Pot industry to Trump: What about us?

MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU/TNS

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump told world leaders that America is open for business. But one budding U.S. industry — marijuana growers and sellers — sees irony in this boast, which comes as they feel forced by the administration to invest millions in cannabis businesses across the border.

Take Privateer Holdings, one of the biggest U.S. venture capitalist firms in the cannabis industry, and MedMen, a major operator of dispensaries and production facilities.

They are leading a group of U.S.-based cannabis companies that, having raised hundreds of millions in cannabis funding, are looking to Canada and overseas where their financing and investment is out of reach of regulatory roadblocks and the Trump administration’s threatened crack down on legal marijuana sales.

‘Falling behind’
“Our hope is that this sounds the alarm,” said Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings. “The United States is falling behind the rest of the world. Jobs, capital, investment is flowing to other countries.”

Trump took his “America first” speech on Jan. 6 to the crowd of global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where he touted strong U.S. economic growth and tax cuts while pitching the United States as the ideal place for foreign business and investment.

“Now is the perfect time to bring your business, your jobs, and your investments to the U.S.,” Trump said.

‘Risks are looming’
Those in the cannabis industry, though, say the president’s sales pitch rings hollow.

“People would welcome that gesture, but there is nothing that is warm and fuzzy about his body language that would suggest that there is a green light and safe harbor to invest in marijuana,” said Matt Karnes of Greenwave Advisors, an industry financial firm.

“His administration has made it clear there are still risks are looming.”

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