August 5, 2022

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Entrepreneurs Turned an Old Shoe Factory Into a Cannabis Lab. It’s Now One of the Largest Growers in Massachusetts

4 min read

With product names like “Lava Breath”, “Sour Chillz” and “Garlic Mints” one would be excused if one were to use them Cannabis industry Seriously. But you’d be wrong

With the increasing legalization of the sale of medical and recreational marijuana, Cannabis is already a real source of income. The size of the global cannabis market was estimated at $ 10.6 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $ 97.35 billion by the end of 2026 Business Insights from Fortune, a market research company.

Companies like Revolutionary Clinics, founded in 2016, got on the ground floor. In 2020, the Somerville, Massachusetts-based retail pharmacy and wholesale cannabis seller booked $ 40.7 million, up 32,997 percent from 2017 – and didn’t start selling recreational marijuana until 2018. Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana in November 2016 and retail sales began in November 2018. That year, the company ranked 4th on Inc. 5000, with approximately 400 employees, three retail locations in the greater Boston area, hundreds of products under a dozen brands, and over 80 Major Cannabis Customers.

“I am very proud of Rev’s growth and leadership through changing and often overwhelming winds,” said co-founder G. Ryan Ansin. “Goes back to the first rule in building a business: Build a world-class team.”

It was always the plan to reach this magnitude, but the steps up to that point have been steep. The state first legalized cannabis for medical use in 2012, but initially only 501 (c) 3 nonprofits were allowed to sell it. The Cardiac Arrhythmia Syndromes Foundation, an organization created to promote heart screenings, was an early adopter. After founder Jayne Vining lost a daughter to an opioid addiction in 2010, she turned the organization’s attention to medical marijuana, thinking that cannabis could be used as a non-addictive substitute to aid recovery from addiction.

Meanwhile, Ansin had an empty 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Fitchburg, Massachusetts that used to be an old shoe factory. And although he wanted to do anything with cannabis, he lacked the necessary licenses. This is where Vining came in. Finally, Ansin won over her with his vision of not only selling cannabis, but also growing it.

It took three years to equip the facility, now called Revolutionary Farms, and over $ 50 million in funding, which Ansin was able to raise from angel investors who saw the long-term potential in his vision. “We wanted to create a model in post-industrial cities to attract new industries, to create jobs, and to bring energy back to such beautiful bones of infrastructure that needed new life,” Asnin says of the space.

By 2016, the facility had been rebuilt and is ready to grow and produce up to 50 different exotic cannabis plant varieties. The facility now also produces nearly 200 original cannabis products in a variety of forms, from the traditional flower (aka the plant itself) and edibles to vaporizers, tinctures and topical creams. To help medical cannabis production and grow their business, in 2017 the founders brought in Keith Cooper, a veteran CEO and executive for several previous Inc. 5000 awardees.

“It was a great opportunity because the market already existed and already had many, many customers,” says Cooper of the attractiveness of the job.

In addition, the global pandemic could make cannabis even more necessary, says Michele Scott, senior cannabis analyst at market research firm Mintel. “I think if cannabis brands can help people find solutions to these new, perhaps unexpected, stressors, on top of all the things people were using before the pandemic, this is a great opportunity.”

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While cannabis remains in limbo at the federal level as more states legalize cannabis, the industry is expected to grow accordingly, adds Scott. Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have approved recreational and medical marijuana, while another 18 states have only approved medical marijuana.

“The most surprising thing, frankly, was how difficult it was to manage the dynamics of a startup company in a startup industry, in a state whose laws and regulations do not always match,” says Ansin. “We all build the plane while we fly it.”

Businesses will still find it difficult to operate across state lines as the sale of cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. But Revolutionary Clinics plans to take the plunge. Cooper says he is shaping the company’s processes so that it can ship to other states as soon as regulations change.

This commitment to growth was what initially sparked Talyor Halsted’s secret investment in the company. “Branding is easy, but brands are a dozen,” says Halsted, a company Strategist and Angel Investor. “The intellectual property they find out – this lab in Massachusetts – could very well be a guide to how to grow efficiently anywhere.”

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