Most Recent Interviews

  • Matthew Kind
    Ep 292 – Five Trends That Will Disrupt Cannabis In The Next Five Years
  • Luke Anderson
    Ep 291 – These Low-THC Cannabis Drinks Are Disrupting The Alcohol Industry
  • Cy Scott
    Ep 290 – Real-Time Dispensary Data Is Revealing Surprising New Trends…
  • Seibo Shen
    Ep 289 – California: The Hunger Games of Cannabis, Here’s Who Survives…
Browse All

What is CBD

(Cannabidiol)? What is cbd cannabidiol See more
 

The Hottest Jobs

in the Cannabis Industry Read more
 

 

These Cannabis Products Help Women Deal with Menstrual Discomfort

maya whoopi goldberg cannabis products

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi. I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I will take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. We’ve talked about CBD or cannabidiol on the show many times. Just to review thought, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound from the cannabis or hemp plant that has many benefits. Now our friends at Treatables have put together a one list chew that can help your dog or cat become more calm and balanced. Valerie wrote in to tell us about her experience with Treatables.

Valerie writes, “My ten year old Husky/Sheppard/Lab mix Chuck is my faithful companion. Chuck got significantly quantifiably better from using Treatables. It took about three days of feeding Chuck two to three doses a day to see the full effect, but he did get noticeably more comfortable on the first day of feeding that to him. Before CBD Chuck limped and couldn’t enjoy longer walks though he clearly had the desire for them. Once he started taking them he could leap around again.” Thanks for writing in Valerie. Treatable Chews are legal and available in all 50 states right now. If you want to learn about what Treatables can do for your pet, visit www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/pet and get a coupon code for 10% off your order. Once again that url is www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/pet now here’s your program.

Resourceful and pioneering entrepreneurs continue to find new ways to integrate cannabis into products that improve our lives. Maya Elisabeth has partnered with actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg to bring cannabis products to market that can help women experience relief from menstrual discomfort. I am pleased to welcome Maya Elisabeth to the show today. Maya welcome to CannaInsider.

Maya: Thank you so much for having me.

Matthew: Maya give listeners a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?

Maya: We are in Northern California, the Bay area to be exact.

Matthew: Okay. Before we dive into all the things that you’re doing and these cool products you have and are making for women, give us a little background about yourself and how you got into this business?

Maya: Absolutely. Cannabis is my life. It’s my true passion and I enjoy making medicine for people. I was a bud tender at one point. Served thousands of patients and learned so much about cannabis and started my own company and it’s been the most fruitful, fulfilling, beautiful path since. Nothing in the world gives me more gratification than creating small opportunities of self-care and relief for medical cannabis patients.

Matthew: And how did you and Whoopi Goldberg get connected?

Maya: Well it’s actually an interesting story. My company is called Om Edibles and we’re an all-female collective and we like to compete in the High Times Cups. So because of a series of victories when Whoopi reached out to a man by the name of Rick Cusick. He started looking over his resources and our name was mentioned. He gave me a cold call and asked if I would be the woman to talk to about this and I said absolutely and we went from there.

Matthew: Wow and what’s the focus on menstrual relief? How did you come up with that?

Maya: It was actually Whoopi’s idea, 51 percent of the population are women and if I were to ask you how often you’re sick and you told me one week out of every month you were having feelings of discomfort and pain. I would say you should go to the doctor. So as it turns out its crazy but the average western woman menstruates for approximately eight years cumulatively of her life.

Matthew: Wow.

Maya: Yeah. It’s something we don’t really talk about and it’s something that we don’t really even think about and there’s a lot of ways for women to find relief. So the intention of this company is just to provide tools for women to have relief that make you feel good during your moon cycle.

Matthew: Can you walk us through your product line so we get to know it a little better?

Maya: Absolutely. It’s everything that a woman wants on her cycle. It’s a bath, a rub, some medicine tincture, and chocolate. These are all super foods. Two of our four products are multi-herb. We work with an in house herbalist by the name of Alexis for two of our four products and the other two are medical cannabis products. All of them have cannabis in them. So it’s an Epsom salt soak that comes in three different flavors. It’s a tincture that’s multi-herb and has many herbs that have been helping women find health for thousands of years. Some of them are even named what their named because of that and it’s two types of raw chocolate. Raw cacao is a super food. It’s the highest magnesium containing food on the planet. It’s raw organic fair trade, six ingredients you can pronounce, one CBD chocolate and one is a THC chocolate and then it’s a topical; a rub that is multi-herb as well which came from Alexis and it’s to be rubbed all over your belly and your back and anywhere you feel pain really.

Matthew: Is there historical precedent of women throughout history using cannabis at all to help the menstruation cycle or is this a new thing?

Maya: It’s definitely not a new thing. Cannabis has been used for thousands of years for pain relief. One great example is Queen Victoria who Whoopi was inspired by. She took a menstrual tincture with cannabis in it during her time of the month and there have been many, many, many other recordings.

Matthew: Yeah it’s crazy how tinctures really seem to; cannabis is kind of bringing them back but as you explore history they were really popular for a long time and just kind of went by the wayside.

Maya: Absolutely. Tinctures are a great way to medicate. You have two main veins under your tongue. Sublingually enters your body quickly and they’re relatively easy to make and they can be made with either glycerin or alcohol or vinegar. Like an apple cider vinegar.

Matthew: And what symptoms are relieved with your products?

Maya: The beautiful thing about cannabis is it can help you with physical symptoms and physical discomforts and it does and it also helps other things like emotional support, anxiety, depression, sleep. Things that happen to go along with PMS and some women experience more than others and some cycles more than others so it’s really a full picture for relief.

Matthew: I asked a bunch of women before this interview questions like hey what are you interested in in relation to menstruation relief and one of the questions I got a lot was how can it help with my irritability and I was like wow that’s a great point. Does this help with irritability?

Maya: Yeah. Cannabis is wonderful for mood support. CBD is a miracle for anxiety and depression and also inflammation and other physical things and it doesn’t get you high. It’s not psychoactive. THC is a very nice mood elevator and they can help you deal with your stresses of PMS.

Matthew: Do you know how much food people eat impacts their menstruation pain or women’s menstruation pain if they’re a vegetarian or they’re heavy meat eaters? Do you hear anecdotally anything like that?

Maya: Yeah and I know from my own experience. Women that exercise and get enough magnesium in their diet which is typically done by eating a natural rainbow on every plate or taking supplements or taking Epsom salt soaks tend to have much better menstrual cycles. Magnesium is really important for overall human health and women’s health especially and cacao is the highest magnesium containing food on the planet. Herbs are here to support us. In our tincture we have a lot of uterine toners and things that can help your next cycle actually be better and I think it’s kind of a myth about the meat thing.

Matthew: Okay.

Maya: Because you can get iron in a lot of different ways. Broccoli has I think more protein than meat I read recently and so just through the right diet and through the right lifestyle and improving your overall health your menstrual cycle can improve as well.

Matthew: I eat these little shards of cacao beans; raw cacao beans and I like them a lot but they’re just a little bit bitter so I add goji berries to them and that really; there’s something about that combination that’s really something else and there’s like a cousin of caffeine I think in cacao. Theobromine I think it might be called and there’s a little kick there like something happens.

Maya: Absolutely. That is a winning combination. You’re speaking my language. I love to do goji berry with cacao nibs. We sweeten ours with a raw organic Agatha which it comes from a cactus so it’s a much healthier sugar. It’s lower on the glycemic index and better for your overall health.

Matthew: Yeah.

Maya: Yeah the Aztec’s revered cacao as the food of the gods. In fact cacao does mean gift from the gods and it’s one of the oldest words ever recorded and if you were being sacrificed and you were just a normal person in the Aztec times you would have the cacao drink which was bitter and unsweetened one day of your life, the day before you were offered to the gods. Yeah early voyagers wrote of it that never had they found such a sustaining food where you ate or drank such a small amount and felt sustained for so long and to me that’s kind of the definition of a super food. Something that is really nutrient dense as opposed to the latter which a lot of people are dealing with with obesity which are these huge servings of nutritionally void foods.

Matthew: Yes that also spike your glycemic index and force your pancreas to secrete all this insulin and the fast storage hormone and then we wonder why everybody is fat.

Maya: Exactly and the toxins and the chemicals.

Matthew: Yeah.

Maya: A great filter to run it through is like did this come from the earth or did this come from a science lab.

Matthew: Right, right. Now onset of cannabis is a very difficult thing to measure. People are slow metabolizers, fast metabolizers but is there a general theme you can give to people listening on how fast some of these products help with menstruation?

Maya: Absolutely. I love this question because this is the ongoing discussion. Cannabis is really personal. Everybody has different receptors all over their body. Each one is like a key hole and each strain develops with its environment and then through the botany of desire and our breeding and stuff human influence you end up with different cannabinoid profiles. So cannabis is really personal. What works for one person might not work for another and what works for one person for a long time might shift too. Patients’ needs shift. So that being said topicals are not psychoactive however I do believe the baths kind of deserve a category of their own. They don’t get your mind high but they relax your body so much we don’t recommend driving afterwards nor will you want to.

So my recommendation for patients is I really don’t say how many milligrams anyone should consume but more encourage through education and for people to start with a very small amount and work their way up and always wait a few hours because there’s so many variables involved. Even what you may have had for lunch. So knowing that cannabis is fat soluble did you just have a juicy burger or are you doing this on an empty stomach? All these variables can make a difference especially the company that you’re with in my perspective. I think that’s one of the biggest variables is what’s your mood and how are you feeling and what’s your intention? Yeah so the cacao is available in CBD and THC. Many patients are perfect candidates just for topicals or CBD. Not every person who wants to use medical cannabis has to feel high. That’s something I love teaching people too.

Matthew: And I’m sure you get feedback on all your products but is there one of the products that you get the most passionate feedback about where people are kind of saying the same thing?

Maya: I am blown away and I’m not just making this up because it’s my line but we get the most overwhelmingly positive for all of our products truly and really. The cacao is like through the roof with positivity. That CBD cacao has helped people with so many different muscular disabilities and all types of serious ailments. The tincture blew my mind when not one, not two, but five and six independent testimonials without me asking for them came back and said that women’s next cycle was actually improved. So we’re moving from acute symptoms to now an overall lifestyle enhancer because of some of the herbs in there. The salts we’ve always gotten the best feedback for. Those are great for sleep and pain and dermatological issues. The magnesium goes inside your uterus and relaxes your muscles which are contracting because you’re shedding your uterine lining and that’s what a cramp is and the salve is filled with herbs. It has white willow bark which is something very similar to aspirin and other healing herbs and the efficacy of it is also mind blowing. We’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive response for everything.

Matthew: What advice do you give to customers that are trying to find their intake topical like your product rub and maybe an ingestible where they are trying to maybe create some sort of hybrid experience because a topical and an ingestible are two different things? Do people use those in tandem to help with menstruation relief?

Maya: This is a great question too. Our line was specifically designed for versatility and freedom. You can mix and match any different product for any different time. Our tincture is actually made with an organic overproof alcohol so you can actually make an adult bevy out of it. We do one called the blood orange with an orange squirt and rosemary and a Pellegrino. It’s delicious. It really calms you down. You can do that while you’re in the bath. When you get out you can rub the salve. The CBD cacao is wonderful any time of the day. The THC one is a psychoactive so you can mix and match and put one scoop of one in a cup of cacao and one scoop of another if you’re just feeling like a light serving. It’s not intended to replace whatever women normally do for relief. It’s really just compatible. It’s a lifestyle enhancer and it’s all about versatility and choices.

Matthew: For a topical like rub; obviously you don’t ingest. How does that interact with the receptors on your skin specifically?

Maya: Another great question. You have CB1 and CB2 receptors all over your skin epidermis and we all know the skin is the largest organ. People put hormones on their wrists and rub them together and raise their hormones levels so never underestimate the power of a topical. It’s really getting in there. Those CB1 and CB2 receptors in your skin epidermis are right next to all your nerve endings and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so effective for pain. We also have a philosophy in our company that if you can’t pronounce it don’t put it in your mouth and if you can’t eat it don’t put it on your skin. So you could eat the balm if you wanted to. We don’t recommend it because it won’t taste good but it would be safe. Everything besides jojoba oil and patchouli you can pronounce in our line. Maybe cacao some people stutter on too but you won’t find any ten syllable chemicals in anything that we create.

Matthew: You have an herbalist that you work with that helps you with your recipes. What’s it like working with her and how has that impacted your products?

Maya: Well it’s actually enhanced our products tremendously. A woman by the name of Alexis Gandara and she has a company called Rooted Grounds and she was already making a moon line and we were actually friends for a long time. As soon as I got the phone call I called her and said shoot the moon it’s time to put our medicines together and her and I started formulating from there on out. Looking at cannabis for what it is which is a healing herb and super food we found that when you pair it with other healing herbs and super foods the healing properties and benefits and efficacy is greatly increased.

Matthew: Now being an herbalist she probably has a lot of other interesting things like she approaches wellness and sickness in a different way, different mindset entirely. Is there any other kind of interesting things she does or how she approaches life or sickness and wellness that you could share that maybe the general population doesn’t know about or think about?

Maya: Yeah.

Matthew: We’re kind of trained to think about pills like hey it’s like a drug.

Maya: Totally. She’s very, very, very talented at what she does. She communicates with the plant. She listens to the plants. She’s very knowledgeable and I think we both share the same philosophy that all the cures that we need for our ailments and health are really here growing on the earth and they’re here for us and all we have to do is learn about them and learn how to use them really.

Matthew: Yeah. It’s kind of a reawakening art form. I mean probably like the Salem witch trials was the bottom for herbalists when they’re pretty much witches and so that was kind of cast out from our society but it seems like it’s making a comeback.

Maya: Absolutely.

Matthew: So let’s pivot to some personal development questions to let the audience know you a little bit better. As you look over your life is there a book that really stands out as having a large impact on your thinking or how you view the world?

Maya: I love this question as well. I love the book “The Alchemist.” Have you ever read it?

Matthew: I have heard of this book but I’ve not read it.

Maya: It’s a short read and it’s amazing. It’s just about reading the signs of the universe and good omens and how to pay attention and following your heart and just the world is really working in your favor when you go for a dream. It’s a beautiful, beautiful story full of archetypes and zymology and lots of wisdom. Another one has in my opinion kind of a funny name but it’s called “Conversations With God” and it’s not a religious book but it’s about a man who is channeling some type of higher wisdom and the whole book is question and answer and it is filled with the most profound information on a spiritual level. It has just brought me so much good.

