From an undisclosed location in Toronto, we have a casual conversation with Max Zavet, the CEO of a publicly traded licensed producer in Canada. As an introduction, he discusses the Emblem logo which features Artemis the greek goddess of nature, but we move into a conversation about the licensed producer community in Canada and how Max and his partners were early entrants into legal cannabis- they were the 15th group. Max explains how back in 2012 he was reading press releases on how the government was considering changing from a grow your own system- the MMAR- to the more tightly controlled and regulated system we have today the MMPR. He was dead set on being involved, and he found a way to do just that.
Diane Russell joins us via FaceTime and takes us through why she’s running for Governor in the great state of Maine. Last summer she led the fight to take on the super delegate system in the democratic party to which Bernie Sanders took notice and asked Diane to speak on the main stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Diane's political journey began during a ME energy crisis when she was able to affect change through cap and trade legislation. Diane also brought change through rank choice or run off. As she runs for Governor, she’s focused on Medicaid for all Mainers which is necessary due to neighboring Canadian universal healthcare competition. Oh yeah, and she introduced an early bill to legalize adult-use cannabis and helped get it on the 2016 ballot.
A cowboy at heart, Steve Trenk joins us from the Upper East Side of Manhattan although he spends most of his time in Arizona. Steve is an entrepreneur which it turns out is genetic. He started companies in the healthcare and aviation industries and learned impactful lessons that he brings forward to his cannabis investments. He also brings his love for animals and wide open spaces to the industry in that when asked for tips on riding a horse- his advice is that staying on is always key. But the real key Steve says is picking the right horse. He’s been an angel investor in the space for a number of years. He notes that it’s not often that you find a horse that you get along with, that you communicate with and that you feel safe on- but he’s got a couple.
New York State Senator Diane Savino joins us and share her thoughts on the New York Cannabis program. Her thoughts are, it’s going. She notes that it had a slow start but that it was designed be tightly controlled and highly regulated and that it’s lived up to that reputation. Regarding the Department of Health and the Commissioner of Health- Diane shares that they’ve been very responsive to changes as changes have been proposed because they recognize this is a health issue. She doesn’t pull punches- could more be done, absolutely- her biggest concern continues to be lack of participation among doctors. It’s not possible to visit every doctor in the state and convincing each efficacy of medical cannabis. So to that end, no matter where you live, consider this a public service announcement to tell your doctor about medical cannabis.
Two time Super Bowl champion and organ donor Leonard Marshall returns to share his thinking behind donating his brain to CTE research. He says that he thought about the lives that could change and he thought about his father. He says he wanted to do something with his own life that his father couldn’t do with his. Leonard shares that he is a child of segregation and that he initially could not use the same bathroom or play in the same playground as white people in the south. And so, he’s interested in making a difference not based on his race, color, creed or nation of origin but make a difference as a man and empower the will of parents on their children to open up a mindset around traumatic brain injury and head trauma.
A PhD in the field of physiotherapeutics, Stuart Titus joins us and shares his experience treating patients as he says more in the British style than the US style of therapy. He continues, here in the US if you need surgery, you’ll be in the operating room tomorrow morning. But in other countries it’s as much as an 18 month wait so you have to do a lot to keep a patient comfortable and under control until they can get into the operating room. Stu shares that athletes and professional sports teams utilize this type of therapy. Athletes would come into his office in the offseason and that’s where he found out about cannabis. His patients were using cannabis to control pain, reduce inflammation and help with sleep issues- and he was intrigued.
Mother of Charlotte’s Web inspiration Charlotte Figi, Page Figi returns to share the latest on the Cannabodial bills the Coalition for Access Now has in both the House & the Senate. We review her experience with CBD as it related to Charlotte’s seizures. We discuss the alternative bill in the Senate which would reschedule not deschedule CBD as Paige’s bill does. And we discuss what YOU can do NOW to aid the bill to passage by taking action and connecting with your elected officials who work for you. Finally, we talk about your patient and business CBD options in a forecasted rescheduled world but we also take the opportunity for Paige to share red flags and dog whistles to look and listen for when evaluating current CBD offerings.
