Cruising around the Hall of Flowers event this week in Santa Rosa, it’s been a refreshing reminder of just where the California cannabis market is at, now over 3 years into the Prop 64 circus.
Yes, there is no shortage of blue suit/brown shoe Chads n’ Brads.
There are plenty of geometrically-shaped-cannabis-leaf-logos attached to brand-new-brands with names too clever for their own good.
There are booths burning investor capital, staffed by beautiful people who prefer not to burn actual cannabis.
And, of course, there are the major player MSOs that mostly make headlines posting losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars and layoffs of hundreds of employees.
But… all of these hucksters, frauds, and clowns still stand out like root rot here at California cannabis events when boothed beside legacy operators and old school heads because authenticity, for now at least, remains the trusted currency in grassroots cannabis culture and they are bankrupt in that account.
It is always good to reconvene with the real ones.
It got us thinking about what an east coast Hall of Flowers event might look like.
Surely, Gary Vee and the crew at Green St. would love to take the show on the road and expand their presence from coast to coast, but the fact is that as corporate and cold as Cali’s licensed marketplace is, a HOF event in a place like Florida would be like 15 old, white dudes in suits sitting around a table not smoking weed, colluding to keep the market cornered and homegrows illegal.
The monopolistic nature of many of the markets cropping up along the eastern seaboard only serves to cripple those markets by:
- Homogenizing product selection – without plenty of reliable options, consumers will turn back to the streets for more diverse menus from their neighborhood plug than from their local dispensary
- Encouraging mids – without robust and diverse competition, vertically-integrated corporations will race to produce the cheapest product with the highest price
- Ignoring the past – social equity is too often an afterthought when establishing a new “legal” cannabis market, and there is no bigger slap in the face to the communities that suffered the most under Prohibition than to ask them to shop at a corporate cannabis retailer owned by some cranky old stuffed suit in another state.
We can already sense some of you rushing to the comments section to tell us all about how horrible a biz-to-biz event for licensed cannabis brands is, but Hall of Flowers provides a venue for thousands of California cannabis brands to participate if they choose to, giving them the opportunity to stand their brand beside these soulless entities and explain to potential clients and partners how deeply their roots run with this plant.
Again, that just does not seem to be a priority in places like Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, and others where well-funded Multi-State Operators are trying to replace the tricky, nuanced cannabis culture with good ol’ consumer capitalism.
As a result, the street markets there will continue to thrive, fueled in large part by the same plug they’ve always had.
A recent article released by Leafly alleged in stunning detail one way that Cali cannabis companies might be skirting the seed-to-sale tracking system put in place by the state to prevent diversion of “legal” weed to non-“legal” markets.
As sweeping as cannabis reform has been in the past decade it is important to remember that although 19 states now have adult-use recreational cannabis markets either in operation or on the verge of launching, that leaves dozens more that do not.
So, demand for west coast weed remains high, even/especially in east coast “legal” weed markets that are flooded with vertically integrated boof.
It is also important to remember – especially if your perspective is based on your come-up in California – that the medical cannabis markets in most of those non-recreational states today pale in comparison to the MMJ market we had here in Cali under Prop 215, many of them severely capping THC limits, banning homegrows, and/or refusing to allow smokable flowers to be sold. So, those markets are still ripe for some real deal, west coast, mylar-bagged mids, and where there is demand, supply always finds a way.