Matthew: Wow. Great suggestion. Is there a tool web based or otherwise that you consider indispensable to your day to day productivity?

Maya: Google.

Matthew: Google. Okay me too. I use the Google Drive a lot now too. All the spreadsheets and docs on there. It’s like my go to. In fact I’m frustrated when I have to use Excel or something now because it always crashes.

Maya: Yes. I love Google. I’m self-taught. Everything that I’ve learned I’ve typed into Google and just done research on and I always encourage people to do the same. I notice that everyone wants the new Iphone but they’re not necessarily open to new information about cannabis coming in and really that reframe and showing people a new way to look at things because if cannabis was discovered today we would be revering it as a very important medicine that was some type of cure all.

Matthew: Yeah that’s true. It’s true. We have to break through the old stigma unfortunately.

Maya: Yeah and let the new information in.

Matthew: Where can people get your products or is it only available in California right now or is it nationwide in the medical states? Where can we find it?

Maya: Right now we’re only in California as we are a medical cannabis company. So it’s federally illegal to cross the state line with medical cannabis. We do have a full list of dispensaries on our website if you go to www.whoopiandmaya.com and just click the link to see our outlets. You can see every dispensary that carries us.

Matthew: Okay. Well Maya in closing is there anything else you’d like to share or how we can follow you?

Maya: I just wanted to say thank you so much for the time and thank you to all the listeners for listening and we’re on Facebook and Instagram and we have a website so if you want to see what we’re up to make sure you check it out.

Matthew: Okay. Well thanks so much for joining us on the show today. We really appreciate it.

Maya: Thank you Matt. I really appreciate it.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com, simply send us an email at feedback(at)cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye-bye.


Maya Elisabeth discusses how she created a line of cannabis products to help women that are dealing with menstrual discomfort. Maya shares how she partnered with famed comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg to make these products a reality.

Key Takeaways:
[2:11] – Maya’s background and how she got into the cannabis industry
[2:46] – Maya talks about how she connected with Whoopi Goldberg
[3:22] – Using cannabis for menstrual relief
[4:12] – A walkthrough of Maya’s product line
[5:29] – Is the use of cannabis new for menstrual relief
[6:25] – Maya talks about what symptom relief her products provide
[7:47] – Do certain types of food cause menstrual pain
[9:05] – Maya talks about using cacao and goji nibs
[10:51] – Maya talks about how quickly the products start to give women relief
[12:43] – Maya talks about which product gets the best feedback
[14:14] – Using topicals and edibles in tandem
[15:21] – How do topicals interact with the receptors on your skin
[16:23] – Maya talks about working with an herbalist
[18:21] – Maya’s book and web application recommendations
[20:23] – Maya’s contact information

Learn more at:
http://whoopiandmaya.com/

Important Update:
What are the five trends that will disrupt the cannabis market in the next five years?Find out with your free guide at: https://www.cannainsider.com/trends

Vape Cartridge Leader Talks About The Market – Ralph Morgan of O.penVape

Ralph Morgan of Open Vape

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi. I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I will take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. We’ve talked about CBD or cannabidiol on the show many times. Just to review thought, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound from the cannabis or hemp plant that has many benefits. Now our friends at Treatables have put together a one list chew that can help your dog or cat become more calm and balanced. Valerie wrote in to tell us about her experience with Treatables.

Valerie writes, “My ten year old Husky/Sheppard/Lab mix Chuck is my faithful companion. Chuck got significantly quantifiably better from using Treatables. It took about three days of feeding Chuck two to three doses a day to see the full effect, but he did get noticeably more comfortable on the first day of feeding that to him. Before CBD Chuck limped and couldn’t enjoy longer walks though he clearly had the desire for them. Once he started taking them he could leap around again.” Thanks for writing in Valerie. Treatable Chews are legal and available in all 50 states right now. If you want to learn about what Treatables can do for your pet, visit www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/pet and get a coupon code for 10% off your order. Once again that url is www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/pet now here’s your program.

Vape pens continue to take up a larger and larger portion of the cannabis market. To help us understand the latest in vaporizer technology and consumer preferences is Ralph Morgan, co-founder and CEO of Open Vape. Ralph welcome back to CannaInsider.

Ralph: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity.

Matthew: I like to give listeners a sense of geography. Can you tell us where in the world you are today?

Ralph: Yeah. I’m based in Denver, Colorado. Open Vape is based in Denver but enjoyed everywhere.

Matthew: Yes and where are you today?

Ralph: I am in Oakland at a national industry gathering called the NCIA. It’s the third annual business symposium and it draws folks who are interested in getting into the space and also all the movers and shakers in it and NCIA I think is one of the best examples of a national association that anyone interested in the space should recognize, pay attention to, and be a part of.

Matthew: Ralph the last time you were on the show was back in January of 2015 but for new listeners that are not familiar with Open Vape can you tell a little bit about yourself and the company and why you started it?

Ralph: Sure. So before I got into cannabis I was in sales and marketing in the medical sector. I worked for companies such as Smith & Nephew and Stryker which are orthopedic implant companies. So I was selling products to surgeons specifically total joints; knees and hips and it was really an opportunity for me to participate in healthcare and when I saw cannabis continue to pop up on the news I was pretty ignorant to the subject. I was just intrigued. Did my due diligence. My wife included and we discovered that there was tremendous medical efficacy and that this was clearly going to be something that we felt was going to be a part of history and we wanted to be on the right side of it. So we jumped in, opened up a dispensary, and really relished the interaction with end users. People who are looking for a natural alternative to synthetics and pharmaceuticals and it really took off from there.

We saw an unmet demand in the market. The products that were healthier alternatives than smoking and from that unmet demand in the market we started this little company called Organa Labs and invested in a CO2 extraction machine, supercritical CO2 extraction machine where we could extract safely the essential oils of cannabis and put it in stuff. That’s how we got our start and then in 2012 we met a couple other entrepreneurs in the space. Some successful dispensary owners who really thought that a personal portable vaporizer with a disruptive technology that the efficiency of it, the discreteness was going to be disruptive, and we all agreed to give it a go together and we started a company called Open Vape and it’s been successful and wild, wild ride since then.

Matthew: Yes. I’ve looked at the stats on what’s selling in dispensaries and you really are doing an excellent job in terms of grabbing market share so kudo’s to you. One thing that I’m curious about is how big an impact was it owning a dispensary in terms of how well you could then turn around and speak to other dispensary owners about the benefits and scratching their itch. I mean did you know how to speak the language as a dispensary owner yourself so was that a huge help or just a small one? Did the product do most of the talking? I mean what was it like getting in the door with other dispensaries?

Ralph: Great question. I would say that the product did most of the heavy lifting. The perspective we gained by being dispensary owners was invaluable however because that experience gave us the benefit of knowing how enthusiastic people were about this product. When we first started dabbling with vaporizers it was all geared towards electronic cigarettes. So the technology wasn’t specific to cannabis which means that the failure rate was horrible. It was up around 40 percent and people still were enthusiastic about it. We had a no hassle, no questions asked return policy to help start to address that quality issue early on but it was truly a testament to the product. The ease of use, the discretion of less smell, and great value factor. There’s no waste to burning like a joint and we could get the same amount of money compared to regular flower or a cone joint or something was profound. So the experience from dispensary was great but it’s really the product that gets all the credit.

Matthew: And to give listeners a sense of how big Open Vape is and your footprint can you tell us how large Open Vape is and where exactly people can find Open Vape cartridges and pens?

Ralph: Sure. So since 2012 we’ve grown to approximately 90 employees in Colorado. We’re in nine states currently with New Mexico coming online this week and of course we have to have bricks and mortar. A production facility, a lab in each state because we’re not able to ship across state lines. So it’s a lot of effort, a lot of investment, and in total we’re in approximately 1200 dispensaries or collectives; retail locations and to find a location you can simply go to the Open Vape website or you can download the Open Vape app. The app will give you suggestions of where you can shop based on your geographic location.

Matthew: So let’s just review. Why are consumers choosing Vape pens? You mentioned they’re discrete but what are some of the other benefits?

Ralph: It’s discrete and there’s little fiddle factor. There’s nothing lost in the bottom of your pocket or your bag. It’s just so convenient and it’s a healthier alternative to smoking. You’re boiling liquid and you’re breathing in vapor as opposed to breathing in burnt plant matter.

Matthew: Okay and since we last talked a year and a half ago roughly how has the market for vape pens changed?

Ralph: Well we’ve seen statistics by ArcView. They put out an annual report; the RAND report. Reliable sources that talk about the trend of concentrates and largely that’s made up of vaporizing devices. Last year it was 39%, this year it’s 42%. If you include edibles which are largely infused by concentrates or oil we’re well over 50% and concentrates make up more than 50% of all cannabis consumed which is a huge statistic. So over the last year we’ve seen the trend of vaporization grow exponentially. It’s healthier, great value, and convenient.

Matthew: Now just a few years ago there was really just kind of one vaporizer cartridge but now the markets grown large enough where there’s kind of like a premier type of cartridge where there’s maybe no solvents but there’s still some cartridges that have glycerin of some sort. Can you talk about how the market has kind of grown to include new segments of products?

Ralph: You bet. When we first launched in the original formula it does include an excipient. It was the safest excipient we could find on the market then and so it remains so today and it’s something that was used by and it’s currently used by the pharmaceutical industry namely AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson as a safe inhalant. Today most of our skews are cartridges that do not include an excipient but instead have various levels of purification and the reintroduction of volatiles namely terpenes. So during the extraction process you’ll remove the volatiles first because they’re the most sensitive and we save those. We then refine the oil and mix again as a final stage the terpenes, esters, alcohols, flavonoids, and offer a really tasty, high quality product that has the benefit of all the volatiles and all the terpenes as much as we can preserve and capture and we call that top tier product craft reserve and that’s a trend we see in the market is with the competition it’s a race for purity and it’s really fascinating to watch.

There’s a lot of competition. There’s a lot of technology. There’s a lot of scientists that are entering the space many of which were from big pharma and now they’re in this space. It’s really fun. It’s really exciting and everyone benefits. It’s a win/win when we’re all chasing quality.

Matthew: Now many of listeners have heard of terpenes and flavonoids but they’re not quite sure what those pieces of the puzzle are or how they fit into creating a product. Can you kind of just walk us through how you think about terpenes and flavonoids and what it means in creating an optimized product for your customers?

Ralph: You bet. We refer to those as the volatiles because they’re so easily lost in the purification process. So it takes tremendous care and attention to preserve those and capture those and hold those and what they do is basically give the oil and the strains their individual characteristics in that Sour Diesel has a very distinct taste and it’s those things that give it that character. So you can have dominance and you can have an oil that’s virtually tasteless and you have folks and cannasseur’s that really want to enjoy the characters of each strain and those folks are the demographics for folks who really appreciate the additional cost associated with preserving those characteristics.

Matthew: Now most people at this point are familiar with what indicas and sativas are and they produce a spectrum of different feelings for the consumer. Do you see new possibilities for customizing and kind of dialing in the effects of cannabis with vape pens?

Ralph: I do. I think the industry saw a race for purity and with purity comes potency and that ship has sailed with various purification methods like chromatography. You can isolate the cannabinoids and you can have something close to a 100% THC. So once that hype has calmed down people have really gravitated towards the characteristics and the quality of the specific strain. So what we’re seeing now is a lot of attention paid to preserving that specific effect that that strain offers. The next I think trend is going to be dialing that in even further and I’m looking forward to the industry coming up with a way to characterize that. So for example if you’re a fan of Sour Diesel and you found a specific phenotype and flower product that really spoke to your ailments or really gave you the effect you’re looking for medicinally or recreationally and you wanted to repeat that it would be great to know more information about it like the fingerprint of it.

So if it was an X, Y access it might be Sour Diesel, maybe X1, Y3 that really was the products that spoke to you. So if we had a catalog of that information then we will all I think really enjoy learning and understanding and experiencing the nuances between the strains and the phenotypes even within one.

Matthew: Oh very interesting. Has there been any twists or turns that you didn’t see coming? I mean as the industry leader your focus on this market segment is probably the closest anybody can think of but is there anything that’s kind of come out of left field where you said well we really weren’t anticipating this but we’re going to adapt or change or evolve in a new way?

Ralph: Yeah there has been some examples of that and it’s been from regulation. In Colorado in 2014 the voters spoke and said hey we want this legal. We just want it available for adults and they can make up their own mind if this is right for them or not and at that point we thought we really achieved a milestone but that was cast in stone and couldn’t be reversed and this year we’ve had the most active legislative session and we’ve really experienced some steps backwards related to how regulators still view the industry and it was a huge reminder that we’ve made progress but we still have a lot of work to do and anyone who’s in the industry is also an activist because we have so much education and communication to the regulators, the gatekeepers. We need to inform them of the benefits of this product and that work it never rests and we have to be mindful of that.

We had a couple experiences where regulators made some decisions. They didn’t invite the industry to the table for those discussions and we all need to invest in each other and be more active, more involved in our communities, and make sure that we’re spending the time that’s necessary to educate the policymakers to we have responsible regulation.

Matthew: Now I understand you also have a dry herb vaporizer now. Can you tell us about that?

Ralph: Yeah I’m very excited about that. We connected with the Ziggy Marley camp and Ziggy really wanted to have a product that was available to more people. Dry herb vaporizers are notoriously incredibly expensive and he wanted something that was more affordable. So we joint ventured and we created a dry herb vape that was considerably less expensive but of high quality and proud to offer that. Looking forward to seeing where that relationship with Ziggy and his team takes us. We’re really excited about it. We’ve been working on this for quite some time and communicate anybody that we were doing so and just launched his latest album on May 20th and in conjunction with that we launched this dry herb vape. Sales and enthusiasm for the product have been incredible and really proud of the project.

Matthew: That’s great. I bet a dry herb vaporizer has a little more challenges there because with the oil vaporizing there’s essentially a disposable product after you’re done. You’re throwing it away and with the herb vaporizer you’re using that ongoing is that right? What kind of challenges does that present in terms of making sure the components last and so forth?

Ralph: Well just like the rest of our products we offer a warranty on it that’s really customer centric. So if people have issues with it of course we treat them right but they’re very unique products and they have their own challenges and also their own positive offerings for folks that really enjoy flower. This is the product for them and they can grind up their flower; their favorite flower and still have a healthier alternative to smoking and enjoy the benefits that come from that.

Matthew: You mentioned that obviously cannabis is still federally illegal so you have to have kind of a set up in each state where you operate. Do you also look at; is it through licensing acquisition? I mean how does it look exactly when you grow from state to state?

