People of Northwest Public Radio
Mon February 25, 2013
Washington Marijuana Legalization Draws Yale MBAs With Big Ideas
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 3:39 pm
SEATTLE, Wash. – As Washington moves to legalize marijuana, pot entrepreneurs are lobbying in public forums and behind the scenes. These business interests want to shape the new marijuana marketplace. Among them, a Seattle-based private equity firm called Privateer Holdings. The company has hired a top Olympia lobbyist and is making the case for large marijuana grows to state regulators.
Brendan Kennedy remembers the moment he decided to get into the pot business. It was May of 2010. He was driving in the Bay Area. On the local public radio station was a debate over Prop 19, a measure to legalize recreational marijuana. Kennedy was a successful investment analyst and had just met that week with a potential client – a tech firm focused on medical marijuana. Something clicked. He picked up the phone and dialed his Yale business school buddy Michael Blue – a private equity guy in Little Rock, Arkansas.
At this point, Kennedy says he isn’t getting into the marijuana growing business. But what about the future? It is a cash crop after all. Kennedy recently submitted a memo to the Washington Liquor Control Board – the agency writing the rules to implement the state’s new pot law. In his memo, Kennedy urges state regulators not to limit the size of marijuana grow operations in Washington. He makes the case that large marijuana farms can generate economies of scale that drive down the legal price of pot and drive out the black market. Kennedy has also retained a top lobbyist to represent the company’s interests before Washington lawmakers, the governor, the Liquor Control Board and the state Department of Agriculture.
“So you are corrupting the youth,” I say.
“Ya," he responds. "No comment there.”
Kennedy says over the past three months, Privateer Holdings has received more than 100 resumes from what he calls blue chip MBA students who want a job or a summer internship.
On the Web:
Privateer Holdings - official site