The historic bipartisan medical marijuana bill introduced on Tuesday could reform the regulation of medical marijuana in the United States if signed into law. Should that happen, a host of industries ranging from banking to private equity to logistics, to possibly big pharma, will be significantly affected.
"This legislation, if it passes, could change the medical marijuana industry overnight. The resulting changes would bring this industry out of the 'cash n' carry' mode and into the 21st century," said Alex Thiersch, managing principal of Salveo Capital in Chicago. "Patients would be able to pay for medical marijuana the way they do for the rest of their legally prescribed therapies. Furthermore, the industry will be able to actually set up legitimate business banking accounts, establish payrolls, and make electronic transactions. Finally, private investment in this area can take place without fear of federal shutdown. That's really just the start. We are on the cusp of a true tipping point with this proposed bill."
Salveo Capital, which is the only private equity firm currently funding cannabis growers, sellers, and dispensaries in the United States, is now raising additional capital for investment in medical marijuana in the country. Going forward, Thiersch said he believes that investment funding may be used to fund R&D research in the United States, which could eventually provide a more detailed picture of the health benefits and risks associated with the use of medical marijuana.
"Down the road, the U.S. economy could see real benefits as a result of this proposed legislation. Certainly big pharma will watch what happens to this bill with great interest," said Thiersch. "We may see the eventual growth of a U.S.-based company that could rival Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, in terms of a business focus on the research, development, marketing, manufacturing and distribution of medical marijuana. And other countries are watching the United States as well."
Thiersch further said that banks as large as JP Morgan Chase may enter the picture, and not only accept medical marijuana industry money, but perhaps invest in the industry as well.
"It's a crazy time for us right now in this industry," said Thiersch. "You can literally feel a buzz in the air."