Bay Area cannabis history
The Bay Area has been a hub for retail cannabis longer than anywhere else in the country. People have been visiting pseudo dispensaries in this area to purchase their medicine since before the passage of Prop 215 in 1996, otherwise known as “The Compassionate Use Act.” Dennis Peron, the famous LGBT and medical cannabis activist, was a major influence in changing the political demonization of cannabis and influencing thousands of Californians along the way to come out and be heard.
As we find ourselves less than two months away from a recreational market, some collectives are starting to re-evaluate the status quo and what it means to be a successful, accessible retailer in the changing marketplace. We must not forget about the historical and cultural roots that brought cannabis to California and the rest of the states that have fought for legalization. A number of businesses stand out to us. It is their forward thinking, inclusive models that set them apart. Along with their carefully and expertly guided curation process that is in line with industry trends. These collectives also uphold the foundational systems that California cannabis is built upon.
Flow Kana is the future of cannabis. They are a distributor with humble beginnings as a delivery service, specializing in partnering with and giving scale to premier artisan farmers in northern California. They began with a focus on flower from Mendocino and Humboldt counties. Now they’re expanding their scope to include infused products, as well as expanding their reach to farmers all over California, including Gold Country.
They are maintaining their high standards for boutique, small batch, organic products and flower, and expanding their platform to help the smaller players build their brands while supporting farmers in what they do best. Their co-op model is an excellent example of how cottage farmers can truly succeed in a regulated market. They are using their brand recognition and years of experience to help everyone win. Through innovative collaboration and upholding our values that we are together, greater than the sum of our parts.
This beautifully curated new dispensary is tucked in the heart of Sonoma County. Solful’s model is perfectly aligned with where the cannabis movement is heading. They uphold a strong focus on cannabis as a health and wellness tool. We are saying goodbye to the days of 500mg brownies being the norm and purchase decisions based solely on milligrams per dollar. As the general population of canna-curious consumers becomes more familiar with cannabis, they are seeking products they can relate to. Low-dosed, clearly labeled, well-packaged products is what this new demographic expects. Something you can give your grandmother, or display proudly in your home.
Solful is the place to go to find healthy, organic, intentionally created products for both the curious new user and the patients that care about not only what they are putting into their bodies but the people and stories behind the brands as well. We absolutely love what Solful is doing and are honored to see our Chocolate Truffles and Medicine Bars on their shelves.
Harvest has been one of our team favorites for the past year. When you walk into the storefront, it feels like you’ve entered a fine boutique with all of your favorite things. Beautifully branded and packaged health and sustainability-focused products line the shelves.
This is a different model than the classic dispensary set up, where product is found behind glass shelves, out of reach or access. At Harvest, patients are able to interact with something tangible and they have a well-educated staff to assist with your shopping experience. It is difficult to create a relationship with a given product when you can’t get your hands on it and read what is presented. Often times, a brand lives and dies in a budtenders hands. We are in alignment with the mission that Harvest upholds in providing a well rounded variety of medicine that novice and experienced users alike can relate to. In addition, their focus on creating a relationship between farmer and patient is an element that we honor.
The Future of Cannabis Retail
We had the pleasure of vending at Harvests’ bi-monthly farmers markets and witnessing their careful curation process. The farmers markets were created to bring in new brands to meet the patients, and witness first hand how they respond to their offerings. Who better to educate and tell the story of the flower, extract, edibles, and topicals then the creators themselves? This is a beautiful example of innovative techniques that the pioneers of the new cannabis industry are introducing to the market. Similar to a farm to table model for food, the benefits of connecting to the cultivators of this diverse plant are becoming more and more important. This lets patients get to know the values and grow practices they uphold, so they can make an informed choice when choosing the medicine that is right for them. Thank you, Harvest team for creating these opportunities for cottage growers, and small companies while folding in the educational platform for your patients.
As a new consumer or an avid one, there is a plethora of educational elements to create brand loyalty and the stores that feature those brands. It is marketing through education and ensuring that core values are aligned. As the cannabis movement professionalizes into a legitimate industry, it is in this space that synergies are created. We are inspired to see these retail operations taking the time to carefully consider what brands they stock. As more new patients enter the industry, retailers that focus on branding, presentation, and education will surely shine. These three companies are fine examples and we are grateful to work with them and to spread their message to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.