Daniel I. DorfmanPioneer Press
Verano Holdings is preparing to merge with Harvest Health and Recreation later this summer. Dorf recently talked with Pioneer Press about his work in the cannabis industry as lawmakers in Springfield continue to weigh whether to legalize recreational marijuana use in Illinois.
Q: How did you become a part of the cannabis industry?
A: I was at John Marshall Law School and while I was there, one of my buddies was one of the first individuals who started a cannabis company in Colorado. I saw the medical benefits in the growing industry of the cannabis business, and I helped him raise funding and structure his company while I was in law school and watched the company expand in Colorado. I saw there was a big opportunity there to grow businesses and improve people’s lives.
Q: What kind of resistance do you still get from law enforcement or the public regarding cannabis?
A: As we go throughout the country now, as we are arguably the largest operator throughout the U.S., we get very little resistance. Any resistance that we do see is quickly overcome by education. It is a lack of education of what is a dispensary and what products are being sold and what is the security like. Once you start to educate the community that you are going into, they quickly see the benefits of not only the medical benefits of cannabis, but also the economic benefits of cannabis and the job creation. A lot of manufacturing has left the U.S. and we bring a lot of skilled jobs and skilled laborers to communities that are under-served. Once you explain what the company is, people adapt to it extremely quickly.
Q: What will your new role be in the new company?
A: It is a really a merger of the two companies and it is really going to be business as usual for us at Verano Holdings. We will help grow the public company and everything we desire.
Q: How do you see the business evolving over the next few years?
A: I think it is poised for explosive growth and I think where we stand today is where Canada stood 24 months ago as a march up to national legalization. I think this is going to be one of the largest industries in the U.S. It is full steam ahead.
Q: What do you enjoy about your work?
A: I enjoy growing a business and at the same time, helping people. If you stand at our dispensaries, you see that people are taking themselves off of opioid pills because of cannabis. There has never been an overdose death due to cannabis, and we are seeing a rapid decline in the states that allow for medical and recreational cannabis in opioid abuse and overdoses. That is the most satisfying thing for me as not only can I have a successful career, but I can help save lives at the same time.
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Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.