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Trailblazer: Cameron Brown

“You don’t really realize how significant it was until you look back,” says Cameron Brown of seeing Canada’s cannabis history unfold when Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. opened its doors to sell the first legal cannabis in Toronto on April 1, 2019.

Since then, Brown, President of Verdant Management Solutions has been involved in building, launching, and growing cannabis companies while advocating for the betterment of the industry through the Retail Cannabis Council of Ontario (RCCO).

A Keen Eye for Opportunity

Brown is no stranger to new and fast-growing industries. In high school, as the smartphone rose in popularity, he would buy open-box phones from telecommunications companies, reselling them to users at more affordable prices.

When residential real estate development surged in the 2010s, he became skilled in land acquisitions, investor relations, marketing, and direct-to-consumer real estate sales. He grew increasingly astute to the needs of customers, investors, and company owners, offering a wide variety of services across client groups.

In 2016, Brown co-founded Leaseopoly, providing property management services for real estate investors across Toronto, Hamilton, and the Greater Toronto Area, gaining a solid client base and network across the areas he served.

An Opportunity Too Sweet to Pass Up

Brown had the opportunity to jump into the newly-forming Canadian cannabis industry when friend, collaborator, and early Ontario retail license lottery winner Hunny Gawri, founder of Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., enlisted his help in opening the first Toronto store.

“We had a crowd lined up around the block,” he recalls. “We saw every walk of life above 19 years old coming into the store. It was so amazing talking to so many people going through the process of purchasing.”

Brown helped launch Hunny Pot’s delivery service, which provides access to regulated cannabis products, helping to deter illicit buying for those living around the GTA in cities that have banned cannabis retail.

Build, Launch, and Grow

Verdant Management Solutions operates in four industries: cannabis, real estate, hospitality, and e-commerce, with proven strategies that help businesses build, launch, and grow. Alongside Hunny Pot, Verdant’s clients include Ottawa’s Stash & Co., awarded Ottawa’s Best Dispensary by Faces magazine two years in a row. Within cannabis, Verdant offers pre-launch and post-launch services, core operating and marketing services, and post-launch services, helping retailers manage day-to-day operations and compliance.

As a Board Member of the Retail Cannabis Council of Ontario (RCCO), Brown is hopeful about the impact that provincial councils will have on retail’s future. “These groups are affecting change in the industry that affects our lives every day,” he says. With provincial councils now coming together through the Retail Cannabis Council of Canada (RCCC), which now includes BC, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, he is optimistic about the potential for growth and innovation.

He applies the lens of creating long-term and lasting change to this work. “We get very tunnel visioned on an issue or a problem,” he observes. “With a lack of liquidity, it makes people think, ‘What needs to change today?’ If we make a change today, is it going to lead to long-term change tomorrow?”

He is interested to see how increased research and data collection can inform the relationship between the consumer and different strains and terpenes. He wants to move away from cannabis as just ‘indica, sativa, or hybrid’ to see what more can be accomplished with the plant and how it is introduced into people’s lives. He notes that testing and understanding the potency of products has helped him reintroduce cannabis into his own life after a long hiatus.

Purpose as Key to Success

With Ontario pushing 1,600 cannabis retail stores, we asked Brown what advice he’d give to anyone considering entering the industry four years after legalization. “A lot of people rushed in, thinking it was going to be the next gold rush. As we know, the people who sold the shovels were the people who made the money along the way.”

He says store location is a key consideration, perhaps looking at rural or underserved communities rather than becoming another store in a cannabis-saturated city. “Do a fair amount of research or do not get involved at all,” he advises. “Some fake it till they make it versus sitting back and understanding before making a decision,” he says. In an industry that is seemingly slowing, Brown encourages current retailers to “continue to grow, with a purpose.”

Cameron Brown can be contacted through Verdant Management Solutions’ website https://verdantmanagement.ca, and he encourages Ontario retailers to engage in the events and initiatives of the Retail Cannabis Council of Ontario (RCCO).

Tags: Cameron Brown (1), Canada Cannabis (138), Cannabis Industry (183), Cannabis Retail (397), Hunny Pot Cannabis (1), RCCO (1), Retail Cannabis Council of Ontario (6), Verdant Management Solutions (1)