Cannabis Startups and Investing Series


Why Mark Cuban won't invest in cannabis

The majority of his fellow Shark Tank hosts also don't see cannabis as a good investment

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
October 4, 2016 | Comments
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Editor's Note: Our 6th Annual Vator Splash LA conference is coming up on October 13 at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. Speakers include Mark Cuban (one of the hosts of Shark Tank and owner of the Dallas Mavericks); Leura Fine (Founder & CEO, Laurel & Wolf ); Nick Green (Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Thrive Market); Tri Tran (CEO & Co-founder, Munchery); Andre Haddad (CEO, Turo); and many more. Join us! REGISTER HERE.

I'm really excited about our 6th annual Splash LA conference on October 13. We've had some amazing speakers before, including Michael Dubin, Founder and CEO of The Dollar Shave Club, and Jessica Alba, actress and co-founder of The Honest Company. This year, though, we're going to be joined by Mark Cuban. That is going to be a great talk. Cuban is nothing if not full of opinions. 

There are a lot of things we could ask Cuban about, including his days as an entrepreneur, to his thoughts on Trump. Another area of questioning would be about the cannabis industry.

Cannabis, as you may know, is a very interesting space for us. Vator has recently partnered with Ackrell Capital to run an accelerator program for cannabis companies, and we've been writing a series of articles about different aspects of it.

So what does Cuban think of it? Turns out, he's not a fan, at least not when it comes to investing in it. That's not because of any moral objections, but simply because he thinks there's too much hype right now.

Would I invest in the cannabis industry? No. Not because I have anything against pot. I don’t care. But right now it’s a gold rush. When everybody’s rushing in it’s hard to keep track of what everybody’s doing because there’s a new startup every single day," he told Kim Lachance Shandrow, West Coast Editor at 

"I always look at investing in businesses where I have a competitive advantage, and smoking it is not a competitive advantage, then it’s not something that I’d get into."

Of course, that's not the only reason. As many companies I have talked to have made clear, the regulatory headaches for the cannabis industry are massive right now, and many of them are eagerly waiting for things to clear up. Cuban, however, doesn't seem to think that's ever going to happen.

"Plus, there are so many complicated issues in the industry, like dealing with banks and all of the regulatory red tape. It’s not going to get simpler, so I’d rather invest elsewhere," he said.

This isn't the first time that Cuban has made his lack of interest in the cannabis space. He made it clear in a (since deleted) Tweet that it is a "lousy biz," and that he has no interest in investing in it.

"Prices will fall quickly, which will lead to huge taxation of pot products by every taxing authority," he said.

It should be noted that he does believe in legalization of marijuana, as he bluntly (no pun intended) told conservative commentator S.E. Cupp in 2014.

  • Cupp: Should we legalize marijuana?

  • Cuban: Yes. And release prisoners who are incarcerated for pot.

So, as he said, it's nothing personal about cannabis itself. This is just his view of it as an investment opportunity. 

The other Shark Tank investors

Cuban wasn't the only person that Shandrow asked about the space; she also spoke to his fellow hosts on Shark Tank, the popular startup pitch show on ABC.

Here's what they had to say:

  • Kevin O'Leary:

I would love to invest in the marijuana industry. I’ve looked at four different deals, but my lawyers tell me I can’t because we need a better mandate. There’s a RICO statute in the way. I’ll land my plane in Florida and I’ll get arrested because I invested in something in Colorado. I can’t do it.

I have to hold off for now. I can’t take that risk. I can’t go to jail for being a cannabis investor. My advice to entrepreneurs in this space right now is to stay in the state in which you have your mandate and figure out a way to redeploy your cash because you can’t put it in a bank."

  • Barbara Corcoran

"I tried it twice. The first time At 35 and again 10 years later. It was weird and not for me, but it's big business and I'd rather invest in it.

Pot’s a big business. People know what the profits are going to be, so I think hitting it fast and early is the number-one prize."

  • Robert Herjavec

I have no problem with it. I think anything to legitimize any kind of substance that used to be illegal is great because I think you always want to take the criminal element out of it, and I like things that are regulated.

In terms of a business trend, I think it’s already too late to invest. Like any trend, if we’re talking about it, it’s already happened. It’s the old Wayne Gretzky quote, ‘Don’t go where the puck is. Go where the puck’s about to be.’"

  • Lori Greiner

"Everybody should be able to do it legally. 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.”

The only Shark Tank investor who she didn't speak to was Daymond John, but even if he did want to invest in cannabis, it still would have been the majority of these investors who, for a variety of reasons, think investing in cannabis is a bad idea.

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