CRAFTED, CURED AND SELECT: A SHARED VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF CANNABIS
BY: JEN LEVISEN, EDITOR OF THE FORUM
April 7, 2021
From their regenerative approach to outdoor farming to sourcing green electricity for their state-of-the-art facility on the East Coast, Theory Wellness, a vertically integrated, small batch cannabis dispensary brand, has grown in many ways since the company launched in 2017. Their unique approach has afforded them a distinct trajectory within the cannabis sector.
“We’ve been very fortunate to chart this course in this industry, and it’s one we believe will help define its future in the legalization movement,” says Thomas Winstanley, Vice President of Marketing for Theory Wellness.
Theory Wellness is vertically integrated meaning they control the entire process of their supply chain. From seed to sale, they cultivate, manufacture and sell through their retail stores at all locations in Maine and Massachusetts. They started in 2015 with medical cannabis and expanded to recreational products in 2019 after Massachusetts voters legalized it in a 2016 ballot initiative.
"Massachusetts was the first state to allow recreational cannabis on the East Coast, and we were the sixth recreational dispensary to open here," says Winstanley. "For an analogy, if we were the only liquor seller on the east coast, one could understand the volume and demand Theory has experienced as the closest place to buy legal cannabis in New York City."
"FOR AN ANALOGY, IF WE WERE THE ONLY LIQUOR SELLER ON THE EAST COAST, ONE COULD UNDERSTAND THE VOLUME AND DEMAND THEORY HAS EXPERIENCED AS THE CLOSEST PLACE TO BUY LEGAL CANNABIS IN NEW YORK CITY."
The company’s business model is similar to that of the craft beer industry, says Winstanley, never wanting to overscale production or manufacturing at the sacrifice of quality. Theory focuses on unique genetics and small batch production, similar to the recent farm-to-table trend of unique heirloom vegetables. Witnessing rapid growth, the company has explored scaling and future phases to grow the nascent industry.
“We look deeply into product categories, trends within our consumers, and what is selling on the West Coast," he says. "The space is moving so fast, with technology scaling at an unprecedented rate. We are constantly discussing what the future of this industry could look like – one we believe has a significant stake in crafted, small-batch cannabis."
Theory Wellness looked at capital reinvestment, portfolio diversification and facility expansion "To grow our product categories the way we wanted to, we needed a second facility,” he says. This would allow the company to increase capabilities in areas they excelled at, particularly flower cultivation, and allow them to grow into product innovation including chocolate. In March they launched fast-acting, zero calorie, infused seltzer – one of the first of its kind on the East Coast.
"We foresaw new opportunities and were constrained by our original facility; we needed a partner who could meet us in the vision of expansion," says Winstanley. "Dacon was exactly that.”
For over 35 years, Dacon Corporation has focused on design build, creating a portfolio comprised of innovation, architectural creativity and practical cost management.
“Dacon has done some fantastic work in the pharmaceutical industry and isn’t shy around technology and excellent foundational work,” Winstanley says. "The diversity of projects that happen in this facility is unique, and we needed someone who could understand that.”
Theory Wellness's new facility is focused on plant cultivation and manufacturing. Its unique needs include an extensive range of humidity zones, separate irrigation systems using RO water and 24 hours a day growth lighting that mimics nature’s seasons.
“We have the opportunity to define an emerging industry,” says Winstanley, "and we're working hard to bring its future into reality."