Goodness Growth CEO talks rebranding, psychedelics, challenges, opportunities, and more
In this edition of "Rising High," The Fly conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Kyle Kingsley, CEO of Goodness Growth Holdings, Inc. (GDNSF), a physician-led, science-focused holding company. Here are some highlights:
SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE: Goodness Growth is a Minnesota-based holding company with a goal of bringing the power of plants to consumers globally. The company’s operations consist primarily of its multi-state cannabis company subsidiary Vireo Health and its science and intellectual property incubator Resurgent Biosciences. Goodness Growth, which manufactures proprietary, branded cannabis products, is licensed to grow, process and/or distribute in eight markets and operates 18 dispensaries across the United States under its Green Goods brand of retail stores.
“Our primary focus is really scientific excellence and we really let the data and the outcomes drive us ahead,” Kingsley said. “We’re very interested, as we transition across our footprint into adult use, in best-in-class products including high-potency, high-quality flower and concentrates.” He added Goodness Growth has a unique approach to cannabis as the company embraces the culture and legacy knowledge but takes a scientific lens to its process to create differentiated outcomes for consumers. “We’re excited about providing best-in-class products across all SKU categories, but more adult-use type products including flower, edibles and concentrates have become a much more significant focus as nearly all of our markets transition,” he said.
REBRANDING: In June, the company announced a rebranding to Goodness Growth Holdings from Vireo Health. “The Vireo name will persist as a really high-quality wellness and medical/clinical brand, but we wanted to really amplify the fact that we’re more than just medicine,” the CEO said. “Goodness Growth Holdings exemplifies adult-use wellness and medical cannabis with the MSO and it has the IP incubation company Resurgent Biosciences. Goodness Growth Holdings is a much more expansive vision.”
The company also unveiled its Horizon Strategy in June, a plan for growth through 2022. As part of the strategy, the company expects to open an additional six to ten Green Goods retail dispensaries over the timeframe and generate total revenue of $140M-$180M in 2022, with adjusted EBITDA of $35M-$55M. The outlook is subject to the on-time completion of various development projects, commencement of adult-use sales in New Mexico and New York and the commencement of flower sales in the Minnesota medical market. Kingsley said Goodness Growth expects to have four additional dispensaries in New York through 2022 and anticipates additional dispensaries in New Mexico. “The Horizon Strategy really shows our core approach in our five core markets,” he said. “We’re excited about this more expansive vision and think that the amplification of our focus on adult-use, our ongoing expertise with science and clinical data and our IP company really make us one of the most interesting companies in the space.”
PSYCHEDELIC EXPANSION: In June, Goodness Growth’s subsidiary Resurgent Biosciences announced plans to expand intellectual property development and clinical research efforts into psychedelic medicine. “Resurgent Biosciences’ core competency is really looking at bringing the IP in plants to the consumer,” Kingsley said. “The Resurgent team is very good at these difficult regulatory setups such as cannabis, and psychedelics really fits their core competencies.” The expansion into psychedelics was really driven the company’s physician leadership, he said, and Goodness Growth is very interested in the long-term path for psychedelics and psychiatric medicine. “It’s already core competencies,” the CEO said. “This doesn’t take a lot of additional capital for us to assert ourselves and focus on low-hanging fruit in the psychedelics space.” In September, the company announced Resurgent was actively recruiting 100 participants to take part in an anonymous online survey to research the varying effects of entheogen and psychedelic experiences. The IRB-approved research study, conducting in partnership with Flor da Jurema, a temple community in Brazil, aims to inform Resurgent on future developments including research and wellness applications to promote more positive long-lasting outcomes from psychedelic-based therapies. “We’re very excited that we got IRB approval for a psychedelic study to really survey folks that are utilizing psychedelics,” Kingsley said. “There are several aspects to the study but we’re really using this as a guidepost for some of our other psychedelic initiatives.” He noted Resurgent’s June patent filing for virtual reality applications to facilitate therapeutic psychedelic experiences. “We are interested in augmenting and providing visual inputs in the form of virtual reality for those that are undergoing therapeutic experiences with psychedelics,” he said. “The study is going to help us guide some of our direction in that space so this is really another tranche of information we can access as we dig deeper into the psychedelics.”
MARYLAND ACQUISITION: In July, the company announced its subsidiary Vireo of Charm City had signed an agreement to purchase all substantial assets of Charm City Medicus, a medical cannabis dispensary in Baltimore, Maryland. The company expects the transaction to close later this year and total consideration for the transaction of $8M. Upon closing, Charm City will transition to the Green Goods brand. “We recently brought online a very significant production apparatus in the form of 175,000 square feet of hybrid greenhouse in Massey, Maryland,” the CEO said. “We’re also retrofitting our existing 20,000 square foot facility in Hurlock for manufacturing. We have a pretty robust pipeline of both biomass production and manufacturing for the full set of product form factors and we want flesh that out with optimized retail.” He said the company’s general preference is to remain vertically integrated where it makes sense and Goodness Growth sees potential for additional acquisitions in Maryland. “We’d love to augment our retail presence in the state given our production capacity there,” he said.
