- Columbia Care, a medical cannabis company with operations in 10 states, has launched a national recreational brand.
- Columbia Care Chief Growth Officer Jesse Channon told Business Insider that the move is part of a larger effort to broaden the company’s image from a medical cannabis company to a recreational brand as more adult-use states come online.
- The medical cannabis company already has operations in hot spots like New Jersey and Arizona, both of which are expected to pass recreational cannabis this November. It also operates in New York, which is expected to follow New Jersey’s lead if the state legalizes.
- “We know that these are the states that are going to have a high appetite from flipping from a medical program to an adult-use program over the next couple of years,” Channon said.
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The giant medical cannabis company Columbia Care is laying the groundwork to profit from a new wave of cannabis legalization that could be on the horizon.
Columbia Care, which operates in 10 states, is building on its medical-roots image by launching a national recreational brand, called Seed & Strain.
The move comes less than a month before four states — New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana — will vote on legalizing cannabis for all adults, and amid a backdrop where cannabis brands are gearing up to build out national footprints.
“We are absolutely building a reputation as one of the premier adult use and recreational operators,” Columbia Care’s Chief Growth Officer Jesse Channon told Business Insider. “We know that these are the states that are going to have a high appetite from flipping from a medical program to an adult-use program over the next couple of years.”
Since 2012, Columbia Care has built out operations in 10 states and it now runs 76 dispensaries. Led by CEO Nicholas Vita, it sells cannabis for medical uses in New Jersey and Arizona, giving it a leg up if those states expand their markets.
It already operates in states where the drug is legal for adults, such as Illinois, Massachusetts, and California.
The Seed & Strain brand will launch first in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Delaware, before rolling out in Florida, California, and Arizona. Columbia Care describes it as a “lifestyle” brand, and says it will be designed to appeal to consumers using cannabis for medical needs as well.
Of the four states voting on adult-use cannabis, New Jersey and Arizona are expected to have the highest chance of passing recreational programs.
Columbia Care’s medical operations in those states give it a competitive edge, Channon said.
Cowen analyst Vivien Azer said in September that if New Jersey voters choose to legalize the drug, it could push neighboring states like New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to do the same, ultimately opening up the entire Northeast to recreational cannabis firms. That would mean huge wins for cannabis giants that already have operations in the region.
“We’re really, truly preparing ourselves to be a company that has a foundation of sort of national brand presence as more and more of these states ultimately turn to these adult use and recreational programs,” Channon said.
The Seed & Strain line will start out with flower, vapes, and pre-roll options, which will soon be followed by tinctures and other concentrates. The idea of creating a national brand is that consumers will choose a cannabis product they recognize no matter where they shop, similar to how sodas like Coke and Pepsi are available nationally.
In mature markets like Colorado and California, there are brands that consumers are familiar with and trust, but Channon said that this isn’t true across most of the country, in part because the markets are just coming online and in part because it’s difficult to create a national cannabis brand because of amount of capital needed as well as the regulations that differ from state to state.
“I think that that’s incredibly exciting, but I think it also lays the blueprint out for how people will attempt to do this in the future,” he said.