Jake Bullock and Luke Anderson are getting their lemon lavender Cann Social Tonic and other cannabis-infused drinks launched in New York State as fast as they can. Gaining a foothold quickly in states where cannabis drinks are legal is critical said Bullock, who worked in consulting and earned an MBA before joining the legal weed industry. As a first-mover in the cannabis-infused drink market, his company can establish its brand and develop customer loyalty before significant competition emerges, he said, and it’s easier to get onto retail shelves before the marketplace gets crowded.
Bullock and Anderson launched their first canned marijuana cocktails in California in 2019 and have expanded to four states and Canada since then. Moving quickly to new markets also helps stave off copy-cats who are launching products with packaging and flavors similar to Cann Social Tonics said Bullock.
The duo created their low-dose cannabis beverages to offer “a mild light buzz” and a way for people to drink alongside alcohol imbibers. “People are worried about getting too high, getting anxious,” said Bullock, but at just 2 mg of THC per can, consumers are getting 20% of a legal “dose.” That means they can quaff a few cans.
“We can’t drink alcohol like we did in our twenties,” said Bullock, “our hangovers are worse. We wanted to create a savory adult drink that offered euphoria without alcohol.”
Cannabis can not legally be brought across state or national borders, so to supply retail outlets in Nevada, Illinois, Massachusetts, Arizona, Minnesota and Canada, the company ships its flavored syrup to canning facilities that supply the cannabis that is infused into the drinks. From there, a local distributor gets the drinks to store shelves.
The brand is in 600 retail outlets nationwide.
The cannabis industry presents special challenges to multi-state operators. “Each state is kind of like its own country with its own packing laws, its own distributors,” said Bullock. Packaging and labeling has to be created and produced per each state’s regulations, so “we can’t reach economies of scale because our orders are too small,” said Bullock, and it take extra time to make sure each adheres to local regulations exactly. New partnerships for distribution need to be set up in each state.
Cannabis’ restrictive advertising rules also vary from state to state. “We do local events and promotions” based on what each state will allow said Bullock. In Venice Beach California for example, the company created a brightly decorated pop-up space that offered samples of the drink without THC and told customers where they could buy the infused version nearby. Targeting a broader audience the company commissioned a music video, “Taste So Good (The Cann Song).”
Despite the extra costs that come with entering new states rather than growing in existing markets, the company is pursuing geographic expansion. “There’s a lot of’ cannacuriosity’” right now said Bullock,” We want to get on shelves as many places as possible, and introduce the product to as many people as we can.”