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Ep 361 – Cannabis Greenhouse Growing – Expert Dispels Myths

ryan douglas august 2021

How can you use greenhouses and technology to take your cultivation to best in class? Here to tell us is Ryan Douglas, author of From Seed to Success.

Learn more at https://douglascultivation.com

Key Takeaways:

[00:43] An inside look at Ryan’s cultivation consulting company, Ryan Douglas Cultivation

[00:58] Ryan’s background in cannabis cultivation

[1:41] The benefits of using a greenhouse to grow cannabis

[10:56] Why so many growers experience problems with mold and how to avoid this

[16:24] New greenhouse technologies in cannabis to look out for

[20:46] How to budget for an optimal greenhouse environment

[22:28] Tricks of the trade Ryan has brought with him to cannabis from his long background in cultivation

[30:32] How Ryan sees greenhouses and automation changing cannabis cultivation in the next 3-5 years

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew Kind: Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at cannainsider.com. That's C-A-N-N-A insider dot com. Now here's your program. How can you use greenhouses and technology to take your cultivation to best in class? We're about to find out with today's guest, Ryan Douglas. Ryan, welcome back to CannaInsider.

Ryan Douglas: Hey, thanks for having me on again. It's my pleasure.

Matthew: Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?

Ryan: I'm currently in Maine, in the Northeastern US.

Matthew: Okay. Remind us, what is your business, Ryan Douglas Cultivation, at a high level?

Ryan: I'm a cultivation consultant, so I help newly licensed cannabis businesses come to market quickly and spend less money getting there.

Matthew: Okay. Can you give a snapshot of your background in cannabis cultivation for new listeners?

Ryan: Sure, absolutely. In 2013, I was hired to direct cultivation for Canopy Growth Corporation, which at the time was one of the largest legal producers of cannabis in Canada, but prior to that job, actually, for 15 years, I was a commercial greenhouse grower of ornamental and edible crops. That's really my background and training and it helped to build the foundation upon which I became a commercial cannabis grower.

Matthew: Okay. You're steeped in this stuff, so it's second nature to you.

Ryan: It's all I know [laughs].

Matthew: Okay. What are the primary benefits of using a greenhouse to grow cannabis?

Ryan: Well, probably the biggest benefit is energy savings and the ability to minimize an operation's carbon footprint. We're in a bit of an interesting predicament with the cannabis industry because fortunately now we have more and more states legalizing cannabis, but unfortunately, the majority of those operations are indoor grow operations. These facilities are large and they can crank out a lot of cannabis and high-quality cannabis, but they use a ton of electricity and as a result, they have a huge carbon footprint. Probably the biggest benefit of moving towards greenhouses is allowing a grower to continue to produce a lot of quality cannabis at scale, but at a fraction of the cost and at a fraction of the electrical consumption as an indoor facility.

Matthew: Okay. We're seeing a lot of this emergence of the ESG directives, environmental sustainable governance, which is essentially shorthand is, reduce your carbon footprint or else, or an or else in most cases is penalties or you can't get investment from investors whose charter says, "Hey, we don't invest in companies that aren't looking closely at their environmental impact." When you make the case for a greenhouse, you can really show kind of a black and white difference in terms of sustainability then, is that right?

Ryan: Exactly, and this issue goes beyond just the US because just as you mentioned, as other countries begin to implement their plans for either reducing their carbon footprint or becoming carbon neutral, we all know that that they're first going to look at the industry. Unfortunately, we don't have a ton to be proud about when we look at electrical consumption and carbon footprint for cannabis growers. You might even have heard there's some rumors that it's possible that cannabis producers are going to take on a trend from some other food products where there'll be implementing consumer-facing labels that tells the consumer exactly what kind of a carbon footprint their product leaves.

At the moment, that would be quite embarrassing for the majority of cannabis growers, because like I said, most are indoors and most are producing really good cannabis, but they're doing so with a ton of electrical consumption.

Matthew: A non-sequitur here, but have you seen these micronuclear fusion reactors that can power four or 500 homes and they're incapable of having a meltdown, which is the big fear, like Three Mile Island and all these like a Fukushima and Chernobyl, those were kind of the big worst-case scenarios. Now they're making these tiny ones that could power a subdivision and really have just, there's really no downside. The only downside is there's such a stigma from the word nuclear, everybody instantly, the hair on the back of their neck go up and they don't want to try that, but it looks like there's something emerging here, which could be super powerful if we harness it. Have you heard anything about that?

Ryan: I haven't heard about that, but it sounds very interesting.

Matthew: Yes. Yes. We talked about the upsides of greenhouses. Is there any downsides or trade-offs?

Ryan: Yes, I think there's an assumption among cannabis growers that the quality of cannabis that comes out of a greenhouse isn't equal to that of an indoor grow. I find that opinion to be most strong among growers that have never grown in a greenhouse. When we think about quality cannabis, it really comes down to the genetics and the grower and the ability of the facility to maintain the optimal growing parameters. When you think about an indoor facility, the reason it's so attractive is that the grower really plays mother nature. They can control down to the point temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide, and so they're really in complete control of the whole grow up.

If you take a grower that's acclimated or accustomed to growing indoors, and now you put them in a greenhouse, there's a little bit less control, and there's a big learning curve in terms of learning how to use all of the equipment in a greenhouse to create the ideal growing conditions. In my introduction, I mentioned actually my background and training is in greenhouse production so I'm a lot more familiar with the methods and equipment that greenhouse growers use to create the perfect growing environment for their plants. Just as an example, anytime a greenhouse heats up, literally the greenhouse effect, there's options to use a natural ventilation or a forced ventilation with the sands.

We use evaporative cooling, which is simply providing water vapor into the greenhouse, through either a high-pressure fog system or something called a wet wall. The evaporation process actually cools down the greenhouse. We also use shade curtains that let us select how much of the sunlight we let in and as a result, we can cool temperatures that way. Instead of running to the air conditioning unit to turn it up or turn it down in a greenhouse, we actually use four or five or six different methods for cooling the greenhouse.

I think probably the biggest concern for growers, the reason a lot of commercial operators do not want to head into greenhouses, it has to do with humidity. For anyone that's not a cannabis grower, the flower is very susceptible to mold, especially in the last few weeks of the crop cycle, and because we're growing something that's consumed directly or inhaled, we're really limited, as we should be, to any protective fungicides that we could apply to the flower to prevent mold. Really the only tool we have is creating an environment that isn't conducive to mold growth.

Indoors, growers are installing massive dehumidification units and they do the job. They can, even if it's raining outside, which is essentially a hundred percent humidity, they can get down to maybe 40% relative humidity which is really dry, inside of the grow room. That's what protects the crop, but we don't really have that ability to dehumidify a greenhouse efficiently. I think that's probably one of the reasons that a lot of growers actually would prefer not to explore greenhouse production, but the good news is that there are ways to manage humidity in the greenhouse because cannabis is not the only crop that runs the risk of mold.

For decades, we've been growing in greenhouses and we've been managing the environment to grow the crops, so just briefly as an example, what we've been doing for decades, and I did this when I was growing flowers is utilized heat and vent cycles. As we know, heat rises in a greenhouse and as the air rises, it takes along with it moisture. Then once it hits the roof of the greenhouse, we simply open the vents for a short period of time and this air escapes. By using a combination of fans inside the greenhouse and these heating and ventilation cycles, we actually can adequately dehumidify greenhouses in the majority of the growing regions in the US.

The problem, one of the challenges greenhouse growers have is in places like Florida, where you have a booming cannabis industry, but most of the year it's too humid to grow crops in greenhouses. That's why you find a lot of the big producers in Florida are growing indoors. In that instance, unfortunately, there's not an easy solution. What a lot of growers do is actually utilize a chilled water system, which is essentially hooking up the greenhouse to an air conditioner. As we're talking about electrical consumption and carbon footprints, that's not ideal, but at least in that situation, you're still taking advantage of the natural sunlight.

You might be spending as much money and consuming as much energy as an indoor grow to manage the humidity and temperature, but you're still getting the light for free which is a step above a typical indoor grow. I think there's a number of fears that are justified but if you're not a greenhouse grower, then the idea is completely foreign and you wouldn't consider it. I think as an industry we really don't have much of a choice, I think growers are going to come under increased pressure to not only reduce costs but comply with environmental regulations in the future. I think you'll see more and more commercial operators start in a greenhouse or if they're currently indoors, as they expand, they'll be expanding into greenhouse production.

Matthew: You mentioned that the cannabis plants are-- You can get mold especially during the last few weeks of the grow and before harvest there. Why do most growers fall into that trap? They don't have a dehumidifier that can keep up with the amount of moisture in the grow and they think it's not going to get to you a point where- so they have too small, the humidifier, and then the last few weeks like sneak up on them and surprise them, is that what happens?

Ryan: Yes, so you're referring to greenhouse production or cannabis production in general?

Matthew: The cannabis production, in general, it's like what- like that mold the last few weeks.

Ryan: Yes, it's less common indoors because that comes down to a basic mathematical calculation. Depending on how you grow the crop, the density of plants inside the grow room and the volume and frequency with which you're irrigating your plants, you can get an idea of how much moisture you need to strip out of the environment. Plants will transpire or will evaporate 95% of the water that they receive in an irrigation. Mechanical engineers, especially in these big commercial facilities, mechanical engineers need to take care to do calculations to determine how much moisture in the air they need to strip in a 24-hour period. If you're not involving these skilled tradesmen or engineers in the production of your facility, then you might just be eyeballing it or estimating.

In that instance, if you are equipped to grow up with an insufficient capacity to dehumidify the environment, then indoors you certainly could run into mold issues by simply not having enough equipment or enough dehumidifiers or strong enough dehumidifiers that can strip that moisture from the air rapidly, and not allow the creation of an environment where mold spores are going to germinate and propagate and potentially ruin the crop.

Matthew: Yes, and this is where we see growers get into a pickle where they don't have a backup plan but they've got mold in their grow and they're upside down on their expenses and revenues, and then they resort to like eagle seven or something. They spray on there and they think, "Oh, I just did - just this one time", and then they might get caught and get into trouble. It's just better not to be in that pickle to begin with.

Ryan: Yes, especially since the majority of states require a laboratory analysis of the final product before you can sell it to a dispensary or sell it in your own dispensary. One of the things they check for in addition to different bacteria and fungus and heavy metals is the presence of pesticides or fungicides. There is really no chemical pesticides or fungicides that are allowed to be used on cannabis crops, so all of these laboratory tests, they need to show that the product falls well below the threshold. It's usually if not parts per million, sometimes parts per billion. It might be a quick fix to save the crop but if you can't sell the product, then you really haven't helped yourself at all.

Matthew: Then where doesn't it make sense for a greenhouse? Is there a latitude where you say, "This really doesn't make sense?"

Ryan: Well, we can get around it being too cold, so there's a number of ways to efficiently heat a greenhouse, and just by the nature of the greenhouse effect, if there's even moderate sunlight, that goes a long way. There's a number of ways to cool the greenhouse, so really warm regions, it can be challenging but it wouldn't be game over. I think the most challenging is going to be places where it's extremely humid all of the time because then you might reach a point where the cost of outfitting your greenhouse with a chilled water system, that decreases the temperature and also causes the moisture in the air to condense so it can be removed.

Air conditioning in your greenhouse is really inefficient and really expensive. You might reach a point, if you're in a place like Southern Florida for example, or maybe a tropical island that legalizes cannabis production. It just might make more sense in terms of capital expenditures, and then ongoing operational expenditures, to grow indoors. Again, that's because we can't wash the flour prior to consumption. A lot of other crops that are susceptible to mold, it's common to use fungicides on these crops because they're either washed prior to being packaged, like if you think of ready-to-eat lettuce or tomatoes, they go through a rinsing process before they're packaged.

It can be done at the production facility and then we as consumers can wash it again prior to eating and preparing it but we don't have that option with cannabis. There's really nothing we can apply on the plant, the best we can do is modify the environment, so the plant is less susceptible to a disease infestation.

Matthew: Okay. Are there any innovations or automations occurring inside the greenhouse that people might not be aware of that you think are cool or helpful?

Ryan: Yes. The interesting thing about cannabis is that the value of the crop is so high that the industry in my opinion is ripe for new technology or new inventions that can help a producer lower their Carbon footprint or lower their production costs, or actually increase crop quality. One technology that I'm interested encircles-- It has to do with carbon dioxide supplementation. Plants utilize carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. What happens in grow rooms and in greenhouses, I mean semi-closed greenhouses, is that if the crop is photosynthesizing and growing at a rapid rate, it can actually deplete the level of carbon dioxide lower than ambient levels.

Where you and I are right now it's roughly 340 parts per million carbon dioxide in the air, but if we were to load up the room I'm in with the plants, that level is going to drop dramatically, and as a result, the plants are going to slow their growth and they'll be less productive. What cannabis growers do indoors and in greenhouses is they supplement the environment with carbon dioxide gas to not only maintain ambient levels but research has shown that actually if you increase two or three times the ambient levels of carbon dioxide, the plants will actually grow faster and produce more.

The challenge is. if you read some reports about the carbon footprint of the cannabis industry, there's some attention that's being given to carbon dioxide supplementation. It's not the carbon dioxide that's released into the environment that causes the carbon footprint because the plants consume it. It's actually the process of condensing this gas into a liquid and keeping it cool and transporting these massive tanks to facilities that actually increases the growers' carbon footprint. There's one technology that really interests me. Instead of buying these massive tanks of liquid, CO2, plopping it outside of the facility and then bringing that gas into the grow room, what they've done is found a way to combine this carbon dioxide with water and they deliver it to the plants through a high-pressure fog system.

What happens is this high-pressure fog really creates a fog or a mist, it settles onto the plant temporarily and within a few minutes, it evaporates. During that time, it remains in a liquid form long enough to provide the needed CO2 to the plant, but it evaporates fast enough that it doesn't create a mold risk for the crop. What they're finding is that this method provides the crop with the needed levels of carbon dioxide for healthy growth but using 95% less carbon dioxide than traditional methods. As a plus, as the mist with the CO2 is evaporating off of the leaf, it temporarily acidifies the leaf surface.

One of the biggest risks to growers is a mold called powdery mildew. If you're not familiar, you haven't seen it before, this mold looks like someone sprinkled Talcum Powder on top of the plant and it can destroy a plant in the crop and it can spread rapidly, but in order for that mold to take hold, the pH of the leaf surface has to be just perfect. If it's too low or too high, that mold isn't going to take hold. What they're finding is that with this novel method of carbon dioxide delivery to the plants, they're using much less carbon dioxide and as a result, it's acting almost like a preventative fungicide, which is fascinating because seldom do you invent something that has a side effect that is just as important as the reason you invented the thing.

There's an example of a new up-and-coming technology that is going to help growers lessen their carbon footprint, lower their production cost and actually potentially increase the quality of the plant by helping to eliminate the risk of powdery mildew.

Matthew: Let's say I'm an investor, business owner, or cultivator, how do I go about budgeting appropriately for creating an ideal greenhouse environment?

Ryan: That's an excellent question. Unfortunately, it's going to differ dramatically depending on the region of the country. If we look at the US, if we look at the farther outside of the optimal growing range, the more expensive it's going to be to build a greenhouse. Currently, I'm in Maine. We have a beautiful summer but it's short. It's only 90 days. For growing a crop like cannabis that likes warm weather and strong sunlight, we need to invest a lot in order to maintain the right temperature, maintain the right light levels, and maintain the right humidity levels as well.

