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4Front Ventures President Talks Parallels Between Cannabis Advocacy, Entrepreneurship

4Front Ventures President Talks Parallels Between Cannabis Advocacy, Entrepreneurship

Kris Krane, president and co-founder of 4Front Ventures Corp (OTC: FFNTF), is an industry leader with a background as both a cannabis advocate and executive.

His first exposure to cannabis came as a child in New York City in the 1980s. Krane’s father suffered from a genetic form of emphysema.

Krane said he saw his father's marijuana and witnessed him smoking on occasion to relieve his symptoms; at the time, he didn't know the plant's name. He considered it "dad's medicine." 

When Krane was 8, he lost his father to the disease. 

The experience of his father’s treatment was coupled with a misinformed drug education program at school. 

"It struck me that what I was being told about cannabis, in particular, clearly wasn't true because I'd seen the impact that it had on my father."

The differing lessons led Krane to consider America's drug policy, he said. He would eventually find himself enrolled at American University in Washington, D.C. in 1996, where he studied the subject. 

You can see Kris Krane and many others in the space Oct. 22-23 at Benzinga's Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago!

Krane's early years on campus saw modest involvement with the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

After returning from a sophomore study abroad, the future cannabis exec became more involved with the chapter, which had become the founding chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, or SSDP. 

Krane interned at NORML's national headquarters and became a chapter coordinator fresh out of college. Over his six years of work, Krane would eventually become the national organization’s associate director.

A return to SSDP followed next, with Krane being named executive director. An achievement he highlighted: the development of the Good Samaritan Policy program, which protects students who are reporting overdoses. 

Pioneering Dispensaries 

2009 saw Krane exploring new ventures, which eventually led to consulting with Steve DeAngelo’s venture.

While some may think the jump from advocate to business may be difficult, Krane said he saw it as more of the same.

“I always kind of saw the industry as an extension of the advocacy movement, and still do, frankly,” he told Benzinga. 

Krane began working with some of the few functioning dispensaries in the country at the time. These Northern California ventures opened his eyes to a new side of cannabis advocacy.

“It really struck me that what was happening at places like Harborside and Berkeley Patients Group, these earliest dispensaries, they were really doing as much to help advance the overall cause of ending prohibition as the nonprofit work that I had been doing at NORML and SSDP in D.C. all those years.”

A well-run, well-regulated dispensary can be crucial in changing public perception of cannabis laws, Krane said. 

4Front's Expansion

The opportunity to get in on the ground floor of cannabis while focusing on policy enticed him. In 2011, 4Front opened as a consulting company.

In time, the brand would expanded, offering additional services and becoming a multistate operator while maintaining a focus on policy reform.

In July, the company completed a merger with Cannex Capital Holdings to expand its operations and footprint on the West Coast of the United States.

"[Cannex operators] were the best operators at scale that we've seen in the industry. What they've been able to do in Washington ... I think speaks incredibly well to the type of operation that they built and their operational efficiencies," Krane said of the merger.

4Front Ventures is now focused on production and retail, including a yet-to-be-announced social equity program, he said.

The company plans to replicate its success in Washington state in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and Arizona.

"Our thesis is: let's take those operations that we've built in Washington and actually gone through version one and version two at a couple different facilities and bring them to [additional states]." 

Other operational efforts include a production expansion in Massachusetts, cultivation expansion in Illinois and a large-scale Southern California production facility. 

In addition to 4Front, Krane remains active in leadership roles with SSDP, the National Cannabis Industry Association and other trade organizations, in addition to working with legislators to shape policy.

The over-the-counter stock was up 1.2% at 49 cents at the time of publication. 

Related links:

Leafly, 4Front Ventures, Weedmaps, Others Lobby For Marijuana Descheduling In Wake Of Vaping Crisis

The Week Ahead In Cannabis: Earnings, Store Openings And More

Photo courtesy of 4Front Ventures. 

Posted-In: Cannabis News Movers & Shakers Psychology Exclusives Markets Interview General Best of Benzinga


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