Ralph: Our model is a licensing model. So we license our IP and we sell packaging and marketing to our licensees. Those licensees must qualify and part of that qualification process is that they’re properly licensed with the state. That’s the only way that we’re able to move forward is if they’re in a state obviously that recognizes cannabis as a legal business and they’re responsible for touching the plant and we do not make money from the sale of cannabis in those states. Instead we make money on licensing the IP and selling packaging.

Matthew: Is that just a matter of taking the playbook of like franchisees or something? Do you kind of take the best practices from other industries and then just apply them to the cannabis industry so you’re not reinventing the wheel there?

Ralph: Yeah I think that’s a great analog. Like a franchise you’re sharing a proven process, a proven model.

Matthew: When you look ahead the next two or three years where do you see the vape pen market going to and what excites you the most about it?

Ralph: I’m interested in what the future brings and I think that includes compounding cannabis plus fill in the blank equates to what? I think there’s great application for compounding cannabis with chamomile for more relaxation. What’s a healthy alternative to an energy drink or an alternative to a cup of coffee but in the form of vaporization? I think that’s the future is cannabis mixed with other beneficial botanicals.

Matthew: That’s a great idea. So maybe something like CBD vape cartridge with turmeric to maybe reduce inflammation and things like that?

Ralph: Correct. Obviously we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We need to study those products and make sure that they’re safer inhalation vaporization but a version of that I think is what the future promises and it will be very exciting to see what comes of it.

Matthew: I like to close the interview with some personal development questions Ralph. With that being said is there a book that has had a big impact over the course of your life when you look back and you say wow this book had a lot of impact. I find myself thinking about it year after year and you want to share it with CannaInsider listeners?

Ralph: Wow that’s a huge question.

Matthew: No pressure.

Ralph: No pressure. I love to read and I’ve got about an hour commute each day so I love to listen to books on CD and I’ll confess that one of my favorites is; man I have a hard time picking a favorite but I’ll mention several. Wayne Dyer is someone that I adore. Deepak Chopra is another one where they focus on you being in control of your destiny and we create our own fortune and good luck but we’re in control so it’s not I hope I have a good day. It’s make it a great day and I love to start my day with that because it’s a reminder that we have got so much opportunity in America and often times we forget. Often times we feel like we have a sense of entitlement and success should just come to us but those authors help remind me that we’re in a real special place and we have lots of opportunity here and I don’t think there’s any better example of American than cannabis.

I think the smell of freedom is cannabis. Freedom smells like cannabis. I don’t think there’s a more American industry when the American flag was; one of the original American flags was made with hemp and the constitution, the original constitution. I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud of hemp and cannabis and I love the intersection of those. So those authors would be my first pick and for all those reasons.

Matthew: Great quote “freedom smells like cannabis.” Is there a tool web based or otherwise that you consider indispensable to your business life or productivity that you would recommend?

Ralph: Wow a tool? Yeah I would say the most powerful and effective tool that’s affected my life and my professional career is; it may sound cheesy but its criticism from my business partners. Cannabis is a new industry. It’s moving a mock speed. We all have to make a lot of decisions in a short period of time and we have no time to waste on pleasantries or being politically correct. So often times partners in the company; the co-founders Chris McIlvaney, Jeremy Hidol, Jim Collins. We will offer each other some corrective criticism and serve up some humble pie often and there’s a lot of trust that goes along with that. You can have an amazing idea so you think and have your partner explain to you all the reasons why it’s a terrible idea but that’s empowering because that means you get to improve.

There’s tremendous cognitive gain from having that level of openness and trust in one another. So that’s been I think one of the best tools and contributors to our success is getting more collaboration. It has allowed us to expand, it has allowed us to partner with others, and share a smaller piece of a much, much larger pie.

Matthew: It’s funny you mentioned that. It’s the “Book of Mastery” I want to say talks about that as the feedback. Having a feedback loop from people that have the ability to help you excel is a critical part in achieving mastery because otherwise you can be on the wrong course and not know it. So it’s vital to have those kind of a little peer counsel that can keep you on track. So it sounds like you have that so that’s great.

Ralph: Yep. Thank you.

Matthew: Ralph in closing can you tell us one more time how listeners can look and find Open Vape in their community?

Ralph: You bet. There’s two suggestions. One you can simply go to our website www.openvape.com and you can also download the app and the advantage of the latter is that it will recognize if you allow it; it will recognize your location and it can make recommendations where you can shop and at places that are conveniently located near you.

Matthew: Great. Well Ralph thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider. We really appreciate it.

Ralph: It was a pleasure. Thank you very much.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com, simply send us an email at feedback(at)cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye-bye.


Ralph Morgan, co-founder of O.penVape discusses the vape cartridge and vape pen market and how his company grew 1200% last year. Ralph shares his thoughts on how the industry is maturing and evolving and where the opportunities are now.

Key Takeaways:
[2:53] – Ralph talks about his background and starting Open Vape
[5:45] – Advantages of being a dispensary owner prior to Open Vape
[7:31] – The key attributes of Open Vape products
[9:07] – How has the vape pen market changed over the last couple of years
[12:33] – Terpenes and flavonoid considerations
[13:56] – Vape pens customizing the cannabis effects
[16:08] – Dealing with surprises in the market
[18:07] – New dry herb vaporizer
[20:38] – Opearting in different states
[22:00] – The future of the vape pen market
[23:39] – Ralph’s book and web tool recommendations
[28:17] – Contact details for Open Vape

Important Update:
What are the five trends that will disrupt the cannabis market in the next five years?Find out with your free guide at: https://www.cannainsider.com/trends

The Whole Foods of Cannabis?

Michael Steinmetz CEO of FlowKana

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday 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 www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. Are you an accredited investor looking to be part of some of the most sought after private cannabis investment opportunities? Get on our free private investment alert service at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. Once you have subscribed to the investor alert service you will get access to curated opportunities that the public will simply never see. Again that URL is www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. Now here’s your program.

Just as Whole Foods created a whole new market segment for discerning shoppers, Flow Kana is now doing the same for cannabis. Providing a higher quality product while also giving customers transparency on where the cannabis they purchased was grown and under what conditions. I’ve invited Michael Steinmetz, Founder of Flow Kana onto the show today to tell us more. Michael welcome to CannaInsider.

Michael: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Matthew: Michael before we dive into what Flow Kana is can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into this industry?

Michael: Sure, of course. I’m originally from Caracas, Venezuela. I was born there, grown up there, and just recently moved up here to the Bay area about three years ago really in pursuit of understanding this industry. Really understanding how the ins and outs worked and who the different players were and really how I could be a part of it and add value to the current industry. I’d always kind of been a passionate advocate about the space. My mother actually used cannabis for really chronic medicinal reasons growing up. So I very closely followed it during my entire youth and early on adult life and I was always kind of very curious and interested to see it kind of evolve in a professional and responsible manner and kind of move away from the reggae and Rastafari and the taboo that’s kind of associated and the negative stigma around it and I kind of being a close advocate back in 2010 when it was the election time here in California and we were so close to getting it approved. I was like wow this is really going to happen in our lifetime.

So I decided to sell my business in Venezuela around three years ago and I moved out here with my wife really to understand the industry and understand the different aspects of it and different facets and see how I could help move the needle and make it become a more responsible and professional industry and just kind leverage and work with a lot of the operators that currently existed. So yeah that’s kind of how I started. Just kind of a passionate young person in the space and just realized it was really going to happen in our lifetime and it was just up to us to really make it happen. So that’s kind of when we decided to move out here and get to it.

Matthew: Great timing getting out of Venezuela by the way.

Michael: Yeah.

Matthew: I think sometimes we get stuck in our North American bubble.

Michael: Oh yeah.

Matthew: I’ve spent extensive time in South America and I’m familiar with Hugo Chavez; who he was and now Maderro but can you just give a little overview because Caracas has a lot of natural resources in terms of petroleum but now essentially the economy is somewhat in collapse and could you just talk about what life was like in Venezuela growing up and then the transition to Chavez and where we are today?

Michael: Oh yeah. I mean that’s actually; well that could be an entire interview in itself.

Matthew: Yeah.

Michael: We could spend the next hour talking about that but sure I can give you a little bit of a glimpse of what my life was like and to be honest it was a very sad and tragic continuous deterioration of the country since I was born there and grown up there. I was born in ’83. Definitely went through different political schemes or different political parties over my youth. None of which were definitely something that the country should have been proud of and definitely what caused us to get to the Chavez regime in ’98. When ’98 Chavez got re-elected. He gets a major, major victory. Majority vote because Venezuela had been poorly run for many years. A very corrupt country. Very dependent on oil money. A very rich nation so it really never took the time to develop industries and develop manufacturing and educate the people because we were just sitting on this one resource that we could all depend on.

I think that is always a blessing and a curse right. It’s a curse of the black gold that they call it right and yeah when Chavez regime came on in ’98 basically he started taking all the private companies and turning them into public institutions and governmentalizing them and that became very slow and bureaucratic and slowly killed entrepreneurships, slowly killed corporations, slowly killed the industry of the country and he wanted the country to depend on the government and when they wanted food they needed to ask the government, when they wanted water they needed to ask the government, when they wanted electricity they needed to ask the government, when they needed money they needed to ask the government. So they created a dependency and in a very Communist/Socialist regime that was disguised as a democracy for so long and nowadays we’re really, really suffering the consequences. I think it’s close to 18, 19 years of this regime.

We have a country that does not have the necessary basic food and it doesn’t have the necessary education and it doesn’t have toilet paper, chicken, or milk and there’s horrible lines. The crime has skyrocketed. The currency has devalued. People don’t really understand how bad it is because when you read about it in the news it sounds so ludicrous that it’s almost unfathomable. It’s unfathomable and the truth is that it’s probably sometimes even worse than what you get to see in the news when it leaks. So I left with my wife actually three years ago because we were lucky to sell our business in a really opportune time but that was really the motivation of it too. We came to a point where we couldn’t import the goods that we needed to produce and basically we had a massive devaluation. In basically three weeks our currency devalued almost 600 percent. So the cost of my product went up 600 percent and it just killed the economy.

Matthew: Wow.

Michael: This was a very intentional play from the part of the government. A lot of people say that they just make mistakes and they’re really stupid and they’re really; they don’t know what they’re doing and I actually think it’s the opposite. I think this is really, really well thought out strategy from the Fidel Castro regime and the communist regime and it’s just a little playbook of communism that they’ve just rolled out in our country. And it’s very, very sad. We went from being one of the wealthiest nations in the world where you basically had; I always use the example that says the Cartier store the first store they opened outside of Paris was in Caracas and like you see the Ferragamo Bags and they were in Caracas, New York, London, and Caracas was this mega capital of the world and we were this dominant force in the world and poised to do great things and we just totally misused it. Improperly used our resources. So it’s very sad to see where we’ve gotten to today and hopefully change will come soon.

Matthew: Wow. It’s really interesting to get that firsthand account. I recently read a statistic that 40 percent of the millennials in the United States favor socialism over capitalism.

Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matthew: And that really scared me because every country I go to all over the world where they either formally socialist or currently somewhat socialist the economy never feels the same. It’s kind of like this zombie economy and I see kind of the rise of Bernie Sanders and while he does speak a lot of truth at the same time I don’t think he understands what socialism would feel like and you got to see that whole spectrum through your life. I mean and it sounds like you favor more a capitalist society than a socialist.

Michael: I don’t know Matt. I mean certainly I think capitalism and free markets definitely end up resolving themselves out in the end. So I definitely like that system for sure. I don’t have actually anything against socialism. In fact I truly believe in the socialism on principle when it’s actually done properly and truly socialist. I would not say what we have in Venezuela is socialism. I would say we have fascist/communism/dictatorship that’s dressed up as socialism.

Matthew: Right.

Michael: When I think of socialism I think of Norway or Scandinavian countries where they have access to healthcare and they have access to education and they have access to good unemployment and they have access to a lot of services that the basic population should need and I think in principle socialism should work I just don’t think what we have in Venezuela is socialism. But I would agree with you that in general in countries where socialism is in place it hasn’t been the best opportune model for extreme growth I would say.

Matthew: Right and some would argue that Norway’s socialism works so well because they have such a large strategic petroleum reserve.

Michael: Exactly.

Matthew: That they can invest in other things.

Michael: Yeah maybe that’s very true and maybe had we used our oil instead of for the pockets for the very few who stole it; to actually use it for the country in education and once you educate the population and you teach them the tools to build their own businesses and build their own ways of income then they don’t depend on the oil right. I feel like we should be using the natural resources of our oil. Every single dollar we get to figure out how we get out of it. You know what I mean?

Matthew: Yeah.

Michael: A lot of people just sit pretty and comfortable with this kind of oil stream and they build the businesses and they build really strong motes and defensibility around their businesses to continue to move forward in this direction and I just think that doesn’t serve anybody.

Matthew: Yeah. Qatar has done a great job of that. Kind of taking the oil money and reinvesting it in creating other channels for the economy aside just for oil but then there’s Saudi Arabia that really hasn’t done as good a job so.

Michael: Yeah.

Matthew: You’re right there’s examples around the world but it sounds like this is a whole separate show Michael. We’ve got to stay on topic here with Cannabis.

Michael: Okay.

Matthew: So tell us about Flow Kana. What is it and why did you start it?

Michael: Perfect. So Flow Kana really what it is it’s the first organic sun grown sustainable cannabis brand and what we do that is very different from most companies is that rather than going down and vertically integrating down our supply chain we actually partner up with master growers that already have been doing it for multiple generations right and our whole brand and our whole ethos and our whole philosophy is to give the small farmer a unified voice and the scalability that they need to compete in the marketplace because as an individual grower, as an individual farmer you produce too little cannabis. You’re forced to do too many of the pieces to go to market. You’re forced to dry, to cure, to trim, to sell, to market, to distribute, and not really allowed to focus on the core of who you are which is a cultivator, which is growing.

So the whole idea with Flow Kana is to give enough small farmers the services and tools that they need to go to market efficiently in a way that’s scalable with their neighboring farmers and that’s kind of what we’re about and I think was that the question or how did I get started? Was that the second part?

Matthew: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah or why did I get started? So I got started Matt really because after spending a lot of time in the industry working and networking and I volunteered at a dispensary for some time and I streamlined their operations and their management and they got to learn about the ins and out. I found that because of the weird gray area that this industry lies in both legally and with the whole kind of medical card aspect to it and the licensing structure that did exist but doesn’t really exist in California it created a lot of what do you call like market irregularities I would say and one of the pieces that was really suffering under the current scheme in California was the cultivator, was the farmer. Being so far removed from the end consumer they were year after year pushed down and pushed down and pushed down in price and they were not allowed to send their brand downstream and communicate their values and who they were to the customer.

