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Cannabis social network MassRoots applies for Nasdaq listing

AFP Marijuana may not be America’s largest cash crop, as was long rumored, but it’s still probably a $4 billion annual business.  As of last year, it’s also legal to grow, own, and use recreationally Colorado and Washington, with Alaska, the District of Columbia, and Oregon soon to follow. It’s approved for medical and other limited use in 18 more states. Entrepreneurs are racing to take advantage of the new laws and changing attitudes toward the drug. Here are the players and startups you need to watch. Privateer Holdings is a private equity firm that’s making big investments in marijuana startups. Its CEO is 42-year-old Yale graduate Brendan Kennedy, and it counts Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund among its investors. Source: Business Insider, Quartz Based out of Seattle, Leafly was one of the first new marijuana businesses, founded in 2010. It’s like Yelp for reviewing different strains of pot and dispensaries. This is a screenshot of the company’s periodic table of pot strains. Privateer bought the company in 2011. Leafly Marley Natural, backed by reggae star Bob Marley’s heirs and Privateer Holdings, aims to be the world’s first global cannabis company, selling smokeable weed, topical oils, and accessories. It’s based in New York. Marley Natural Eaze is a mobile app that lets you get medical marijuana delivered to your door. You have to prove you have a medical card. It was founded by Keith McCarty, who was one of the first employees at Yammer, and recently raised $10 million from several investors including rapper Snoop Dogg. Eaze Weedmaps shows you where the nearest pot dispensaries are located. It’s based in Denver. Weedmaps Meadow is another medical pot delivery service based in SF. It also recommends doctors who will issue a medical marijuana card, and has a blog with helpful info like a video on how to roll a joint. It counts startup accelerator Y Combinator as an investor. Meadow MassRoots is a “semi-anonymous” social network for pot users. It’s raised over $1 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, and is based in Denver. Massroots High There is basically like Tinder for pot users. HighThere. Grassp is another pot-delivery app. It’s based out of LA and has raised $1.5 million in funding. Grassp Arcview is a San Francisco based group that connects investors with marijuana startups. The Arcview Group Tilray is a legal provider of medical marijuana in Canada. It’s also received funding from Privateer. Tilray Canadian Cannabis Corp is another company focusing on medical distribution in Canada. It’s got $1.5 million in venture funding, according to Crunchbase. CCC But what about the other kind of green? 26 MORE tech skills worth a $100,000 salary>> Read more stories on Business Insider, Malaysian edition of the world’s fastest-growing business and technology news website.

A social network that’s kind of like Instagram but for stoners is trying to make the leap from the over-the-counter market to the Nasdaq.

MassRoots (^MSRT), which launched in 2013 and went public on the over-the-counter market in April of this year, has filed an application to have its shares listed on the Nasdaq. The company bills itself as one of the "largest and most active communities of cannabis consumers," a place where people can find smoking buddies, share experiences and connect with local dispensaries.

MassRoots has 500,000 members, a number it had predicted it wouldn't hit until the end of the quarter.

MassRoots hopes a move to the Nasdaq will help it garner more interest from institutional investors and help bring legitimacy to a burgeoning legal American marijuana industry that’s still operating in the shadows even as public sentiment toward the drug is changing.

But MassRoots still has to win the Nasdaq's approval, a process that can take weeks and requires the company's share price to rise above $3, among other requirements. MassRoots shares were trading at around $1.38 a share on Wednesday. The company has a market cap of around $60 million.

“We have a plan in place to meet all those requirements in the near future,” said MassRoots co-founder and CEO Isaac Dietrich.

But even meeting those requirements may not be enough.

“It is important to note that even though a company’s securities meet all enumerated criteria for initial inclusion, Nasdaq may deny initial listing, or apply additional conditions, if necessary to protect investors and the public interest,” the exchange, which doesn't comment on listing applications, says in its listing documents

MassRoots recently began charging businesses to advertise on its network and soon begins to plan charging for consumer insights related to its users. “We are able to tell dispensaries what products, strains and services are most popular among cannabis consumers,” Dietrich said.

About 1,000 businesses already have profiles on the site, and about 50 of them have already signed advertising deals with MassRoots, Dietrich said, noting the site has generated about $25,000 in revenue since advertising sales began about two weeks ago.

Because Facebook and Twitter don't allow advertising by cannabis dispensaries and related businesses, MassRoots offers one of the few ways for marketers to reach cannabis consumers through social media. 

Two other cannabis-related companies, GW Pharmaceuticals (^GWPH) and Insys Therapeautics (^INSY) — both medical marijuana companies — already trade on the Nasdaq.

Meena Thiruvengadam writes about the marijuana business for Yahoo Finance. Follow her blog on tumblr at amsterdamamerica.tumblr.com and on Twitter at @Meena_Thiru

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