If you scanned that as “Mad Men”, you weren’t too far off. MedMen just happens to be the name of the failed business described in this extended piece on the Politico website. Of all the cannabis startups that have crashed, MedMen was the most, well, everything – the most capital raised, the most media hype surrounding the opening of its first store, and the most publicly humiliating collapse.
The “Apple of Pot” it emphatically was not.
Instead, it’s a prime illustration of the current state of commercial marijuana – “American Wild West capitalism”, says the article. If you’re curious about what can go wrong when pot is legalized in your state, check it out.
The cast of characters will be familiar. A fast-talking hustler, a laid-back partner who brought stoner cred to the venture, and an array of investors eager to cash in and all too willing to suspend rational disbelief. For a while, at least. Then they showed up expecting a return and the whole scheme wobbled, soon to come crashing down.
I noticed several industry figures are quoted, blaming their problems on the lack of a coordinated, coherent set of Federal regulations. I’m sure that plays a big role, as it has in other industries. Still, much chicanery and fraud occurs in places where such regulations already exist. Banking, for instance. High finance. Defense contracting. Big Pharma.
Can’t help noticing how few of those responsible ever went to jail. Not much of a deterrent for others.
Some of this is down to greed on the part of short-sighted investors. I once warned a friend’s father about a “hot” chain of rehabs with a bad reputation, figuring he should at least be aware of that before entrusting a bunch of cash into their custody. He just grinned. “You’re not the first to mention it,” he remarked. “But look, I’m only in it for a minute, right? First sign of trouble, I’m outta there. On the bullet train.”
He really talked like that.
Years ago, another fellow who happened to be facing fraud charges confessed he felt no remorse at all for having misappropriated vast sums. “The firm was negligent,” he argued fiercely. “Security is their responsibility. Not mine.” What? They should have prevented him from stealing the money?
A street thief expressed similar sentiments that same day in group therapy, with respect to burglarizing someone’s home. “You too cheap to get a decent alarm, that’s on you. It ain’t my fault you’re stupid.”
We like to call such attitudes sociopathic, but it’s a type of reasoning that’s way more common than we’d like to believe – up and down the socioeconomic scale.