So we basically came in to disrupt both of those things. We came in to basically pay our farmers fairly, get them into competitive rates in the marketplace, and allow them to connect directly with the customer to be able to tell their stories so that we could stop buying moonshine cannabis which is what this industry is all about right. We go from a black market environment where whatever your dealer had is what you got right.

Matthew: Right.

Michael: You didn’t really question anything. You’re dealer came into your home. You want him out of there as quickly as possible. You don’t really ask him to much questions because whatever he has you’re taking and we moved to a world of dispensaries where you have varieties and you have choices and you can ask questions to a bud tender but you still don’t understand who grew it, you still don’t understand what went into it, you still have no idea what chemicals and pesticides were used in a cultivation, and we came in to basically give all that transparency and visibility down to the supply chain and I think that’s super critical to arm consumers with knowledge and to arm them with more information and facts to be able to base their decisions in the future.

Matthew: And what has the response been to Flow Kana to date?

Michael: It’s been amazing. I mean I think we really hit our core with a lot of consumers at large and other industry folks as well that understood kind of the importance of giving credit where credit was due right and giving credit to the farmer that did spend eight months in the full sun cultivating this plant and loving it and taking care of it. Give him the credit for growing and for putting it out to the world. I always make the comparison that growing into a dispensary right now is as if you went to a Bodega or a liquor store and instead of buying Budweiser or Stella or any of the brands that you buy you’re just buying Bodega beer and Bodega wine and that’s not the case right. Every single bottle and every single beer and every wine has a story and it has a process and it has values and it has an identity and that’s being lost right now in the current system, in the current industry.

We’re buying a whole bunch of moonshine cannabis and I think that’s not leading; that’s perpetuating the problem that we created in the black market in prohibition with our dealer and I think one of the things that we’re trying to push as Flow Kana in this industry is to encourage more people to be ultra-transparent in their practices. To really show what goes into what they’re selling and what comes out and I think and I don’t blame the current system the way it is because in their defense we have been operating in the black legal illicit market for a very long time and very unregulated market and there was lives at stake. So a lot of the cultivators didn’t want to get their brand downstream either. So it’s a weird kind of dichotomy between the legal landscape and how the industry is evolving and how the consumers are pushing the industry forward as a more of a consumer goods product, industry. So that’s kind of where we stand.

Matthew: How is the cannabis from Flow Kana presented and packaged because I think you’re doing kind of something interesting here that listeners would like to hear about.

Michael: Totally. So every single one of our packaged jars we call them are co-branded with the farmer okay. Co-branding means every single jar comes with the name of the farmer that grew it and it comes with where it was grown. So it’s the same way that you buy kind of craft coffee nowadays where it says grown by Eddie Barrientos in Guatemala right. So our craft cannabis will have the label of the grower, it will have exactly where they grew it, and if you go back to our site you’ll know exactly; you’ll know more about their farm. You’ll know exactly about their cultivation practices and you can even connect to them. You can send them a message through Facebook or Twitter. So that’s kind of the unique difference between how we package our product and the reason why co-branding is important too is that at the consumer level it’s going to be too hard and too difficult for every consumer to remember or to learn all the different farmer brands on top of all the different strain names.

The whole industry is very complex and confusing right now. So the whole idea with Flow Kana is that we become an umbrella brand where consumers can be like oh this is a Flow Kana jar, this is a Flow Kana product. Let me see who grew it. Let me see who manufactured it and the whole idea is to gain the trust of the consumer through the Flow Kana and then be able to showcase the story of the grower or the manufacturer or whatever product we’re talking about to the customer.

Matthew: And where does most of the flower come from?

Michael: So most of our flower actually comes from up north from the Emerald Triangle. Particularly the Mendocino area. I think Mendocino is poised to be amongst the quality capitol of cannabis for sure. I think the biggest producing area in the world as most of your listeners know is the Emerald Triangle. You have the region of Humboldt county which is up north and you have the region of Mendocino and Trinity right. Those are the three counties that form the triangle. Out of those three I think Mendocino and Humboldt are kind of the biggest and most evolved and Humboldt while they’ve been focused on volume and scaling and production and that’s kind of what they’re known for. Mendocino is actually been known much more for quality right. They’ve had even more restrictions on how many plants they can grow and how big they can grow them and so the farmers in Mendocino they’ve only been able to grow 25 plants so for them they’ve had to get really, really, really good at growing 25 plants to be able to survive and to depend on that market.

Matthew: Are they huge plants or like the size of trees?

Michael: Yeah. They are massive actually. You’d be surprised. The first time I went to a; the real reason I kind of started Flow Kana was in part of my research when I stumbled onto Happy Day Farms and I went up north and I saw their farm and I saw their entire farm eco system where they not only grew cannabis but they grew other vegetables for the community. So you had your patch of cabbage and carrots and sunflowers and then you had your cannabis plant right next to it and it was such a beautiful eco system and the plants that I saw; this plant must have been 14 feet high. It was twice; a little bit more than twice the size of me and it was massive and you know I’m used to seeing small stressed out plants under LED’s in the indoor and seeing a full, full spectrum and full light. Full eight months cycle underneath the sun to me was really kind of changed how I understand the growing; the cultivation aspect of the industry for sure.

Matthew: Now it sounds like there is a strong tradition of growing cannabis well in that area, in northern California. Obviously ideal temperatures and things like that but what about the characteristics of the growers themselves. They kind of seem like they’ve really gone deep. Like these are the Jedi growers up there. Would you say that’s true?

Michael: A 100 percent. I mean these are; when we say master growers we don’t say this loosely and I think they have I would say 95 percent of our farmers are multi-generational farmers so these are second and third generation cannabis farmers. So this is people that have been working on the land for decades and not only working on the land but really getting good at picking the right genetics for their plot of land. One of the things that’s really interesting that’s coming out in cannabis that has been kept under wraps and under prohibition is the whole idea of Appalachians. The same concept of Appalachians with wine of Sonoma or wine of Bordeaux is that every single cannabis plant and every cannabis seeds is very particular to the environment in which it is grown in. So a farmer that grows in a southern facing wall has totally different sun exposure than a farmer that has an eastern facing wall and someone that is at 1,000 feet is totally different than someone who’s at 300 feet and then there’s the fog line.

So how close you are to the coast has more salt water or less salt in the air. So the humidity is different. So all these different aspects play a huge part in the cultivation. So for instance one of our farmers actually told me this story this weekend which I thought was really interesting is that he finally upgraded and he bought a different plot of land which was only I think he said 600 yards away from his previous plot of land where he had been living for forty years and he said that last year when he planted the same genetics and the same grow cycle, the same everything that he’s always done in this plot of land that just only 600 yards away the yield was terrible. It was totally off. Nothing worked out and he was fascinated that of course he knew this already going into it that it would be different but not that much so and I think that’s what we’re going to start seeing in cannabis and that’s what’s so unique about the strains that we have in Flow Kana is that the strains that we carry are very boutique genetics; a very rare genetics that the farmers have been handling for decades.

So they’ve really mastered it and perfected it between the soil and the angle of the sun and how much water it gets and what you get is a strain that won’t grow anywhere else in the world except there with those same conditions to turn out exactly the best that it does and I think that part of the cannabis plant is fascinating.

Matthew: So with Flow Kana you get this beautiful glass jar, this great presentation and you’re holding it in your hand and you get to learn about the farmer and the region it came from. You’re getting more benefit and you’re paying a higher price I assume.

Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matthew: On a program basis how does it compare to say like the median gram of cannabis flower in California?

Michael: Right. So actually we price our ace at forty dollars an eighth. I would say that for better or for worse dispensaries have created a bottom shelf, a mid tier, and a high end cannabis category. That’s usually what you see in a dispensary when you walk in is three general categories low end, medium, and high end and within there the price ranges a lot. So I would say the high end cannabis ranges from between forty dollars to sixty-five dollars and eighth is probably where you see the top end cannabis and we chose to position our cannabis on the low end of the high end cannabis if that makes any sense. So forty dollars being the low end of that category and that’s kind of just a personal belief of ours that I’ve always kind of hated in the world really why it is that you’re going to pay for something organic and the organic one has to be more expensive than the chemical one that was processed in the lab.

It’s kind of like the incentives are totally off in the way that we’ve built the world that we incentivize one cent when all these big corporations to continue to grow under poor conditions and we charge farmers that are growing organically; we force them to pay for a permit so they can get organic certified so that makes their product more expensive. So I’ve always felt that to be backwards in the world. So our hope with the cannabis is that we can do it with Flow Kana is that we can actually show that hey we can produce incredible high grade sun grown organic cannabis. Probably the best quality you’ll find in California and actually make it at an affordable price.

Matthew: I think it would be easy to change the whole market towards organic if we got rid of the organic term and just called organic regular, and then we call the other extra chemical or doused in chemicals and pesticides. No one would want that.

Michael: That’s exactly right Matt. I mean I’ve always felt that was upside in our world. You should put a label on the ones that have the chemicals and like hey this has wax and this has whatever; poisonous gas that was used in World War II whatever.

Matthew: Yeah.

Michael: That should be notified. That should be told to the consumers. We should just live in a world where we just assume everything was done with organic and love and care but we don’t unfortunately. So yeah that’s kind of the reality and hopefully with cannabis it can be a little bit different.

Matthew: Now tell us about your app and the ordering experience.

Michael: Yeah perfect. So a lot of people actually confuse Flow Kana as a delivery service right because I would say that our go to market strategy was a delivery service. We always wanted to be a cannabis brand and always be known for that but when we tried to take our brand and put it in dispensaries really early on in the project I would say about a year and a half ago, two years ago we were a little bit ahead of our time. Dispensaries were not used to prepackaged flower. So they were like you’re crazy. I’d buy my cannabis by the pound and I put it in my own bags why am I going to be your prepackaged flower? So we were like okay screw it dispensaries won’t take our product let’s just start a delivery service. Let’s showcase the value of our farmers. Let’s tell their stories. Let’s showcase the quality of the medicine and let’s build our brand direct to consumer first and then see if we can then back into selling to dispensaries and doing wholesale.

So that’s exactly what’s happened now two years afterwards where we’ve built kind of a little bit of a name for ourselves and a reputation for ourselves and now dispensaries are excited to work with us and partner with us for our prepackaged flowers and we’re super excited to work with them as well. So your question was what is our app and our delivery service? We still continue to do a direct to consumer aspect to our business but we’re not a regular delivery service like anything you would find in WeedMaps. We don’t have a bunch of edibles and topicals and creams and tinctures and all these other products. We just focus on our one product that we do really, really well which is flower. So we started off a year and a half ago with the delivery service and it’s a web app based service.

So you basically go to www.flowkana.com, you browse through our menu. With a few simple clicks you’ve uploaded your medical card, you’ve uploaded your license, and you place your order and we verify; for the first time user we’ll verify you as a patient. Once you’re cleared from that verification process then within 19 minutes we get a delivery to your door. So it’s basically on demand cannabis delivery. Our average delivery time is around 19 minutes.

Matthew: Okay so in California exclusively right now?

Michael: That’s exclusive I would say our delivery service is exclusively actually to the northern California area, to the Bay area.

Matthew: Okay.

Michael: We only deliver in San Francisco and the East Bay right now and we’re doing wholesale. So you can find our Flow Kana flower in dispensaries all over the Bay area and also in LA; Los Angeles. So in Los Angeles you can find us in dispensaries down there and our; it’s funny because our delivery service was kind of our go to market strategy. We actually built a really, really incredible customer service team and incredible driving team and we actually have a really kind of exceptional service so now in this moment and time we’re actually deciding what to do with both. We’re kind of having a wholesale program in placed and a direct to consumer in place. So we’ll probably maintain those as long as the laws permit and as they evolve over time over these next couple years.

Matthew: And what have been the most popular ([28:37] unclear)?

Michael: Popular flower strains on our menu? I mean I think that varies Matt. I mean I think the whole basis around our company is that they’re all small batched okay. So unlike I think what some of the more commercial industry is moving towards which is producing 1,000 pounds of OG or producing a 1,000 pounds of Sour Diesel. We really want to focus on small batch, small lots, and allowing the person to really learn about the farmer and find the farmer that they like. Traditionally what we’ve seen is that people that like a certain farmer they’ll really enjoy all their strains and people that try a farmer that they don’t like say it’s too strong or too potent or giving them too much anxiety most of the strains from that farmer are that way as well and the reason being most farmers kind of grow what they like to consume and obviously it has the energy and intention of the farmer during the growing process.

So more than being kind of strain specific in terms of what strains have been doing well in our platform I think certain farmers have found their niche customers that really like their product.

Matthew: Okay so you’re buying more the farmer and the region than you are the strain in this case.

Michael: Yeah I think so and I think like I actually hope over time that I think the whole strain naming thing is a little bit of a nonsense to be honest right. There’s zero accountability. If someone says this is Sour Diesel there’s really not a way to know if that’s Sour Diesel or if it’s something else.

Matthew: Right, right.

Michael: There’s thousands and thousands of names and it’s very, very confusing. We actually have a very kind of talented design team in house so we’re trying to figure out a way how to reclassify cannabis in a very digestible way. The same way that you have IPA’s and you have pilsners and you have the porters and whatever else that you have. I think something like that needs to happen in cannabis where we reclassify it in a way that's a little bit more understandable and digestible and sure each strain has an enormous variability with the genetic code but there is some sort of classification of that very high level that we can all kind of agree on as an industry to make it easy for customers right. Like someone coming into the industry that has never tried cannabis before especially an elderly person they’re probably not going to like to try green crack or under enough amount to swear and the program Thunder F something else.

I don’t know it’s funny because I actually read an interesting book called “The Last Call” and it was a story kind of about prohibition; the alcohol prohibition and you know during the alcohol times and under prohibition it was a very, very similar landscape right. You needed to have a medical card to buy medical grade alcohol from medical licensed dispensaries and those names back then it was just like whoever built that barrel in the basement got to name the barrel whatever they wanted right. So it was more of like the farmers right now they name the strains whatever they think they want. Some of them keep genetic lineage in place but I think the naming convention is very confusing to customers. So I don’t know how that’s evolve over time but I’m excited to see how it does.

Matthew: And where do you see Flow Kana evolving over the next couple years?

