The legal marijuana/cannabis industry is growing rapidly and involves thousands of firms across many different jurisdictions. Below I provide an overview of the different types of cannabis businesses and some examples for those who are new to the subject. Currently the overview has a Colorado emphasis but I am working to expand the geographical coverage. Updates and suggestions for additions are welcome! Last Updated: July 13, 2020.
Types of Businesses
Cannabis businesses can be divided into two main groups – licensed businesses that “touch the plant” and ancillary businesses that support the licensed industry. Many people unfamiliar with the industry do not realize the size and impact of the industry’s ancillary businesses and the advantages that these firms have by not being subject to the same level of regulation.
Licensed Cannabis Businesses
The range of licensed businesses that directly handle cannabis varies by jurisdiction but generally includes Cultivators, Manufacturers, Retailers, Testers, Operators, and Delivery/Transportation services.
International and U.S. Multi-State Operators (MSO) – Aurora Cannabis (video of grow facility) (interview with former CCO Cam Battley) 4Front Ventures, Acreage Holdings, CanopyGrowth/Tweed, Columbia Care, Cronos Group (5 continents, traded on Nasdaq) Cresco Labs (18 dispensaries as of July 2020, 8 in Illinois), Curaleaf (10 states), Golden Leaf Holdings, Green Thumb Industries (GTI, Nov 2018 press release), Grassroots Cannabis (6 states), Harvest Health & Recreation Inc, Holistic Industries (5 States and Washington, DC), iAnthus Capital Holdings, MedMen Enterprises (Politico exposé from May 2020), Pharmacann (headquartered in Illinois, founded in 2014), Surterra Wellness/Parallel (FL, MA, TX), Terrascend, Terra Tech Corp, Tilray (Canada, Europe, Australia & New Zealand, Latin America), TruLieve (Florida and 3 other states).
Note: Colorado companies and locations are noticeably absent from this list since until 2019 state regulation largely restricted out of state or public investment of licensed Colorado marijuana businesses
Cultivation Specialists – Los Suenos Farms (Pueblo, Dope Magazine feature), Mahoney Greens (Washington Tier 3 Cultivator), ForwardGro (Maryland), Village Farms (Delta, British Columbia and other locations) and many others
Extraction Specialists – MediPharm Labs Corp. (Canada and Australia), Valens GroWorks, 710 Labs (Colorado), Neptune Wellness Solutions and many others
- Edibles Manufacturers – Well-known Colorado edibles manufacturers include Sweet Grass Kitchen (acquired by LivWell in April 2020), Wana Brands (Interview with CEO Nancy Whiteman, Inc Magazine Profile), Love’s Oven (5280 Magazine profile), Dixie Elixirs (acquired by M Brands in March 2020), Incredibles, Cheeba Chews, Coda Signature, MarQaha, Americanna (gummies) and Avicenna Products. More are discussed in this AskWonder discussion.
- Extractors – Essential Extracts is a company that has innovated a solventless extraction technique. Harmony Extracts is another prominent Colorado extract company. Purblebee‘s also has an extraction focus along with producing some end products.
- Vape Product Manufacturers – o.penVape and Pax are prominent manufacturers of vape products. Willie’s Reserve is a well-known product brand. In California, Bloom Farms.
Colorado Retailers – Among the most prominent Colorado firms are Native Roots (20 locations and licenses in Canadian province of Manitoba, Interview with CEO Ryan Brown), LivWell (19 locations and also in Oregon and Alberta, acquired 5 Mindful locations in May 2020), The Green Solution (22 locations), Green Dragon (15 locations), Starbuds (13 locations in Colorado, plus Baltimore, Okalahoma, Jamaica and also involved in Louisiana), Lightshade (9 locations), Silver Stem Fine Cannabis (10 locations in Colorado and Oregon), Buddy Boy (7 locations), Maggie’s Farm (7 locations), The Clinic (4 Colorado locations, 2 Illinois), Terrapin Care Station (7 Colorado locations), MMJ America (Denver, Boulder, Las Vegas), Colorado Harvest Company (3 locations), Medicine Man (4 Colorado locations), Solace Meds (acquired previous Sticky buds Denver locations), Verde Natural (Denver and Boulder), Good Chemistry (Colorado, Massachusetts and Nevada), Cure Holdings (Colorado, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma). Other Colorado dispensaries include Botanico, Euflora (6 Colorado locations), Lucy Sky (2 locations), Green Cross Caregivers, Kind Love (Denver and Oklahoma), Simply Pure, Mile High Green Cross, The Herbal Cure (Denver), Good Meds (Englewood, Lakewood), Backcountry Cannabis (Crested Butte), Rocky Mountain Remedies (Steamboat Springs), Denver Clone Store, Northern Lights, Green Sativa (Federal Heights).
