you can sign up to receive on this site—is a who’s who of prominent mainstream publications. But the stigma still exists; along with the misguided belief that this is about getting “high.”
We’re not looking to sell you anything and we won’t share your information. In launching this platform, we hope to build a global community predicated on effecting positive change through cannabinoid wellness. If the definition of professional nirvana is to do what you love with people you respect while serving a greater good, we have the makings of something special here.
Thanks for being a part of it.
Founding Partner and Chief Investment Officer
CB1 Capital holds GWPH