Troy Dayton is an entrepreneur on the cutting edge of the legal medical cannabis industry. As co-founder and CEO of The Arcview Group
, a venture capital firm focused on medical marijuana's ancillary markets (the cultivators, dispensers, and other businesses services the growing legal medical cannabis market), Troy is betting his time and money that there will be a lot of money to be made, legally, from helping to provide sick people with the medicine that is only just now being made available in growing numbers of states across the country. California is the hotbed of the movement and the home of both Troy and The Arcview Group.
Before starting up The Arcview Group, Troy worked in drug policy as a campaign organizer and top fundraiser and was one of the early employees of Renewable Choice Energy, a wind power company I co-founded back in 2001 (see my profile of CEO Quayle Hodek
I first met Troy in college when I too worked as a student drug reform activist. At the time Troy already a few years of experience under his belt and introduced me to the nascent movement. He was a key contributor to the founding of Students for Sensible Drug Policy
, a national organization that grew out of a club I started at the Rochester Institute of Technology during my sophomore year of college and worked for many years with distinction in the movement afterwards. In 2001 he came on board at Renewable Choice where he built a residential sales team that helped thousands of people find their way into wind energy.
Here are seven questions for Troy Dayton.
MNN: Where do you see the medical cannabis market going in the next five to ten years?
Troy Dayton: I see medical cannabis laws passing in more states and the laws in existing medical cannabis states becoming more lenient about who is allowed to consume it but becoming more stringent on how it is sold. I think Colorado will be the first state to approve legal retail sales to adults in 2012.
See Change Strategy put out the first comprehensive market analysis report last week and they expect the market to go from $1.7 billion in 2011 to $8.9 billion by 2016. While there will always be hobbyists and boutique strain growers growing in small batches at home, I think we will see a move to more commercial size grows. Even your favorite small micro-brewed beer is made in an industrial space, not a basement.
Most importantly, I believe that as entrepreneurs, investors, and governments see the money in this market, it will vest them in creating the political change necessary to ensure that not a single peaceful adult is ever punished for responsibly consuming cannabis.
I believe the best way to get something valuable done in this world is to figure out how to make it profitable. In this way, the drug policy reform movement is learning from the environmental movement.
You've been working in drug policy since you were a college student in the 90s. What's the biggest change to the country's attitude towards drugs that you've seen since you started?
For the first decade I worked on this issue, many people would laugh when I told them that I worked to make marijuana legal. Then they would say, "You know why marijuana will never be legal?" Then they would tell me their expert opinion about how pharmaceutical companies, tobacco companies, alcohol companies, and religious fanatics would never let it happen. Since it was hopeless, they didn't see the point in helping the cause.
Seemingly overnight, the conventional wisdom changed. Now, those same people say that it's simply inevitable that cannabis will become legal. Since it's inevitable, there is no reason to help the cause.
As much as victory was not hopeless then, it's not inevitable now. It took a lot of hard work and ingenuity from countless people to get to where we are and it will take even more to get to victory.
If it turns your stomach that we live in a society where there are still hundreds of thousands of people being arrested for possessing substance that is safer than alcohol, I invite your participation and recommend that you start by becoming a member of the Marijuana Policy Project and signing up for their local state and federal alerts.
Can medical cannabis be environmentally sustainable?
Yes, but prohibition stands in the way.
I had the opportunity to take a prop plane over the national forest in Northern California recently. It's rather shocking how much the beautiful mountainous landscape has been altered because of cannabis growing. Cultivators are going as deep as they can into these environmentally sensitive areas, rerouting the waterways, cutting down trees, spilling chemicals, etc. It's terrible. This goes away under legalization. When was the last time they found a clandestine vineyard in the mountains?
Indoor growing uses insane amounts of electricity and that is not good for the environment. If cultivators did not have to hide, they would utilize greenhouses much more because they can harness the sun's superior and free energy while still controlling the environment like an indoor grow to yield the most sought after cannabis.
What's the difference between green and greener?
Green is keeping up with the sustainability practices of your peers. Greener is inspiring them to do more.
Troy with former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who has, in retirement, called for the end of the drug war.
Does the world need saving?
There is a great Howard Thurman quote that says, "Don't ask so much what the world needs. Go out and do what makes you come alive, because what the world needs most is people who have come alive." So, yes, the world needs saving but it's not on your shoulders. Rather, it's in your heart. There is no sacrifice needed. We each save the world every time we act from a place of love, joy and freedom. When we act from that place, we treat the world and all it's inhabitants in ways that will save it.
Who is one person doing good in the world (besides yourself) who we should know about and why?
I'm going to have to tell you about a few:
Stephen DeAngelo, CEO of Harborside Health Center, the national model for a well-run cannabis dispensary that is loved by customers, neighbors, and regulators alike is doing remarkable work in legitimizing the cannabis industry and marrying the ideals of activism and the spiritual lessons of the cannabis plant with the best practices of business and professionalism. The ArcView Group is blessed to have Steve serve as its president and its first investor.
Aaron Smith is the Executive Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, the first national trade group for the legal cannabis industry. It's great to know that the person at the helm is someone who believes in a sustainable and responsible future for the cannabis industry. I have the pleasure of serving on the founding board of the NCIA.
Nick Miller is the CEO of StickyGuide.com, a dispensary and strain review website that is redefining the space and taking the cannabis industry to whole new level of class and consumer experience. They are a great example of a company I'd love to help get funded.
(Shea's note: I invited Troy to come up with and answer his own question) Tell me about your latest project:
The Arcview Group
is facilitating the emergence of the legal cannabis industry by connecting forward-thinking investors and visionary entrepreneurs in an effort to meet the expanding and changing needs of responsible cultivators, dispensaries, and customers nationwide. With deep industry experience, The ArcView Group is poised to usher in the next generation of cannabis-related businesses with the creation of The ArcView Angel Network.
The ArcView Angel Network will be hosting the Cannabis Investment Forum Series (CIF), a series of events exclusively for the top ancillary cannabis business entrepreneurs and qualified investors in order to facilitate seed and early stage investment in federally legal enterprises within the medical cannabis industry.
If you are an accredited investor open to angel investing in this sector or an entrepreneur with a business or a business plan that does not violate federal law, I'd like to hear from you.