Shanita Penny and the MCBA join us to share their plans to push for successful and legal business practices in the US cannabis market: "he rest of the year is staying close to DC, making sure that we have a seat at the table as it relates to providing input, recommendations, perspectives that they may or may not be aware of, and also opening up our businesses to these elected officials and making sure that they have a firsthand view of what it is that we're asking for, the issues that we're facing, and solutionizing for it."
U.S. Representative Jared Huffman has been in favor of legalization even before it was politically convenient; Huffman publicly supported ending cannabis prohibition during his time in the California State Assembly before being elected as a U.S. Representative. Nowadays, Huffman’s congressional district includes the Emerald Triangle – the largest cannabis-producing region in the United States. Huffman notes the special burdens placed on small business owners in the industry, including the hesitance and inaction California has seen at the local level. Although federal legalization may take time, Huffman says, there are plenty of incremental reforms that may help us get there sooner.
At root, Bridget Conry is an herbalist with a steadfast faith in the power of plants. Besides believing that everyone should be able to grow their own medicine, Conry also discusses the importance and efficacy of educating people about cannabis in a patient and professional manner. She also notes that communities will likely gain more confidence in the industry once we start to see more regulation, which is happening sooner than we think. Conry believes that the industry will, indeed, become normalized, but only with time and hard work.
Tahira Rehmatullah is in impressive leadership positions at not one, not two, but three major cannabis companies – it is no surprise that she has plenty of nuanced insights about the business side of the industry. For example, she notes that larger companies have been strategically diversifying their revenue streams in order to stay afloat amidst competition and fluctuating tides. As well, she believes that it is only a matter of time before countries stop importing products from Canada and start self-producing at half the price. Besides business, Rehmutallah predicts how medical cannabis might eventually look in the U.S. and shares her predictions for the 2020 election.
Mickey Dor, Senior Medical Advisor of the Medical Cannabis Unit for the Israel Ministry of Health, tells the story of regulated cannabis in Israel and notes the different types of changing winds that he has seen over the years. Although every country has a different approach to cannabis, Dor believes that the first step must always be teaching. If we prioritize research and educating physicians, then legislation and funding will naturally follow.
For eleven years, Dr. Michael Segal has been treating PTSD patients – mainly IDF veterans – with medical cannabis. Segal describes the incredible improvements he has seen in his patients: “If you see a post-traumatic patient before and after cannabis, you see two different persons.” Segal compares this type of success in Israel to the lack thereof in the United States in order to emphasize how important it is to prioritize our veterans’ mental health.
Dr. Silviu Brill, of the Pain Institute of Tel Aviv Medical Center, is passionate about the need for personalized medicine in Israel and around the world. Although he believes that some standardization is necessary, it is indisputable that each person and condition requires a unique ratio of THC and CBD. As Honorary Secretary of the European Pain Federation, Brill also spends much of his time researching how to best treat chronic pain in Europe. Nowadays, there is an unprecedented open-mindedness about ensuring safe patient access and sensible regulations.
Boris Blatnik joins us and shares just how a participants must be in the Cannabis industry: "With business in general, you have be adaptive, but in this space that's moving so lightning fast, you've really got to be able to pivot and change."
Professor Gil Bar-Sela joins us and explains how cannabis is used to treat different illnesses and conditions: “For example, if we want to bring cannabis as cancer treatment, then of course, we need to do a specific study trying to answer this indication like every medicine that goes into the market. If you are dealing with symptom control, then it's a different area of research.”
Most of us know that cannabis can be used for things like pain relief, but what most of us certainly don’t know is that it can also be used to kill cancer cells. Dr. Haleli Sharir discusses the use of cannabis as an alternative to chemotherapy when done in the context of personalized medicine (as opposed to standardized medicine.) Though she is not entirely opposed to standardization, Sharir firmly believes that a disease cannot be effectively treated unless one fully understands the cannabis extract, the source of the disease, and a person’s genetic background. She reminds us that “diseases are connected. Tumors are connected. You cannot separate the tumor from the person.”
As an Israeli living in the United States, Lilach Power, founder of Giving Tree Dispensary, has a unique perspective on the way regulations work in both countries. Because of the way regulations in the United States are going, Power predicts that the industry will eventually segment into three categories: pharmaceutical, wellness, and recreational. In addition to regulations, Power discusses the hopes she has for the state of Arizona, her business, and banking reform.
Peter Miller, co-founder of SLANG Worldwide, recalls the collective pique of interest he witnessed after Canada legalized cannabis back in 2018. There was a huge wave of investments, consolidations, and startups all happening at lightning speed – the fast pace and quick growth is something that still stuns Miller to this day. Besides his general ideas on the public sector, Miller shares his thoughts on what makes for a truly great company: consistency, trust, and an authentic story.
