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.
Chris Walsh dives into the industry's exponential growth over the past several years, the SAFE Banking Act, and the frustrating process of incremental legislative change: "When something substantial actually is enacted into law is when you're really going to see things open up." Walsh also discusses the difference between the cannabis industry and the hemp industry, the state of the CBD market in the U.S., retail investments, and more.
Tim Leslie of Leafly shares with us his thoughts about how to help consumers navigate the abundance of hemp-derived CBD products and figure out which products are right for them. Leslie also discusses the importance of taking more steps toward a regulated industry in order to provide people with safe, legal products: "If you view legalization as the first step, the next step is, how do we get the illicit market into the legal industry? How do we get more dispensaries, how do we educate people that more dispensaries is a good thing, that it will propagate a safe legal industry?" He believes that education and eradicating misinformation is an important step in avoiding nascent industry hiccups; in particular, unlearning negative stereotypes and reminding the public that cannabis is, above all, a wellness product.
Andy Williams returns to talk with us about the effects of House Bill 1090 in Colorado, which made it possible for public companies to own cannabis companies. He also discusses the vaping ban in Massachusetts, the STATES Act, the SAFE Banking Act, and the MORE Act: "Some of the senators that are feeling a lot of pressure for cannabis and hemp and that issue view this bill as something that they can palate that might be good even, and if they pass this, then I think they could punt other legislation saying, 'We already passed this.'" Williams also discusses the emphasis on branding for MSOs, the idea that retail will become mainstream, cannabis in Colombia, and more.
We are joined by two guests today: Philasande Mahlakatha, UFSN, and Baphele Mhlaba, Chief of Staff, Eastern Cape Office of the Premier. Mahlakatha begins by discussing the history of prohibition and the logistics of cannabis agriculture. She also wants to make sure that the community is involved with the process: "As the industry starts to boom, to flourish, if you want, in South Africa, we would like to make sure that the people are well represented." Baphele Mhlaba then joins the discussion and talks about home grow, regulating cannabis for medical use, and ethical agriculture: "Not only did [law enforcement] disregard this government, the ongoing health implications of spraying chemicals over foodstuffs, over water resources and all those other components that are related to the injustice method against our people in the name of making sure that we enforce the laws."
We have two guests today: Ras Garreth Prince and Clara Norell. We begin by speaking with Ras Garreth Prince about the history of cannabis in South Africa and the tough battle to get where they are today: "Don't treat me worse than a tobacco smoker, or an alcohol drinker. That's what I'm asking for. I'm not asking for any privileges, I'm not asking for special treatment, just give me a chance to compete fairly, that's all that I'm asking for." Clara Norell, co-founder and CEO of Nordiska Hampa Kompaniet, joins us for a discussion on hemp in Sweden: "We want to create a network of farmers in Sweden. Also, be a main supplier of a high quality, effective, for example, food production. Later on, in a long perspective, for fiber, for textiles, for building material, and for bio-plastics."
Lesotho has recently arrived on the international cannabis scene, and Tseli Khiba, Advocate, High Court of Lesotho joins us to discuss the details of that development. She explains that, originally, investors were interested in the market in Swaziland, but ended up encountering several roadblocks there. Investors then began looking more broadly for alternative options and noticed Lesotho. Because the laws and provisions were already in place, it seemed like a much easier place to get an industry started. Khiba describes the regulatory gray areas: "The government relied a lot on the best practices internationally and were consistent with those requirements. So, even though the regulations weren't formally in place in the country, the government approached the industry in a proactive manner and basically decided to figure the rest out as you went along." Khiba also discusses the illicit market, the benefits of the regulatory market, homegrow, and more.
Today we are joined by Nial DeMena, President and CEO of Manna Molecular Science. DeMena begins by discussing the advantages of adhesive patches over inhalation as a means of consuming cannabis, especially for women: "Your lungs are a very sensitive organ -- they're hard to get to and you can't survive without your lungs. Whereas your skin, skin regenerates very quickly. You can scratch it and heals quickly. There's a lot of things that the skin can tolerate that other parts of the body can't." DeMena also discusses global expansion, the public market, the problems with vaping, the importance of testing and regulation, and more.
