Author: David Hua, Meadow CEO & Co-Founder
2022 marked Meadow's 7th year attending MJBizCon and our first time as exhibitors. Here are 7 things that stuck with me.
- Your reputation follows you. It was heartening to see familiar faces, several with new jerseys on new teams. How you treat people, shortcuts you’ve taken, deals and decisions you’ve made, what you do in times of crisis — it stays with you for better or worse. Cannabis is a long game. Which values are you bringing to the table? Do you show up for the community? Which teams do you align with? Do you build bridges or burn them? If you want to be in it for the long haul, make choices rooted in integrity, compassion, and collaboration. The arc of cannabis is long and there’s time to find your place in it. Vet your business partners and choose investors wisely. At Meadow, we’ve been building our reputation for the last 8 years and are proud to be recognized as the #1 cannabis POS with happy customers, a team aligned with our core values, and strong ties to the community.
I loved running into Meadow partner Whitney Beatty (pictured above) who recently shared her story with us of opening Josephine & Billie's, powered by Meadow.
There is an abundance of cannabis. The US is flush with cannabis. With the rapid increase in sales during the pandemic, many farmers in the legal and unregulated markets scaled production. Markets like California still don’t have enough licensed retail outlets to move the supply of legal cannabis, whereas Oklahoma has more licenses than it knows what to do with. These imbalances are causing steep price shocks and hitting outdoor growers the hardest. Knowing there’s a massive oversupply of cannabis the question remains — who is the buyer and how/where are they spending their dollars? Answering this will be key to ensuring market share and growth in the coming years.
We're all working with the same plant, but with wildly different regs. People come to MJBizCon from all over, including 21 adult-use states, 37 medical states, unregulated states with legal hemp, and jurisdictions considered “grey.” These operators have varying degrees of knowledge about local cannabis regulations and are executing at different market maturities. This can make for a confusing tapestry of evolving laws that vary wildly based on the plants’ medical v. adult-use classifications and thresholds of THC and CBD content.
There's confusion around descheduling / rescheduling. Will medical cannabis eventually be regulated by the FDA and DEA? Will adult-use cannabis be regulated alongside alcohol and tobacco? Will cannabis be rescheduled or descheduled altogether? How will this impact local supply chains and interstate commerce? It’s only a matter of time before more changes occur at the federal level, making this a common theme and talking point at MJBizCon with no clear answers or prognostications. For anyone looking to explore this topic in more depth, we recently hosted a digital summit called Why Cannabis bringing together Y Combinator cannabis portfolio companies (Meadow, Nabis, Rev Genomics, Confident Cannabis & Canix) to talk about what happens next in the wake of President Biden’s recent push for greater cannabis reform.
We’re not all moving in the same direction. There’s fragmentation in the movement. Operators in more mature states look weathered. New doe-eyed operators are eager to get involved, but many have no idea what’s ahead and refuse to heed the lessons learned from others. With varying levels of sophistication and knowledge about the plant and industry, different state regulations, and inconsistent appetites for risk, it’s difficult to find priorities shared across markets and alignment on which direction we should be heading in.
Conserve cash and hope for the best. We’ve been fortunate to have weathered many extinction events within the cannabis industry. However, we know many who have not. As we head into a downturn in public markets and rising inflation, the legal cannabis industry will be tested on being recession-proof. With looming uncertainty, it’s paramount to preserve cash and create as much runway as possible. If you have remained small (”more jetski than barge” as Marie Montmarquet explained), you have a better chance of weathering swings in the market. Bigger operators have more overhead and less agility but are poised for success when federal legalization arrives (when this happens is anybody’s guess.) We’ve chosen to stay nimble and flexible and keep overhead low. I love Scott Vasterling from Humboldt Family Farms’ "HOPE" framework on how to get clear about what you’re doing: Hyper-Focused, Optimize, Prioritize, Execute.
We’re early. I met a 37-year-old cannabis professional who decided to enter the industry after he medicated for the first time during the pandemic. With more people gaining access to cannabis than ever before, we still have a lot of room to shape the culture of cannabis as we welcome new consumers and operators. We need to work to create a diverse and accessible community rooted in compassion, exploration, equity, and love of the plant. We need to do a better job teaching people about the potential of cannabis as medicine and cannabinoids beyond THC and CBD. We need to continue scientific exploration to demonstrate the possibilities and applications of the plant. As innovation continues, we’ll need to find ways to share stories in meaningful ways about topics like synthetic terpenes vs natural terpenes and Delta8 vs Delta9. I’m looking forward to more research and welcoming new consumers and advocates of the plant with open arms.