To Be Blunt: The Podcast for Cannabis Marketers

066 Founding an Edible Brand and Getting Acquired by an MSO with Ryan Crandall of MariMed

September 06, 2021 Shayda Torabi Season 2 Episode 66
To Be Blunt: The Podcast for Cannabis Marketers
066 Founding an Edible Brand and Getting Acquired by an MSO with Ryan Crandall of MariMed
Show Notes Transcript

“Bear through obstacles. Everything is a speed bump, nothing is a brick wall. And I think if you have an optimistic attitude and you're not willing to take no for an answer, it's not about ‘it's never gonna happen’, it's ‘when is it going to happen?’.” - Ryan Crandall

Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Ryan Crandall, co-founder of Betty’s Eddies, to share his story of MSO acquisition, the impact of varying state laws on business operations, and broadening our perspective on the opportunities within the cannabis industry.

[00:01 – 07:00] Ryan Shares his Experience on Medical Cannabis

[07:01 – 12:56] Filling the Void of Quality Products

[12:57 – 23:22] Understanding MSOs and the Acquisition Process

[23:23 – 32:15] Market-based Approach in Branding Towards Consistency

[32:16 – 38:09] Understanding Laws and Becoming a Multi-State Operator

[38:10 – 45:11] Innovation Opportunity for Big and Small Businesses

[45:12 – 54:49] Food for Thought: How Do You Broaden the Opportunities in the Industry?

Ryan Crandall is the co-founder of Betty’s Eddies, a premium all natural products and confections brand, which he launched in 2013. Betty’s Eddies was acquired by MariMed Inc. in September 2017. Since the acquisition, Crandall has been the Chief Product Officer & SVP of Sales for MariMed Inc. MariMed designs, develops, finances, and optimizes medical cannabis cultivation, production, and dispensary facilities as a management service. MariMed's team has developed or is in the process of developing state-of-the art regulatory-compliant facilities in DE, IL, NV, MD, MA and RI. These facilities are models of excellence in horticultural principals, cannabis production, product development, and dispensary operations. MariMed is on the forefront of precision dosed branded products for the treatment of specific medical symptoms. MariMed currently distributes its branded products in select states and is expanding licensing and distribution to numerous additional states encompassing thousands of dispensaries. MariMed Inc., is one of the 17 top-performing public cannabis companies in the U.S. tracked on the U.S. Marijuana Index.

Connect with Ryan

Visit https://marimedinc.com/ and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @marimed_inc

 

Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She's currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, a female-run education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Shayda is the host of a podcast for cannabis marketers called To Be Blunt, where she interviews top cannabis brands on their most successful marketing initiatives. When Shayda's not building her cannabiz in Texas, you can find her on the road exploring the best hikes and spots for vegan ice cream. Follow Shayda at @theshaydatorabi

Key Quote:

“You just have to be willing to look at the data when you do have it and be able to make quick decisions and be malleable to what the market is telling you needs to happen.” - Ryan Crandall

“We are all about patients. We're all about our customers, and we're all about trying to improve their lives every day.” - Ryan Crandall

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Ryan Crandall  0:00  
There's a lot of different purchasing behaviors in each one of the states and so we can go into a new state and think we understand the way a certain brand or product is going to be received and or sell through. And the reality is, we do analytics and typically we're close there are some places that don't make sense with the states around them. Maryland specifically is a very interesting market when you take a look at dosage for Betty's are 50 milligram choose outsell are 20 milligrams, and 50 milligrams is a hefty dose for most folks and Betty's isn't has been at times the number one product in Maryland both the high dose and the medium dose choose and the high dose outsells those 20 milligram choose. In Massachusetts we do a five milligram and a 50 milligram chew for the most of our portfolio, and it's 95% 90% of the revenue is at the five milligram dosage.

Announcer  1:02  
You're listening to two B one B podcast for cannabis marketers, where your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here's your host Shayda Torabi.

Shayda Torabi  1:26  
Hello and welcome back to the To be blunt podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer, and I'm so glad you're here with me for another episode on the podcast. Before we dive into today's episode, I want to say thank you to everyone for tuning into the podcast. I launched it over a year ago. And the feedback has been so outstanding from the comments I received to the amount of listeners who are tuning in more and more each week. So thanks for tuning in. Thanks for listening. Thanks for engaging and helping contribute to the conversation of lifting the cannabis community and the cannabis conversation up as we navigate this industry together. If you have found any value of the podcast, I encourage you to please head over to iTunes podcast page for the show and leave a review. You can leave a just a star rating or you can share some thoughts on what you enjoy about this podcast. I read every single note that comes through and do my best to engage and answer everyone who reaches out. building a community that is built on the foundation of education and communication is really important to me. So thanks again for everyone who has been engaging and if you haven't yet, maybe this is a little nudge to connect with me. So switching gears and turning to today's podcast guest I'm sitting down with Ryan Crandall. He's the Chief Product officer at Mary med, a cannabis MSO that is headquartered in Massachusetts. He has an interesting story because his journey to working with Mary med started when he had the idea to found and launch his own edibles brand that is edibles. And after navigating the launch and distribution of Betty's it was actually acquired by Mary med which is what brought Ryan and house with the MSO. Now I talk a lot about msos in the podcast and for those of you who are unfamiliar with that term, it stands for multi state operator. In today's legal cannabis landscape or running a business is limited to the four walls of your state's boundaries because cannabis is not federally legal, you can't have interstate commerce. For example, you can't cross the state lines with products you manufacture in Massachusetts to Connecticut, even though both states have legalized cannabis. But if a company wants to set up business in multiple states that in return turns them into a multi state operator. So Mary Matic currently is operating in Delaware, Illinois, Rhode Island, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Puerto Rico. Yes, I said Puerto Rico, I didn't even know Puerto Rico had legalized medical marijuana. But that's the beauty of this podcast. I feel like I'm always learning something new too. So needless to say this conversation was very informative because I think msos get a bad reputation because they usually have a lot of resources to power them over smaller local mom and pop shop brands. But Ryan gave a lot of good insight as to where msos are actually helping the innovation in the industry and how Mary med is doing just that. So if you have thoughts about msos or questions, I'd love to connect with you. So please reach out on Instagram at to be blonde pod. Now let's dive right into the episode and welcome Ryan to the show.

