Cannabis is the New Gold Rush
Like most successful entrepreneurs, Matthew Morgan knows how to pivot. When the Montana native realized college wasn’t the right fit, he got an apprenticeship with an electrical union. Then the excitement of real estate beckoned, so he heeded the call and shifted gears once again. Despite finding quick success at his new profession, he made one more forward-thinking move.
“Let’s be honest,” Morgan says, “cannabis is the new gold rush.”
He ended up co-founding several different cannabis-related companies, one of which—Reef Dispensaries—operates six retail locations, two manufacturing plants and two laboratories, with more than 400 employees.
His latest venture is Green Axis, an investment firm he hopes will soon be synonymous with cannabis entrepreneurship. Here’s how he plans on making that happen.
What was it about real estate that first appealed to you?
Morgan: Easy. One, I was my own boss. Two, I only had myself to thank and myself to blame for every success and failure. I enjoy the equal weight of responsibility and reward; always have, always will.
Why did you move to cannabis?
Morgan: Just before the 2008 subprime mortgage meltdown, I noticed my real estate success was beginning to crumble due to market conditions and bad regulations. Rather than cling to a sinking ship, I chose to swim and catch a rising tide that was seeing its regulations improve.
It was as though real estate and cannabis were two elevators in a building; for one, I was a bit late to the party, and it was on its way down. But the other was still at the ground floor heading straight up.
How is working in this industry unique?
Morgan: It’s still widely uncharted territory. You’re trailblazing more than anything, and you don’t have a playbook of the right moves to make at the right time—but that’s what entrepreneurs thrive on.
I enjoy the challenges just as much as I enjoy knowing exactly what I’m doing. And with ever-changing regulations, banking issues, and emerging tax laws, the cannabis industry is one that forces you to be truly innovative.
How is Green Axis helping you innovate?
Morgan: Green Axis is an incubator—not simply a passive investment firm. Green Axis helps fund, grow, and distribute cannabis through controlling interests in our partnerships. We look for opportunities, we look for differentiators, and we provide the financial backing, knowledge and a deep rolodex in the industry to make something happen.
You recently partnered with Instagram star and professional poker player Dan Bilzerian, who says he wants to create the ‘first global cannabis brand.’ Is that your goal?
Morgan: Isn’t that everybody’s goal? I don’t believe any entrepreneur plans to build a business that doesn’t expand. Without serious dreams, you’ll never create serious change.
What does Bilzerian bring to the table?
Morgan: Dan is a strong influencer and an even better businessman, his negotiating skills are next-level and clearly something he’s honed with all those hours at the card table. Our skill sets complement each other well, and partnerships are everything to me.
What are the benefits cannabis provides to you personally?
Morgan: For the last seven years, I’ve been using cannabis and CBD to help with my chronic insomnia. Prior to this, I’d tried every pill, home remedy, and commercial sleep aid on the market. None of which were reliable, and they had their fair share of undesirable side effects. With cannabis and CBD, I can sleep.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to break into the industry?
Morgan: Be humble. Times may seem great right now, but these were forged by many before us who took tremendous risks. This is an industry where one has to first earn their stripes.
What’s your vision for the future of cannabis?
Morgan: In 10 years, I believe the industry will be almost completely recreational. Not just in North America, but across the world. I see the biggest growth coming from the oil, vape, and edible markets, leaving the actual bud/flower as the smaller piece of the proverbial pie.
Ultimately, I see cannabis becoming as accessible and acceptable as the use of alcohol. And I plan to be on the forefront of making that happen.
To keep up to date with Morgan's endeavors, follow him on Instagram at @thematthewmorgan