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Meet Andrew Modlin of MedMen in Culver City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Modlin.

Andrew, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My early professional background is in the visual arts, mixed media, design… I met my business partner Adam Bierman nearly a decade ago when he hired me to work at his marketing agency. We pretty much stumbled onto the cannabis industry. We were hired by a local medical marijuana dispensary to design their website. We immediately saw the business opportunity. It wasn’t just marketing services this dispensary needed, it needed professional business practices from the bottom up. We clearly felt we could run a better business. So we opened up our own medical marijuana dispensary, and from there it has been a rapid evolution. We co-founded a consultancy that quickly evolved into a management services company and last summer we launched the industry’s first $100 million private equity fund. Today, we offer turnkey management services to licensees in the areas of cultivation, extraction, production and retail operations, and on the capital side, we make strategic investments throughout North America. Both Adam and I grew up in Southern California and we know the Los Angeles market very well. We are confident LA will emerge as the epicenter of the cannabis industry in the next year or two, so that will give us an even stronger base to grow our national presence. We have a very specific vision for the industry and MedMen is our vehicle. I’ve been familiar with marijuana all my adult life, and maybe that makes me biased, but there is absolutely no reason why this should not be treated like any other consumer product, like coffee or wine. Yes, it should be tightly regulated, but it should be legal and accessible to adults. So MedMen lives by that premise and we want to enhance people’s cannabis experience whether it is the product itself, the act of buying it or even if you have no interest in marijuana, you should still care about how dispensaries in your town are managed. The majority of Americans live in a state where marijuana is legal in some form, and the most populous, arguably the most influential state in the country just passed recreational marijuana. We are very excited about our prospects going forward.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It is never a smooth road when you are changing the status quo. Steve Jobs didn’t quite have it easy. Elon Musk is still right in the thick of it. The challenges come from the fact that you are trying to get people to do and see things differently than they did in the past. But the upside is that we do not have to reinvent the wheel on most things. Our strategy is to hire the brightest talent from relevant industries, like agriculture, chemical engineering, retail operations. It goes back to what I said earlier about this being a product. Our cultivation director comes from the agro-industry. Our chief science officer comes from the petroleum industry. We have lawyers, MBAs… It is only revolutionary because we are talking about an industry that has been operating either in the black or gray market for decades. So changing people’s perception of cannabis and what the cannabis industry should look like is probably the biggest challenge. The operational side is a lot of work, especially when you consider that cannabis has probably the most complex regulatory environment of any industry, but that in some ways is the easy part.

Please tell us about MedMen.
MedMen runs a management company and a capital arm. MedMen Management offers turnkey services to license holders in the areas of cultivation, extraction, production and retail operations. We currently manage two facilities; a dispensary in West Hollywood and facility in Sun Valley that is both a cultivation site and medical marijuana dispensary. We will soon be managing a first of its kind, a high-tech greenhouse in Nevada that we expect will produce about 10,000 pounds a year, and another similar project in Desert Hot Springs we expect to come online sometime in 2017. And we are close to announcing other management contracts in Southern California and the East Coast. Our capital side launched the first $100 million private equity fund in the space last summer. The Fund is an investor in the Nevada project and several other ventures across North America. I think what sets us apart is a seamless integration of capital and operational expertise. There is plenty of money and business savvy being thrown into the cannabis boom, but what we offer is a very strategic deployment of capital that is informed by our management expertise. There are a lot of people making bets in this space, we are making investments. And that’s what makes us proud. We are not here to make a quick buck and ride into the sunset, we are here to build a sustainable industry. That’s why we think advocacy is important as well. We are one of the biggest supporters of the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s foremost cannabis advocacy group, We’ve pledged $1 million, that is 1 percent of the private equity fund, to MPP’s efforts to end the Prohibition.

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