Unknown Speaker  4:49  
My name is Ryan Crandall and I work from aramid. I'm the head of product and sales at mera med and I started Betty's Eddie's which is cannabis brand back in 2014. I guess part of the story of So how I got into cannabis is really related to not really getting high. But actually, I had a challenge I was a computer science major in college. And a lot of the projects we would get would be really time consuming and take months on end sometime. And you really had to wrap your brain around complex problems and figure out how to code and I found myself getting stuck. And literally, I'd be at the same point for three or four days with the same problem and not being able to figure out how to solve it. And one of the things I noticed was, when I smoked a joint, I would be able to come back at that problem and think about it a different way. And that was really the eye opening moment for me in my life where I said, there's something more to this plant than just getting hot, it actually enabled me to think more clearly about problems that I wasn't able to solve traditionally. So it was really back in college, I wasn't a heavy user in high school, but I started to use a little bit in college. And then I realized there was some real benefit to me, I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in college and prescribed Ritalin and all these different things. And I found that cannabis works much better than any of those prescribed drugs. And really, that was where I really started to become a super user of the plant at that point, and not just really smoking it. But I was always focused on culinary things. I love to cook and I love to create things. And I married the two when I became the guy amongst my group of friends that would be making brownies or cookies, or whatever. And I'd be bringing those to the party as opposed to alcohol. So that kind of started for me in college. Graduated was in technology for a while but always had this kind of vision towards wanting to do something more in cannabis didn't know how I get there. So yeah, that's the background of why cannabis is important to me personal there's been a lot of different stories along the way that it brought me even closer to the plant of how it helps with cancers and PTSD, a lot of different things that are out there that people struggle with that I feel like cannabis really gives them a helping hand.

Shayda Torabi  7:01  
Yeah, I love starting with the Why? Because I do think that, again, for the listeners, there's so many people who maybe they live in a legal state currently or a state that's about to flip and they're trying to figure out how can they carve out a space for them to exist in the industry? Or maybe they're like me, and not so legal state. I didn't want to say illegal state because we do obviously have hemp legality here, but are also trying to figure out how do I be a part of this industry, which is, I think, a very rewarding and exciting opportunity for those of us who want to lean into the space. But obviously your background, specifically like this is kind of a follow up question you founded Betty's Eddie's so walk us through what was that like to create an edible company. I'm also super unfamiliar with Massachusetts cannabis laws. So if you can also infuse some of that as well. I love taking these opportunities when I get some maybe lesser known states in the game to shed a light to what was it like when you were going from Okay, so I'm making edibles for my friends. But now I want to actually go to market and create a product. What was that journey and experience like going from thought to conception to actually putting a product on a shelf that someone is purchasing for money?

Unknown Speaker  8:22  
Yeah, sure it what a wild an awesome ride. It's been and continues to be every day, I would say it starts in a fashion that wasn't focused on creating an edible brand. That was a side product to an earlier project. So in 2012, I mean, Tim Shaw and a gentleman named Sean Crowley started on not for profit, Massachusetts with the goal of gaining licensure for a cultivation processing and dispensaries in the state. So the state outlined a plan to license medical cannabis dispensaries and whatnot and licensed those folks. And we decided to go for one of those licenses. So we organize the team started to create a plan hired lawyers and different folks to help us consult and work through that process. It was really arduous and really expensive. And none of us came from backgrounds where we had a lot of money, everything that we had worked for during our day jobs, what we call it, and so we were self funded, didn't have investors, and ultimately, in 2014, I think it was February of 2014, we received an email from the CCC stating that we had not been selected. So there's a very long story to it. But it was very, very disappointing day. And it took me about a month of internalizing those emotions to say we had done so much work planning, from cultivation to products to go to market strategy. There was a lot of work we had put in, I didn't want to waste. One of the things that I felt like I was really passionate about along the way of planning was edibles. And I had done a lot of competitive research and try it a lot that was out there and I felt like there was a really a big void in the market related to quality products. And so that's where it all started. We had a bunch of different names before we settled on Bette's that, we were trialing but ultimately it was I became a Medical Cannabis Patient as soon as I could. I started to grow my own plants. I learned extraction processes in my basement. And we started to create some different products. We created an ice cream, we created a caramel, we created some cookies and bond bonds, we created a bunch of different stuff. And along the way, we traveled up to Oregon to a butane extractor and learned about butane extraction, went to a bubble hash extractor, we went to a gummy factory in South Carolina, the million square foot and toward that we hired a confection expert from Johnson and Wales to help us part time to improve the recipe. So it started off Benny's really started off as a caramel. And over time, literally my wife, while we were away in Oregon, found a really cool fruity recipe we used as our base. And then really, it had things like butter and corn syrup and all kinds of stuff in it. And over time, we weaned all those things out and made a really, really clean edible, with ultra specific attention to the ingredients to make really what we felt was a competitor to Starburst or something else like that Laffy Taffy, we wanted to be one of those CPG type products, but use really good ingredients to get. And that was the initial thing. We started with a partnership out in Colorado. So we weren't as ultra focused on Massachusetts regulation back then, because we didn't see a real avenue to get the market that made sense for us. So we looked at Colorado we worked on for two years out there and never got a product. And it was a learning experience for us. Sometimes those learning experiences are expensive, both from a time and money perspective. And that one was, but ultimately, during that process, I got really close to the guys at mera med, and worked with them on a plan to bring Betty's into their company, which was very, very small at that point. And also to come in and run product and sales after that. So several months after that, that I worked my way in to have my baby at my side and really enable it to grow across multiple states. And I think that secret sauce that we have embeds our mission right now is to bring that secret sauce to other brands and products in our portfolio.

