How Cannabis Supply Chains Vary by State
Let’s discuss vertical integration. It may sound boring but it’s helpful to understand as a voter, patient, and consumer.What Is Vertical Integration
What Is Vertical Integration?
Vertical integration is when one company owns two or more stages of production normally operated by separate companies. In the case of cannabis legalization, it means one company grows, processes, and sells cannabis.
State Regulations Determine Vertical Integration
States with regulated cannabis markets can require, prohibit, or allow vertical integration.
- Colorado REQUIRES medical growers to also sell cannabis
- Washington PROHIBITS growers from processing or selling cannabis
- Michigan ALLOWS medical growers to also process and sell cannabis
The Good: Vertical Integration
- Limits number of businesses the government needs to oversee; reducing government resources and spend required to monitor the industry
- Reduces price at point of sale as a result of supply chain efficiencies and reduced mark ups as cannabis moves business-to-business through the supply chain before being sold to the end patient or consumer
- Growers have greater access to and knowledge of the end patient or consumer enabling the grower to be responsive to patient and consumer preferences
The Bad: Vertical Integration
- Significant capital and facility square footage required to own two or more stages of production; catering more to people with deeper pockets therefore limiting the diversity of business owners and business sizes in the market
- Growers are farmers, processors are chefs or scientist, and dispensaries are retailers often times people do not have all skills so depth is sacrificed for breadth impacting product quality and limiting job opportunities
- Growers and processors have to work with dispensaries to better understand patient and consumer preferences
Vertical Integration & Big Cannabis Lobbying
Vertical integration is a lesser discussed aspect of cannabis legalization but it’s important to understand as it impacts opportunities to enter the market as a licensee, general employment opportunities, and cannabis product variety and quality. In my observation, it’s also an indicator of how closely big cannabis is working with state legislators to define cannabis regulations as vertical integration benefits big business.
Florida’s Vertical Integration Woes
TL;DR Vertical integration is good indicator of how closely involved big cannabis business is with the state rule-making process