March 9, 2022
Whether you call it pot, grass, marijuana or nothing at all, it's impossible to ignore the cannabis industry's rapid transition from undercover operation to legitimate vertical, one with more conflicting regulatory statutes and distribution challenges than possibly any other. Joy Hudson, founder and CEO of Nimble Distribution in Portland, OR, parlayed her success in the traditional medical supply arena into a thriving cannabis distributorship, all while balancing profits with social impact. Jason chats with Joy about professionalizing the industry, advocating for better legislative considerations, and lending direct support to communities devastated by harmful drug policies of the past.
"I can recognize opportunities when I see them," Joy says of the day in 2015 when she visited her first cannabis farm. The invitation came from a business acquaintance who had moved into the medical marijuana space. "I had never even seen one plant, and the first time I saw a thousand plants in a field in an outdoor setting in Oregon." Beyond that field of lush plants, Joy quickly recognized an industry hurtling towards legal recreational use but still doing business out of garbage bags. She left her medical sales company in Las Vegas, relocated to The Pacific Northwest, and began consulting for the cannabis farm. Joy immersed herself in the business, collecting intel on the product, its inconsistent infrastructure, and, most importantly, the people who made up both sides of the sale.
Her logistics and sales expertise proved a perfect fit for a business on the brink of stratospheric growth. In 2016, Joy applied her skills to the farm's newly-acquired wholesale distribution division. "In our industry, it's very much so in your mind that if you cut out the middleman, you get a better deal." She convinced dispensary operators that the product which had, until recently, thrived via a covert, illegal supply chain needed professionally-minded distributors. "I ended up growing that wholesale distribution company to be one of the top two largest wholesale companies in the state." Ultimately, though, the business wasn't hers so, in 2020, Joy left.
"I did always have an internal desire to go out and do this for myself," Joy says of the impetus to open Nimble in 2021. She and her business partner Marissa Rodriguez have built a for-profit company with major social impact credentials. Their innovative strategies include second-chance employment opportunities and reparations-focused initiatives. By marrying a professional ethos with holistic community awareness, Nimble is securing its place at the vanguard of cannabis distribution.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
“I always say, I love selling something when I know nothing about it because I'm such a more curious salesperson than when I think I know everything.”
“The cannabis industry is going from bros to pros.”
“I always say distributors, the best ones are extension cords to the industry, right? You plug in one to the other, you’re the center, you hold it all together.”
“It's a mission-focused company, but with a profit or profit-run business, you know? And so our mission is to heal the damage done by the war on drugs. Feels big; it should feel big,”
“In a moment of real reflection one day, it came to me that the same plant that was used to harm a community should be used to heal it.”
“When you only have so much control, you only get to decide your destiny so much so I think that that was the most thrilling part of going it alone.”
Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.
This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.