Shayda Torabi  12:07  
I think that's such a fun and relatable story, obviously, so much success to be able to be brought into Mary Madden, like obviously a multi state operator and definitely want to pick your brain on kind of what that acquisition process was like. But to kind of step back a little bit and just focus a little bit on the branding side. Again, I think so many of us probably have like aspirations, not maybe explicitly in edibles, but obviously we all want to work in cannabis, we all want to have a product go to market, we want to understand the distribution channels, packaging, how you're going to put it in front of a consumer. And so I appreciate just your transparency of sharing the roundabout journey of how you were trying to go to market and launching and obviously a lot of the lessons learned. But ultimately, it did net us some success by being able to be acquired into this family of brands that Mary Mehta was putting together. Now, I guess let me follow up that and kind of pick apart a little bit more to you said Mary med was pretty small. So let's start. I know I talked about msos on the podcast, but for anybody who might be new listening and just for a good refresher like, what is an MSO? And kind of where did Mary men come from in this whole narrative? What state did they start operating in? And you said they were smallest? Like At what point did you meet them and get acquired by them versus the scale that they're now operating at?

Unknown Speaker  13:26  
Sure. So before mera med was Mary med mera med was our current CEO, Bob fireman and our CFO john Levine. They were part of a consultancy in Massachusetts. And when I was part of that nonprofit, we actually hired these gentlemen to consult with us and so I met them back then man kept a really good relationship with them. When this Colorado stuff was happening where we weren't getting to market wasting a lot of money and time. We created a strategic partnership with mera med for Betty's they had a an agreement in Illinois with GTI and GTI ended up picking up the Betty's Eddie's product line and producing that in 2017 and 2018. It quickly became their number one product in Illinois, over Incredibles and Incredibles is obviously their brand that they own. So with 11 schools of Incredibles two schools of Betty's were out selling everything. So we knew we had something at that point. I think mermaid mermaid had become mermaid at that point. They started in Delaware. And they started with a couple relationships in some key states like Illinois partnerships, and embeds was able to tag onto one of those partnerships. And I think the success that we had the Betty's had no annoy really resonated with the folks that Marah met including Bob firemen, and they knew they had something special. So at that point, we started to talk in 2017, about the beginning of 2017 about Betty's becoming America med brand.

Shayda Torabi  14:47  
And so Merman is medical only or are they in the recreation market as well.

Unknown Speaker  14:54  
We're both adult use and medical depending on the market, there's a predominant number of medical states that we're in And active in but Massachusetts started as medical is now adult use were very prevalent in Massachusetts, Maryland is a medical only market where there Delaware medical only there Nevada is obviously both. We've got a range of markets. Now we definitely grew up on the medical side, being an East Coast company and being focused here transitioning, learning the adult use regulations and deploying those across our skews and rethinking about how we go to market and some of these places taking that into account.

Shayda Torabi  15:28  
Yeah. So you mentioned obviously going to market and with your particular brand, that is Eddie's outperforming some of these other top products in the market, just kind of like what are some things that you've observed from being on that kind of side of the industry, so to speak, in terms of bringing a product to market trying to navigate some of these laws and regulations, and then especially being a part of a company that is multi state, I think it's such an aspiration for small brands to obviously want to be multi state. And it's possible if you find partners who are going to then go produce your product, but obviously, you can't ship your product across state lines. So just kind of like what are some of the things that you were navigating as you were one bringing Betty's eddies to market and trying to be this like new challenger of a product that's outperforming some of these other edibles in the market, but also as you're going into new markets, and especially your role with Mary Mehta is just expanding across state lines. I mean, it seems like a really large undertaking, obviously, it's possible, I just can't even imagine the different money webs that are woven to kind of get you in a position to be able to do something like that.

Unknown Speaker  16:34  
Yeah, 100% and the piece that really kind of stuck out to me when you just mentioned that was there's a lot of different purchasing behaviors in each one of the states. And so we can go into a new state and think we understand the way a certain brand or product is going to be received and or sell through. And the reality is, we do analytics and typically we're close there are some places that don't make sense with the states around them. Maryland specifically is a very interesting market when you take a look at dosage for Betty's are 50 milligram choose outsell are 20 milligrams, and 50 milligrams is a hefty dose for most folks and Betty's is and has been at times the number one product in Maryland both the high dose and the medium dose choose and the high dose outsells those 20 milligram choose. In Massachusetts, we do a five milligram and a 50 milligram shoe for the most of our portfolio, and it's 95% 90% of the revenue is at the five milligram dosage Puerto Rico, I thought it would be a higher dose market and they're really gravitate towards a lower dose product. So sometimes the data points in the right direction, sometimes it doesn't. And you just got to be willing to look at the data when you do have it and be able to make quick decisions and be malleable to what the market is telling you needs to happen.

Shayda Torabi  17:49  
Let's kind of flip to a timeline kind of perspective, I'd love to learn. What was the timeline for when you were in Colorado trying to launch Betty's to getting would you call it acquired by Mary med? Or is it more of a partnership type of approach? And then what was that timeline from launching or trying to launch in Colorado to getting acquired to kind of where you're at today? Because I'm just curious, obviously, timeline wise, I think legality plays a big role and how things unpack I mean, even just personally speaking, I have friends who were in Arizona, and Arizona flipped and went medical to recreation pretty quickly from when they decided comparatively you have other states like New York who are opening a rec program, but it's not actually launching until I think I saw 2023, potentially even 2024. So sometimes the timeline for even the like legal operations side of the industry is a little bit more delayed. And so I'm just curious, kind of from your perspective of launching your brand, through the acquisition, what was that timeline? Like? Was it really quick and fast paced? Or was it like really slow and you're kind of like having to learn and dodge and like pivot as things are changing?