You could be looking at building a state-of-the-art greenhouse in the Northeast for $400 a square foot. That actually rivals the cost of building an indoor facility but if you go to another place in the US, maybe we'll look at Arizona where it's much drier and you have much more sun year-round, it's going to be less expensive to build there. Maybe you can anticipate budgeting $250 a square foot for a greenhouse down there. It really comes down to how much you need to modify the environment to create the optimal growing conditions. The farther outside of those conditions, the more expensive it will be to build a greenhouse.

Matthew: You've mentioned, Ryan, that you were in the general horticultural business before getting into cannabis, is there any tricks of the trade or tools or ideas that you brought over from that part of the industry into cannabis that you feel is like not as widely used that's helpful to you?

Ryan: Yes. In my experience, growing any commercial crop, whether it's flowers or hydroponic vegetables, 80% or 90% of the principles, the concepts apply directly to cannabis. I'm not saying that growing a tomato plant and growing a cannabis plant is exactly the same thing but what I believe is that when we're talking about commercial-scale production, when we're talking about planning production, managing production, managing the environment, managing people, managing the facility. A lot of these principles are exactly the same so I was fortunate in that I had 15 years of experience growing flowers, potted ornamental crops on a commercial scale, and growing hydroponic vegetables on a commercial scale, prior to tackling cannabis on a commercial scale.

What I found as a consultant is that when clients call me in to look at a crop problem, they bring me over to where their problem is and they point to the plant. As I begin the process of troubleshooting, oftentimes it leads back to a lack of experience in the cultivation leadership, which is to say the Head Grower or the Master Grower simply doesn't have the experience to pull off a grow of that size. When you ask about a specific technique or anything that's underutilized, there is one practice that is not very well known in cannabis that is common to traditional horticulture which I think has a lot of potential for cannabis growers, which is the use of plant sap analysis as a way to manage nutrients.

Just briefly, if you think back to our junior-high botany classes or plant science classes, the xylem and the phloem of the plant is what brings the water and the nutrients up and down throughout the plant. Plant sap analysis extracts this sap and it allows the grower a way of instantly seeing what's going on in the plant, so they can make real-time adjustments to their fertilizer regime. The reason this is important is that if you think about nutrient management, nutrient excesses, if you use too much nutrients it can result in burnt plants or increase susceptibility to insect diseases or extra costs that you really don't need to be applying that much fertilizer.

On the flip side, if you don't have enough fertilizer, then it can result in sick plants, low yields, and again increase susceptibility to insects and disease. As of now, what people usually do, if they see a problem in their crop, they'll take some samples of leaves and they'll ship it off to a lab for a dry tissue analysis. The problem is that is really the equivalent of a post-mortem exam because once you get that information back, let's say, you realize it was low in potassium, there's not much you can do because the crop has already suffered some amount of economic damage and the best you can do is try to prevent it from the next crop. When we're talking about cannabis, there's so much money at stake that growers really can't afford to wait to find out what's going on.

The beauty of this process of plant sap analysis is that you can instantly see what's going on in your crop and determine whether or not you're using excess nutrients or not enough nutrients. What that means, in the end, is that the grower can prevent using too many nutrients so they can dial back certain nutrients if they believe that the plant doesn't need it. Essentially, it lowers the cost of production but it can also result in a higher quality more productive plant because the plant is getting exactly the nutrients it needs at exactly the right time.

In my experience, actually in my opinion, I think a lot of cannabis growers are over-fertilizing their plants. They're just pounding the fertilizer to the plant when a lot of that is unnecessary. At the beginning of this call, we spoke about the beauty is that you've got more and more states that are legalizing cannabis which means there's more and more states that are cultivating cannabis. The majority of these growers are pouring the leaching from these grow-ups either out the back door or into the municipal water system so there's very few growers that are using these closed-loop systems that capture the leachate or the runoff, the drain that comes out of the bottom of the pot.

There's very few growers that have a closed-loop system that captures that and reutilizes it again. When we look at trying to comply with environmental regulations, all of this fertilizer somehow is going to find its way into the environment so it causes algae blooms and all sorts of things. I think, right now, it's still under the radar but as more and more states grow cannabis, I think it's going to come under the same kind of scrutiny that any other farming, so a lot of farmers have to be careful about how they irrigate, where the runoff goes to, what are they running off.

Just coming back to the plant sap analysis is that not only does it help the growers spend less money on fertilizer they would need, they also potentially can grow a much healthier crop. They're also much more environmentally friendly in terms of what is leaving their production facility.

Matthew: You mentioned a lot of growers, they have a knowledge gap just like we all do. No one can know everything and sometimes there are some unknown-unknowns, how can you hire a Head Grower and come up with a way to at least understand that grower's gap in knowledge or make sure that they're at a critical level, bare minimum, how do you measure those things and know you're getting a grower with the right skill set?

Ryan: That's tricky. Since you have more and more states legalizing, you've got fewer and fewer experienced cannabis growers available to hire. Naturally, we need to look for growers that maybe are outside of the cannabis industry but still bring that skill set that I mentioned where 80% or 90% of the principles directly apply. For anyone that's looking to hire a grower and interested in hiring someone from traditional horticulture, I think it really comes down to experience. You want to find someone that has at least 10 years of experience growing any crop on a commercial scale because they'll have well ingrained in them skills such as production, planning skills, people management skills, facility management skills, and the remainder, the crop-specific details of cannabis can be taught to a commercial grower through either a cannabis subject matter expert or a consultant. These commercial growers are trained to learn new crops quickly. Whether it's a different kind of a poinsettia or a different kind of a vegetable or a cannabis for the first time, they've already got a solid foundation of understanding of how to organize and execute commercial plant production. It's just simply a matter of filling in those crop-specific details, which they would do regardless of which crop they're growing. I think one of the biggest benefits growers from a traditional horticulture can bring the cannabis industry really comes in terms of helping the operation produce at the lowest cost possible.

With increasing competition, we've got to anticipate, eventually, there's going to be some price pressure, and so these companies that can produce cannabis for the lowest feasible cost possible are going to be some of the most successful. When you think about crops like tomatoes, you're buying them for a couple dollars a pound at the grocery store, which means they've got to be produced for half of that. When you look at cannabis, some places are selling it for $4,000 a pound wholesale to dispensaries. When it comes to minimizing costs, growers from commercial horticulture, they're hyper-focused on optimizing energy and work efficiencies, because the margins are razor-thin in the world where they come from.

If you hire a commercial grower from a vegetable or a flower range, from day one, they're already looking at ways to minimize the amount of times that you touch a plant, or the workflow of people, just how things are done. I think it's a tremendous benefit to being able to hire a grower from that world, because immediately you can begin to realize cost savings on an operational level.

Matthew: How do you see greenhouses, automation, technology, changing cannabis cultivation in the next three to five years?

Ryan: I think a lot of it's going to be focused on doing more with less in the sense that we're requiring less energy in order to do what we're already doing. Less electricity to run lights, which is why LEDs are so popular, or less energy to be able to cool or dehumidify the growing environment, or like the example with carbon dioxide, less energy in order to provide the plant with exactly what it needs. We can't change how much fertilizer or water a plant needs. We can't change the temperature it needs to grow, but we can change the manner in which we deliver those to the plant. I think that's where the greatest opportunity is in terms of inventions and new technology, is just becoming more efficient at the way that we grow plants on a commercial scale.

Matthew: Ryan, I'd like to move to some personal development questions to help listeners get a better sense of who you are as a person. What is your favorite unhealthy comfort food?

[laughter]

Ryan: I like chips and salsa. I think that might be healthy, but I like it.

Matthew: Do you really put a lot of stuff on there too, besides just the salsa, and some guac, some cheese or anything like that?

Ryan: As long as it's fresh, that's the most important thing. I think fresh salsa beats jarred salsa any day.

Matthew: Yes. What was the last song that made you sing out loud while you were driving or otherwise?

Ryan: It would have had to been a Spanish salsa song and I don't even know what I was singing, but I think I listened to it enough times that a few of the Spanish words stuck in my head and I just couldn't resist [inaudible [00:34:02]

Matthew: Okay. [laughs] Now I'd like to end with a quick tip, Ryan, before you give out your website and we close. What is it--? Cannabis plants love light, but part of the plant does not, which part of the plant doesn't?

Ryan: That would be the root system.

Matthew: Right. You got to be careful not to have certain kinds of pots. Right?

Ryan: Right. You want to be careful about anything that's transparent or even white plastic pots or white bags. Those are pretty common, but the problem is the light penetrates and really roots do not like to be exposed to light at all. Really the best rule of thumb is above the soil as much light as possible, but below the soil line, it needs to be dark.

Matthew: Great little helpful tip there. Ryan, as we close, how can listeners find your book and reach out to you if they need help with their cultivation practice?

Ryan: Sure. I recently published a book called From seed to success, how to launch a great cannabis cultivation business in record time. That can be purchased on Amazon or through my website at douglascultivation.com.

Matthew: Great, Ryan, thanks so much for coming back on and educating us. You got a lot of knowledge trapped in your head there. I'm glad you could come out and share some of it.

Ryan: Oh, It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

[music]

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 cannainsider.com/iTunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out through your free report at cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on CannaInsider? Simply send us an email at feedbackcannainsider.com. We'd 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.

[music]

Promotional consideration may be provided by select guests, advertisers for companies featured in CannaInsider. Lastly, the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies with 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.

[00:36:55] [END OF AUDIO]

Ep 360 – New Pocket-Sized Cannabis Testing Device Provides Lab Accurate Results in Just 10 Seconds

john hunt purpl scientific

What if you could turn your smartphone into a cannabis testing system that provides lab-accurate results in under ten seconds? Thanks to biotech company Purpl Scientific, such a device now exists. Here to tell us more is Purpl’s Global Sales Director, John Hunt.

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

Follow John on Instagram at @grimeygatsby

Key Takeaways:

[2:15] An inside look at Purpl Scientific, a portable testing device that measures cannabis potency with instant results

[3:46] John’s background in cannabis and what led him to join Purpl as Global Sales Director

[10:41] The college course John teaches on gaining certification to become a dispensary agent

[13:40] The Purpl Pro’s infrared spectroscopy and how it works to provide lab-accurate results

[19:05] Advantages the Purpl Pro offers cultivators

[25:48] How the Purpl Pro stacks up against third party labs in terms of accuracy

[36:17] Purpl Scientific’s growing success in the Netherlands and the company’s goals to expand across Europe

[39:12] New upgrades to the Purpl Pro, from moisture content to extract measuring technology

[42:57] The Purpl Pro’s incredible ROI for everyone from cultivators to cannabis brokers

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew Kind: Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at cannainsider.com. That's C-A-N-N-A-insider dot com. Now here's your program. Hi, CannaInsiders. Just a quick note before today's interview get started that my colleague, Sinead Green will be interviewing today's guest.

Sinead Green: Hey, Matt.

Matthew: Oh, my god. You scared me. Sinead, I didn't realize you were in the sound booth.

Sinead: Sorry about that, Matt.

Matthew: Well, Sinead, since you popped into the sound booth here, this is a great time to just say hello to all the listeners as I was talking about you.

Sinead: Sounds great. I'd love to. Hey, everybody. I'm Sinead Greene. I've actually been working with Matt behind the scenes for a couple years now. I'm so excited to put on

my hosting hat and really get a chance to engage with you and bring you some more great interviews. I just want to say, if there's someone you'd like us to bring on the show, please feel free to email me your suggestions at sg@cannainsider.com. I'd love to hear from you and I really hope you enjoy these upcoming shows.

Matthew: Gosh. I want to get a hosting hat now that you mention it. I'm getting a huge purple velvet hat. What do you think about that?

Sinead: [laughs] I think that would look great on you, Matt.

Matthew: Okay. Really important, Sinead, we want you to do a good job but not better than me. Does that sound fair?

Sinead: We'll see about that.

[laughter]

Matthew: All right. Everybody, enjoy this episode with the host, Sinead.

[music]

Sinead: What if you could turn your smartphone into a cannabis testing system that provides lab-accurate results in under 10 seconds. Well, believe it or not, such a device now exists thanks to biotech company Purpl Scientific. Here to tell us more is Purpl's Global Sales Director, John Hunt. John, welcome to CannaInsider.

John Hunt: Thank you guys for having me.

Sinead: Thanks so much for coming on. John, we were chatting a little bit before the interview. You do a lot of things beyond Purpl that I want to get into, but first of all, let's keep with the basics here. Give us a sense in geography. Where are you in the world right now?

John: I'm based out at Denver, Colorado.

Sinead: Awesome. Kind of cannabis mecca down there. Very cool.

John: Cannabis capital as some people call it.

Sinead: Oh, yes. [laughs] We'll start with Purpl and then we'll work into your other projects. What is Purpl Scientific on a high level?

John: I think the highest level, there was a need for people to be able to test their cannabis for potency which was the start, I believe. As of right now, it's one of the most mobile, fastest, and probably the word we like to use is transparency. It's a free app on your phone. You get a device and it tests and tells you the total THC, the total CBD. We've made an upgrade now where it does do moisture content and water activity.

After working with numerous different cultivators across the country, the upgrade helps with the curing and the post-harvest. Then the total THC and total CBD work during the flowering cycle, whether you're growing hemp or cannabis, it woks to give you some transparency and a little bit of data that isn't as easily accessible to a lot of people as it was for the regulated market.

People that have a regulated lab to use send off samples and get it tested, every harvest or every different batch of product that they make. The Purpl PRO was thought to be that for the people that didn't have access to regulated labs. How do we make an accurate testing device that can be instant and give people some data on the potency of the cannabis and hemp that they're growing, or purchasing, or being around, or consuming.

Sinead: That's great. Yes. The way I see it, you guys are democratizing cannabis testing, which is really, really cool. I'm very excited to get into Purpl in a second here. First of all, John, can you share a little bit about your background? I know you have a long-storied background on cannabis and I would love to hear a little bit more about it if you would share that with our listeners.

John: No problem. Started in cannabis in the Colorado industry in 2009. I lived up in Aspen, Colorado and started the patient collective there. After that, moved to Durango, Colorado and helped open up a cultivation facility and a dispensary there. Then the recreational transition occurred in between, getting back into the recreational market. After leaving Durango, after selling the farm and the dispensary, I got into this digital marketing, social media, event production aspect, which is where we have a company with a portfolio called Grimey Gatsby.

They do a lot of that and they've done a lot of different things over the past decade, but got back into the recreation industry in about 2013. Took over a position to staff and train and start Steep Hill, Colorado, which at that point was the first license testing facility in Colorado for recreational cannabis. During that journey and getting all that together, was met by some investors and some people that wanted to get into the actual core industry.

We got into a dispensary and a cultivation facility in Denver and a dispensary, and cultivation, and extraction facility that was in Colorado Springs. As the owner/operator, I ran those up until 2019. In 2019, 2018, is when I met the people at Purpl and they needed to do some beta testing and get the device right, talk about what that was going to do. They needed cannabis to test on it.

We ran all the beta testing and had it in our cultivation facilities in Colorado, polished here or there, helped them out with data, making sure that it was testing all of the different cannabis that we had. All the different phenotypes, testing out everything that we sold at our dispensary, and really just data collecting and fine-tuning what the device was going to do before it launched.

In 2019, I ended up selling those dispensaries and cultivation facilities. I took a position as the sales director at Purpl and that's when Purpl launched. It was in 2019. During my time as a own/operator of licenses in Colorado, I also got involved in other states. Currently, I oversee a large group of brand. It's Portland, Maine.

We also have a dispensary that I'm part of the ownership in Conway, Arkansas. Then in Missouri, where I was born and raised, I work with a group called North Medical Group. I teach a college course that helps people get into dispensaries as a Dispensary Agent. It's a certification process that happens online for six weeks.

