While discussing the new project with co-founder Ted Chung, Snoop got into his investment philosophy. “First of all, if I invest, it’s got to be fun. It’s got to be something that I feel, you know, is different and amazing,” the rapper said. “First and foremost that’s what I look for when I invest.”
Though the rapper’s weed fund snags the most media attention, Snoop Dogg has also invested in luxury coffee brand Philz Coffee and a stock trading app called Robinhood, among others. And he’s learned from those experiences. “In the beginning it was more about investing on creativity, then it became more business,” Snoop Dogg said. “And then it was things I liked, for example, the cannabis industry.”
Merry Jane, his latest business venture, is kicking off as a website that will post print and video content as well as information for weed aficionados—an encyclopedia of the cannabis world, Snoop Dogg called it. It will also help people find marijuana dispensaries, though no word on whether it’s focused on California or will include other states where grass is medically or recreationally legal.
Snoop Dogg’s ongoing interest in cannabis investments coincides with a surge of excitement from venture capital firms hoping to make bank on the proverbial dot-bong era. The new money is coming from many who haven’t been lifelong advocates of marijuana legalization—unlike Snoop Dogg, who has been an outspoken advocate for years. Venture capitalists, such as powerful San Francisco firm Founders Fund, chasing the projected $4 billion in legal sales in 2016, have lent credibility to the once-clandestine industry.
The chance for a-bounty-in-green has also fueled a thirst for politics. Nationally, weed is officially an interest group with a Political Action Committee set up to lobby in Washington, D.C. And since Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state having legalized recreational weed, monied interests are looking toward states such as California—likely the largest producer and consumer of cannabis in the country—which is all but certainly voting on recreational legalization in the 2016 election.
Matt Kumin, an attorney familiar with the cannabis industry in California, believes the venture cash sloshing around the industry is the third wave of the modern movement to legalize the drug. “It’s that money, the new money from investors, that’s going to carry legalization forward in California,” he said. Patient advocates in the wake of the AIDS crisis were the first, and dispensary owners hoping to move out of the black market came second.
This month, California’s legislators passed three bills to regulate the medical industry, which for years essentially operated with limited legal protection but few guidelines and no statewide regulation. The bills mark a significant change after more than a decade of attempts to regulate the industry. Though the medical requirement is widely considered a joke—it costs under $100 to get a required recommendation for weed and even Snoop Dogg elicited chuckles from the audience when he said he liked weed for its medical value—the regulations aren’t.
Seeking to curb environmental damage caused by some irresponsible farmers, preserve the cottage industry through appellations, and prevent the Microsoft of pot from ruling the industry, the new laws will take effect in 2018.
For his part, Snoop Dogg favors legalization for obvious reasons. “I stand very high on marijuana legalization around America,” Snoop Dogg said. “I just want to see it legalized around the whole globe.”