Grant Boatman, founder of Canna River- Interview Series
“If someone thinks our product will help them, I want them to be able to afford it.”
The California cannabis market is beset with several challenges, a major one being excessive taxation and high fees which unfortunately drives up the cost of placing cannabis products on dispensary shelves. Most businesses will push these costs to the consumers who have to pay with extra dollars to access the goods. While this is bad for legal business it is awesome for the illicit market which can still afford to offer clients a favorable price point. It’s no surprise that the current value of California’s illicit cannabis market has been placed at a whopping $8 billion.
While most canna-businesses have had no problem in spiraling their prices, Cannariver is doing everything possible to ensure that all their products never exceed the $100 price point. We spoke to the founder of Cannariver, Grant Boatman to understand why this is important for the business and how they are able to keep doing this.
Without further ado, meet Grant Boatman.
As an intro, how did your career path lead you to the cannabis industry?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, even when I was younger. I’ve been fortunate in starting multiple successful companies since my early 20s while also enjoying the benefits of consuming cannabis. When the mainstream shifts in industry perception started coming about years ago, I couldn’t wait to get involved. However, I watched it get saturated overnight.
Something felt off about that; there was too much static. So I took my time and just observed. I continued working on my other projects in manufacturing and production and planned for the future. I wanted to make sure that when I entered the industry, it would be for the long term. My goal was to build a trustworthy brand with quality products that people could afford and rely on. It was important to join the movement with integrity.
I sourced hemp from farms in CO and began manufacturing in our own facility in Thousand Oaks in October 2019. We started with just a handful of broad spectrum tinctures and have rapidly expanded to over 100 SKUs today, including broad and full spectrum hemp, Delta 8, and Delta 10.
Briefly introduce Canna River and the unique role that the company is playing in the cannabis industry in California.
Canna River is a line of premium cannabinoid products known for its affordable price points where everything is $100 or less. In addition to that, we have a loyalty program and frequent sales for even deeper customer savings. We launched in 2019 with a mission to craft high potency, low cost premium products people can depend on. While the saying “you get what you pay for” is often true, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes there’s just an inflation issue. Affordability is really important to me.
Our dedication to accessibility is what gives us a unique role in California’s cannabis industry. We want everyone to have easier access to premium hemp products, not just consumers but other businesses and brands as well. Canna River takes part in the manufacturing, supplier and retail spaces. In fact, we are the manufacturer and supplier for some of the biggest brands in California. I can’t say who, but let’s just say we’re proud of what we do on all fronts, whether that’s B2B or B2C.
All your products cost under $100. Why is it important to have this cap and doesn’t this limit your product options?
It doesn’t limit our product options whatsoever. Because we manufacture so much in-house, we are able to eliminate many sourcing expenses. The only thing our price point impacts is what people pay, not the offerings or quality.
It’s no secret that the greatest benefits are reaped when consumers are able to buy the product on a regular and ongoing basis. We set out to make premium cannabinoids more affordable from every side: as a supplier, manufacturer and retailer. If more people can get the support they need without breaking the bank, we have succeeded. That’s why keeping a price cap on our goods is so important.
Honestly, our biggest obstacle is trying to convince people that affordability does not mean we sell an inferior product. Far from it. I just don’t believe in inflating prices. That’s it. If someone thinks our product will help them, I want them to be able to afford it.
You recently rebranded and your new brand has an artsy appeal. What’s the inspiration and do you intend to attract a different clientele with this “new look?”
Once we began diversifying our product catalog and planning more SKUs and alternative cannabinoids in general, I felt that it was important to add some color to our formerly earthy branding that we launched with. At the time, we were solely CBD and the majority of what we offered were tinctures. Although that look was sleek, it captured a more traditional wellness vibe with neutral tones. Our motto has always been ‘Hemp Wellness Redefined’, and I felt like it was time to redefine how we presented our goods visually. I wanted our new look to be colorful and bright to cover a broader demographic and be reflective of our offerings. So far it’s been well-received and internally our team is having a lot of fun with it, too.
You recently added new SKUs to your product line featuring D8, HHC, and other newer cannabinoids. Tell us more about these new products.
We have an array of gummies, pens and cartridges with alt cannabinoids and continue to expand our offerings on that front. Our HHC Highlighters are rechargeable and disposable and come in 6 different flavors containing 2.5g of HHC. Our Delta 8 Gummies have been wildly popular and come in 6 different flavors with 5mg of D8 per gummy. We also offer 1500mg and 3000mg D8 Tinctures, 1g D8 Cartridges and a 2.5g D8 + D10 Highlighter in 6 varieties.
Currently, the cannabis industry has access to less than 10 cannabinoids, despite the fact that we know of 100+. THC, CBD and CBN have been on the main stage but there are many benefits to D8, D10 and HHC. The alternative cannabinoid products we carry are of course Farm Bill compliant, which is great for those who do not have access to traditional THC products (Delta 9) and want to relax or get a buzz—though it should be noted we cannot ship everywhere due to changing laws at the state level.
Some may be puzzled as to how a company that launched as a hemp wellness brand can carry such products without changing their brand mission, but I see no distinction between medicinal and recreational. I’m pro-legalization and think that hemp and cannabis products should be fully decriminalized and accessible. Wellness is about taking care of yourself and feeling good, not just physical support. A lot of people enjoy cannabis recreationally as a form of self-care in a chaotic modern world. Is that not wellness? Adding D8, D10 and HHC to our offerings has given our customers more options for how they consume hemp, and that’s important. For more on our alternative cannabinoids, visit our blog here.
The California cannabis market: Is oversupply an issue presently?
If there is, we certainly haven’t felt the impact! Our home state of California is one of our leading regions for sales, despite the fact that it is a competitive market.
The California cannabis market is beset with several challenges that affect your clientele. Excessive taxation that fuels the illicit market is a major one. What can or should be done about this?
This is a loaded question that so many of us in the industry are trying to address. I think that working with advocates and the legal entities still in the fight for fair regulations and treatment for our industry is crucial. But also, I think it is important to work with what we got in the meantime. It goes back to affordability. If you’re inflating your prices to make an extra buck and then on top of that, there are all these fees and such, the consumer is going to go elsewhere. Excessive taxation sucks, but there is still space to have a successful business and keep vetted products accessible so people don’t turn to the illicit market.
What’s next for Canna River? Are you looking to expand into new markets?
In the next six to 12 months, the goal for Canna River is to roll out more of our traditional hemp wellness products like our Specialty Gummies. We just launched these in December and they’ve exceeded expectations in terms of demand and positive feedback from our customers. Our 2500mg Body Lotion and Warming and Cooling Balms are also very popular. We have always been a CBD wellness brand at our core, and we want to make sure we are championing those offerings even as we expand our alternative products. Hemp consumers have different needs and we want to fulfill as many as possible.
We’re also beginning to roll out some new creative campaigns we’ve shot with a wonderful photographer. These campaigns will match our new branding and updated vibe all around so we’re looking forward to seeing that across our Instagram and website. Who knows? If all goes well, see you in Sephora!
It was a great pleasure to have this one-on-one with Grant Boatman from CannaRiver. Readers who wish to keep up with how CannaRiver is transforming the industry are welcome to visit cannariver.com.