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Unity Rd: the intersection of cannabis and franchising

Unity Rd: the intersection of cannabis and franchising

Unity Rd. is creating opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs

Content Partnership*

Savvy entrepreneurs are flocking to the growing cannabis space, leveraging their existing capital to get in on the ground floor with a brand that understands both sides of a vibrant industry.

Cannabis today

Despite economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, the demand for cannabis products surged to unprecedented levels with nearly every state experiencing record sales throughout the year. By the end of this year alone, adult-use and medical cannabis sales in the U.S. are expected to reach between $22bn to $26.4bn.

The growth comes from increasing societal acceptance of both medical and adult-use cannabis, which is broadly legalized in 19 states, including the District of Columbia, while 37 states allow medical cannabis consumption. A recent Gallup poll showed 68 per cent of the U.S. supports legalized cannabis. Since November 2020, 11 U.S. states have legalized medicinal or adult-use legalization.

Pioneers of opportunity

The cannabis industry is notoriously complex, which is why Unity Rd. has developed a streamlined approach to opening a dispensary. “There’s a reason why no one else has successfully brought franchising to cannabis – to say our startup phase was complicated would be an understatement. Now, we have such strong teams, processes and systems, you’d think we’d been doing this for decades,” explains Justin Livingston, vice president of franchise development at Unity Rd.

“Despite economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, the demand for cannabis products surged to unprecedented levels”

The brand’s team boasts a combined 120-plus years in legal cannabis operations and 60 years of franchising experience. Unity Rd. leaders are experts at enacting strategies that have driven growth and awareness for many emerging brands and turned them into household names for loyalists across the country.

Throughout their careers, the combined Unity Rd. team has awarded more than 450 franchises in 13 different countries and supported the development of 125 franchise concepts. They have also earned 26 cannabis awards and successfully managed cultivation operations in seven U.S. states, one commonwealth, and three provinces.

“With the right guidance and systems in place, success in the cannabis market is attainable,” Livingston says. “When you have industry veterans riding shotgun with you – the people who have already seen it all and developed sound strategies – it mitigates the risk of the unknowns.”

Unity Rd. provides franchise owners with knowledge and guidance every step of the way – from securing a dispensary license to managing cash flow and product selection. The veteran team passes on their expertise and trusted resources, in addition to providing the ongoing support needed to run a compliant and successful dispensary.

Expanding the Unity. Rd footprint

The first Unity Rd. franchise shop opened in June 2021 in Boulder, Colorado, locally owned and operated by father-son-team Bruce and Nate Wetzel. “We had been looking at the cannabis space for a few years, trying to determine our best entrance that would mitigate the high risk,” said Nate.

“We knew that by partnering with a solid franchisor we wouldn’t have to go through the School of Hard Knocks and dug into cannabis franchises. We found a few that were just selling a business plan, no longterm support, and then discovered Unity Rd. The team has a depth of history on both the retail and cultivation side with awards to back them up. We felt most comfortable with Unity Rd. versus other routes into this nascent industry.”

Unity Rd. is currently in development with more than 15 franchise partners in various stages of opening across the U.S., with markets including Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, and the Northeast. Upon signing an agreement with Unity Rd., the brand assists franchise partners through real estate, acquisitions, and the dispensary license application process while integrating them into the Unity Rd. systems.

“It used to be only those who were courageous enough to invest could get in,” says Livingston. “Here at Unity Rd., we want to blow that open and make this opportunity more accessible, especially as we look to make good on our promise of keeping dispensary ownership local. Locking in a multi-unit operating deal in cannabis is something you don’t want to pass up at this stage in the industry. And, when you’ve got our comprehensive knowledge and support, it’s almost unbelievable how straightforward it can be.”

Cannabis is here to stay

Experienced entrepreneurs and multi-unit franchisees are seeking to diversify their portfolios within an industry that is proving its lasting power.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2018, Unity Rd. has seen a year over- year surge in interest from the multi-unit audience. Livingston says, “multi-unit franchisees want to diversify with fresh franchise concepts that boast high return potential. They want to ride the top of a wave that is only going to continue growing and, for many, cannabis checks that box.”

The cross-section between cannabis and franchising is still broadly under-developed in the United States, but Unity Rd. knows how to navigate through – offering savvy entrepreneurs the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and capitalize on both the backing of an expert-led brand and the potential of a recession-proof industry.

“Experienced entrepreneurs and multi-unit franchisees are seeking to diversify their portfolios within an industry that is proving its lasting power”

Unity Rd. franchise partners stand to receive even more resources and supply chain connections as the brand was recently acquired by Item 9 Labs Corp., an award-winning, publicly traded cannabis operator. The combination of the Unity Rd. cannabis retail franchise and premium Item 9 Labs products makes Item 9 Labs Corp. one of the first vertically integrated cannabis franchise companies in the nation.

As Unity Rd. grows its franchise network, Item 9 Labs plans to develop or partner with cultivation facilities in states where Unity Rd. franchise partners open cannabis retail shops. This move will give Unity Rd. operators front-of-the line access to a reliable product supply chain, and it’ll prove to be a game-changer for multi-unit franchisees.

Unity. Rd is paving the way

The intricate world of legal cannabis has previously made entry and success elusive for even the savviest entrepreneurs. Unity Rd. is easing the barriers of entry by providing franchise partners a roadmap to navigate the complications of the industry.

This innovative cannabis franchise brand offers its partners the knowledge, resources, and ongoing support needed to succeed in the booming cannabis industry.


Established: 2018

Number of franchised outlets: One, franchise partner owned

Location of units: United States

Investment range: $1m - $2.5m

Minimum required capital: $1m


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