With cannabis products booming around the country, we spoke to Brendon Lynch, out Executive Vice President of Retail Operations at Jushi Holdings Inc.
Cannabis activism and the LGBTQ+ rights movement have been intrinsically linked for decades, especially as the queer community led some of the earliest legalization victories of cannabis, especially tapping into the medicinal properties during the AIDS crisis.
As EVP of Retail Operations, Brendon is responsible for leading Jushi’s retail strategies and overseeing its growing retail footprint across numerous states. Brendon’s service contributions to local communities extends beyond his role as a senior executive. After visiting a LGBTQ center in Los Angeles, he helped form strategic partnerships with It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe. Through this partnership, more than 80,000 showers worth of shampoo, conditioner and body wash products were contributed to shelters focused on serving LGBTQIA+ homeless youth.
In a market currently flooded with cannabis products, what is Jushi’s mission and point of difference?
Brendon: At Jushi, our mission is to provide the world’s best cannabis experience, whether that be through the brands we develop, the products we create, or the retail experience we offer. Our vision is to provide safe access to cannabis, driven by respect for people and the plant, and ultimately the planet as well. We pride ourselves on putting people first – not just the people we serve but our people internally too. It’s always been important to me that we serve our employees so they can serve our community.
What sets the Jushi brands apart is our commitment to precise formulation and genetics. We also aim to offer products with high value at multiple price points so that we remain as accessible as we can.
Why did you seek to get into this industry?
Brendon: There were a few things that ultimately led me to cannabis. Wellness is a personal passion of mine; I saw cannabis as an opportunity to improve people’s lives and help them feel their best. I was also excited for the chance to work in a new industry. I’ve been in retail for about 30 years or so, and I liked that I could transfer my knowledge while still having room to learn more. No one had quite set the standard for what cannabis retail should look like, so I saw this as a massive untapped opportunity. When I saw what Jushi was doing – building a retail store that provoked a unique experience – it prompted me to get involved in the industry and build towards something much bigger. I wanted to be a part of redefining what a modern cannabis retail experience should be.
What does Cannabis Pride mean to you?
Brendon: The partnership of the cannabis and LGBTQ+ reform movements has a history that dates back decades. The LGBTQ+ community in San Francisco started the initial push for medical marijuana legalization in the U.S. in response to the AIDS epidemic in California. The first legislation decriminalizing medical marijuana was passed in large part thanks to Harvey Milk, the country’s first openly gay man to hold public office. As a gay man residing in California and working in the cannabis industry, it really feels like it’s all come full circle. I’m grateful to be in a position made possible by the work of so many people before me, and said position will allow me to continue pushing the fight forward. While there has been a good deal accomplished in the cannabis and LGBTQ+ movements, there is still much work to be done, and I am humbled to be part of it.
Any personal favorite cannabis products you like to use?
Brendon: I am predominately a flower guy these days. In addition to loving Jushi’s award-winning line of premium flower brands, The Bank and Seche, I am a fan of preroll products like Miss Grass and Dogwalkers.
What are your plans for Pride?
Brendon: I’m excited to enjoy LA pride with my husband and friends. Due to the pandemic, this community hasn’t been able to gather for the last few years, so this time will feel all the more special. Being together again will be really impactful, so I’m looking forward to it.
What are some of the benefits of cannabis products for the over 40 generations? I
Brendon: One great benefit is for muscle relief and recovery. Muscle recovery isn’t talked about as much, and this product can help people with that at any age, but after you hit 40 and beyond, those pains become more common. Sleep is another important benefit. I know I don’t sleep as well as I did in my 20s and 30s, so this is also very relevant. As for other benefits, pain and anxiety are other common reasons people use cannabis products, and I find they can be very effective at helping people with these problems.