Throughout my time, since 2009 until now, I've been pretty well saturated in the cannabis market, either helping out cannabis brands or helping launch cannabis brands. Now, today, I still work with Purpl and oversee the college course and do all the instruction there. Then we have Arkansas and Maine.

Usually every year, there's about one two three new clients that we help out with something. Whether it's structure in their operation and training their people on the new seed-to-sale tracking that maybe implemented in certain states, or we help them out with taxes and bookkeeping and how to maximize what they're doing for their recording. How to get new genetics or structure their cultivation facility to be more efficient, and effective, and higher yields, but pretty much the whole gambit.

I've been involved with cannabis the plant since I graduated college, and then since then got into the regulated market. Now, work in multiple different states, have written applications in, I think now it's nine or 10 different states. I think a total of 15 or 17 different application. Helping different companies get acquisitions and merges that they're looking to purchase things in different states.

The Grimey Gatsby Corporation now works at that level where we do some consulting, which is always a word that some people take good or bad. We definitely work to help our clients figure out the solutions for what they need, and also connecting them to the network that we have.

In the past couple years, there's a new trend line called Hunt's Harvest that I'm involved with. There's a breeding company out of the state of Washington that I've been involved with for a number of year now. It's kind of what we can do to make either better quality cannabis, or more cannabis available to patients, or helping cannabis companies be able to understand all the hurdles and what solutions happened for their company to have the longevity that they need.

Sinead: That's great. You're all over the states. It's amazing. If you had to pick the market you're most excited about right now, what state would you say you're most excited about?

John: That's a good question. I was born and raised in Missouri, so I'm definitely very attached to the Missouri market. There's a lot of different things happening, some good, some bad. I'm really excited to see Missouri stabilize and retail prices drop, and more cannabis being available through cultivators, and new products coming. That's really exciting.

In Maine right now, we're working on our transition from medical to adult use, which is what their term for recreational. It's really exciting in Maine because there's a lot of medical patients there, but there's also a lot of adult-use customers that are looking for that transition. That's exciting to be a part of. I've always been excited about the Colorado market. Washington, California, Colorado, they're more stabilized, but there's new products that are always coming out. There's new ways to operate. They just gave out the first delivery license in the state of Colorado. I think the landscape is going to change and deliveries are going to start to be accessible.

Overall to me, a lot of the new markets like here in Mississippi is going to be opening industry or Virginia. Those new states to me always give me a little bit more excited because for over a decade now, I've spoken to, taught, or been at certain places where people didn't have accessibility to cannabis.

When that changes, it's always great to see. If I had to pick one, right now I would probably pick Missouri. I'm really interested in seeing how it becomes more patient-friendly and how there's more products and better pricing. That's something over the next year that I think will change in that state for the people that are there.

Sinead: Absolutely. Yes, so much to be excited about. John, you wear a lot of different hats here. Besides your work at Purpl Scientific, like you said, you also teach a college course on certification for those who are interested in being a Dispensary Agent. Can you go into that a little bit? What does that entail?

John: Yes. It's a course that we developed. The North Medical Group is the dispensary that I work with and the company that I'm involved with. We worked with Jefferson College, which is in Hillsborough, Missouri, just south of St. Louis. We wanted to be able to have something that not only helped us as a company find qualified candidates to bring them into work in our dispensary's, but also would help the state as well.

If you're in Kansas city, you don't know what it takes to work in a dispensary. This course is online, so anybody in the state can take it. It's a six-week course. Our next one starts early September and there's a couple of seats available, just as a shameless plug for anybody in Missouri that says they wants to take the course.

We go through everything from regulations, SOPs, and daily operations, how to work with a patient, understanding cannabinoids and terpenes and their effects. We worked through a whole six-week curriculum that I wrote and we structured with the college. It allows people to get an understanding of how working in a dispensary happens, how the regulations impact day-to-day operations. What's expected, what's happening, how to interact with patients, how to talk about cannabis.

The course itself right now, we're about to start the fourth cohort. We do have 100% pass rate. All of the people that have taken the class in the past three cohorts have passed. Out of that, I want to say it's about 65 or 70% of them have already landed a job. We do tend to hire people at North Medical Group that have taken the course, and there's another six or seven dispensaries around where we're located that also know about the course.

Then we also have some people in different parts of the state, they're able to take the course, they get the certification. I'm a reference for them if they need it on their resume during submission. The term in Colorado would be a "Bartender". In Missouri, we call them a Dispensary Agent. In some places, they call them a Sales Associate.

It's the frontline aspect of somebody that comes into a dispensary, not only knowing how the grading works, but also how the sales floor works and how all of the regulations occur and the compliance of that job as well. That's what that course is focused on for the state of Missouri. There are some talks about doing it in other states if there's other universities and colleges that want to talk about it. Jefferson college, Hillsborough, Missouri is the place where it's at.

If you do need information you can always DM me or find me on Instagram @GrimeyGatsby. We can talk about the course, the curriculum, or what you're looking to do. As, now, College Professor, I have an open-door policy to talk to people anywhere that want to figure out how to get into the cannabis industry.

Sinead: That's great. Wow. What a success rate too. That's amazing. Moving back to Purpl, what exactly is the Purpl PRO device? Can you tell us a little bit about the technology there? I know it's called infrared spectroscopy. I had to look that up before the interview here, but if you could tell us a little bit about that, that'd be great.

John: Yes. Of course, it's definitely a mouthful. That was part of my initial training was just learning how to say words directly. The Purpl PRO is about the size of a hockey puck. What it does is it uses near-infrared spectroscopy. Near-infrared spectroscopy is used in a ton of different industries. The easiest term its reflection. A light bulb shines and there's a reflection that you can't see with your eye, but the sensor picks up.

Because of that reflection and what it reflects of how the data is captured, how it's written, how it's transformed, that data is then able to calculate what the potency is. Obviously, any of our growers out there know about trichomes and different aspects of the plant. The reflection of that plant, this device is trained through hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tests.

I think as of right now, we're probably close to more of like 50,000 or 60,000 tests. The device is trained that it's been able to test all of these different flowers, and it's able to tell you what that reflection means for potency, total THC and total CBD. Then the water activity and moisture content are the other readings that it gives out.

In the 1940s, the FDA came out and said, NIR, which is near-infrared should be used for quality control management in multiple different fields. Pharmaceutical companies use it when they're making their pills and their medicines to get a reflection and be able to prove that they're doing QCM. Same thing with cat litter, dog food, cat food, the microbrewing industry, and beverage makers, near-infrared spectroscopy is used all the time.

One of the biggest companies that uses it that most people don't talk about would be John Deere. A lot of their combines and a lot of their machinery that they make have near-infrared spectroscopy devices on them so that they can do certain things. You can train the reflection to be data for what you want it to be. If you wanted it to say how much moisture is in cat litter, you start testing and setting it up, and then that's how you would be able to use it for the future.

At Purpl what we've done is we have a certain amount of data that we collect as a company, and we're able to use that. Then we also worked with SC labs in Oregon and SC labs in California and was able to do some validation with them on the device. We have a white paper it's on our website under the news column. That white paper talks about our variants sort of what a regulated lab would say, and then also our variants within the device itself.

Then on top of that, just most recently in the past two years, we've worked with Steve Hill in Arkansas and done the same validation with them to not only add that to be able to say, "We have three different states with three different labs." There's also two different companies of the labs trying to make it as transparent and accurate as possible for what it does.

You grind up a sample of flour, you put it in a sample holder, the light flashes, it reflects. That device then calculates and runs it through our database and says, "This is what the potency is." The result shows up on your cell phone. Like you said, in the intro, if you have a great connection and you're on 5g, it's about 10 seconds. I would say that if you're out in the field trying to do it, it's probably more of 25 to 30 seconds.

I've never seen anything take longer than 30 seconds to read out an actual result. I think you're able to use that result, keep a database of all of your samples, you can add in notes. The device, the Purpl PRO is mobile. It does fit in your pocket. You can charge it up and plug it into the wall to charge it and use it while it's charging. My best number thus far as I have seen one of our clients do about 85 tests in an hour. Drying up the samples, loading into the device, testing it all, keeping it all, separate, writing down all the stuff.

It's definitely something that cuts down the time and also gives you that instant mobile testing lab that you can test anywhere. The best sample is going to always come from the driest cannabis flour due to the fact that the potency will peak when it's cured the most. We do have some people that use it during the flowering cycle. You can take a bud off the plant, dry it out, and then test it, week two, week four, week six, week eight, week 10. For you Sativa lovers, week 12, week 14, however far you guys want to take it.

It'll do the testing on that as well. As long as it's dry, it'll give you the most accurate result. If it's not dry, the moisture and the water in that bud take up a percentage of what would be the potency. That's why the curing and the drying is always such a hot topic, which is the reason for the water activity and the moisture content upgrade that we did on it. If you do check Purpl scientific on Instagram, you can see hundreds of results. You can see videos of how the device works. I know it sounds like it's super easy, but when you watch one of the videos that you can see how fast and how easy it is.

Sinead: Wow, that's amazing. You're going into the advantages that Purpl offers cultivators. You mentioned you can test harvests multiple times throughout the harvest. You can maybe even use it for pheno hunting. Can you talk about the benefits that Purpl has offered your customer so far and what feedback you guys have gotten?

John: Yes, for sure. All of these are real case studies. We talk a lot internally about applications and how to use, but the easiest one to talk about is breeding and pheno hunting like you just brought up. You have 10 different seeds and in most situations, you probably have more than 10, maybe you have 100 or whatever. You're running 10 different seeds of the same genetic.

In the past, it was whichever one yielded the most, whichever one smelled the best, whichever one had the most colors. Whichever one was the tallest or the shortest, or whichever one was the thinnest. There's a lot of things that were just visual inspections that would occur during the pheno hunt, and at the end, "This is the keeper, this is the one." Now, with the Purpl PRO, you're able to add a whole another thing of potency. A lot of the breeders that we work with all across the country, they may not stop at the first cross. They may go into a backcross, they may go into a double backcross or, et cetera. To do that, they want to know which one is the most potent. If the one that wasn't the idea of visual, maybe didn't have the most color, maybe didn't yield the most, but that one gave you a 27%.

The one that had the most color and yielded the most was at 20%, there maybe a reason to keep both of those phenos and use those in breeding down the line, or you may just want to select the one with the most potency and breed it back to the other one and continue here with that one. There's a new data point that wasn't always so accessible.

There are some people that have been able to test stuff, and there's been need for spectroscopy devices in the cannabis industry before. There's different ways that people like to do the testing and a lot of people will say, "Well, you smoke it, you know how it affects you and that's what I want to do." I will say that in my experience, there's a big difference between an 18% THC and a 29% THC.

Now, a normal person that is a heavy consumer, may be able to tell the difference between 18% and 25%, but I don't know if they can actually tell the difference between 27% and 30%. That's a new data that they get to check out. Also, as you start to work through those seeds, you can see through the flower inside when that potency starts to peak.

If we get into week four of flower and it's hitting 17%, then we get in the week five of flower and it starts hitting 24%, but the other ones are at 20%, you're starting to see that this plant is able to produce that potency quicker than when you get to the finish line and you do harvest, you're going to have more data points on what it actually did when it was cured.

That's a big part of whether you're just growing three seeds out of a bed that you bought online or if you're actually making a whole breeding project where you're going to release a whole list of genetics, that's one part. The other part is, obviously, on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. If you want to find the least amount of THC, and you're growing hemp, you can now use these with those seeds that you're making hemp and trying to say that their hemp, you have a way to actually test those and say that there is a THC in that plant.

That's another big advantage that this has, that you don't have to send them off to a lab, you don't have to pay more to get it tested. You buy a Purpl PRO, and you can start testing all of the hemp that you have no matter what and see what that lowest THC number is, or where that-- There is two points, the highest THC or the highest CBD, and the other end to that is obviously the lowest THC and the lowest CBD.

Other applications are coming all the time, where if you have a room and say, you got 15 lights in it, this corner of the room produce more potency than the other corner, or this corner is a little bit hotter and has a little bit less wind movement, and there's less air flowing through it, and the plants over here are always producing like an 18% or 19% THC.

When you get right in the middle of the room, and the air conditioning is right, and the fans are blowing right, and the plants are getting blown and stronger, those plants are now doing the 24% or 26% THC. How do we mimic that type of homeostasis around the whole room, and how do we make the whole room be more stabilized with its potency?

Then you get into the canopy, how close are your lights and it's the top of your canopy the most potent, which it almost always is. If we do and move the lights a little bit, can you say that this run was a little bit more potent than that run? I used that as dialing in your environment. What parameters are you using? Do you need to put another fan over here? Do you need to put something else over here? Do you need a bigger air conditioner? Do you need more HVAC or less humidity or more humidity?

We get into that with some cultivators on how it works. Then, a whole new application is, obviously, the people that are growing, that are seen or being around a lot of cannabis. Cannabis brokers, or people that are purchasing cannabis, or patient-to-patient sales, which is a big topic in a lot of states right now, where you can grow at home. When you see somebody else, and you're able to take a little bit, the device takes about a third of a gram, and it doesn't alter the sample, whatsoever.

There are people that will test three different samples and put those into a joint, or put those into a blunt, or roll that up after they have tested it because you can. If you're around a lot of cannabis and, obviously, you want to be able to know why these cannabis is going to cost more, or why this one is better, or why this one is worst. That gives this new level playing field as opposed to just taking somebody's word on that they grew it.

I would love to say that I trust everybody that grows cannabis, but I think we all know that the more transparent it can get, the better it can be for everybody. Those applications come in to a lot of our talks about how that works, and then you get into the whole hemp testing and happening to be under 0.03 or it's got to be this certain amount, or depending on what state or what country you're in, there's a certain threshold for CBD or THC.

Those, now, are something that the device can at least shine some light on or understand where you're going to be in that. Then, lastly, it's just the fact that people want to know the number. If I'm growing three or four plants in my basement, I want to know how potent my cannabis is, and more importantly, I want to know that my cannabis is more potent than my buddy's cannabis. Who grows the best cannabis?

There's a lot of people with the master grower title and there's a lot of people that say they have the best weed in the world. If there's an easy way to put up or shut up now. That you can have a device that tells you the number and if yours is 29% or 30% and theirs is 22%, that whole conversation now is really easy to end.

Sinead: Absolutely. Yes, very interesting to hear all the different benefits. One thing I want to get back to, John, you mentioned during your development phase, you measured Purpl's accuracy against several different third-party laboratories. How does Purpl's accuracy stack up against actual brick and mortar labs?

John: There is two different variances that we talk about. Anybody that's worked for the testing lab will know the first one, which is a device variance. A device variance is what happens with how accurate the device is. There's certain degrees of accuracy. Some people are within 20%, some people within 10%. When you get into pesticide testing and other things, you're talking about parts per billion. You're talking about odd percent or sometimes even less than a percent in variance.

The first variance to talk about with the Purpl PRO is the device variance. We have a variance of 10% of the readout rate and the best way to understand this is that if you tested a sample and it said 20% THC, the accurate realm of that is 18% to 22%. In the USA right now, there are some companies that when they get their test result and there's a variance, they're going to use the highest number on that variance.

People would say, "Oh, it tested at 20%, but with the variance, it could be 22%. It also very well could be 18%." Our device variance is 10% of the readout rate, which is smaller in variance per device than what you would find in a regulated lab. Most of the regulated labs may have a little bit higher variance than 10% for a number of different reasons which the regulated labs can to you about, if you like.

Sinead: Okay. Very interesting.

