Flower sales have officially kicked off in Virginia. Why do you think this is such an important advancement for the Commonwealth’s cannabis program?
Framing cannabis as a legitimate medicine is an important evolution in Virginia. Specifically, authorizing flower products demonstrates the Commonwealth’s appreciation for cannabis as an individual and public health issue, and shows that the state’s leaders are giving serious attention to the benefits of making safe, regulated cannabis products available to Virginians in forms they prefer and are most comfortable with.
In other medical markets, we have seen similar legislative and regulatory actions result in materially increased participation in the legal market and flower products accounting for as much as 60 percent of dispensed medicine. Further, flower products require less manufacturing than extract-based products and are thus less expensive to produce. Upstream cost savings are passed to patients – which is a critical factor in making medicinal cannabis a viable alternative therapeutic for Virginians since the cost of products and associated medical care is not covered by insurance.
You recently launched two flower brands in the state–The Bank and Sѐche. As you expand access to flower to patients at BEYOND / HELLO™ locations, what does the rollout of these brands mean for Jushi patients and the future of the marketplace?
We feel it’s crucial for Jushi to deliver third party tested, high-quality standardized products at the right cost to patients in every market where we operate. Our flower brand The Bank has award-winning genetics known in the industry for their cannabinoid and terpene quality. This line is geared toward cannabis patients suffering from medical conditions and/or symptoms that are best treated with a full flower experience. The Sѐche brand is also devoted to producing high-quality regulated cannabis. This is done by offering a different part of the bud structure of the plant, which is sold in a larger quantity and at a lower price point. By launching both The Bank and Sѐche brands in Virginia, we are able to meet the varying demands of the patient with a wider breadth of product offerings.
With flower now in the market, what other brands have you launched in the Old Dominion State?
With the addition of our flower brands, Virginia patients now have access to our full suite of products, which includes our vape brand The Lab, our infused product line Tasteology and our physician-formulated ratio infused product line Nira+. Now that we have a vast assortment of product offerings available, we hope to continue to bring individuals into the regulated market where they can count on product safety and clinician involvement for their cannabis experiences.
Jushi also recently introduced a pilot delivery program that serves Virginia’s BEYOND / HELLO™ patients. How has that been going? Any interesting takeaways since offering delivery there?
We believe in providing a seamless omnichannel retail experience and having medical cannabis accessible to all Virginia patients. Delivery being one of those key pillars. Not only does it provide convenience, but it lets us serve patients across Virginia who may not be able to make it into our storefronts for medical reasons.
COVID-19 highlighted the need for a medical cannabis delivery service, as in-person shopping was restricted and direct interactions between members of the public had to be minimized. Also, it represented and served as a catalyst to develop delivery systems which we now have in place for the part of the population that doesn’t have the ability to visit a medical cannabis dispensary.
Cannabis delivery has been a difficult nut to crack in every adult-use and medical jurisdiction alike across the US. Virginia is a key testing ground for us; we have a real opportunity to refine and perfect our delivery platform prior to rolling it out in other markets. Whether we eventually settle on implementing a Domino’s (quick on-demand fulfillment from a retail storefront) or Amazon (bulk scheduled deliveries from a centralized regional hub) model, the process and data garnered in Virginia will serve as a fascinating case study over the coming months. We’ll be closely analyzing what works best for both our patients and our company.
Some people are calling Virginia a sleeping giant in the cannabis space. Can you share some insights on why that might be?
Virginia was not on many cannabis companies’ radar in 2019 and into 2020 due to a litany of reasons. Now, however, with recent legislation passed permitting flower products and adult-use sales coming in the near future, Virginia has captured a lot of national cannabis attention.
Our health service area (HSA) has approximately 2.4 million people, comprising over a quarter of the state’s 8.5 million population. There is a very large patient population to serve. With adult use slated to roll out no later than January 1, 2024, the Virginia marketplace is a hotbed of opportunity for safe and regulated cannabis, and the Commonwealth’s market is estimated to generate $1.3 billion of sales by the fourth year of legalization according to MJBizDaily.