Josh Genderson is the CEO of Holistic Industries. Since starting the company in 2011, he has grown Holistic into a national medical and consumer goods company, a cultivation and extraction network, and a retail dispensary chain. Josh launched Holistic based on the expertise he gained serving as President of Schneider's of Capitol Hill, the Gendersons' third-generation, family-owned liquor store that is a staple in Washington, D.C.
After taking over his family's wine and spirits business and growing it by adding importing and distribution capabilities, Josh Genderson saw an opportunity for cannabis in D.C. Working on the hill at Schneider's and growing up talking to Senators, lobbyists, and other well-connected customers, Josh saw and opening in Congress which has oversight over D.C.'s budget and worked with government to craft new cannabis legislation.
Josh and his family won the grower/processor license they applied for in D.C. During this time, Josh traveled to legal states like Colorado and California, and countries like Canada and the Netherlands, meeting growers and processors to learn best practices. Josh wanted his facility to be the best which meant also learning everything he could about medical programs, licensing and regulation, so everything he did was above board.
Josh was introduced to some parents who told him about a group of kids with intractable epilepsy. The parents of these kids were smuggling high-CBD strains of medical cannabis back to D.C. from legal states as it was the only treatment that stopped the seizures. At the time, no one was even thinking about growing and selling high-CBD strains in D.C. After meeting Jackson, one of the kids, and seeing first hand how the medicine helped him, Josh knew he had to grow and process medical cannabis for these kids in D.C.
Holistic Industries broke ground on the first cultivation center in D.C. to breed the high-CBD strains of medical cannabis that parents have come to rely on to treat their children's seizure disorders. Josh saw how many parents were desperate for the treatment, subsidized the medicine, gave it to parents who needed it for free and began tracking patient outcomes. This high-CBD strain of medical cannabis is called Jackson's Courage.
After success in D.C. helping shape the program, processing great products and successfully building a brand and operations, Josh wanted to expand. At the same time, the parents Josh worked with in D.C. joined forces with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). They lobbied heavily up and down the East Coast generating a buzz around the benefits of medical cannabis and CBD that started a domino effect of states legalizing. The first state Holistic applied in was Massachusetts. After they applied for that and before they won, Maryland announced its program. They applied in Maryland with a capital partner, built a board and a more sophisticated company in case they won.
Holistic raised $40 million in capital through friends and family and $30 million in real estate and applied for more licenses up and down the East Coast. Josh was more confident about entering highly regulated medical markets based on his experience so had not tried to enter legal states on the West Coast. However, at this time, a ballot initiative in California passed that made the regulation and oversight of their program a lot more stringent making California more attractive to Josh.
2017 was a big year for the company. Holistic was awarded licenses in Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Between his success in the wine and spirits business and what he learned from Jackson about treating sick people, Josh's experience to this point emboldened him and the company to keep growing to serve more patients. They were competing with former investment bankers who were buying licenses and using shell corporations in Canada to trade on the Canadian exchanges. Patients wanted more than what those competitors, who were aggregating rather than operating, could give them, so Josh decided to grow Holistic organically and become the best operator in the space. Near the end of 2017, he started looking at California and Michigan.
Holistic raised an additional $10 million from friends and family, many of whom had invested previously, and bought a distressed asset in Los Angeles with a Prop D compliant, pre-ICO micro-license. That was the first license stack for recreational cannabis to be awarded in the state which allows them to grow, process, deliver and refill. Southern California has more cannabis brands and stores than anywhere in the world and Josh wanted to see if the Holistic model and approach that had been working so well on the East Coast, especially in medical-only markets, would hold up there. After taking over the store in LA, Holistic more than doubled the revenue and set their sights on the Bay Area. At the same time, there was a small, undercapitalized group in Michigan with a license looking for a partner, so they started a joint venture there.
To continue expansion, Holistic did another round to raise capital and closed with $55 million from friends and family and small family offices. San Francisco was just starting to approve recreational licenses towards the end of 2018 and the first stack to be awarded would be for social equity applicants. By partnering with a social equity applicant, Josh saw a huge opportunity to expand Holistic's footprint and enter market while also helping someone achieve their dreams. Michigan had their referendum at this time but rather than apply, Josh bought a license and started locking up properties there for expansion.
Holistic Industries is one of the largest private multi-state operators (MSO) in the U.S. and runs fully vertical operations (from seed to sale) in California, Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Since mid-2017, they've grown from 15 full time employees to over 300 with continued growth every day.