John: Yes, the second variance that we talk about is the fact that, obviously, we wanted a device to test cannabis and most of the standard for testing cannabis is a state-regulated lab. In that, we did Oregon and California to start and since have done in Arkansas, but in that variance, we're 2% plus or minus, whatever the number is on THC, and we're 1% plus or minus on CBD.

In that same situation of a 20% THC number, our variance for our device is 18% to 22%, and our variance to a lab would be 18% to 22% on THC, and they will be 19% to 21% on CBD. Now, if you were down and there was a 10%, the variance has changed, obviously, but technically, it's 1.96 on THC, and it's 0.98 on CBD. Those are all on our white paper which is on our website, but that's a big conversation that we always have.

You said that you're going to test cannabis and the first question is, "How accurate is it?" The device itself is accurate to 10% of the readout value, and we are as accurate as 1% or 2% THC/CBD from the regulated labs. In Oregon and California, were both SC Labs and in Arkansas was Steep Hill labs, which are some of the largest names in the testing game. We continue to work with those companies.

Some of those companies, the ones that I've mentioned also have Purpl PROs at their labs that they use as they want to. Some of them even have a more of a rapid test cost that you can do to use the Purpl PRO. Us being able to say, one, that we worked with labs is one thing. The other thing, to be able to say that the labs use our device is another notch in the belt that some of the other testing companies don't have.

Sinead: Right. Yes, that's really fascinating that labs as big as Steep Hill are using Purpl PRO in their facility. That's something I really am curious to hear your thoughts on, John. How do you think a portable cannabis testing device like the Purpl PRO could change the industry over the next few years? How do you think that might even the playing field and even minimize the barrier to entry for the cannabis industry?

John: I don't think Purpl Scientific will have licenses and be a regulated lab in any of the states. I think that that probably isn't something we'll see in the near future. I do know currently that there are some labs that are in talks about giving their biggest clients a Purpl PRO to keep it their facility and they can run as many tests as they want. Then that data would be shared in between that client in that lab, so that there would be more knowledge of a certain genetic and what the potency is and during the flower cycle that we've tested some things before it comes to the lab.

Leveling the playing field, I think is the topic that we talk about whether you're regulated or not, but I do know that in states where only a regulated seed-to-sale tracking business can send a sample to a regulated seed to sell lab. There are a lot of people that don't fall into those categories, and they don't have access to the labs.

I think, knowing that the Purpl PRO is used by some of the biggest labs in the biggest states and also knowing that you can use a Purpl PRO on your cannabis or hemp that you have, I think that levels the playing field that you may not have access to the state-regulated lab, but you do have access to use some of the equipment that they use.

Now, people that have been around for long enough, five to six years ago, there was a piece of equipment called the QuantaCann. It was a near-infrared spectroscopy device that was sold by Steep Hill, very larger. I don't like to use the term bulky, but it was a desktop edition. It was bigger than a laptop, and you could run samples on it and that was something that Steep Hill used to do. They don't do that any longer. Also, SC Labs has used NIR in the past in their career.

This device isn't something that's necessarily new to the testing industry, but it is very new to the people that are out there that have accessibility with the retail point being 1,500 bucks or less to be able to buy one and being able to test unlimited flour with it. That I think is what's actually leveling the playing field is being able to give the picks and shovels that the miners use to the people that aren't necessarily state-regulated miners. That analogy always comes up.

I think in the future, you'll see other different types of cannabis people using the Purpl PRO. The breeders are really on top of it. The cultivators are really on top of it. We do have some dispensaries in certain states, Oklahoma, in Maine, and Michigan. They have a Purpl PRO in their buildings so that their patients and their customers can come in and just test their cannabis.

It, obviously, brings them to the dispensary, that's hopefully helping out their sales and foot traffic. It's also just the fact that those dispensary owners and workers want people to be able to have access to testing their cannabis that they could have gotten from another patient or however they came across it. Now you can test it to see what the potency is.

Sinead: Absolutely. John, something that I've read has been really negatively influencing the hemp market is the inability to distinguish CBD flour from cannabis flour these days. CBD flour has come such a long way in the last few years. It's nearly identical to cannabis flour. In states where cannabis isn't legal, and law enforcement can't tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. It's really hurting the hemp market in these states. Is that a market you're exploring at all, the law enforcement market?

John: In the past two years, we've definitely had a lot of talks with certain law enforcement that want to talk about the Purpl PRO and if they should have it in squad cars and what it's going to be. I think the biggest thing that I understand is just the barrier to entry. I don't think there's a lot of police departments that want to pay to have a Purpl PRO put in every car, unless they figure out how to have it as a budget item.

Also, as of this point, the Purpl PRO and its results and all that stuff has never been used in court. I don't know how that whole thing works. I'm not an attorney. I don't know how that would all work to come together, but on the CBD versus THC topic, that's the the biggest thing that we deal with in Europe right now.

In Holland, we have a distributor, and they have seen a surge in use on the Purpl PRO because people were taking CBD flour to the coffee shops in Amsterdam and trying to sell this THC flour and you couldn't tell the difference. One coffee shop got a Purpl PRO and was able to turn people away and then through word of mouth, other coffee shops understood that if you had this device, you could tell the difference between THC and CBD just by the readout.

I want to say now, I think there's something like 150 coffee shops in Holland that use the Purpl PRO when purchasing. It's even spread now. The people that were trying to sell the CBD flower in Holland, went to Spain and tried to sell the CBD flower there. Those people that have those coffee shops in Barcelona in Spain, started buying Purpl PROs.

There is no lab. There's no way for these guys or guys, gows, whoever, there's no way for anybody to test that product that they're purchasing. Now that they have a Purpl PRO in their office, as soon as it comes in the first thing they do, take a sample, grind it up, and test it. I think that has been a big help with Purpl just being able to understand. If you have 7, 8, 9, 10 CBD and a three or 4% THC, you're probably not buying cannabis, you're buying hemp flours.

In Europe, that's definitely not a topic with law enforcement, but here in the States, there have been some different Police Departments and State Patrol. Same thing like you said, they aren't looking to deal with it. If it is hemp flour, then let it go, but if it isn't hemp flour, they need to be able to tell the difference. I don't think we have any law enforcement using a Purpl PRO right now that I know of. I think that conversation will continue to happen while more states, not only allow hemp to be grown but also have a THC program.

I think, if you have medical cannabis and you have hemp in a state, I don't think there needs to be an issue as long as that person's a patient, but there's still some states that don't allow any cannabis whatsoever. I think that those are the states more where those people are trying to tell the difference between hemp and cannabis.

Sinead: Okay. Great. That's a great point. I had read the thing about your market in the Netherlands, specifically with coffee shops. It's really fascinating. It's almost ironic that these scammers are almost driving your business in Europe. How do you see that unfolding over the next few years, your market in Europe as more and more countries--? You mentioned Spain has got wind of the Purpl PRO and they're not using it as well. Where do you see that heading in Europe over the next few years?

John: I think there's a huge potential. We sell the device in the EU and the UK. We currently sell the device in Canada. We have some in South Africa. To make it very clear, we work B2B. We sell to businesses, we don't sell direct. We have distributors and retailers that are in these other countries and they retail and sell the device. If you go to Purplscientific.com and try to buy a device, you'll be directed to find Purpl.com and you can find a retailer that's closest to you.

That's how we work but I think the European Union and the United Kingdom have a huge potential. There are some countries that don't allow it yet. There are some countries that are talking about it. Here in America, we talk about states, but the multibillion-dollar industry of cannabis already exists. In Europe. We don't see that yet. Germany has some aspects for it. Italy has some hemp and CBD stuff for it.

Obviously, the Netherlands and the Hollands have a lot of coffee shops but technically that isn't legal or illegal. It's just allowed. Same thing in Barcelona, in Spain, there are coffee shops, but it's not necessarily regulated and talked about. Then you get into the United Kingdom and that island in and of itself as a whole cannabis revolution that's happening right now.

I think the EU and the UK are going to be a big market that comes along with the fact that there's not much talk or anything happening on the whole continent of Africa and how that would work. Then you get into South America and how it's going to work. Columbia allows some of that. You get into Brazil and Argentina, there's just a bunch of things that I think aren't tapped or regulated or set up yet. I think that'll be great for the Purpl PRO because the more that people are growing cannabis, the more the Purpl PRO allows that instant, transparent lab testing to happen.

I would say in my opinion, right now, Europe and the UK are probably the biggest market that we have an unbelievable distributed there, Delta 9 Analytics, and they handle a lot of stuff that happens all over that continent. I think that's the biggest reason why the coffee shops were able to find us is that those people are cannabis friendly people that are for the cannabis community.

Sinead: Very cool. Awesome. You mentioned earlier that you guys have added a few upgrades to the Purpl PRO, including, I believe it's water content. What was the other one that you guys recently added?

John: They both have to do with water and I mess up the word just as much, but it's moisture content and water activity.

Sinead: Got you. That's great that you guys have added those upgrades recently. I've seen that you also have in the works, some extract measuring technology. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

John: I can tell you as much as I'm allowed to tell you.

Sinead: That's okay.

John: More of an Area 51 topic.

Sinead: I understand.

John: When the device launched it did total THC and total CBD, and then about six months after launching we did the moisture content and water activity, and so people know the difference. Moisture content is more about the cure and how much moisture is in the plant. Obviously, the more moisture, the higher the water activity, the less the water activity, the less the moisture is. They are somewhat combined. One is in a percentage, one is not. That shows up on the device now for free. Any sample that you run, you get four readouts. You get total THC, total CBD, moisture content, and water activity. That's how it currently works.

There have been many talks and there are still many talks, whether I can confirm them or not is different, [unintelligible [00:40:37] an extract software update to the current device, which means the current Purpl PRO that we sell at some point would have a software update to allow it to test extracts. Extracts is a very broad term. We're talking about distillate, live resins, live rosins, hashish, charas, bubble hash, any and everything that has to be a concentrate, or in the extract title is probably one of the reasons, but you can't quote me, but I will say it's taking longer than it probably should, is that there's so many different types of extracts.

There's hydrocarbonates, there's ethanols, there's distillates. Anything and everything that you can try to extract and make this plant more concentrated is a part of what that would be. Yes, since the start at least, we've been trying to understand and collect data and have some way that this device would be able to test concentrates for the end user without having to buy a new device, or as we would say, a new piece of equipment. There's no additional hardware, there would just be an upgrade to the software and the current device would be able to then test those extracts.

Sinead: That's amazing. I feel like the ROI for the Purpl PRO is already just astronomical, but adding that feature would be insane.

John: [crosstalk] say, there's probably no short of 300 to 400 people that will listen to this that have already probably told us, "Once those extracts are done, we'll purchase the device," or "We're waiting for extracts," or "When will extracts happen?" Obviously, at that point, you get into the double ROI because you can test the flower before you extract it and you can test the extract after you extract it and then you get into even more understanding of how potency works and how potency retention would happen through certain extract processes.

If we take a 25% flower and we extract it and it comes through in a concentrate and that concentrate is 75%, but if you did it in a different manner of extraction, it would come back at 87%. There's all types of expanded fields of conversations that happen once you can do two different things within a process as opposed to just starting material to a process.

Sinead: Gosh. Yes. That's amazing. Going off that, John, first of all, how much does the Purpl PRO retail for? Speaking of ROI, how long-- I guess it depends on the customer and what they're using it for, but how long would you say it takes for the Purpl PRO to pay for itself?

John: First question on the retail costs. We don't retail the device, but I can say that our advertised pricing is at 1495. If you go to findpurpl-- and Purpl is spelled without an E, just because I know that's going to come up at some point in your comment, so if you go to findpurple.com, you can find all of the retailers across the whole country that sell it.

Right now until August 15th, participating retailers, which means some of them, not all of them, actually have it for 10% off of that price of 1495. You can get a Purpl PRO even cheaper than you normally would right now until August 15th of 2021. You may be able to talk to some of those places if they would extend that for you if you need a week or something.

If we go off the somebody purchased it at 1495 retail and we're in the state of Colorado, for a total THC, total CBD potency test and a moisture content test, you'd be looking at a range anywhere from $50 to $250. That's a number that we can figure that out. Obviously, at $250, it's a couple tests in an hour, 10 tests, whatever, you've already got the device paid back. If you're talking about a different state, like if we were talking about Maine, where it's almost $300 to $400 for a test, it's even quicker to pay that device off.

I have yet to find a state where if you bought a Purpl PRO and you did 10 to 20 tests the first day that you got it you wouldn't have already recouped what the cost would be through a regulated test, but most of those people don't have access to a regulated test, but it does unlimited testing. Usually, people buy a Purpl PRO, they get it set up, they're testing it, and they test everything that's in their house, and then they test everything at their friends' house, and then they test anything that they come across, or they test anything that they harvest. I would assume in a week, you've probably paid that back depending on [inaudible [00:45:23] state you're in and how much it's going to be.

If you're in the state of Missouri and you're paying $500 to $700 a test, that's, what, two or three tests and you're done? The recoup on the cost really depends on where you're at and how much it would cost to do the testing. Now, I know that there are people out there that are going to say they could get a test done for $20 or $30, and that's true, it just would take you more tests to pay it back. If it was unlimited testing and didn't cost anything more than what the Purpl PRO did, and you had it in your pocket no matter where you went, I think you would be more apt to do more testing than if you had to drive it and submit it and pay for it and wait for a result. That's the other thing.

In the best states that I know of, it takes three to four days to get a result back. In the worst states that I know of, it's 7 to 10 days. In 20 seconds to get it back, I know a lot of people pay for DoorDash because they don't have to leave their house to go get their food and I'm pretty sure that the Purpl PRO price probably falls into that same type of situation.

Sinead: Clearly, well worth the price tag. That's a-

John: Asking the guy that's in charge of sales that question is a layup, but that's [inaudible [00:46:31]

Sinead: [unintelligible [00:46:33] for that one, [chuckles] but yes, you make some really great points and you guys have quite a selling point there, for sure. Speaking of your role as global sales director, what are your goals going into the next couple of years, John?

John: The biggest goal is just getting more devices in people's hands. Since we don't sell direct to the end-user, the biggest thing that we have as a challenge is just reaching the end users. Our marketing department does a great job in that. We have social media that's out there, and we also have a lot of people with Purpl PRO devices that love to talk about it. I would say that in most places, if there's somebody in your crew that has a testing device, people like to talk about that and know about it.

The first thing that pops in my head is when trade shows used to happen and we'd be at a booth and somebody would come and their cannabis would test at 29%, they'd run and grab everybody that they know and bring them over and be like, "Show them that result. This is what I grew. This is what the number was." I think that type of excitement to even have a number when you've never known the number is a big part of it.

Obviously, from a sales standpoint, we want to expand and get into more countries. We want to sign more distributors. If you are in the states or anywhere in the world and you're listening to this and you think you could sell this device, contact us. Go to our website, drop us a note. We'd love to talk about how to get you some devices, not only that you can have to demo and show people, but also devices that you can sell to them. That's the biggest thing.

I think right now our focus is tending to the people that have the devices. There are thousands and thousands of units all across the country right now that are used most likely-- the average is like every six to seven days. Some people are testing 20 to 30 products a day, some people only test when they have a harvest. Making sure those people are happy with the devices is one goal that we always have with our tech support team being in-house. I think the other part is, obviously, selling more devices, but to do that, we need more people to hear about Purpl and more people to see it and then also more people to buy them.

We work with all of our retail partners, making sure they have what they need and making sure their devices are all up-to-date. They've done all the most recent software updates, they have all the things into them, they know how to use them backwards and forwards. We even get into stuff like scientific averaging, where you can take one test of one sample, but if you did three, five, seven, or nine and made an average, it would be more accurate.

