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Bringing Cannabis Industry Experience into the Classroom

Chris Jones
Intro Title
Faculty Q&A: Chris Jones

With an extensive background as both a business owner and an educator in the legal cannabis field, Chris Jones will be teaching The Business of Cannabis Cultivation as part of LIM's new BBA program in the Business of Cannabis.

Please tell us about your experience in the cannabis industry.
I started at a publicly traded company listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, leading acquisitions and investments in Canada and the U.S. During the closing process of one of our largest deals ($1.1 billion), I saw an opportunity to apply for licenses to open cannabis retail stores in Ontario. 

At the start of 2020 I formed a corporation, applied for the license to open up to 75 stores in my province, and was one of the first 100 groups to be awarded it. Once my stores had a revenue run rate of approximately $15 million in sales, I realized the retail landscape was changing quickly and I sold my ownership in the business in order to do it again.

Today, I’m building a business called CANNABIS XPRESS. The concept is focused on efficiency, small store square footage, convenience, and a limited core product assortment. I've spent significant time working in the stores to understand the buying behavior of customers, and what they want out of a store. Basically, I see a huge gap in the market for "fast food / convenience style" cannabis retail locations, which is why our stores are all profitable and have month over month growth since opening.

I also created and teach a class at George Brown College in Toronto, called Cannabis Business Strategy, where I bring in top industry leaders and experts to provide students with a unique learning experience.

How will you bring that professional experience into your class at LIM?
My experience in the classroom and in the boardroom will both be present in the course I teach at LIM. Over the years, I’ve built a strong network in the cannabis industry, both in Canada and the U.S. I’ve worked on deals ranging from cultivation to distribution to manufacturing to retail. I also have broad experience in how to run a profitable business in this industry.

What do you enjoy about working in the cannabis industry?
This industry is still highly regulated and challenging, and these obstacles lead to great opportunities for those who are able to figure it out. To me, cannabis is also fascinating because of both the recreational and medicinal benefits that can be derived from the plant, providing yet another layer of opportunity. Finally, there is significant monetary value to be generated, and that also excites me.

"As soon as I heard LIM was launching this degree, I knew I needed to be involved. This school has identified a gap in the market for this type of program and is truly setting themselves apart with a forward-thinking approach." - Chris Jones

What are your thoughts on LIM College’s new bachelor’s degree focusing on the cannabis business?
As soon as I heard LIM was launching this degree, I knew I needed to be involved. This school has identified a gap in the market for this type of program and is truly setting themselves apart with a forward-thinking approach. I believe this is an amazing opportunity for students, faculty, and industry leaders.

This industry represents one of the fastest growing job markets in the U.S. and around the world. Students will be able to leverage this program to get a competitive edge when pursuing a career in the cannabis industry, or they may use what they’ve learned to start their own business.

What are the career opportunities in this field?
The career opportunities in this industry are endless, especially when you factor in all the direct, indirect and ancillary jobs it creates. Some of these areas include: cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, legal, real estate, finance, accounting, marketing, sales, etc. The opportunities are vast, and these are above average paying jobs. Having this degree from LIM College, combined with the network that that students will gain here, will give an advantage when looking for a career in the industry.

LIM's BBA program in The Business of Cannabis is currently accepting first-year applications for the class entering in Fall 2022.