It has been 15 years since my adventure in the Cannabiz began. Doing business then was like any other business: simple and easy. Gifts & novelties are what I sold while advertising was done through word of mouth & print.
Now the whole game has changed. The Cannabiz has worked itself into society so well and so discreetly for such a long time that now, after decades of quiet fighting, we border on being part of the “Norm”.
You might imagine that conducting a Cannabis friendly business would be easier. This is sadly untrue. In Canada, we seem to be heading in the right direction in terms of the legality of cannabis, but the white-collar world sees the Cannabiz as a dirty, criminal business. In the US, Cannabiz is “legal” but the millions of dollars generated are not good enough for the banks or the government. Processing credit cards is nearly impossible.
When my head shop registered as a company back in 2000 we got our credit card processing without a blink. 15 years later, during a simple name change, our processor flagged our company for selling Legally obtained Cannabis seeds & lifestyle products. Trying to find a new processor has proven extremely difficult.
“You are a dispensary”: the reason we have been turned down repeatedly. The crazy thing is, we are not. Explaining to a suit & tie that we sell 100% legal products does not seem to compute. They deem a bong to be the same as a pound of weed. All aspects of the quazi-legal marijuana industry are seen as one. To date, I have been blocked by PayPal 3 times: it is owned by Peter Thiel, one of the single largest owners of Cannabis stocks in the world. We are blocked from all Facebook/Instagram. Canna-businesses are not allowed to advertise on Twitter and the word cannabis is not allowed on Google Ad-words. The list goes on.
In my relentless search for cannabis friendly financial companies I have stumbled upon a few lenders & providers that are supportive of the industry such as Sharpshooter funding – owned by Canadian WWE legend Bret Hart & rapper Ca’mron. They have been instrumental in the rebranding and growth of my little Cannabiz. Approving a loan has allowed us to do a full renovation, order branded products, and assemble tremendous advertising. This loan was approved without having to hide the nature of my business and with the full support of the Cannabis Industry.
Other companies are working hard to fix the banking and advertising black hole that the industry is in. Massroots, Leafly, and of course Spliff Mag to name a few are providing much needed targeted advertising space. Guardian Data Systems, CyoGate & other merchant services, based in legal US states are trying to break the barrier of canna-banking in Canada & the US. These companies prove that smart companies invest in the future. And the future is Cannabiz.