23 to watch in 2023: Eli Melrod, CEO of Solful

Solful owner Eli Melrod opened up an east Santa Rosa location while also putting the focus on the local farmers who grow the marijuana.|

For more people to watch in 2023, go here.

Name: Eli Melrod

Title or position: CEO and co-founder of Solful cannabis dispensary

On the job since: 2016

Age: 28

Hometown: San Francisco and Sebastopol

Why is Melrod someone to watch:

He is the marijuana wunderkind whose retail outlet in Sebastopol changed the perception of cannabis when it opened in 2017 because it resembled an Apple store more than the shady head shops of the past. Solful opened an east Santa Rosa location earlier this year and has another store to open soon in San Francisco. The company also is known for working with regional farmers to promote their product and allow them to generate more revenue for their premium weed.

What others are saying about Melrod:

“He's mature beyond his age, and he has an ability to see further than most that I've seen for somebody his age,” said Mike Benziger, founder of Glentucky Family Farm in Sonoma Valley. “Most dispensaries want to control the farming. They want to control the distribution. But Eli had a different formula and saw that Solful could prosper by focusing relentlessly on the customer and then developing employees that became experts.”

What Melrod says about 2023:

“We’re really honored … We really do see our business as a vehicle for social and environmental impact,” said Melrod, who noted Solful will look to do more charitable efforts in 2023. He also expects that more cities will be increasingly amenable to allowing additional dispensaries within their jurisdiction ― though it may not be on the pace that the industry would prefer. “I also respect that local governments have priorities. And cannabis retail is not always the priority when you have housing and homelessness.”

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

For more people to watch in 2023, go here.

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