While most cannabis advocates start out with some type of personal relationship with the plant, others are handed 250-page books on the subject. Before reading that book, Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had no connection with cannabis, but because of his scientific background, Barak was fascinated with what he found between those pages. Besides the personal interest in cannabis he has since developed, Barak discusses the state of cannabis in Israel and how Israel is especially designed for first-class growing and research. Barak makes his predictions for the future and is excited for what’s to come, as there is a “huge world of science waiting for exploration.”
Steph Sherer joins us and shares how medical Cannabis has grown to be more accepted in the medical community around the world: "We're now at 31 countries with medical cannabis laws, and it looks like we're going to be close to 60 by the end of the summer. So, in one way, outside of the US it's pretty exciting. Really, the recommendations, if they're followed by the UN, that the WHO has made, countries will actually be obligated to find access to these medications for their citizens. Which is maybe how we finally move things forward in the United States."
Representative Joe Courtney joins us and shares the repercussions of the recent government shutdown and how it affects cannabis and agriculture: "When you look at the growing season fast approaching is just a tragic sequence of events, because we would love to have farmers putting seeds in the ground as we are in the beginning of spring, and it looks like the department has said that they are not gonna have the implementation language for the 2018 farm bill hemp legalization in place for the growing season in 2019. "
Hadley Ford joins us to shed light on his retail philosophy of delighting the customer in the cannabis industry: “If you're doing your job right from retail perspective, they're going to buy your product. And that product can either be a product that we own 100%, or it could be a third party product that we're curating in that store. I think you have to have a balance of both because a consumer will say, ‘I want the choice. I want the selection. I've heard about this. I've heard about that.’”
Chairman Steve Hoffman joins us and shares some of the protections put in place relating to Cannabis legislature in Massachusetts: "I think that every state is unique. So you can learn, but every state is different demographically, the laws are different. Massachusetts is the only state that has this explicit requirement about ensuring that disproportionately impacted communities are full participants in the industry. So you can't just lift and shift from other states."
Governor Jay Inslee joins us and shares how impressed he is with the rapid and positive growth of the Cannabis industry: "One of the most impressive things about this is that how fast this has been seen as a mainstream industry where we now have probably three or 4,000 plus people working in the industry. And we have small business people who have a payroll to meet and are paying their taxes. It became mainstream very, very quickly, and that has been interesting to me how fast a transition can take place."
Adam Biermann returns, sharing the changes and retail developments of what he calls the “industry of our lifetime.” This is because the cannabis industry is being born as we live, with growing support on all sides giving it momentum for progress. He emphasizes that this momentum is what matters most, rather than fixating on single events. Cannabis companies face unique struggles in the emerging retail market, including arduous zoning restrictions, legal matters, public perception, research, and investment strategies. But those are all just small parts of the growing snowball leading to an avalanche of business in the space.
Charlie Bachtell joins us to talk about the cannabis space outside of the more classic states of California, Oregon, and Colorado. He has been part of a growing geographical footprint in Illinois, with the mission of normalizing and professionalizing cannabis. In Illinois, safety has been the main concern over other aspects like revenue, and the recent surge in cannabis-related data has helped prove its safety through allowing increased education. This opened up the conversation about cannabis and led to a solid medical program on which others are now based in different states.
Ben Kovler gives a rundown about the reasons behind his involvement in cannabis, emphasizing the same core goals now that he had five years ago. He focuses on distributing brands of scale as a winning strategy, thinking of cannabis as a consumer packaged good in need of a consistent and authentic branded experience. Taking advantage of capital markets on both manufacturing and retail sides provides great opportunities during what is becoming the end of a sort of Prohibition 2.0.
Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky explains his unique views on cannabis and hemp. His appreciation of the plant stems from the need for a tobacco-alternative cash crop in Kentucky and surrounding agricultural areas, and extends to other aspects of states rights and personal freedom. Massie doesn’t vote based on pure party loyalty, but rather goes by his values and those of the people who elected him. For him, this means considering constitutionality, affordability, and state vs. federal responsibility in all issues, including cannabis.
Congressman Seth Moulton shares his experience as a Marine throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s and how it connects to cannabis today. Many veterans come back from service with heavy baggage, causing them to suffer physically and mentally. While cannabis can help with these problems, its legal status keeps veterans from having a conversation about it with their healthcare providers. The good news is that what was once a very partisan issue is now seeing more support from all sides, especially now that its benefits for veterans are coming to light.
Joel Milton talks about his journey leading one of the first cannabis tech companies through a selective startup accelerator and into the market in 2014. At the time, cannabis still held a lot of stigma for professionals, and his company was alone in the group of startups. Investors were hard to find, so the company met its fair share of struggles and hardships. But some early pioneers in the space gave both funds and advice, helping it find early success.
Cy Scott covers the normalization and de-stigmatization of cannabis from a data and analytics perspective. Increasing entrepreneurial tendencies in the industry have built up business through partnerships across the country, focusing on improving how retail systems work and how they interact with customers. The cannabis industry has unique opportunities for testing new ideas and new systems to really optimize the business side of things.