Michael: Yeah so I mean I think as the industry, I think as industries evolve and mature what usually tends to happen is that there’s a great big degree of consolidation. There’s a lot, a lot of noise right now in the industry. There’s a lot, a lot of brands out there. There’s a lot of people because of the regulatory system has been not so robust since 1996 when they kind of put in place the Compassionate Care Act here in California when cannabis first became legal. The legal system was kind of left for the market to kind of evolve and it’s kind of done some great things and it’s done some not so great things as well.

So I see Flow Kana kind of being really true to its core and really being true to being a brand that people can recognize and can trust and we see ourselves moving into other categories not just flower and having Flow Kana some sort of edibles and topicals and tinctures because the whole idea is that as the industry matures and more people come in what are those people going to look for? What brands are they going to trust? What are they going to look for in a product and I think the easier it is and the deeper connection they can form with one brand or several brands the better it will be for them. So kind of staying true to our core and just kind of becoming much more of a recognized brand and a trusted brand in the industry.

Matthew: So a lot of people listening don’t always get to hear of all the difficulties in starting a business. They think that’s it’s all you wave a magic wand and you’ve got this successful business. What have been some of the difficulties in getting Flow Kana going? Is there some setbacks or times where you’ve had to pivot and try different things?

Michael: Yeah absolutely. I mean I think what you said is very correct. I think building a business and starting a business is a very challenging task and it’s something that you really, really have to love what you’re doing and be extremely passionate about it and be very convinced of your path and the decision you took to embark in entrepreneurship because the truth is it’s so hard and you get so many problems and so many obstacles along the way that you have to have that passion and that love and that intensity and that connection to really overcome that and in Flow Kana I would say it was no different. I mean I think we’ve been moments where right between fund raising where the cash is getting close to the end and you’re struggling to figure out how to pay the bills and then oh the cash comes in and then you can breathe.

Then there’s times where the team doesn’t work out and you bring on people and you test them out for a while and some people the paths don’t align and you’re unable to move on. So for us as a company especially in this really nascent industry that’s being formed. I think the real, real thing that we kind of stated hard is to stay very nimble and adaptable and stay very just quick to decisions because one thing that we know for sure is that this industry is going to change dramatically over the next coming years and I would even say months. From the way the industry looked January 1st to the looks of today is totally different in my lens and the truth is this is not we’re inventing the personal computer and we’re going to figure out if people like it or don’t like it. This is just like we know that there is a demand right. People love cannabis.

The demand exists. We don’t have a demand; we’re not demand constrained. That’s not our biggest problem that we’re trying to solve. We’re not trying this fight for market share or education. What we’re really trying to solve is what’s going to happen to the legal landscape? What’s going to happen when new consumers come online right? I feel like in a way the illegal, legal market and the trends and the patterns that we see in dispensaries in buying behaviors and purchasing behaviors they’re very, very skewed because I actually believe the majority of the market but in the 90 plus percent hasn’t even entered yet to the legal landscape.

So what’s going to happen when all these new consumers come in and when other demographic comes in and older people come in and baby boomers come in? So it’s like this industry is going to change a lot both in what the consumers want, what the legal landscape is going to be, and I think for us being adaptive and nimble and definitely pivoting along the way has been critical. I think the biggest pivot we’ve done to date has definitely been refocusing our business from direct to consumer to wholesale; selling to dispensaries and that was kind of a challenge to overcome in itself and figuring out how do we adapt the team that we currently have to the new kind of set of products and services. So yeah I mean you’re spot on with that question.

Matthew: How do you get the dispensaries to care about your product? I mean they’re getting a lot of pitches all the time and they have a lot of different things to show and there’s limited counter space and retail space. So how do you get them to care about you and to make sure they show customers that walk in Flow Kana?

Michael: Well I think to be successful in business and really in life Matt you really have to take care of your relationships. You really have to foster deeper and more meaningful relationships and with our dispensaries we don’t really just treat them as a vendor relationship. To us we see them as partners. It’s like how do we allow; how do we get Flow Kana to grow in your dispensary and how do we take you to grow with us? So a lot of what we do is we actually spend a lot of time with our marketing team and our sales team with each client figuring out what are those strategies that will help you reach your goals and help us reach our goals at the same time and I think I firmly believe that business is about win/win and I think if you build; if you win at someone else’s expense then you really haven’t created any value. You just created kind of a zero sum game and I think unfortunately to this date because cannabis has been in this black market and has been under prohibition a lot of people have put those short term gains over the long term because there’s been no clarity, there’s been no visibility to what the long term is going to look like and I think now that we get into a more regulated marketplace and a more stable marketplace I think it’s really important for people to start switching that mindset from the short term to the long term. And how do we build the relationship that I don’t just sell a couple of jars of Flow Kana to you today? How do I sell a couple jars to you from Flow Kana for the next ten years?

Matthew: Right.

Michael: So I think when you go into a relationship with the intent of being a long term win/win it really changes the game and that’s kind of how we approach our partner dispensaries.

Matthew: Michael I want to transition to a couple personal development questions if we can.

Michael: Perfect, yeah.

Matthew: Is there a book that stands out in your mind as having a big impact on your life that you’d like to share with listeners?

Michael: Yeah absolutely. I mean I think personal development is something that I’ve taken very deep to heart from very early on in my life. I was very lucky that my mother was a life coach. So when I was growing up as a little kid I was twelve or thirteen and I was reading Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins and all these personal development life coaches and learning the tools and the strategies to grow yourself because I think it’s really funny because human beings are the one species in this planet that really have the choice to grow right. Every single object and every single thing on this planet has always; it’s unlimited right. A tree will grow as tall as it possibly can. The branch on the tree will grow as tall as it possibly can. The leaf on that plant will grow as tall as it possibly can to reach more sunlight and I think growing and expanding is always like a principle or the universe and human beings are the one element of it that really have the choice to even continue to grow as fast as you can or as long as you can or you could settle for something less.

So personal development is something that I really, really spent a lot of time with and I purposely leave a lot of time during my day to growth and in terms of books yeah well I could name my heroes really. The way that I approach my personal growth was I pinpointed in life the leaders and the people that I most greatly admire and the people and the leader that I would love to kind of be or be known as or called like and I think when you pick those people that you admire and you like then you study them like it’s the only thing you need to do. You go and you read all of their books. You watch all their You Tube interviews. You ask them questions online if they can; if they can answer and identifying those people that you want to be gives you a vision for how you can prepare for yourself and to be honest success leaves clues right and you can actually; there’s no secret mystery to how Steve Jobs got to where he got or Richard Branson got to where he got or Warren Buffet got to he wanted.

You can actually study what they did and you can actually learn from what they did and you can choose to make the same decisions that they did and at the end of the day life is about sacrifices. It’s about choosing what you’re going to specialize in and in terms of books yeah so one of my favorite business guru’s is Jim Collins. He’s got two books that are my cornerstone for business which are “Good to Grade” and “Built to Last.”

Matthew: Oh yeah.

Michael: Those are my two favorite books. I love “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. An amazing personal development book. “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Matthew: Oh yeah that’s a great one too.

Michael: ([41:40] unclear) that’s one of my favorite books. I’ve also; I like marketing myself it’s kind of like my area that I really, really enjoy. So another person I really admire is Simon Sinek. He’s got a fabulous couple books. Obviously Steve Jobs also is a known marketing hero. I think more than; I think there’s definitely not a one size fits all recipe for like let me find a book that’s going to change your life. I think that decision is very personal. I think you have to choose who you want to be and or who you’d like to be. What skills you’d like to have, what characteristics as a person you’d like to possess, and then figure out the books that match that in the long way and you’ll figure it out. That’s kind of what my philosophy is around books.

Matthew: Is there a tool web based or otherwise that you consider indispensable to your everyday business or productivity?

Michael: Hmm interesting. Well internally in our company we use several productivity tools. I think probably amongst my favorite would be Slack.

Matthew: Okay.

Michael: Slack is an internal messaging tool for companies and you can very easily make groups and you can make channels. So you can have a marketing department channel group, you can have a sales department channel group, you can have a logistics channel group, you can have an everyone channel group. So I think Slack has been a really, really great tool to actually communicate internally with the company and it’s actually made I think my life much easier. That’s kind of one of my favorites right now for sure.

Matthew: What tool did Slack replace for you? Were you using something else and you transitioned to Slack?

Michael: That’s interesting.

Matthew: And you liked it better. I mean is it replacing instant Messenger or does it replace like a project management tool for you?

Michael: That’s really interesting because it’s like internally in the company we did not use a messaging service before Slack. So it’s kind of weird it’s like now I don’t see how I ran my company before without Slack you know.

Matthew: Okay so it’s in addition too it’s not a replacement.

Michael: It’s an addition. I mean I guess there are some competitors like Hip Chat is a competitor and we definitely used just email a lot so I think Slack replaces a lot of email definitely and we use Instant Message on the Iphone and what’s that but this was designed from the needs of a company inside and that’s been; and the product really shows for that.

Matthew: Well Michael as we close how can listeners find out more about Flow Kana online?

Michael: Okay so I mean there’s I guess the main source of information would be www.flowkana.com. Also definitely look us up on Facebook. We are constantly putting out original content usually around the lifestyles of our farmers and the people that we work with. Showcasing a little bit about their life. So yeah I invite you guys to kind of follow us on Facebook and really just read about us online. I think that’s kind of the best way to kind of stay in touch.

Matthew: Michael best of luck on Flow Kana and thanks so much for coming on and educating us today. We appreciate it.

Michael: Thank you Matt. I really appreciate it and I look forward to working more in the future.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com, simply send us an email at feedback(at)cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye-bye.


Michael Steinmetz is the founder of Flow Kana. Flow Kana is looking to be the Whole Foods of the cannabis market.  Learn why cannabis enthusiasts are increasingly wanting to know where their cannabis comes from, who grew it, and under what conditions. Imagine being able to communicate with the grower of your cannabis to ask questions, with Flow Kana you can.

Learn more at:
https://www.flowkana.com

Key Takeaways:
[1:29] – Michael’s background and how he got into the cannabis space
[3:52] – Michael talks about what life was life in Venezuela
[10:44] – What is Flow Kana
[14:13] – Michael talks about the response to Flow Kana
[16:16] – Flow Kana’s packaging
[20:12] – The characteristics of the growers
[23:02] – The cost of Flow Kana compared to medium grade flower
[25:30] – Michael talks about Flow Kana app and ordering experience
[28:28] – Popular Flower strains
[32:05] – Where Flow Kana is going in the next couple of years
[33:48] – The difficulties in starting a business like Flow Kana
[37:10] – Michael talks about how he pitches to dispensaries
[38:59] – Michael’s book and tool recommendations
[44:14] – Contact details for Flow Kana

What are the 5 Trends That will Disrupt The Cannabis Industry?
Find out with your free report here:
https://www.cannainsider.com/trends

Winning Cannabis Licenses Around The World – Michael Mayes

michael mayes quantum 9

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi. I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday look for a fresh new episode where I will take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. We’ve talked about CBD or cannabidiol on the show many times. Just to review thought, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound from the cannabis or hemp plant that has many benefits. Now our friends at Treatables have put together a one list chew that can help your dog or cat become more calm and balanced. Valerie wrote in to tell us about her experience with Treatables.

Valerie writes, “My ten year old Husky/Sheppard/Lab mix Chuck is my faithful companion. Chuck got significantly quantifiably better from using Treatables. It took about three days of feeding Chuck two to three doses a day to see the full effect, but he did get noticeably more comfortable on the first day of feeding that to him. Before CBD Chuck limped and couldn’t enjoy longer walks though he clearly had the desire for them. Once he started taking them he could leap around again.” Thanks for writing in Valerie. Treatable Chews are legal and available in all 50 states right now. If you want to learn about what Treatables can do for your pet, visit www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/pet and get a coupon code for 10% off your order. Once again that url is www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/pet now here’s your program.

While we tend to focus a lot on the North American cannabis market the rest of the world is also relaxing their prohibition stance on cannabis. Here to give us a perspective on the North American and international markets is Michael Mayes, CEO of Quantum 9. Michael welcome to CannaInsider.

Michael: Thank you and thank you for having me Matt.

Matthew: Michael to give us a sense of geography can you tell us where you are in the world today?

Michael: Yes. Currently I’m in Chicago, Illinois but we practice internationally so it’s rare for me to be in my home city but it’s nice being home.

Matthew: Michael what is Quantum 9?

Michael: Quantum 9 is an international cannabis consulting firm.

Matthew: Okay and what services does Quantum 9 offer?

Michael: Sure. We primarily are focusing on the licensing realm of cannabis consulting. So basically what we do is we work with high net worth individuals, private equity firms, and investors to obtain licenses in existing or emerging states or countries. So currently we’ve practiced in about ten countries and the experience has been amazing.

Matthew: Now how do you just jump on the scene and create an international cannabis consulting firm? I mean what was the evolution here? What were you doing before that and how did you get this started?

Michael: Sure. Well I first started as an investor in 2009 in Colorado’s first for profit medical marijuana market. Somebody back from Michigan where I’m originally from asked me to join a venture to go after some licenses in Colorado. We started with a basement operation and then expanded that to; we raised a million dollars in 2009 to obtain a 15,000 square foot cultivation center and all of the equipment inside of it. We grew that company to a 90,000 square foot cultivation center and two retail dispensaries. That operation is actually called Good Meds in Colorado and from that we found an incredible need for standard operating procedures, good manufacturing processes, the evolution of the quality assurance and FDA standards in recent and as a result we started helping other businesses with some of their best practices within the facility and then we were offered to do some licensing for a client and we had no interest at all in doing document writing work at all especially for the government.

But they made us an offer that we couldn’t refuse and now we’re doing licensing work all over the United States and around the world. We’ve done about 24 projects to date of which we’ve been successful with 22 of them so we’re boasting a 91.6 percent success rate currently which is very high within the industry.

Matthew: Wow that is a very high success rate congratulations on that.

Michael: Thank you very much. It’s a ton of work and we have a full team of consultants. We have around 35 consultants right now that practice in this arena from different facets from quality assurance to security; you name it and all of that heavy lifting is done by them guys. I’m just the guy at the front end of things.

Matthew: Yeah. I’ve seen some of the paperwork and detail that’s required to apply for a cannabis license and it’s just shocking how much there is. Its binders and its interpreting language from governments and municipalities. I mean it’s really quite intense. For people that aren’t familiar do you want to just talk about that a little bit?

