Alex Cooley, Vice President and Co-Founder of Solstice, the first fully permitted production facility in Washington, was born down south in Georgia, but after moving to Washington at the young age of 12, he considers himself a "Seattlite" through and through. Like many in the industry, he was a long term cannabis user before today's strides in legalization, and he perfected his growing techniques as a hobby (to the benefit of his friends and family). After a stint working in hospitality in Germany, and at a loss as for his next career move, he was encouraged to put his well-developed cultivation skills to work. As one of the first public faces of cannabis in the early days of the industry, he was adamant about setting a gold standard for cannabis businesses even then, by sticking to the letter of the law and providing the highest level of professionalism and legitimacy. He shares his whole story with us, as well as a behind the scenes look at the rollout of I-502 and his role in facilitating cooperation with the Liquor Control Board. He also shares some of his reservations about some recently passed bills in WA to regulate cannabis, and tells us why he thinks this next year is "make-or-break" for Washington's legacy in the movement. Enjoy!
In another “Audio Tour” episode, Scott Dittman takes us on a tour of the PharmPods manufacturing facility in Denver, Colorado. We get to hear about the components that go into each shipping container to make the finished product, and how they are constantly testing these pieces to make sure their facilities are state-of-the-art. We get a peek inside some of their “museum pieces” in house, tracing the development of their portable grow rooms from day one to their current place as publicly-traded market leader.
Like many who have found success in today’s cannabis economy, Aaron Justis began his relationship with the plant as an activist. He and his family had always sought alternative solutions for his struggles with ADHD, and at 17, he discovered firsthand the positive benefits cannabis could have on one’s life. By 19, he was inspired by Jack Herer’s seminal tome “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” and he was set off on a path of NORML meetings and fighting for cannabis legalization. At the same time, he started to follow his entrepreneurial instincts, and got involved in selling cell phones and wireless plans in the early days of that industry, as well as dabbling in real estate. One day, a lightbulb went off for Justis, and he knew he wanted to combine his business skills with his passion for cannabis. He tells us all about how he got his business started, and the industry luminaries who helped him along the way. He also provides a comprehensive and enlightened dissection of the current push for statewide cannabis regulations in California, and what he thinks successful regulations should look like.
The Audio Archives takes you on yet another Audio Tour! This time, we’re visiting Julie’s Natural Edibles. Julie shows us the ins and outs of their small but powerful facility in Denver, CO. Their edibles are notable not just for their deliciousness, but for their commitment to providing wholesome products for recreational and medical consumers, especially those who are sensitive to ingredients like refined sugar, gluten, and dairy. What also sets them apart is their commitment to testing - Julie explains how all the cannabis they use is rigorously tested for potency before going into their cannabutter, and then once it is in butter form, re-tested. Enjoy!
In this episode, the Audio Archives checks back in with Patrick Rea from Canopy Boulder, and some entrepreneurs from their portfolio, right before they make their presentations at a National Cannabis Industry Association meeting. Canopy Boulder is committed to providing mentorships and guidance to deserving start-up businesses and entrepreneurs looking to make waves in the cannabis industry. Several of the founders who have benefitted from Canopy’s guidance give us their elevator pitches here, including Healthy Headie Lifestyle, Stash Logix, Tradiv, Glasshouse, Potguide.com, and The Herbalista Set. We look forward to watching their companies grow, and seeing who Canopy Boulder will be helping launch next!
In this episode, Julie Berliner from Sweet Grass Kitchen takes the Audio Archives on a tour of their facility in Denver Colorado. They’ve come a long way from the race car trailer that they started the business in, though they still have the tire tracks on the floor to remember it by. Julie explains to us how they create a seamless cycle of production humming through a sequential design, and as Sweet Grass Kitchen is one of the few edibles manufacturers who grows their own cannabis, also shows us their cultivation rooms. Enjoy!
Mason Tvert is a very familiar name to anyone who’s been following the cannabis legalization movement. Through the Marijuana Policy Project, he has gone to bat for the cause on innumerable TV shows, media outlets, making him very much the face of cannabis legalization, and he was instrumental in spreading the message of SAFER and Amendment 64 with his fellow ground-breakers such as Steve Fox and Brian Vicente. Some have dubbed him the “Don Draper of Pot,” and it’s not hyperbole to say that without his efforts, the cannabis movement would not have achieved the progress it has today. He gives us a behind the scenes look at the work he and the Marijuana Policy Project have been doing for the past decade, as well as a sense of what drove him to this cause in the first place. Enjoy!
Amanda Reiman comes from a homogenous background, but simply in geography. Seeing how her gay friends were treated in her hometown she became an LGBT activist. In subsequent years she added animal rights activism and of course a cannabis activism. She wound up in Oakland researching medical cannabis before it was a thing. Her initial study of 130 patients was the largest in existence at the time. We’ve come a long way and have Amanda to thank for her work along that journey.
