Questions for: Curaleaf CEO Joe Bayern

By Alex Halperin
Jun 1, 2021

Massachusetts-based Curaleaf is on everyone’s list of top-tier multi-state operators. With operations in 23 states, more than 100 storefronts and Q1 revenue of $260M (up 170% year over year)  it’s one of the few companies where decisions can affect how millions of Americans think about cannabis.

Curaleaf CEO Joe Bayern, a former Voss water executive who took the reins in January, responded to several emailed questions about where he’s taking the company.  

This interview has been lightly edited.

How does Curaleaf anticipate national legalization will happen? How is the company optimizing its plans for that?

We believe that small progressions like the SAFE Banking Act could be passed within the year, and we’re told a comprehensive legalization package will be introduced this month that addresses decriminalization, legalization, interstate commerce, 280E, as well as social justice and other issues. The timeframe for a comprehensive bill actually passing is anybody’s guess, so we’ll have to wait and see over the next couple of months.

To optimize our business for federal legalization, Curaleaf is investing in technology, product innovation, genetics, and other areas that will help us in the competitive environment. Our recent acquisition of Colorado-based Los Sueños [cultivation facility] is one example of how we are working to construct low-cost supply chains that will secure healthy margins and position us for interstate commerce.

How does Curaleaf plan to create national brands and what do you see as the obstacles to doing so?

Select, known as America’s #1 cannabis oil brand, is our wholesale brand under the Curaleaf umbrella. Select is the industry’s first national cannabis brand, currently in over 1,600 dispensaries across 18 states. 

We recently launched Select Squeeze, a fast-acting THC-infused beverage enhancer featuring nano-emulsification technology, which was a significant milestone as one of the cannabis industry’s widest national product launches. Select Squeeze was among the first cannabis products with mass availability as it became accessible to a total addressable population of 94 million adults age 21+.

As it stands now, building a national cannabis brand is essentially the same as building a mainstream brand globally. Each state has specific regulations, unique legal statuses and compliance laws, so each needs to be treated individually. Additionally, it’s important that the brand comes through at every touchpoint across different regional markets: this includes our voice and our values as well as the consistency and quality of our products. 

How is Curaleaf differentiating itself from competitors?

Curaleaf’s focus is on growth and building national brands. We want to be in every large market that we can be in the United States and that’s a very different strategy than some of our competitors. We have an experienced leadership team with expertise in emerging industries, CPG and brand building. With the addition of EMMAC, Curaleaf is well-positioned to enter and scale in the European market and become a truly international cannabis CPG company.

We are the only cannabis company positioned to do truly national product launches this year. We have plans in store for product launches that will look much like other large, national, CPG consumer goods companies typically do. The combination of our clear vision, scale, and product innovation has set us on an unrivalled path for success and continued growth in the cannabis industry.

Being vertically integrated in our markets has served as a competitive advantage for Curaleaf. As a vertically integrated company, we capture each part of the value chain and have an industry leading product. Additionally, we have the scale to efficiently develop our products and distribute them once interstate trade is allowed.

Earlier this month, our nano products including squeeze, earned an honorable mention from the Fast Company’s annual World Changing Ideas list in the consumer products category. We will remain focused on developing highly formulated products based on science and distributing them widely. This is one of our key differentiating factors relative to our peers.