CORONAVIRUS: The coronavirus pandemic has impacted many companies globally, however Kingsley said Goodness Growth was not significantly affected due to its proactive policies and procedures. “This is one of the aspects of having physician guidance and heavy clinical inputs,” he said. “You do a really good job on mitigating risk from something like coronavirus.” The CEO added Goodness Growth doesn’t anticipate significant problems for patients or its team in the future due to coronavirus. “We’re hopeful that we can weather the storm with the rest of humanity and continue to provide secure, regular, reliable cannabis products for our consumers,” he said. When asked about how the pandemic impacted consumer behavior, Kingsley noted home delivery was utilized heavily and that may continue to persist. “Consumers, generally speaking, are evolving as they do with many products,” he said. “There’s a preference for home delivery and there’s a preference for convenience like curbside pickup and online ordering ahead of time. These are all things that are really critical to e-commerce and absolutely vital for driving innovation in the cannabis space.” The CEO said brick-and-mortar will remain for some time, but e-commerce and home delivery really are becoming meaningful. “As far as the products that the consumers are choosing, that kind of evolves over time with the maturity of the market,” he said. “We’re seeing flower has a lot of staying power mainly due to price point and there seems to be a shift towards edibles and concentrates. These are all major focuses for our crew to get augmented as we shift to adult use SKUs.”
DERIVATIVES: As technology advances and delivery systems for cannabinoids become more diverse, the CEO said as a physician, he would like to see a move towards more vaporization of flower rather than combustion. “From a health standpoint, that’s something we definitely push towards,” he said. “Flower is here to stay and is going to be a major product set for the foreseeable future, but high-quality edibles and beverages are going to take market share over time.” The question really lies in the timeline for those methods to gain popularity, Kingsley said. “It’s just a matter of time until we can really effectively swap out alcohol and tobacco products with cannabis-based alternatives. That’s really exciting,” he said. “The beverage space long-term is going to be pretty interesting, it’s really just a matter of timing, and we are very excited about edibles.”
LEGALIZATION: When asked about the potential impact of the Biden-Harris administration on the U.S. cannabis space, Kingsley noted it has been very slow to move thus far and he sees it as a little disappointing. “I would love to see them step up and support some of the active legislation, particularly Safe Banking,” he said. “It’s been disappointingly slow the rate of federal change to date so we’re hoping that that picks up.” When asked about the introduction of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, the CEO said it is a very interesting start and it’s encouraging to see so many different points addressed in comprehensive legislation. “There’s a lot of things that we need to change and improve but we’re excited to see very legitimate legislation coming to the forefront,” he said. “This is an incremental process and we’re very excited about what the CAO could become over time.”
CHALLENGES: When asked about the largest hurdles facing the space, the CEO pointed to access to capital for U.S. operators as the biggest challenge in the industry. Kingsley said lack of access to appropriate banking and capital compared to standard companies operating in similar spaces or even peers in Canada puts U.S. companies at a disadvantage. “Many individuals and businesses are not able to invest in cannabis cleanly at this point,” he said. “The minute that changes, oh boy, fasten your seatbelts. That’ll be quite interesting.”
OPPORTUNITIES: As the cannabis space develops, Kingsley said Goodness Growth remains excited about regulatory changes across its footprint and adult-use being implemented in New York. “We’re excited about the addition of flower to Minnesota, the prospect of adult-use in Maryland and the implementation of adult-use in Arizona and New Mexico,” he said. “This groundswell of regulatory change in our core markets is unbelievably exciting.” Looking at Resurgent Biosciences, the CEO said the company is looking forward to continuing to forge a path in cannabis and psychedelics IP side. “It’s a generally crowded space on the cannabis side, but there’s definitely a lot of opportunity on the psychedelics side,” he said. “We’re excited about all aspects of the business right now given these regulatory changes in the pipeline.”
OTHER CANNABIS/PSYCHEDELIC STOCKS: Other publicly-traded companies in the space include Acreage (ACRHF), Akerna (KERN), Aleafia (ALEAF), Aurora Cannabis (ACB), Atai Life Sciences (ATAI), Ayr Wellness (AYRWF), BC Craft (CRFTF), Body and Mind (BMMJ), CanaFarma (CNFHF), Canopy Growth (CGC), RIV Capital (CNPOF), Clever Leaves (CLVR), Columbia Care (CCHWF), Compass Pathways (CMPS), CordovaCann (LVRLF), Cresco Labs (CRLBF), Cronos (CRON), CV Sciences (CVSI), Curaleaf (CURLF), CURE Pharmaceutical (CURR), Delic Holdings (DELCF), Delta 9 (DLTNF), Emerald Health (EMHTF), Fire & Flower (FFLWF), Flora Growth (FLGC), FluroTech (FLURF), Gage Growth (GAEGF), General Cannabis (CANN), Greenlane (GNLN), Green Thumb (GTBIF), GrowGeneration (GRWG), Harborside (HBORF), Hemp (HEMP), HEXO (HEXO), High Tide (HITI), IM Cannabis (IMCC), India Globalization Capital (IGC), Indiva (NDVAF), Inner Spirit (INSHF), Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR), InterCure (INCR), Khiron Life Sciences (KHRNF), Lowell Farms (LOWLF), Lotus Ventures (LTTSF), MediPharm Labs (MEDIF), MedMen Enterprises (MMNFF), MJardin Group (MJARF), Neptune Wellness (NEPT), Thermic Science (ENDO), Organigram (OGI), Planet 13 (PLNHF), Relmada Therapeutics (RLMD), RYAH Group (RYAHF), Skye Bioscience (SKYE), SLANG Worldwide (SLGWF), Sproutly (SRUTF), Stem Holdings (STMH), Sundial Growers (SNDL), Sunniva (SNNVF), TerrAscend (TRSSF), Tetra Bio-Pharma (TBPMF), Tilray (TLRY), Trulieve (TCNNF), Valens (VLNCF), Village Farms (VFF), WeedMD (WDDMF) Zynerba (ZYNE) and 4Front Ventures (FFNTF).