Three years ago this week when Joe Biden was sworn in as president, the United States cannabis industry was living in groovy times. 

Valuations for publicly traded operators were booming with speculation that a Biden administration – along with democrats controlling both chambers of congress – would in short order normalize cannabis commerce via rescheduling, SAFE Banking legislation or all out legalization. 

Due to a confluence of circumstances including prioritizing infrastructure legislation, Biden’s tough on crime tenure on the Senate Judiciary committee and the well-chronicled addiction issues of his son Hunter Biden, it became clear by early 2022 that speculative-driven investment euphoria would not last. 

Now, as polls indicate a neck-and-neck race between Biden and Donald Trump culminating this November, cannabis rescheduling – which can be accomplished without going through a divided congress – appears to be a bud-in-the-hand for Biden to activate his base. 

“He needs young voters and minority voters to have some enthusiasm,” said John Sullivan, Executive Vice President at Cresco Labs who is thoroughly dialed into the weed ways of Washington. “If he doesn’t do something on this and a few other things he’s in trouble.” 

Sullivan appeared on a Cannabis Innovation Lab panel focused on the potential implications of rescheduling, which also included participation from cannabis law partner Joanne Caceres of Dentons. 

“The culture wars have already been won,” explained Caceres, noting that upwards of 90 percent of Americans polled are pro medical cannabis while 67 percent of the U.S. population is in favor of recreational cannabis. 

See full one-hour panel conversation here.

Other notable nuggets from the conversation included:

  • How cannabis being considered a Schedule I substance has more to do with legislation that with science (15:15)
  • Why the IRS 280e provision against Schedule I traffickers makes it nearly impossible for cannabis operators to make money (30:30)
  • Expectations for mainstream would-be cannabis service providers getting into the space after rescheduling (34:10)
  • The challenge of getting rank and file bureaucrats at the Drug Enforcement Agency who have spent generations combating cannabis to get on board (53:50)

In terms of timing of potential rescheduling, Sullivan believes it could and should happen just prior to the March 7 State of the Union Address. While Caceres was not as precise, she concurs that it is likely to take place in the coming months, perhaps around April 20.

“They are funny that way,” she said. 

Don’t miss these free cannabis industry education live streams 

We invite you to attend and participate in remaining Cannabis Innovation Lab public sessions this week.

On Thursday, January 25 at 10:30am join us for a conversation on Cannabis and Elections 2024. Panelists include Jay Rosenthal of Cultivated News, Katie Neer of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association and John Pletz of Crain’s Chicago Business.

On Friday, January 26 at 9am we will have a conversation on Hemp-Derived THC products with Ali Jublier of Benesch Law and Dynamic Jack, Christopher Lackner of The Hemp Beverage Alliance and Dr. Jennifer Weiss of Cubbington’s Cabinet.

Register here for all the fun! 

1871 Announces 2024 Cannabis Innovation Lab Cohort

Chicago, January 24, 2024 – 1871, a nonprofit global innovation hub, announces its list of the 2024 cohort members for its second annual Cannabis Innovation Lab, in partnership with Grown In and supported by Hoodie Analytics

Kicking off the 2024 Innovation Lab year and running in parallel with 1871’s first-ever Web3 Innovation Lab, the Cannabis Innovation Lab offers a cutting-edge platform for growth-stage entrepreneurs and startups in the cannatech industry. 

This dedicated space fosters innovation, collaboration, and growth, providing cohort members access to resources and industry-specific expertise from VCs, corporate partners, and industry enthusiasts to drive industry transformation. 

Grown In’s CEO, Brad Spirrison, returns for their second year of partnership, playing a vital role as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) for the 2024 lab. This year’s focus areas are Finance, Seed-to-Sale Supply Chain, Health & Wellness, and All Things Consumer. 

The 15 selected cohort participants will collaborate with one another and the entire canna tech innovation ecosystem through 4 immersive weeks of curated programming, workshops, and problem-solving sessions. 

Cohort members have solutions spanning the canna tech sector and covering the 2024 focus areas. Connect with the 2024 cohort and discover their innovative startups at our upcoming public immersive weeks

2024 Cohort Members 

Acute on Chronic | Rebecca Abraham, CEO & Founder  

Acute on Chronic is an innovative health tech impact start-up that combines traditional plant medicine with AI innovation while utilizing a dedicated team of registered nurses to provide compassionate care to unlock the power of plant medicine. We’re on a mission to help individuals and healthcare professionals harness the incredible therapeutic potential of medical or adult-use cannabis, botanicals, and psychedelics.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Health & Wellness 

Anami Technologies / GreenSpace | Michael Wilson, CEO & Founder 

Greenspace is a location-based software that allows customers to aggregate their data, manage their IP, and organize it all to their dispensary addresses. It includes a file management system that provides expiration functionality to manage time-sensitive items like licenses, leases, and other documents that expire or require reminders. Greenspace Pro has an integrated project management system to help manage licensing, construction, compliance, and audits with a fully integrated communication tool that aggregates all communications to a specific location, eliminating the need for texts and emails. 

Cannabis Lab focus area: Finance 

Budscout AI | Tim Macal, CRO

Budscout is a team of experienced executives, data scientists, engineers, and problem solvers leveraging robotics and AI to change the paradigm in cannabis cultivation.  Budscout helps cultivators improve labor efficacy and efficiency while providing real-time plant health insights and localized environmental data to increase yield and quality.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Seed-to-Sale Supply Chain 

Cannatrac Financial Corp | Terry Patton, Chairman & Founder 

Cannatrac Financial Corp is innovating the future of financial services for the cannabis industry and beyond. The CannaCard App has evolved from payment and rewards to playing a vital role in the historic insurance reimbursement and cost-saving card programs for medical cannabis. These products and services are pioneering groundbreaking advancements in the intersection of finance and healthcare within the cannabis sector. With a strategic eye on medical cannabis rescheduling and global expansion, Cannatrac is poised to reshape the landscape of financial solutions in this rapidly evolving industry.

