State Treasurer Fiona Ma joined the staff of Nabis and a limited pandemic-friendly media contingent to open up California’s newest cannabis distribution facility.
Ma has consistently supported the cannabis industry gaining access to proper financial services throughout her career. From her days at the Board of Equalization to today, she’s a good person to have on the team if you’re a cannabis company with dreams of a normal banking account.
As Ma held court with Nabis staff and the media before the official program kicked off, her track record of support was a natural topic of conversation.
“When I sat on the State Board of Equalization representing 23 counties, including the whole big eight Bay Area region. One of my focuses was how am I going to bank, the cannabis industry, right?” Ma told the crowd. “Seeing all the cash that is involved in this industry is not only dangerous – it’s not safe. Also, you’re not collecting the taxes because, as an accountant, we cannot properly account for businesses if there’s no paper trail.”
People have certainly taken note of Ma’s efforts over the years. When it came time to call in stakeholders to talk about the cannabis industry banking reforms attached to the SAFE Banking Act, Ma was one of the first experts to head to D.C. and break it down for Congress.
Ma spoke about that day on Capitol Hill, explaining that she found a deeper appreciation for the members of Congress who took interest in the issue.
“It’s interesting to testify in congress… I was sitting there, with ten other people, being grilled by congressional people,” Ma shared. “But what they don’t show you, is they don’t tell you who’s in the room, the whole time. Interestingly though AOC stayed the whole time, and she stayed after. She was shaking hands with everyone…she sat there and listened to everyone. It was pretty impressive.”
As for Nabis, Ma was hyped to see two young Asian American entrepreneurs crushing it. Nabis started in a 500 square foot office park space in Oakland in 2017. Today they cut the ribbon on a 26,000 square foot facility that some of the biggest names in the state call home before heading off to retailers. This includes the likes of Sherbinskis, Ember Valley, and over 85 other brands of note (or brands on their way up as Nabis sees it). At any given time, the facility holds about $10 million in products.
With Senate Democrats announcing their plans for cannabis in recent days, we asked Ma if they’d been in touch yet to chat about banking issues. Her phone has not rung yet, but she’s looking forward to continuing to take part in the process.
Nabis founder and CEO Vince C. Ning noted in their old 8,000 sq ft facility they were able to distribute about $100 million worth of retail product. They have high expectations for what’s possible in the new facility.
“With this new facility, we’ll be able to distribute at least three times more, which means over $300 million worth of products by retail value per year, no doubt,” Ning told the crowd minutes before chopping the ribbon alongside Ma and his staff. “We’re incredibly proud of the team who made one of the biggest milestones in company history comes through their long planning nights, overcoming permitting and licensing delays.”
Ning says what the facility really provides is an example of another path to driving costs down at scale. In addition to saving the consumer some cash as the industry scales up the facility will enable Nabis to not only serve the biggest players in the biggest legal cannabis market in the world but also the little guy attempting to edge their way in. Ning predicted many of the startups they’ll be assisting through the new Oakland space and Los Angeles hub would be POC-owned.
We asked the Nabis team what it was like to be in pot’s newest distro warehouse while so many people stuff their weed into office parks? Ning laughed emphasizing they were those guys.
Nabis cofounder and President Jun S. Lee jumped in, noting the original facility expanded by breaking down walls into adjacent units. “The first unit we took over was a DUI school, then an insurance agency and a massage parlor plops it all together,” Lee told L.A. Weekly.
Lee expects Nabis to scale up to 100,000 square feet of operational space over the next year, and to double up that space a year after that.