Unknown Speaker  19:03  
Oh, my God. I mean, I could summarize it with the word curveball. I mean, it's like constant curveballs. I mean, I remember in Colorado, I felt like it it just taken us forever to get this kitchen open in Pueblo, Colorado with a partner of ours. And we were funding building out the kitchen and paying for licenses and all these different things, just to help them get open faster to help us get to market and I think so we started that in 2015. And that ran through almost the end of 2016. And like I said, we never sold a product in the state. But one of the things that happened right at the end, that was one of the things that pushed us a little over the edge was Colorado came up with a regulation where every individual serving had to be with the universal symbol which they define they were the first state I believe to do that at the PCE level. And we make taffy on older piece of equipment. It's really an antique taffy machine, and there's no way to mark each individual piece. So we ended up figuring out a way but it wasn't really a talent to us at the time. And it was really like, Oh my god, are you kidding me? We were just ready to get to market. I think we had done a production run and had inventory. And then this regulation change that change very quickly, and really threw a gear wrench at why that was Colorado. And we ended up pulling back and saying, let's do this partnership with Marin med and see how we can do Bakkies with something more controllable and more homebound to us. So we started, you know, partnering with Merriman, I believe it was the end of 2016 into 2017. And quickly saw real results through that partnership, and started negotiations with mera med with Bob fireman, early in 2017. That concluded at the end of 2017, with them bringing us on and then I started here in January of 2018.

Shayda Torabi  20:43  
Okay, that's super helpful. I again, I think from my perspective, it's so fast paced. When you're kind of in the industry. I think, from a consumer perspective, the consumers are constantly driving products or the brands and obviously paired with the legal status of things like yes, Colorado, I think, what went recreation in 2014. And so those years proceeding after were a lot of really early learning years that impacted what was actually on the products, like you're saying, having certain markings to dictate and mark that it is actually a THC product, to what the label is saying. I remember even just like early edibles, in terms of the homogenization of cannabis in the product being such a troublesome challenge for brands, because, yeah, it's easy to like maybe make a batch when you're making like 100 pieces. But if you're trying to go bring a product to market and make hundreds of 1000s of pieces of consistent candy or consistent consumables, that's a whole other ballpark. And so just trying to kind of paint a little bit of a picture for those listening, because like, as I'm listening to you, I'm one very excited to hear that this is kind of your journey, because I didn't really even think that it was a possibility to even be like acquired kind of that opportunity or that process. So is that something that you're familiar is happening with other msos? Or do most msos use and create brands from within versus kind of acquiring brands? Kind of like what is you think, like the split or the approach that makes merriment different? Or is that just like a standard kind of MSO operating procedure?

Unknown Speaker  22:18  
Yeah, I think there are some msos that have done some acquisition of brands, I think, a lot of homegrown stuff. I think that is the majority. But I mean, Incredibles was a brand that come came out of Colorado that GTI acquired believe they just made an investment in cam, which is the West Coast cannabis drink company. So I think there is some of that going on, to go to your earlier point. And we can circle back to this. I think one of the things we got lucky with early was I became a Medical Cannabis Patient right out of the gate as soon as I could. And I was making my own edibles, but actually going to get them. So I was able to really iterate like from a computer science perspective, like how do I iterate this problem as many ways as I can we were able to iterate on how do we get dosing as consistent and precise as we possibly can. And it wasn't at the start. But over time, it became very consistent. We knew that was going to be a huge differentiator early on to have consistent edibles that maybe work better than others. And we felt like there was some real opportunity around that with regard to this, the Betty's Eddie's product line.

Shayda Torabi  23:23  
Now, I appreciate that highlight, because I do think that, again, so many people obviously dream about having a successful brand. I mean, cannabis aside, like, I think anybody who's in business like wants to have a successful brand. But when you overlay the cannabis industry on to that goal, there's things you have to be considerate of, and especially when you're dealing with a consumer, whether they're a Canna curious consumer, or they're a cannabis, consumer veteran, they want consistency, you want to be able to have a product that if you eat it today, it's going to be the same effect as tomorrow. And then especially layering on that approach. Now we're going to be producing this outside of the state that we started in shit. And we need to make sure that everything is consistent, that consumer experience is consistent. And that especially I feel if you're dabbling and dealing with the medical side of the conversation, like extra especially there needs to be consistency with those products. So it's obviously I don't think it sounds like you necessarily or maybe actually set out to make your product medical first, but it seems like medical was kind of obviously the veil which allowed you to go to market the quickest and then move from there. So is Betty's edibles. It's medical and adult use. You said right now, just depending on the market,

Unknown Speaker  24:35  
depending on the market. Yep, correct. Yeah, I was just gonna circle back to the msop. So like I feel like now most of the msos are creating their own brand. I see. Not a lot of it, but I feel like it's gonna get stronger as we go is the idea of innovation, like kind of forums for smaller folks to have an audience with larger companies and like innovation centers, where I know there was a cannabis business in mass Jesus in the name is escaping me. But they set up an awesome program where they went out and talk to very, very small, you know, one or two person businesses just fledgling and gave them an opportunity to make their products in that facility, and then bring them to market through the dispensary. And it was like almost like an innovation accelerator program ever since I saw that I've that's been intriguing to me. And at some point here, like that's going to be something that I want to get involved in, like, I want to help the next generation of folks bring their products to market because it's not just all about large companies, CPG companies coming out with the best products. I think there's great things that happened from that. But I also think there's great opportunity for smaller players to become bigger players through that opportunity.

