When you make a commitment, you’re assuming you have a certain amount of knowledge about the future.
For example, when you get married, the vows about sticking together from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health presume there’ll be rough times ahead. What you’re also assuming is, you’re not going to wake up one morning and discover your marriage and the foundation you’ve now built your entire life on is illegal.
Same-sex couples actually are going into marriage with that threat hanging over their heads. But that’s a decision based on love. People do crazy things for love. You wouldn’t do that in a business setting where you’re dealing in cold hard numbers.
Or would you?
Well, you might. It’s called “calculated risk” and it’s precisely what’s going on in the marijuana business. Marijuana is, at this point, federally illegal. But a number of states have legalized it to varying degrees, some totally, some partially. Those states, along with a healthy dose of optimism about the way the rest of the country might go in the future, is enough of a possible upside for a good number of businesses to bet the farm on a coming pot boom.
Among those in this modern-day gold rush is a local company called Jack’s Pre-Rolls.
If someday we’re going to go to the store and buy a pack of joints like we buy a pack of cigarettes, we’re going to expect uniformity. A consumer is going to want every joint in the pack to be the same. And apparently, we’re going to want to put the joint down and light it up again later, in a way that doesn’t waste a lot of its content. To get that kind of product is going to require a different kind of machine than rolls cigarettes. And that’s the kind of machine Jack’s Pre-Rolls is investing in and, pardon the allusion, rolling out.
The Chief Information Officer at Jack’s Pre-Rolls is Paul Gregory.
There is one part of the cannabis industry that is federally legal, and that is the production of hemp. Since Congress passed The Farm Bill in 2018, it’s been legal to grow, harvest, and process hemp into various products, including rope, bioplastics, CBD, and food.
Again, pardon the allusion, but without getting into the weeds, the difference between marijuana and hemp, is zero. At least as far as the type of plant. It all comes from cannabis plants. The difference is the amount of THC in any individual cannabis plant. THC is the ingredient that gets you high. A cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC is legally hemp. If it has more than 0.3%, it’s legally pot.
So, if you’re farming cannabis, it’s essential to know the THC level of every plant in your crop. The standard way of finding that out has been to chop off a bit of each plant and send it off to a lab to get tested. The real-world problem here is, in the week it takes for a farmer to get results, the plant can increase its THC level. That not only changes the value of the crop but in the wrong state it also changes the farmer from a person legally growing hemp to a criminal farming pot.
The solution to this problem is a hand-held piece of technology that’s a kind of cannabis-zapper. The technology is actually called Raman Spectrometry. And the revolutionary new hand-held device that adapts it to measuring THC levels on the spot, is called PAMAP – which stands for Predictive Analytical Modeling Application for Plants.
The company behind this advanced cannabis science is Mariposa Technology. Michael Dalle Molle is a partner and Chief Operating Officer at Mariposa Technology.
There’s a formula investors use to determine how risky a stock purchase is going to be. It’s called a risk/reward ratio. Typically, the higher the risk, the higher the potential reward. Jack’s Pre Rolls and Mariposa Technology are both companies at early stages of development in a field so full of unknowns that it would be hard to accurately assess the possible reward for the risks you’re taking.
The legal hemp industry is in a comparatively lower-risk lower-reward category, but the THC side of the cannabis farming business is a textbook example of high risk, with a potential market that is simply unknown.
If marijuana is legalized, is it going to be as celebrated, popular, and lucrative as alcohol? Or is it going to be highly regulated and generally regarded negatively, like tobacco? Only time will tell. Let’s al meet up back here in a year and get an update.
Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur.