“SAFE Banking Act or not, the cannabis industry will continue to expand rapidly, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and inflate state coffers in a time where jobs and tax revenue are so desperately needed!”
Perhaps the biggest challenge to the legal cannabis market in Nevada is unfair competition from the illicit market which is very much at large. Nevada is not the only state that is grappling with the aftermath of decades-long of cannabis prohibition that gave birth to many ills. A key vice is the unregulated and illicit market that has become the sore thumb of the legal industry. How is the over-taxed legal industry expected to compete against the untaxed illicit market that has no licenses to pay for nor quality standards to measure up to?
That said, not everyone has shied away from venturing into the legal cannabis industry in Nevada where both medical and recreational cannabis are legal. Thrive Cannabis Marketplace is one such daring company that has ventured full-throttle. In this interview, we chat with the CEO of Thrive Marketplace, Mitch Britten, about the Nevada market and cannabis legalization in the US generally.
Mitch touches on key issues affecting the cannabis industry such as brand oversaturation and the need for differentiation and recognition. He sums it up with a sneak preview of the next phase of Thrive Cannabis Marketplace which includes the opening of new storefronts that will introduce innovative product offerings.
Join us as we pick the brain of this cannabis thought leader.
As an intro, how did your career path lead you to the legal cannabis industry?
My career path in cannabis began in Colorado in 2009. I led the development of the state’s medical cannabis industry for six years while serving as the Director of Operations for, what was at the time, the nation’s largest producers, retailers and employers in the medical and recreational sectors. Thrive Cannabis Marketplace was founded in 2015 and is the direct result of my years of R&D in those early stages of the Colorado market. I brought critical lessons learned from my experiences in Colorado to Nevada and married premium branding with top-tier industry practices to get where we are today.
You are the largest independent cannabis retailer in Nevada at the moment. Can you comment on the outlook of the Nevada market in 2022 as well as the next 3-5 years?
If regulations are approved this year, consumption lounges are likely to become a vital component of the Nevada market. Tourists greatly influence Las Vegas’ unique economy, and as people return to regular travel, we’ll continue to see an increase in growth. Numbers from Nevada’s Cannabis Compliance Board and Department of Taxation show the cannabis industry had more than $1 billion in taxable sales last year.
You had a successful transition from Colorado to Nevada. What are some of the key lessons from early adoption states that can be applied in newly legalized markets?
Lessons learned from the Colorado Market were crucial in building Thrive. I liken it to being a younger sibling and learning from your older brother's mistakes. When Nevada adopted a limited license model, throwing our hat in the ring made a lot of sense. Colorado was severely oversaturated with storefronts and cultivation facilities, leading to massive downward pressure on the wholesale market and a mass movement of gray market / semi-legally grown products flooding into the illicit market.
When we set out to create what is now Thrive, we knew we needed to create a retail environment that respects Nevada’s licensed cannabis establishments. At the time, there were many more cultivation and production facilities licensed than storefronts. We wanted to launch a true Marketplace: a storefront for those that didn’t have storefronts.
Consumption lounges; are they likely to become a key tipping point for the next phase of the legal industry?
Nearly 100,000 tourists visit Las Vegas every day, and it's becoming a top destination for cannabis tourism. With that said, public use, especially on the Las Vegas Strip, has become a problem, and consumption lounges will offer a solution that we believe everyone in the business community will get behind. Las Vegas consumption lounges will offer a safe and intelligently regulated platform to consume cannabis and get customers away from the Casinos (an issue everyone in the industry should be respectful of). These businesses aren’t going to be just bars that serve cannabis but complexes that allow a variety of entertainment and space to socialize. Thrive plans to offer a “Vegas experience” for tourists and locals alike with comedy shows, music, partnerships with local chefs, and much more.
The Safe Banking Act: How necessary is this for the industry and what positive changes will come with this?
The SAFE Banking Act will be a step in the right direction for the cannabis industry and public safety but many of the challenges that the SAFE Banking Act is working to fix, have already been available to the industry if you know where to look. The real movement will happen when a States Rights Bill is passed or 280E reform moves through the chambers. That being said, the SAFE Banking Act is a boon not only for legal cannabis but also for our local communities and it shows movement on a long-talked-about item that never seems to get anywhere. SAFE Banking Act or not, the cannabis industry will continue to expand rapidly, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and inflate state coffers in a time where jobs and tax revenue are so desperately needed!
Any thoughts on the future of cannabis products? What direction is the market likely to take?
At this moment, I believe we’re seeing an influx of brand oversaturation. The competition for new businesses is steep, and brand recognition is becoming key. Thrive continues to provide a true marketplace offering storefronts for those without storefronts.
What’s next for Thrive Cannabis Marketplace?
We’re continuing to keep our area of focus on serving Nevada. Thrive is bringing three new storefronts online and expanding our product offerings and cultivation capabilities. The next Thrive location is opening in early summer, adjacent to the newest and hottest casino on the Strip, Resorts World (3000 S Las Vegas Blvd). We also plan to open a consumption lounge at the new flagship location in the fall or early next year. At the end of the year, we’re launching an additional site in the northwest portion of Las Vegas, a severely under-served area. Mid-next year, we’re hoping to finalize our plans for our location in South Shore, Lake Tahoe.
It was a great pleasure to have this one-on-one with Mitch, CEO of Thrive Cannabis Marketplace. Thrive is expanding rapidly yet strategically. Readers who wish to maintain pace with the new developments are more than welcome to visit their website.