Are you really looking for an accurate representation of what your crop is as opposed to just the highest number? If you are looking for the highest number, there's obvious ways to do that. You take the top cola and grind it up and test that, but when you get into like the top, the mid, and the bottom of the canopy and homogenizing the sample and testing it--

The education is a big part for us too. I think that's an easy goal that we always have. We train all of our retail partners. We handle all the tech support and train any of the end users on what they're looking for. That education is what helps set us apart as well. You can call Purpl and talk about how to test many different ways to see what your cannabis is doing, and how to test throughout the growth cycle to see what's going on, or how to test your [unintelligible [00:49:48] so that you have more data to pick the right keeper.

Everybody wants to be the next AJ's Sour Diesel, or Grape Ape, or whatever it is that you want your next strain to be, and we want to help you figure that out. More countries, more retailers in the states. We are always looking for retailers in new states because we don't want to have somebody wait to have it shipped. They could go pick it up at your store today. Let's make that happen.

Sinead: That's great. As we close in a few minutes here, we'll give the listeners some info on how they can connect with you online. If they're interested, they can certainly connect with you. That's great. John, moving into some personal development questions, first of all, I wanted to ask, is there a book that's had a big impact on your life or way of thinking that you'd like to share?

John: Oh, yes, for sure. On a business sense, one of the best books that I have that I recommend to a lot of people is The Tipping Point. It's by Malcolm Gladwell. If you don't know Malcolm Gladwell, that's where I would start with any of his books. Definitely changes perspective and changes understanding and how to work with data. More importantly, it changes your mental perspective on how you look at a lot of stuff, but The Tipping Point is a great book.

From management and leadership and skills, Jocko Willink is a guy that a lot of people know, but he has a lot of great books out that talk about things from his time with the Navy SEALs. I think it's Extreme Leadership, is one of the books that I would probably start with. Also, to go back to our consulting corporation and everything else, The Great Gatsby is a great book to read no matter what you want to learn about, The Haves and the Have-Nots and How Life Works. There's a big part of the sales in that with that guy selling himself as not being who he was. Those would be the three. I would probably start with Tipping Point, Extreme Leadership, and The Great Gatsby.

Sinead: Those are some great picks. The Tipping Point has been on my reading list for a while now. I'll have to get to that one soon here.

John: [crosstalk] bump it up. He's got a lot of good ones, but The Tipping Point is by far the one for me that always sticks out. I have a lot of people that are in all kinds of different industries, but after reading that book, you can really look at things a little bit differently and figure out, one, how to maximize things, but also how looking at data one way or a different way can help figure out where the solution is.

Sinead: I'm going to have to bump that up the list a little bit then. That sounds like a valuable read there. Awesome. Next personal development question here for you, John, what is one thing going on in the industry that you think will have a big impact down the road but might be a little underappreciated right now?

John: My biggest thing would be just the whole attention to accounting, bookkeeping, reporting, and taxes. I deal with this all the time in multiple different states. Unfortunately, there's a reason why Amazon doesn't pay any taxes and why their accountants know how to figure that out. In the cannabis industry, there's a lot of different things that you can figure out through that as well. I think it's underappreciated because a lot of the smaller mom and pops don't have access to how all of that works.

With 280E and the inability to write off a lot of costs of goods sold or COGS as it's called in accounting, it makes a big challenge for smaller cannabis businesses to figure out how to get through some of those, and coupled with the fact that almost every cannabis business is going to get audited at some point. If you don't have an enrolled agent IRS accountant that knows how to handle an audit, that's probably an issue. There's going to be adjustments, and hopefully there's no penalties, but all of that requires more money to be paid.

How you're doing your reporting, your accounting, and not simply just having a time clock and a balance sheet, but understanding how to work things into different categories, how to set up your companies. There's a lot of people that set up LLCs that would probably be better to set up an S corp. All of that is stuff that I think in the industry right now, with the evolution from taboo to medical to recreational to gigantic conglomerate multi-state operators, that's where you're going to fall into some of those things that you may not make it through the next transition if you don't have your books super tight and you don't know how to record everything, you don't know how to work through everything that you can.

Those to me I think in the next two to four years, we will see a big transition in how that works. One, people continually talk about it being federally regulated or that banking is going to open, but in Maine and Arkansas, Missouri, and all the new states, they require banking to happen through that state. It's a state bank that does it and charges the regulated licensees for that. The banking I don't think is going to be the big issue, the big issue is going to be reporting, taxes, bookkeeping, and all of the things that usually an entrepreneur doesn't want to focus on or take care of and hires an accountant to do it.

If your accountant has done it before or has no experience in cannabis before, they're not going to know the same way to do it the way that people do. That would be my underlying one. I talk about this topic probably three to five times a week with people because it's such an outside realm that a lot of the cannabis industry doesn't want to talk about or figure out.

Sinead: That's a great point. Like you said, it's only a matter of time before their arm is forced and they have to figure that out. Great point there, for sure. Great, John. Wrapping up, I got a real hard-hitting question here for you. You can only watch three movies for the rest of your life, which do you choose?

John: I guess my preference is-- Do I have to have my family and kids around? Because then I know it's going to be-

Sinead: Not at all.

John: [unintelligible [00:56:02] be Cars 1, 2, and 3, because of the kids. [unintelligible [00:56:06] myself, I don't know. Well, the movies that I would want to watch-- I get three movies?

Sinead: Yes, three whole movies that aren't in the Cars franchise.

John: [inaudible [00:56:17] I feel like one of has got to be a comedy. You got to be able to laugh and check stuff out. I'm going to say Eddie Murphy Raw would be one of the first ones-

Sinead: Nice.

John: [inaudible [00:56:28] myself, but that would be one. Then I probably would pick Caddyshack.

Sinead: Good pick. That's a good one.

John: Another [unintelligible [00:56:41]

Sinead: This could be a TV series too. I'll throw you a bone there if you've got a--

John: Yes, so Eddie Murphy Raw, Caddyshack. I'd do Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Sinead: Oh, okay. You've got the whole gamut there. Comedy, you have some tears in there. That's a great list.

John: That's a hard question. I'll give that to you. That's a good one.

Sinead: Oh, yes, that's a tough one. I'm not even sure I could answer that one. Probably not fair that I'm asking guests that.

John: Music would be totally different, but movies, you're like, "Oh, man, I only get two hours of it."

Sinead: That's true. I might just have to change my question there going forward to music. That's great. John, wrapping up here, how can listeners find you online and connect with you?

John: The easiest way for finding me would definitely be through Instagram, which is @grimeygatsby, G-R-I-M-E-Y-G-A-T-S-B-Y. It's an open account. You can drop me a follow, you can drop me a DM, you can ask me questions. If you are looking for Purpl Scientific or Purpl PRO, that would be www.purplscientific.com, but there's no E on Purpl, again, to bring that up. You can also go to findpurpl.com if you want to actually purchase a device. That'll have all of our retailers.

If you're in Maine and you want to talk about those things, I would still hit me up on Instagram. Alternative Essence, Refine New England, and Iron Lung are our three brands in Maine that we have. If you're in Arkansas, it would be Harvest Cannabis Dispensary in Conway, Arkansas. In Missouri, it would be North Medical Group. Outside of that, you can hit me up about anything.

If you have questions about growing cannabis, if you have questions about breeding cannabis, if you have questions about getting into the cannabis industry for a job, or you want to talk about a new state that is about to accept applications and you're really trying to get a license, or you want to talk about nutrients, or you want to talk about skiing or fly fishing or anything else, I'm always open. I'm always down to have a conversation. Instagram would probably be the easiest and then I can give you whatever email is correct for what you're looking for from there.

Sinead: Great. John, you said your Instagram handle is grimeygatsby, is that correct?

John: Yes. That is the one.

Sinead: I'm guessing that's a reference to The Great Gatsby, right?

John: It is a reference to The Great Gatsby. [crosstalk]

Sinead: Nice. Little slow off the blocks, but just occurred to me.

John: Yes. We started Grimey Gatsby as a consulting company and it has taken on many different shapes, but it is definitely a nod to The Great Gatsby and The Haves and the Have-Nots and How The World Works.

Sinead: Awesome. Yes, another classic book there. That's great. John, thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it and we wish you the best of luck with everything going on with Purpl. Lots of exciting things to come.

John: Yes, it's awesome. I appreciate it. Big shout out to everybody at CannaInsider. We appreciate the time to be able to talk and have your listeners vibe out with us.

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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 cannainsider.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 cannainsider.com/trends.

Have a suggestion for the awesome guests on CannaInsider? Simply send us an email and feedback at cannainsider.com. We'd 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. Promotional consideration may be provided by select guests, advertisers, or companies featured on CannaInsider.

Lastly, the host or guest on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies 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.

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Ep 359 – Delta-8 THC and 5-MeO-DMT (Two Compounds You Need To Know About)

max montrose trichome institute

What are Delta-8 THC and 5-MeO-DMT and what’s all the hype about? Here to help us understand is the cannabis whisper himself, Max Montrose of Trichome Institute.

Learn more at https://trichomeinstitute.com

Key Takeaways:

[00:43] An inside look at Trichome Institute, the leading cannabis education company

[2:06] Delta-8 THC and how it differs from its better-known cousin delta-9 THC

[3:45] Why delta-8 is surging in popularity

[13:36] Where Max sees delta-8 THC heading over the next 3-5 years

[16:44] Max’s partnership with Abstrax, an industry leader in the study and production of cannabis and botanically-derived terpenes

[23:39] 5-MeO-DMT, a psychedelic found in a variety of plant species and the glands of the Sonoran Desert toad

[27:39] Max’s work studying the Sonoran Desert toad and their unique venom glands

[41:12] How Max’s experiences with 5-MeO-DMT and ayahuasca have changed his philosophies and way of life

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Mathew Kind: Hi. I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday I look for a fresh new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly-evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at cannainsider.com, that's C-A-N-N-A-insider dot com. Now here's your program.

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Max Montrose, the cannabis whisperer is going to help us understand what all the rage is with delta-8 THC and other important cannabis topics today. Max, welcome back to CannaInsider.

Max Montrose: Thanks so much, Matt. I love being on your show.

Matthew: Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world right now?

Max: I am in Erie, Colorado.

Matthew: Okay. Max, your company is Trichome Institute. For new listeners, can you just tell us what Trichome does?

Max: Yes. We are a cannabis education company that is different from the rest of them in the ways that we teach really interesting high-level, niche and fascinating cannabis topics, such as cooking with cannabis, the cannabis sommelier program, interpening. We also provide standard courses for the industry like cannabis consultant training, where we really just break down cannabis at a high level, how and why the plants are Indica, Sativa, and other really interesting things. For today's listeners, we actually have 10% off for anybody who's interested in our online courses or our physical goods, and that would be DELTA8.

Matthew: What's your URL?

Max: trichomeinstitute.com. Trichome Institute is on Instagram, in Facebook, trichome.institute. For people who are more into psychedelics you can also check me out max.montrose.

Matthew: The coupon code one more time, it's all letters or letters and number?

Max: It's Delta and then the number eight together, all capital.

Matthew: Okay, cool. Well, Max, we want to talk about delta-8 because we get so many questions about it, delta-8-THC. Three buckets of people listening they'll be like, "Oh, I've heard of it. I'm curious about it, but I don't really know what it is," others that say, "Hey, I've heard it and I know a little bit of what it is," and then others that have tried it, but they still don't know what to think about it. Let's just imagine we're on an elevator going up to the top of the Empire State Building, and you got a short pitch to deliver about what delta-8 is and why it's important, what would you say?

Max: Well, it's important to just know that what you're talking about is THC. Delta-8 is THC, but it's a form of THC. The form of THC that it is, it's not as sharp from an effect perspective, and so most people anecdotally claim that when they experience it, they feel high or they feel medicated, but without the eebily jeebilies, without the freak-out. There's no paranoia associated to it. They claim that it's a little softer or an easier type of high to experience.

Matthew: It's THC minus paranoia in your opinion. It's like nerfing THC to make it so you're not getting the harder edges that some people find uncomfortable?

Max: Yes. You could say that. There's a lot more to say about delta-8, but I'm on an elevator pitch. [laughs]

Matthew: You're on an elevator pitch. We'll go into a little bit more about it. Why do you think delta-8-THC is surging in popularity right now?

Max: I got to be honest, if I put all my money down on which cannabinoid was going to be the next hotshot in the marketplace, I would put all my money down on CBG and I would have lost because it was delta-8-THC.

[laughter]

I thought it was going to be CBG.

Matthew: I thought it was going to be CBN, so we're both--

Max: Interesting. There's reasons for this. What these reasons are, this is just really interesting stuff, we're talking about cannabinoids that are not only psychoactive like CBD, but unlike CBD, these other minor cannabinoids are also slightly intoxicating, whereas their big brother, THC, is most definitely intoxicating. I think there's a huge difference in the words people choose to use.

A whole lot of people in the hemp and CBD industry will tell you that their products are non-psychoactive. CBD is psychoactive, so is CBG, so is delta-8-THC, but CBG and delta-8-THC actually give you a noticeable effect that is calming and relaxing. When you take high levels of CBG it feels like you've done yoga for two hours and then meditated for an hour after that. Your amount of peace in physical calm and mental clarity is extraordinary, it's easy to take on and it feels great.

Matthew: That's interesting. It's a lot more approachable for the mass audience is what it is.

Max: Well, you've got two different audiences. You have the entire audience that is still restricted from a THC market that just found a backdoor called delta-8-THC out of hemp, which we can get into. The other market you have is all of the people who live in geographies where they have access to THC industries, but THC is too much for them. That would be my family. My sister and my dad, they can't handle the levels of THC in typical flower sold in most dispensaries. It's just too much. These are things that are really approachable for that whole other crowd, which is a massive amount of people.

Matthew: How many milligrams does it take you to really experience cannabis? What's a noticeable milligram amount where you're like, "I'm noticing this"?

Max: Well, when you're talking about milligrams, you're talking about edibles. You know that edibles metabolize in your liver because cannabinoids aren't water-soluble and you're made out of water. They have to transfer in your liver into something that is water-soluble, which does change the molecular structure. Why cannabis edibles are so intense or marijuana edibles with THC are so intense is because delta-8-THC turns into 11-hydroxy-delta-8-THC, which is more potent and a different form, again, of THC, a different version of THC.

What's really interesting is when you eat delta-8-THC, it actually transfers into 11-hydroxy-delta-8-THC. That's a really interesting experience because for many people, the edible experience is too much. It's too crazy. They think they're not breathing, that time has slowed down. Of course, we're talking about either people who have lower tolerances or people who take really high doses, but regardless, THC edibles can cook you in a different way than smoking flower, and everyone knows that. To try an edible but with that sharp edge taken off of it, is just really relaxing.

It's the kind of stone you get from that really heady, I'm going to use the word "Indica flower". Trichome uses the term "broadleaf". The couch-lock that you get where you're just so damn relaxed you literally cannot move is what I get from the delta-8 edible experience.

Matthew: Very interesting. Wow. It's starting to come into focus why it's becoming so popular. Are there any misconceptions about it that people aren't--?

Max: Well, we haven't even talked about really why it's becoming popular from a different angle.

Matthew: Let's talk about the other angle.

Max: Well, this angle is, this is a gray market surge that it's an enormous spike that is going to be shaved down really fast, for a lot of really good reasons. Delta-8 is not the rage or the surge in marijuana dispensaries. It is all the rage and all the surge in all the sub-operations that sell cannabis that wouldn't typically conform to the regulated industry. It's like, "Well, where are people getting this cannabis from?" "Well, the hemp industry."

