In the Weeds of the Cannabis Industry

Garo Keresteci’s experience with cannabis began when he was a high school student in his mom’s station wagon with a buddy and a dozen Tim Hortons doughnuts, at a time when it was almost impossible to imagine the legalization of marijuana, let alone an industry centered around cannabis. Today, Keresteci ’88 MBA Bus —co-founder of Toronto-based advertising company FUSE Create and one among many Canadians who swear by the medical benefits of marijuana for chronic pain—leads the company’s cannabis practice, which includes both U.S. and Canadian licensed producers and suppliers to the cannabis industry. Keresteci helps these companies position their brands and develop advertising and marketing campaigns.

Keresteci, who is on the board of the National Cannabis Research Project, which seeks to examine cannabis use among veterans in his native Canada, is also the creator of Canna Commerce, a blog helping marketers and business leaders navigate the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. He launched the blog in 2019 to shed light on the complicated regulatory environment that governs cannabis production and sales, and he has since become a recognized expert in the sector, speaking frequently at conferences in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.

“For many people, cannabis is a recreational product that can be consumed in many different formats requiring different regulatory oversight,” Keresteci says. “For others, it’s a medicinal product proven to alleviate some common ailments. This requires another set of regulatory approvals. Add the complexity of local, state, provincial, and federal authorities, and it can be a hot mess of regulations.”

Cannabis use still carries a stigma in many circles. But Keresteci believes the industry is primed for growth, particularly on the medical side, as more research about its effectiveness emerges.  —Pete Croatto