With a new and booming adult-use market in Las Vegas, cultivators like Friday Night Inc. have been kicking production into high gear to keep up with consistently strong sales.
Along with its recently acquired subsidiary, Las Vegas’ Alternative Medicine Association (AMA), the Canadian company—which produces its own line of cannabis-based extracts—achieved such high sales records that it is evaluating real estate options in Las Vegas in hopes of creating a larger footprint for the AMA facility.
“One thing that I’ve been repeating now for about six months is that a medical program—and they had quite a healthy medical regime there in the state leading up to July 1—is very sleepy compared to recreational,” said Friday Night’s CEO Brayden Sutton in an interview with Cannabis Business Times. “I continued to warn the folks down there, the growers, the operators and the retailers, to expect at least a tenfold increase [in demand], and a lot of people thought that might be a little much. It turned out that was exactly what happened in most cases.”
Sutton said that high per capita use in Las Vegas, coupled with its abundant tourism market, has people anticipating that it will become one of, if not the largest, markets in the world.
Friday Night has been able to keep up with the increased demand, which had initially proved problematic due to a dispute between state regulators and alcohol distributors, by signing a distribution agreement with Blackbird, a logistics and delivery company for medical marijuana and one of the two available licensees to distribute adult-use marijuana.
“We were one of the first to partner with Blackbird, so we are on that distribution network, so we won’t have any sort of logjam or bottleneck like a lot of [companies],” Sutton said.
A flowering Tangerine Dream strain at AMA's facility.
On July 12, Blackbird became the first licensed marijuana distributor since recreational sales began, and a second distribution license has been awarded to Rebel One. Seven other liquor distributors have pending applications, and the state is continuing to work to get them licensed.
Last Monday, Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell rejected a request from a group of liquor distributors to stop the emergency regulations allowing marijuana licensees to distribute recreational marijuana to retail stores, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The alcohol companies claimed that there was no emergency that required the rules allowing for the distribution of marijuana by other entities, but the judge upheld the regulations to protect state tax revenues generated from recreational market, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
According to a press release, on July 17, AMA received a cultivation and production license for recreational sales from the Nevada Department of Taxation, and entered into the distribution agreement with Blackbird the next day. Sutton said that before Friday Night’s agreement with Blackbird, Friday Night had $200,000 worth of product in cases at the door, ready to be picked up and distributed to retailers, but it had to wait until the partnership was finalized before doing rush deliveries to the shops to meet the backlog of orders.
“A little bit of angst there for a few weeks, but we got through it, no problem,” Sutton said. “If we want to get [product] to one of the 40 locations, the retail locations, we have to be working with one of the distributors, and the alcohol distributors own that right now because they wanted to have sort of their fair shake of the space, which I can certainly understand.”
Sutton said Friday Night has been able to navigate their way through obstacles such as the distribution issue because of the background and experience of the company’s two founders—a longtime lawyer, who has a strong regulation background, and a longtime real estate developer.
“They are not only connected, but they have the ability to see these obstacles and applications and things as opportunities other than something to be intimidated or feared,” Sutton said. “We’re just in really good hands and there are two operators, our senior guys, who are no strangers to tight regulatory regimes and if anything, thrive in it.”
Friday Night has also recently partnered with SuicideGirls Cannabis (SGC), one of the fastest-growing cannabis brands in California, whose products are sold in about 200 dispensaries in California, according to a press release.
SGC has signed a letter of intent with Friday Night to bring SGC’s signature brands into the Nevada market, according to a press release. Friday Night will acquire an exclusive license for the SGC product line-up for all of Nevada, with the option to create an SCG vape lounge in Las Vegas.
“They’re very much a natural fit for Vegas,” Sutton said. “They’re going to be doing a vape lounge … and having a lot more of a presence there, so as a testament to us, they literally scoured for I don’t know how long exactly, but they’ve vetted each of the facilities and the teams and ended up settling on AMA,” Sutton said.
Friday Night also has a collaboration with Vader, another best-selling cannabis brand, Sutton said.
“[Vader] also wanted an exclusive Nevada licensee, and after spending, I don’t know how many months, several, down there on the ground working with the processors and extractors, they settled on AMA …, so a real testament to our crew there, to the guys who are actually doing the extraction,” Sutton said. “The products they’re creating are really attracting the best of breed.”
Sutton advises other cultivators trying to navigate Nevada’s recreational market to act quickly due to a regulation stipulating that for the first 18 months of legalized adult-use, only existing medical growers are eligible to apply for recreational cultivation licenses .
“We have an 18-month advantage to take advantage of in terms of being one of only 70 cultivators,” Sutton said. “In 18-months’ time, when the city’s really matured in terms of cannabis and things are ironed out, I expect there to be a lot [more growers]. …The opportunity right now is to acquire more land and really build a footprint now with 17 months to go because the clock is literally ticking.”
Images courtesy of Friday Night Inc.