Ep 345 – Industry Veteran Explains How to Stand Out in a Crowded CBD Market

josh haupt plant love

How do you stand out as a CBD company in a crowded and noisy market? Here to help us answer that question is Josh Haupt of Plant Love Naturals.

Learn more at https://plantlovenaturals.com

Key Takeaways:

[1:17] An inside look at Plant Love, a USDA certified organic full spectrum hemp extract company based in Denver, Colorado

[1:31] Josh’s decorated background in cannabis, including his popular cannabis growing guide “Three A Light”

[4:36] The unique growing process behind Josh’s top-shelf cannabis flower that sets it apart from others on the market

[7:18] Why the price of CBD has dropped significantly over the last five years

[8:30] Common mistakes CBD companies make when trying to gain traction in today’s noisy industry

[9:35] Why Plant Love only sources its hemp from USDA certified organic farms

[11:04] How Plant Love’s subcritical extraction method preserves cannabinoids and terpenes better than the popular supercritical methods

[12:23] The growing interest in minor cannabinoids including THCV, CBG, and CBN

[13:36] How Josh uses CBD to successfully treat his epilepsy

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew Kind: Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at cannainsider.com. That's C-A-N-N-A, insider dot com. Now here's your program. How do you stand out as a CBD company in a crowded and noisy market? Here to help us answer that question is Josh Haupt of Plant Love. Josh, welcome back to CannaInsider.

Josh Haupt: Hey, thanks for having me, man. I appreciate it.

Matthew: Give us a sense of geography, where are you sitting today?

Josh: I'm in my office in Colorado, Denver. Right here in Lower Highlands, and I am watching the snow melt because it was beautiful yesterday, and then last night it snowed through Colorado fashion springtime, and now-- literally was snowing less than two hours ago and I'm watching it all melt. It's a beautiful day. Looks like the sun's going to be coming back out.

Matthew: You're in a fun neighborhood there. I like that it's a fun neighborhood there in Denver.

Josh: It is a fun one. We got a lot of restaurants, a lot of moving people around here. It's good.

Matthew: What is Plant Love on a high level?

Josh: Plant Love at a high level, it's going to be just top shelf CBD products derived from the cleanest inputs. Great products that really aren't on the market today.

Matthew: Okay. Josh, as I mentioned you were on the show once before people probably know you for the book, Three A Light, and a few other things. Why don't you just give us a quick background about your growing career and so forth.

Josh: Three A Light, gosh, it really turned into a dream come true and opened a lot of doors for me, but it was my platform to enter the space and really teach people how to do well for themselves in the garden. A simple somewhat of a picture book if you will, that shows you from start to finish how to cultivate cannabis for yourself. With Three A Light, also came Success Nutrients, Success Nutrients is the feed regimen that we feed the plants to achieve those results. That's been massive. In 2017, both those companies were acquired by Medicine Man Technologies, that was a publicly traded company. I stepped in as the chief cultivation officer there. I served as the chief cultivation officer, chief revenue officer and chief operations officer. I wore a few different hats for the three years that I was there.

Recently stepped away from Medicine Man Technologies, they're now known as Schwazze. Wish them the best. Stay in close contact with them. I know they're going to do well for themselves. They've got a real focus towards the retail footprint and really making a splash in the state of Colorado. My ventures are the Plant Love Naturals CBD line and that's been a huge focus of mine as well as the launch in a flower line of prepackaged flower in Colorado. Colorado is really known for its overdried mids, unfortunately. What I mean by that is just really not top shelf product is somewhat of a rumor in the space. Unfortunately, it does reign true depending on where you're shopping in the state. Our goal with this next flower brand is called Artsy, and our goal is to create essentially the Louis the 13th of cannabis. A cannabis, flower packaging line that really does have integrity, truly is the crème de la crème. The best products you can get and so I've been having a lot of fun starting these or launching these two brands. Been a lot of fun.

