Willie Nelson’s cannabis brand, Willie’s Reserve, has hit the Arizona market through a recently announced partnership with Hana Meds, an Arizona-based vertically integrated cannabis company.
Willie’s Reserve is a national cannabis brand inspired by cannabis activist and American music legend Willie Nelson. The brand focuses on various cannabis products like pre-rolls, flower, vape cartridges and more.
Hana Meds is processing, packaging and distributing Willie’s Reserve pre-rolls across Hana Meds’ retail locations in Kingman and Green Valley, Ariz., and at its wholesale customer locations, Giving Tree Dispensary in Phoenix and MedMen Scottsdale, said Matt Pinchera, Hana Meds president.
“We are starting off with launching pre-rolls only, and then we’ll look at other products as it makes sense,” he said. “We definitely want to expand the product line, but right now, we’re focusing on the pre-rolls first.”
Hana Meds eventually hopes to expand the number of dispensaries the product is sold in, he said.
“We are in the process of ramping up production, so, hopefully, we’ll be able to expand the wholesale customers as we expand our production capabilities,” he said. “We’ve got two dispensaries who partnered with us to launch the brand and want to make sure that we keep them in stock of a product. So, you know, we don’t want to expand too quickly. It really needs to be tied to our production increases.”
Aside from Hana Meds’ already established in-house brands, like Dutchie pre-rolls and Revival Infused Edibles, Pinchera said that Hana Meds also looks to partner with companies that acquire brands that Hana Meds feels will do well in the Arizona market. Willie’s Reserve fit the bill.
So, how did the official partnership happen?
Hana Meds met Willie’s Reserve team members at a conference in 2019, where they started to explore the partnership option and discuss Hana Meds’ capabilities.
“Because we already produce a pre-roll brand, we have the infrastructure in place to produce pre-rolls, which is what they wanted to enter the market with,” he said. “So, that lined up for them and for us. I also think the fact that we were in the process of expanding our production, which means we would be able to supply more products for Willie’s Reserve in the future, was also a positive in their eyes, from what we brought to the table.”
Pinchera believes that if a cannabis business is looking to partner with a national brand in a local market, it’s essential to highlight their own skills and growth capabilities.
“I think you need to focus on your capabilities, focus on what you do well; for us, it was producing pre-rolls with our Dutchie brand,” he said. “Secondly, anticipate growth and work on expanding production and cultivation. You really just have to leverage what you do well and make sure you have the capacity for increased production.”
For example, as Hana Meds started conversing with Willie’s Reserve, it began to expand its production facilities to ensure it could handle the increased pre-roll production, which was done to ensure Willie’s Reserve needs are met and to try and attract other brands that Hana Meds wanted to partner with, he said.
Alongside production expansion, Hana Meds also wants to consistently put a quality product out under the Willie’s Reserve name.
“The cannabis has to be high quality, which we’ve had a lot of success with our Dutchie brand,” he said. “Our wholesale customers and medical patient customers up until now have found our cannabis to be of high quality. That was certainly something that Willie’s demanded and that’s something that we’ve been producing, and we’re able to offer up to them.”
Hana Meds and Willie’s Reserve share similar values. They are dedicated to producing high-quality cannabis products, which leads Pinchera to believe that this will be a continuing partnership.
“Because they have a solid marketing department, utilizing both social media and traditional media, and because they have Willie Nelson as a brand ambassador, that has been a huge positive for us,” he said. “And I think the partnership will continue to be a huge positive for us moving forward. Willie’s Reserve has a lot to bring to the table, and they’re a great company to partner with.”