Over the past several years, medical marijuana has become increasingly popular. Rhode Island was the 11th state to legalize it, and at this point in time there are over 15,000 medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island. With popularity comes big business. But Lisa Cadan and Cassy Heneault would like to change that.
“We’re unique in the cultivator arena because there are a lot of big companies that are doing nothing for the patients’ side,” says Lisa. “They’re in it for the money. We’re a small family owned business.”
Based in Bristol, Elle-Cie, LLC is Rhode Island’s first and only women-owned medical marijuana cultivation company. Lisa and Cassy are co-owners, and have built the company from the ground up.
“In addition to providing top-quality medicine that’s safe for patients and creating a work environment that we and our employees are happy to come to every day – we’d like to earn a living to support our families,” Lisa adds. “Elle-Cie” represents the letters “L/C” (Lisa/Cassy) but also loosely translates from French to “her company”.
Cassy, whose background includes sales management, is also the co-owner of a small wholesale farm that supplies local restaurants with fresh vegetables. While Lisa has more than 20 years as a marketing consultant with a BFA from Tufts University, she says that starting a business in the cannabis market comes with a unique set of challenges.
“If we’re being honest, it was a complete disaster – in addition to the normal challenges and hurdles any new business owner experiences, there was an onslaught of personal challenges to overcome.” However, after two years in business, Lisa remains unshaken. “We are going to succeed. We’re a small, women owned business – we’re Rhode Islanders – our kids go to school here. Our employees are Rhode Islanders...It’s always gratifying to hear positive patient feedback – which results in larger orders from the compassion centers.”
A compassion center is where patients with qualifying conditions can obtain medical marijuana; both Summit Compassion Center in Warwick and Greenleaf Compassion Center in Portsmouth consistently stock from Ellie-Cie. Reliability and availability is a top priority to Lisa: “I think it’s important that patients can get our products every month.”
Elle-Cie’s ideals are clear. “We don’t use big companies. We’re not a multimillion-dollar company. We’re self-funded, and we came from the patient advocacy side,” says Lisa. “We care about making sure things are done right by the patients.”