As more states voted to legalize some form of marijuana, the biggest being California and Colorado to date, pot sales have gone through the roof. An ArcView market research pegged 2016 sales for legal weed at $6.7 billion, a whopping 34% jump over the previous year. And this trend is unlikely to slow down. In 2018, that figure grew to $10.4 billion in sales.


The forecasted growth in legal pot sales for the year 2019, to an estimated $16 billion.

And that’s where investors smell a dank opportunity. Legalization has opened doors for many businesses, especially startups dabbling in the data and technology aspects of legal marijuana. While it is still difficult to invest directly in legal pot through public equities, venture capital firms and private equity funds have raised hundreds of millions of investment dollars.

Key Takeaways

  • Marijuana has been legalized in some states for both medical and recreational use.
  • As a result, legal pot sales have boomed to $10 billion in 2018 with a growth trend unlikely to slow down.
  • Some private equity and VC firms see this as a lucrative opportunity to invest and get in on the ground floor.

Privateer Holdings

Famously backed by Peter Thiel’s Founder’s Fund, this private equity firm became the first in the cannabis business to cross the $100 million mark in fundraising as it closed a $40 million round last year. Since its founding in 2010, Privateer has raised $129 million according to CrunchBase. Its portfolio includes medical marijuana producer Tilray, The Goodship, which manufactures premium baked goods and candy with infused weed, Bob Marley’s marijuana brand Marley Natural, and Leafly, often called the ‘Yelp’ of the pot world.

Tuatara Capital

Founded in 2014, this private equity company has plenty to spend in the cannabis space. In August 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Tuatara had raised $93 million to invest in the marijuana business, exceeding its own $80 million target. It is currently the lead investor in singer Willie Nelson’s cannabis brand Willie’s Reserve and also backs TeeWinot Life Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the production of cannabinoids. Tuatara also invested 3.3 million into Colorado-based extracts provider GreenDot Labs.

MedMen Capital

This venture capital firm is a part of the larger MedMen group which also dabbles in consultancy for the cannabis business. For the investment business, MedMen partnered with Wicklow Capital, founded by former GETCO founders. The MedMen Opportunity Fund launched at $100 million AUM in 2016 and according to SEC filings, as of January 2017, it has grown an additional $30 million. These other funds have made headway or announced fundraising efforts in the cannabis space.

Poseidon Asset Management

Poseidon Asset Management was founded in 2013 by siblings Morgan and Emily Paxhia. The fund has $8 million in assets as of February 2017. The company invests in areas like agricultural technology, SaaS solutions, and Data Analytics for the pot industry.

Salveo Capital

Chicago-based Venture Capital firm Salveo just announced its first investments: Washington-based cannabis data analytics company Headset and biotechnology company Front Range Biosciences. The company had declared a $25 million offering last year, but SEC filings show it has so far managed to garner only $1.69 million.

Casa Verde

This venture capital firm boasts of another high profile backer—Snoop Dogg, who is also the founder. The company announced that it was looking for investors for a $25 million fund in 2015. The fund currently is invested in California-based Eaze, that is sometimes referred to as the ‘Uber’ of the marijuana business,. The company has raised $33 million as of January 3, 2018, and is the lead investor in Trellis, Green Bits, and a Colorado-based pot packaging solutions company called FunkSac. They've invested $10 million in LeafLic, a company that connects green brands and retailers.

Phyto Partners

This venture capital fund is focused on data and technology businesses for the cannabis industry. In 2015, it announced a $10 million fund that according to the last SEC filing had received $2.2 million. Crunchbase data reveals that the portfolio for Boca Raton, Florida-based firm includes data analytics firm New Frontier, growing solutions firm Grownetics, and Leaf, a company that offers growth systems for cannabis. They're also the lead investor in Flowhub, a business management platform centered around the marijuana industry.