In today's cannabis spotlight, we interview Marianne Cursetjee, the CEO of Alibi Cannabis, an indoor cannabis grower in Oregon.
1. What are the biggest challenges facing the Oregon cannabis industry in 2022?
The two biggest challenges for Oregon in 2022 are pricing and licensing. The uncertainty of whether or not new licenses will be issued is making business planning and forecasting difficult. The original licensing framework allowed unlimited licenses which seems great in theory, but when you are restricted to selling only within Oregon, the inevitable result is oversupply. The oversupply caused the OLCC to impose a moratorium on new licenses and they are now waiting on the legislature to determine whether or not the moratorium should be extended or eliminated. If more licenses are issued, it seems inevitable that there will again be over supply which isn't healthy for the regulated market because compliant businesses are challenged to be profitable.
The second challenge for Oregon this year is about retail and wholesale pricing. There are a number of factors contributing to pricing. One is supply -- an oversupply leads to low prices, which leads to fewer profits for regulated business and drives customers back to the legacy markets. The second factor is taxes -- data from Whitney Economics shows that a 1% decrease in price will increase demand by 2%. There is talk of increasing the sales tax for cannabis. The data shows that this will push customers out of the regulated market to the legacy market, resulting in more pressure on compliant businesses. Also the glut of unregulated product grown in Oregon continues to decrease prices in the regulated market.
It would be great if the government were to make an effort to help cannabis businesses thrive instead of just taking the substantial tax dollars and ignoring the business needs.
2. What changes would you like to see from a regulatory standpoint?
From a federal standpoint, the impact of 280E is huge. The inability to deduct operating expenses can cause effective tax rates of up to 75%. This is not sustainable and increases the risk of running a cannabis business. Being able to operate as a "normal" business and take normal deductions would greatly increase the profitability and stability of cannabis businesses.
3. What advice do you have for someone looking to get into the cannabis industry?
Go for it! The industry is constantly changing, so you will be challenged. There are so many job opportunities -- digital marketing, attorneys, purchasing, supply chain, cultivation, etc. The opportunities are endless! Try lots of different jobs, find a company with good values that appreciates it's employees, don't be afraid to try something new. There is so much to learn about this plant, amazing products to develop, and a bright unlimited future.
4. How does the cannabis community inspire you?
My first introduction to cannabis was a gift of RSO to help me with chemotherapy. The people that have provided medical grade cannabis products for compassionate care have my utmost respect. I was introduced to a whole underground cannabis care mentality. It's amazing what people risk for this plant. Even today, with it being legal in Oregon, this mentality of collaboration and helpfulness is evident. I have built relationships with other farms - technically competitors - and we share ideas and support each other. I think it's important for customers to know what went into making the product. Whether it's the care in crafting an edible, or the attention to detail on the farm, it all goes together to create a beautiful product and experience.
5. In terms of education, where is the industry lacking?
One challenge is that research is lacking because of federal drug scheduling. It would be so much easier to develop products if there were more scientific studies available. Budtender education is improving and the challenge is that explaining terpenes and the endocannabinoid system to a customer who wants to reduce anxiety can be overwhelming. Packaging and messaging is improving, but with the limits on advertising and social media posts, customer education is challenging.
About Marianne Cursetjee:
Marianne is CEO and Cofounder of Alibi Cannabis, a self-funded, top shelf cannabis company – building it from inception to a market leader in Oregon. She developed the business strategy, operations, commercialization, and systems, while adapting to market fluctuations. Marianne recruited a high-caliber team to produce hand-crafted cannabis, established a high-tech indoor cultivation facility, selected reputable vendors – delivering profits and quality.