Celebrated Author, Paco Underhill joins us to share that when he was doing research for commercial zoning issues for cities on the roof of the SeaFirst Bank building in Seattle he had an epiphany. He would do for merchants of any kind what he was doing for cities- helping them understand what customers were doing in their respective establishments and sharing what the merchants could do to improve their customer's experience. He literally wrote the book on it- “Why We Buy,” which came from an article that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about Paco for the New Yorker. Paco discusses how he goes about helping merchants providing some insight on what drives customers and how that’s changed over the years. And finally, we discuss his passion which is helping with homelessness through Urban Pathways.
Charles Jones joins us and shares that a fellow parent had called him concerned that her son was using marijuana and asked him if it was safe. He did some research and found how many cannabinoids there were, how they interacted with one another and emerged from his research with an understanding that by combining cannabinoids and terpenes in the right ratios, could create a broad range of psychoactive substances which could treat everything from insomnia to pain to improving creativity. He realized that an extremely wide range of effects could be found in this one plant. Which led him to the conclusion that cannabis isn't a drug so much as a drug development platform which much safer than opioid alternatives.
Yet another military veteran in the cannabis industry, Guy Rocourt joins us and shares that he joined the military in the 90’s which led him to unique thoughts about the service. All in all, as opposed to being a risk taker, Guy's thinking as to why military veterans are in cannabis is that when you’re in the military you’re taught to abide by the constitution, which by the way, says nothing about cannabis. Guy says that when you’re enlisted you abide by the uniform code of military justice which is much more structured in regards to your rights and responsibilities. And so as a military veteran he doesn’t understand why cannabis is illegal- it does not compute. And in addition to that, military veterans gravitate towards industries that need change.
Mark Grindeland joins us and takes us through his history in advertising. He had a management consulting firm which led him to Digitas. He says he turned Digitas into the McKinsey of advertising. Back in the day he had codified his IP in building one of the first ERP CRM platforms, took that public and hit a billion dollar market cap. From Digitas he was recruited to Y&R who wanted to become a global version of digitas. After dabbling in M&A, he was moved into the CEO EMEA role. Which brought him back to the same place he was bootstrapping with Digitas a year earlier. This time, with 21 countries, 36 offices, 2K employees and 180M in revenue. This is the experience and more that Mark brings to cannabis.
Recorded back in June at NCIA in Oakland, Emily and Morgan Paxhia return to share their thoughts on cannabis investment. Emily deciphers what’s investible in that she’s simply looking for a sober approach from entrepreneurs with humility and an understanding of regulations and the true challenges of the unique cannabis industry. Morgan shares that he’s looking for how business are approaching the cost of acquisition for each customer. He notes that in a fragmented market that’s truly still very young- new companies still have to break through one customer at a time. Emily goes on to give tips to each kind of cannabis business and both discuss how best to optimize the investor/entrepreneur relationship. Thanks to Gateway & Treatibles for supporting the episode. Go to Pitch to Ben on Twitter to engage with Gateway & Treatibles.com for a 10% discount on CBD for your pet.
John Vardaman joins us and discusses his involvement in the release of the the third Cole memo and FinCen Guidance which supported the initial memos which of course laid out guidance from DOJ to state attorney’s general. John lays out that Justice and Treasury still needed to deal with the fact that based on the Controlled Substances Act, the monies generated from state legal cannabis were (and still are) considered criminal proceeds based on federal money laundering and bank secrecy act laws aided of course with a Patriot Act kicker. Which John actually has experience with as he began his career in government just weeks before 9/11 and explains that his job following that day was following the money- something he also had to do on the ground in Iraq. Thanks to Boveda & MCBA for supporting the episode.
