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Interview, Part 1: Pacific Stone CEO Skip Motsenbocker

December 28, 2021

Skip Motsenbocker recently took the reins as CEO of Pacific Stone, a Santa Barbara-based cannabis company that now claims a 6.5% market share of the flower category in California. The company has found particular success with its pre-rolls and flower, all of which is grown at its greenhouse complex. Sold in more than 500 dispensaries, Pacific Stone’s whole flower retails from $20 per 3.5 grams and up, while its pre-rolls are positioned at $40 a 14-pack (7 grams total). SND associate editor Danny Sullivan recently spoke with Motsenbocker, who prior to joining Pacific Stone was CEO and chairman of retailer Urbn Leaf, about Pacific Stone’s place in the California market, telling the company’s story to consumers, and the viability of cannabis beverages.

SNDC: How has Pacific Stone built itself into a significant player in California?

Motsenbocker: We’re the largest company that people haven’t heard of—except for the customers that bought 7 million packages over the last year. We put everything under the banner of quality, consistency, and value. When we’re running pre-rolls, in general we’re pushing about 1.5 million per month, every month. So we can achieve a quality and consistency standard that just makes the product fresher. And believe it or not, that actually makes a difference with cannabis. Everything that we sell in a Pac Stone package, whether it’s a pre-roll or whole flower, it’s all coming directly from our farm. We’re the ones who grew it, cut it, cured it, processed it, and dried it.

SNDC: Is that in-house production pipeline something that’s resonating with consumers?

Motsenbocker: It’s definitely an initiative right now. Oftentimes there’s a consumer perception that if a product is positioned at a certain price point, then that must be what the quality is. And if it’s at the highest price point, then it must be the best quality. Because we’re so value oriented, it’s always resonated, number one, that we’re greenhouse grown and, number two, that we’re moving as much product as we are, which means that we have a consistently fresh product. It’s not like we’re running outdoor operations where you’re pulling off two harvests a year. We’re harvesting plants every single week, like clockwork. That story hasn’t been communicated in the past and it’s an important story for us to tell and share.

SNDC: What are your thoughts on the cannabis beverage sector?

Motsenbocker: I think the cannabis beverage sector is really interesting. Mostly because if you look at the demographics right now, it’s well documented that those who are aged 25 and younger really aren’t consuming alcohol at the same rate as previous generations. If they’re not consuming alcohol, then they’re consuming something else. So cannabis drinks have an opportunity to fill that role. What the long term viability is for the segment is hard to say. I think that the consumer is still going to decide, but if you think historically about what people like to do, they go to parties and celebrate with drinks. That human behavior will continue, even though the product itself may change, and cannabis could have a role to play there.

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