Follow the Money: For Lord Jones, all roads end at Big Tobacco
With the latest mega-buyout of LA-based CBD brand & Hollywood's darling, Lord Jones this week, heads are spinning on what this means for the CBD space in general. With a $300 million price tag, it's no wonder. Canadian company Cronos Group picked up Lord Jones for $225 million in cash and the rest in stocks to add to their rapidly expanding portfolio of cannabis brands with their goal of "...striv[ing] to improve people's lives and generate long-term value for our stakeholders."
We're Californians, so the tired trope that Silicon Valley has worn to the bone of "improving people's lives" falls as flat as yesterday's avocado toast. However, cliché slogans are still not immune to scrutiny so buckle up, here we go.
Zoom in a bit, and you'll see SoulCycle noted as one of the most recognizable of 1,000+ retailers who carry Lord Jones thus boosting its valuation in the marketplace (along with Sephora). Google SoulCycle this week and you'll find calls to boycott SoulCycle and Equinox gyms after it was discovered their owner/investor Stephen Ross is hosting a $250,000 a head fundraiser for Trump in the Hamptons. Trump—not exactly a cannabis champion, in case you missed the connection.
Who cares? Same bullshit different day? Yeah, totally. Well then let's go back to Cronos.
Cronos wasn't alone in funding the deal, Altria also threw some cash in the ring to make the deal happen. Altria, parent of Phillip Morris (gag with me now), and substantial investor in the Juul vape company who is coming under scrutiny for sending numerous teens to the ER. Clearly, Altria is up to its old tricks of attempting to fool the world into thinking they give a shit about people. From the Washington Post:
"After more than three years of vaping daily, Beauparlant [teen] was diagnosed with restrictive lung disease. His mother said she is working with an attorney to file a class-action lawsuit against Juul that would force it to set up treatment centers."
Talk about a real come to Jesus moment for the cannabis industry. As consumers, where will you put your cannabis dollars? As business owners, how much are you willing to sacrifice for a giant stack of cash? Come on! Doesn't it make you sick to see that SoulCycle makes money off selling CBD while raising donations for a president who has only worked against real cannabis legislation? And isn't it just a touch crazy that the owners of Lord Jones are now rolling in cash fresh from the coffers of a company known to poison our teens?
Yes. The answer is yes.