Recorded back in June at NCIA in Oakland, Emily and Morgan Paxhia return to share their thoughts on cannabis investment. Emily deciphers what’s investible in that she’s simply looking for a sober approach from entrepreneurs with humility and an understanding of regulations and the true challenges of the unique cannabis industry. Morgan shares that he’s looking for how business are approaching the cost of acquisition for each customer. He notes that in a fragmented market that’s truly still very young- new companies still have to break through one customer at a time. Emily goes on to give tips to each kind of cannabis business and both discuss how best to optimize the investor/entrepreneur relationship. Thanks to Gateway & Treatibles for supporting the episode. Go to Pitch to Ben on Twitter to engage with Gateway & Treatibles.com for a 10% discount on CBD for your pet.
John Vardaman joins us and discusses his involvement in the release of the the third Cole memo and FinCen Guidance which supported the initial memos which of course laid out guidance from DOJ to state attorney’s general. John lays out that Justice and Treasury still needed to deal with the fact that based on the Controlled Substances Act, the monies generated from state legal cannabis were (and still are) considered criminal proceeds based on federal money laundering and bank secrecy act laws aided of course with a Patriot Act kicker. Which John actually has experience with as he began his career in government just weeks before 9/11 and explains that his job following that day was following the money- something he also had to do on the ground in Iraq. Thanks to Boveda & MCBA for supporting the episode.
Former soldier, governor and wrestler Jesse Ventura says that cannabis gave him his life back- without it he says he wouldn’t have a quality of life today. Someone close to him developed an epileptic seizure disorder. After being treated with drugs that didn’t work, they went to Colorado found cannabis and found a solution. Now that that person is seizure free, Jesse says both of them have their lives back. He’s always been a supporter of legalization and although he’s been in the military and was a former professional athlete who could come to cannabis through CTE or PTSD, it was dealing with epilepsy as a caregiver that was the catalyst for him to be active in cannabis. As a former Gov, Jesse adds that cannabis tax dollars are real dollars for any state budget.
Washington State and Noelle Skodzinksi have July 1st, 2014 in common as a start date in cannabis. Inspired by the poet/novelist James Dickey, Noelle went to school to be a journalist and found her way into PR before finding a job in journalism down the line. After moving to Philadelphia, Noelle held down three jobs to pay the rent and keep writing. She waited tables and truly learned how to deal with people in that environment- an insight she brings forward to her work today. She parlayed her initial job as a writer into landing a job as an editor for high end magazine which focused on craftspeople like blacksmiths, glass blowers. So she was already used to dealing with folks that were unto themselves- which is why the cannabis industry made sense to her when she found it.
Recorded at Lift Toronto, Derek Riedle from Civilized join us and discusses the crossroads of the media industry- where it is now and how he looks at where it’s going. He went to college in Halifax wound up back in is home of New Brunswick and eventually was invited by a friend to California. He had been all around the world but never to the Golden State, so we went. After a few hours he called his wife and a month later they were looking for a place. He’s an old agency guy so he knows that agencies are hard businesses to scale. His moment of cannabis enlightenment came when he was at a nice dinner in Venice where he everyone in the restaurant was drinking beer wine and spirits while he was huddled behind the restaurant, behind a dumpster with his vape pen.
Recorded at Lift Expo Toronto, Random Vaughn joins us shares a history of Washington state legalization. He explains the process of getting a medical card, getting 15 plants and becoming a collective garden way back when. You did a bit of paperwork and could enter the industry after 30 minutes at a doctor’s office in his words. Random and his team have serviced over 30K patients and he discusses how he and his team approached cannabis wellness with the patients and consumers that visited the collective. And then Random shares getting relicensed for 502 and what happened in Washington when the state went from offering medical cannabis to a overtly adult-use market. He’s matter of fact about the facts on the ground.
Chuck Rifici joins us from Lift Expo in Toronto where he shares his history in cannabis. He’s currently working on a number of projects including funding cannabis licensed producers in Canada. The business structure is based on the mining industry in Canada. Chuck studied engineering and initially was interested in Virtual Reality, went into computer engineering founding an early internet service provider company becoming the CFO. After getting the education of a lifetime he went on to become the CFO of the liberal party in Canada working with Justin Trudeau. On another note, he was in the right place at the right time, reading the MMPR regulations within the first hour of them being released leading him to co-found Tweed.
Lamine Zarad joins us and provides a Banking 101 lesson. He joined Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis doing his best to avert disaster. He realized at that height of the economic apocalypse that the only stable thing was the federal government which was going to be the savior of us all in his words- and he wanted to know how and why. He studied public policy and public finance and got a job at the US Treasury which is why we discuss the entanglement of the banking system and political system in the US, Dodd Frank, the Volker Rule, the Bank Secrecy Act as affected by the Patriot Act, Glass-Steagall, proprietary trading, FinTech, blockchain and how that all relates to cannabis.
