Whiteman admits to making a few mistakes along the way, though one actually turned out to be a blessing.
Wana has never grown its own pot; it always buys trim (the leaves used to infuse products with THC) from a licensed grower. In the early legal days in Colorado, however, this put them at a disadvantage, as most manufacturers were growing their own. In fact, to get a license to grow back then, you had to already be a manufacturer or own a dispensary.
“That meant we were living in a very constrained environment for trim.”
However, in 2014, when recreational marijuana became legal, licensed growers could just grow, they didn’t need to be part of a vertically integrated business.
“Plant material became much more abundant,” says Whiteman, “and now we can purchase it for much less than we could have grown it for.”
Other mistakes, however, have not been blessings.
Whiteman says more than once during the interview that her biggest challenge has been related to “people and partnerships.” The company is currently in the middle of a lawsuit filed by LP Capital, a smaller company which makes vape cartridges. The suit claims Wana and Whiteman stole business secrets and reneged on plans to buy LP. (CNBC Make It could not reach LP and attorneys for the company did return a request for comment by publication. Whiteman will not comment while litigation continues, though her company earlier stated the suit has “no merit.”)
Then there were the products which didn’t exactly light up the industry.
“We got this recipe for making a chewing gum, and we never made it taste very good,” she says. There was also the cannabis beef jerky. “It was actually a popular product, but I’ll tell you, making it was pretty ‘blech,'” she grimaced.
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