Former soldier, governor and wrestler Jesse Ventura says that cannabis gave him his life back- without it he says he wouldn’t have a quality of life today. Someone close to him developed an epileptic seizure disorder. After being treated with drugs that didn’t work, they went to Colorado found cannabis and found a solution. Now that that person is seizure free, Jesse says both of them have their lives back. He’s always been a supporter of legalization and although he’s been in the military and was a former professional athlete who could come to cannabis through CTE or PTSD, it was dealing with epilepsy as a caregiver that was the catalyst for him to be active in cannabis. As a former Gov, Jesse adds that cannabis tax dollars are real dollars for any state budget.
Washington State and Noelle Skodzinksi have July 1st, 2014 in common as a start date in cannabis. Inspired by the poet/novelist James Dickey, Noelle went to school to be a journalist and found her way into PR before finding a job in journalism down the line. After moving to Philadelphia, Noelle held down three jobs to pay the rent and keep writing. She waited tables and truly learned how to deal with people in that environment- an insight she brings forward to her work today. She parlayed her initial job as a writer into landing a job as an editor for high end magazine which focused on craftspeople like blacksmiths, glass blowers. So she was already used to dealing with folks that were unto themselves- which is why the cannabis industry made sense to her when she found it.
Recorded at Lift Toronto, Derek Riedle from Civilized join us and discusses the crossroads of the media industry- where it is now and how he looks at where it’s going. He went to college in Halifax wound up back in is home of New Brunswick and eventually was invited by a friend to California. He had been all around the world but never to the Golden State, so we went. After a few hours he called his wife and a month later they were looking for a place. He’s an old agency guy so he knows that agencies are hard businesses to scale. His moment of cannabis enlightenment came when he was at a nice dinner in Venice where he everyone in the restaurant was drinking beer wine and spirits while he was huddled behind the restaurant, behind a dumpster with his vape pen.
Recorded at Lift Expo Toronto, Random Vaughn joins us shares a history of Washington state legalization. He explains the process of getting a medical card, getting 15 plants and becoming a collective garden way back when. You did a bit of paperwork and could enter the industry after 30 minutes at a doctor’s office in his words. Random and his team have serviced over 30K patients and he discusses how he and his team approached cannabis wellness with the patients and consumers that visited the collective. And then Random shares getting relicensed for 502 and what happened in Washington when the state went from offering medical cannabis to a overtly adult-use market. He’s matter of fact about the facts on the ground.
Chuck Rifici joins us from Lift Expo in Toronto where he shares his history in cannabis. He’s currently working on a number of projects including funding cannabis licensed producers in Canada. The business structure is based on the mining industry in Canada. Chuck studied engineering and initially was interested in Virtual Reality, went into computer engineering founding an early internet service provider company becoming the CFO. After getting the education of a lifetime he went on to become the CFO of the liberal party in Canada working with Justin Trudeau. On another note, he was in the right place at the right time, reading the MMPR regulations within the first hour of them being released leading him to co-found Tweed.
Lamine Zarad joins us and provides a Banking 101 lesson. He joined Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis doing his best to avert disaster. He realized at that height of the economic apocalypse that the only stable thing was the federal government which was going to be the savior of us all in his words- and he wanted to know how and why. He studied public policy and public finance and got a job at the US Treasury which is why we discuss the entanglement of the banking system and political system in the US, Dodd Frank, the Volker Rule, the Bank Secrecy Act as affected by the Patriot Act, Glass-Steagall, proprietary trading, FinTech, blockchain and how that all relates to cannabis.
Roger Stone joins us and discusses the United States Cannabis Coalition. He takes us through his interpretation of what’s been said by this administration in regards to cannabis law reform. He feels that the Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary are not following what was prescribed during the campaign. With news of a potential crackdown on cannabis from the Justice Department, Roger feels that would be inconsistent with what was promised to voters and breaks faith with voters. The goal of the US Cannabis Coalition is to work with a coalition of republicans and democrats, liberals and conservatives, progressives and libertarians to reschedule cannabis.