That's the whole cannabis industry that's not policed by the Marijuana Enforcement Division. They don't use metrics. They don't have plant counts. They have unlicensed laboratories everywhere, God knows how many of them and where they're at, and what they're using to do extraction methods from. You're really talking about the Wild West of cannabis when you're talking about the hemp industry, which is a multi-billion dollar cannabis industry separate from Marijuana.

Now, that CBD has become a multi-billion dollar industry in and of itself, you have a ton of CBD. Now CBD is cheap. Now people have had enough time to learn about it, people have explored it, now people are ready for the next big thing. What would happen if we turned this CBD into delta-8-THC because the federal legislation from the hemp bill that separates hemp from marijuana from a THC's perspective, does specify that the difference is specifically delta-9-THC. That's the key, is all of these hemp people are saying, "Well, the law specifically says you can't have delta-9 but the law doesn't say you can't have delta-8."

Now, you have Texas, which doesn't have marijuana dispensaries but they have CBD dispensaries and hemp dispensaries, and now they're selling a THC product because they can because technically nowhere does it say that they can't. That is why you're seeing the surge, is you are seeing the world of people who wished that they could go to a store and buy THC doing it right now in places that don't technically legally, have THC.

Really, what's happening here is the federal government shot themselves in the foot by being hyper-specific because they do that. The problem is, you're trying to be hyper-specific about the number one drug on the planet that you cannot put in a box because it is the most-- Nothing in the world works like cannabis in as many different ways as it does. Had the federal government did what I think they intended to do, which was to say, any and all tetrahydrocannabinols, meaning THC (plural), any THC, delta-7, delta-8, delta-9, both versions of delta-10, 11 hydroxy, it doesn't matter if it's THC, if it is the intoxicating cannabinoid THC, there's a regulated market for that.

There's tens of thousands of people who have worked like you have no idea, to create a functioning and regulated cannabis marijuana THC market, where adults can go today, show their driver's license, buy something, go home and get high. That's where delta-8 can be sold legally and will be sold legally, and that's fine, but this is the hemp industry trying to skirt the law with this black box thing. You are starting to see governments, left and right, shutting this down and beginning to regulate it.

Matthew: Where do you think this all lands, let's say five years from now? It seems like the people want cannabis and hemp products so badly, they're always innovating and doing crazy things and looking for loopholes, just like this. It reminds me of how, when you lay a brick, there's this mortar that goes between the bricks. The bricks are all these regulations and then there's people that still had demand that wasn't being met. This mortar is being put between the bricks, delta-8 because there's a need not being filled. A strange metaphor there, Max, but let's roll with it.

Where do you think this lands, three, five years from now? Will we still be talking about delta-8 much? Or is it going to be eclipsed by some emerging cannabinoids?

Max: Yes, we will be still talking about delta-8. What's really interesting is, going back to those hemp dispensaries in Texas, they're selling cannabis flower in jars the way that you would walk into a dispenser in Colorado and purchase marijuana by the eighth or the ounce. That flower is really interesting stuff because it's rich in cannabinoids. Some of it is high in CBG, as high as 18% CBG. What an interesting product, and there's a market that's interested in smoking it.

The same goes for CBN like you said, Matt. Delta-8, even just terpenes on their own, what you have is you're going to have, potentially, an entire market of lesser cannabinoids in higher doses, and it's because they are more manageable, they don't mess people up as much, they're new, they're really interesting to learn about and to explore and experience, and they can be legally derived from hemp naturally, unlike delta-8-THC is right now.

Delta-8-THC is naturally produced by the cannabis plant but you have to remember these cannabis plants are not producing THC, to begin with or at least less than 0.3%. It's the difference of really manipulating chemically, one product to another. Yes, I think in five years you will definitely still see delta-8-THC but it will probably be only regulated in marijuana dispensaries, whereas you might see other lesser cannabinoids in higher values in hemp dispensaries.

Matthew: We probably have something in months or maybe single-digit months that this is going to survive like it is, in its current form before it mutates into more regulation, it sounds like?

Max: Yes.

Matthew: I know you're doing some work with a lab called Abstrax. Can you talk about that?

Max: Sure. Abstrax, they built a cannabis aroma supercomputer, so they're reading over 400 different aroma chemical characters simultaneously in three-dimensional visual space. [chuckles] You can actually see what this aroma looks like and it looks pretty beautiful. Their technology is so complex that they can calculate the spectrum difference of the groupings of the aromatic chemicals that would cause stimulation or sedation.

A lot of people who know cannabis still don't really fully understand that the terpenes that work in aromatherapy, and it's the same terpenes in aromatherapy, so when everyone smells lavender it becomes calm, it is the sedation chemical effect from the terpene, linalool that is causing that on your physiology. When you smoke linalool and THC combined, THC almost accelerates that sedative property causing the Indica effect.

If you map terpenes and understand how they work, and then they're in different groupings, you can actually calculate that this flower is going to be a sedative and this one's going to be a stimulant. To have a computer that can test if cannabis is an Indica or Sativa, would be a multi-billion dollar game-changer because we're going to solve a big problem in the industry because we're going to take the guessing out of the equation. [laughs]

Of course, because these guys have heard that I teach people how to see and smell the difference between cannabis and its effect in our interpening program, that they actually flew me out to LA, they tested me on this and I got seven out of eight jars right on the head, me, explaining that this one would affect you in this way and this one would affect you in that way, and, "These effects are also going beyond stimulating and sedative. We have analyzed five effect types." I was getting seven out of eight jars correct, right on the dot with five different options that the jar could be not one or the other.

Matthew: All right. It's a lot of permutations there?

Max: Exactly. Man, what we can do together combining how we analyze cannabis and its quality and its effect type, with our cannabis sommelier program, and understanding what's happening in the Emerald Triangle with appellations [unintelligible [00:19:32] and topicity, you can certify topicity with something like Abstrax technology. Topicity is the flavor that is recognizable and of typical to any and every OG that's ever experienced Durban Poison or Jack Herer.

If you claim that you have Jack Herer, says who? Have you literally verified the flavor of that Jack and put it on a computer program that can actually map it compared to the baseline assessment that we have from Jack Herer's son, our good buddy, Dan, who gives us access to the original genetic so we know that this is original Jack? Here it is. If you are a dispensary that's going to sell Jack, is that certified Jack? It's beyond terpene fingerprinting which is something people have talked about in the industry before. It's the same idea. It's just way more advanced.

Matthew: There would be some range that's allowable within it from that standard to say, if it deviates beyond, this would no longer be considered Jack?

Max: Of course, yes. Jack, grown indoors versus outdoor and in this state versus that state isn't going to read identically, but it's going to read really close. Jack bred with Skunk #1 isn't going to make the cut.

Matthew: Wow, that's really interesting. What a nose you have. Your nose is a prodigy of some kind.

Max: It's crazy. This is what we teach people. We teach people how to do this professionally and on their own. That's what that code is for, delta-8. That's an online course. Actually, Abstrax in Trichome Institute is coming out with a product that we've now finished. We just need to release it which is the world's very first cannabis aromatic training kit. It comes with 12 different terpenes to teach you how to feel different smells in different parts of your face to gauge where different groupings of terpenes would actually dictate stimulating or sedative effect types from cannabis.

Also, they have Abstrax terpenes in there that is the smell of Jack Herer. Because Abstrax can not just analyze it, they can recreate the smell identically. It's crazy, the terpenes that these guys can make. I've never seen another terpene company come anywhere close to the sharpness and specificity of the complex aroma types of these really unique plants produce of flavors that you cannot describe. Jack Herer and Durban Poison does not smell like a single fruit, a single type of food, a plant, an animal, a fungus, or a spice. There's nothing in the world that smells like those things.

It's crazy that they can recreate it. Because they can recreate it, we, the Trichome Institute, can teach people around the world about it because we can legally ship you the smell of Jack Herer in a jar where we might not be able to ship you the cannabis. Although now, we're selling hemp flower online to teach people how to get into their cannabis and grade it, the trichomes, look at it with a microscope, and all that fun stuff.

Matthew: You could create a men's cologne, just call it Dank.

Max: The amount of times, Matt, that I've said, "If a woman smelled like this cannabis plant, I would be done." There's some perfumes out there that would really be quite interesting. That's true.

Matthew: Wow, that is interesting stuff. Keep us posted. Keep us posted on that. I know you got developments coming, but let's pivot now to 5-MeO-DMT. I want to talk about your interaction with the Sonoran Desert toad in a minute, but first, let's just introduce what 5-MeO-DMT is.

Max: DMT is awesome. In fact, I don't know if you know this, Matt, but the back of the interpening book is reviewed by Rick Strassman, who's a dear friend of mine who wrote the book and did the movie of DMT: The Spirit Molecule.

Matthew: That was a great movie. I really enjoyed that.

Max: He's the world authority on what DMT is and how it works. He's a dear friend of mine. We produce DMT. Essentially, DMT is the chemical that you dream on, your very psychedelic dreams where you can fly and you can talk to your dead relatives, but it's also very clear in your consciousness. It's just incredibly psychedelic. The DMT that you produce in your mind is N, N-dimethyltryptamine. Typically when people harvest DMT from nature, it's an N, N-DMT that they're harvesting typically from DMT-producing plants. There's tons of different plants that produce what we would call a high level of DMT. A high level of DMT from a plant would be 3% by dry weight. That'd be a lot.

Most people who know DMT, they really know N, N-DMTs specifically. When you brew ayahuasca with Banisteriopsis caapi, the vine, and chacruna, which is P. viridis, the plant that contains DMT or Mimosa hostilis, the root bark, another plant that contains the DMT, you're producing N, N-DMT. All of this is N, N-DMT. 5-MeO is really derived from the toad. When people have seen The Simpsons and they lick toads and they start tripping, that's what they're actually talking about, is the Sonoran Desert toad which is also called the Colorado River toad. Its technical name is the Bufo alvarius.

Do plants produce 5-MeO-DMT? Yes. In fact, you can buy plants that have 5-MeO-DMT in them at your local garden store probably today. If you can't, I can guarantee you can buy them on Amazon right now. Do you know what a Mimosa pudica is, Matt?

Matthew: No.

Max: [chuckles] Have you ever heard of the plants called, what are they called? sensitive plants?

Matthew: No.

Max: Man. Come on. The little plants, you touch them, and then their leaves just fall and curl the second you touch them?

Matthew: Yes. I think I know what you're talking about.

Max: Yes, you know what I'm talking about. You sell them in garden stores for kids because they're really fun. They're cool because the plants move when you interact with them. Those have 5-MeO-DMT in them. Those plants are actually conscious. In fact, they actually remember specific people. They remember time. They actually remember certain events and they go to sleep because they're so conscious that they actually have to let their consciousness take a break. If they don't, they'll die from having a lack of sleep just like humans.

DMT is consciousness. It is a portal to many different worlds. This can get deep. Even though plants have very sliverous amounts of DMT in them, it is the Bufo alvarius toad that has a large amount of 5-MeO to offer.

Matthew: Tell us about your interaction with this toad.

Max: [snickers]

Matthew: Don't be shy about the details.

Max: [laughs] There's a couple of important things to be said. First of all, these toads are being decimated from people who have learned that they contain "drugs". These are people who don't take the time to learn how to go about this properly. They take these toads out of the environment and they kill them to harvest their medicine. These are rare creatures to begin with. Their habitat is being decimated. The place that they live on planet Earth which is southern Arizona and northern Mexico, that's one of the most brutal places on earth. That's a harsh environment just to survive in. These animals can't live without water. I don't know if you've heard about Arizona recently, but they've already run out of water.

These are very, very special creatures. I don't want to be responsible for educating people that these are things that you can go out, and acquire and that you should. I don't really think people should. There is synthetic 5-MeO-DMT. Where you get that is probably the dark web. I think it should also be said that all of this is federally illegal. This is a schedule 1 drug. It's also federally illegal to harvest the toads. It's also illegal to possess them. It's illegal to go catch them. It should be, too.

How do I find myself interacting with these toads in the desert? Well, people who follow my social media, max.montrose, know that it's not just full of psychedelic plants. I literally run around the world in jungles and deserts catching venomous snakes barehanded and demonstrating a variety of different amphibians, arachnids, insects, bats. This is something I've just been doing since I was a young boy.

Arizona is one of my hotspots to go catch snakes and arachnids. On occasion, when you're in Arizona, hunting for tarantulas, scorpions, and rattlesnakes, and you come to bodies of water and you're at night, during the monsoon season, you can definitely see these toads. They're hard not to see because the adults are the size of small kittens. They are big toads. I have interacted with them. I've played with them. I've spent some time with them.

Matthew: Do they like to be held?

Max: No, not at all.

Matthew: You are spooning toads?

Max: I can tell you that trying to hold them is really difficult because they are unbelievably strong. Frog legs are quite muscular and these toads are the size of small kittens and they're slimier than fish and a wet bar soap combined. The mucus that comes off of them is just pure lubrication. These things can kick and they're trying to pull themselves and kick out of your hands. It is not easy to hold them, but I can describe to you how the medicine is harvested from them.

Matthew: Yes, please.

Max: They have really large venom glands that sit right behind their ear, which sits right behind their eyeballs on either side of their cheeks. They also have these venom glands on their forearms and forelegs. The idea of this psychedelic venom is if you were a fox or a javelina or some type of desert predatory creature that would come up and essentially bite the toad, the teeth would pop these glands. These glands are meant to be popped.

What would happen is you would have a hallucinogenic venom surge in your mouth. We suspect that that would send Mr. Fox to the other side of the multi-verse and have him converge with some government of alien beings. While he is lost in outer space, the toad would be hopping away.

Matthew: What a defense?

Max: [laughs] What a defense? That's the idea or the reason why we believe these toads have the defense mechanism, that is a poison, but it is a hallucinogenic experience that we feel that they actually give to other animals if they were to be bitten in a mouth.

What you do is if you can handle these toads, you put their venom glands in your fingers. This is very similar to popping a zit, but the zit that they have to pop is almost as hard as a rock. If you squeeze it hard enough, typically it will shoot and pop and squirt like a zit. This is disgusting, but you squirt it onto a glass dish or a pan. That hallucinogenic venom oxidizes in the air quite quickly.

The idea is you catch a handful of toads and put them in one bucket. As you're done going through popping all of their glands, place them in another bucket. This doesn't really hurt them. After you handle them with your bare hands because it's an amphibian, you definitely want to put cool and filtered water on their bodies to let them rehydrate and you let them go.

Once their medicine has oxidized, you basically can turn this Pyrex dish over and you can scrape it up and you have crystalline hallucinogenic frog or toad venom, which has a very high amount of 5-MeO-DMT in it, which is quite stable too. You can keep it for years.

Matthew: Wow, that's crazy. I wonder if anybody skipped ahead in this podcast and just came up to that point about the toad and the mucus and the popping of the glands, they're like, "What [unintelligible [00:34:57]?" That's crazy. The experience of this Sonoran Desert toad, 5-MeO-DMT, is it exactly the same as the synthetically made or N, N-DMT or anything you're talking about?

Max: Let me put it to you this way. I'm not sure about the synthetic stuff. I'll just say that because I haven't tried it. I have tried both N, N and 5-MeO. I've done a ton of ayahuasca. It's not a secret. People know I try the stuff and I have for a majority of my life. This is part of who I am. I actually have quite a bit of experience. I can tell you the differences.

I think the most important thing people should know about the experience is it does not have to be the way that you constantly see it done on shows like Vice because the way that the toad is typically done is in a macro dose. Typically people are doing upwards of 50 to 100 milligrams, maybe 200 milligrams, 0.2 of a gram, that you are basically sucking in through a bong. You can't hit it with a flame, it has to be vaporized. Which is typically why you see people smoking them out of funny pipes or "meth pipes". It's just because that delivery mechanism works really well for the type of product that it is.

