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Hirsh Jain: Florida Is the Most Exciting Thing Happening in U.S. Cannabis Right Now

Florida's billion-dollar potential, why the industry can't overlook legalization efforts in smaller states and the reason cannabis operators need help with pretty much everything.

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This week, Hirsh Jain, founder of Ananda Strategy, joins the Cannabis Equipment News podcast to discuss Florida's potential, why we can't overlook smaller states and why cannabis operators need help with pretty much everything. 

Hirsh Jain has been a full-time member of the cannabis industry for the past six years, but he's been involved in some capacity since he was 17, performing volunteer advocacy work for a non-profit. During his collegiate career, he worked as the cannabis lead in the University of California, Berkeley Public Defender's office, defending students facing expulsion over accusations of cannabis violations.

After UC-Berkeley and then Harvard Law, Jain spent nearly two years with McKinsey & Company before moving to Airbnb, where he helped negotiate policy agreements around the world. He was working at Airbnb in 2016 when California legalized cannabis use. He realized that the short-term rental industry actually had a lot in common with cannabis. For example, it was regulated at a hyperlocal level and had immense consumer demand but no legal regulatory framework. Jain spent the next year figuring out a way to break into the cannabis market. 

His first opportunity was with MedMen, which provided Jain with what he says was one of the best educations in cannabis. Back in 2018, MedMen was one of the most active cannabis companies in the country, and the job gave Jain the foundational network he needed to succeed. He then moved to Caliva, which provided him with a more thorough education on every aspect of the supply chain. 

During the summer of 2020, amidst the global pandemic, Jain founded Ananda Strategy. He had cultivated a firm understanding of the regulatory and legal cannabis landscape across the country and wanted to be able to help more operators with strategic decision-making. 

As Jain says, cannabis operators need help with almost every aspect of the business. For example, when operators are considering out-of-state expansion, they need help understanding the mechanics of state regulatory markets and licensing structures, how they are likely to evolve and what growth opportunities are reasonable. 

Jain has also helped several ballot initiatives, including work on Arizona's legalization efforts, which also played a role in the 2024 presidential election. 

Looking at the current landscape, Jain says Florida is the most exciting thing in U.S. cannabis. He says it is the healthiest market, doing about $2 billion in sales. However, if state ballot measures succeed, he foresees Florida's market growing to $6 billion. After all, the state already has a robust medical infrastructure and borders several prohibition states. 

Florida is also a prime destination for international tourism and is very business-friendly. Jain says Florida's low-tax structure and general anti-tax instinct will be quite advantageous for cannabis businesses going forward.

Jump around:  

  • MedMen: The first cannabis company to give him a chance. (5:37)
  • Founding Ananda Strategy. (9:20)
  • Why cannabis operators need help with almost everything. (11:52)
  • Helping retailers win licenses and make strategic decisions. (13:26)
  • Ballot initiative work, including Arizona's legalization efforts. (14:37)
  • How to open your doors as fast as possible when you win a license. (17:21)
  • The challenging, highly saturated markets. (20:32)
  • Why Florida is the most exciting thing in the U.S. cannabis industry right now. (21:47)
  • Ohio's intriguing market potential. (27:25)
  • Why we shouldn't overlook smaller states, like South Dakota, Arkansas, Nebraska. (31:12)
  • How states can avoid common pitfalls when ballot measures succeed. (36:48)
  • The impact of rescheduling. (44:16)

Please make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out by giving the podcast a positive review. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at [email protected]

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