Shayda Torabi  25:51  
Hello, just want to take a quick moment to thank my sponsor and full disclosure, my company restart CBD, restart CBD is a brand that I built with my sister. So we are family owned and a women owned, we do operate a brick and mortar in Austin. So if you ever find yourself in Central Texas, we'd love for you to come say hi. But we also ship nationwide and we carry a wide range of CBD products. We really care about this plant, we really care about educating our customers, this show would not be possible without their support. So please go check us out at restart CBD calm and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks. And let's go back to the show. We're really glad you said that because I think there's a sentiment, there's probably the touchiest thing I'll say about msos. But that fearful nature of oh my gosh, a multi state operators coming in, I'm a small brand, Is there even going to be an opportunity in the market for me, which is why I think your story is so refreshing to hear amongst the just like unknown that people have with msos and just the assumptive pneus of again, wow, this is just going to come and like gobble up my industry, what's going to happen. And so I think reflecting on being in Texas, we don't really have a medical marijuana market. It's very, very immature. But we do have a medical marijuana market. And I'm saying and kind of an iPad to boys on purpose, because there's definitely people that were like Shayda, we have a medical marijuana market. I'm like, Okay, okay, but like, do we really, and we have our first MSO moving in. So we have the medical marijuana, there's maybe like a couple licenses that are operating in Texas right now. But then you have a pretty well known MSO moving in. And so I think we're all just kind of bracing for impact to wait to see what that's going to do. I personally think an MSO. If I can be bold and say this can provide obviously a tremendous amount of value to states that have not fully gone medical or even rec because I think they have the infrastructure to help push and influence it to have better adopting cannabis laws. And I don't know if that's something that you've observed to in your time. And just like the experience that y'all have gone through going into some of these more, maybe medical only states, we need people to come in and disrupt the market and have money behind it to actually influence the politics and the legislation. It's It can't just be the small businesses who are like, Oh, we want to legalize cannabis like it's gonna happen. So it's this kind of like, tug and pull them Oh, no, and MSO is coming in. But at the same time, like, hey, the msos gonna come help push some of the laws forward faster. So I just don't know what your thoughts are on that.

Unknown Speaker  28:32  
Yeah. And my thoughts are, you know, MSO, it's such a really polarizing term today. And for a lot of folks. And I, I really think that even if you're in one state for cannabis, you go to a second state and all of a sudden, you're MSO. And I feel like there's a lot of different levels to the MSO. And not just the levels of revenue, or those kinds of things, but levels to the way that they view and operate in the market. And I think we they all get categorized potentially, that way. A lot of these msos are still relatively small businesses, and the people that started with those msos when they were in one state, and now they're in three, they get potentially a bad rap just for working for a company, and they're moving towards the same policy changes that you and I want. So we all I think we really need to come together as a cannabis industry and stop polarizing one end or the other like, yes, there are big msos that maybe don't act corporately responsible as well as they could. But I don't think that should categorize all of them. And I think it's each individual MSO and company's responsibility to really have a vision, mission and value kind of statement that they live by. And so aramid is literally helping people every day. And I feel like our products do that. And I feel like when we talk to the people here, that's what we're all about. We are all about patients. We're all about our customers, and we're all about trying to improve their lives every day. So when we're thinking about new products, and we're thinking about the challenges that people have that Cannabis can help with. That's where we're laser focused? Well, we can be. Yeah. So I think that's really how I feel about it. I feel like we need to put more pressure on the msos and non msos to act more corporately responsible, and to be in line with what the overall vision for cannabis needs to be.

Shayda Torabi  30:16  
Yeah, no, I mean, obviously, there's no right or wrong answer. And it's just trying to again, piece that together for my audience for even myself to kind of make sense of it, especially with so many variations. I mean, even just reflecting on your experience with Colorado, I've gotten a chance to have some, you know, really early Colorado brands on the podcast, too, and getting to hear some of those war stories of like, we've been through some shit. And then you talk to people in California, and they've also been through some shit, but kind of in a different way. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You live like all these different lives. And so trying to make sense of it. And then I read some article last week that was talking about, you know, celebrities getting into cannabis. And it's like, okay, you know, it's great. Obviously, in Texas, we got Willie Nelson. He's a really big cannabis advocate. We love Willie Nelson, like great product, great brand. He's building that has built just through his country music career. But then, you know, on the flip side, you see, oh, Kristen Bell also has a cannabis line, and like Chelsea Handler is getting into it. And you're like, where does it why, like, where do the lines get drawn? And how do you make sense of it? And then obviously, especially when you have this influence of, I'm really glad that you kind of highlighted the distinction to have just like the different variations of msos. Because, again, I think like cannabis being super polarizing and stigmatize, you have this word now that as you said it right. It's like, all of a sudden, you go from being in one state to two states or three states. Now you're a multi state operator, that doesn't mean that you're, you know, Procter and Gamble opening up, you know, a cannabis business operating nationally. Yes, there are definitely those msos in operation and so not to discredit or to lump everybody in obviously the same pool that everybody's playing the same game. But it is really refreshing to hear, you know, obviously, that you can be a multi state operator and still have the consumer centric focus that it sounds like y'all have. And yeah, I just think it's really interesting to understand kind of like the breadth of it, too. And so kind of leaning into that topic. What is, you know, married man, like, what is the history of it? From my understanding to it requires vertical integration to be a multi state operator are not necessarily but I know that y'all are vertically integrated. So what is the breadth of the company? And what are the different states that you're actively operating in?

