The New Cannabis Brand

With a majority of U.S consumers consuming cannabis when gaming, a new brand is being built...

In Today’s Issue:

  • → Cannabis & Gaming. 🎮

  • → Leaflys’ Latest Numbers. 💡

  • → Hexo’s CEO Waves Goodbye. 👋🏽

A Cannabis Brand Focused On The Gaming Industry

Gaming influencer Hector Rodriguez has created his own cannabis brand…

In June, we shared data that suggested there was a very big opportunity to build a cannabis brand focused on gaming.

To recap, in a report from the brightfield group 53% of U.S cannabis consumers reported consuming cannabis before/while playing video games.

Capturing this opportunity…

Last weekend, entrepreneur and gaming influencer Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez announced the launch of his cannabis brand Pine Park.

This makes Rodriguez the first prominent gaming influencer to professionally align with the cannabis industry, by creating a cannabis brand specifically focused on this growing niche.

By 2023, there will be 3+ billion people who actively play video games globally.

Who is H3CZ?

Hector Rodriguez is the longtime CEO of the esports organization OpTic Gaming & is one of the most recognizable names in esports.

Having gained close to 1 million followers on Twitter & over 400K followers on Instagram, Hector Rodriguez is a figure who yields a significant amount of influence across the entire esports industry today.

Why cannabis?

The decision to pursue this path stems from his personal passion for this plant & the increasing number of regions where cannabis is legal.

Rodriguez supports consuming cannabis as an alternative to Adderall or Xanax — both of which are heavily abused in the competitive gaming industry to help players increase their focus.

“When you go to the doctor, it’s either take Big Pharma this or Big Pharma that, and the side effects include all of these bad things.

So I do think that even this as an option is already 10 times better than what doctors are prescribing at times.” Rodriguez said.

So far, his announcement to create a cannabis brand has been very well received by the esports community with Rodriguez receiving an outpouring of support upon making this announcement.

“A lot of my peers reached out”

“They either want to ask for my help in coming to market in the future, and the rest were all people looking to invest.” Rodriguez said.

The initial focus is products with THC, however, they plan to make products with CBD in the near future to help gamers in a very clever way.

“We are launching a CBD ointment for knuckles and hands, pretty much a hand lotion, that will help you recover during the night”

The playbook…

Pine Park is seeking to solely work with gaming creators to build brand awareness & drive sales.

They intend to build a “roster of creators” focused on cannabis, with a strong emphasis on channels such as Twitter & YouTube to drive brand awareness.

Having already used this model to successfully build OpTic Gaming, it will be very interesting to see how they use this approach to build a cannabis brand.

Our Take

Gaming is one of the few categories where creating a cannabis brand makes perfect sense in my mind given the percentage of gamers who are themselves cannabis consumers.

Hector Rodriguez may be the first gaming influencer to start his own cannabis brand, however, he certainly won't be the last.

Leaflys Latest Report On Budtenders

What budtenders earn, and the states who are hiring more cannabis professionals in 2022…

As the demand for cannabis products continues to increase, so does the number of people working in the cannabis industry.

As of January 2021, there were 321,000 people working full-time in the cannabis industry.

Per Leafly, since then tens of thousands of jobs have been created.

Fair pay?

Budtender compensation varies all across North America, however, in the U.S wages are said to be between $13 to $20 USD / hour.

The good news is that 80% of cannabis companies now offer paid time off & 70% of cannabis companies now offer health insurance benefits.

Making moves in 2022…

There are a number of states looking to make big moves in 2022.

Adult-use sales will start in New Jersey in 2022 with the potential for adult-use sales to commence in New York & In Pennsylvania in 2022 as well.

Additionally, there are states that continue to grow very rapidly.

  • → In Illinois, cannabis sales are up nearly 60% from the start of 2021.

  • → In Florida, medical sales have increased 30% from the start of 2021.

  • → In Michigan, cannabis sales are up nearly 60% from the start of 2021.

While the report focused on budtenders, it also offers great insight as to which states will be seeking to make many more cannabis hires in 2022.

Our Take

All of this growth, despite the fact that cannabis remains illegal at a federal level in the U.S, and the illicit market is often larger than these legal markets.

Looking forward it looks like this growth will continue, with the cannabis industry on track to reach 520,000 full-time jobs by the end of 2022.

The Last Canadian Cannabis Founder & CEO

Hexo has announced both its CEO & COO will be leaving the company…

Founded in 2015, Hexo is one of Canada's most ambitious cannabis startups.

Having raised over $405 million USD, Hexo did not seek to conceal its ambitions of becoming the top cannabis producer in Canada.

Buying success…

Having failed to become the market leader by producing the right products, Hexo instead decided it was time to start purchasing smaller competitors.

  • → Acquiring 48North for $40 million USD.

  • → Acquiring Zenabis for $190 million USD.

  • → Acquiring Redecan for $747 million USD.

Unmet expectations…

Despite this recent wave of successful acquisitions, today it was announced that Hexo’s CEO, Sébastien St. Louis, is leaving — effective immediately.

This sudden departure is part of a “strategic reorganization” announced today which also includes the resignation of Hexos COO Donald Courtney.

Having lost $441 million USD in 2020, the leadership team at Hexo has failed to deliver on one key promise — profitability.

So far this year Hexo has posted losses of $16.73 million USD in the last quarter & $18.6 million in its previous quarter.

The last in line…

A number of high-profile CEO’s of cannabis companies have stepped down in recent years.

Sébastien St. was one of the very last founders & CEO of a top Canadian cannabis company.

  • → Bruce Lipton stepped down as CEO of Canopy Growth in July 2019.

  • → Terry Booth stepped down as CEO of Aurora in February 2020.

  • → Mike Gorenstein stepped down as CEO of Cronos Group in Sep 2020.

  • → Brendan Kennedy stepped down as CEO of Tilray in May 2021.

Our Take

Raising over $400 million USD does not come without risks attached, and as we have seen & continue to see — should the founders of these companies fail to meet investors expectations, they can and they will be replaced.

I look forward to seeing who Hexo has lined up as Sébastiens replacement, with an announcement expected to arrive as early as this week.

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