Cannabis Thought Leader: 'It's Inevitable' Big Pot Will Stifle Small Business

March 21, 2019

By Chloe Aiello

As more companies test the waters of the legal hemp and cannabis industries, "it is only inevitable" behemoths in alcohol, tobacco, and consumer goods will start to dominate market share, said Ricardo Baca, cannabis thought leader and founder of public relations firm Grasslands.

"In the same way that we have a strong microbrew market in the beer market, and boutique hotels compared to the big dogs, there will also be the best-of-the-best small cannabis and hemp brands," said Baca, who also served as editor of The Denver Post's The Cannabist. "But ... these brands that have capital, have reach, they are going to take over market share. We are already seeing it in the U.S. and we are certainly seeing it in Canada."

His comments came on the heels of news that CVS will start selling CBD products in hundreds of its stores nationwide as part of a deal with Curaleaf Holdings. CVS isn't the first mainstream brand to embrace the burgeoning hemp and cannabis markets. DSW and Simon Malls now sell CBD products through deals with Green Growth Brands. And Corona-beer maker Constellation Brands ($STZ) and tobacco giant Altria ($MO), which owns Marlboro, have both made significant investments in Canadian cannabis companies.

The same rules apply, as well, with grow operations and dispensaries.

"This is a very hot conversation right now in California, where they are going through a really rough transition into a regulated marketplace, where these small farmers are having trouble finding where their role in it is," Baca added.

The more regulated the market gets, the more big brands will jump on the bandwagon ー and it all starts with CBD.

"It's going to start with CBD and then inevitably we will see a move toward actual THC products with some of these big brands," Baca said, adding that Canadian companies have a head start thanks to federal legalization. "We are a long way from that in the U.S."

For full interview click here.