Matthew: What's the pricing like in Colorado right now for a gram or an eighth or whatever the most popular amount of fresh [unintelligible [00:03:55]

Josh: Colorado has a little over 1000 cultivators in the state and 600 dispensaries, so it's a highly, highly competitive market. You're going to be paying anywhere from, you can get an eighth I want to say for as little as you know 20, 25 bucks all the way up to $60 depending on the quality you're going for and what you're looking at. You've got all ranges of the spectrum there. Then you have wholesale pound selling for as low as $1,400 a pound at a dispensary, and then you have the top sell providers that are still moved in to 2K a pound. It's really across the board because you have such a wide array of suppliers.

Matthew: Gosh. The market's smaller but not for the top shelf cannabis flower, but not so small that you won't get any sales, you don't think. What is the growth process look like for how you're creating Artsy?

Josh: Grow process for creating Artsy is really going to be focusing on just the cleanest inputs. I realized this when I meet with other growers and they run these huge facilities, I'm talking 60,000 square feet and up, and they won't smoke the flower they put out. That's just a shame to me, and I say, “Why, guys? What's going on?” They say, “Well, we got to put it through this X ray machine when it's done to make sure that everything that we're growing is killed off of it,” because they're growing it with a lot of mildews. There's just really a lack of integrity throughout the growth process in a lot of these large commercial facilities. Call it what it is. Now, there are good ones, so I'm not calling everybody out. I'm just saying the majority of them really want the auto feeds, really want to remove the human component to it, and that just makes it really tough to grow top shelf.

At Artsy, we have a large focus on all the inputs. We want to start with very clean genetics, good products to start, as far as the strains are concerned. We want to make sure that we're only giving them strong beneficials. We don't want to use any pesticides throughout the entire process. We want to make sure that the plants are cared for very, very delicately. We also want to make sure that we're giving them a lot of heavy, pure water flushes to clean out the roots. The cleaner the roots are, of course, the cleaner the fruit and the flowers will be. Those are very important things for us. Focus on trichome development. Really focused on, as I said before, when it comes to no pesticides. We're also going to be releasing predatory insects and bugs. They actually act as your security guards for your rooms, making sure that no other bugs can be housed in there to really protect the flowers.

Then at the end of the process, we have a very large degree of focus towards our dry cure process. We want to make sure it dried and cured as perfectly as possible. We don't want it to be overdrive, we also don't want it to be too wet. Those that have that nice, perfect medium. Then before it goes in the bag, we want to make sure it has a nice, light hand trim to it. Not a machine firm, we're not going to pump it through a machine. We're going to dry it properly. Really just focusing on the entire process. As we've mentioned before, really not cutting corners, and you'll have a product that is something that you're very proud of. We over at Artsy, we're looking at an April 20th, a 4/20 launch here, and really getting the products out on the shelves, and we're excited about it.

Matthew: What's happened to the price of CBD over the last five years, in terms of how much it's fallen?

Josh: Oh, goodness, well, you've got a classic example of supply and demand. Five years ago, you'd get a kilo of isolate, if you could get a kilo of isolate, it would be about $70,000. Today, get you a kilo of isolate, depending on how many you need for probably 300 bucks.

Matthew: That's the market forces at work.

Josh: Yes, it really is. People start to catch on. This is exciting and fun, and let's grow all this CBD, but the problem is, in such an unregulated industry, who can compete with hundreds of acres coming out of the Midwest, there's just no chance. You've got to really get grown on a global perspective now, which is fantastic, because we need it, but it's definitely made it very difficult to essentially distinguish where's the good products versus where's the bad products? What's a good kilo of isolate versus not? The whole testing process is really just taking wait for how they're going to regulate that space, and they've got a lot of work to do there.

Matthew: There's a lot of noise in the CBD space, as I mentioned during the intro, what do you think a lot of the CBD companies that are not getting traction are doing wrong, in your opinion?

Josh: That is a tricky one for me to answer, but I would chalk it up to a couple key points. One is they want to make sure that they're getting the best inputs into their products, that's going to be very key. Making sure that they're sourcing top shelf inputs, making sure they're not getting this leaf from a bad spot, that there's some kind of regulation behind the kilos that they're purchasing for their products, their inputs. Secondly, they want to make sure that they have the ability to market their product to their customer. In the CBD space, that can be incredibly difficult to do because more often than not, you don't have your traditional routes of marketing. To promote your page on social or things like that, there's very tight policies and guidelines for it. It is doable, but it is difficult. I encourage people to not get too frustrated, just give up there. Make sure that you're pushing the limits and trying to market your product and get market visibility.

