Med-X – Crowdfunding, cannabis and chicanery

As a college student during the 1960s, I was exposed to marijuana and had friends who were out and out stoners. As a young lawyer I represented a wholesale head shop company that Time Magazine referred to as “the Dunhill of the industry”. Through them I met many entrepreneurs who had profited in the wholesale and retail paraphernalia industry.

Being a cancer patient I am familiar with medical marijuana. I have read the literature and discussed it with my doctors. I know many people who have used marijuana as part of their recovery from cancer and other illness.

This article is not about the pros and cons of legalizing pot. It is about Crowdfunding, the cannabis industry and a questionable investment.

Sales of marijuana in states where it is legal are expected to top $5 billion this year. Still, I cannot see the loan committee of a major bank or any Wall Street firm step up to finance the cannabis industry in any major way. Even though its use is legal in an increasing number of states, the cultivation, distribution or sale of marijuana is still a federal crime and banks and brokerage firms are regulated by federal agencies.

It is not surprising then, that the cannabis industry has found Crowdfunding to be a source of new capital to fund its growth. Rewards based Crowdfunding campaigns for new vaporizers and similar products are easy to find.

What surprised me was that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently approved a $15 million offering for a cannabis related company under the new Reg A +. The offering for a Southern California based company, Med-X, became effective in early February.

The company has no sales or current business to speak of. The company states that it will use the money from investors to: “research and develop, through state of the art compound identification and extraction techniques, and market and sell medically beneficial supplements made from the oils synthesized from the cannabis plant.”

The Company’s planned compound identification and extraction research and development operation will be conducted primarily at the Company’s existing 600 square foot indoor cultivation center in Chatsworth, California, where controlled quantities of high quality cannabis are being grown, harvested and stored for research and medical use to the extent permitted by California law.

The company has several physicians on its Board of Directors. However, none has disclosed any published research paper on cannabis and none, apparently, works fulltime at the company’s 20’x30’ cultivation center to direct that research. Cannabis is apparently being grown, although the equipment needed to conduct the promised research will not be purchased until the offering is funded. In any event, the research is for future products.

In the meantime the company will use some of the investors’ money “to acquire, create and publish high quality cannabis industry media content through the Company’s media platform, (a website) to generate revenue from advertisers as well as through the sale of industry related products.”

If this were styled as a media company I would not question it. But the website is only a few months old, has no revenue and again the company lacks personnel with a media background to run it.

The company’s other revenue generator will be sales of a product called NatureCide® to cannabis cultivators throughout the world. NatureCide® is an insecticide and pest repellant. This product is owned, manufactured and distributed by a company called Pacific Shore Holdings, Inc. an affiliated company that is controlled by the same person who controls Med-X, Mathew Mills.

Med-X acquired an exclusive license from Pacific Shores Holdings to market NatureCide® products to the cannabis industry in exchange for 10,000,000 shares of Med-X stock. An exclusive license can be valuable, however, in this case the products are readily available on making the value of the exclusive license questionable.

Pacific Shores Holdings is a classic penny stock. Mr. Mills was sanctioned, twice, first in Pennsylvania in 2011 and later in California in 2013 for selling shares in Pacific Shores Holdings to investors he had no business selling shares to. The structure employed here, with one penny stock company acquiring a large block of stock in another pursuant to a licensing agreement is also a classic penny stock tactic.

Like any Crowdfunded offering, shares of Med-X are being sold by the company directly to the public. In theory investors should be able to make an informed evaluation of the company before they invest their money. But most investors cannot.

I expect that many people will line up to send their money to invest in this company’s shares. It certainly will not be because this company represents a good investment.

More likely, if you will forgive the pun, the buzz about this offering will be about its asserted link to the cannabis industry. The minimum investment is $420. (No kidding).

Stop to consider that its main product, NatureCide®, was pre-existing. Its only connection to the cannabis industry is the statement that it can be used by cannabis growers in the same way that people growing virtually anything else can use it.

Mr. Mills was apparently content to sell shares of Pacific Shores Holdings without adequate advice from a securities lawyer. He now proposes to conduct cannabis research without a cannabis researcher on staff and publish a website without an experienced website publisher.

Remember, I want the Crowdfunding industry to succeed. To do so it will need to offer investors the opportunity to invest in companies that at least have a likelihood of success. I do not believe that investors will find that here.

Instead, Med-X is poised to give both the evolving Crowdfunding and cannabis industries a black eye and to leave many investors holding the bag. The cannabis industry will survive.

If Med-X turns out to be a $15 million scam, (and there are others) investors may begin to realize that there are better places to invest their money than a Crowdfunding portal.