For the past 12 months, the editorial staff at Marijuana Venture has compiled a list of candidates for our third annual 40 Under 40 feature. This year, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of worthy candidates to come up with a cross-section of personalities across the U.S. and Canada, from salt-of-the-earth farmers to tech savants. All of them have unique stories, successes and ambitions and all represent the excitement and promise of the cannabis business. We feel honored to share their stories and look forward to watching them push forward in our ever-evolving industry.
When Washington opened its recreational market, thousands of medical marijuana growers rushed to submit applications, with many believing quality alone would push their company to success.
But surviving an ultra-competitive market — with odds stacked against producers — proved to be another challenge altogether. More than anything, entrepreneurs like Alex Cooley who have been able to succeed in the medical-to-recreational transition, have done so by adapting to the unknowable future.
“We knew there was going to be a mad dash to enter the industry, but I think all the guesses surrounding what that would mean in economic terms were just that – guesses,” says Cooley, co-founder of Seattle-based Solstice.
Cooley experienced surprises — “more people trying to squeeze out a penny” — but he also recognized the bigger picture was about controlling the things you could control and advocating like hell for the things you can’t.
“The regulatory landscape has changed significantly since I started, but the process of building relationships, having patience and never losing sight of your end goals still play a huge role in the success we have today,” he says, crediting some “truly amazing advocates” for moving legalization forward.
And as Washington’s state-licensed growers endure the most grueling season since the state began allowing adult-use sales, quality alone has taken a back seat to running a tight ship.
“As the price has fallen, success has been more and more about supply chain management and improving our ability to recognize value further upstream,” Cooley says.
But sure, growing great weed helps.
That’s part of what makes it fun, Cooley says.