Matthew: How do you find quality sources of hemp then for Plant Love? What's the process like?

Josh: For us, it's really-- we just focus, I'm not paying $300 for our kilos. Our kilos are much more expensive because I only want to buy quality. For us, it's one of those things where I just go to USDA organic certified farms only, because right now there's too much noise in where it could be grown elsewhere so having a USDA-certified organic farm it's already been vetted to a significant degree that other farms are not having detour to go through.

Matthew: Okay. What is it about USDA-certified organic farms? What does that attest to what they do differently?

Josh: What they're going to do differently is they're just going to make sure that the fields are not packed full of heavy metals from prior agricultural use. Then also really makes sure that the inputs that they're giving them are truly organic. That certification is tough to achieve and harder to hang on to. I know that those fields are tightly regulated. The inputs that are going into the products are going to be incredibly clean and all organic-based. That's going to be incredibly essential when you're cultivating hemp and then extracting that hemp, especially to treat. I would argue CBD is that, it's going to be the new aspirin in the sense of aspirin and help you with a lot of different things. I think CBD is going to find very similar avenues as well.

Matthew: Talk about your extraction process and the different major and minor cannabinoids you're trying to preserve there.

Josh: Well, our extraction process is a little bit different. I shouldn't say everybody, but there's the majority of the space. By the majority, I mean, a lot 90% plus of the space we'll do a supercritical extraction when it comes to CO2, they'll also use butane and other parts. We use a subcritical extraction. That's going to be lower temperatures and that's actually going to preserve the terpenes much better. When we're doing our subcritical extraction, we're not killing and burning off all these terpenes, we're actually preserving them and moving them into the actual product itself.

Our process is very unique and different in that sense. You're just going to have a lot more of the what's beneficial that we're trying to get from the plant is preserved and makes it to the end product with Plant Love Naturals, where another brand next to it doing a supercritical extraction would have already removed those terpenes and would have rinsed it a little bit, much more aggressively than we do. We want to preserve all those extra components as they are very, very vital to making the CBD efficient and get the results you want.

Matthew: What are your thoughts on THCv, CBG, CBN, these cannabinoids, are people looking for them and asking about them now when they're buying CBD oil?

Josh: People are not. I think that's only a matter of time. I think people will realize your CBGs, your CDNs, your THCvs, these are the things that actually make your work. What I mean by that is like, let's take a vehicle. Well, CBD is-- those are the tires, and it's fantastic that you have like four tires right on, but without the THC components, well, there's a show of your body. You've got your CBN, your CBG. Well, those are some components in your engine, then you add your terpenes. That's your gas for your tank.

Now, the vehicle can do something. They work much more harmoniously for the result you're going for together as a team, as opposed to when they create an isolate, all they do is they just do CBD isolate. CBD by itself, now don't get me wrong. That's not going to be harmful in any capacity, but it's much, much, much more efficient and much more recognized by your endocannabinoid system when it's a group of them.

Matthew: Talk a little bit about your epilepsy and how does CBD help that?

Josh: My epilepsy is-- I say every epileptic is a little bit different, but every person is a little bit different. What I mean by that is the way my endocannabinoid system in my brain responds to CBD is-- Epilepsy is going to be a misfire of neurons and electrons. I'm just going to have a seizure. It's never any good, that's the result of it. The CBD for myself really helps to calm all the activity behind the neurons and electrons, it calms it and makes for not nearly as many misfires. Therefore, I'm not having any seizures. It's helped me incredibly with my life.

I think that anybody that is struggling with how to stop seizures and it is going on the Western medicine process, which I highly encourage. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I just would argue that at some point, I encourage you to try and incorporate some CBD, because that might be the missing link. That was the missing link for myself almost, or not almost, to the point where I don't take Western medicine anymore. I don't need it. I've been seizure-free for years now and CBD has been one of the main components behind that. Of course, having a healthy lifestyle, your diet, your sleep routine and your schedule you for working out or not is going to play heavily into that equation as well for myself.