Roger Stone joins us and discusses the United States Cannabis Coalition. He takes us through his interpretation of what’s been said by this administration in regards to cannabis law reform. He feels that the Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary are not following what was prescribed during the campaign. With news of a potential crackdown on cannabis from the Justice Department, Roger feels that would be inconsistent with what was promised to voters and breaks faith with voters. The goal of the US Cannabis Coalition is to work with a coalition of republicans and democrats, liberals and conservatives, progressives and libertarians to reschedule cannabis.
Recorded in May Charlie Rutherford and I sit down for our second helping of Political Discourse. We once again focus on how we each see policy. We first discuss Jeff Sessions and his War on Drugs redux. We talk about tax policy in association with government services. We discuss the environment and education. We talk about employment as it relates to wages, CEO wages and productivity. We discuss immigration. We talk about AI and how automation affects the prospects of employment in the US in the future. And of course, we discuss healthcare and the concept of repeal and replace and what replace means through discovering a means for replace. Finally we discuss the perception of the right on the left and the left on the right.
Recorded on his farm, Lieutenant Governor, David Zuckerman joins us to discuss the history of cannabis in Vermont as well as his unique story. Dave, as he’s also known, has 20 acres of organic vegetables and raises organic hogs, chickens and grain and either when on or off the farm, the Lieutenant Governor is thinking about day to day choices regarding our personal impact. Regarding politics, he volunteered for Bernie Sanders in 1992 and was asked to run in 1994 and lost by only 59 votes. He was appointed to the local electric commission was elected to the house1996 served for 14 years, ran for and then served in the senate for four years which brought him to running and winning the Lieutenant Governorship this past November.
Recorded May 5th of 2017, John Davis returns to provide a history of legal cannabis in Washington State as well as an update on his personal saga. Washington State has always been building the regulatory plane as they fly it. For John in particular, he was a medical dispensary owner prior to legal adult use cannabis being voted in. But the medical market was never truly regulated. And so, the goal was to move the medical shops over to the adult-use program between July 2016 and July 2017. So John had to apply to keep his business. He put in his priority submission on the first day he could but one thing led to another and he had to shut his doors a year ago. All was lost until just recently- when he finally got approval.
Ben Pollara returns to discuss the state of the cannabis economy in Florida. Of course, Florida passed an amendment to legalize medical marijuana with 71% of the vote in 2016. The legislative session just ended however with a failure to pass implementing legislation. The two houses in Florida have bi-cameral consensus to maintain the current system with both the senate and house saying new licenses need to be tied to the number of patients admitted into the program. Businesses need customers to stay in business, so from a standing start, one can see how this approach makes sense. This does ultimately mean however, that market-driven growth economy legislators counterintuitively prefer a small closed market for cannabis.
A lifelong regional banker, Mac Jones joins us and notes that the banking industry is a completely different animal than it was just a short time ago. He shares that two things have happened in tandem- there has been an increase in regulations on banks while bankers have come to have less of a relationship with depositors and merchants. All the while, there’s no longer true accountability in the industry. That said, Mac’s always kept that relationship with the merchant and so when legal cannabis arrived in Colorado, with an understanding of the Cole Memo’s, Mac saw no difference in cannabis merchants and provided traditional banking relationships in the industry- providing structural support for the industry. And there’s much much more.
Recorded back in January in a parking lot, Crash Barry joins us and discusses the history of cannabis in Maine. Going back to the late 60’s through his time in the Coast Guard in the late 80’s & 1990’s cannabis was grown outdoors. As a participant on the other side of the War on Drugs, Crash saw cannabis driven indoors. After Crash was done with the Coast Guard, he realized his calling and became an author, penning Marijuana Valley- a tome that’s out of print but still available if you look for it. In it, Crash documents the Maine cannabis economy leading up to legalization in 2009. Crash is now on the hunt for good genetics and loves the fact that he’s able to test and know empirically what’s in what he grows.
Brendan Kennedy from Privateer Holdings and Adam Bierman from MedMen join me for a panel discussion at the IMN Institutional Capital and Cannabis Conference. The panel is set up as a debate between the concepts of plant touching investment vs. ancillary here in the US. The US unfortunately, is starting to fall behind the rest of the world in regards to federal regulations. So despite Brendan’s being invested in plant touching opportunities in Canada and other countries, his point of view in the US is that for the time being, the opportunity is investing in brands. Adam’s point of view is that now is the time to invest in the infrastructure of what will be the cannabis economy right here at home. It’s a thought-provoking, lively conversation in front of a group of investors.
Jmichaele Keller joins us and shares that he considered himself a global citizen upon his first trip out of the states when he was a kid. He appreciated architecture, went to Rome and as far as Asia to investigate. He found a calling though in computers- in which he started before there were Windows. He got a job as a room service waiter and fell in love with hospitality. He got one of the first IBM PCs that Marriott had- which had 64K of RAM and a 10 Megabyte hard drive. He made his way into finance and wowed executives by budgeting and forecasting using that now archaic machine. From there he went on to software and on to real estate. Jmichaele ultimately found his way into the cannabis industry through the very important work of lab testing.