Normalizing Cannabis Retail With Nicole Fox

Nov. 27, 2019 7:00 AM ETMJ, HMLSF, THCX, YOLO, CNBS, POTX, VICE, TOKE

Summary

  • Nicole Fox is founder and CEO of AEON Botanika, a wellness cannabis company in LA, and has been a cannabis activist since 2003. She co-founded two of the first dispensaries in LA, serves on the board for Southern California Coalition, is a registered dietitian, and has background in functional and integrative medicine.
  • She joins the show to discuss why the cannabis industry is like building an airplane while flying it, the advantages of micro-dosing THC for women and older adults and why she pivoted into retail and wellness.
  • We also cover federal descheduling, why packaging and branding must have a quality product, and the lack of knowledge around CBD and hemp.

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By Rena Sherbill

Topics include:

  • 4:00 - Product and retail line with AEON Botanika.
  • 4:50 - Been in the cannabis space for 17 years, medical dispensaries in 2003 and 2004. Focused on supply side, cultivation for past 10 years. When it went legal in California, wholesale price of flower has been continuously dropping. Meant you had to scale. Pivoted back into retail and wellness. Micro-dosing THC - targeting women and older adults.
  • 8:10 - Being a vertically integrated company - chose not to be a flower retailer on the open market. Only sells cultivated products in their own stores.
  • 9:35 - Evolution of the industry. There were no conferences in 2004. It's gotten more professional with a lot more capital. Importance of knowledge sharing in the regulated cannabis market. Science, business, investors are all joining cannabis companies.
  • 11:00 - Future of cannabis space in California. Only adult-use state with dual licensure - typically state law trumps local law, but not always. Building the airplane while we're flying - has created many creative workarounds.
  • 12:41 - Future of expanding to other states. Will always be a states rights issue. Federal descheduling doesn't mean legal taxation. Big states coming online, but we're a ways away from major institutional capital coming in.
  • 14:41 - Why aren't women a bigger share of consumers? One part stigma, previous retail experience was less desirable for female consumers. Normalizing retail environment - open floor plan; technical product explanation, wellness focus. Most common recreational reason to take cannabis is for sleep. Not enough low-dose products on the market. More education is needed - health care professionals and consumers.
  • 18:10 - Branding and packaging. Beautifully branded products where the quality isn't there. Have to be focused on branding, but also quality of the product. Brands that are going to win will clearly state what the products are for - especially in the wellness sector, which increasingly is what cannabis is positioned as. Also providing more information in packaging. Lifestyle education.
  • 20:05 - Five year goals - scale products nationally; in 3 years in all adult-use markets. Very luxury positioned. Highly educated staff.
  • 21:30 - Will the CBD market outpace the THC market? Hemp products don't have mandated third party testing - more regulations have to happen there. Why low dose THC is effective. CBD market will grow, but buyer beware - make sure the product is regulated and tested. Early in the market to be shipping CBD products on Amazon. A little bit of THC won't hurt you, and it helps the other cannabinoids enter the person's symptom and create healing.
  • 25:10 - CBD market is paving the way for the THC market. Differences between hemp and cannabis derived CBD. Hemp products don't help everyone, but might be a lead in for a micro-dosed THC product. Importance of consumer education.

This article was written by

On The Cannabis Investing Podcast, host Rena Sherbill provides actionable investment insight and the context with which to understand the burgeoning cannabis industry. Interviews with C-level executives, analysts and sector experts give you investment ideas to consider, help you think through your investing approach and give you a new lens with which to understand this ever-growing sector.
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