Michael: Sure. Not only do you have to submit five years of audited financials for each one of the members and each state is a little bit different. In some states it’s five to twenty-five percent. Ones that have that amount of equity need to provide that information but for the most part it’s mostly everyone like in a market like Pennsylvania everyone has to submit their financials and so forth and that’s basically for the government to understand that the money isn’t coming from ill sources and so forth. But besides that they’re looking for a very stringent business plan of exactly how you plan to execute upon awarded the license. So not only do you need to submit construction diagrams, schematics designs, and project plans but you also need to show exactly how and what documents will govern each process from record keeping to the standard operating procedures to how security will be handled. The state’s looking for groups that have a very good handle on that and also an expansive executive team that can really take the plan from start to fruition.

Matthew: Now you tend to have a more international focus than a lot of consultants in this space. Can you take us around the world and tell us where you see the most opportunity and what markets are starting to open up?

Michael: Sure definitely. So currently the United State and Canada so North America have had the biggest pushes in growth but we’re starting to see a lot more countries around the world start to come online from Germany, Columbia, Puerto Rico if you count that. It’s a U.S. territory but Guam is coming online soon which is another U.S. territory, Uruguay, Australia, Jamaica. I mean the list goes on and we’re only going to see that legalization needle move forward. In recent full legalization is usually a second step behind medical and before that is usually some type of decriminalization. So it follows a pretty straight process from decriminalization to medical to adult use but some countries are going right to adult use or recreational right off the bat.

Matthew: Okay and is there a different flavor to what the governments care about and needs are from country to country where you’re like well I’m used to dealing with the United States and Canada and then I step into a different country and they have just a whole different perspective about what their concerned about and how they’re approaching it?

Michael: Absolutely. The markets differ greatly. Even between the United States and Canada they’re very different and then even from state to state they tend to differ. The Canadian market a lot of people may not know this but its 100 percent Ecommerce. So all cannabis is mail order in Canada today. Now there are compassionate clubs that are popping up all over Canada but some of them are; most all of them are illegal but they’re tolerated in different markets. In a country like Australia it’s much like the United States. It’s starting to; territory by territory it’s starting to come online so the northern and southern territories are online right now and it’s legal for medical purposes in Victorian’s new South Wales. Columbia just came out with a decree that was signed by Santos which allowed for manufacturing and exportation model. Legalization in Uruguay and Jamaica also and then in Spain you can actually consume cannabis in private areas but you can’t really acquire it legally.

So it’s such a stark difference from country to country and really what it takes is a consulting firm or people that are pro legalization to really educate the government as to the pros and cons. We actually did a project for the German Ministry in which it was heavily involved in kind of shaping the way the rules and regulations ran and it wasn’t necessarily like we told them exactly what to do. What we did is we gave them cause and effect. If you did this it would result in this and helping them understand what their decisions have on the impact of the industry in their country is very useful for them.

So what we do is we use our experience of what we’ve seen in other states and countries and then give them why a certain thing is good or bad. For instance in Germany they wanted to implement an nanogram limit so when you’re driving they can see if you were impaired or not based on an nanogram limit. Well we provided them with the Department of Transportation information from the United States showing them how that model is flawed.

Matthew: Okay interesting. How is it flawed?

Michael: The nanogram limit is kind of a Breathalyzer that’s used by a police officer once they’ve pulled you over. Unfortunately you can’t necessarily tell; it’s not a direct correlation from how impaired you are to what the nanogram meter is reading so it’s not conclusive evidence that because you have cannabis in your system that you’re impaired from it and tolerance is so gravely that someone may have had a sucker in their mouth for ten minutes and got in the car and drove. Well that would have been detrimental if a nanogram limit was implemented.

Matthew: Okay and are other countries anxious to avoid certain mistakes that we’ve made here in the U.S.? For example I look at New York and it’s a no flower market. Illinois there’s this fingerprint and background check. It’s kind of like they treat you like a criminal upfront and there’s these little spins that each state has taken that’s not ideal. Is there one thing that different countries say well let’s avoid this or what should we avoid Michael?

Michael: Sure. So Jamaica is a great example of that because as you may know Jamaican’s have been making a living off of cultivating cannabis for many, many years; decades and if you look at that from an agricultural perspective the last thing that you want legalization to do in any form whether it’s medical or adult use you don’t want disrupt the current culture of a country. So when we were doing some things with the German government or the Jamaican government you don’t want to take a privilege out of the hands of a community. So a lot of the suggestions that were made were to make sure that the individuals that were growing cannabis now that we’re making a living off of it were taken care of. So what we didn’t want to do is take that privilege out of the Jamaican’s hands and put it into private enterprise which would have not only crippled the country but it would’ve led to turmoil within the country.

Matthew: Yeah great points. You got to go; don’t swim against the stream of the culture or you’ll lose pretty much.

Michael: Yeah and if you think about it; I mean they’re just growing crops on their land and selling it as a trade and just because the United States says somethings illegal doesn’t necessarily result in them having to give away a way of their life.

Matthew: Yeah. Now you mentioned a little bit about your help that you provide with licensing but let’s dig into that a little bit more. The process is so in-depth. There’s so many parts to it and you’re not just competing with other people. You have to kind of go out there and not satisfy the requirements but exceed them, look at the tone of the requirements. Can you talk a little bit about that like how the lenses you use when you’re approaching helping a client win a license?

Michael: Sure. So the first thing that my entire team does is we read the bill as soon as it’s published and that’s just the first step. We found it effective to read it out loud together which makes everyone know and understand them and we can talk about them as different aspects of the rules are different from other states and then when the rules and regulations are published we do the same thing. We read them out loud and then chunk different areas into different protocols and procedures but that’s just a part of the SOP and GMP creation but one of the biggest aspects of any submission is the actual executive team that is going to be submitting. Your CEO, CFO, NCO are such important positions so you’re definitely going to want people that are prominent individuals in the state and also have the pedigree behind them to show the state that they have experience with heavily regulated industries such as the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, and so forth.

From there there’s other key positions like security director, cultivation lead, extraction lead, somebody on the retail end so it’s pivotal to have seven or eight individuals that are very, very well rounded on the team so that the state can see that. So what we’re seeing more and more is less of a focus on the actual documents and more focus on the team that’s actually going to be managing the company.

Matthew: Are you an accredited investor looking to be part of some of the most sought after private cannabis investment opportunities? Get on our free private investment alert service at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. Once you’ve subscribed to the investor alert service you will get access to curated opportunities that the public will simply never see. Again that URL is www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. Now back to your program.

Matthew: Do companies or individuals that come to you looking to get into the space ever have unrealistic expectations in terms of what it takes to be successful?

Michael: I think that the unrealistic expectations usually lie within how much equity they’ll end up with and a great point of that would be when you first start the projects whether it’s a single individual or a couple individuals they’re splitting 100 percent equity. Either the individual has 100 percent of it or both of them have 50/50. The first thing that we do is start to set expectations in a realistic manner because if you need to raise ten million dollars for this project then a lot of the equity is going to go to the investors. So once we start to break them of having all of this equity it makes it a lot easier for us to do our job because equity can be traded for services, equity can be traded for funds, and that’s one of the biggest aspects of the submission process in general. Many states require two million dollars in escrow, 500 thousand dollars on cash for cultivation, and anywhere from 500 to 1.5 million for dispensing and 250 thousand in cash but the capital part is huge.

Matthew: Do you see Canada or other countries allowing meaningful imports of cannabis and how do you think that might change the dynamics of certain countries?

Michael: I think importation is huge. A dominant player right now in the Canadian market is Canopy Growth. They’ve set up a few big deals. One of their subsidiaries Tweed has set up some deals to send products to Med Can in Germany and that’s the first time that a major G7 country will allow the importation of medical marijuana from a country like cannabis and you can only get cannabis in German pharmacies but it’s a step in the right direction. Another giant player in the Canadian market is Tilray in British Columbia. They received permission in June to export cannabis to Croatia. Tilray is actually owned by Privateer in Seattle and they’re seeing that the exportation of cannabis may help the struggling Canadian market currently just because it’s just had such a slow maturation over the last couple of years. So by sending products to Croatia they may in the future be sending products to Australia as well.

Matthew: You have a famous cultivator on staff Ed Rosenthal. Listeners may have come across his videos on You Tube or know of him but can you give us a little background on what he does at Quantum 9 day to day.

Michael: Sure. Ed is one of my dear friends. He’s not only an instrumental figure in the cannabis movement but he’s been absolutely awesome on the Quantum 9 front. So Ed heads up a lot of the cultivation approaches. So best practices, what types of technologies and approaches, and he just really puts the entire cultivation aspect on a more scientific level. So our projects that involve Ed he plays many different facets but mostly around cultivation. So he’ll bring different types of greenhouse technologies, different types of automation to the table, and kind of helps reduce human error with the use of automation.

Matthew: When you’re looking at a facility design or dispensary design, cultivation design are there any best practices you can give us in what to do and what not to do to be successful?

Michael: Sure. So in your manufacturing which is cultivation and extraction there’s three really key things that you want to prepare yourself for. One is the environment, the second is the staff, and the third is the security. So from an environmental standpoint making sure that your rooms’ temperature and humidity’s are monitored with sensors that are redundant would be the first thing. The second thing would be automation and less human error. So whenever something can be done by a machine opposed to human hands there’s not only less error but there’s less opportunity for contamination. The third thing I would say is that the industry is starting to shift more towards greenhouse technologies which reduce overhead from an indoor facility by almost 30 percent. On the second level from a staffing perspective cleanliness is starting to see a huge impact within these facilities.

Our facilities we now designed where cultivators would actually have to go through a locker room first, change out of their street clothes, go through a shower, and then gown in their work clothes. What we’ve found is this actually gravely reduces the opportunity for pest and pathogens from outside of the facility to actually make it into the cultivation rooms and then the security is just based on state and federal requirements. As far as dispensaries go limited access is one of the most important aspects of the facility. Identifying where your most targeted and hot zones are from where your product is stored to where your cash is stored and really not being able to see things like cannabis from the public areas.

So what you want to do in a dispensary is just remove the ability to access the cannabis easily. So for instance not having a ton of product out on a corner and so forth and making sure that the only way you can get around to a counter would be through like a locked door and so forth.

Matthew: Okay great points. You mentioned you’re a Michigan native and you’re very close to that state. You don’t hear too much about it but the California, Colorado, Washington, and a lot of other states over shadow Michigan and at times it seems like it’s two steps forward, two steps back and it seems like it’s going to really get some traction and then it back peddles and then it goes forward again. Where are we in Michigan? Give us a little brief there and what the challenges and opportunities are there?

Michael: Sure. So a lot of people don’t know this but Michigan has the second highest patient population outside of California. California has a million. Michigan has 182 thousand based on a recent pro/con statistic. The dispensary model is still illegal statewide but different counties are allowing it. My family actually opened a dispensary in Lansing, Michigan called Greenwave. There are 87 other dispensaries in the city currently. They actually opened that when there was 67 of them. So the Michigan market is very dense but there being 87 dispensaries in a single city there’s a market to support that. So when people start to look at these different markets you can look back at Michigan and say wow there’s a huge market there but also there’s a thriving community there as well. So when you think of market saturation there’s always going to be a need and if a business is fulfilling that need they will be successful.

Matthew: Right. Go to where the patients are and just try to find a way to be a little bit better or different.

Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matthew: Let’s switch over to investing for a second. You meet and know a lot of cannabis investors and you’re an investor yourself. One question I get every day from listeners is how do I raise money for my cannabis startup or dispensary? How do I find these investors? How do I get them to take my project seriously? Do you have any suggestions there you would offer listeners?

Michael: Absolutely. We provide cannabis investor services to help align investors with projects and projects with investors so it goes both ways. If you’re looking for funding the best advice that I can give is to create a very good plan. That would start with an executive summary. That would then mature to a business plan or perspective. Knowing your numbers and putting together a performa and then getting into an investor presentation where you can hand documents out to individuals and really helping an investor understand what their return on investment is, when they’re going to get their money back, and to what multiplier they’re going to make on their money is really what investors are interested in. All the other stuff is important but not as important as those factors. We’ve had the opportunity to work with many different investment arms as well so MGIC would be somewhere that I would definitely invest.

Get out there. Go to these conferences. Understand how the investment community works and then understand where all the pitfalls are too. So if you’re looking to fund a project there’s a couple things that you have to ask yourself. Number one what is your risk appetite? How aggressive do you want to be with your investment? There’s definitely aspects of investment where you can get very risky such as an operator of a cultivation, manufacturing, or dispensing facility and you tend to see very high returns on that money although it’s incredibly volatile or you can look into less volatile piece of the industry would be; which would be like an ancillary business like a technology company or a security company or an investment company.

But what you want to look at is what the requirements are by the state or country and sometimes a state will have residency requirements that may bar you from being directly involved. Now there’s many different ways of doing that but you definitely want to look to see what some of the restrictions are and as far as investment dollars go when you’re looking at these bigger projects from 100 to 250 thousand dollars would be probably the minimum of where companies are looking for investments from. When you’re getting into the 10 to 30 thousand dollar range it just isn’t as attractive for a project to take those funds in because more than likely they’re raising anywhere from two to ten million dollars. If they were taking in 30 thousand dollars as an investment they would have so many investors in that project it would just be a nightmare to manage and then you start running into SEC filing issues.

Matthew: Good points. Let’s pivot to some personal development questions. I like to ask guests to give listeners a sense of who they are. Is there a book that has had a big impact on your life that you would suggest to listeners?

Michael: Are you talking about cannabis or non cannabis?

Matthew: You know either one. One that’s just had a big impact on you that has maybe changed your way of thinking or helped your life go on a different path.

Michael: Okay. I’ll give you two. I’ll give you one from the industry and I’ll give you one from outside the industry.

Matthew: Great, perfect.

Michael: When I first started in 2009 I was a sponge for everything cannabis. I probably bought four or five cannabis books, read them cover to cover but it wasn’t until I read Ed’s book the “Marijuana Growers Handbook” where I really started to get a sense of everything from start to finish. It was the most conclusive book out there and I would definitely recommend it to your listeners. Outside of the industry I’d have to say Christopher Moore’s book “Lamb” is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read in my life. So funny that in Chicago a lot of people do public transit and so forth. I used to take the train to work every day and I would read this book with headphones on and I would laugh so loud that I could see people in the car watching me and it was quite embarrassing but definitely for a more fictional book it would be Lamb. It’s a story of Jesus during that time in the bible where nothing is recorded about him. So basically in his late teens and his early 20’s and it’s told by his rastafarian friend Biff. So it’s incredibly funny.

Matthew: That is an unusual premise I got to say.

Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matthew: How about is there a tool web based or otherwise that you consider indispensable to your day to day productivity that you would recommend?

