On the day that the rules for temporary licenses in California were released Sabrina Fendrick sat down where we put her on the spot to discuss what was happening in real-time. She was bouncing from meeting to meeting with government affairs, regulatory advisory as well as supply partners. In real-time, Sabrina highlighted questions about packaging and labeling wondering if there were going to be grace periods and whether or not the regs would fit together with the trailer bill- which we subsequently learned- there are and they do. Questions do remain around supply chain and the ability to do business with different license types which we’ll cover in the very next episode. Sabrina does note that Lori Ajax has been supportive and transparent and understands the situation at hand.
Tae Darnell joins us and takes us through his background. Roughly 75% of the his brothers and sisters were adopted by his father- a musician that toured with Buddy Holly, who himself-that’s his dad- was adopted by the last traditional spiritual chief of the Lakota Sioux Native Americans. Tae was running around the studio with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Elton John and others as a kid. His father left producing to pursue spiritual medicine. Tae was a direct witness to the War on Drugs and how it’s really the only thing that makes gangs possible. It’s the ultimate catalyst for destabilization as he says. Tae got himself into college, went to run a record label. The music industry was digitally disruption and booted Tae to law and eventually, cannabis.
Neil Demers joins us and discusses the correct pronunciation and history of Diego Pellicer a boutique cannabis dispensary brand with an interesting ownership structure. Based on his background, Neil is road mapping the entire customer journey. He’s trying to understand how the customer came to the brand, what that customer sees when they look at the edifice that houses the store, the experience checking-in, shopping with the budtender, checking out at the cashier and even enjoying the project at home. He dives in on each of those touch points to ensure he’s maximizing the customer experience at each of those touch points. He also listens to the voice of the customer to understand how he can differentiate the brand and deliver a unique experience.
Returning from Episodes 26 & 155, Tim McGraw joins us from a cafe in California's Bay Area. After securing cannabis licenses in Illinois and building up operations there, he’s returning to his real estate roots while taking advantage of his cannabis operator acumen.
We discuss facilitating an opportunity to create thousands of jobs through cannabis in local municipalities that absolutely need those jobs. Tim notes that no matter where you are, the cannabis economy is already in your home town whether you have legal cannabis or not. If it’s not locally legal, rather than money spent on cannabis going back into your community- it disappears. He’s seen the import of the direct impact of cannabis dollars on a community that needs it. And that impact is immediately quantifiable.
Troy Dayton returns. We discuss the fact that cannabis should be America’s to lose, but that’s in fact what’s happening. Canada is of course burgeoning with capital, import and export. The international trade winds are blowing and Troy says it’s hard to imagine a situation where we don’t see 20+ compound annual growth rates for the next decade or more. The European investors are starting to get excited. Troys ays Asia investment is waking up with asymmetry knowledge to capital. But as noted, the fact that there’s an adversarial Attorney General in office, risk is still very much alive.
Nicole Smith joins us and shares that after a transformative year she’s excited to be leading Evolab into it’s next decade of existence all the while innovating their product lines. We discuss goal setting in that rather than beginning with the end in mind, Nicole sets up the structure so that the means justify the ends. She describes it as a funnel. Whereas she did operate in a more linear fashion in years past, working in the cannabis industry doesn’t allow that luxury. Having to work through 5 banks, 3 Facebook pages, 15 credit card processors and 4 401K programs will wrest you from a linear mindset. Cannabis executives must continue to make progress in a linear fashion using circuitous routes.
As we make our way into what will be the fourth year of adult-use cannabis in Colorado, Colorado Harvest Company CEO Tim Cullen returns to share how things have changed and how things have remained the same. For Tim, 2014 was his fourth year in operation, so while it was a transformative moment for the industry and the world, in some ways Jan. 1 was another day at the office for Tim. That said, operations were set for 2 or 3 customers at the time and 1500 people showed up. Moving into today Tim says that the water has found it’s level and the cannabis business has evened out.
In a two-part interview, California Assemblyman Rob Bonta joins us. In part 1 recorded at his office in Oakland, he shares why when we had Prop 215 in place we needed MCRSA. He notes that for nearly 20 years there was no regulatory framework to protect the health of the patients and to guard against diversion. It wasn’t because it hadn’t been tried, it tried and failed. As the Chair of the Assembly Health committee, his goal was to make sure that everyone had true access to high quality affordable healthcare. In part 2, Rob shares what’s happening on the ground in the lead-up to Day 1. And shares the reconciliation process between medical and adult-use legislation.
