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Cannabis executive: local industry could create hundreds of millionaires

There could be 300 to 400 new millionaires in The Bahamas within the next decade if cannabis is legalized, according to at least one of the members of the government appointed Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana, which is expected to present its report to Cabinet for or against legalized cannabis by the end of August.

However, Elliot Hepburn-Marshall, who is the president of Bahama Cann and chief executive officer of Oakland, California-based Proper Rx Collective, said the main issue for members of the public, who have been voicing their concerns regarding the legalization of cannabis at recent town hall meetings, is whether they will have a stake in a cannabis industry.

“We don’t own any industries so the fear is right. I’ve had the fear. When I started pushing this with the government, I actually started to a little with the PLP government, and my fear was that it will go the way the hotels and every other industry has gone,” he said in an interview with Guardian Business.

“People try to compare it to numbers, but that’s not really the same realm. I can understand the concept but the gaming industry isn’t killing cancer and stopping tumors, so it’s a little different, but in concept I can see the similarities. I think everyone is genuinely scared of the plantation lifestyle coming back here.”

Hepburn-Marshall opened his first store front in 2007 in California, and remains one of the first black-owned enterprises in the industry.

He said the economic and social impact studies he commissioned have found that at least 25 sectors of the economy would be impacted by a cannabis industry; accounting services, advertising, marketing and public relations, banking and payment solutions, business insurance, compliance solutions, consulting services, gear and apparel, cultivation products and services, eco-sustainable solutions, events and conferences, extraction and processing equipment, financing and investment capital, human resources, payroll and staffing, lab testing services, laboratory equipment, legal services, manufacturing equipment, media publishers, packaging and supplies, real estate, security solutions, software and technology and training and education services.

“Of those maybe four to six of them actually touch the product, so that’s how we’ll have all these peripheral and ancillary industries that people will flourish in,” Hepburn-Marshall said.

“You take for example, I have a buddy that has a soil company and he has had it for maybe 15 years, and two years ago that soil company sold for $15 million. All he did was soil for cannabis growers, a soil company. He mastered his soil and it became good. The upward mobility is going to be huge. Everyone thinks about the smoking and that it’s going to be huge, when in fact it’s just a small fraction of the industry.”

Following the recommendation by the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana to declassify marijuana as a dangerous drug in all legislation and reclassify it as a controlled substance, similarly to tobacco and alcohol, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis gave the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana until the end of April to submit their findings into the effects and benefits of legalization.

“Our reports will be submitted to Cabinet. I can only hope they will be taken seriously because we’ve taken the reports seriously. They will be very informative and robust, covering every single aspect of the industry,” Hepburn-Marshall said.

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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