High finance: Pot entrepreneur sells spot in lottery for big cash

A Bremerton, Washington, entrepreneur cashed in on his marijuana business this week without selling a single bud.

David Comeau hadn’t opened a store yet. He didn’t even have a license to sell pot. What he had was luck.

His Better Buds company ranked No. 2 for Bremerton in a lottery held by Washington state last month to determine which applicants would be first in line to receive a limited number of recreational marijuana retail licenses. Only two pot shops will be allowed in Bremerton, which made Comeau’s position valuable.

How valuable?

On Wednesday, C&C Shop LLC, the No. 13 ranked applicant in the Bremerton lottery, announced it had purchased Better Buds and its coveted lottery placement for $150,000. Comeau also will receive either $10,000 a month or 10 percent, whichever is higher, of the store’s net revenue for as long as it’s open.

It was a windfall for a business that largely only exists on paper.

“We just got really, really lucky,” Comeau said. “It was absolutely like winning a real lottery.”

C&C Shop partners were feeling equally good about their purchase.

C&C Shop entered retail applications in three cities but faired poorly in the lotteries.

Managing member Pete O’Neil said he was relieved to secure a future retail license, even if it came at a price.
“We came to a good number,” O’Neil said. “Bremerton is going to be a good market.”

Other marijuana lottery “winners” are rushing to sell. Several businesses were listed this week on Craigslist after placing high in retail lotteries. One was asking $1 million, another wanted $2.5 million. Comeau predicted a “frenzy” of marijuana business acquisitions this month.

The No. 1 ranked retail applicant in Bremerton isn’t for sale, but it is seeking investors. Allan Geister, manager of The Pot Shop, put an ad on Craigslist asking for partners after the business came out on top in the lottery. Now he’s fielding endless calls from Seattle investors.

“I’m amazed at the amount of money,” said Geister, who declined to say how much he hoped to raise.

High lottery rankings and big-cash backers don’t guarantee the stores will open. The applicants and all their investors still must be vetted by the state Liquor Control Board. If red flags are found, state agents could move on to the next-highest lottery picks.

But for the lucky few who have businesses approved or sell at the right time, the marijuana lottery could prove life changing.

Comeau, 36, had grown medical marijuana before pursuing a recreational retail license.
Comeau said he was serious about running his own pot business, but the sure money offered by C&C Shop was too good to pass up.

“This is guaranteed for my wife and I,” he said.

Unlike Comeau, Geister, 62, had no experience with marijuana. Geister plans to retire in January from a 13-year job at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

If The Pot Shop is approved, his retirement could be a cushy one.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”

For more on the impact marijuana legalization is having in Kitsap County and Washington state, click here.

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