NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Imagine a can of cola with a cannabis twist of 5 milligrams.
Ata Gonzalez can envision it. That’s why the GFarmaLabs CEO has entered into a joint venture with MedMen, a full-service management firm in Culver City, Calif.
“I can see infusing everyday products, such as pretzels, potato chips, lemonade, tea, yoghurt, coffee creamers and eggnog with a small amount of THC so it tastes amazing,” said Gonzalez who is already infusing his line of award winning Liquid Gold chocolates. As part of their new agreement with GFarmaLabs, MedMen is licensing GFarmaLabs recipes, production methods and systems nationwide.
“We are providing the next level of capabilities,” said Adam Bierman, managing partner with MedMen. Gonzalez sought out Medmen’s expertise to help navigate the regulatory landscape because marijuana remains federally illegal. “I’ve been breaking my head trying to grow the right way,” Gonzalez told MainStreet. “I’ve seen other brands go wrong state by state so I needed a point person to develop manuals, a team and a structure.”
Gonzalez’s ultimate goal is branding and licensing GFarmaLabs products to other states.
“MedMen has first right of refusal for every state that opens up,” Gonzalez said. “Aligning ourselves with MedMen helps us grow into every state with solid groups of investors and backers.”
Although there are many production facilities in Colorado and Washington, Bierman is focused on production facilities in Nevada and Illinois. Production facilities engage in extraction, infusion, packaging and bottling for marijuana edibles.
“All cultivation and production facilities in Nevada and Illinois will be privately run but there will be a competitive licensing system from the state,” said Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech, whose subsidiaries secured provisional licenses from the state of Nevada to operate multiple medical marijuana establishments. “While these businesses are not state run, they must abide by the state’s highly regulated system.”
Production facilities in Colorado and Washington differ in that they are state operated.
“State run industries sometimes have a difficult time competing with the surrounding market,” Peterson told MainStreet.
Just last month, GFarmaLabs announced a private offering to raise $5 million in capital for a 25% stake in the future of the company’s California territory. With this infusion of cash, Gonzalez will have the resources he needs to further his vision of a cannabis nation.
“We’ll expand employment, infrastructure and inventory,” said Gonzalez. “That includes building our facility to manufacture cannabis-infused baked goods for which we need machinery, packaging and inventory.”
Gonzalez is looking forward to 2016, because California is poised to pass a recreational legalization initiative.
“California is still so far behind Colorado and Washington as far as regulation,” Gonzalez said. “Next year, we’re hoping there will be more regulatory oversight, which will make doing business easier.”
For now only medicinal use is legal.
"California needs a state-wide licensing system with uniform regulations,” Peterson said. “That would help weed out some of the more fly-by-night establishments that have tried to take hold in some parts of the state. Testing and labeling requirements would help make sure patients are getting the quality of medicine they're expecting.”
—Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet