NEW YORK (MainStreet) The ArcView group sponsored a conference in Las Vegas in January and in Boston in April. It was sort of a stoner version of "Shark Tank." And when it comes to wielding influence to push the marijuana agenda forward for potential profit, money talks.
ArcView is a San Francisco angel investor group for the cannabis industry. Among the investors is Joby Pritzker, scion of the Pritzker family -- one of America's wealthiest.
ArcView is looking to invest in the marijuana business. The group's website doesn't mince words about the fact: "Cannabis is the next great American industry. We look forward to building it with you."
Joby Pritzker is a descendant of the founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain. Members of the family are well-represented among the Forbes 400. Eleven of his relatives make the list. One relative, Penny Pritzker, is the current Secretary of Commerce. She is worth a cool $2.2 billion and is ranked #252 on the Forbes 400.
Joby Pitzker is active in business and social organizations, and through his investments in the marijuana sector, he is not just trying to increase his wealth as managing director of Tao Capital Partners. He is also trying to assert influence: he's board member of the Marijuana Policy Project, and he is the CEO of Star Conscious Events and on the board of the Libra Foundation, which supports "a globally integrated portfolio of social justice advocacy, based on the human rights values of dignity, equality and participation."
When a member of one of the wealthiest and politically powerful families in the United States - indeed in the world - lends his support to a cause, it has a higher chance of success. So with such financial and cultural heavyweights like this, how do the anti-marijuana groups stand a chance?
That's all the more pressing a question when all signs point to the fact that green will produce more gold?
ArcView president Steve DeAngelo was quoted as saying this is the golden age of pot investing.
He was a co-founder of a medical marijuana dispensary in the Oakland area.
Pennsylvania State Senator and Democratic Party Congressional candidate Daylin Leach believes marijuana legalization is going to fuel economic growth.
He thinks it can create robust job opportunities in Pennsylvania and nationally.
Marijuana businesses -- whether directly involved in the crop or in the tech or distribution side -- have received huge backing. According to a May 2013 ArcView release, "... five companies in the marijuana industry have received at least $1 million in commitments. They include Uptoke, Rodawg, WeCanna, Canna Security America and Apeks."
But what was even more interesting and troubling to those opposed to legalizing marijuana is that this same release said, "The Marijuana Policy Project also received funding for a political action committee to support candidates favorable to legalization and Students for Sensible Drug Policy also received funding commitments." It was noted that "... the movement to pass more marijuana legalization laws got a $100,000 boost through educational and political donations."
The money that irrigates the business side of the marijuana industry trickles through to the political side. It has to.
"A legal marijuana market is required to undermine the underground market, and voters have by and large elected to place that market in the hands of corporations," said Betty Aldworth, executive director for Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. "Nonprofits of all stripes rely on funding from the corporate sector, and SSDP is no different. We are grateful for ArcView's support."
--Written by Michael P. Tremoglie for MainStreet