Typically what you see in Vice or Hamilton's Pharmacopeia, or all these things is people doing these incredible macro doses to achieve an ego death. Just imagine that you're a refrigerator, and your refrigerator is plugged into the house. Your mainframe is on. Even if you go to sleep, you're still cold inside because your motor isn't running right now, because you're in sleep mode, but you're still plugged in because your motor is going to come back on. They're taking so much of a dose that they're actually ripping the cord out of the wall. They're unplugging the refrigerator. It can't turn itself back on.

This does cause an ego death because you literally go back to square one. You actually go to the place where you came from before you were here. You visit where death is although it's not death, it's just the other place that this isn't. You can learn a thousand years' worth of wisdom in history and come back from this experience literally never touching your cocaine habit ever again.

I've actually done ayahuasca with someone who knocked out 20-year-old alcohol and cocaine addiction with this toad experience.

Matthew: Really?

Max: Yes. They actually combine it with the frog. The frog is different from the toad. I'm not necessarily going to get into that, but if you do, the frog is a prerequisite, it can make the toad way stronger. They are two very different things from very different parts of the world.

Matthew: Just tell us the name of the frog so we know what you're talking about.

Max: Oh, it's Kambo. Instead of Bufo, it's the Kambo, which is also a waxy monkey tree frog. [chuckles] This is where you burn holes in your muscles, in your body and you take that frog slime that you mix with your saliva and you stick it in your burn wounds and puke your brains out. It's a cleanse. We typically do this before we do ayahuasca or peyote or stuff like that. If you do the frog and really clean yourself out physically and psychologically and spiritually at a huge level, prior to doing some really deep psychedelic, like the toad, it's an entirely different launchpad kind of an experience.

This is all wisdom from the jungle. People have been doing this for thousands of years. This is not a new thing. It's just this is not common for Westerners.

Matthew: Ayahuasca trip, not everybody, but most people vomit before that. That's part of the process of cleansing out or just a reaction?

Max: When you drink ayahuasca, it's like a thick syrup. To me, it tastes like sour chocolate milk that's at least edible. It's not so sour that you cannot get it down, but your body does reject it. It's like, "Okay, what did you just put in me?" [laughs] Especially on your second, third, or fourth cup in the evening, drinking vines and jungle plants that have been brewed together in a cup of sour chocolate sludge, you can definitely throw that up. [chuckles]

Actually, it's one of my favorite parts of the experience because when you need to vomit, you're as physically pent up as you are emotionally and psychologically pent up. You and your being as a whole just needs to explode. The catalytic event of getting well, having the opportunity to physically really clean out and clean out deep and hard while having such a psychedelic experience simultaneously is riveting. It's really fantastic.

Matthew: What are your key takeaways from ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT about the nature of the reality we live in now? Seeing as you're an explorer, an adventurer in these other realms, how do you integrate these experiences into what your philosophy is about why we're here and what's going on?

Max: This stuff is hard to talk about because you have two different sides of the aisle. You have one side of the aisle that totally gets it. Those are people who will study ancient religions like Judaism and Buddhism and the structures of freemasonry and symbolism, sacred geometry, but who study it seriously in that really, really deep levels. The other side of people are people who have never experienced the stuff. They don't value how and why ancient religions are really pathways and keys to the whole of it all in life that have been structured and given to us from ancient ones that may or may not be a part of our species necessarily.

You have a scientific community that says, "Well, you're on a hallucinogenic substance, aren't you? Isn't everything that you're experiencing in your mind fake because you're hallucinating?" It can be a hard conversation to have because for the people who haven't tried these truly sacred medicines-- Actually, the last time I did ayahuasca, which wasn't that long ago, we had one of those guys in the group trying ayahuasca for his first time. When he came out of it the next morning when we were sharing our experiences, he said that he was one of those analytical scientific guys that poo-pooed on anyone and everyone who ever talked about magic being real. There's just no science for it.

When you hang out with divinity and a shaman god allows you to see the perspective of the matrix that you're truly in and all of your spirit guides who are rooting for you in the mission that you're on in this time period, it's really hard not to believe in magic. It's really hard not to know that there is a big purpose for being here and that time is so, so special and it is not to be wasted. You are a part of god because how could you not be? Creation is real. Something is being created and here you are, and you're a part of it, and you're co-creating it with the consciousness that you have and the free will that's a part of it in its equation.

We need you to be conscious in creating goodness because reality is constantly a battle between good and evil. Once you see this perspective and this war that's happening, you have a responsibility to participate as a warrior in fighting for what is good even if it doesn't make sense in society, like these things being against the law. It is my religion. I can go to synagogue and talk about the ancient ones who had these experiences and figured all this stuff out for themselves thousands of years ago or I can do it for myself, too.

Matthew: There's so much interesting stuff going on here. I hope listeners enjoy it as much as I have. I'm going to start going on your Instagram. You need a YouTube channel, call it To The Max or Maximus or something, where you're educating and also doing this interesting stuff, philosophy, integrating these things. It's just fascinating stuff. There are so many different ways we can get off the topics of cannabis here, but since this is the main theme of the show, we'll wrap it up now with some personal development questions for you, Max. You seem like such a Colorado guy to me.

Max: Oh, yes. My Subaru is so dirty, my pants are dirty, my [unintelligible [00:45:37] are dirty, my dogs are dirty. We go hiking, we search for mushrooms, we roll in the dirt, we grow weed. We're Colorado. [laughs]

Matthew: This is going to be a tough question for you then. If you couldn't live in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, where would you live?

Max: Sonoma.

Matthew: Sonoma. Wait. Oh, you're talking about Northern California?

Max: Yes.

Matthew: Got it. We were just talking about the Sonoran Desert toad, so I got confused. You like it up there?

Max: Yes, man. The Emerald Triangle is just too far out and the city is just too much. Right in between is a slice of heaven in wine and weed country in the Redwood Forest where there's farmers' markets and California hippies. Come on. [chuckles]

Matthew: What do you like up there? Sebastopol? Petaluma? [crosstalk]

Max: Yes, Sebastopol, Sonoma. I've got to tell you, I'll be honest, I've been trying to buy a house up there for a year or maybe plus at this point. It's hard with the fires. Really, it's the fire insurance, the flood insurance with the Russian River and California taxes. It makes it hard for a young guy like me to be able to actually make it work just because of all the extra little stuff. I'm also looking at Oregon. I think there's a lot of similar places and vibes and flavors, but I don't know how I could survive anywhere in the United States other than from Colorado to anywhere more west. Anywhere more east of Colorado, I don't think I could make it. [chuckles]

Matthew: Max, can you give us just a minute or two about-- you proposed to your fiancé and just the way you did that? Not to get personal. [laughs]

Max: [unintelligible [00:47:32] personal. I woke her up. We went to Sedona. She knew that we went to Sedona for me to propose to her. We made her ring together. We picked out all the stones and the rough. Our buddy cut it and put it together. It's literally the most beautiful ring you've ever seen. We went to Sedona to go get engaged, but she wasn't allowed to know what the ceremony was.

I woke her up at five o'clock in the morning with white linens and golden crowns that we both wore. We marched into the Sedona Desert and we made a sacred geometry little altar out of the earth in our crystals and our smudging and our music with not a single person in sight. We tried some psychedelic cacti and let's just say a magical something else.[chuckles]

Psychedelics are a big part of our life, not because we're on drugs, but because they open us up, our hearts to ourselves and each other and the universe in such a substantial and emotional, and deep way. It's not like we were blasted out of our minds or anything, but we definitely ate some sacred medicines and had a really beautiful ceremony in the desert together. I asked her to marry me.

Matthew: Oh, wow. That's so much different than the typical. That's why I wanted to ask you about it.

Max: [chuckles] Man, there's nothing I do in my life that is difficult.

Matthew: Max, bringing it back to cannabis, what's one big trend you see coming in cannabis right now that the general public just doesn't all fully appreciate how big or important it's going to be?

Max: Buying cannabis based on its aroma and not its THC profile.

Matthew: Right.

Max: You have to have a platform. You have to have a system and then you have to teach people. This isn't going to be an overnight thing, but when people learn that if you stop shopping for strain names and THC percentages and you start shopping for specific aromas like Pachyderm Funk, then you're going to be shopping for what you're really looking for in ways that you can't even imagine. This is a whole other conversation, but shopping for smells instead of THC percentages is definitely the future of cannabis.

Matthew: Maybe a Leafly-style app that does gives you a visual of what the aroma is, that would be helpful.

Max: What do you think Abstrax and I are building?

Matthew: [unintelligible [00:50:23] 

[laughter]

Max: You'll be able to see the exact batch of cannabis that you're buying on the app. You'll be able to see microscopic photos of their trichomes, but instead of it being confusing from a visual and aroma perspective, it's going to be very, very, very intuitive and way more detailed, way more accurate, and way more sophisticated.

Matthew: Okay. That would be really helpful. You'll have to come back on when that goes live.

Max: Right now you can't shop for like, "Hey, where's the ooey-gooey, sweaty, icky, OG stinky Pachyderm Funk at? Where is the freshest, sweatiest, stinkiest dank? Where in Colorado is that?" That's what I want to buy. If I was going to just drive somewhere and spend money and pay taxes on cannabis for god's sakes, I would at least want the opportunity to shop for cannabis in [unintelligible [00:51:29]

Matthew: Max, tell us one more time your website and also the coupon code for listeners that want to learn more about cannabis and take one of your online classes.

Max: Yes, trichominestitute.com and trichome.institute on Facebook. If you can't spell trichome, it's okay. It's T-R-I-C-H-O-M-E.institute. If you put it in the product code, DELTA8, you can get 10% off any of our courses and our books, our tools, jewelers loops. We've got light-up magnifying jars to hold your cannabis in, jars to cure your cannabis with, microscopes, all sorts of stuff. In a couple months the new interpening book comes out, the Third Edition Interpening.

Matthew: It's such a pleasure to have you on again, Max, really appreciate it. Thanks for educating us about delta-8, THC, and also your experiences with the desert toad. That is really interesting. I'm glad that you could be so honest and candid about your experiences with DMT and ayahuasca, that's really helpful for me and for our listeners.

Max: Absolutely. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share this really special information, and thanks to the listeners for listening to such a cool channel. Thank you so much, Matt. I really appreciate it.

[music]

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 cannainsider.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 cannainsider.com/trends.

Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on CannaInsider? Simply send us an email at feedback@cannainsider.com. We'd 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. Promotional consideration may be provided by select guests, advertisers or companies featured in CannaInsider.

Lastly, the host or guest on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the company's 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 are 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.

[00:54:34] [END OF AUDIO]

Ep 358 – A Conference Like No Other for CPG Brands and Investors

george jage mj unpacked cannainsider

The first cannabis event of its kind, MJ Unpacked places passionate retailers, THC CPG brands, and accredited investors at the center of it all with unique opportunities to connect, collaborate, and access capital.

Here to tell us more is revered cannabis executive and founder of MJ Unpacked, George Jage of Jage of Media.

Learn more at https://jagemedia.com and https://mjunpacked.com

Key Takeaways:

[3:31] An inside look at Jage Media, a business to business company that produces distinctive events and focused content to help accelerate the growth and profitability of cannabis brands

[5:10] George’s background launching and leading some of the biggest media companies in the space

[7:12] Exciting parallels between the tea and cannabis industries

[10:57] Lessons George took away from his time at MJBizDaily and Dope Magazine

[17:16] George’s new content platform MJ Brand Insights and the valuable intel it offers cannabis brands and retailers

[20:55] How brands can use generational marketing to target the best audience

[24:18] The thought-process behind MJ Unpacked’s unique format and what sets the conference apart from other CPG events

[28:05] What attendees can expect at this year’s MJ Unpacked, from investor pitches to a Blues Brothers concert

[34:19] George’s predictions for when cannabis will see its first national brand

[35:14] Things that take a pitch from good to great and George’s advice on how to secure investors

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew Kind: Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more @cannainsider.com. That's C-A-N-N-A-insider dot com. Now here's your program. Hi, CANNA insiders. Just a quick note before today's interview gets started that my colleague Sinead Green will be interviewing today's guest.

Sinead Green: Hey, Matt.

Matthew: Oh my God. You scared me. Sinead, I didn't realize you were in the sound booth.

Sinead: Sorry about that, Matt.

Matthew: Sinead, since you popped into the sound booth here, this is a great time to just say hello to all the listeners, since I was talking about you.

Sinead: Sounds great. I'd love to, Hey everybody. I'm Sinead Green and I've actually been working with Matt behind the scenes for a couple of years now. I'm so excited to put on my hosting hat and really get a chance to engage with you and bring you some more great interviews. I just want to say if there's someone you'd like us to bring on the show, please feel free to email me your suggestions at sg@cannainsider.com. I'd love to hear from you, and I really hope you enjoy these upcoming shows.

Matthew: Got you. I want to get a host hat, now that you mentioned it. I’m thinking a huge, purple velvet hat. What do you think about that?

Sinead: I think that would look great on you, Matt.

Matthew: Really important, Sinead. We want you to do a good job, but not better than me. Does that sound fair?

Sinead: We'll see about that. [chuckles]

Matthew: Everybody, enjoy this episode with the host Sinead.

[music]

Sinead: Today's guest is one of the most revered Cannabis executives with over two decades, launching building and leading some of the largest media companies in the space from MJBizDaily to DOPE Magazine and more. I'm pleased to welcome George Jage in Jage Media. George, thanks so much for sitting down with us today.

George Jage: Sinead, thank you so much. That's quite a grandiose introduction being revered, but I'm just the guy and I love doing what I do.

Sinead: We're so excited to have you on. I know you were on the show a few years back, but you've done a lot since then. I'm excited to get into that, but before we jump in, George, can you give us a sense of geography? Where are you in the world right now?

George: I am out in the sunny Seattle area. We live on Bainbridge Island, which is just west of Seattle. You have to take a ferry to get here. It's really just such a beautiful part of the country. I'm so glad that we live here.

Sinead: Oh man, I've heard there are a lot of good wineries on Bainbridge as well. You guys go to some wineries here and there?

George: Yes. There's several on the island. We have some subscriptions to them so we can get [inaudible 00:02:43] when they get their wines ready. A couple of them actually, they'll let you volunteer to help bottle and process the wine during the season. Then you get a couple of free bottles for it. I haven't done that yet. I'm more of a IPA and a Bourbon drinker and my wife is the oenophile.

Sinead: That sounds like a fair trade-off volunteering for some free wine. I would be there in a heartbeat.

George: It's just starting to get to be blackberry season and every street and row and wild growth there has massive blackberry vines.

Sinead: Oh my gosh. That sounds like paradise, [chucklles] sounds so nice. Very cool. George, like I said, you've been on the show in the past, but that was quite a while ago. I think that was in 2014, if I'm not mistaken. You've done a lot since then and you have started Jage Media in the last few years here. Can you tell us what is Jage Media on a high level?

George: Sure. Jage Media, obviously just a placeholder corporate name. It was founded by myself and my wife, who's my business partner Kim, and she ran a previous business with me, World Tea Media, World Tea Expo. As a company, we saw an opportunity that cannabis, at the end of the day, is a consumer packaged goods industry.

When you look at the most important trade show in business media resources in a CPG industry, they're really brand or retail-focused. The only reason that we don't have anything on a national level for brands and retailers is because there isn't a national market because of the state bifurcation of all these individual markets, but we know that's going to change. We really started this company based on a conversation I've been having with Patrick Ray for close to three years after leaving MJBizDaily and MJBizCon that the market was going to shift.

