Sep 6, 2019 - Economy

The future of cannabis is mainstream retail

Illustration of a marijuana plant traveling through a grocery store checkout line
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Brendan Kennedy, the head of one of the world's largest cannabis investment firms, says he's mostly seeing recycled business plans but believes the industry's next phase of startup innovation will be around everyday products sold by mainstream retailers.

Thesis: Kennedy says that Cannabis 1.0 related directly to the flower, while Cannabis 2.0 was about beverages. He believes Cannabis 3.0, which is just beginning, will be in all sorts of consumables (shampoos, lotions, cookies, etc.) that will sit alongside more "traditional" versions at places like Walgreens and Target.

  • "Most major retailers will sell cannabinoid products, just as another sort of brand," he says. "There's an enormous amount of opportunity there for new companies."

Kennedy is the Seattle-based executive chairman of Privateer Holdings. He's also CEO of Tilray, the Canadian cannabis company whose stock has mellowed since its red-hot IPO.

What he's saying: Kennedy also was agnostic on the 2020 presidential election, even though most of the Democratic Party candidates support federal legalization, with the exception of Joe Biden.

  • Kennedy is more concerned with legalization ballot initiatives in upwards of 7 "deep red" states. He believes if those states go legal, then it will put pressure on their GOP senators.
  • He adds that some in his industry believe that President Trump may reverse his anti-legalization position before November 2020, in order to take that issue off the table, but Kennedy admits that may just be wishful thinking.
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