Business

Jushi thinks corporate weed can be cool

By Alex Halperin
Dec 7, 2021
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Andreas "Dre" Neumann, Courtesy: Jushi

When the self-appointed guardians of cannabis culture deride corporate weed, they have companies like MSO Jushi in mind.

Among other reasons:

  • In 2018, Jushi was a power point presentation. Today it has about 1,200 employees across six states. 
  • Jushi’s four officers all have formidable mainstream resumes.  Before cannabis, CEO and Chairman Jim Cacioppo went to Harvard Business School and started a hedge fund.  
  • In Jushi’s most important market, Pennsylvania, the limited-license structure incentivizes things like store placement over producing quality products that win loyal customers.

It’s impressive, but not soul stirring. And when you sell weed, it helps to be soul-stirring. Recently WeedWeek spoke with Jushi’s Chief Creative Officer Andreas “Dre” Neumann, about the story Jushi plans to connect with consumers. 

  • Originally from Germany, Neumann has has a very cool sounding career at the intersection of design, tech, music and marketing. 

At the moment, cannabis brands can’t make much noise, but he sees extraordinary opportunities to become a part of people’s lives over the long term. 

  • He gave the example of CPG giant Procter & Gamble which built its audience through sponsoring “soap operas.” 
  • Neumann aims to curate an audience around the company’s values, which he described as respect for people, the plant and the planet. Amid the company’s rapid expansion, “We’ve kind of had to retrofit and figure out what we stand for,” he said.
  • However the company sets out to convey those values, “You have to really make a difference.”
  • Neumann said the company aims to do right by staffers who come from the legacy market. “We learn from each other,” he said. “We have to give them the freedom,” to grow into a more buttoned down situation than they’re used to.

One way Jushi hopes to win over customers is by allowing dispensaries to maintain their sense of place.

  • In Massachusetts, Jushi decided the Nature’s Remedy dispensary it acquired would keep its brand. 
  • But there is a Jushi dispensary scent, one created by the Joshua Tree Candle Company‘s wares. (Jushi’s EVP, Retail Operations Brendon Lynch was previously an exec at boho-chic retailer Anthropologie.) 
  • Jushi acquired its main dispensary brand, Beyond/Hello and Neumann is still playing with it. He said it wasn’t made for the REC market.

Oh, and what does Neumann think of the German market on the brink of legalization? It will be very complicated, “Virginia times 10,” he said. Jushi should focus on the U.S.