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In the Weed Part 2: Rising Projections

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The owners of Easy Mountain Cannabis Co. targeted opening their dispensary before late February. However, the gradual rollout of medical marijuana products for the state’s blossoming industry hardly made their slower-than-desired debut a disadvantage.

For its first few weeks open, the Republic shop carried only 11 products – a number that’s since expanded to 275. Co-owner Alex Paulson said around 100 items are displayed for sale behind glass cases in the store at any one time. Its product lines include 30 strains of cannabis flower, pre-rolled joints, marijuana-infused drinks and edibles, such as baked goods and gummies, concentrates, vape cartridges and smoking accessories. Easy Mountain branded apparel is also part of the company’s inventory.

“For a while, Clovr was the only supplier supplying us,” he said of the Kansas City-based company, which was the first cannabis-infused product manufacturer approved by the state. “It was a slow roll at the beginning.”

March marked the first full month in business for Easy Mountain. With just a handful of products for the shop’s first few weeks, consisting of mostly gummies and pre-rolled joints, Paulson said they “did all right,” finishing March with $40,000 in revenue.

“We had some projections that we had done and our first month we were definitely shy of those projections,” he said. “But then the next month after that, we passed them.”

After a slow start, Easy Mountain’s revenue is climbing. Paulson said he and co-owner Drew Beine are predicting it will eclipse $2 million by year’s end.

“That’s above what we were projecting,” Paulson said. “The patient count grew quicker than we expected.”

Since February, the shop has served roughly 2,400 patients – most of them during the summer.

“There were a lot of patients who were not willing to get their patient card and pay the state a fee just to be able to only buy a couple of items,” Paulson said. “Plenty of patients waited until the summer, when product availability opened up.”

Statewide, legal medical marijuana sales, which started in October 2020, have pulled in a cumulative $136 million through September of this year, according to the most recent Missouri Health and Senior Services data.

Product passion
The dispensary receives product from roughly 25 suppliers, including Buffalo-based Heartland Enterprises LLC, dba Heartland Labs, Humansville-based Flora Farms and Garden City-based Show-Me Organics.

Over 50% of Easy Mountain sales are flower products, Paulson said. That’s followed by edibles, at 20%, 15% for vapes and 10% concentrates, he said. The remainder is from pre-rolls, smoking accessories, apparel and CBD.

Product deliveries come in most days but don’t have a set schedule, the owners say. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services uses Metrc, a statewide system that allows for real-time tracking and tracing of marijuana plants and products. Paulson said a shipping manifest includes all product identifiers, such as its strain and potency information, as well as the license plate of the vehicle making the delivery.

“We have this huge selection, and it changes all the time,” Beine said, noting some customers visit multiple times daily. “Literally, they could come in at noon and get something, then come back at 5 o’clock and have five, six new products we didn’t have when they came in earlier.”

Beine said the Easy Mountain employees are passionate about cannabis and the medicinal impact it has on patients.

Shelby Blakley, inventory manager, said it’s like a family atmosphere for the dispensary’s nine-person staff, which has remained the same since opening day. Outside of work, the employees have taken a float trip together and had an outing to BigShots Golf driving range, she said.

“We have one part-time, but everybody else has been full-time since the start,” Blakley said. “It’s a great team dynamic.”

Boston Dickerson, co-founder and CEO of Show-Me Organics, said his company connected with Easy Mountain around a year ago to become a supplier. Show-Me Organics is a majority family-owned company that sells Vivid brand products made at Happy Days, its Springfield infused-product manufacturing lab. The company also owns two dispensaries, Blue Sage Cannabis Co., which operate in Carthage and Lebanon.

“We are currently in 130 dispensaries,” Dickerson said of the company’s Vivid products in Missouri, which include vape cartridges, pre-rolled joints and a newly developed energy drink, PurShot. “Concentrates and edibles, our gummies, are probably top sellers for us at Easy Mountain. They carry our entire product line.”

Market changes
Easy Mountain was contacted by suppliers on a nearly daily basis in its first few months of operation. Now, it’s probably once a week, Paulson said.

“Early on, we were trying to get our hands on anything we possibly could that was a quality product. There were times we had to reject product, for sure, that we weren’t willing to carry on our shelves,” he said, adding high prices are the main reason for rejection. “At this point, we’re continually just looking for the highest quality and best value medicine.”

The suppliers typically provide product samples before the owners choose what to carry.

“I’m blessed to have a staff that really knows what they’re doing and knows cannabis really well,” Paulson said. “Along with Drew and I both being cannabis connoisseurs, we all kind of give it our best judgment. If we all like it, typically it seems like our patients like it as well.”

Beine said cannabis is all about innovation, and companies will continue to be creative as the industry expands. For example, he pointed to Keef Brands, a Colorado-based company that makes cannabis-infused beverages. It recently released a low-calorie and low-sugar enhanced water for more health-conscious consumers.

Although Easy Mountain’s revenue is exceeding expectations, the owners say setting projections for 2022 is a difficult process.

“The market changes so fast, we’re really keeping our eye on the ball for the first year and trying to figure that out,” Paulson said.

He said reaching near the $3 million mark next year is possible if the company’s sales remain at their current pace.

“But that’s kind of assuming all things stay the same, and in cannabis that’s not going to happen,” he added.

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