Paul Pedersen

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.

Paul Pedersen

Age: 39

Company: Nextleaf Solutions

Title: CEO

Everything Paul Pedersen and his team at Nextleaf Solutions have done over the past few years has been building up to this moment, the roll-out of what many Canadian industry insiders refer to as 2.0 products — concentrates, edibles and vape cartridges.

Rather than manufacturing retail-ready products, Nextleaf produces raw ingredients at its Vancouver, British Columbia, plant and sells it wholesale to partners who infuse the THC and CBD oils into chocolates, beverages and other 2.0 products.

While many cannabis companies have tried to do everything — from cultivation to processing to manufacturing to distribution — Nextleaf has spent years developing extraction and distillation technologies with the goal of being the best there is at what it does.

Pedersen, who co-founded the company in January 2017, says the reality is that complete vertical integration is not common in any other industry, “so we’ve taken the opposite approach.”

Now with 39 issued patents, more than 60 patents pending and 20 full-time employees, Pedersen believes Nextleaf is well on its way to achieving its objective.

“At the end of the day,” the CEO says, “when you’re selling a commodity, which THC and CBD distillate is, it’s simply about who’s fastest and who’s cheapest, and that’s our value proposition.”

Pedersen says his early experience in the cannabis industry, working in 2016 for Peace Naturals, Canada’s first non-incumbent licensed producer, shaped his view of how the market would unfold. He believed the build-out of massive-scale indoor grows would lead to an oversaturated flower market.

That prediction has held true as Canada’s adult-use market has developed.

“We’re swimming in lower-grade product, and there’s obviously a shortage of higher-grade flower,” Pedersen says. “We really feel there will always be a big market for flower and those kinds of unique experiences, but we believe that the mass market is in standardized products.”

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