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CANNABIS

Riding High: A Look at Cannabis Power Players

These six brands are at the forefront of the cannabis industry. Here’s what others can learn from them.

The landscape of the cannabis industry is notoriously bumpy. Shifting regulations and state-by-state legalization have created a fractured market in which it’s difficult to expand without deep, well-connected pockets. Sudden legal updates to processes or dosage levels can wipe out brands and trends just as they’re taking hold. The companies that have the resources, innovation, and timing on their side, however, have had the chance to really establish themselves as power players in the fast-moving cannabis industry. 

Although the playing field is constantly changing shape through mergers, acquisitions, and a few very public falls from grace, a handful of companies remain at the top of the heap.

These are the most influential cannabis companies in the U.S. right now — not just in size, but in industry impact. 

Trulieve

The $1 billion Florida medical market is the third-largest cannabis market in the country by annual sales, behind only California and Colorado’s recreational markets. Trulieve controls about 50% of that market. It’s also expanded its footprint to other states, such as West Virginia, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. On top of that, they recently announced a $2.1 billion merger with Arizona-based company Harvest to establish a presence there.

Brands beneath the Trulieve umbrella include Cultivar Collection, concentrate line Muse, and edibles line Sweet Talk. In the fall of 2021, the company raised debt with an interest rate of 8% — a new benchmark for the industry.

Green Thumb Industries

Green Thumb Industries has amassed an impressive roster of brands through aggressive acquisitions the past few years: RYTHM, Good Green, incredibles, Beboe, Dogwalkers and Doctor Solomon’s. The company also owns and operates national retail cannabis stores under the name of Rise (which has its hands on at least one coveted consumption lounge license), 17 manufacturing facilities, 75 open retail locations, and operations that span across 15 U.S. markets.

Aside from the sheer size of that footprint, GTI is paying attention to changes in cannabis culture. The company launched a grant program to support organizations fighting problems created by the failed War on Drugs, allocating at least $1.3 million in social equity grants each year. They’re too big to really have to do initiatives like this — but if they walk the walk on top of talking that talk, they’re going to resonate that much more with equity-minded millennial and Gen Z shoppers.

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Curaleaf

The widely recognized name of Curaleaf and its subsidiary, Select, speaks for itself. Despite rocky origins in the OR market, executive changes and ambitious growth have brought the company to 23 states and counting, boasting 22 cultivation sites and over 30 processing sites for concentrates and vape pens. A large part of their success was securing licenses early on in states where limited licenses were issued, shortening the path toward domination.

In March 2021, Curaleaf acquired European cannabis company EMMAC Life Sciences, rebranding it as Curaleaf International and officially joining the EU market. They’re angling toward the Middle East and Africa next. 

Columbia Care

In case those Florida numbers didn’t register with you, we’ll reiterate: the spotlight may shine on recreational legalization, but there is still big money to be made in the medical market. Look no further than Oklahoma, where one in 10 Oklahomans has a medical marijuana card in their wallet. Columbia Care is a big dog that made the most of medical and hemp markets, and it has paid off handsomely.

Now, in states such as Virgina, CC will be well-positioned — owning one-third of the market whenever it eventually goes fully legal. The company has since expanded to hold licenses in 15 jurisdictions in the U.S. and the EU, including 54 facilities in operation or development, and it’s routinely mentioned in wise investment opportunities to watch (CSE:CCHW).

Cresco Labs

Similar to GTI, Cresco has had a keen, hungry eye for smart acquisitions — expanding their Cresco umbrella to include Sunnyside, Floracal Farms, and Wonder Wellness Co. Not to mention their exclusive cultivation and product collaboration agreement with Wiz Khalifa.

Their footprint spans 10 fully legalized states, 21 production facilities, and 49 retail licenses. Another example of pivoting with consumer priorities, their Social Equity & Education Development™ initiative (SEED) aims to develop tangible pathways into the cannabis industry for communities impacted by the War on Drugs through three pillars: restorative justice, community business incubation, and education and workforce development.

The Parent Company

Is The Parent Company another massive multistate operator? No, but the holding company led by Jay-Z is a powerhouse in California cannabis and a major player in broader cannabis culture today.

It includes the rapper’s brand, Monogram, as well as Caliva, Fun Uncle, and Soul Grind (to name a few). As the largest vertically integrated omnichannel cannabis operation in the state’s $4 billion market, it was a huge deal when the company announced the hiring of Troy Datcher as its new chief executive officer last September — marking the first time a Black CEO led a major cannabis company.

Beyond their own reach, investments by The Parent Company in other smaller ventures to strengthen minority representation in the market are responsible for buzzy launches like Josephine & Billie’s dispensary. They’re making waves, and it’s exciting to see how it ripples outward.

Dutchie

Another wildcard here: Dutchie is not a cannabis company, per se. But the dispensary delivery platform is on its way to connecting every neighborhood shop to its customers in every eligible region in the U.S.

It’s essentially Doordash for weed, Dutchie’s streamlined platform is positioned to own the facilitation of dispensary deliveries. It’s the first cannabis tech unicorn that isn’t full of hot air (smoke?), with over 5,000 dispensary partners across the United States and Canada, and $14 billion in cannabis sales processed annually. The acquisitions of cannabis data platforms Greenbits and LeafLogix will help them stay on track and maintain consistent quality as they continue to exponentially grow. 

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