Weekend Unlimited (CSE:POT) (OTCQB:WKULF) is a cannabis-focused investment company that has been making steady progress in the US, marked recently by its move to switch its headquarters to New York from Vancouver. The company specializes in figuring out how to scale small to medium-sized cannabis companies and focuses on those selling cannabis flower, extracts and edibles.
Its CEO Paul Chu has been in charge at Weekend since December of 2018. In a recent catch-up, Proactive Investors got the chance to pick his brain about what lies ahead.
Can you offer a glimpse of what Weekend’s new Jamaican operations are like?
I just did a 48-hour trip to our properties in Jamaica to check out infrastructure and distribution channels there. Everything about Jamaica is about the possibilities. We have amazing properties there in Ocho Rios as well as Westmoreland. Between the two estates, we have 145 acres of outdoor grow. We’re not going to use every single acre, but there are some ways we want to maximize the land use. We also want to make it more into an eco-tourism area. There’s a zip line that’s going to be implemented. A café. We’re trying to make it so it does become a destination. Tourism is really big there. Some 3.6 million people go there every year and the island only has a population of 3 million. There’s always room for tourism and we want to cater to that. Everyone thinks Jamaica has been growing weed and yes, they have been for a long, long time. But it’s not structured to be exportable.
We’re not going to go vertical in one year and do everything well there. I think it’s going to take many years to get it right. But we have to focus on the things that we can do well and do them very well. Jamaica has a lot of import and export potential too which makes it somewhat of a unique place.
How do you think about your business?
We’re trying to sell happiness and, in the process, we are creating happiness. Whether it’s the staff that we have or whether it’s the products we’re marketing and selling.
It takes time to get the right product and right pricing structure and the important thing is creating the right type of following for your product. The brand doesn’t just happen overnight and either does that element of growth and scalability. It takes patience. It takes execution and it takes the right roll-up plan in terms of targeting.
We are going to rebrand everything under the Weekend Unlimited Brand. We want to have a much broader approach for the brand and that branding has to reflect a more encompassing joy. When people hear Weekend, there’s a lot of positive connotations. We want to extend that into our branding and our products.
Can you go into more detail about your various divisions?
We see the world as two. There’s the very regulated THC side of our business and the somewhat less-regulated hemp and CBD side. We do have beverage production out of Arizona, with Verve Beverage and CHAMP Energy, which will have a CBD and a hemp line. In California, we have licensing and packaging for our candy products as well as vapes and flower. So, we will have the standard products – flower, concentrate and topicals and we also want to get into the wellness side of the cannabis business.
Then, we have Orchard Heights which has worked out a co-branding deal with Boggy Boon, which is a very well-known cannabis brand in Washington state. By combining our Orchard Heights along with Boggy Boon, we are actually able to increase production and increase our packaging. There’s also going to be a big opportunity for us to get into tissue culture and figure out how to commercialize it in a way that is scaleable. It’s a technology that very few have been able to scale.
Haven’t you also recently moved into Oklahoma?
Yes, We’ve signed a letter of intent to acquire vertically integrated operations in the town of Wilburton. The deal includes a seven-acre property with 20,000 feet of indoor facilities housing a nursery for cultivation as well as extract production. There is also space for a store that will be Weekend’s first in Oklahoma and Weekend’s Canna Candys brands will be produced and packaged there. We have a grow license. And licenses have been won for cultivation, processing and transportation and an application is in place for a retail license. We also have manufacturing, packaging and distribution and we’ve also applied for a retail dispensary license. We think this business will result in a relatively quick production of revenue in the next 45 days rather than the usual nine months.
What’s your approach like in Canada?
Our brand is called Northern Lights Supply in Nisku, Alberta and it’s right next to Highway 2, a big Canadian corridor. We’re obviously in revenue with Northern Lights Supply. The opening of the store in February brought in sales of C$27,000. We’re seeing pretty amazing numbers so far that are coming out of the retailing of cannabis. The store offers 6,500 square feet of retail space, making it one of the largest approved retail cannabis stores in Alberta. It’s a very big store, too big almost. But we’ve also been able to fill up the space with a great combination of events planning and education.
What markets are you keen to push into after moving your headquarters to NYC from Vancouver?
New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are three main markets that we will be in. It’s just a question of when we’ll be able to participate in them.
What was it like for the company to win the POT stock ticker symbol on the Canadian Stock Exchange thanks to a random lottery?
We all felt very lucky. It’s just scratching the surface, but the word pot is mentioned so often. But to truly drive the company, the stock can’t just be a catchy ticker. You have to get behind your people and your product and ultimately your customers will say whether you have a great product or not.
Can you tell us a bit about your background as you’re new to the job?
Many years ago, I was in the beverage market almost by accident. I was graduating from the University of Southern California’s Entrepreneurship program and I started developing new products and new distribution channels for Hansen Beverage Company. We started playing with herbal infusions and ginseng and guarana and those new product development efforts became Monster Energy Drink. I was so thrilled to be a part of the energy drink movement and it was a great opener to understand what distribution is all about. After that, I went on to set up the first pre-paid wireless company in the US called Urban Wireless. It was a really, really great time and then we got acquired by T Mobile.
How did you climb to the helm of Weekend?
The way I got interested in the cannabis and hemp space is that I injured myself travelling with my kids to Cancun. I had to lift a suitcase for inspection at the airport and I was carrying my two-year-old and heard my shoulder pop. I ended up tearing the rotary cuff on my right shoulder. I’ve always been very active. I’ve always swam. I’ve always run. But I was disabled and my doctor said surgery pain treatment was opioids. I discovered cannabis for its properties of anti-inflammation. Nothing else works. And then I started digging around about how you dose and found that the market was lacking information about dosing. So, I ended up creating Hey Mary, a device that sits on your counter and using artificial intelligence, can be used to create personalized dosing of cannabis. You can think of it as a Keurig for cannabis that knows your needs. We filed for international PCT (patent cooperation treaty) protection and are in the process of getting it prototyped. Around that time, I got approached by a friend’s company Canna Candys, a THC candy company in Southern California. While I was there, we got a knock on the door. It was Weekend Unlimited saying we know what you’re doing and we love it. They acquired us and then asked whether I would consider helping to run it. Their pitch was we can have fun and probably make a great deal of money at it.
-- This Q&A has been lightly edited. --