Matthew: I know there's more to it than just milligrams, but what's your milligram dose range for CBD.

Josh: In our everyday balance tincture, which is what I created for myself, is my tincture, it's 33 milligrams per drop, and I'll do two of those drops in the morning and two of them at nighttime. By two I mean, just a full tincture full and that'll be- I’ll switch it under my tongue for a few seconds and then go ahead and swallow it and go about my day. It sits next to my toothbrush and it's a very balanced routine for myself. I encourage anybody else that's dealing with challenges that are heavily focused on Western medicine.

I encourage you to incorporate, not to steer away from your Western medicine, but to incorporate some CBD usage with it, you might find that it really helps it be more effective with what you're going for.

Matthew: That sounds like the right dose for you, but how did you arrive at that? If you take three or four eyedropper tinctures, is that too much? How does that experience come off, then you do, does your body just feel lethargic? Then if you don't take enough, how do you know?

Josh: Yes. I would argue that it's not too much. I really-- I struggle with taking two much, because I've just been taking it for gosh, for decades now. For me, it's not too much. I don't really feel lethargic off of it at all. If anything, it gives me a little bit more of-- I haven't ever taken too much, but I've also never taken more than three or four dropper fulls. I've never pushed it to see where my threshold is. On the other side of that, if I don't have it, I have these things called fatigue mal. With an epilepsy, you have a grand mal seizure and you have fatigue mal seizure. The grand mal is just like it sounds, it's granted, it's a couple of minutes. It could be a few minutes long. It's very scary.

A fatigue mal seizure is exactly what it sounds like as well. It's very tiny. It can happen in an instant in your mind. If I have a fatigue mal, more often than not, no one will even notice around me, but I'll notice it because if I'm holding something, I'll drop it. If I had a thought and I'm trying to-- if I'm texting or something like that, it'll interrupt what I'm doing incredibly. That's really my bumper that says, "Hey, I got to go take some CBD" If I have another one, it's very important that I lay down and I take a break. I recognize the fact that my mind is telling me you got to slow down or we're going too fast, or we need to relax.

The fatigue mal is really what tells me as an epileptic. Once people have had epilepsy, you start to understand how your brain works in the way of it'll start tell you when you're going to have a seizure. It's very important that you listen to that for myself. For me, that's how I rounded up. I came to that conclusion of, I was able to not have fatigue mal if I take two drops in the morning, two drops at night and stay on top of my workout routine, get good rest and try and keep low stress.

Matthew: I don't know how you do all those things, especially as we're winding up COVID here, it seems like.

Josh: What a year, man? Gosh, that was brutal.

Matthew: Yes.

Josh: Coming from somebody who I really liked to stay as positive as possible, maybe you've heard me say it before, but one of the things I like to say to my team is I'd much rather be optimistic and wrong and pessimistic and right. For me with life, I try and always stick to that. Man, the last year was tough with COVID. I had to push extra hard to stay positive and we've all got a lot of-- everybody's family has somebody that needs support. [unintelligible [00:19:01] somebody that's the wild one, everybody has family, that's someone that's a conservative.

Everybody got to realize that every single-- no matter which category you fell into, as a family member, it was important that we at least checked on one another and that we were there for each other, and that you could be there as much as you could of one another. I think that a lot of good can come from something as obvious 2020 in the sense of hopefully abroad families closer together. I don't know about you, but made me realize that being there for other people, and more importantly, being there for my family filled my cup much more than finances ever could.

The real currency for me moving out of 2020 is love and the real currency for what defines success for the road ahead is going to be my impact on my loved ones. That's what defines success for me. Now there's a new definition for success after such a challenging year.

Matthew: That's why you started Plant Love.

Josh: There we go. Absolutely.

Matthew: Josh, I want to ask a few personal development questions to help listeners get a better sense of who you are, is there a book that's had a big impact on your life or a way of thinking that you'd like to share?

Josh: Yes, I do appreciate reading as frequently as possible. I do love wafting out, when I don't have time for books, I'll just jump on some inspirational quotes just to really get my mind moving in the right direction. One of the books that I read in the last couple of years that really stuck with me, and I actually read a couple times now is The Hard Thing About Hard Things, it's a book by Ben Horowitz.

