At first glance, consumer-facing cannabis companies in the U.S. are confronted with a nearly impossible task—identifying consumer groups, discovering what they want, and learning how much they’ll pay for it.

The usual research tools have been a poor fit. How do you survey people about a product that the vast majority have never used, that may or may not work or have a consistent effect, and that hasn’t been fully decriminalized let alone destigmatized?

This is a question that preoccupies Ed Schmults, who was an executive in the retail industry before he became CEO of Las Vegas-based Calyx Peak Companies. Calyx capitalizes, operates, and manages cannabis-related assets, including products sold under brands Josh D (named for noted craft cultivator, Josh Del Rosso) and SONG Wellness (named for that brand’s chief medical officer).

Schmults brought to Calyx skills and knowledge gained during stints as COO of outdoor apparel and equipment retailer Patagonia and as CEO of FAO Schwarz, the legendary toy merchant. Nothing he learned before Calyx, however, could have prepared him for the rapid changes in the makeup of the cannabis consumer market just this year.

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