Cannabis business owners have a dilemma with what to do with their profits once they find the success that they got into the business for in the first place. Restrictive federal laws makes the banks nervous to accept funds from legal cannabis businesses and that leaves owners with a lot of cash on hand. A dispensary owner in Washington is looking to bolster his local community as well as find a place to invest his money.
Gourmet Grub Bus, helmed by operator Zac Mason and chef Andrew Grassick, is launching with a $50,000 investment by Steve Lee, co-founder and owner of Green2Go, one of three licensed cannabis businesses operating in Benton County.
Gourmet Grub Bus will offer casual fine dining on wheels and promises to serve fresh-cooked, gourmet meals on a fixed weekly schedule that will include stops at Hanford, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other Tri-City locales.
Beginning later this month, it will cater brunch at The Local, 8530 W. Gage Blvd. in Kennewick. Brunch will be available on a pre-sale basis to start.
Lee, who founded and co-owns Green2Go with his wife, confirmed profits from the Finley business are funding not only Gourmet Grub Bus but other local businesses with no direct ties to cannabis.
Lee said he has little other choice when it comes to investing Green2Go profits, since most investments are regulated by the federal government and cannabis remains a Schedule 1 drug under U.S. law.
“Diversification is the only option for expansion,” Lee said.
By investing cannabis profits in start-ups, Lee and similar entrepreneurs are providing an intriguing new avenue for local entrepreneurs to secure startup capital.
The legal cannabis industry reported more than $1.3 billion in revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30 and paid almost $305 million in excise taxes, according to figures compiled by the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, which regulates the industry.
Carl Adrian, president of the Tri-City Development Council, said efforts to create a seed capital fund have fallen short. He credits Lee with putting his money where his mouth is.
“You’ve got to hand it to Steve. He’s in it to make more money. That’s what he should be doing,” he said.
Green2Go’s connection to Gourmet Grub Bus ends at Lee. The food truck doesn’t sell marijuana, Mason and Grassick said.