Joe Lusardi, CEO of Curaleaf, discusses getting started with the cannabis industry when Maine passed a dispensary bill back in 2009 and notes how much the industry has changed over the past 10 years. Lusardi also comments on the public safety issue surrounding vaping and tells us that most of the problems are coming from the illicit market: “This will hopefully be, ultimately, a good thing because it will create more awareness around the supply chain and create even better, stronger regulations. And that’s really what we need to move forward with a credible, regulated industry.” Lusardi talks about sourcing hemp for their products, the need for proper research, and believes that both hemp and CBD are important parts of the future of cannabis.
Seth Adler: Joe Lusardi joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host, Seth Adler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com, that's two N's in the word economy, or wherever you currently get your podcasts. First a word from our supporter and then Joe Lusardi.
Seth Adler: I've known the family behind Medicine Man for the past eight years. Pioneers in Colorado, the family business helped set the path for global adult use cannabis. Mg Magazine has voted them top 50 cannabis companies to work for, two consecutive years running. Check out their website at medicinemandenver.com or visit one of their locations in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, or Longmont the next time you're in Colorado to understand how one family has helped chart the course for the next great American industry.
Seth Adler: All right, so we've got Joe Lusardi, CEO of Curaleaf. Joe, how have we not met yet? Right?
Joe Lusardi: I don't know. I get around a lot, so it's good to meet you right now.
Seth Adler: That's it. Exactly, and we're doing it kind of remotely and that's just fine, thanks. You're running a pretty big company here in cannabis. What I want to do before we talk about any of that is I want to step in the way back machine and get back to Maine. I don't know if you're a Mainer originally, but you've got a decades worth of experience, at least, in one of our cuddly markets, the main market. So, what was day one and how did you get to day one?
Joe Lusardi: Yeah, so in 2009, Maine passed a dispensary bill. Maine had had a history of being a caregiver state and people went to the ballot box and voted for a dispensary bill. Some friends of mine, including my cousin, decided that we should take a hard look at cannabis because what we recognized was that there's a lot of anecdotal evidence that people were using cannabis for medical benefits. And so, we started to research the topic very seriously. At the time, I was at Fidelity Investments and private equity and I consider myself maybe a bit of a reluctant pioneer, but we went out there and the risk [inaudible 00:02:20] decided to try to create a business where we could help sick people use cannabis and it really took off from there.
Joe Lusardi: We opened the first vertical medical business on the East Coast in 2011 and it's sort of been really an amazing journey since then. Massachusetts passed a bill in 2012. I was fortunate enough to be part of the first group of companies to get licensed in Massachusetts. And then, I pivoted to Polytech, which is now Curaleaf, and we're running a national company. Never in my wildest imagination, 10 years ago did I think I'd be the CEO of a public cannabis company, but here I am.
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