Professor Donald Abrams, Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California San Francisco, discusses the usefulness of cannabis in treating a variety of medical conditions: "Cannabis has been a medicine for 3,000 years and only hasn't been for 77. So I think we can harken back to some of the prehistoric information that we have that suggests that cannabis was useful in a number of different conditions. And those conditions are still, I think, responsive to cannabis as a medicine." Abrams shares promising findings from various studies on cancer patients, patients with HIV and AIDS Wasting Syndrome, and more. He also discusses the differences between different consumption methods, the safety of mixing cannabis with opiates, the ways in which CBD and THC interact, the problems with observational research, and more.
David Torrisi, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, joins us to discuss medical operators and adult use operators in the state of Massachusetts. Torrisi tells us about changes and progress that have taken place in Massachusetts over the past several years: "People thought the sky was going to fall, and there's still some people that think cannabis is like, 'Oh my God, the devil is here.' In five years, I don't think anyone's going to care as much as they care right now about this." Torrisi also talks about the Massachusetts vaping ban in depth and emphasizes the importance of regulation in order to deliver safe products to the public.
Saul Kaye, founder and CEO of iCAN, briefly joins us and begins by sharing his thoughts about the cannabis market in Malta: "I don't like cannabis markets that are export only. If you're not treating your own patients, you're doing a disservice to your country [...] it's a business thing, not a patient thing, and I think there should always be a balance." Kaye also discusses potential mergers and acquisitions coming up this year and notes that, although there's been a recent turndown in the industry, things will likely improve by April. Kaye believes that, across the board, hemp should legally be allowed to contain up to 1% THC. He also discusses the unending future growth of the cannabis market, the commodification of CBD, the future of adult use markets, and more.
We speak with the Boston Vaping Panel to discuss the recently decided four-month vaping ban: "The bottom line here is we have over 1200 people across the country dying in intensive care unit from something that's vaguely related to these devices. I've never felt that these devices were safe, but it's coming to a head at the moment." Because of the number of people who have died from vaping products, Massachusetts thought that a temporary ban would be useful in taking the time to conduct the research and figure out the root of the problem. While the panel agrees that enforcing outright bans does tend to drive people to the illicit market, the primary job of a governor is to protect public health and safety. The episode continues with a Q&A from the public, with questions about the medical need for vaping devices, the efficacy of prohibition, how to contact local government representatives, the necessity of regulation, public education, and more.
Kris Krane, co-founder and President of 4Front, returns and begins by sharing his experience as a cannabis activist in the '90s, which consisted mainly of playing defense and repealing bad laws. He walks us through the evolution of the industry since that time and notes that 2012 was when the industry really experienced a true turning point. Krane also dives deep into a discussion on prohibition, in particular the recent bans on vaping products across the country: "They like their vapes, and they're going to want to find other vape products. If they can't get legally produced and regulated products out of dispensaries, they're going to go to the illicit market, which is where the tainted vapes are in the first place. It's the absolute wrong solution." Krane later dives into the growth of the European market, the state of markets in Africa and South America, medical vs. adult use markets, and more.
Joe Lusardi, CEO of Curaleaf, discusses getting started with the cannabis industry when Maine passed a dispensary bill back in 2009 and notes how much the industry has changed over the past 10 years. Lusardi also comments on the public safety issue surrounding vaping and tells us that most of the problems are coming from the illicit market: "This will hopefully be, ultimately, a good thing because it will create more awareness around the supply chain and create even better, stronger regulations. And that's really what we need to move forward with a credible, regulated industry." Lusardi talks about sourcing hemp for their products, the need for proper research, and believes that both hemp and CBD are important parts of the future of cannabis.