The Only List to Watch in the Cannabis Industry?

Written by Nicholas Demski

An interview with LeafLink CEO & Co-Founder, Ryan G. Smith about the state of the industry and the brands taking control.

There’s something unique about people-watchers. They’re fascinated by how people move and talk, the body language they display with people, and how you can understand a lot about someone by the shoes they wear.

If you went to a new town and wanted to know what was going on, you’d want to speak with the local people-watchers. They’re the ones who see, can accurately grade, and give a solid overview of what their city has to offer. They’re insightful, succinct, and know more than they could explain in one meeting.

In that sense, welcome to the city of Cannabis. The people-watchers you’re looking for are at LeafLink. They know the industry—the city of Cannabis. They can tell who’s achieving, who’s delivering, and who’s leading. That’s why they established the LeafLink List. It’s a list developed by watching the industry and seeing who is giving the most to the community. And LeafLink is here to share that information.

We spoke to the Co-founder of LeafLink about their publication. As the CEO, Ryan G. Smith had some interesting thoughts. Here’s what he said to a few of our questions:

T&T: What inspired you to start the LeafLink List?

We are fortunate to work with over 850 of the top cannabis brands in the country as the industry’s largest marketplace, and LeafLink List is a place to recognize their excellence. We have visibility into how retailers respond to high-quality products on our platform, and we saw this as an opportunity to showcase and celebrate those companies for elevating the industry.

T&T: How does LeafLink’s list differ from other lists out there?

As the cannabis industry’s wholesale ordering system, we are the only platform with access to over $700M in annual orders between over 850 brands and 2500 retailers. LeafLink represents the country’s largest wholesale cannabis data set, covering an estimated 13% of all orders. By tapping into this data set, LeafLink List is unique in that it’s built based on wholesale information rather than retail sales.

T&T: Order fulfillment and customer service are important to winning a LL List nomination. What else can brands do to increase their chances of making it on the list?

There are a lot of things that brands can do to optimize their sales on LeafLink and increase their chances of making next year’s LeafLink List. One important tip for brands would be to use our Manual Order feature, to drive 100% of their orders through the platform. This best practice is also very useful for brands because it enables them to use LeafLink to analyze and report on the full breadth of their sales.

T&T: What does a typical day look like inside LeafLink when you’re creating the List?

It’s a lot of data aggregation and building reports. We’ve created some automated reporting that pulls the bestselling and fastest-growing brands across categories, so most of the work went into building that functionality. Now we’re able to update them much faster.

T&T: Were there any unexpected hurdles when creating the first LL List?

We wanted LeafLink List to be an exclusive award but also to be truly representative of the amazing brands in the industry. It was challenging to limit each category to just 10 winners when we have over 20,000 products on the platform.

T&T: What about unexpected benefits?

Our team was excited and felt it was amazing to see all the positive reactions from winning brands. Some brands shared the news via Instagram, Email and Press Releases to their clients and the industry.

T&T: How do you think the LL List can help the cannabis industry?

LeafLink List is the first real measuring stick in the cannabis industry for setting wholesale standards and rewarding excellence at the B2B level. Creating a bit of competition around delivering an amazing product and maintaining professional relationships with retailers can only drive the industry forward, while providing guidance for purchasing manager on which brands and products to try in their stores.

T&T: What was your reaction to seeing the first LL List go live?

I remember when LeafLink launched in 2016 in Colorado and it’s just amazing to see the scope of the industry today, which is showcased on LeafLink List. There are brands on the list from nine states, from Alaska to Connecticut.

T&T: Do you have any personal favorites on the list?

It’s amazing to see Apothecanna on the list because they were one of LeafLink’s earliest brand clients in Colorado and now they’re using LeafLink in three states and counting, with our marketplace and order management tools built into their sales process.

T&T: Where do you see the LL List in three years?

As the industry grows we’ll see the scope of LeafLink List grow with it. In three years we’d like it to represent even more states and countries as regulated cannabis markets come online globally.

T&T: If you could change one thing about the cannabis industry as a whole, what would it be?

As long as cannabis regulations are determined at the state level, I wish there were more communications across states around best practices. States that are working through their regulations now should model their policies off the successes of other states with both medical and adult-use programs, and learn from their mistakes.

LeafLink is working toward providing more data-driven resources to the industry like LeafLink List. We just published our first Wholesale Cannabis Pricing Guide to create some benchmarks for average wholesale prices across states and product categories, which you can find here

About the author

Nicholas Demski

Nicholas Demski's latest venture is He's a poet, author, cannabis writer, and budding entrepreneur. You can follow his travels with his daughter on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram @TheSingleDadNoma

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