Unknown Speaker  32:36  
Sure, sure. One of the things So Bob firemen, and john Levine really started the company. And Bob fireman has a history of being an advocate for cannabis for years and years and years. And he has done a lot of like, he grew lettuce on rooftops in New York City. For people who couldn't afford food. One of the ventures that he was in prior to getting into cannabis, ultimately, they got into cannabis. And this company started with consulting people and trying to help them gain licenses. And so the company itself wasn't trying to gain licenses, the company was literally trying to help people gain licenses. So we started really as a consultancy, to help people that were trying to get into the industry. And ultimately, the company itself made a decision that, hey, we are good at what we're doing. Let's focus that energy and bring this company to bear and, and that's exactly what we did. So what we stand for today is very much in line with what I talked about before regarding helping people and and being very focused on the consumer. I would say that where we operate today, we're in Illinois, we're in Massachusetts, we're in mass. We're in Delaware, Maryland, in Nevada. So we own operations and all of those states and varying degrees. And then we have partnerships in Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and Maine. So the partnerships in Puerto Rico and we're at Rhode Island and Maine, our license agreements where we make our products under somebody else's license, and then they sell them produce them themselves.

Shayda Torabi  33:59  
So essentially, they're taking like, for example, like a Betty's edibles, and they're licensing that brand so that they can produce it and sell it in Puerto Rico. That's correct. Yep. So is Betty's edibles sold in Puerto Rico?

Unknown Speaker  34:13  
Yes. And pretty cool. So they just changed their law too. So they allow rest? Well, they've allowed reciprocity, but it used to be a process where you had to go see somebody before you left on your trip. And now it's the type of thing where as long as you have a medical card from your state, you can get to Puerto Rico, I think go for go to one specific office on the island, and they enable you to purchase cannabis and medical dispensaries is it's a form of reciprocity that's there, which is great.

Shayda Torabi  34:40  
That's really cool to hear. Yeah. I mean, I wasn't even aware that Puerto Rico had a program operating in existence. So

Unknown Speaker  34:48  
yeah, they've got about 100 or so dispensaries, and it's a really active market in Puerto Rico. There's a lot of consumers, not just the people that go there vacationing. The population that lives there full time is a very cannabis Focused population of votes.

Shayda Torabi  35:02  
That's awesome. I love learning new things. And this podcast obviously teaches me something new, every conversation, kind of going off of, you know, just the breadth of Mary med, I saw some quotes that it was one of the top 17 performing public cannabis companies in the US traded by the US marijuana index, I didn't even know that companies could be publicly traded in the cannabis sector. So help me understand what that statement really means. And in comparison to some of your peers like top 17 performing meaning, products or distribution in terms of states you're operating in? Or is it really just like how much money is the company is processing?

Unknown Speaker  35:43  
I think I believe that's related to the stock price. So I believe that it was related to us starting at a stock price that was x and going to a y over over a period of time. And I think over that period of time, we would have been ranked 17. With regard to other publicly traded companies. I think there are ways in the United States to list as a cannabis company. I'm certainly no expert on that. But there's things called over the counter or pink sheets that are for specific companies. So that's there are cannabis companies that are similar with Merriman inclusive to that that are listed as OTC companies in the United States, a lot of companies have also what's called dual listed, and they'll list up in Canada. And because Canada has better done federal legalization, there's more investment opportunities relative to those the stocks that do that I'm not sure if Mohammed will do that at some point in the future. But currently, I don't think there's any companies, cannabis companies on NASDAQ or at the NYS se, but I don't believe the 17th overall is in regard to revenue, or anything else. I think that's probably just a statistic based on where the stock price was, and where it was on the date that they wrote the article.

Shayda Torabi  36:53  
Got it? Got it. Yeah, I mean, it was just fascinating to me to even understand, you know, just again, in the breadth of everything that's happening in the industry and trying to piece together this understanding of, again, I always reflect back to myself like, I'm in Texas, so we're facing legalization. What is that going to look like? What is actually going to happen? I also obviously do this podcast. So I get to talk to a lot of different states in different roles in the industry. And so that gives me another kind of key to piece together and you're tracking what's happening at a federal level, sometimes even an international level. And it's like, okay, now I'm going to back myself back into like, my corner here in Austin, Texas, what can I do? How do I make the most change? How can I make the most impact? What does that look like? And so again, I think your story's been really reflective of being able to highlight there's multiple ways to the top, as I like to say, but helping uncover maybe another avenue for people who are curious to try to make sense of when these msos are operating, one, how to interact with them, what is potentially an opportunity with it, as well as you know, a potential maybe acquisition. I know, that's not standard for every MSO. But knowing that is something on the table is something that I just didn't even know was really, truly a possibility. And maybe it gives a glimmer of hope to someone out there who, and you highlighted it. And I really appreciated that you highlighted it, this kind of innovation opportunity. And it's not just reserved for these big brands, obviously, great ideas come from everywhere. I think that's why there's a saying there's no dumb question, because you just you never know if five year old can have something really profoundly to say that makes you think in a different, you know, perspective in a way. And so I definitely think that that spirit is very familiar to the cannabis community in the cannabis industry. But again, reflecting on Wow, this industries have grown so fast, feverishly, it almost sometimes feels like I get asked a lot are you going to become a dispensary like selling marijuana when it becomes legal. And I reflect on I don't even know if that's a possibility, because I don't know what my state laws are going to be. I don't really know what the federal laws are going to be. And so trying to make sense and peace apart, obviously hearing from other people of just what is opportunity, what is happening out there in the market. And so getting to understand some of those things is really helpful for me, as well as the listeners to kind of understand what's going on.

Unknown Speaker  39:12  
The word I couldn't think of earlier when I was talking about innovation was incubator. When I was in software, the Boston's a great innovation city for software. And there were some really small little incubators set up by big companies that welcomed in, you know, two or three person software companies that were really, really small. And it was back then that I really said, hey, that's awesome, because that is awesome. You're giving legs to people that don't have legs to stand on. And yeah, it's going to be survival of the fittest at some point. I mean, giving people an opportunity to survive or and choose their own destiny. And I think there needs to be more of that in cannabis today. I will definitely be an advocate for that in the future as well as I am today. So I think it's I think it's great and I think it's needed.