Pete Williams (with some help from Sally Vander Veer and Andy Williams) gives us a tour of the Medicine Man dispensary and grow facility. They are clearly committed to running a state of the art facility, as evidenced by the cutting edge improvements and additions they have added on over time. Without giving away all their secrets, they tell us how they grow their diverse and high-quality inventory, and support this highest sale-volume for a single store in Colorado. Enjoy!
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has been fiercely leading the fight for Medical Marijuana in the halls of our government, and in his mind, it’s just because it’s the right thing to do. He is a man of principle, and a religious person, who believes it would be cruel to deny patients access to cannabis, but furthermore, he thinks it comes down to a basic issue of personal freedom as well. He tells us about he found his way here, from his early years fighting communism in Vietnam and Czechoslovakia, to his political start in the Reagan White House, to his current days as the “surfing congressman.” All in all, he’s lived a life committed to his ideals, and makes for a refreshingly frank politician. We look forward to checking in with him as he continues his work. Enjoy!
Steve DeAngelo has been an activist for as long as he can remember. Coming from a self-described “Civil Rights Family,” he even attended Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington as a 5 year old. When he discovered cannabis at age 13, he felt like he truly found his life’s calling. He ‘joined the revolution’ at age 16 when he banded up with the Youth International Party, and spent the next few decades standing up for his principles as an activist. By the mid 2000s, Steve founded the dispensary paragon Harborside Health Center, and by 2010, had founded the ArcView group to guide the burgeoning legal cannabis industry, thus firmly establishing himself as one of the greatest and most effective advocates for cannabis legalization of all time. When Steve DeAngelo talks, people listen. With us, he shares his thoughts on California’s push for proper regulation, as well as his thoughts on the industry and movement as a whole.
Julianna Carella has cooking in her blood - she learned from her parents in the kitchen and has spent her whole life cooking creative and delicious food (much of it with cannabis) for her friends and family. However, this San Francisco native would take two very different career paths before making food her profession. First, she followed her passion as a dancer in New York City, truly living the “starving artist” lifestyle, but when she had her daughter, took up a career in accounting back in San Francisco. Through this experience, she learned the ins-and-outs of what makes businesses succeed or fail, and when a visit to a dispensary opened her eyes to the huge market gap that existed for high-quality cannabis edibles, she used this knowledge to start Auntie Dolores. Auntie Dolores is now the category leader in wellness-minded edibles. Julianna weighs in on setbacks she experienced in building her company, her concerns over how California is going to properly regulate cannabis, and how she is extending her business into other states. Enjoy!
Kayvan Khalatbari is rarely at rest. He currently runs several businesses in the Denver area, which include the Denver Relief dispensary, Denver Relief Consulting, and his Sexy Pizza restaurant chain, and can be found at the Sexpot comedy shows he produces around town, and sometimes even dressed up as a chicken, following Governor Hickenlooper. He is an interesting character to say the least. He says it is the strong work ethic instilled in him by his mother that keeps him going, and it looks like he won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Coming fresh off a run for public office, he is back hard at work helping businesses in other states prepare for the advent of legalization through Denver Relief Consulting, and gives us some insight on where he thinks the industry is going and how markets are opening up across the nation. What is most striking about Khalatbari, is that despite all of his antics and chock-full schedule, he is 100% committed to giving back to his community through everything that he does.
There is no over-stating of the impact Brian Vicente has had on legal cannabis. As the co-director of the campaign to get Amendment 64 passed (with Mason Tvert) and co-author of the Amendment 64 legislation (with Steve Fox), he was beyond instrumental in opening up the marketplace in Colorado that has sent a ripple-effect across the nation. Vicente recounts his experience working to get this legislation passed, from working with politicians, to what their opposition looked like, to the finer points of campaign strategy. And of course he’s continuing the fight with his work at Vicente Sederberg LLC.
Kellie Butterfield Dodds dreamed up the Cannabis Film Festival as a way to celebrate the industry and bring people across the country to beautiful Humboldt County California, where, in her words, some of the finest cannabis is grown in the USA. The inaugural festival was a huge hit this year, and looks poised to be an even greater success next year. She tells us about how she got the festival started, some background on the films and directors that were on show this year, and what's she has in store for the future. Enjoy!
Jessica Geren was exposed to cannabis culture during her time at CU Boulder and her early years in Breckenridge Colorado, but it was a move back to the East Coast that ultimately put her in a position to work with the industry. It was back in her home state of Massachusetts that she was hired by Dutchess Capital, and put her talents to work evaluating business proposals for investment in the cannabis space. Like many people interviewed on the Audio Archives, she stresses the ever-changing nature of the industry, and the constant need to adapt to new circumstances. She and Duchess Capital have been a model of this mindset themselves, and have firmly established themselves as a leading investor. Enjoy!
