What Is a Cannabis MSO (Multi-State Operator)?


In the cannabis industry, a cannabis multi-state operator (MSO) refers to a business with operations in multiple states. With marijuana still illegal at the federal level, cannabis MSOs face unique challenges in running operations in each state by different sets of rules and regulations. While many associate multi-state operators with dispensaries, it can apply to other cannabis industry operations, as well. This includes cultivation and processing operations. The largest cannabis MSOs have vertical structures in each state that include retail and manufacturing operations, such as Curaleaf, Trulieve, Green Thumb Industries, and Acreage Holdings. The number of multi-state operations continues to grow. But under current law, owning a cannabis MSO presents many challenges. A Cannabis MSO Must Take A State-By-State Approach Marijuana remains a Schedule I illegal drug at the federal level. That’s led to states going their own way on cannabis. After a decade of actions by voters and state legislatures, cannabis is now legal for adult use in 19 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. territory of Guam. Also, 36 states have made medical marijuana legal. However, because of federal law, interstate commerce of cannabis remains illegal. A company cannot grow marijuana in Colorado and sell it in Montana, no matter what economic benefits such an arrangement might provide. A cannabis MSO must find ways to establish a brand across multiple states while also creating a separate operation that adheres to each state’s laws. That includes following different sets of laws on advertising, business structure, management of facilities and compliance rules. Challenges Faced by Cannabis MSOs In addition to the legal issues involved in meeting each state’s regulatory guidelines, a cannabis MSO also faces other challenges in trying to establish a national brand for a product the federal government still considers illegal. They include the following issues. Consistency Given…

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