CANNAINVESTOR Magazine October / November 2016 - Page 119

According to The Trace, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the United States, federal regulations on firearms and cannabis prevail over state policies. “On every background check completed at a federal firearms dealer, prospective buyers are explicitly asked if they are a “user of, or addicted to” the substance. A “yes” answer means the gun seller can’t go through with the transaction. A “no” answer — if false — is a crime punishable as a felony, with up to five years in prison” (Source: Sauer, “Guns or Ganja: The Fed Says You Can’t Have Both.” April 20, 2016. Accordingly, Venegas defers to and fully supports the federal laws on guns and cannabis in implementing this policy for his own employees.

A former Infantry officer, and West Point graduate, Venegas brings a deep knowledge base of training, operations, and leadership which makes him well suited to his current role as CEO of Helix, managing a military-style security and integrated operating solutions business. He is perhaps not unique to the security segment of the cannabis industry in that regard. Where he clearly stands out is in his extensive investment management and frontier markets experience.

Venegas began his career as a banker at JPMorgan, in Switzerland, where he was quickly promoted to lead the bank’s Bahrain team. He spent 13 years living abroad in different countries, the majority of which were emerging and frontier markets. “As different markets in the world began to heat up, we moved to those markets in order to take advantage of the emerging opportunities,” says Venegas.

He maintained the relationships he developed with sophisticated investors in the Middle East and convinced many of them to follow him in his next endeavor: launching his own private equity firm out of the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) in 2003. In this capacity, he and his long-time business partner, Scott Ogur, evaluated and invested in private and public companies across several industries, which involved negotiating the legal, cultural, and operational landscapes across 4 continents, and building talented executive teams within his portfolio companies.