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.
Jeannette Horton talks about the benefits that cannabis tax money can have by making investments in communities most disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs. This money can fund expungements, job training, and businesses. But it’s often distributed to the wrong areas, so it’s important to have oversight to ensure that the funds are doing the most good by helping to right the wrongs inflicted primarily on minority populations.
Neal Levine joins us for the first time with a microphone, featuring a guest appearance by Andy Williams. Levine talks about the various legislative actions happening at the moment, including a primary focus on the STATES Act. As Canada fully legalizes and Mexico plans to follow suit, these legislative actions are the key to preventing the US from getting left behind in the industry. But the STATES Act is just incremental, and needs to be followed up by other actions in areas such as tax policy.
Roei Zerahia joins us to share the background of Canndoc in Israel as one of the first companies licensed to grow, process, and distribute cannabis. Now launching in Illinois, they bring with them extensive scientific knowledge about the hundreds of individual compounds in medical cannabis with unique effects that extend beyond those of just THC and CBD.
Mitch Baruchowitz joins us with a brisk-paced narrative of his foray into the world of cannabis, with the same velocity and passion he has found in industry. He touches on a range of topics including investment strategies, tragic events with unexpected influence, misconceptions about legalization and regulation of cannabis, regulatory differences between states, and the future of the business as he sees it.
Kris Krane is back to talk about the big win that democrats -and thus cannabis- have had in the House election and general politics– and what that really means for cannabis reform. Even with strides being made in politics, there are still hurdles to surpass. With the slow process of bureaucracy, four states are the focus of attention; Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Tjalling Erkelens returns and is still based in the Netherlands but with a global cannabis footprint. He compares the global development of cannabis. Change and progress towards legalization, particularly for medicinal marijuana, are happening on all continents across the globe. But each country seems to be taking a different approach, and Tjalling feels it might be best to focus on alignment and harmonization to give patients consistency when traveling.
Lori Ajax is back to talk about the last year that flew by and the next year looming on the horizon. Lessons learned from the last year are carried forward into expectations for year two by looking at the transition of the industry into the regulated market, and the struggles that the transition continues to entail. Tax structures, competition from illicit markets, and the complications of licensing all mean there is a need for better messaging going forward.
Senator Cory Gardner talks about the path of the STATES Act, which has been surprisingly, and perhaps ironically, cleared by the helping hand of Jeff Sessions. His rescindment of the Cole Memorandum of the Obama era tried to quash states rights on the issue of cannabis, but only led to the more simplified STATES Act. Through it, the Controlled Substances Act is essentially negated for those in accordance with state law, helping make way for progress on many of the issues surrounding cannabis for those states.
Darren Soto discusses big changes happening of late. While previous years have been difficult in terms of passing legislation, the new democratic congress brings with it a more positive outlook. The change gives legislation like the Farm Bill and STATES Act greater possibilities to pass. Darren covers the reasons why legalization is something to continue fighting for in the face of antiquated stigmas, poverty, even more harmful prescription drug alternatives.
Congresswoman Dina Titus returns with updates about the effects of the blue wave in congress and the resulting green wave in cannabis. Now, the issue is keeping up with and properly managing bills to try to iron out differences between the house and senate as well as federal and state law. Getting Republicans on board is an important step, meaning the cannabis argument needs to span a wide spectrum. Thus, the issues of money, business, criminal justice, states rights, infrastructure, veterans, and taxes are all getting their time in the limelight.
Congressman Don Young, soon to be the longest serving Republican House member in history, discusses the ins and outs of cannabis legalization from an Alaskan Republican perspective. He sees the need for more debate on the issue to sort out and solve some problems, which the STATES Act provides the opportunity to do. With the support that legalization has with the public, it gives the chance to bring people together and provide benefits regarding agriculture, medicine, crime rates, and business.