Is manufacturing the easiest way to enter the cannabis industry?

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Image of a step in the cannabis extraction process

(Photo by Matthew Staver for MJBizDaily/Emerald)

(This story was updated at 1:51 p.m. ET to include additional details and comments from Carma HoldCo’s Adam Wilks.)

Cannabis executives often view manufacturing as the sector with the most potential for launching a new brand or expanding into multiple states.

Adam Wilks, CEO and chair of Las Vegas-based Carma HoldCo, the parent company of Tyson 2.0 and Ric Flair Drip, on Wednesday announced the arrival of the two multistate marijuana brands in Missouri.

With its latest addition of Missouri, Carma HoldCo marijuana brands now sell in 19 states and three countries.

The company hopes to add eight additional markets in the coming months.

Wilks told MJBizDaily via email that “expanding into new states through cannabis manufacturing can often can be easier than through retail or cultivation.”

He cited several reasons for his assertion:

  • Manufacturing generally faces a more straightforward regulatory process compared to the stringent zoning and licensing requirements of retail and cultivation.
  • Manufacturing requires less initial capital and infrastructure investment, especially when partnering with existing licensed producers for raw materials.
  • Products created through manufacturing can be distributed across multiple retail outlets, maximizing reach without the need for numerous retail locations.
  • Placing products on the shelves of established retailers quickly builds brand presence and consumer loyalty without needing a physical retail footprint.
  • Manufacturing allows for greater flexibility in product development, fostering unique offerings and collaborations with local growers and retailers.

Manufacturing matchmaker

Demitri Downing, founder of Marijuana Industry Trade Association USA and producer of the MITA Unshackled podcast, agrees that building a cannabis brand through manufacturing partnerships is “the easiest route to get in” to the marijuana industry.

But it’s not without risk.

That’s why Downing’s team is vetting manufacturers from across the country to curate the inaugural MITA Manufacturing Pavilion at MJBizCon, scheduled for Dec. 3-6 in Las Vegas.

The Manufacturing Pavilion will feature 42 manufacturers from 25 states.

“People can come learn about how each of those states works, meet potential manufacturing partners and, perhaps, cut a deal,” Downing said.

“We’re creating this beehive of activity, a destination where people can come talk about deal flow.”

In the center of the manufacturing pavilion, MITA Unshackled will be recording back-to-back podcast sessions with leaders of well-known marijuana brands.

“We’re going to be interviewing people from all these big brands as to their journey, how it occurred, the nuances, the pitfalls, choke points – and then different manufacturing centers as well, so people can come learn,” Downing said.

Broad appeal

He expects the manufacturing pavilion will have appeal beyond those currently in the manufacturing space.

As prices for wholesale flower drop in mature markets, licensed cultivators increasingly are considering extraction as a way to increase profits.

And with potential marijuana rescheduling pending, large mainstream companies are looking for ways to dip a toe into the cannabis sector.

“Companies like Nabisco, like Amazon, the big companies should be interested,” Downing said.

“Because, more so than the retailers, the manufacturing centers are the gateways to different interstate supply chains.”

“There are a lot of different types of CPGs: There’s vapes, there’s edibles, there’s gummies, there’s (concentrates), there’s pre-roll flower.”

State-licensed cannabis manufacturers, custom kitchens and white labelers interested in joining the manufacturing pavilion should contact MJBiz Sales Director Harrison Radie.

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Registration deals end June 27

With 180 days left to go, the countdown is on to MJBizCon.

Event organizers are celebrating by opening attendee registration with an insider rate through June 27.

For the first time, attendees who choose a VIP all-access pass will be able to choose between all-day content dedicated to women in leadership, marketing or science.

Members of the cannabis industry looking to attend MJBizCon should purchase tickets before June 27, when the insider rates expire and prices go up.

Insider rate prices include:

  • Expo-only pass: $199 (full price $399)
  • Three-day conference + expo pass: $399 (full price $899)
  • VIP all-access pass (includes access to three pre-show forums): $999 (full price $1,499)

Tickets to MJBizCon at the Las Vegas Convention Center are available here.

A list of exhibitors at MJBizCon is available here.