Shayda Torabi  39:54  
Yeah, I couldn't agree more. It's definitely needed because, again, trying to like navigate Cannabis, just there's so many new products hitting the market and trying to make sense of who's the consumer that you're trying to sell to. I think the original cannabis consumer is not the cannabis consumer of today. I mean, those people still exist. But as the market continues to evolve, as these different states start to open up even just to riff on the idea of taffy, it's really interesting because carry a CBD taffy in my store and it is one of my most favorite personal ways of consumption for some reason, I think the taffy just dissolves better and you absorb more of it, maybe because you're like swirling around in your mouth versus you're chewing like a gummy and swallowing it. But at the same time, that adoption maybe isn't there from a market perspective, at least that I've observed. Sometimes we have customers who like they're very specific, they want their particular gummy. And so it's not that again, one is right or wrong, but it's just Who are you selling to? And what is that product? And like, what is that market and having that like really good understanding while also trying to do something different? Knowing everybody else is doing a gummy? How do you make something that is going to be a different product that's sitting on that shelf? And so my kind of question to you a little bit too knowing that Mary Mehta is vertically integrated, do all your products go through distribution in the sense that they're going to dispensaries that you do not own? Or are there some that you do own the dispensers and so you're owning the whole kind of total vertical integration, where you're growing, you're extracting your manufacturing, you're processing, you're distributing ultimately the product to a customer that you have built a brand to bring through your doors? Sure. So

Unknown Speaker  41:39  
I think like in Massachusetts, for instance, we have a dispensary here we also sell to 100 dispensaries, we are very focused on servicing our dispensaries, but they are just another from a wholesaler. They're just another customer for us that we have to take very good care of just all of our other ones. So we certainly are very focused on other people's dispensaries and getting our brands and products into those stores, supporting those stores with bud tender trainings, having pop up promotions, supporting them for events, and really being an active advocate for all of our dispensary customers. We are vertical in Massachusetts, we're vertical in Delaware, we don't do any wholesale in Delaware. So there is a mixed mash, depending on the state. But ultimately, I think many of the states that we are involved in will emulate Massachusetts as these markets grow, and more stores and outlets open, I think, yeah, I think that's certainly where the larger opportunity is for products and brands is to get wide distribution, and really make sure that they're servicing every dispensary as well as they can.

Shayda Torabi  42:46  
Yeah, kind of on that vein, you know, you talk about bringing these products to market and trying to also I think, differentiate these products so consumers can be educated on like, why picking your product. This is a marketing skew podcast. So from a marketing perspective, how do you navigate that as a business? How do you whether it's through like your own products, which I'd love to get an overview to obviously you are present that he's Eddie's just coming from that being your own personal company into the MSO operation. But what other brands does Mary med produce and put to market? And then how do you bring those products to market and create that channel for you to educate consumers?

Unknown Speaker  43:26  
Sure, you know, we have a whole field marketing team that is responsible for budtender training and pop ups across all states. And early on in the process when we're doing product ideation, and really development both from a marketing and a product side. Those folks are in volved, early and often and giving their feedback from the field. And so we're getting feedback from the field. There's definitely some secret sauce involved with how we're thinking about things. But I think one of the things that we're very focused on is what's happening in dispensaries. And then what's happening in supermarkets and the ladder is not obvious. So I think one of the things that we do especially well is look at trends outside of cannabis. What are the things that are important to people generally, and sleep, for instance, aphrodisiacs are something that are out there. immunity benefits, coffee for caffeine, right? There's a whole lot of different things that people look for in products. And bringing those to cannabis in unique way is important. But yeah, I think we're very focused on the cannabis consumer and the non cannabis consumer. You made the point earlier, right? How different is the cannabis consumer today than five years ago or 10 years ago, tremendously different. And the number of people that are now considered cannabis consumers continues to grow every day. And one of the things I say to the team all the time is the folks that were targeting a lot of the times aren't cannabis users yet. So how do we get a non cannabis use it to be interested in cannabis products? And one of the answers is we got to look at the grocery store you know, look at normal CPG trends to figure out why are gummies more expensive at this health food store than they are at the grocery They're, well, they're paying attention to ingredients. They're vegan, they're gluten free. So really taking a look at what the trends are by category, both in cannabis and cannabis is something we're very focused on as a company.

Shayda Torabi  45:12  
And that's a really great tip and a really good point and something even to reflect on for those of us especially in states that maybe aren't fully legal yet to, I think, when we were launching our brand in 2018, it was really interesting time because not only was CBD very new to the market as a cannabinoid, but looking around and you're realizing, oh, there's not a CBD brand really already established for me to emulate or to reflect on. So what do I do for us, we were looking at health brands, we were looking at CPG brands, so very same vein of might not be explicit to your industry or to the product that you're ultimately bringing to market but there are certainly a lot of things to glean from. But also the caveat to that is that was three years ago for us, the market now has matured so much so that you really should be looking at these grocery stores and supermarket brands because I think that is the expectation now as you have these new consumers who are coming into the market, yes, I think there's always going to be a space for a cannabis brand to sell to the cannabis culture consumer, someone who just like maybe they love flower, they love to smoke, you have a really great cultivars, like great you can sell to that person. Now I see so many 55 plus people coming through our doors wanting to talk about cannabis I see parents using and wanting to figure out safe ways that make sense for them to give it to their children, and everything in between. And so I think it's a shame for people not to be thinking outside of the box in that regard. And so it's great to hear that something that's really you know, resonating with you and your brands as well, because, again, there's multiple ways to the top, it's not that this is the explicit right path to take. But just to give people that food for thought of, oh, maybe I wasn't thinking about that way or for me as a marketer, my favorite thing to do is to go to the grocery store, look at the sparkling water section, which one gravitates towards me, why do I like that brand over the other brand is the packaging is what the brand stands for? Is it the ingredients. And I think that again, there's going to be a consumer that makes every one of those things more or less important, like someone maybe doesn't care about the ingredients. But the brand is a partner with a nonprofit and donates to a cause that they really care about that resonates that consumer versus maybe the means of the world, I want as little ingredients as possible. I want all the good stuff, I don't want any of the shit, I don't want fillers. So I definitely sit there and I read product labels. And I'm like checking these brands out. And the brands that have the ingredients that make sense to me are the brands that I like to continue to support. So again, it's just taking that same kind of consumer packaged goods, I think traditional marketing and business mentality and applying it to the cannabis industry, which is where I think you're obviously going to see maybe not more success comparatively. But I think you'll find success, if that's something that's important to you to pursue in that fashion.

