In May, Franchise Times will recognize 11 winners of its annual Dealmakers awards. The honor is meant to spotlight “the boldest players driving mergers and acquisitions in franchising,” according to the national business publication. This year, for the first time, the lineup of winners will include a cannabis company: ONE Cannabis Group.
Based in Denver, ONE Cannabis Group has grown from the sturdy foundation of Green Man Cannabis, an award-winning local dispensary, into a multi-state franchisor. The company’s plan is to bring the franchise business model of other consumer industries into cannabis—to support local ownership in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Mike Weinberger, COO of ONE Cannabis Group, told Cannabis Business Times that the company started its franchise component about three years ago.
“The market was a little more difficult. There was less social acceptance then,” he said. “Over the last 12 to 18 months, the world’s been changing.”
Over the years, though, leading up to this moment, ONE Cannabis Group had grown into a portfolio of companies—including the franchisor enterprise. In September 2018, the management team merged more than a dozen related companies and combined revenue exceeding $20 million under the umbrella of parent company ONE Cannabis Group Inc.
This is what Franchise Times is honoring: the internal consolidation that will allow ONE Cannabis Group to focus more pointedly on its franchisor business model.
Green Man Cannabis is the foundation, the flagship, and ONE Cannabis Group now works with prospective dispensary owners to build off its successes. ONE will maintain ownership of Green Man and its 120,000-sq.-ft. grow, which, Weinberger said, will allow the company to leverage past experience and “that institutional knowledge” onto its franchising work. “The roots and DNA of Green Man are what make ONE what it is,” he said.
ONE Cannabis Group currently employs more than 100 people. The long-term plan is to rebrand franchised dispensaries as ONE Cannabis.
“Franchise Times saw that vision of what we’re trying to do and how we’re scaling very quickly,” Weinberger said. “It is a huge competitive advantage for us to have control of all aspects of the supply chain to our retail & franchise locations," Weinberger said. "As a vertically integrated cannabis company, we're able to maintain the level of consistency that is so important in franchising."
“I think it's a huge step for the industry on this next wave of growth,” Weinberger said. “The cannabis industry right is now very fragmented, especially because it’s set up in different states in different ways. As [the industry] continues to get national recognition—acknowledgement—people see franchising as the next vehicle to help people open these businesses. It’s not all about large companies owning all the licenses. This allows people in particular neighborhoods—whether [through] social justice or just pure franchising—to keep the money there and keep the ownership there. Keep it in the community.”
He said that the franchise model may come to compete with the multi-state operators’ common management agreements, which often don’t extend ownership rights to local teams. With the industry turning toward talk of social equity initiatives, ONE Cannabis hopes to shine a light on new pathways into the cannabis space.
“I think it’s the future, honestly,” Weinberger said.
The company will be featured in the April issue of Franchise Times.
“It’s a big step,” Weinberger said. “We’re proud to accept the award on behalf of the industry in particular.”