Cherry's Anthony Scotti on Cannabis Collabs and Creating a Strain With NORE

Plus, the challenge of making broadly appealing cannabis advertising

Cherry founding partner Anthony Scotti is a native New Yorker who moved to Colorado with the dream of starting a cannabis company.

An entrepreneur with a background in medical sales and the health and fitness industry, Anthony experienced the benefits of the cannabis plant firsthand through his years living in South Florida—seeing the downfall of people around him from opioid addiction, while also seeing those same people use cannabis as a way out.

It wasn't long before he connected with plant talker and geneticist Jason MacLean, now Cherry's lead horticulturist, when the seeds took root to create Cherry. Anthony started as a grower, working his way through the many different stages of cultivating and producing high-quality cannabis products for wellness, recreation, beauty and pets. With knowledge of the plant as his foundation, Anthony immersed himself in the intricacies of the cannabis business, community and lifestyle to become the face of the Cherry brand.

Anthony is passionate about growing Cherry, and continues to focus on the high-quality product the company has built its reputation on in the Colorado market.

We spoke with Anthony for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.

Anthony, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Long Island, New York, and live in Aurora, Colorado.

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I am a founder and head of operations for Cherry in Denver.

Your earliest cannabis memory.

From a smoking standpoint, it has to be when I went to visit my brother in college when I was 17 or 18 years old. I smoked for the first time at a party one night and I remember not being able to speak because I couldn't stop laughing; it was uncontrollable. So I guess you could say my first smoking experience was positive. My first cannabis memory from a business standpoint was via a friend from South Florida who moved out to Colorado around 2008 and started his own grow. At that time caregivers were able to sell directly to dispensaries. I made a visit out to see his business and decided not long after to cash in everything I had and make the move to Colorado from South Florida.

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

Cannabis has impacted my life in many positive ways. Coming from a heavy pill mill market (South Florida) I saw firsthand what addiction to pain meds can do to someone. I have also seen some of those same people turn their lives around with the help of cannabis as part of an alternative to their need for relief. I see on a daily basis through our social media and engagement with our customers how much our product is a part of people's life in a positive way, either from a medical view or for social use.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

My favorite flower to smoke right now has to be our Rainbow Cookies (Zkittlez x Girl Scout Cookie). It has an unmatched terpene profile, it's a perfect blend of cookies and Zkittlez with a great palate from start to finish. We got very lucky to find such an extraordinary pheno. As far as edibles go, I really don't indulge very much but 1906 makes very nice chocolate products.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

Telling the story of their cannabis brand in a way that appeals to all consumers. How can we emerge from the shadows of the cannabis stigmas and present our brands as legitimate, safe and packed with benefits, in ways that resonate with all types of cannabis consumers. Marketing cannabis isn't like marketing any other product. It's unique due to its history.

This industry has more buzz than the soda industry—and has more restrictions against us in how we market ourselves. Yet we are more acceptable than big tobacco nationally. A brand like Cherry stands for the responsible growth of safe, clean plants for recreational and medical use. We take pride in our social network (nowadays known as street credit). It's the best way for us to interact with our retail partners and our fans.

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

What's exciting right now in cannabis are the partnerships/collabs we are seeing with many different brands. It's great that so many celebrities, athletes and social media influencers are jumping into cannabis and partnering with big brands with special strains, oils, vapes and edibles. It shows how cannabis is part of so many people's lives and that it's becoming more and more socially acceptable.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

One organization we support is Coastal Waters Revitalization Inc., which is on a mission to educate people on the importance of protecting our fragile aquatic ecosystems from pollution. It means a lot to me because I grew up in Long Island surrounded by water, but my partners also feel strongly about this issue and all strongly believe in backing our words with actions. The organization was created by Nicholas McShane, who also owns Mr. Green Clean, a cannabis custodial business we work with here in Colorado. It's important to us that we support small business and the good people around us.

A project you worked on recently that you're proud of.

Our most recent project that we have been working on is the launch of our Super Thuug strain, in partnership with NORE, the hip-hop artist and host of the Drink Champs podcast. Working with NORE has been nothing less than exciting, educational and fun. He is a big supporter of cannabis and had a lot of input on what he wanted Super Thuug to feel like during our team's development of the strain. You will not find this strain anywhere else in the world; it's something we created through trial and error and listening to NORE's feedback. We are looking forward to putting the finishing touches on the launch and presenting it to the Colorado market first.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

One company in our industry I admire right now is Cookies, because of their leadership in scaling their brand through everything from marketing and packaging to their strain selection. I also have plenty of time for those companies that find a way to give back to their communities. But our industry would be nothing without those pioneers who paved the way, facing down the fear of the unknown and creating something for the next generation of innovators to build on. I really admire them. 

A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.

Cannabis for me is about unwinding after a long day. Maybe a Netflix series my wife and I are into. Cannabis pairs well with most food for me, LOL.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

If I wasn't in the cannabis industry now, I would most likely be in something else that required my entrepreneurship. I always knew working for myself is what I needed to do, being able to build something from nothing is very gratifying. I would also say that being an entrepreneur or owner of your own business is way more work than doing a job for someone else. Every step is your responsibility, you're accountable for all the failures and successes. Fortunately for me, I work best under pressure.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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