Ross Bradshaw shares that his company, New Dia, was one of the first recipients of Massachusetts's economic empowerment program; they are now licensed and will be opening their doors in Worcester by the end of July this year. Bradshaw shares how he got started in the industry: "One of the things that really was profound to me was the lack of minority representation when it came to business ownership. I experienced it in Massachusetts and then once again in Colorado, in probably the most robust marijuana market in the world." Since then, Bradshaw has been fighting for equity and minority business ownership, especially for people who have been incarcerated and historically excluded from opportunities in cannabis. He emphasizes the importance of educating people about the opportunities that are available and removing the stigma surrounding cannabis.
Guy Rocourt, of Papa & Barkley, returns for a discussion on good manufacturing practices (GMP). "The GMP is there to prevent the off-chance of something going wrong and to put in standard operating procedure. In our industry, we used to not be transparent because we were secretive, so the road to GMP is about professionalizing some processes so that we have the gear to do it the right way at scale." For Rocourt, the future of cannabis is one that is solvent- and chemical-free without any over-processing. Because the majority of GMP entails your standard operating procedures, codifying processes and looking for places wherein things could go wrong is essential.
Terra Carver, Executive Director of the Humboldt Country Growers' Alliance, discusses how the changing seasons are affecting cannabis farmers and growers in Northern California. Unfortunately, California is dryer than usual right now, which has caused difficulty for farmers. Carver explains the three most important things that cover crops do and also gives some insight into crop rotation and regenerative farming: "A very important part of regenerative farming is not only just planting crops, but ensuring that you have some animals on that piece of land to do what they do to regenerate and re-introduce certain nutrients, and then also weed out certain weeds." Carver then pivots to policy and notes that tax reform is the most important issue right now for farmers, for which there is currently broad support.
Socrates Rosenfeld, CEO of Jane Technologies Inc., discusses his military experience and how it has informed his entrepreneurial life. He shares one of his philosophies regarding doing business in cannabis: "I see all these people trying to do a lot and focus on things that they can't control, whereas for us, I think, as stewards of this industry, we should focus on the truth...if you can focus on the truth, you can grow." Rosenfeld believes that, although there is temptation for every business to focus on profit and growth, providing access to products that help people so fully is the most important part about being in the industry. For Rosenfeld, getting yourself to where you want to be is an iterative process, and cannabis was the one thing that truly helped him to find his balance again after his military service.
Former U.S. Congressman Carlos Curbelo returns for a conversation on politics and legislation. Curbelo explains that, because of all the noise amidst impeachment and the Democratic primary, congressional campaigns have flown largely under the radar. He also discusses the political cost of switching parties and emphasizes that reelection is everyone's biggest priority. Curbelo talks about the STATES Act versus the SAFE Banking Act and believes that, between the two, the SAFE Banking Act is more likely to pass in the near future. He also notes the newfound absence of cannabis as a political hot topic: "The fact that cannabis is not being discussed a lot in the context of primary elections is actually wonderful news because that means it's not a sharp weapon anymore, in a negative sense."
Bridget Conry of Companion Botanicals joins us to discuss different anti-inflammatory drugs and the various ways of managing chronic pain. She describes the problem with pain medications: "You want to feel pain. We have pain because it tells us stop doing that or something's wrong. And the reason it gets so dangerous when we mask it is that all you're doing is stopping your body from doing what it would normally do to deal with some sort of trauma. It's a signal something's wrong." This is exactly where botanicals come in, although Conry notes that each botanical does something different, so it's still important to consult with a healthcare practitioner and to know what works for you specifically. Conry distinguishes between the different types of botanical medicines, discusses the products that combine botanicals and CBD, and explains why CBD doesn't help everyone fall asleep.
Jessica Assaf, co-founder of CBD beauty brand Prima, begins by sharing with us her thoughts about the potential of cannabis to be a women-led industry: "This is really first time in history that women have the opportunity to design, build, and lead an industry from scratch, with no glass ceiling...cannabis is the opportunity to redefine feminism." She also discusses the different views toward cannabis in California versus New York, the benefits of having seasoned business people in the industry, and the necessity of having the right protocol and safety standards. Assaf notes that CBD has the potential to fix some of our biggest problems, like stress and chronic pain.
