HPI Canna began as a pathway from tragedy to hope, and it’s that light the company continually shines for the cannabis industry today. Founder and CEO Kimberly Tanami, a mother of five, started her journey with the plant by driving her determination to explore alternative treatment avenues like cannabis following her sister’s epilepsy-related death. 

Kimberly Tanami, founder/CEO of HPI Canna (center), with rapper Redman and members of the HPI team (C) HPI Canna

What Is HPI Canna? One Of New York's Leading Cannabis Producers

Under her visionary leadership, gleaned from over two decades of executive experience, HPI Canna has grown into one of New York’s leading cannabis producers, with an impressive and diverse brand portfolio. Along with their in-house brand Dank by Definition, the state’s number-one selling flower, the company has developed a reputation for transitioning revolutionary brands into New York’s legal market. These include industry heavyweights like Packwoods and Plugplay™, social impact brand 40 Tons, legacy icons Chef For Higher and Platinum Reserve, locally-grown Ruby Farms, and the women-owned Her Highness and LGBTQIA+-owned Drew Martin brands. To date, brands under the HPI Canna umbrella are available in 99 out of the state’s 101 licensed adult-use dispensaries.

HPI Canna mantra is “collaboration over competition,” exemplifying the team’s mission as they simultaneously support a plethora of brands and work with over 40 New York farms through their Grower’s Network. Diversity exists at the heart of the company, from its team members to its offerings and approach to the market.

“Big business shouldn’t mean bad business,” says Tanami. “At HPI Canna we want to be the example of what it looks like to do good business and spread the wealth. There is more than enough to go around, and we can all be successful by helping each other.”

HPI Canna's Chief Strategy Officer Sephida Artis-Mills, Kimberly Tanami, and 40 Tons founder/CEO Loriel Alegrete in New York City (C) HPI Canna

HPI Canna Founder Kim Tanami On New York's Market Dynamics

Operating HPI Canna on a 434-acre cutting-edge facility in the Hudson Valley, Tanami spearheads innovation and proven agricultural models (PAM) that maximize efficiency in processing, contributing significantly to New York’s emerging cannabis market. That significance can be felt along every aspect of the supply chain, because it’s clear that consumers love the brands in the HPI family.

For years, Tanami has advocated for a careful and deliberate approach to consumer education and regulation in the legal cannabis market. While she acknowledges some shortcomings in the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) during the initial rollout, she praises their visionary policies on retail branding and the overall program design, which she believes significantly enhance the entire cannabis ecosystem. This legislation uplifts local economies, addresses public health concerns, and supports small to midsize businesses and individuals historically impacted by stringent cannabis laws, while also reducing the dominance of large corporations. These well-considered policies are distinctly shaping the New York State cannabis market, ushering in a new era of enhanced fairness and opportunity.

“It’s about more than controlling market dynamics,” she comments. “It’s a commitment to keeping the market accessible, vibrant, and driven by consumer preference. As the industry continues to evolve, policies like these will be key in shaping a fair and dynamic marketplace, ensuring that the cannabis industry grows in a way that benefits all stakeholders, from the smallest producers to the everyday consumer.”

HPI Canna's family of brands (C) Lindsay Rae Cohen / HPI Canna @thebodyimageactivist

HPI Canna Puts Consumers At The Center Of Business

In fact, the HPI Canna team sees a silver lining in the OCM’s segmentation of the supply chain; by preventing retailers from carrying their own brands, the agency is keeping the door wide open for a variety of producers to get their products on shelves. This empowers consumers to have access to a broader range of products from multiple growers and manufacturers. Thus, the consumer’s choice is guaranteed to reign supreme, creating a landscape where the best products, regardless of commercial backing, can rise to the top.

“It is really important for the industry to understand that the consumer is the centerpiece of their business,” notes Sephida Artis-Mills, HPI Canna’s Chief Strategy Officer. “The business will not succeed or thrive without the consumer… We should be building a market that’s going to be rich in culture and collaboration, providing a variety of options for different products. All while making sure that consumers are educated about those products and the different aspects of the cannabis plant together.”

(C) Lindsay Rae Cohen / HPI Canna @thebodyimageactivist

How Can Cannabis Consumers Differentiate Between Licensed And Unlicensed Retailers?

A crucial part of that education lies in helping the public distinguish between licensed and unlicensed retailers. “I believe that education is a key component in battling the illicit stores,” Artis-Mills asserts. “[It’s] super important yet sorely underutilized. We have to emphasize that just because [a product] has a label, doesn’t mean it’s legal or safe to consume. Educating the consumer on the importance of knowing what you’re putting in your body, and understanding the risk you take going into an unlicensed dispensary, is a way to drive that home and get them to patronize legal stores. You must be able to explain it in a language that people understand. One way that I put it is by asking, ‘Would you go and see a doctor that's not licensed?’ I’m sure everyone would answer no, so they should view purchasing untested products from an unlicensed store the same.”

How Can New York's Licensing Uplift Independent Operators?

Interestingly, Tanami suggests that a limited or staggered licensing schedule would help the legal market grow while quelling the proliferation of illicit shops. “Limiting licensing doesn’t mean cap off licensing and keep it there,” she explains. “It's to allow the market to organically grow and expand on its own. The reason why that's important is because you don't want to oversaturate the market. To be able to limit licensing based on growth, would favor issuing additional licenses in phases. Once the market reaches a predetermined number of profitable licensees, you open it up for more licenses to be approved. You still want to have a competitive market, so of course you don't want to limit it so much where it's only a few players that get to dictate and dominate the entire market. But doing it this way would create a healthy balance for New York cannabis.”

This idea echoes much of what she and the HPI Canna team think about the regulations that prevent most cannabis operators in New York from being vertically integrated. It’s all to avoid market monopolization, instead embracing fairness and equality so that small, independent producers have a shot at success standing alongside more established entities. The OCM’s dedication to diversity is a tenet that aligns with HPI Canna’s collaborative ethos. 

That’s why Tanami firmly supports the department, stating that amid a time when industry stakeholders are calling for a governmental overhaul, those in the know should strive to ensure that regulatory leadership remains in place to navigate the choppy waters. 

With eyes on the bigger picture, and all hands on deck to uplift brands that need to be represented in the market, HPI Canna continues to lead New York toward a hopeful future. If you can make it there, they’ll take you everywhere.

For more information on HPI Canna, visit hpicanna.com, or follow @hpicanna on Instagram.

*A version of this article originally appeared in Honeysuckle's 18th print edition. Get your copy now at dispensaries nationwide, or click here to order and choose your element - Fire with Bun B or Ice with Queen P!

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Featured image: HPI Canna's spread in Honeysuckle Magazine's 18th print edition (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture