Snoop Dogg’s VC firm just closed a $45 million fund for ancillary cannabis businessesSpandan Sharma
Most people know Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. better by his stage name Snoop Dogg. A best selling rapper who started his career in 1992, Snoop Dogg has sold over 35 million albums worldwide. However, more people likely know him for his lifelong advocacy of cannabis than for his music. Few people have contributed more to the popularity of cannabis in popular culture than Snoop Dogg. In fact, the rapper even started his own venture fund in 2015, Casa Verde Capital, to provide seed-stage and Series A funding to “ancillary businesses” in the United States cannabis industry. Yesterday, March 13, the venture firm closed its debut fund, raising over $45 million.
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In an interview to TechCrunch, Karan Wadhera, Managing Partner, Casa Verde Capital revealed that the firm raised the money in earnest last year from limited partners including family offices and individual investors. Karan admitted that Casa Verde had not attracted any institutional investors, despite some interest towards the close of the fund. Explaining the fund’s activity further, Karan said, “We’re writing seed-stage to Series A-size checks, so $1 million plus, with roughly half our fund reserved for follow-on investments, where we can write another $3 million to $5 million [to a limited number of breakout companies]. And we’re only focused on the ancillary part of the cannabis industry, so we won’t invest in companies that touch the plants. No dispensaries or cultivators or manufacturers. We’re investing in the picks and shovels.”
The cannabis industry “ancillary ecosystem” – commonly referred to as businesses “not touching the plant” – includes, but is not limited to, companies from the agtech, health & wellness, financial services, technology, media, compliance, and laboratory technology verticals. Cannabis is currently illegal under federal law in the United States, but several states have enacted individual laws to exempt cannabis prosecution and use from criminal prosecution. As of today, medical use of cannabis is allowed in 29 states across the US; nine states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have also made the recreational use of cannabis legal, while a further 13 states and the US Virgin Islands have decriminalized it.
Since its creation in 2015, Casa Verde Capital has made seven investments – $10 million in Eaze in April 2015, an undisclosed amount in FunkSac in November 2015, $3 million in Green Bits in August 2017, $2.5 million in Trellis in September 2017, $1 million in Cannalysis in November 2017, and $3 million in April 2017 and an additional $10 million in November 2017 in LeafLink. The firm also backs Merry Jane, a cannabis-focused digital media platform set up by Snoop Dogg in 2015 with media entrepreneur Ted Chung.
In India, the possession, sale, transport, and cultivation of cannabis is illegal at the federal level but is tolerated or quasi-legal in several states, including Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, and the Northeastern States. Uttarakhand became the first state to decriminalise the cultivation of cannabis for industrial use in 2015; the possession and sale of cannabis have also been decriminalised in the state of Gujarat.