Article by Karl Kaufman, Forbes
MedMen, the Los Angeles-based marijuana company, recently became the first American cannabis company to be valued at over $1 billion, thus qualifying it for “unicorn” status. Its chain of retail stores have been called the Starbucks of weed and have been compared to the Apple Store.
The company announced plans to go public on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) in the second quarter of 2018. MedMen operates 18 facilities in three states (California, Nevada and New York) with operations including cultivation, manufacturing and retail.
I spoke with MedMen Senior VP of Communications Daniel Yi about the marijuana industry’s growth prospects and the legal and regulatory challenges it faces in the U.S. in Part 1 of this exclusive two-part interview.
Karl Kaufman: It must be an exciting time for you and the company as a whole.
Daniel Yi: Exciting, yeah, but also very crazy. I know it’s a hackneyed metaphor, but it has really been a roller coaster ride. It’s just as exhilarating, just as frightening.
Kaufman: With the sea change in the public’s perception of cannabis, how do you view the long-term growth prospects and challenges as a business, and for the industry as a whole?
Yi: All of this revolves around the changing public perception, which is key to a change in policy, right? If we turn the clock back 20 years ago to when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, there really wasn’t much commerce for the first 15 years. It made a splash in the news but there wasn’t much of an industry to speak of, it was more of a grassroots movement.
The important thing that happened in those first 15 years is that people got more comfortable with the idea of medical marijuana. If you look at the latest polls today, 94% of Americans support legalization of medical marijuana, 61% support legalization for adult (recreational) use.