Illinois cannabis growers advised to follow craft beer model and specialize – Quad City Times

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Cannabis plants in a growing room at Cresco Labs in Joliet on Dec. 17, 2019.

ZBIGNIEW BZDAK, CHICAGO TRIBUNE Robert McCoppin Chicago Tribune

Like craft brewers, craft cannabis growers can’t compete in size or price with established businesses in their industry, so they’d better stand out with unique products and strong partnerships.

That was the advice that established dispensary pros dished out at a recent gathering of newly licensed entrepreneurs. With startup businesses aiming to create higher-quality specialty products, the resulting industry should be more diverse, both in ownership and in the variety of products for consumers.

“You make a niche product that has a brand that tells a story that people can get behind,” said Gabriel Mendoza, executive vice president of operations for Mission Dispensaries. “Because you’re not going to be able to compete at cost … it has to be something that people will buy irrespective of the price, to a certain extent.”

Examples of niche products include those marketed for specific desires such as relaxation, mood elevation and pain relief, or fast-acting edibles.

In an era of

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