When Wana Brands launched in 2010, Colorado and Washington were still two years away from becoming the first two states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis.
Today, it’s a different scenario.
In the U.S., CBD is medically legal in 33 states plus Washington, D.C. Eleven of those states allow recreational use. Boulder, Colorado-based Wana Brands is in eight of those markets and onboarding in four, plus Canada.
Business is good under the helm of CEO Nancy Whiteman, who has earned the moniker “the Martha Stewart of edibles.” Wana’s 2019 revenues were $25.1 million and the company is “on track” to meet or exceed its 2020 goals, she told Benzinga.
What aren’t good for business are certain federal regulations, she says. The hurdles affecting Wana Brands are different in every state. There are also thousands of other companies saturating the market — a headache unto itself.
So while consumers enjoy easy access and the widest variety of palliatives to date, companies like Wana Brands are busy navigating a complicated landscape littered with rules and stipulations not found in any other industry.
Whiteman, along with Wana Brands’ Director of Innovation Mike Hennesy, recently spoke to Benzinga about their unique approach to edibles (including a “secret” hire) and how it differentiates the company from its rivals.
The Biggest Challenge
“In terms of the success of the gummy sector, Wana Brands has been producing cannabis-infused gummies since 2011,” Whiteman said. “This was before market research companies for cannabis, such as BDSA and Headset, even existed.”
Today, there is plenty of data to show the upward trend of cannabis products, especially edibles. That particular category is expected to be worth more than $4.1 billion in Canada and the U.S. by 2022.
On the surface, this is an ideal sector for a company to be in, especially during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Stressful times have led to an uptick in sales.
Still, “there are plenty of challenges operating in the infused cannabis products space,” Whiteman said. “The biggest challenge is operating state-by-state.”
Since cannabis is still not recognized as legal on a federal level, everything Wana Brands does with the plant has to originate within state borders.
“Any product sold in Colorado is grown and produced in Colorado, any product sold in Illinois is grown and produced in Illinois,” Whiteman explained. “When the Illinois adult-use market came online in …