Interview, Part 2: Parallel Chairman and CEO Beau Wrigley, Jr.May 4, 2021
In the second part of our interview, Parallel chairman and CEO Beau Wrigley, Jr. discusses cannabis drinks, the ongoing progress of recreational legalization at the state level, and his commitment to diversity and inclusion in the industry.
SNDC: How do you see the market for cannabis drinks taking shape?
Wrigley: The beverage category is certainly starting to develop. It’s crucial to have the technology to be able to produce a product that’s desirable to consumers in terms of taste and emulsification. We plan to get into the beverage business through our robust R&D platform, Parallel Biosciences, which is a big part of what we do. I can’t get into specifics outlining product development plans, but we’ll come out with some thoughtful products later on this year.
SNDC: How do you view the current state-by-state legalization movement, and where do you see the regulatory environment headed from here?
Wrigley: The movement at the state level just reinforces the advantages of this business, which we should be taking advantage of, frankly, as a country. It bothers me that we’re losing out from a capital market standpoint because those of us that go public have to do so in Canada if we’re plant-touching. There are those onerous tax provisions and a variety of other provisions that just make it that much harder to grow and employ people and have banking relationships, which basically means the U.S. loses out on its potential here. My hope is that, as more states continue to recognize that and expand their programs, it will ultimately compel the federal government to make some of the changes that need to be made. Some of those markets in the northeast, like Pennsylvania, we’re already present in. Others we’re not yet. We will be, I’m sure, at some point in time.
SNDC: The cannabis industry’s efforts with regard to social responsibility and equity are increasingly in the spotlight. What is Parallel doing in this area?
Wrigley: Running an organization that is socially responsible and addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion is good business. Especially today, diversity of perspective in any industry is really important. We need to be creative as well as innovative and agile. With previous businesses I’ve run, I’ve been able to unlock the most potential when I can get the people within that company to come forward with ideas. I’m not the kind of leader who believes that he has all the ideas, and certainly there are people who know way more about cannabis than I do. I know about running a business though. So you’ve got to have that kind of input, and all kinds of representation across the board.
SNDC: What does that look like at Parallel?
Wrigley: Let’s start at the top. When we go public, what will our board of directors look like? I would argue that we have one of the most diverse and also value-added boards. We will have, with the pro forma board, three women, two African-Americans, and then two white guys, one of whom is me. There aren’t many boards with that kind of representation in any industry. Beyond that, we have employee resource groups within the company. There’s a black empowerment network, a women’s impact network, a pride group, and more forthcoming. They’re groups within an organization where people can identify with one another, but then also get their story across to others within the company. Overall, we have approximately 40% female representation within the company and about 40% minority representation as well. I think we’re a model for social equity and that any state would want us to come in and be a part of developing the cannabis community there.Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning. You will also receive the Cannabis edition as part of your subscription.