Michael: Okay yeah I can give you two.

Matthew: Oh neat.

Michael: The first is Grammarly; www.grammarly.com. It has changed the way I’ve done business and what it is it’s a grammatical score checker of your writing. So you can put a paragraph in there and it will spit you back out a score but it will also tell you exactly how to change your writing so that you don’t use passive voice. There’s no split infinities in there, dangling modifiers. I mean there’s phrases that I didn’t even know existed in grammar and you can change the style of writing from business to creative but essentially what it does is it allows you to add all your grammatical errors and basically rid yourself of them. Why this is important is for a couple reasons. Number one when you’re writing thousands of pages of documents to a government proof reading is absolutely important and is a way in which the government can judge you based on your level of experience and your level of execution.

So having grammatical errors from my aspect of it; getting vendors that send me emails all the time. If I see a grammatical error within an email or document I actually think less of the individual that produced that piece of writing. So now it’s required that all emails that go out from Quantum 9 and all types of writing, blog posts and all of them go through Grammerly first.

Matthew: Wow that’s an awesome tool.

Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative). The second I would say would be the Google stack like Google Drive and Google Docs; especially Google Docs. For us we have collaborations all around the world and we are many times working on the same document. So let’s say that I had a cultivation document that I had four authors all working on the same time. Now there’s a tremendous lag time when one individual is working on it and then sends it to another individual and then they work on it and then send it to another individual or worse is that one person’s working on it and the other person’s working on it as well and they’re overlapping what they’re writing and then they both send it to me and then I have to decipher what was changed, what is better, and then how to integrate both people’s writing. It became a nightmare. So what we did is we started using Google Docs and you can edit in real time. You can actually see someone else’s cursor writing words while you’re three lines down writing other things. So without that it would be a disaster. It’s the only way that we could effectively get all of our contributors to collaborate on a document at the same time. It does require you to have Google Chrome and the most updated version of it but pass some of the technological issues that you may derive from just getting it set up for the first time it pays incredible dividends in the months to come when you’re working on a document together.

Matthew: Great point. I mean I use Google Drive as well and particularly Google Spreadsheets and I’m working with multiple people on there and it’s just a game changer because you can see their name even like he’s altering this cell and it’s changing all your assumptions on the fly. You can see a revision history and I’ve had people say well can’t we just put this in Dropbox and share an Excel file and it’s just like you can but it’s still not as good because it’s not synchronized. It’s a synchronized. One person is putting it then you’re seeing update. We’re not all on the same sheet of music.

Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matthew: So that’s a great suggestion and I hope we can actually bury the Microsoft Office Suite soon.

Michael: Yeah we’re getting there right?

Matthew: Yeah. Well Michael in closing how can listeners follow you and your team and learn more about Quantum 9?

Michael: Sure. You can go to our website. It’s www.quantum9.net. Q-u-a-n-t-u-m the digit 9.net or www.quantum9.net.

Matthew: Michael thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today we really appreciate it.

Michael: Thank you so much Matt for the opportunity.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com, simply send us an email at feedback(at)cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye-bye.


Michael Mayes is the founder of Quantum9 a firm that specializes in helping clients win cannabis cultivation licenses around the world. They have an impressive track record of success in winning licenses.

Listen in as Michael talks about how to craft a winning cannabis license application and just as importantly what to avoid when submitting an application.

Learn more at: http://quantum9.net/

Key Takeaways:
[2:02] – What is Quantum 9
[2:40] – Evolution of starting a cannabis consulting firm
[4:57] – The paperwork required to get a cannabis license
[6:18] – International cannabis markets
[10:08] – What is a nanograms limit
[11:26] – Lessons other countries have learned from the US and Canada
[13:31] – Michael gives and example of winning a license
[16:04] – Unrealistic expectations in the cannabis space
[17:29] – Canada and other countries maybe allowing imports of cannabis
[18:47] – Ed Rosenthal’s role at Quantum 9
[19:55] – Best practices in design
[24:07] – Michael’s suggestions for finding investors
[27:18] – Michael’s book and web tool recommendations
[33:14] – Contact details for Quantum 9

Important Update:
What are the five trends that will disrupt the cannabis market in the next five years?Find out with your free guide at: https://www.cannainsider.com/trends

The Infused Products Accelerator with Patrick O’Malley

patrick o'malley good life colorado

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi. I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I will take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. We’ve talked about CBD or cannabidiol on the show many times. Just to review thought, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound from the cannabis or hemp plant that has many benefits. Now our friends at Treatables have put together a one list chew that can help your dog or cat become more calm and balanced. Valerie wrote in to tell us about her experience with Treatables.

Valerie writes, “My ten year old Husky/Sheppard/Lab mix Chuck is my faithful companion. Chuck got significantly quantifiably better from using Treatables. It took about three days of feeding Chuck two to three doses a day to see the full effect, but he did get noticeably more comfortable on the first day of feeding that to him. Before CBD Chuck limped and couldn’t enjoy longer walks though he clearly had the desire for them. Once he started taking them he could leap around again.” Thanks for writing in Valerie. Treatable Chews are legal and available in all 50 states right now. If you want to learn about what Treatables can do for your pet, visit www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/pet and get a coupon code for 10% off your order. Once again that url is www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/pet now here’s your program.

One of the interesting things that is happening to the cannabis industry as it grows is that it is segmenting or specializing to different branches of expertise. One of those branches is infused products. The problem for entrepreneurs trying to get into the infused products business is that it takes capital and also expertise in an ecosystem of relationships that new entrepreneurs may not have. That is why I’ve asked Patrick O’malley onto the show today to talk about infused products and his new accelerator for infused products called Good Life. Patrick, welcome to CannaInsider.

Patrick: Well Matt thanks for having me on your show today and before we get started I would just like to thank you on behalf of myself and all your listeners because speaking for myself, CannaInsider is a great resource. I definitely learn something new in every podcast.

Matthew: Oh thank you. Thank you. Well Patrick to give listeners a sense of geography can you tell us a little bit about where you are in the world today?

Patrick: I’m in Denver at the Good Life Colorado Manufacturing Facility.

Matthew: Oh good. And before we dive into what Good Life is can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to start Good Life and your background before cannabis entirely?

Patrick: Sure well it’s not a particularly exciting creation story unfortunately, but going way back during law school I created a law school test prep company and expanded it nationwide and that was a great business for many many years but then unfortunately for me law school applications plummeted, but fortunately for me it was then late 2013 and it looked like regulated marijuana was probably here to stay. So the time was right and Denver is certainly the Silicon Valley of marijuana so it’s the right time, the right place and now I needed the right niche where I could add some real value. So taking a page out of the tech industry playbook, I decided that a marijuana brand accelerator was a great niche to fill.

Matthew: Yes and there’s other accelerators out there in the cannabis space. CanopyBoulder being probably the biggest and most well-known and we’ve had Patrick Rea and Micah Tapman on the show before but your accelerator is a little different. Can you go into what Good Life and perhaps how it’s different than other accelerators out there?

Patrick: Sure. Well the term accelerator is sort of a vague term. It means different things to different folks. So what I can say I do know the Canopy guys quite well. I certainly go to a lot of their cocktail parties and currently the primary difference is that Good Life companies touch the plant and Canopy companies do not touch the plant. I have spoke with Micah and they’re starting to rethink that position, but I don’t know where they are with that right now. On an operational level they have a great system to foster new concept stage firms that are usually geared towards providing the B2B goods and services that the industry is going to need.

On the flip side or different than that is Good Life firms are going to typically be the ones creating tomorrow’s consumer marijuana brands which are the B2C brands like you will be seeing on the shelves at your local dispensary. Further on an operational level Canopy follows the model of Y Combinator and Techstars. They bring I their classes twice a year for kind of like a semester and then they graduate them. Whereas Good Life is much less structured. Each deal is really quite different.

Matthew: Okay. What are some of the pain points you are seeing in the cannabis industry that give you the aha moment to start Good Life where you felt like hey this is something, a niche I really need to fill?

Patrick: Sure well pain points (5.21 unclear). The reason why is this is a big new industry with no established players. Just how big, well a lot of us know the numbers but it’s good to put the context in. The domestic, what I call THC, market, if you will, is still largely legal yet even so it’s still a $40 to $50 billion market which is the same size as the coffee industry from everything from Sanka to Starbucks. Now when you look at it more broadly at all the cannabis applications, the nutriceuticals, the pharmaceuticals, the food supplements, hemp products etc., very plausible arguments for a $200 billion ecosystem which by the way is pretty much the exact same size as the alcohol industry.

So this entire $200 billion ecosystem has to be built from scratch and fortunes are going to be made by folks in all of the sub industries simply by eliminating various pain points. Now for example I spoke to a grower who spends approximately $200 per pound to hand trim his buds. He doesn’t use trimming machines because he feels that those machines damage the buds. The thing is $200 a pound is an extraordinary amount of money, but the thing is lumber mills figured out long ago how to get the most value out of any given tree with minimal human involvement. There’s some mechanical genius, maybe it’s even one of your listeners, who is currently or will design a process or machine that yields hand trimmed quality for a fraction of the price, and that guy or gal well they’re simply going to be printing money, and that’s the kind of person I want to talk to for Good Life.

I’ll give you another example. In 2009 there was this particular, popular type of concentrate that was being sold in Colorado, but then the regulations changed and you could no longer use the necessary solvent, but now I’m working with an outfit that they figured out how to make this special concentrate using compliant methods. So once they scale up and execute, they basically have a virtually guaranteed market share. So maybe not a sure thing, but about as close as you can get. Then there’s those other pain points being solved. Probably the biggest one being the Canna Quitter problem as we’ve started to call it, and Canna Quitters simply put are the biggest pain point for the entire industry and the companies that successfully chip away at that very difficult issue are going to be very well rewarded.

Matthew: Yeah you mean people that try cannabis and then have an experience that’s not perfect or optimal and they’re like I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s like how to bring them back so that they have good experiences. Is that what you mean?

Patrick: Yeah, yeah. It’s gets more involved than that, but that is certainly the start of the issue.

Matthew: Okay. Now you’ve kind of used a little lean startup techniques and methodologies for trying out little products cheaply and quickly with dispensaries. Can you talk a little bit about how you think about that and what you do there to kind of see what they want and what they don’t want?

Patrick: Sure. Well before I open the doors of the accelerator I developed a few products. Certainly wanted to see if they would be breakaway successes, but it was also a learning process in order to learn the realities of selling into this particular market because I didn’t have that experience personally. Although I personally love and still love using these products that I made, mostly focused on unique delivery systems, and I’ve certainly have continued forward using the elements of some of what I’ve learned on those projects. But what I found when I put it up against the marketplace is that these products were simply not the right product for this market.

One part of my job is helping entrepreneurs, actually a big part of my job, is helping entrepreneurs understand that having a great product that you personally like to use is just the starting point. It also needs the right product market fit. It needs to be easy to explain and understand. It needs to be easy to productize, to manufacture at scale and finally to merchandise.

Matthew: Right. Right. It helps too if the target prospect has the market segment in their mind. So if you’re making a new kind of dugout, well everybody kind of understands what a dugout is.

Patrick: Surprisingly not actually. We had a lot of balneal bud tenders that gave us a blank stare when us 40 year old guys showed them disposable dugouts. They didn’t know what they were.

Matthew: Okay. Now I agree with you. I think the cannabis market is going to chip away and kind of cannibalize the alcohol industry to an extent, but why do you think that’s going to happen and do you see it happening already in perhaps Denver when you talk to other people?

Patrick: Yes. That’s an interesting question that spans a few different issues. Certainly there’s always the middle aged person like myself. The term I use is soccer dad. It’s not just the moms that take the kids to soccer trust me, or maybe the hockey dads because that sounds cooler. Yeah a little tougher. Us soccer dads as we get older, hit our middle age, alcohol becomes much harder to tolerate and cannabis much easier to tolerate. You don’t wake up with a hangover, but there’s even aspect of being on your personal wellness spectrum. I’m personally not a medical cannabis user but I would term squarely recreational but I had a pulled muscle a few days ago and it really hurt and it was going to be a couple days until I got into the doctor so guess what. I pulled out my cannabis and it wasn’t the cure all but it certainly helped a lot. So there’s definitely some aspects there that you’ll see the middle age market I think chip away at their alcohol usage and substitute alcohol for the various cannabis products.

Matthew: We talked a little bit about the millennials there. You’re a hockey dad. What other types of demographics do you see adopting cannabis and in what way?

Patrick: Well growing the marijuana market is definitely going to be a family project. It’s millennials, it’s soccer dads and now we’ve even got grandmas trying it for their health issues. Although the growth of the consumer base from these what I call canna returnees or even canna newbies may not quite yet be showing up on national polling data. I’m already seeing it and hearing it happening here. We’re about two and half years into legal adult use in Colorado and quite honestly most of the stigma has melted away. I’ve got these soccer dads or hockey dads that I’ve known for 15 years and they come and talk to me at the kids’ hockey games or at a church function or at a graduation party and these guys just like me, they used marijuana in college and maybe a little bit after, but then they quit smoking maybe 10 to 15 years ago. Usually they just got too busy with kids and jobs and a big component was losing their dealer. They weren’t going to bother to find a new dealer, and they certainly weren’t going to grow plants and maybe they didn’t even want to smoke. Today they, like me, can walk into a clean store and buy an edible or a pill or some other non-stigmatized THC delivery system and at least some of the growth we’ve seen in what I would term a “mature” market like Colorado is going to continue to come from these hockey dad canna returnees. Again for those reason I have mentioned about, alcohol being, well after all it’s a poison. It’s harder for your body to tolerate. Whereas marijuana fits the bill nicely for middle age people who need maybe a stress reliever kind of within their personal wellness spectrum.

Matthew: Do you have any concerns at all about big tobacco getting into the space and pulling the picnic blanket out from underneath the small guys?

Patrick: Well the very simple answer is nope, not at all. There’s more to it than that but basically I’ll double down on that statement. Big tobacco won’t touch marijuana with a ten foot pole even after full federal legalization, and lots of people disagree so why do I stake out this position. Well the short answer is there’s absolutely no business synergies to be had here. Here’s kind of the longer answer. First of all big tobacco doesn’t know how to compete in a free market. Barriers to entry have shielded them from new competitors for just decades and they haven’t even innovated their core product for generations. So they’re not nimble, the opposite.