California’s Chief of Cannabis Regulation Lori Ajax joins us in a two part interview to share what’s happening with California Cannabis Regulations. In the first part of the interview, recorded in Sacramento California, she notes that she has monthly meetings with all state agencies involved in cannabis regulation. Lori feels that all of California’s involved State Agencies realize the importance of cannabis legalization to the state. She notes that each of the agencies needs one another to ensure success across the board. In the second part of the interview Lori shares updated branding information as well as online resources available to the industry.
Tjalling Erkelens joins us and shares that Bedrocan’s growth is breathtaking. From a 200 kilo annual production, Tjalling’s operations have grown to now 5,000 kilos of annual production with an ability to quickly scale up to 9,000 kilos of annual production from his two sites in the Netherlands alone. Rather than call it cannabis, the team chooses to refer to the product as an API- an active pharmaceutical ingredient or flos- which is latin for flowers. In some way, Bedrocan is now working on product for Australia, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Finland, Poland, Macedonia, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Israel and for testing purposes, the UK. And in short order- Denmark & Greece.
Jmichaele Keller returns to discuss domestic and global cannabis testing. He notes that each Country and US State alike is crafting unique and custom regulations from a scientific basis. Some localities have a level of expertise, some don’t and eventually as Jmichaele sees it, cannabis is going to be legal across the board and when that happens, the real rules will be presented. He feels that it’s important to write the global regulations now. If we don’t, all of these specific rulesets regarding pesticides, yeast and mold, medical vs. adult use, etc. will find operators on a number of completely different pages and then the industry will find itself in a state of upheaval.
Alex Rogers returns from Episode 230 by phone this time to share his thoughts on among other things, the cannabis economy and changing laws in Germany. We discuss the fact that international import/export is happening and how the US is truly falling behind. Alex discusses his event that’s coming up in Hawaii and so he discusses the cannabis program which just opened up there. We discuss what’s happening in cannabis and otherwise in Spain in Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Finally we discuss what’s happening in Canada both federally and provincially. And on Hawaii, comedian Doug Benson will speak and Grammy winning reggae artists Morgan Heritage will play.
Brian Beckley joins us and shares his journalism background. His thinking is that most journalists are hired guns and back in the day due to his being in a punk band- he resisted. Brian started covering government writing for a print publication and then moved from upstate New York to Seattle and in a suburb of a suburb kept writing, eventually becoming an editor of a local weekly. After discussing his thoughts on the current and future news journalism landscape, Brian dives in on cannabis. His entry to the market was when he sat down with the publisher of Marijuana Venture and it was an instant match. Brian notes, his and the magazines focus is squarely on the business of cannabis.
Jason Ortiz joins us in a two part discussion. First he shares what’s going on in Puerto Rico with his family and generally but he does it third hand as communications systems aren’t up. His information is from relatives of relatives who are taking days at a time to get between cities and relaying information back to family off of the island through what does work in San Juan. He provides a few suggestions of what to do if you feel like doing something. And he shares a potential timeline of recovery. In the second part of the conversation, which actually was recorded first, Jason takes us through cannabis in Puerto Rico. We discuss education and debt and generally try to get a sense of what is possible on and for the island.
Joshua Laterman joins us and shares that the new National Association of Cannabis Businesses see themselves as a self regulatory organization for cannabis. Joshua notes that the mission of the organization is to safeguard the survival of members through the voluntary adoption of standards. The team comes from regulatory background. The play is to the executive branch of government and the team has federal experience- a former federal prosecutor, a former chief of staff in the DEA, former white house counsel. The team also has cannabis folks on board including past guests Ean Seeb and Adam Orens. And for folks in the space who are wondering, the NACB is participating on the NCIA policy committee.
Charlie Rutherford joins us for a third installment of Political Discourse. Please go back and listen to the first two which are episodes 232 and 264 as well as Charlie’s personal history in Episode 13 if you’ve not yet had the opportunity. Charlie considers himself conservative if not a libertarian and I like to say I come from the left and try to be in the middle. Through those lenses, we discuss healthcare, immigration, the Paris climate accord, America’s role in global affairs, and tax reform vs. tax cuts, free speech, and of course cannabis. In effect, this is two people simply discussing policy from alternative points of view without yelling at each other.
