If they were affordable, they weren’t necessarily trustworthy or of high quality. Those that were, were pricey.
And just because they were called “edibles” didn’t mean anyone would actually want to eat them.
When the ownership team behind Pure Edibles decided to launch their cannabis edibles company, the aim was to solve these issues in a space they considered lacking.
And six years later, with presence in nearly 100 dispensaries across the state and thousands of loyal customers, Pure Edibles’ founders have found that sweet spot with their caramels and gummies.
But the team has a not-so-secret key ingredient in that recipe for success: a chef at the helm, said Ryan Hermansky, who started Pure Edibles with his brother Brandon and their longtime friend Doug Daly in 2015.
“Brandon’s background as a chef has been crucial to the process. He has been able to differentiate our products from others,” Ryan Hermansky said of his brother, who is also a former restaurant owner.
Brandon puts his culinary skills to work in the small-batch edibles that are organic, made with local ingredients and incorporate natural flavors and colors.
Pure Edibles has gained a following with its flavor and texture that resembles their non-cannabis counterparts. The award-winning line features caramels in six flavors and gummies in three flavors, with gluten-free options. Both products are provided in recreational and medical use strengths. Gummies are marked with a perforation so consumers can easily tear them into a smaller dose, if needed.
“We didn’t want to coat everything in sugar, like most others do,” Ryan said of the gummies. “We spent more time in the recipe design phase so that they taste delicious but don’t stick together.”
The extra time has paid off. In its first six months, Pure Edibles products were in 20 dispensaries in Arizona, Ryan said. Today, they are in 85 dispensaries and growing. The company experienced 125% year-over-year growth in its first 4 ½-years.
Their products’ costs average 25-40% less than its competitors.
How the business got its start
Kevin Crawford discovered Pure Edibles as a medical cannabis patient about four years ago, after a motorcycle accident left him with a fractured hip and lasting chronic pain that prevented him from sleeping.
He went to a dispensary that was having a special on Pure Edibles gummies. Crawford has been a loyal customer ever since.
“I tried it and that was it. It works great,” said Crawford, who is retired from the medical esthetic field and lives in Mesa. “I’ve tried others and didn’t like them. They were bitter.”
Crawford takes a gummy about twice a week, depending on the need. He said the consistency and the lack of sugar coating are other reasons he’s a loyal fan. His favorite flavor is mango.
“And I’m not fond of mango as a fruit, but I like this flavor,” said Crawford, who likes supporting a small Arizona business in the process. “I like that it’s a local product, they started it from the ground up and are monitoring everything. It’s good quality and I like that.”
All Scottsdale natives, Ryan, Brandon and Daly played football together at Horizon High School and remained friends through their Arizona State University days. Their friendship spans 30 years.
Ryan obtained a medical cannabis dispensary license in 2012, and the trio opened their dispensary up north, Greenhouse of Flagstaff. It was doing well, but Ryan and Daly sought a way to turn what was a part-time gig for them into full-time one. At the time, the dispensary was Brandon’s full-time job.
“For us to be able to quit our jobs, we needed to bring on more opportunities,” Ryan said. “We were looking for more ways to be involved.”
Back then, Ryan was in medical device sales and spent much of his time in operating rooms making sure surgeons had the right equipment. Daly was a practicing attorney.
They saw the gap in the edibles space and ran with it. They did in-house testing with patients at their dispensary and tailored it to feedback. After hand-wrapping each one and packing them up, Ryan and Daly would drive all over the state to personally sell and deliver the product to dispensaries.
Immediate positive feedback was the clue they were on the right track.
“It happened in the first month. Orders started to come in. It made us confident in our ability to get our product out in front of other dispensaries,” Ryan said.
Today, the operation includes an office headquarters in Scottsdale, retail and production facility in Flagstaff and their farm in Camp Verde. Pure Edibles was completely funded in-house.
All cannabis comes from their organic farm. Even the adjacent land that does not grow cannabis is ethically and sustainably treated. Weeds are treated with steam rather than chemicals. Every step is personally overseen by the owners.
“It’s something we personally want to use, that we’re giving to family and friends and ultimately selling to customers,” Ryan said.
Pure Edibles is part of a U.S. adult-use cannabis edibles market that is valued at $3.6 billion, according to Statista.
From stigma to socially acceptable
Ryan, Brandon and Daly have experienced what feels like a 180-degree turn from the medical cannabis industry’s public perception since it became legal in 2010. Ryan recalled the stigma being so powerful that when people asked about the dispensary, he braced for inevitable uncomfortable conversations.
But voters’ power along with education have led to changing minds and more openness and curiosity. Ryan said people are completely fascinated when they discover his occupation.
A huge part of that is how cannabis, medical or recreational, has offered relief to patients and consumers from all walks of life.
“Having people be able to step away from years of prescription drugs and having sleep aided by a plant is extremely exciting,” Ryan said.
Ryan sees many out-of-state competitors targeting Arizona, noticing the huge growth opportunity. But being local from literally the ground up, Ryan believes, is Pure Edibles’ advantage in his home state.
“Being fully local, the product is made here in Arizona, it’s our brand, our company, we all grew up here,” Ryan said. “It’s fun going head to head against the big, large companies that have been around longer than we have.”
What: Pure Edibles
Factoid: In the U.S. sales of adult-use cannabis edibles is valued at $3.6 billion, according to Statista.