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Dope Economics Onstage

The Rush to Capitalize on California’s Maturing Marijuana Industry Comes to Town


Make no mistake: The Great California Green Rush is underway. Last November, voters finally said “Go!” to legalize adult recreational consumption of cannabis in California for the first time in 80 years. Just three months from that landslide decision, it seems that anyone with half a mind for business is frothing to get a piece of the budding industry. Never mind the anti-marijuana saber-rattling coming out of the Trump administration in recent days; the marijuana industry is aiming for mainstream money on the Left Coast, where forecasters suggest weed may become a $20 billion consumer market in its first legal year.

“How many times in a life do you get to be on the right side of history, making the right argument, and, P.S., there is a ton of money to be made?” That’s Montecito’s Adrian Sedlin, who, at the ripe old age of 46, has come out of retirement to get into the indica and sativa business. He’s got three kids, a Harvard MBA, and five successful created-and-sold companies under his belt — i.e., no need to surrender his days and nights to the painstaking process of shepherding a start-up into the rare air of fiscal success. Yet he’s at the helm of Canndescent, a rapidly expanding cannabis company headquartered on Chapala Street. With $8 million in capital already raised, 40 employees, and a 11,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art grow facility in Desert Springs that will expand to 123,000 square feet and 150 employees within the next 18 months, Canndescent is focused on the “ultra-premium adult user,” said Sedlin. “We are going for the Louis Vuitton or the Chanel of cannabis. Canndescent is a high-end consumer lifestyle brand that we hope will become a national icon in the years ahead.”

The keynote speaker at the Business of Cannabis event on March 15, Sedlin is a relative newcomer to the industry. Less than two years ago, his brother-in-law, a career botanist and cannabis cultivator, asked for a loan to buy a new grow facility. That got Sedlin’s wheels turning, and within a few months, he was writing checks to make Canndescent a reality. “This is, by far, the best experience I have ever had professionally. I have the greatest job on the planet right now,” gushed Sedlin. “We are getting to go from the ‘Prohibition moonshine in a jar days’ to fully branded consumer-packaged goods. How many times in a career do you get an opportunity like that?” —Ethan Stewart

The MIT Enterprise Forum of the Central Coast’s The Business of Cannabis panel is on Wednesday, March 15, 5 p.m., at the Cabrillo Pavillion Arts Center (1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd.). See mitcentralcoast.org.



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