One of the newest entrants into the coveted Florida market is shaping up to be a formidable foe, though the ascent has been decades in the making.
Brady Cobb, a former business attorney and lobbyist, now serial cannabis entrepreneur, is on track to roll out the first 11 dispensaries his company Green Sentry Holdings bought from MedMen (OTC: MMNFF) for $63 million in August. All of the stores will be rebranded as Sunburn Cannabis by the end of the first fiscal quarter.
After helping build some of the largest cannabis corporations in the world, Cobb is finally pursuing his own dream.
“This is it,” he told Green Market Report at the launch party for the chain’s Orlando storefront in January. “This is mine. And what’s really, really humbling is that we kept the whole team together,” referring to when he sold his Florida medical marijuana operation Bluma Wellness to Cresco Labs in January 2021.
When Cobb left Cresco a few months after the deal, so did his entire management team, he said, “which I was not counting on.”
“Then when we put the press release out that we were acquiring these assets, anybody that hadn’t come with us shot their hand up in the air, resigned where they were, and showed up to work. It was incredibly humbling for me as a leader to go ‘Wow, everyone’s bought in on what we want to do here.’”
The Sunburn brand stems from the story of Cobb’s late father, who famously was a smuggler for Pablo Escobar in Florida in the 1970s and 1980s. His father was eventually apprehended by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency task force dubbed “Operation Sunburn,” facing the prospect of decades in prison.
But with all-star attorneys – including some who would later become O.J. Simpson’s defense team – Cobb’s father ended up getting out on early appeal with 27 months under his belt. He built and distributed a successful natural spring water company thereafter, eventually dying of prostate cancer in the summer of 2010.
“Like any kid, you want to follow your dad,” Cobb said at the Arcview Miami Cannabis Investment Summit in December. “I wanted to skip the prison part.”
In Orlando, Cobb described Sunburn as “an authentic brand that is not medical and is more focused on cannabis, culture, and lifestyle – and more importantly, intersection of fun and really high-quality cannabis.”
“This may not be for everybody. We’re okay with that. We’re not trying to be everything to everybody. We know exactly what we want to be: a premium in the market.”
And with Florida announcing that 22 more licenses would be issued in the near future, Cobb does not seem to be worried about the competition, even with a potential adult-use vote on the 2024 ballot. “I don’t know about a slam dunk, but it’s the best shot on goal so far,” he said.
“They need to really invest in the Department of Health. We were on a great path, but they kind of slowed it down with a new department director. They got to reinvest in Department of Health. They’ve got to expand it out a little bit – fund them (and) get us to where we can actually get some stuff to happen.”