Is this a good time to get into the legal marijuana industry?
That’s the question an editor from Entrepreneur.com recently posed to five of the wealthy, high-profile entrepreneurs who appear on the popular ABC reality program “Shark Tank,” which helps everyday folks develop their business ideas.
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And not surprisingly, given the wide range of strong personalities that appear on the program, there were a wide range of answers.
“I would love to invest in the marijuana industry … but my lawyers tell me I can’t because we need a better mandate,” Canadian businessman, investor and venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary tells Entrepreneur.
He compares the legalization of marijuana to the end of Prohibition 83 years ago. “It’s going to be a remarkable opportunity,” he adds, predicting that when — not if — California fully legalizes cannabis: “The floodgates will open.”
While not a cannabis consumer herself, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran says she sees legal marijuana’s huge financial potential.
“My advice to entrepreneurs looking to enter the marijuana business is to be early in their market,” she says, “because this is a market that’s expanding like crazy.” But she also says she believes it might take a while before the cultural taboos surrounding cannabis fade away for much of the general population.
“What’s going to destigmatize marijuana is having the old people die off,” she continues. “Anyone who’s under 30 believes in it.”
Technology innovator Robert Herjavec, meanwhile, says he has no problem with marijuana legalization – but that, in terms of cannabis as a business trend, “it’s already too late” for new investors. And he illustrates his thought with a paraphrased quote from hockey great Wayne Gretzky: “Don’t go where the puck is. Go where the puck’s about to be.”
That being said, Herjavec admits he doesn’t know or understand the legal cannabis industry enough to invest in it.
Outspoken billionaire Mark Cuban isn’t going to venture into legal weed. “Would I invest in the cannabis industry? No,” he says. “Not because I have anything against pot. I don’t care. But right now it’s a gold rush.”
The Dallas Mavericks owner and media maven said he believes the legal marijuana market is oversaturated, creating a financial environment with too many challenges.
“There’s a saying that I live by,” he tells Entrepreneur. “‘First there are the innovators. Then there are the imitators. Then there are the idiots.’ The three I’s. You have to know which one you are, and I think already in the cannabis industry, we’ve at least gotten to the imitators and we may already be to the idiots.”
Meanwhile Lori Greiner, the inventor, investor and so-called “Queen of QVC,” says she’s still on the fence when it comes to considering legal marijuana as a business venture.
“Everybody should be able to do it legally,” she notes. “Would I invest in it, though? I don’t know. I have so many investments as it is, I don’t need another one. I’ll let other people deal with that, because it’s not that easy of a space to navigate.”
(Fellow “Shark Tank” member Daymond John wasn’t available to weigh in about cannabis with Entrepreneur.)
While Entrepreneur notes that the Disney-owned network hasn’t had any aspiring ganjapreneurs on the show — yet, some well-known celebrity cannabis enthusiasts have made prominent appearances on other ABC shows, including Snoop Dogg’s run on “Celebrity Family Feud” and Tommy Chong competing in “Dancing with the Stars.”