Ivan Ross Vrana spent many years working for the Canadian Federal government, predominantly for Health Canada, and truly enjoyed the experience. He sees the true virtue of civil service, and enjoys the challenges it presents. His experience in policy regarding pharmaceuticals and narcotics made him a perfect fit for a consultancy post with Canada’s Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) and by 2012, he decided to split off to start his own consulting practice. Now he is helping many companies make their way responsibly into the legal cannabis marketplace in Canada and beyond. He weighs in on recent Canadian rulings on the industry, actions taken in Vancouver and elsewhere in the country, and what we can expect to see unfold next in our neighbor in the north. Enjoy!
Scott Denholm spent the first part of his life on the west coast, then he moved east, and now he resides down south in Tennessee. This variety of experience has helped him develop an acute talent for understanding different people, which helps him greatly with his line of work developing track and trace programs for cannabis cultivators. He says it’s all about listening to what someone wants, to be able to figure out what they really need. After a stint in the Navy and time at ADT Security, Scott wouldn’t have ever imagined he would have found his way to the cannabis industry, but a consultant gig with the Marijuana Enforcement Division in Colorado set him on such a path, and now he’s implementing Franwell’s Metrc program in states all over the country to ensure their cannabis programs are efficiently and effectively regulated. Enjoy!
Hilary Bricken has accomplished quite a lot in a relatively short five years as a cannabis lawyer. The opportunity to get involved presented itself while she was working under contract for Harris Moure, and ever since, she’s been operating in the industry throughout entire push legalization in Washington and Colorado. She’s experienced many of the growing pains firsthand, and has gained a wealth of expertise and experience, and being from Florida, she ambitiously practices law there, California, and her adopted home of Washington. She expresses her admiration for the perseverance of those in the cannabis industry, but she truly embodies this trait herself, working hard and succeeding in a very complicated and difficult space.
In this interview, Jodie Emery gives us the background on Cannabis Culture Now, from her husband Marc Emery’s beginnings raising money for cannabis activism to the media force that it is today. She’s working hard to find the perfect combination of business-mindedness and activism to drive the legal marijuana marketplace into greater legitimacy in Canada and abroad. She weighs in on recent High Court rulings concerning cannabis edibles and extracts in Canada, and provides greater insight as what to expect with marijuana legislation in Canada moving forward. Enjoy!
A true activist in upbringing and in spirit, Betty Aldworth has advocated on behalf of legal cannabis all over the nation. As Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Aldworth is working to galvanize America’s future voters and legislators to continue the fight against the war on drugs, which she describes as a “failure for our youth.” She is equally well know for her role as spokesperson for the effort that led to the passing of Amendment 64 in Colorado, and gives us an in depth perspective of how that momentous legislation came to be. She also gives us some insight on what to expect from areas of interest such as Illinois and Washington DC, and where she thinks the movement is headed from here. Enjoy!
Scott Dittman started his career as an accountant, got into housing construction when he was ready to settle down, and got into the cannabis industry when he needed a clean break from the housing industry. As a self-described “Boulder kid,” it’s fitting that Scott returned to his home state to help drive this brand new industry forward. Though he’s now re-settled in Pennsylvania, his company Pharmpods has revolutionized cannabis cultivation by offering state of the art, deliverable grow facilities boasting cutting edge technology conveniently housed in a recycled shipping container.
It’s no surprise why Steve Fox is one of the biggest names in cannabis. Boston born and bred, he has been on the front lines of cannabis legalization across the nation since the early days the movement started to gain momentum. After his start working for the Bill Clinton Presidential campaign and getting a law degree from Boston College, he has played in a part in numerous marijuana legalization initiatives, largely through his continued involvement with Marijuana Policy Project. Now with a published book under his belt, and after helping found the NCIA, he is helping cannabis business owners and legislators through his consultancy work at Vicente Sederberg and his efforts for the Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation. Enjoy!
Cheryl Shuman was introduced to the spotlight through a news report on her hometown at 4 years old, and she hasn’t been far from it since. From her first act as “America’s Coupon Queen,” to her role as “Optician to the Stars,” to Hollywood Producer/Marketer Extraordinaire, to her most recent mission to re-educate the world about cannabis, Shuman is a tenacious self-re-inventor and a force to be reckoned with. The hardships she has overcome with this tenacity have defined her, and it was a dire cancer diagnosis that led her to discover the incredible healing properties of cannabis firsthand. Now she is committed to helping the world view cannabis with the respect and tolerance it deserves. We’re excited to share her incredible story, enjoy!
Bruce Schulte had been working in commercial architecture in California, until one day he decided to book a one way ticket to Fairbanks, to fly bush planes full time and experience the beauty and freedom of Alaskan life. Nineteen years later, he is active in state and local politics, and a prominent member of the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation. As Alaska prepares to open up a marijuana market in their state, Bruce gives us a detailed account of how it came to pass, where the legislation stands now, and what work still needs to be done.