Heather Jackson returns and takes us through the Realm of Caring registry which is one of only three like it in the world. And in one of three Realm of Caring associated studies, past Cannabis Economy guest Ryan Vandrey is researching patients in the registry to provide further information on how the plant affects conditions by testing with vs. without the plant. And they’re going as far as providing information on the economic impact of choosing cannabis as a solution. Heather provides an overview of what’s happening at Realm of Caring now- and how they’re call center, which they call their care center is providing refined feedback to families that need it.
The long time industry activist and advocate and brand new Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, Lindsay Robinson shares that when she was still with the MPP, she joined the board of CCIA. After a year and a half, once her work with MPP was wrapped up and as former ED and guest Nate Bradley moved into full-time lobbying, Lindsay came on as ED. She learned her advocacy skills from her mother As a kid, Lindsey stuffed envelopes, picketed and protested. She readily admits to her formative years being about bucking authority, causing mischief and sass talking, a lot of sass talking. And now the industry is happy to have her doing just that on it’s behalf.
Joining us from her mother's house in Wisconsin, Julie Dooley returns and Chickie her mother does join us at a few points throughout the discussion. As a reminder, Julie was diagnosed with celiac disease and cannabis was suggested to her as a solution. She did take cannabis and it immediately helped her with diet as well as pain management. She also had a friend in need and they both then created a company producing healthy cannabis snacks. But that was nearly a decade ago. Eight years later Julie realizes that the past has served as R&D. She’s now set to expand into multiple states. But it’s not anywhere close to easy. Julie takes us through a true understanding of what it means to be in cannabis business for yourself in 2017.
From an undisclosed location in Toronto, we have a casual conversation with Max Zavet, the CEO of a publicly traded licensed producer in Canada. As an introduction, he discusses the Emblem logo which features Artemis the greek goddess of nature, but we move into a conversation about the licensed producer community in Canada and how Max and his partners were early entrants into legal cannabis- they were the 15th group. Max explains how back in 2012 he was reading press releases on how the government was considering changing from a grow your own system- the MMAR- to the more tightly controlled and regulated system we have today the MMPR. He was dead set on being involved, and he found a way to do just that.
Diane Russell joins us via FaceTime and takes us through why she’s running for Governor in the great state of Maine. Last summer she led the fight to take on the super delegate system in the democratic party to which Bernie Sanders took notice and asked Diane to speak on the main stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Diane's political journey began during a ME energy crisis when she was able to affect change through cap and trade legislation. Diane also brought change through rank choice or run off. As she runs for Governor, she’s focused on Medicaid for all Mainers which is necessary due to neighboring Canadian universal healthcare competition. Oh yeah, and she introduced an early bill to legalize adult-use cannabis and helped get it on the 2016 ballot.
A cowboy at heart, Steve Trenk joins us from the Upper East Side of Manhattan although he spends most of his time in Arizona. Steve is an entrepreneur which it turns out is genetic. He started companies in the healthcare and aviation industries and learned impactful lessons that he brings forward to his cannabis investments. He also brings his love for animals and wide open spaces to the industry in that when asked for tips on riding a horse- his advice is that staying on is always key. But the real key Steve says is picking the right horse. He’s been an angel investor in the space for a number of years. He notes that it’s not often that you find a horse that you get along with, that you communicate with and that you feel safe on- but he’s got a couple.
New York State Senator Diane Savino joins us and share her thoughts on the New York Cannabis program. Her thoughts are, it’s going. She notes that it had a slow start but that it was designed be tightly controlled and highly regulated and that it’s lived up to that reputation. Regarding the Department of Health and the Commissioner of Health- Diane shares that they’ve been very responsive to changes as changes have been proposed because they recognize this is a health issue. She doesn’t pull punches- could more be done, absolutely- her biggest concern continues to be lack of participation among doctors. It’s not possible to visit every doctor in the state and convincing each efficacy of medical cannabis. So to that end, no matter where you live, consider this a public service announcement to tell your doctor about medical cannabis.