Exclusive Interview with 48North Cannabis Co. CEO Alison Gordon
Canadian licensed producer 48North Cannabis Co., helmed by CEO Alison Gordon, is focusing on developing a health and wellness brand for women, as well as creating branded products in the recreational space. Gordon spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about how her experience led her to the cannabis industry, her company’s plans to build new facilities and the timeline for going public.
Gordon’s first exposure to legalized cannabis in Canada was 12 years ago when a close family member was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and prescribed medical cannabis through the MMAR program. Gordon’s experience working with patients and physicians and her entrepreneurial drive led her to leave Rethink Breast Cancer – a breast cancer awareness program she cofounded – in 2013 to enter the cannabis industry, when she joined WeedMD.
48North, parent of DelShen Therapeutics, currently has a 40,000-square-foot facility in Ontario, which can produce 3,000 kilos each year when at full production capacity. The company is on the verge of breaking ground on a second facility in Quebec, and a third facility is in the works through a partnership with a not yet disclosed but well-known grower in British Columbia, a venture the company intends to announce shortly. Gordon believes one of the key factors that differentiates the company from other cannabis producers is its genetics, which it obtained through an exclusive partnership with Netherlands-based MariPharm, which she believes will help it develop unique products for consumers.
In addition to Gordon, the company’s leadership team includes COO Kevin Helfand, chief marketing officer Kirsten Gauthier, and communications director Jennifer Knox. Helfand, a securities lawyer and MBA, brings experience in banking to the company. Gauthier brings years of experience on working on brands like Nike and building her own agency. Knox comes to 48North from Etsy. In addition to this strong leadership, the company also has a board of directors that includes the former director of Mettrum Health William Assini and marketing guru Anne Darche.
Gordon envisions the company’s model as completely vertically integrated; it will grow, extract, and create its own products such as edibles, vape pens, and topicals when allowed by Health Canada. In the meantime, the company is exploring the wholesale market and finding ways to partner with consumer packaged goods companies in industries like food, beverage, and cosmetics. Gordon wants to tap the expertise in formulation, manufacturing, and packaging that these types of companies have cultivated over decades. While health and wellness and recreational products are a focus, the company is not completely discounting the medical sector of the market, but Gordon wants to wait to see how the medical market evolves when the adult-use market takes off.
While the company is building its brand and new facilities, it is also gearing up to go public through an RTO by mid-May. Throughout the process, Gordon is striving to keep the lines of communication with current and future shareholders to ensure the company’s strategy and brand remains clear. Ahead of going public, 48North closed a $16 million bought deal offering in January, which will help fund the construction of the company’s new facility in Quebec and support the creation of its brands.
Creating a company when the regulations controlling the retail and distribution aspects of products are uncertain is a challenge, but that is why Gordon believes strong brands will be so important. If a brand resonates with customers , she believes that they will demand to have access it to it.
Gordon has spent five years in the cannabis space, and the majority of events she attends are filled with men, but market research conducted by the company has shown that women are a significant portion of cannabis consumers, and she notes that the industry doesn’t seem to be focused on this segment. Gordon wants her products to be accessible to all genders, but she is excited to give voice to female cannabis users with the 48North brand.
To listen to the entire interview: