Cory Waldron, CEO of Mood Cannabis Co, is Proudly Independent.
Our new member interview series highlights independent retailers who found themselves priced out of the marketplace by monolithic corporations. Determined not to give up, we’ve pooled our resources and gained the leverage needed to negotiate a fair price and equal opportunity to compete in the marketplace.
Where is your store located?
I have two stores in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I really started getting the idea of getting into the industry around 2016 for a few different reasons. The main reason was medical. I was having some issues with my own body; pains and arthritis, insomnia, and different things like that. I was looking for a solution. Honestly, I couldn’t find it in our traditional medical field. I had gone to the doctor for different things and would end up with undiagnosed pain.
So it was at that time I went and picked up a prescription for medicinal cannabis. That prescription consisted of flower and capsules and they worked. Legalization was on the horizon at that time and I wanted to be part of it.
How has your relationship with cannabis and the industry changed since opening your store?
Yeah, it’s actually changed quite a bit since opening my first store in January of 2020. I spent a lot of time curating a menu based on consumers’ demands, and within the industry itself, I’ve become quite active on the advocacy level, working hard at changing the regulations that we have and some of the over regulations that we have, really, to create a more sustainable and profitable industry for retailers across the province. Initially, I was focused on just the retail itself and now I’m also focused on things that we can do to make the industry a better place. Not just in BC, but across Canada.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced when working with cannabis companies?
I find it takes a lot of time to get the positive changes we want to see as an industry. I find that when we’re dealing with cannabis departments within the government, in particular, we need to be super patient and very focused, and our message has to be in alignment with the other stakeholders
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the cannabis industry right now?
That’s an easy one. Its sustainability and profitability. Its actually two things but they’re connected. In particular, excise taxes. If we don’t change that, we’re going to lose a lot of licensed producers across the country. The whole intention of legalization was to offset the illicit market. But through over-taxation and over-regulation, our industry is not doing a great job at competing with the illicit market.
We’re going to go through a bit of a shakeup period within the next couple of years, and so, eventually, we’ll find our equilibrium with the right amount of stores. This will create sustainability and profitability.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given? In general or in the cannabis industry specifically.
Listen to your customers. Listen to your staff. Listen to what the industry is telling you. If you listen to people, they will share more valuable information with you. You can turn this information into deliverables such as a curated menu.
Why did you first join Weed Pool and what has kept you involved?
There is really a need for another way to purchase cannabis products in BC. Until recently, our only option was through the provincial government. This model has challenges, especially when competing with government-owned stores. There’s a conflict of interest there. The new direct delivery model has challenges as well, but it definitely offers smaller farmers a path to market and allows retailers to curate unique menus.
Weed Pool is a combination of the two models, offering this selection without the challenges. It’s a centralized distribution model but members share the profits of the company. It was a no-brainer for me to have a solution where I can order from a centralized platform. We have one purchase, one invoice, and one order.
What do you believe is your biggest competitive advantage as an independently-owned business?
The real advantage is being involved in day-to-day operations. I think sometimes when you get involved with large chains and you sort of lose ownership and control. Being present in the shop allows me to focus on what consumers here in the Nanaimo area are looking for. I think this can get lost in translation when you have too many stores or are relying solely on data.
What’s your favourite product right now? Please tell me the brand and product name and why.
Indiva Pearls edibles. They actually hit pretty hard! You can buy them from Mood Cannabis Co here.