Cannabis Lab focus area: All Things Consumer 

CannaHauler | Nicholson Medlock, CEO & Founder  

CannaHauler is a Transportation Management System and Load Board for the cannabis industry. We help our customers save money, improve efficiency, and get paid faster.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Seed-to-Sale Supply Chain 

Canurta Inc. | Akeem Gardner, CEO 

Canurta is leading the world in the research and production of rare, multi-target polyphenols for complex inflammatory and neurological conditions. Combining advanced bioinformatics and proprietary manufacturing processes, Canurta can transform these compounds into active, high-quality biopharmaceutical ingredients with proven clinical activity and superior safety assurance.​

Cannabis Lab focus area: Health & Wellness 

Cultivation Connect | Alex Wisniewski, CEO & Co-Founder  

Cultivation Connect provides an easy entry to precision agriculture for cannabis cultivators. Cultivators connect their choice of data logging sensors or control applications with our software tool to enhance their ability to independently detect issues and generate insights. By analyzing genetic, nutrient, and environmental data, Cultivation Connect enables data-driven cultivation decisions resulting in higher yields, better quality, reduced costs, and minimized waste.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Seed-to-Sale Supply Chain 

Drop Fleet | Vanessa Gabriel, CEO & Co-Founder  

Drop Fleet is a delivery management solution supporting businesses in efficiently allocating and monitoring their local deliveries. It enables seamless communication between businesses, drivers, and customers while prioritizing adherence to regulatory standards. Drop offers a robust web-based dispatcher platform and reporting dashboard, user-friendly iOS/Android mobile apps for drivers, automatic real-time customer notifications with tracking, and versatile APIs for seamless integration with 3rd party software, all with a strong emphasis on delivery compliance.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Seed-to-Sale Supply Chain 

Finli | Lori Shao, CEO 

Finli is a Certified B Corp on a mission to bridge the access gap for businesses (micro, small, mid-sized) and financial technology. We are a provider of digital back office that allows business owners and managers to focus on what they do best and offload administrative burdens such as customer management, billing, inventory management, contract management, pricing, and payment.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Finance 

Flourish Software | Conrad Schwabe, Account Executive

Flourish is a leading seed-to-sale supply chain and retail management platform built specifically for the cannabis, CBD, and hemp industries. Companies that cultivate, extract, manufacture, distribute, or retail cannabis, CBD, or hemp use Flourish’s software to drive their supply chain and retail operations, manage costs, and stay compliant. Flourish is deployed nationally, fully integrated with Metrc and Biotrack, and is proud to offer the industry’s leading API and integration capabilities.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Seed-to-Sale Supply Chain 

Function Botanicals | Alastair Greer, CEO & Founder 

Function Botanicals is a digital health company that combines quality, precise cannabis products with condition-specific dosage protocols designed to find your personalized and most effective dose.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Health & Wellness 

Keep It Compliant | Shawn “Pepper” Roussel, LA Barred Attorney/Agricultural & Food Law LLM and Agricultural Economics MS student – University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

Green Pepper Solutions is a solo practice by Pepper Roussel, a food law attorney and agricultural consultant. Green Pepper Solutions fills the critical space between advocacy and implementation, thereby providing the best opportunity for long-standing social change with the force of law.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Seed-to-Sale Supply Chain 

Kore Compliance, LLC | Ray Jorgensen, CEO  

Kore Compliance is a FinTech software company focused on a frictionless cannabis consumer experience around delivery and pre-order. The Budtendur product imitates ubiquitous software (e.g., PayPal, Zelle/Venmo, DoorDash/UberEats) that won’t work in cannabis due to federal illegality. Budtendur is a disrupting technology as it replaces a myriad of single-thread products for the price of one.

Cannabis Lab focus area: All Things Consumer 

Moodi Day | Biyerem Okengwu, CEO 

Moodi Day is a rewards platform for consumers to learn and share candid feedback with each other about cannabis products. Our mission is to normalize cannabis by increasing access to real experiences from everyday people about products available in licensed dispensaries.

Cannabis Lab focus area: All Things Consumer 

Outlaw Technology, LLC | David Eagleson Sr., CEO & Founder  

Outlaw is the industry leader in data capture automation. With our custom software deployed on our RFID handhelds and touchscreen tablets, we are able to capture and update via API integration to a wide range of software databases. The Outlaw goal is to eliminate pen and paper to drive efficiency and accuracy, thereby allowing our customers to do more with less.

Cannabis Lab focus area: Seed-to-Sale Supply Chain

About the program 

Cohort members will participate in 4-weeks of hybrid programming, alternating each week for virtual and in-person experiences in January, February, March, and April 2024. The program culminates with a capstone-like event, the 2024 Cannabis Innovation Summit, open to public participation on 4.18.24. 

Subscribe to stay up-to-date on all Cannabis Innovation Lab  + Summit news. 

For inquiries about involvement in partnering with us or learning more about sponsor options for the Cannabis Innovation Summit, connect with our team. 

About 1871 

1871, a nonprofit global innovation hub, exists to inspire, equip, and support early-stage, growth-stage, late-stage, and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~500 early-stage startups, ~250 growth and late-stage companies, and ~60 corporates, and is supported by an entire community focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area.

The member experience includes virtual and in-person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds, and others.

Since its inception in 2012, more than 1,050+ alum companies are still active, have created over 14,700 jobs, and have raised more than $3.7 billion in follow-on capital.

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.