“We Have To Make Sure We Are There For Low-Income People” – Derrell Black, GM at Mello


Navigating the volatile and evolving cannabis market is no walk in the park, but Derrell Black, the GM at Mellow, has made it his mission to ensure lower-income communities are not left behind. In Episode 18 of the “Dispenary Marketing Podcast,” Derrell shares his experiences, insights, and vision for a more inclusive and equitable cannabis industry. With a background in hospitality, Derrell’s journey into cannabis is not just inspiring but also eye-opening for anyone keen on understanding the dynamics of this burgeoning market. Let’s delve into the key takeaways from this enlightening episode.

Oversaturation of the Cannabis Industry by Big Pharma

The Looming Threat: What Does It Mean?

One of the primary concerns Derrell addressed is the potential oversaturation of the cannabis market by big pharma companies following the descheduling of cannabis. This poses a significant threat to small and medium-sized businesses that have been the backbone of the industry.

Can Melo Compete?

Derrell insists that the key to competing with big pharma is establishing Mellow as a priority brand in the market. He underscores the importance of valuing oneself and knowing one’s worth to survive and thrive in such a competitive landscape.

Innovative Marketing Strategies for Survival

The “10 for 40 Deal”: A Game Changer

Derrell talks about the successful “10 for 40 deal” marketing strategy he implemented, which led to a notable 20% increase in sales on the slowest day of the week. This not only showcases his innovative approach but also his understanding of market dynamics.

Maintaining Healthy Margins

In a cut-throat industry like cannabis, maintaining robust profit margins is crucial. Derrell shares that he keeps margins around 47-52%, ensuring sustainability and better returns on investments, especially when promoting their own flower and pre-rolls.

Prioritizing Staff Well-being and Development

Beyond Business: Mental Health Matters

Derrell stresses that in the hustle to grow Mellow, the mental health and personal lives of the staff should not take a backseat. He discusses the various measures he has implemented to create a supportive work environment.

Staff Retention and Growth Opportunities

Steering the conversation towards staff retention, Derrell shares his strategies, including one-on-one meetings and offering growth opportunities within the company. Proper compensation and internal development are pivotal to retaining a motivated and loyal team.

Challenges and Rewards of the Cannabis Business

Financial Responsibility in Cannabis

One of the pressing issues Derrell discussed was the importance of paying bills on time to maintain good relationships within the industry. He explains that unpaid bills can lead to legal fees and erode trust, which can significantly hinder growth.

Customer Service: The Heart of the Business

Derrell’s experience in hospitality has ingrained the importance of stellar customer service. He believes customer service should be the number one priority and shares innovative ways Mellow tackles economic challenges, like providing affordable deals.

Expanding Horizons: Future Plans and Educational Endeavors

Growth Plans for Mellow

Derrell is not resting on his laurels. With plans to open a new store in Boston and potentially another in a different state, he’s keen on expanding Mellow’s footprint.

Educating Through “Let’s Talk Weed”

In addition to his role at Mellow, Derrell is passionate about education. Through “Let’s Talk Weed,” an educational platform, he partners with the Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts to inform and empower the community about the nuances of the cannabis industry.


What is the “10 for 40 deal”?

The “10 for 40 deal” is a marketing strategy where customers can buy ten items for $40. This deal was instrumental in boosting sales by 20% on the slowest day of the week.

Why is paying bills on time crucial in the cannabis industry?

Paying bills on time helps maintain good relationships with vendors and partners, avoiding legal fees and trust issues that can stunt business growth.

How does Derrell Black prioritize staff well-being?

Derrell emphasizes mental health and work-life balance by having one-on-one meetings with staff and ensuring proper compensation and growth opportunities within the company.

What skills did Derrell transfer from hospitality to cannabis?

Derrell brought valuable skills like customer service, patience, and organizational abilities from his decade-long experience in hospitality.

What are Mellow’s future expansion plans?

Mellow plans to open a new store in Boston in 2024 and potentially another store in a different state, expanding its reach and market presence.

What is “Let’s Talk Weed”?

“Let’s Talk Weed” is an educational platform where Derrell collaborates with the Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts to educate the community about various aspects of the cannabis industry.


Derrell Black’s journey from hospitality to becoming the GM of Mellow is a testament to the power of resilience, innovation, and community focus. By prioritizing equitable growth, staff well-being, and customer service, he is not only setting Mellow apart in a competitive market but also championing the cause for lower-income communities in the cannabis industry. His insights and strategies offer invaluable lessons for anyone looking to make a meaningful impact in this space.


Where To Find Derrell Black and Mello?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cannamanblack_/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/derrell-black-989a83172/ 

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.

More Cannabis Marketing Resources:

“My First Cannabis Event Got Raided By The MED” – Jasmin J., Marketing Assoc. at Simply Pure

“My First Cannabis Event Got Raided By The MED” – Jasmin J., Marketing Assoc. at Simply Pure

Just wrapped up an insightful session with Jasmin Johnson, Marketing Associate at Simply Pure, Denver. We delved into the unique challenges of cannabis marketing on social media, from navigating account takedowns to using creative strategies to promote products. Jasmin shared the importance of in-person marketing, compliance with regulations, and their community-driven approach.

We hope you enjoy this episode.

read more
Skip to content