It was very helpful for me and very beneficial for me to realize how to handle challenging times, as we talked about a lot of things going right in the space, there's a lot of wins going on, but behind closed doors is also a lot of challenges, you got a lot of turnover within teams, you've got a lot of cutthroat things going on in the space, if you will, with consolidation. Really people jumping from this team to that team made it really difficult to navigate the waters, as these companies have grown so fast because growth can kill a company.

I think that the one thing this book really helped me with is my ability to communicate with my team throughout these challenges and this book really talks about that, talks about how you want to make sure that you're leaning into one another, and it also really pushes on how to have empathy for others and understand their challenges, even if they're supporting you, how do you return that favor as a leader? It really helped me in those areas. Yes, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, check it out.

Matthew: Besides what you're doing with Plant Love and Artsy, what's the most interesting thing going on in the cannabis field to you?

Josh: The most interesting thing going on the cannabis field for me is got to be the yo-yo of federal legalization, they started this yo-yo, gosh, I want to say in 1970s or they're saying, "Hey, we're going to talk about this going federal," and then the administration put it away and it didn't happen. It's slowly over the decades have been coming more and more and more forefront and recently, it seemed like with getting a Democrat in office that cannabis was about to go run the distance. It was his fifth, it was Biden and Kamala Harris, his fifth agenda item, they were really going to move this forward.

Then you've got some confusing messages going on, mixed messaging when they fire people from the White House that claim they had cannabis usage in their past.

Matthew: Jesus Christ.

Josh: It really scares me to think that Biden has good intentions, but he's a true politician, without putting it differently he's a yes man. In a lot of ways, these guys going to do what he's told to do because we all know that this world is run by the golden rule. That is the guys with the gold make the rules. I would argue that one of those things that's been challenging for me as being such a lobbyist for federal legalization and moving this forward, it's been tough to see it, "Oh, yes, we're going to make this a priority, and then we're not and then we're going to move Safe Banking Act forward, and then we're not." I'm really interested to see over the coming months, because I do think that this administration is going to do something about it, it'll be really interesting to see how all this unfolds, I couldn't be more on the edge of my seat about the coming years with this space than I am now.

It's going to make a big turn because during COVID, we got deemed essential and with that comes significant revenues, and with significant revenues comes significant taxes. We have the ability to do turn the needle the other direction, instead of constantly, constantly losing money, some of these things can turn it to, surely, they can't be profitable but they can definitely slow the meter on burning capital. They can give back a lot to the things that really mean the most.

Matthew: Josh, you have such a deep growing background, I know there's a ton of ways people can make a successful garden or an unsuccessful garden, but if for someone that's really wanting to grow their own plant, can you just give them just a couple bits of advice to ensure they get off to a good start because you you're really good at this?

Josh: Yes, I think that if you want to grow some plants for yourself at your house, I would just recommend putting right next to tomato plants in the garden. If you have the ability to grow medically for yourself at your home, you really got to start somewhere, picking up some seeds off of an online source, if you Google cannabis seeds there's thousands of breeders out there that they can send you some. I would recommend just putting it in a nice wet paper towel, let the seed germinate.

Once it has a little tail coming out of it, a little white root has sprouted from it, then go ahead and bury it about a half-inch in the soil and put a little dirt over it, give it water on a daily basis and watch it grow, then water like the weed but it is because it'll grow fast and big. Recommend that. If you want to get a little bit further into cannabis cultivation and bring it indoors, I'd recommend you pick up the Three A Light book or you Google and YouTube as much information about as possible and really just get started. [inaudible [00:25:26] half the battle to becoming a master grower or a master anything in this world is just getting started.

Matthew: Josh, as we close Can you tell listeners the best place to find you and connect online?

Josh: The best place to find me and connect online is going to be off of plantlovenaturals.com and artsycannabis.com or my Instagram, those three spots are going to be great spots and just Joshua Haupt on Instagram.

Matthew: Okay, Josh, good luck with everything you got going on here, your plate is very full and I look forward to hearing a full report next year or sometime when you have all these more mature.

Josh: Absolutely, Matt, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me on the show.

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