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Our Biggest Lessons Learned at CannaCon South

Our biggest lessons learned at CannaCon!

On May 27th and 28th 2021, our team had the opportunity to attend CannaCon South in Oklahoma City. For those that couldn’t attend, we wanted to share some of the biggest lessons we learned at CannaCon!

Alongside enjoying a bit of sightseeing in this modern and vibrant city, our Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Steve Albarran, and VP of Sales & Client Success, Paul Cebulak, spent two days getting to know the players in Oklahoma cannabis. After a year of social distancing, there was an undeniable air of excitement at CannaCon, we discovered that much of what we learned from our Oklahoma Market Report resonated on a larger scale. 

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1. It’s Early Days in the Sooner State

There was a palpable buzz in the air at CannaCon – you could sense how excited everyone was about the future of cannabis in Oklahoma. While there is a ton of interest surrounding the cannabis market in Oklahoma, many operators are just getting started. Equipment and materials are still being researched and purchased, facility expansions are being planned out, and business plans are being written and rewritten. It’s still early to confidently predict who the biggest players will be. Right now, everyone has the opportunity to thrive. There are thousands of vendors and buyers in Oklahoma however prices are sufficiently high potentially making it difficult to turn a profit ($1,800/lb of mid-grade indoor-grown flower); we expect competition in this marketplace to ramp up. 

2. Welcome to Oklahoma’s Own Kind of Cannabis Culture

Competition shouldn’t scare off those wanting to enter the cannabis marketplace in Oklahoma. The cannabis culture in Oklahoma is a lot more welcoming and less guarded than it is in other places. Everyone at CannaCon was open to collaborating and sharing ideas. Because the market is so new and growing so quickly, everyone is happy to lend a helping hand. There is not a long history of cannabis pre-legalization in Oklahoma (unlike certain West Coast states), so there is very much a sense of “we’re all new here and we’re all in this together.” 

One way Oklahoma cannabis entrepreneurs are collaborating is by outsourcing their capabilities. For example, a grower who has a lot of sales reps may have them buy flower from other growers (technically competitors!) to utilize their sales reps to sell their products for them. This way, smaller growers without sales teams can still sell and stay in business and   growers with more resources can diversify their revenue streams. Tom over at The Extraction Pros (who provides contact processing services) walked us through how their business helps growers and processors. They help operators that might have plant material, but don’t have the capabilities to extract it into distillate and other concentrates. They outsource their extraction needs to The Extraction Pros in order to monetize their biomass. 

Sharing information and lessons learned is also common. For example, at CannaCon we chatted with Laura and Joe at PHNX Farms (who grow great flower for the value by the way!) about how they collaborate with other farms and breeders, sharing genetics with their peers. 

A unique geography 

This willingness to be open and honest about trade secrets may be caused by how regional the networks of commerce are in Oklahoma. You have processors and dispensaries doing business in relatively tight geographies. They may sell to half a dozen stores in their neighborhood; often they aren’t branching out much farther than that. Essentially Tulsa and Oklahoma City are two main hubs (almost as if they are distinct markets) and then each of those hubs has connections with many different processors and dispensaries.Those businesses aren’t connected to each other. Even though there are so many players in this space, many aren’t connected and therefore don’t feel as pressured to be in competition with one another.

3. Meet the Jack-of-All-Cannabis-Trades

In Oklahoma, many entrepreneurs hold multiple licenses (transporter, dispensary, grower, processor, etc.). There are different motivations behind obtaining multiple licenses. Primarily cannabis entrepreneurs in Oklahoma are taking on multiple roles to speed up their business growth and because the barrier-to-entry is low. Some need multiple licenses so they can private-label their products and sell them to dispensaries who want to put their brand name on it. Others are pursuing multiple licenses so they can get their hands on plant. This strategy can help provide multiple revenue streams while increasing access. 

In Oklahoma, most multi-license holders are not actually vertical, as they still buy and sell with third parties. However, there are some exceptions to this trend. F5 Farm is a big player in the Oklahoma cannabis space that is taking this vertical approach. Vertical Vibez is also pursuing this vertical strategy.  Owning the whole supply chain gives vertical vendors a lot of control and access. 

4. Oklahoma is Ready to Hustle

Because it’s still early days in Oklahoma, there are a lot of “side-hustlers” in the space who are starting their cannabis businesses while still working full-time jobs. Because of this, there is a strong need for efficiency for many of these entrepreneurs. We met Delene Gilbert, who currently works at Oklahoma State Bank and State Dispensary and started a cultivation organization and dispensary with her husband and son. Juggling full-time jobs while launching new businesses has forced Oklahoma cannabis entrepreneurs to learn how to do things the right way right now. 

Balancing the needs of a growing business requires having the right tools at your disposal. After meeting so many friendly and ambitious entrepreneurs at CannaCon, we are even more excited to continue working with Oklahoma Confident Cannabis users

  • 55% of all labs in Oklahoma use Confident Cannabis
  • $2,400+ growers and processors in Oklahoma are testing with a Confident Cannabis lab
  • 1,600+ inventory tested weekly by operators in Oklahoma using Confident Cannabis 

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Confident Cannabis empowers the entire supply chain to know what is made, who makes it, and what it’s made of — in real-time. Confident Cannabis is the only place where licensed growers, processors, transporters, and dispensaries list and source cannabis inventory tested by the largest network of analytical labs in the world.

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