Unknown Speaker  47:58  
Yeah, do you have Wegmans grocery stores down in Texas?

Shayda Torabi  48:01  
I don't believe we have Wegmans

Unknown Speaker  48:04  
very, very large grocery store up here. And I think they go down in Ohio, maybe. But their craft beer section is enormous. And I remember, I think was like first week or two at marum. At I took a couple of the folks on marketing team and we went to the craft beer section I said, let's just stand here. And where do your eyes get drawn in? And we played that game of where everybody's eyes get drawn, and then we picked up the package and and pulled it in? And it's I think doing that is really important, just in terms of what is attractive to people, then what are the things that people look for in product by category with ingredients to your point, a lot of people are turning over the label and reading them. And then how do we make a better process? How do we make a consistent product? How do we get a consumer to buy and then trust us over time that what we give them is going to help them for what we say. So I think being laser focused on those things, and really real with yourself and real with the team about what the goals are. I think if you do that I think success is right there for you. But you got to really be laser focused on that stuff. And really use it as a mantra.

Shayda Torabi  49:06  
Yeah, I wanted to quote something that I saw in relationship to marry men as well, that just kind of resonates with what you just said and knowing that obviously operate both medical and adult use. But from a medical perspective, the quote was America is on the forefront of precision dose branded products for the treatment of specific medical symptoms. And so I think it really is getting to that laser focus nature of people want the consistency and they want that effect to be repeatable and being able to transcend the recreational side of cannabis to the actual medical side, whether you're a true medical patient or not. We want repeatable experiences. And I think that is obviously something to that is like a no brainer, but at the same time such a challenge, especially as you're navigating. I even remember talking to someone and they were saying I was talking to a craft brewery here in Austin and the craft brewery now. It's like brand, I think they've been in business that long, maybe even 15 years. It's called Austin beer works. And they're like a really leading craft beer brand. And the guy was saying he used to brew in Colorado and Colorado has obviously much different altitude comparatively to Texas. And so taking a recipe in Colorado and trying to repeat it in Texas, it's not going to really produce the same net result. And so also layering that into the cannabis industry where you have different cultivars, different cultivators, you did different genetics, you're growing indoor versus outdoor, and then you're trying to layer on the consistency of the actual final product. Oh, by the way, now you're trying to cross state lines and repeat that experience and that effect. It just is a lot for anyone, I think to grok and take on, but it needs to happen. And so I'm grateful that there are brands out there who are taking that challenge head on and maybe for better or worse, paving the way for us to learn the lessons at your expense. But to sum it up, I guess a final question I have for you is what has been the biggest learning lesson that you've experienced as Ameri meds gone through different rollouts in different states, whether it's something that you've learned from the consumers or just being in the industry itself. I'm just curious what stands out to you as a takeaway lesson?

Unknown Speaker  51:23  
Yeah, I think the biggest thing, for me has been learning how to just go bear through obstacles, and everything is a speed bump, nothing is a brick wall. And I think if you have an optimistic attitude, and you're not willing to take no for an answer, it's not about it's never gonna happen. It's When is it going to happen? When am I going to get there and everything is a speed bump and not an obstacle that you can get by so there are so many curveballs that are thrown at us regulatorily and that are outside of our control. And being able to take those challenges head on. And with a sound mind and the great team be able to create plans to minimize and maximize opportunity. So I think that's the biggest thing I've learned is to just be persistent, and then door and good things come to those who do that.

Shayda Torabi  52:18  
I think the biggest thing that I walked away with from that conversation that I wanted to leave you with as some food for thought is just the broadening of the possibility of what opportunities exist in the cannabis industry. Obviously, I highlighted it when I kick this episode off, and I've reflected on this comment many times in many other episodes. But I do think that introducing multi state operators can be really overwhelming and scary, especially for those of us in states that don't quite have a full legality, like we do here in Texas. And as a brand myself, I know that, you know, I get asked a lot about what my next steps are and where I see my business going. But it's a little bit unknown to me, because I don't really know how the laws both at a state level and even at a federal level are going to turn out and to have an option to consider acquisition, you know, potentially by an MSO. It just it wasn't even something that was on my radar. And so to be able to have that, you know, presented in a successful way for which it was for Ryan having his company be acquired into Mary med. It just shows another perspective, another avenue for those of us who are looking at ways that we can continue to grow and scale our brands and businesses in the industry. And so I hope that that is something that resonates with you as well. If not, I always love to learn what is resonating with you and what the takeaways are from these episodes and how you're incorporating it back into your brand or business. But thanks again for tuning into another episode. These are meant to be educational and informative and inspirational. And so that's always my hope is that you walk away with one takeaway. I'll be back next Monday with a another episode. Until then, thanks for tuning in. And please go check out other episodes the content is evergreen and there's lots to soak up and learn to help us navigate the cannabis industry. I'll talk to y'all later. Bye.

Announcer  54:21  
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda torabi.com slash to be blind for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi

Transcribed by https://otter.ai