Dispensary Owner “A Handful Of Big Players Are Going To Own Everything”


In recent years, the cannabis industry has experienced quite the transformation. From a shadowy enterprise to a booming sector attracting professionals from various fields, the winds of change are palpable. This episode of the *Youtube* podcast, featuring Lori Hicks and host Brandon Quan, sheds light on this dynamic industry. Lori, with her hands firmly on the industry’s pulse, offers invaluable insights that extend beyond mere operational know-how. Let’s dive into the heart of the cannabis industry’s evolution, touching on strategic staffing, community engagement, and the impact of regulatory changes.

Cannabis Industry Boom: A New Playing Field

The cannabis industry’s allure has grown exponentially, thanks in no small part to its promising profit margins. As societal attitudes relax and regulations evolve, what once was a clandestine business is now a hotbed for professional investment and innovation.

From Shadows to Spotlight

Historically, the cannabis industry operated under a veil of secrecy, its participants wary of legal repercussions and societal stigma. Now, with legalization sweeping across states and countries, it’s attracting top-tier professionals who bring with them not just investment capital but also sophisticated business strategies. According to Lori Hicks, the influx of business acumen has significantly professionalized the sector.

Take, for instance, Lori’s participation in the Arizona Dispensary Association. This involvement is more than ceremonial; it’s strategic. Through engagement in industry governance and legislative processes, professionals like Lori ensure that their businesses are not only compliant but also ahead of the curve.

Networking and Participation

“Being part of industry organizations is a game-changer,” Lori emphasizes. It’s about more than having a seat at the table; it’s about shaping the table’s very existence. Networking within these circles provides access to inside information that can be a competitive edge.

The Staffing Conundrum: Motivating Budtenders and Beyond

Running a successful dispensary isn’t just about having top-notch products; it’s also about the people you hire and how you treat them. This episode delves into staffing issues, particularly the challenge of incentivizing budtenders.

Beyond Financial Incentives

While salary and benefits are crucial, Lori Hicks points out that the real trick lies in making employees feel valued and respected. “Our low turnover rates are a testament to our respectful treatment of staff,” she notes. Lori’s approach to staff motivation includes not just financial perks but also career development opportunities. Employees are given room to grow, entrusted with responsibilities, and recognized for their contributions.

Leadership and Delegation

A crucial aspect of Lori’s strategy is effective delegation. Finding leaders within the organization and training them to take on more significant roles can help relieve the pressures on top management. “You can’t do it all,” Lori advises. Delegation doesn’t just distribute workload; it empowers employees, making them feel more invested in the company’s success.

Community Engagement: The Secret to Longevity

One of the standout points Lori makes during the podcast is the importance of community engagement for the sustainability of a dispensary.

Local Sponsorships and Events

Community engagement isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Lori’s store, Arizona Natural Concepts, has found success through sponsoring local events and supporting community initiatives. According to her, this involvement fosters a sense of loyalty among the local population. It’s not just about selling a product; it’s about becoming a community staple, a trustworthy entity that locals can rally behind.

Reciprocal Business Deals

Another fascinating strategy discussed is the idea of reciprocal business deals. By placing each other’s products on their respective shelves, small dispensaries can compete against the looming threat of Multistate Operators (MSOs). This strategy not only diversifies the product range but also strengthens the local business network, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Evolving Operations Amid Regulation and Compliance

The cannabis industry is heavily regulated, and businesses must adapt swiftly to survive. Lori Hicks shares how navigating these waters has been both a challenge and an opportunity for growth.

Vertical Integration and Compliance

The transition from a medical to a recreational marijuana platform brought with it an increased regulatory burden. Compliance is not merely about following the rules; it’s about understanding the intent behind them and integrating them into your business model. Lori emphasizes the necessity of having an expert partner to navigate these complex regulations effectively.

Adapting to Market Demands

Another significant challenge highlighted during the podcast is adapting to market demands, especially post-COVID. As more people stayed home, the demand for cannabis products surged. Lori’s company had to double its staff and ramp up operations quickly. Despite the challenges, this period also presented opportunities for rapid growth and diversification.

The Future of the Cannabis Industry: Federal Reclassification and Beyond

The final part of the podcast discusses the future trajectory of the cannabis industry, particularly concerning potential federal reclassification.

The Big Players and Small Businesses Dilemma

According to Lori, federal reclassification could be a double-edged sword. While it might simplify regulations and banking for many, it could also pave the way for larger corporations to dominate the market, pushing out smaller, independent dispensaries. This potential shift underscores the importance of financial reinvestment and unique community engagement as defense mechanisms for smaller players.

Anticipating Regulatory Changes

Lori advises smaller dispensaries to stay nimble and well-informed. “Understanding upcoming legislative changes and preparing for them is crucial,” she says. Whether it’s through industry associations, newsletters, or direct involvement in the legislative process, staying ahead of regulatory changes can provide a significant advantage.


1. What are the challenges faced by small dispensaries in the cannabis industry?

Small dispensaries often struggle with compliance, staff motivation, and competition from larger corporations. Community engagement and strategic partnerships can provide some relief.

2. How can dispensaries incentivize their staff beyond financial perks?

Offer career development opportunities, recognition, and respect. Effective delegation also helps by empowering employees and making them feel invested in the company’s success.

3. What is the impact of COVID-19 on dispensary operations?

COVID-19 increased demand for cannabis products, leading to a rapid scaling of operations. However, it also brought compliance and regulatory challenges that required quick adaptation.

4. Why is community engagement important for dispensaries?

Community engagement fosters loyalty among local residents, making the dispensary a trusted entity in the community. It also provides unique opportunities for local sponsorships and events.

5. How can small dispensaries compete with Multistate Operators (MSOs)?

Through reciprocal business deals, unique product offerings, and a strong focus on community engagement, small dispensaries can carve out a niche for themselves.

6. What does the future hold for the cannabis industry?

The future is likely to involve federal reclassification, which could simplify regulations but also increase competition from larger players. Staying informed and agile will be key for small dispensaries.


Navigating the cannabis industry is undeniably challenging, but it is equally rewarding. From staffing strategies to community engagement, there are numerous ways to carve out a niche in this rapidly evolving industry. Lori Hicks’ journey from real estate to cannabis, combined with her hands-on involvement in industry governance, serves as an inspiring roadmap for budding cannabis entrepreneurs. As the industry continues to grow, those who can adapt, innovate, and engage with their communities will surely find success.

For more expert insights and to connect with like-minded dispensary owners, do check out the [Youtube podcast](https://example.com) that inspired this deep dive.


Where to find Lori Hicks and ANC Dispesary?



Article By

Brandon Quan

About The Author: A digital marketer with over 7 years of experience, Brandon Quan is wildly known as the top marketing expert within the Cannabis Industry.

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