Planet 13’s Larry Scheffler has big plans for VidaCann in Florida

Planet 13 has focused on opportunities that allow for rapid growth without incurring unnecessary debt.

Planet 13’s all-stock purchase of VidaCann, which already has a Florida presence with 26 stores and large swaths of canopy, was its best bet to quickly expand operations in the state.

And according to Larry Scheffler, the move saves the Vegas-based cannabis company time and cost of setting up new stores and cultivation facilities from scratch. VidaCann was an attractive acquisition for management because the Jacksonville-based firm was financially healthy, carried no significant debts, and its taxes were up to date, which is not always common in the industry.

Scheffler spoke with Green Market Report about the company’s hopes in Florida and plans to open a superstore in Miami, depending on how the recreational question in the Sunshine State plays out.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

GMR: Is Planet 13 already planning for adult use, or are you looking at two different business plans with one a little contingent on that ballot placement?

Larry Scheffler: We didn’t know for sure it was even going to be on the ballot. The attorney general was fighting to keep it off again and all these things going back and forth. So, we would have done it either way, even if it stayed medical. We’ll slowly turn the name into Planet 13 over time as we convert them all over. And then, of course, once recreational comes, we will start on our first superstore in Florida, in the Miami area.

We’ve been down for the last two years to look at a couple of sites in the Miami area. People that approached us that own the real estate want us as an anchor in their site. We went and looked at those sites. We’re excited about them, but of course, we’ve got to wait till recreational is legalized.

As we’re finding out, you’ve really got to be selective with the superstores. You’ve got to have the tourists and the population. With Florida getting 120 million visitors a year — Vegas alone only gets 50 million visitors a year — we just think it’s an absolute positive for our next superstore.

GMR: Is every superstore, whether in Vegas or in Miami — going to be different in its own flair or amenities?

Larry Scheffler: Both, because every city is different. Miami is different than Vegas, but it’s different than California. So, we’ve got to blend into the culture and weave into the fabric of that community. It’ll be different — the ideas will be different. We still want ideas over the top. Everybody still wants to be entertained, and it’s our job to entertain them. That’s what we feel.

We’re looking at a couple of different ones. So, a 30,000 to 40,000 square feet for a  possible superstore in Florida. Again, here (in Vegas) it’s really big because we had the chance to get this whole building, but they won’t all necessarily be this size. But that’s still a large entertainment complex – 40,000 square feet.

GMR: I talked to a lawyer in Florida, and they said that another thing that you guys bring is more institutional influence and lobbying power. Do you feel that way as well in terms of sort of being able to shape the Florida market?

Larry Scheffler: Well, wherever you’re at, it just seems like lobbying is still a big part of it. It’s politics. It goes on in every state. Maybe we’re a little better at it than others. I was on the Henderson City Council for five years. In Henderson, my partner was the mayor for four years. We did it then. Bob, my partner, who is an attorney, that’s what he did after he got out of the city council. He was a lobbyist for everybody and anybody in the county, and very successful at it.

That probably gives us maybe a little leg up from some other people who don’t quite understand how it all works with the politics in every state.

GMR: Why enter Florida this way?

Larry Scheffler: Well, the whole thing is, we can speed up getting into Florida so much faster. Now we can keep $25 million in the bank since we bought VidaCann for stock only. We’ve looked at companies for the last three or four years, and there are so many flakes out there.

We just thought it was a great opportunity for us. It only came around once, and we grabbed it. We’re very selective, and that’s why we’re so happy with this. We treat the money as if it’s ours. What if my money was on the line? If the answer is no, then don’t do it with the public money either.

And that’s maybe why we’re sitting with the many millions of dollars in the bank, zero debt, and all of our taxes paid for.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson writes about the cannabis industry for the Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri Statehouse for the Columbia Missourian and has written for the Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter at @adam_sjackson and email him at adam.jackson@crain.com.


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