Torsten Kuenzlen of Sundial Growers begins by discussing how welcoming Alberta, Canada has been toward the cannabis industry, allowing the province to truly be one of the country's industry leaders. Kuenzelen shares with us Sundial's intentions regarding the future of global operations: "As soon as we have the ability to export and then import into the other countries, the world's our oyster." He believes that there will be many developments with all the hundreds of lesser known cannabinoids in the near future but is most especially excited about the breadth of CBD opportunities coming our way. Kuenzelen also discusses hemp, fuel, and the urgency of sustainability.
Nancy Whiteman, of Wana Brands, discusses operating in multiple markets that don't behave like one another -- for example, California and Illinois. She shares that "you have to approach every market kind of like the opposite of Groundhog Day. With a brand new set of rules. While you hope that there are learnings that you can bring from one market to another, sometimes you just have to say, my God, I'm on a different planet now, I'm not quite sure what I'm doing." Whiteman warns of the mindset of wanting to grow as quickly and as broadly as possible, as lowering prices to get on the shelves is a decision you can't step back from. She also discusses what might be next for Colorado now that House Bill 1090 has passed, the profound importance of picking exceptional partners to work with, being strategic about the markets you choose, THC v. CBD, and more.
Peter Barsoom begins by sharing with us his thoughts about why CBD is so popular, one of the reasons being that people are interested in cannabis as long as it doesn't get them high. This insight is one of the main influences for Barsoom's business philosophy: that it's not about getting high; it's about feeling a particular way. Barsoom discusses the science behind his company's sleep aides as well as the ideal future he envisions for the cannabis industry: "One of the things I think that's going to emerge is, why do I have to walk into a dispensary to buy cannabis? Why can't I order it online? What's the difference between cannabis and alcohol? It's regulated for people who are 21 and older. As a consumer, consumers are going to start asking that question." Barsoom also talks about the value chain in food production, the industry's desperate need for federal legalization, and more.
Harold Han discusses using emulsion technology to deliver cannabinoids into liquids. Han explains why this is a superior way of consuming cannabis: "I think everybody had this horrible experience of eating a brownie, didn't get high, and get hungry and eat another one until they got hit by a bus...This is a new whole category. Consumers, I think, are looking for two things: consistency and predictability." He then takes us through the nitty-gritty aspects of making a consistent beverage with cannabis emulsion, and shares that feedback from clients is one of the main factors in deciding how to manufacture the products. Han also discusses the importance of data, the historical fear of cannabis, and the necessity of educating the public.
Betty Aldworth returns to join us for a discussion on what 2020 will mean for cannabis policy reform and for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). She strongly believes that 2020 will be one of the biggest years for legislative reform the movement has ever seen: "In 2020, we are looking at as many as 8 or 11 valid initiatives in states plus another 8 or 11 states taking up viable marijuana legalization legislation in their state houses or assemblies for either adult or medical use." Besides state legislation, Aldworth also says that 2020 should be a big year for federal reform as well. Although the STATES Act has gotten a lot of attention from cannabis activists, Aldworth believes that the MORE Act is what we should be focusing on, as it is more likely to get passed. She also discusses exciting work happening in Oregon and other states, access to medical cannabis, homegrow, and more.
Ray Gracewood, of Organigram Inc., joins to discuss the effects of federal legalization in Canada, the long process of getting the industry to a solid place, and where the rest of the world is by comparison. "It even gets more interesting when you start to couple the realities in and around how governments work and how we have to manage government relation and expectations and how we have to be an engaged partner in a lot of that process. And I think as an industry we've been able to do that." Because of all the bumps along the road, Gracewood notes that everyone involved in the industry has had to learn to become nimble and focused on solutions rather than on problems. Gracewood also discusses business and how to maintain profitability even in the face of compliance issues and supply issues; for him, it's a matter of sticking to strategy and not becoming distracted by too many new opportunities.
Hadley Ford shares his philosophy on business: "I just don't watch the stock. You just focus on delighting your customers, on creating great products, on optimizing your operations, paying attention, just running a business...if you do that, the stock will take care of itself." Ford discusses the volatility that drives the stock market, long-term versus short-term risks, and branding versus process/production/growing. He also takes a moment to touch on the main cannabis bills at play: the STATES Act, the SAFE Banking Act, and the MORE Act.
Mike Gorenstein returns to explain the importance of focusing as a business in the cannabis industry: "It's easy to say, 'Well, we think we're the best at all these,' but if you then take that energy and you refocus it in one area, you're likely to excel." Gorenstein believes that the best way to get rid of the illicit market is to bring it into the legal space and notes that, even though regulation is necessary for safety, strict standards must be required when mass production comes into play. Gorenstein also discusses the benefits of effective branding, the future of legalization and global standards, states rights, and more.