With over 500 dispensary licenses and 550 cultivator licenses operating in Michigan, the state’s cannabis market is more complex than any other east of the Mississippi. While companies like Skymint and Lume operate chains of dispensaries and giant cultivation facilities, most retail locations and cultivators are individually owned, or part of no more than a group of two or three locations. Meanwhile, the ease of license procurement in the state means that new dispensaries, processors, and cultivators are opening almost every week.
As a result, an intense and varied market has developed in Michigan, where some dispensaries attempt to compete on price where others strive to sell the best, highest quality product available. There is also a large number of cultivators, but they are varied, some only producing medical, some producing small batches of flower for boutique dispensaries, and others pumping out large quantities of low THC flower meant for price-sensitive consumers.
Into this varied market steps Jason Crockett and his lead salesman John Zamojcin of THCBD Source, a cannabis brokerage serving over a dozen Michigan cultivators and processors, and about 30 dispensaries across the state.
“Based on my knowledge and my network and what everyone knows about the industry is they trust me. So, I took that trust and said, ‘Well, you know, you’re opening a dispensary. Let me get all of your products for you.’ A lot of these guys are opening dispensaries and they have no idea what’s good and what’s bad,” said Crockett. “Because I can go to the grower, and I can legitimately call my guy back and say, ‘Hey, I know exactly how this product is. You know where it’s gonna fit on your shelf.’”
“I’ve got three or four growers up in the northern region of Michigan that have no sales team. One guy’s got 100 pounds in stock. Another guy’s got 200 pounds in stock,” said Zamojcin. “It’s great for us because we can move it. And because they’re not spending on sales and marketing”.
Listening to Crockett and Zamojcin, and according to some of their clients Grown In spoke to, THCBD Source behaves just an old fashioned sales operation: They have personal relationships with buyers who trust them, and know sellers with product to unload. And while a few of their clients may use them for a complete sales solution, the clients Grown In interviewed operate their own sales, using THCBD Source to move between 5-10% of inventory.
And because THCBD Source is a middleman, they often sell biomass from cultivators to processors, flower to dispensaries, or gummies and tinctures from processors to dispensaries.
“Back and forth. Any directions!” says Crockett.
Nick Wallace, owner of Harbor Farmz, operates a vertically integrated cultivator, processor and dispensary in Kalamazoo. He says that THCBD Source played a key role in helping his company get started with making a higher-end product.
“In the beginning Crockett was very helpful with getting into the market, to source the biomass and material we were looking for,” said Wallace. “There was a lot of low quality [for sale] without the right genetics or flavor. He was able to help us connect with places with unique genetics and flavors that help us pop out.”
As Harbor Farmz became established, Wallace said, THCBD Source’s role changed.
“Recently we’ve been using him [to obtain] biomass, and now he’s got a lot of contacts with new storefronts and dispensaries,” said Wallace. “He has a good network of the new guys. It’s good to get shelf space, with brands that are starting, and getting up front. That’s what we’re about, getting our name and our brand out there, and he’s been instrumental with that.”
Originally starting as a cannabis caregiver in Michigan a dozen years ago, Crockett moved to Colorado by 2015 to start a cultivator company of his own, eventually managing a grow of 12,000 plants. When Michigan’s recreational laws were passing in 2018, he sold ownership in his Colorado company to move back home to start his own outdoor grow operation in Chesaning, which he still operates today.
“He’s spent a lot of time in Colorado so he really understands how the market is going to mature,” said Harbor Farmz’ Wallace. “ It may be a fat cash grab now, but it’s really about relationships and a high quality product. He has a level mindset and sees where the market is going.”
You’d think that in today’s digital age a traditional broker sales operation would be outdated, but that’s not the case, says Andrew Rost, owner of New Genetics, which operates four Class C cultivation licenses in Dimondale.
“For a dispensary customer, naturally a producer isn’t going to put their highest quality stuff on a website. I’ll call my best friend first, and then everyone else, and by the time you get through 25-30 friends, anything that’s left, that may go online,” said Rost.
“It’s super smooth, no cost, no risk on my end. He has a similar no cost, no risk situation. He might have another manufacturer he’s working with, He may have another three growers in his catalog. At the end of the day, it’s just more exposure for me. It’s smart,” Rost continued.