This Massachusetts Brand Maintains OG Weed Culture in a Growing Legal Region
The adult-use cannabis industry has exploded in Massachusetts since it first rolled out in 2018, the state’s market has become quickly inundated with brands trying to get a piece of the cannabis-infused pie.
This oversaturation follows a nationwide trend that has taken hold since the plant first began legalizing, and there’s only one way to combat it sucking the soul of the OG cannabis community: by putting out brands that are authentic, compassionate, and respectful of this industry’s legacy origins.
In Massachusetts, RiverRun Gardens is leading this effort by offering the state’s consumers a line of products that are reminiscent of the OG smokers’ realm and geared towards connoisseurs, but still welcoming to newbies who are just now learning about the plant.
RiverRun Gardens: A cannabis brand for true connoisseurs
Ever since the locally-owned craft cannabis cultivator first launched in 2021, founding partners Will Ried and Ed DeSousa had a vision that focused on the inaugural cannabis community: namely, to keep it alive and well as the industry continued to expand and progress.
“All of us OG operators contributed to bringing legalization to the state, and from there, it’s been a matter of identifying like-minded individuals to share our dream of bringing the OG market to the legal market,” DeSousa said.
RiverRun Gardens recognizes itself as a “smoker’s brand”, and the team aims to only put out products that they would consume themselves – high-quality cannabis that has powerful benefits for the consumer and doesn’t just focus on making a quick buck off of them.
“For everyone in the RiverRun Gardens building, this job is a major passion. We want to innovate the legal market, which we feel is missing the real, true culture of cannabis,” Ried said.
Transitioning into a licensed space has been a shocking endeavor for the RiverRun team, from having to adjust their business plan, to working in an ever-changing climate to keeping up with production cost increases and mounting taxes.
“We find ourselves feeling like we’re in quicksand, having to constantly pivot in order to stay relevant and compliant. And when your vision and mission is to bring the traditional market to the public, you have to stay quick on your feet and ready to change direction at any time,” DeSousa said.
Catering to seasoned connoisseurs while educating brand-new consumers
Despite the struggles that inevitably go hand-in-hand with cannabis-operating legally, RiverRun Gardens remains dedicated to the mission of company development that centers on OG loyalty, which includes catering to connoisseurs, bringing new flavors to market, and placing a consistent emphasis on consumer education.
“It’s really important for us to put as much information out about our strains and processes to explain to people why they should buy our $40 eighth when they can cop a $15 eighth of cheap weed,” Ried said.
“There’s also just basic plant education that new consumers are seeking out. Every time we have a pop-up event, I have at least 2-3 people who’ve never been to a dispensary before, or who’ve never consumed at all. All it takes is missing one opportunity to educate, and you can lose a customer forever because they’ve been burned by miseducation for so long.”
While RiverRun Gardens is absolutely welcoming to new consumers, they mainly cater to the type of consumer the team is made up of: seasoned heads who are looking for the highest-quality product they can get their hands on.
“We tailor our products towards the connoisseur level, because that’s what we consider ourselves. As much as our competition in the state has increased, I’m loving seeing these smaller operators come online and put out really good product. We’re seeing big exits with MSOs across the nation, and we’ve just got to ride out the storm to make more room for those who really care,” Ried said.
“We’re looking to please the palate. And even though we do curate our products more towards connoisseur level, it’s also nice to get in at someone’s first smoke and say, ‘Hey, look what we can do. Take a look at these buds.’”
Beyond an affinity for well-crafted product, the RiverRun team wholeheartedly believes in the medicinal properties of the plant, and that every type of consumer can gain some sort of healing agent from its utilization.
“All use is medicinal use, and that doesn’t mean you need a doctor’s note. Look at GNC. You don’t go in there with a prescription: you go there to better your life. Whether you have insomnia, anxiety, or you just want to kick back and relax, how is that not medicinal?” DeSousa said.
“I recognize that we can’t check every box for every consumer, and the type of strains we roll out might not fit what you’re looking for. If that’s the case, we’ve got no problem gearing you towards like-minded operators. We’re part of an evolving industry where there just isn’t a big Hatfield-McCoy situation – unless you’re talking craft market versus MSO.”
The future of RiverRun Gardens: New flavors, new breeders, maintained plant passion
RiverRun Gardens certainly holds themselves to a high standard, and their passion for the plant is infused in their process from start to finish. Their end goal is to improve lives and to always be happy with what goes in their bag, with future plans for expansion that reflect that ethos.
“We’re working with some new breeders to bring their work over to the East Coast. There’s a whole lot of untapped flavors the East Coast hasn’t seen yet, so we’re trying to curate a really well-rounded menu that has unique offerings across the board,” Ried said.
The team also wants to increase the cannabis cultural experience in Massachusetts: being a brand that isn’t only supplying great product, but also promoting a healthy cannabis lifestyle of community and positivity.
“We started this business through activism: by holding the doors open for others to pass through. We want to continue doing that, and show up-and-coming operators there’s more than one way to run a cannabis operation,” DeSousa said.
“If you care about your team, the community you’re operating in, and the product you’re putting out, then it’s a wholly-collaborative effort – not the hierarchy that a lot of companies look at. We’re talking about a product that comes from love, and if we can use that for a trickle-down of economics that pays the team so the team can put that back into their community, then the entire community benefits from cannabis even if they never touched it.”