Second of all, marijuana requires a totally unique manufacturing reality. Phillip Morris simply does not want to set up a factory in each state. Third thing is that marijuana is totally unique wholesale distribution system which is radically different in each state to boot. Altria, one of the large conglomerates, they like to work with very large distribution wholesalers. Altria does not like the idea of 50 states specific distribution arrangements. Then there’s also a fourth thing is just that marijuana has a totally unique retailing network. R.J. Reynolds knows how to sell into 7-11. R.J. Reynolds does not know how to sell into an industry where the largest retail chain has all of 15 stores.

Finally the fifth thing is it’s simply easier and safer for them to take their tride and true playbook and take their cash and go abroad. They would prefer to go to countries with young, newly affluent middle class that aspires to buy Western brand. Don’t get me wrong big tobacco always faces challenges in foreign markets, but these are challenges that they already know and they know how to deal with them. Now I will give myself one caveat there is let’s talk about small tobacco. Let’s say companies with a market cap of under a billion dollars. Well these companies can’t easily go abroad. So they certainly might take a stab at marijuana and actually have talked to at least one guy who tells me he’s the tenth largest tobacco distributor in the United States. He’s taking a stab at it, but he’s not an 800 pound gorilla that has all the advantages that come with massive scale. So that’s sort of my thesis on why big tobacco is going to avoid marijuana markets. There’s just nothing in it for them.

Matthew: Gosh I hope you’re right. That would be great.

Patrick: That would be great.

Matthew: Turning back to Good Life accelerator. Let’s walk through just what you see as a typical type of applicant and what you’ll be doing for them and what you’ll get out of it and what they’ll get out of it.

Patrick: Okay let’s break that out. Well let’s start with the applicants. What am I looking for in an applicant. Well I call myself a sweat equity venture capitalist, and just like any venture capitalist I look at the product and I look at the team but the emphasis is on the team because any VC will tell you that if the team isn’t good enough, it doesn’t matter how good the product is. So normally I expect to see a team of two or more people but that’s certainly not required. Now if somebody comes on board with me. I hate to say application accepted them. It makes it sound almost academic. This is a business transaction, but if somebody comes onboard with the Good Life accelerator, the big benefit for them is that they save a lot of time and they save a lot of money.

Conservatively, depending on your situation, Good Life might save them nine months and a half million dollars versus going out and getting their own facility and license. I tell all the candidates that there is no template, that if we take on a company that’s very early stage, then Good Life operates like an incubator, helps them flesh out their entire business model and product. If we take on a company that has most of their business case and product work done, then Good Life operates more like an accelerator to continue that growth. If a company has literally their entire product and business ecosystem built out, proven up, (18.18 unclear) dialed in, then Good Life has the potential of operating like a very simple co-packer simply to get their product manufactured and on the shelves. For most of these companies, not all of them but for most of them the ultimate goal is to build a product and a business that can be licensed multi-state.

Matthew: That is a huge help because you know just getting your trim extracted into oil and having a kitchen where you can make your edibles and things like that. Just hunting for all those individual components is timely, expensive and it just can be frustrating. So I can see that someone in particular making an infused product would benefit from this.

Patrick: Sure, sure. Yeah. No, I mean certainly it’s the time and it’s the money, but a lot of people don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to sink into the real estate which is a critical component license, but more importantly most people don’t want to wait a year in order to try to get their license, in order to get their product on the market.

Matthew: And are the terms just individually negotiated on a case by case basis or is there some template you use for people that are going to be in the incubator or the accelerator?

Patrick: Truly there is no template, and the reason why is Good Life adds value in different ways for different companies so everybody needs a customized deal. Now maybe it’s a well funded group and maybe they have a new oil processing technology, but it’s still too early for anybody to assess if it’s truly valuable technology. So maybe they make a straight cash payment for Good Life’s services for a few months until they reach a technical milestone and then we reassess. On the flip side maybe a group has no funding at all but I see a lot of promise so I might offer them a straight equity deal with obviously the more time and resources I provide the more equity I would require. Of course we can do hybrid deals, but the one thing that I always build into every deal is something to ensure that we all have the same goal which is to make this new company worth as much as we can and as fast as we can. We really definitely want to align those goals.

Matthew: Now in terms of would not be an attractive applicant, is that someone that just wants to create kind of a me too product with no unique selling proposition?

Patrick: That’s about as accurate as you can state it, yeah.

Matthew: Okay. Do you see a lot of those coming to market where it’s like hey I want to make a chocolate bar and if you just say hey try something unique, what do you a say to someone like that?

Patrick: Well thankfully no I haven’t had to have that conversation very often which was a pleasant surprise. I was worried that exactly that would happen, but it’s a function of two things. Certainly there are people out there who are developing brownies, don’t get me wrong, but there’s so much white space in this market that I can be talking to this person about their special kind of concentration, this person about their extraction technology, this person about their CBD bath bombs. We’re building an entire ecosystem of consumer product good here or consumer packaged goods. So there’s more than enough white space for everybody to fill their own little niches and sub-niches.

Matthew: Okay. And have anybody gone through Good Life to date?

Patrick: Well it’s not brand, brand new but it’s fairly new, but we do have one early success story. Last fall I started working very intensively with Choose Corp which created the…

Matthew: Sure, sure we’ve had them on the show.

Patrick: Actually a couple months ago. It was a good interview and I embedded very deep into that company because I knew that they had really a game changing product. So that was an all hands on deck sort of situation. So I basically for about six months just delayed seeking new candidates because I didn’t have enough bandwidth. Now Choose has products on store shelves as of about a week ago and they’re raising an investment round which now affords me the opportunity to do it all over again with the next transformative company, but I’m definitely staying close to Choose and I’m serving as their general council so I won’t be leaving them any time too soon.

Matthew: What a unique opportunity with Choose because essentially their hemp terpene puck is legal in 50 states since the THC is so low but they say use it with your own cannabis and then you can kind of custom craft your mood. That’s a very unique and also easy way to get out to market. So I can see why you were interested in (23.10 unclear). There’s definitely a value proposition there.

Patrick: Yeah no it’s an interesting product and for me as an attorney it had all sorts of interesting legal implications and ways to sidestep, not sidestep the rules, the rules simply didn’t apply so that one as I said I had to embed pretty deeply because they had a lot more legal questions and paraphernalia type questions than a typical company would face so it was an interesting challenge.

Matthew: Do you take outside investment at all Good Life?

Patrick: Well the short answer is no. As any of your listeners who have tried to raise funds know, chasing investment dollars is truly a full time job, and so although I could probably find great ways to deploy outside investment, I frankly don’t have the bandwidth to do the whole dog and pony show I’d need to do to chase those investor dollars and quite frankly I’ve deliberately set it up so I don’t need other people’s money. No, obviously if one of your listeners is investing in the industry and agrees that I’m really on to something big with this accelerator approach, then sure I would love to hear from them, but it’s certainly not my focus.

Matthew: Okay and how can they reach out to you if they want to about that?

Patrick: Sure well they can just visit the website www.good-life-colorado.com and I certainly look forward to hearing from your listeners who have the next big thing.

Matthew: Yeah me too. I would love to have you back on the show after you get some more people to go through the program since we had Charles from Lucid Mood on, I would like to see it because these are definitely interesting times and this definitely a bow wave of the industry seeing how things unfold. I mean I don’t know of anybody else really doing things like this. So this is Kudos to you for going after it.

Patrick: As I said, there’s plenty of white space and plenty of sub-niches that need to be filled.

Matthew: Let’s pivot to some personal development questions. As you look over the arc of your life is there a book that has had an outsize impact on your life that you would like to share with CannaInsider listeners?

Patrick: Well actually even better I’ll give you two.

Matthew: Two, alright.

Patrick: Yes bonus day. So the first one is Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and that’s by Harvey McKay. Old, old book, decades old. It has simple anecdotes from the frontline of business, and most business books pretend to be scientific but let’s be honest, business isn’t science. Business is subject matter expertise plus business best practices plus human interactions. So that’s why I like that book.

I also have a second industry specific book recommendation which is the Cannabis Manifesto by Steve Deangelo who I’m sure you’ve interviewed more than once, but Steve makes the point that marijuana is not really clear cut medical or rec. Instead marijuana can play a role in everybody’s wellness spectrum. It might be one person’s anti-seizure treatment of last resort. It might be another person’s way to just simply have fun and unwind, and we all fall somewhere on this health/wellness/recreation spectrum. What I liked about the Cannabis Manifesto is it really clarified that issue for me.

Matthew: Is there a tool, web based or otherwise, that you consider indispensible to your day to day life that you would recommend?

Patrick: I don’t really. I just use all the standard technologies so I’m about as boring as that gets.

Matthew: Okay that’s fine. I still sometimes just kind of go to the little pen and paper, little book. I do have one, a little one that can fit in wallet that I find is kind of my go to when I’m in a pinch that has really been helpful for me because I always forget to bring a notebook with me on the go, but I have a credit card size one in my wallet. I’m finding that one is not very tech savy but kind of my go to lately.

Patrick: You can’t forget where you filed it. Actually I use my Gmail to keep all my notes because that’s one place that’s my inbox and where I make my notes and where everybody contacts me. So I guess I live in my email box.

Matthew: So Patrick I understand you have a pop quiz for me. Do you want to tell me what that is and what I’m about to be quizzed about?

Patrick: Well basically the quiz is about why the cannabis market will look a lot like the alcohol market. So if you’re willing to take a pop quiz, we’ll walk through that and see what you think.

Matthew: Sure let’s do it.

Patrick: Okay well what’s the largest domestic US fast food chain?

Matthew: McDonalds.

Patrick: Yeah 14,000 units. I did have to look that up. I don’t know these things off the top of my head. So what’s the largest coffee shop chain?

Matthew: Dunkin Donuts.

Patrick: Oh come on.

Matthew: Starbucks. I thought it was a trick question.

Patrick: That was not the trick question. Here’s the trick question. What’s the largest full service liquor retailer? You’re right, there isn’t one.

Matthew: Yeah.

Patrick: So you got two out of three. Why are there no large alcohol retailers? Simple, prohibition. Post prohibition each state made its own rules that are still with us 83 years later and each state made its own rules. That’s already happening in marijuana regulation so it’s a forgoing conclusion that post prohibition marijuana will follow the same state by state path that alcohol took which is again a reason why big tobacco is going to be boxed out. But even though alcohol retailing and distribution are fragmented state by state industry, you can still find your favorite national brands in any liquor store you walk into. So in the same way that brands are the most valuable slice of the alcohol industry so they will be in marijuana, and that is the reason I want to own equity in many many different marijuana brands. When I say brands I don’t limit the accelerator solely to consumer facing brands. If you have a strong B2B product like that inexpensive, high quality trimmer, I want to talk to you, or if you have a novel product or device that saves money for infused product manufacturers, I definitely want to talk to you. You know I think it’s instructive to see that just like the brands are the most valuable segment of the alcohol ecosystem, so the same will be true for marijuana.

Matthew: Great points. Also the States have a huge incentive to keep a national policy from overreach because they can define the tax regimen that benefits them the most. Once they get that revenue they’re not likely to give it up easily.

Patrick: Yeah, no you might see an overarching federal tax, but you’re certainly not going to see the federal government even really that interested in taking over. The FDA will definitely want a say so that will be actually probably the multibillion dollar question is what role the FDA plays in post prohibition regulation, and that’s a total question mark in my mind, but the answer to that will certainly end up driving a lot of industry to develop in say ten years out from now.

Matthew: Gosh it’s just so crazy to think about how successful the propaganda was to demonize cannabis. I mean it was an unbelievable success that it’s almost even hard to contemplate it. It’s that newspaper baron from…

Patrick: Hearst.

Matthew: Yeah William Randolph Hearst and he owned all the newspapers and man did he get this deep deep into our psyche about why this plant was demonized, and I think it was just because he said, he gave a lot of reasons, but he said it was cannabis and hemp. First he conflated those two into one plant which is crazy, and then it was because he wanted the cotton I believe to be the kind of defacto for a lot of different commercial applications. He didn’t want hemp to get traction. I believe that’s right, but here we are decades and decades later trying to convince people that we shouldn’t (a) demonize hemp. There’s no psychoactive component at all and then now cannabis too, but it makes one wonder if that propaganda campaign was that successful, what else do we believe that’s simply totally untrue. What else in our society, it’s so deeply entrenched into generations that we believe is true but it’s not.

Patrick: Well that is actually a very good question, but I think the thing that I take away from that is that beware of the law of unintended consequences. How many millions of lives have been ruined simply because a very unpleasant billionaire of his time decided he had a problem with the plant. Maybe it was a commercial interest or maybe it was a morally driven campaign, but he certainly had some allies. But what I find actually interesting, Hearst is one example and Slinger, the former alcohol drink prohibition. I mean you can point to a couple of gentlemen over history, and I’ll use the word gentlemen sort of loosely, but you can look a couple of gentlemen over history and just through force of will and being absolutely rabid in pursuing a goal, bad goal in this case, but in pursuit of that goal they basically drove policy that lasted for generations, ruined millions of lives, stifled entire industries. We’re only just now bringing back hemp as an industry after probably what three or four generations. So yeah although history sort of eventually finds its way, don’t underestimate the power of a single individual to radically alter the course of history for decades until it finally course corrects.

Matthew: Agreed and well said. Patrick as we close can you tell the listeners again how they can learn more about Good Life accelerator and connect with you?

Patrick: Sure thing. I would be happy to. The website is www.good-life-colorado.com and those three words are separated by a dash or a hyphen. Again it’s www.good-life-colorado.com and I look forward to hearing from your listeners who have the next big thing.

Matthew: Great. Patrick thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider. We really appreciate it and good luck to you.

Patrick: Thank you.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com, simply send us an email at feedback(at)cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye-bye.


Patrick O’Malley takes his experience as a cannabis-focused entrepreneur and founded an infused products accelerator called Good Life. Discover what infused products companies need to succeed.

Key Takeaways:
[2:42] – Patrick talks about his background
[3:51] – What is Good Life
[8:34] – Patrick talks about startup methodologies and techniques
[10:25] – The cannabis industry is going to chip away at the alcohol industry
[11:52] – What demographics are adopting cannabis
[13:47] – Patrick talks about big tobacco getting involved
[16:45] – Good Life typical applicant
[21:43] – Making it through Good Life
[23:47] – Does Good Life take outside investing
[25:49] – Patrick’s book recommendation
[28:03] – Pop Quiz for Matt
[34:15] – Contact details for Patrick and Good Life

Learn more at:
http://good-life-colorado.com/

Important Update:
What are the five trends that will disrupt the cannabis market in the next five years?Find out with your free guide at: https://www.cannainsider.com/trends