An MSO, short for a multi-state operator, is a term commonly used in the cannabis industry to describe a business entity that does business in or has a storefront in multiple states, basically a cannabis corporation. Starting a cannabis business can be costly and requires navigating different laws across different state lines. Large companies with capital find it easier to expand in states with the new legislation and can push out competition from smaller players.
It encompasses various types of establishments, including cultivation, dispensaries, and vertical operations. Initially, the term MSO emerged as a way to refer to corporations forming in the American cannabis space. However, due to unethical practices and poor operational standards by certain MSOs, the acronym has acquired negative connotations.
To gain insight into the perception of MSOs within the cannabis industry, a poll was conducted with approximately 5,000 professionals from the field. Respondents expressed a range of negative reactions, such as an immediate rejection, a negative gut feeling, and a sense of caution.
As the cannabis industry evolves and corporate entities with extensive business knowledge enter the market, there is a growing concern that those who initially fought for the industry’s development are being left behind. This shift raises questions about inclusivity and the potential marginalization of legacy operators. This is why many states write into their laws when legalizing marijuana that only residents that have lived in the state for a certain amount of time and are current state residents can get or operate a cannabis license. This excludes larger companies with a lot of capital and gives the local homegrown experts a better chance to gain market share.