John Lord once walked into a federal government building with $2 million in cash in his backpack to pay his taxes for the cannabis he sells.
Due to federal laws he couldn’t get a bank account to bank his drug profits.
It’s different now.
His customers still have to pay cash but he can now transfer money to the Internal Revenue Service come tax time.
Lord is the chief executive of Livwell – the largest marijuana dealer in Colorado – one of a few states that have legalised cannabis.
He sells in excess of $80 million worth of product annually.
He won’t talk profit margins.
Not too bad for a one-time Te Aroha dairy farmer.
He moved to the States back in 1998 first to manufacture and sell baby products.
He sold that business in 2008.
Cannabis is much more lucrative.
Lord has a staff of 500 – owns 20 retail stores and is acquiring more this month.
His business sells 35 strains of marijuana – topical cannabis creams (typically used for aches and pains) and oils.
‘The business itself has grown. The company pays full health care which is a big deal over in the States. We have a retirement plan for employees, paid leave and we try to train and hire from within so it gives our employees the chance of climbing the ladder.
‘It’s attracted a huge number of younger people.
Not what you would first think.
Over two-thirds of the company have a degree – mostly millennials and they are interested in marijuana as social change’.
He grew up on farms in Otorohanga – Kio Kio – Te Awamutu.
He holidays annually at his parents’ home on Paterangi Rd near Te Awamutu.
They go fishing in Kawhia.
He dresses like a grandad – carefully tucked shirt into tidy khaki pants.
Maybe that’s because he is a grandfather.
He’s in his 60s – has three adult children – one’s a doctor in Australia – and has one grandchild.
Lord is not what you think a typical drug dealer would look like.