Other U.S. Retailers – CannaCraft (California, CEO interview), MedMen (California and NYC, Leafly Profile), Harborside Health Center (California), Franklin Bioscience (Pennsylvania), Mercy Wellness of Cotati (Northern California), Revolutionary Clinics (Massachusetts)
Canadian Companies (Cultivation and Manufacturing) – Aphria (CBC interview with CEO Vic Neufeld, CEO Profile), Aqualitas (Nova Scotia aquaculture cultivator, Coast profile of CEO), , Broken Coast Cannabis, Canna Farms, Cannimed Therapeutics, CannTrust Holdings, Emerald Botanicals, The Green Organic Dutchman, Hexo, Hydropothecary (Quebec), Truro Herbal Company (Nova Scotia), Maricann, MedReleaf Canada, Organigram (Moncton, NB), Spectrum Cannabis, Tokyo Smoke
Ancillary Cannabis Businesses
Ancillary businesses include Analytics/Technology, Marketing, Consulting, Construction, Packaging, Cultivation Supplies, R&D, and other types of firms that do not “touch the plant”.
Financial Services & Holding/Operating Companies – These companies may operate some licensed businesses while also investing in, consulting and advising other operators. Acreage Holdings (which has John Boehner as a board member), Cannabis Wheaton Income (Canada), General Cannabis Corp (whole owner of Iron Protection Group, Chiefton apparel, Next Big Crop consulting), Ganja Capital Advisors, Green Sage Merchant Bank, Mazakali, Mjardin/Growforce, Pioneer Interests, Pineapple Express (California), Privateer Holdings, Procann Group, Rose Capital/BR Brands (investor in Dixie Elixirs), Sprott (Canada asset management), Forbes May 2017 Top Five Financial Leaders.
Law Firms & Lawyers – Vicente Sedeberg, Hoban Law Group, McAllister Garfield, P.C, Tom Downey, Ireland Stapleton, Nick J. Richards (Tax Attorney), Kight Law/Kight on Cannabis, Trina Fraser – Brazeau Sellers (Canada)
Technology Companies – Adilas Systems, Baker Technologies, CannaBOS (back office solutions), Cannaregs, Eaze (Delivery app – California), Flowhub (point of sale – Colorado), Green Bits (point of sale – California), Leaflink (Cannainsider podcast transcript), METRC/Franwell (regulatory tracking in Colorado, Nevada and California), MJ Freeway (Colorado), Simplifya (Compliance software)
Other – Cannabrand (Marketing), CanopyBoulder (Incubator, Vimeo Channel of Videos), Cultivated Synergy (Shared workspace/events), LEVO Oil Infusion (Kitchen extraction/infusion device), Safe Harbor Banking Solutions, Scotts Miracle-Gro (Fertilizer), Vangst (HR services), Wurk (HR services), Your Green Contractor (Construction Services), KushCo Holdings/Kush Supply Co (Packaging)
Bluebird Botanicals, Charlotte’s Web by the Stanley Brothers, CV Sciences (pharmaceutical and consumer CBD) Green Roads World, Hemplucid, Kazmira, Nuleaf Naturals, Pioneer Botanicals, Sauc. List of other CBD oil companies.
Tokken – Denverite profile, Westword profile – Changed name to Joust and now focusing on non-cannabis banking solutions, Le Habra Cares (California, raided by DEA), Preferred Organic Therapy – Denver area dispensary (Business Den news story), Sweet Leaf (formerly in Aurora, Federal Heights, Oregon, Westword article), Herbal Remedies (Denver), VIP Cannabis (raided by DEA, Denver Post news story), Five Colorado Dispensary chains that no longer exist (Westword, Aug 29, 2018). Vape and Play – Denver Social Consumption venue that went out of business after one month.
- The 25 Biggest Marijuana Companies in the World (Yahoo, August 2019)
- The Six Largest Dispensary Chains in Colorado
- 10 Largest Marijuana Stocks (Motley Fool, April 2018)
- Marijuana Business Daily Industry Directory (for ancillary firms)
- MED Licensed Facilities
- 5 Companies With the Biggest Buzz in the Marijuana Industry (Fortune, April 20, 2015)