40 Under 40
For the past five years, the Marijuana Venture staff has compiled an annual list of some of the brightest young leaders and influencers in the cannabis industry. As in past years, we have narrowed the list from hundreds of worthy candidates to present 40 individuals from the vast and ever-changing business in the United States and Canada.
It is our honor to share their stories.
Company: Green Dragon
Even just eight or nine years ago, Alex Levine of Green Dragon thought discussions of federal legalization were more of a long-term thought exercise than anything realistic.
“It wasn’t something you would tell people out loud,” he says of when he first got involved in the cannabis industry. But as states like Colorado and Washington began to legalize in 2012, Levine saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I believed this was going to be like the end of prohibition in the 1920s,” he says.
Levine initially researched many states for possible investment but ultimately felt that Colorado had the best regulatory scheme. He was introduced to a small chain that had some prize-winning genetics and eventually this resulted in an ownership role.
Today, the vertically integrated company known as Green Dragon has grown to 14 stores through both acquisitions and new licenses. The company also owns two large cultivation facilities in Colorado, including a 120,000-square-foot hybrid greenhouse, and has more than 250 employees. Levine says the company’s growth strategy is centered around customer service, quality products and a great retail experience. The company is currently expanding into other states, following the acquisition of a highly coveted Florida license.
“There’s no playbook on how to be successful in this industry,” Levine says, but adds, “It’s just like any other retail business, just more highly regulated and federally illegal with no tax benefits. It’s definitely not a special, magical industry, where you can just mint money, as many unfortunate investors have quickly come to realize.”