In the cannabis industry, being a multistate operator can mean big profits and broad brand awareness, but brings unique challenges due to the complex regulatory framework that surrounds the burgeoning legal marijuana markets across the U.S.
At Wednesday's Cannabis Capital Conference, three executives from some of the biggest companies in the space offered their perspectives on the ever-changing landscape and what’s ahead in 2019 for this booming business.
Moderator Alan Brochstein, founder of the 420 Investor, focused the majority of the panel on the burning questions so many single-state operators have, asking how to decide which markets to enter and what it takes to stay compliant across borders.
“If you ignore California, you’re ignoring huge opportunity,” said panelist Steve White, CEO of Harvest Health & Rec, a company with medical cannabis licenses in nine states including California.
“If you can create a following in California, you have a real strong probability of being successful elsewhere,” said George Allen, CEO of Acreage Holdings (OTC: ACRGF), which boasts investments in multiple portfolios representing cultivators, processors and dispensaries. "Nationwide awareness doesn’t mean anything if you can't deliver," Allen said.
Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve (OTC: TCNNF) — which holds licenses in California, Florida and Massachusetts — implored the audience to focus on smart and strategic growth while making sure to examine any and all challenges posed by each market.
“Our responsibility is to provide high-quality products to the consumers,” Rivers said. “Having an eye on national policy, state laws and local regulations is tough. There are a lot of unknowns and lots of balls in the air to juggle at any given time.”
Rivers' fellow panelists echoed her sentiment, saying that planning for the future of their businesses during an uncertain time for cannabis has been by far their greatest challenge.
“You have to keep your eyes on where the industry is going,” Acreage Holdings' Allen told the crowd in Miami Beach.
“Focus on long-term creation of shareholding value. For us it’s not only about investing in the brands, but also the infrastructure leading this fast-growing land grab.”
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