When Christine Smith began making and packaging chocolate cannabis edibles, it was only a hobby as she was a architect in Oregon. But with the state then being on the cusp of legalizing adult-use cannabis, Smith sought a creative outlet, one that mined her love of food. Little did she know that her basement tinkerings would lead to a career that would establish her company Grön as one of the largest and most recognized edible makers in the Northwest.
However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Grön, which was founded by Smith in 2015, the year Oregon legalized adult-use. Like other cannabis businesses, Smith has had to deal with the banking ban. This was a headache, for sure, but one she was able to alleviate early on. Right now, she said her company, a multistate operator, works with three banks and a credit union.
Another obstacle she struggled with when she began was the industry’s lack of regulation and policy. As an architect used to dealing with compliance issues, Smith found this especially frustrating. “[It] was challenging to navigate the grey areas,” she conceded. “It still is, but we’ve gotten better.”
Then there’s the current state of the industry, which has been in a slump since last year thanks to inflation and ebbing post-pandemic demand. Though Smith has prided herself on leading a self-funded company, avoiding outside investments, even her company is not immune to the financial gyrations rocking the sector. For the first time since Grön’s inception, she is seriously exploring the idea of securing capital from investors.
“Quite honestly, we haven’t needed it over the years,” she explained. “We were focused on our internal growth and our team so we didn’t need the money and didn’t take it.”
Since then, the company has expanded to a number of states that include Nevada, Arizona and Oklahoma. “There’s a small window to come in to be able to dominate market share in those markets,” added Smith, who has a degree in architectural design from the University of Texas at Austin. “In order for us to accelerate growth, we will need outside capital to make that happen.” (Full Story)