No day is the same for Arun Kurichety, the legal leader on an executive team for KushCo Holdings, one of the largest companies operating in the high-risk, nascent industries of cannabis, CBD, and hemp. But for him, what he does isn’t “work.” It’s his passion.
The executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary says the parent company for a number of market leaders in ancillary services for cannabis, CBD, and hemp development, production, and distribution around the world has completed more transactions in a year—including, most recently, successful equity raises in excess of $35 million and a $35 million credit facility—than many companies ever see. It’s a challenging time for the only recently legal industry, but the general counsel has seen to it that KushCo is ready to weather the storm.
Kurichety was always drawn to corporate law and found his niche specializing in bankruptcy, restructuring, and distressed assets. He landed a position at one of the top firms in Chicago, where he built a career working closely with top corporate clients and dashing into federal courts around the country. He eventually moved to Los Angeles at a time when increased efforts to legalize cannabis in California picked up. “I had always had a love and passion for the plant and how it can better the world, and I knew it was good timing to get involved.”
The attorney first attempted to leverage his previous experience to set up a vehicle for investment in the cannabis space, but because the capital was largely funded by friends and family, Kurichety found it to be too risky at that time. Instead, he immersed himself in the growing regulations of the field by helping various cannabis start-ups and investors navigate murky waters in a newly regulated industry. He worked side by side with some of the best cultivators and processors to bring their products to the legal market—and found that his legal and corporate mind-set helped make their dreams a reality. In 2018, KushCo noticed Kurichety’s reach and recruited him for their executive team.
Every Link in the Chain
KushCo’s position in the marketplace is a rare one. They’re not merely a company providing ancillary services. They have, in essence, created an entire ecosystem to connect growers, developers, and retailers so that any customer seeking to enter the industry pipeline can be connected through KushCo’s extensive network of partners and affiliates.
“The hemp grower producing the biomass needs to get that to someone who can process the biomass into crude oil or CBD distillate or isolate. Then that is sold to a company, putting it into the almost infinite variety of products you’re seeing now. And then someone is trying to get that product onto store shelves,” Kurichety details. “Along every step of that journey, we’re in the middle of connecting parties based on the ecosystem we’ve built. We can provide solutions all along the supply chain.”
The role has provided Kurichety the opportunity to employ his capital fund-raising experience at a level and speed that is rare, but one mandated by a market whose interest in the emerging cannabis industry was bullish. The growth hasn’t been without its challenges, though.
Front of the Pack
Kurichety says the media attention on vaping illnesses and deaths has provided important opportunities for educating the public and more tangible legislation governing the industry. “My perspective is that it alerted everyone to the risks in using products from underground operators, and it highlighted the importance of purchasing products in the regulated market. While the panic may seem a bit of an overreaction, I think it’s a long-term benefit in that the public is more educated about the compliance and testing requirements placed on legal operators, which is put in place for their safety,” Kurichety says.
The GC also says the red-hot spotlight on cannabis and CBD has come and gone for the moment. “I’m curious to see what’s going to happen, as prices have gone down a bit lately,” Kurichety explains. “That said, I’ve seen a shift in the public perception of these products and their health benefits as it becomes more mainstream. It’s going to be a very exciting time to see how the FDA and state regulators are going to approach this fast-changing environment. And we will continue to be intimately involved with the process to push much-needed, responsible changes, as we have from our inception.”
Fortunately, KushCo’s front-of-the-pack mentality meant early fund-raising efforts that will keep the company pushing ahead even as capital investment gets lean on green competitors. The exponential growth at the company over the past few years hasn’t been anything but a pleasure for the GC.
Kurichety explains, “I wake up every day knowing that my work will have a positive impact on someone’s life in some way because this plant heals and provides eco-friendly solutions. It is so rewarding to combine my background in law, business, and finance with my love and passion for the plant. Yes, I may be in a position with more risk than other GCs, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Arun has an instinctive ability to grasp what’s important on a variety of complex issues, communicate effectively, and get things done. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Arun and the KushCo team.”
–Robert Stang, Partner