We're at the precipice where we are going to see the advancement of interstate commerce or federal legalization. It is going to be a tsunami of change for our industry. We want to make sure that the companies that really carried our industry forward that are operating on a smaller state level, have the opportunity to really expand into the national market when it comes.

Sinead: Great. You dived into your background a little bit there, but what you just mentioned is really only the tip of the iceberg. Can you share a little bit about your background in B2B media and how you first got started in cannabis?

George: Sure. To answer the second part of that question, I first got started in cannabis after discovering the devil's lettuce and at a very young age and expanding that into a very small entrepreneurial herbal distribution business while I was in high school and college. I've had a relationship with the plant for some time. After leaving college, I had an opportunity to help my father's business. He was an apparel liquidator.

He was going through some changes in his business, he needed some help. We had an opportunity to create a trade show for the off-price apparel industry. These are people that would liquidate excess manufacturer's inventory at the end of the season, or buy distressed assets or stuff that got stuck in customs that just needed to get sold cheap and they would turn around and sell it to the TJ Maxx's and Marshall's, they were separate companies at the time and other regional discount apparel stores.

It was really interesting because they all independently set up these suites around town, around the big manufacturer show and the jobbers, as they're called, weren't really welcome there because they would be selling, say, Tommy Hilfiger's goods at 70% below what Tommy Hilfiger was selling them for. It was really fascinating because what they had in their inventory was what they had to sell. They weren't manufacturing, they couldn't make more. They lived and died by every deal. These people were hardcore merchants and purveyors of products, and a lot of our clients did 70% to 80% of their annual sales that are two and trade shows that we did a year.

Sinead: Wow. You mentioned World Tea Media and World Tea Expo. You've spent a lot of time in the tea and cannabis industries at this point. Have you seen any parallels between the two over the years?

George: It's incredibly fascinating how closely related they are. After we sold the OFFPRICE Show, I moved to Las Vegas and I had started a couple of other non-business media-related companies. I started the trade show for tea really because somebody had mentioned anyhow, is there a trade show for tea? I saw there wasn't. I was fascinated by it and launched that company.

One of the things from a commercial standpoint that I saw when starting that is there really wasn't a good understanding or model around what tea retail looked like. It was somewhat challenging for somebody to have a tea retail place where somebody would come in and maybe spend $10 or $12 on a pot of tea, and then sit at a table for two hours expecting free refills for water versus a coffee shop where you have that very high turn. Can have multiple instances that you can sell a customer that's sitting at a table.

I think that got parallel a lot of the cannabis industry when I got in in 2014 of really defining and understanding what the retail model look like, the strong need for education in a very early stage market. Tea has been around for a long time so is cannabis, but especially the tea market, which we really focused on was relatively new and certainly very exciting for people who were passionate about it. That was another similarity. The people that were in the tea industry were wickedly passionate about tea and then sharing this experience with people.

The same way that people in cannabis are like, "Oh my God, you've got to try this amazing plant medicine for people." On a scientific standpoint, tea has a lot of flavonoids and catechins that also cross your blood-brain barrier and actually have a psychotropic effect on your brain. Not nearly to the same extent that you would expect with cannabis, but there's things like L-theanine which is a non-essential amino acid that actually increases the alpha wave activity in your brain when you drink tea that creates calmness.

Alpha waves are when you're meditating, you have a lot of alpha waves going on. This is why Buddhists have used tea in their meditation practice because the L-theanine creates that calmness while the caffeine creates that alertness. It's a calm state of relaxation that tea creates for people. Then on the historical side, that was really fascinating. I didn't know this until I was just entering into the cannabis industry. Tea has been accredited to being discovered by Emperor Shen Nung who lived some 5,000 years ago in China and is deemed the father of modern herbal medicine.

Legend has it that he had a translucent stomach so when he would ingest herbs and plants, he could see what was happening inside his body. I don't think that was truly the case, but certainly, I think he was very tuned into it. I found out that he's actually also attributed for discovering cannabis and wrote quite a bit about using cannabis as a plant-based medicine, like I said, 5,000 years ago in China.

Sinead: Wow, I had no idea. I've never heard that before. That's really fascinating.

George: The biggest difference was that the tea industry, it's very commoditized. It's truly a global industry. It's the second most drank beverage next to water, but it's such thin margins, and there wasn't a lot of commercial opportunity there. It was a difficult business. Seeing all of the similarities and seeing the exuberance around investment capital and growth opportunities in cannabis was the biggest differentiator, I would say.

Sinead: Very interesting. George, getting back to your background, since you last came on the show, you have not only been president of MJBizDaily and MJBizCon, but also CEO of Dope Media where you led the startup to its acquisition by High Times. What was the switch from business to consumer media like? Were there any challenges or some lessons that you took away from both experiences?

George: Yes, absolutely. When I was running MJBizCon, I came in the industry as a president of the company. There was one full-time employee, Chris Walsh, who's now the CEO, great guy, and a good friend. Unfortunately, after growing the company to 20 tabletops to well over 1,000 booths at the convention center, I had some contract disputes with the owners of the company. They couldn't get resolved and ultimately led to an executive divorce with them.

There were some litigation that needed to be resolved. I wanted to stay in the cannabis industry. I just love the space. I think it's so exciting. There is so much opportunity for growth, and just meeting the people that are in this industry and the passion around it really fills me. I was presented with the opportunity to step into Dope Magazine. The founders of that company had built a tremendous brand. I always look at their consumer media space.

In business media, you have a very finite audience that's your turning target, people that are actively working in the industry versus the consumer media space, where you have this blank canvas that everybody could potentially be your customer and somebody could engage with your media platform. I was really intrigued by the opportunity and the challenges that that presented. Dave Tran, the CEO at the time of Dope Maganize, just hats off to him. He's such an authentic and kind and passionate human being.

People who know him know him as probably one of the funest guys in the industry. That's Dave. He wakes up and wants to help people. Just watching him was fascinating because he could walk up to somebody he's never met before and have a conversation with them, and they walk away feeling like they just got reunited with their long-lost brother. Also, going to a room of 200 people and start dancing by himself in the middle of the dance floor, and everybody going, "Who is that guy? He's having way too much fun. I want to hang out with him."

Listen, he's also a really smart guy, and as much as he's got a brand of being party-- the Tranimal, as we called him. He's really smart, and most importantly, an incredibly compassionate and authentic human being, and also a good friend. The opportunity with that company is that they really started out really early on, they caught fire, they raised a bunch of money and grew really fast. That can be really challenging for businesses, so there was a need to really reset things and find a path for them to reach profitability.

Unfortunately, what I've seen in the consumer media space, companies like Cultivate, Mary Jane, even High Times, Dope, and all of those consumer media assets out there. I don't know if anybody's really cracked the code of how to create a very profitable business. At some point, somebody will and create that success story for consumer media. One of the things that coming into Dope that early on in the industry, I think it's common to see all of these different opportunities you want to explore simultaneously. I call it squirrelitis.

One of the things, for example, that Dope did was they had these budtender appreciation days. They called them the bud events. The concept was brilliant. The execution was great, and the engagement was fantastic on those events. The idea behind trying to really corall the budtenders and being able to create a path for the brands to be able to educate them about their products and create some brand loyalty amongst the people who have the most influence with the consumer is really challenging.

To do that, because of the high transitions in those roles, you'd almost need to go into individual localized markets and do two or three events a year. If you start looking at that on a national scale even back in 2017 and '18 before all these other states have legalized, we are talking about really needing to do 300 plus events a year to make those effective.

What I saw as the opportunity is that as a publication in the space, the Dope Magazine should really be focused on educating the consumer upstream so that they're aware of what the products are, create that discovery, that intrigue, that understanding, and take away that stigma around those products so that the consumers became more empowered when they went in the store and weren't so reliant on the budtender to help them make the decisions.

I think any retail person should always be well versed in the products that they're selling to be able to explain them to consumers, but the reality of cannabis is that most of the people, and certainly the people, the new consumers in our market, go into a store, and have no idea what products are what and what the differences are. The brands and the products in our industry are so powerful. The concept of brand is how does somebody create an emotional response to seeing, touching, feeling, tasting, or trying that product?

In cannabis, it's a very powerful response. It's a psychotropic response. This product is going to have a very profound effect on how you feel. How do you differentiate your product from making people feel the way that they want when they try it that differentiates it from other brands in the cannabis space? Again, it's just the stuff that I love thinking about and talking about. I don't know if there's an answer to that.

Sinead: Absolutely. Tell us a little bit about MJ Brand Insights, and maybe what your goal is and who your target audience is with that media platform.

George: Sure. As a business media company, typically, our business model does rely a lot on our events to generate revenues and profits to continue to be able to build a community and create value to an audience, and really help lift up an industry. Having a content platform like MJ Brand Insights is really critical for us to create an opportunity to engage with people on a regular basis, on a day-to-day basis, not wait every year for an event, or every six months for an event. Offer them something of value for free as an olive branch to engage with them and ask for some of their time or their attention, and maybe their email address.

Before I talk about MJ Brand Insights, I want to give a shoutout to Felisa Rogers. She's our managing editor. She's written for The Guardian, Salon, and other major publications. She's absolutely a rockstar. If you have a chance, I think it was in The Guardian, they did a story about her on 4/20 that really talked about growing up with her dad growing pot in Oregon well before legalization. Growing up and experiencing having the SWAT team kick down her door, and take her father away in handcuffs.

There's a lot of harm and damage there, but there's also hope and aspiration there. She's really an amazing human being and we're incredibly fortunate to have her on our team. From a content standpoint, we also have a strategic partnership with BDSA, one of the leading market intelligence and consumer insights company in the space. Been around for a long time as most people in the industry know them. They contribute content on a regular basis, and we're really looking for the thought leadership.

I'm not trying to be a daily news bulletin. There's a lot of publications out there doing that well. I'm not trying to cover the regulatory aspects of the industry because Tom Angell of Marijuana Moments is doing a phenomenal job of that, but really providing something different. It's talking about insights and actionable intelligence to help people perform better in their roles in the business. We recently published an article by Chuck Underwood who's been a good friend for a long time.

He was one of the founders of Generational Marketing Strategy as a academic science of really understanding what defines Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Looking at that their behavior and their worldview gets formed during their formative years before they reach adulthood at 18. It's really like 12 to 18 years old that events happen in the world that influence how they're going to behave towards marketing, how they're going to act in the workplace. We used to joke when Gen Y started entering the workplace, that they would just text you that they're quitting or post it on Twitter.

That's obviously a little bit of a misrepresentation. I don't want to slam any Gen Ys for that. There's certain things that happen in these generations that do impact their behaviors in the marketplace. Understanding the science behind generational marketing strategies can help marketers be more efficient in targeting certain segments of the population that they want to engage with.

Sinead: Absolutely. What would your advice maybe say to a young brand who's just getting going? What would your advice be in terms of generational marketing, how they could maybe implement that to really dial in at the demographics there and figure out who their niche is?

George: There's so many new brands coming into the market. It's really an exciting time for our industry. Some people would argue that the biggest brands in our industry haven't yet been introduced. I don't know if that's the case. There's some companies really making some big moves these days. What's great about this is this is really this post-prohibition of alcohol, again, over again for cannabis. Companies like Seagram's, and Bacardi, Southern Wine & Spirits.

You're talking about some of the wealthiest, privately held companies in the world that have been created in the alcohol space. We expect to see the same in cannabis. As far as generational marketing strategy, when you really listen-- and I was fortunate to listen to Chuck speak at a different conference before I had him come and speak at a couple of mine. You listen to him break down what those formative events are, and like for Gen X, which I'm a Gen Xer, there was rising divorce rates.

It was typically most of the children were raised by a female parent who's also going back to work and so they were latchkey children. The idea of having dinner around the family table like been abandoned, and so there was this despondency amongst Gen Xers that they were a lost generation and everything else. I'm like, wow, that all happened to me. I understand that and it made me distrustful and also resourceful. You look at the Baby Boomers and they didn't have just one revolution.

They had the sexual revolution; they had the women's rights, they had social equality, and all these different drug revolutions. They're this empowered baby boomer that they can do anything and they're going to live forever and forever young. You don't ever want to market to them in your golden years because that will offend the hell out of them. They don't want to be perceived as old, but they're also at a point in their life where their body aches a little bit, salves, low dose products are really popular amongst that group.

How do you communicate to them that this product is going to make them feel forever young and really resonate with that audience that you're going to feel like you did when you were in your 20s. You had long hair and were protesting at Haight-Ashbury. I think that there's some really powerful nuggets in there. Again, Chuck's going to be doing a series and drilling down on each generation and what those events were that define their worldview and how they're going to react to certain messaging in the marketing space.

Sinead: Wow. Okay, great. I'll definitely have to check out Chuck's series there. That sounds really fascinating just the psychology behind generational marketing. That's all new to me so I'm very fascinated by that.

George: I can give you a couple of books and he's actually-- they've aired a couple of PVS specials that he's hosted.

Sinead: Oh, okay, great. I'll have to definitely check that out. George, MJ Brand Insights, that's really just the media arm for MJ Unpacked, which is a big event that you have. You got your first in-person event this October in Vegas. I know you had a series of 3D virtual summits last year. Can you share a little bit about this year's upcoming event and what sparked the idea for MJ Unpacked?

George: When we started business back in 2019, built out the business plan and laid it out, raised some capital around it, the idea again was that this is a CPG industry. That technically in the future, the biggest show or the most important event in our industry didn't exist yet. We want to be in the best place to manifest that. We raised our capital in February of 2020, and the business plan at that time was to run a series of state-focused executive conferences that were exclusive for brand and retail executives.

Not a big pan-industry event, letting anybody in willing to pay a ticket price but really creating a high return on objectives by having the right people in the room and keeping it exclusive. Come March, obviously, everybody's plans got laid to waste in 2020. We did do a number of virtual events that I know you want to talk about that a little bit later. What happened at the end of 2020 was we saw that there was a good chance Biden will get elected and people believe that the senate and the house would both flip. Biden to get elected, the senate didn’t flip-- the house was already Democratically controlled.

The Senate didn't really flip until January with the Georgia runoffs. That was really exciting, but I saw that there was a couple of key factors that were going to happen in the marketplace. One is everybody was going to consolidate their events into late 2021 bringing it back to market. Instead of our industry going to an event in February and one in May and July and September, people are going to really probably go to one or two events in the fall of 2021. The other thing was that no events in our industry that on the national level actually qualify their audience.

They're more transactional in nature, buy a ticket, buy a booth, buy a ticket, buy a booth, and we want to create an event that was really differentiated. There's so many events in our industry. Some of them have waned away a little bit because of the pandemic, but I didn't want to come to market with more of the same. I don't think that that's adding value, and I also don't think that that's where the puck is going. We decided to launch the live event in October in Las Vegas. It is the same week as MJBizCon, the company I formerly ran.

That was also strategically a decision because I've talked to so many of the brand and retail executives and I've seen it happen. The investors, they go to Las Vegas during MJBizCon, but they don't really need to go to a show to look for light bulbs and label makers anymore. They're really going there to set up business meetings, and they're scattered all around town hosting meetups at a lobby bar or getting a suite at a hotel. It's really inefficient and people are wasting time in cab lines and hotel elevators.

We really want to create an event that created that exclusivity and that feel and productivity of an executive conference where four out of five people in the room are going to be relevant to you. There's somebody you want to talk to and create the space really for them to sit down and have a conversation to get to know each other. Not just hand them a business card or get their badge scan, but really create an engagement opportunity that we believe leads to a higher level of transactional value than the typical trade show experience.

Sinead: Okay, great. Going into that, I see you have a lot of various events planned for that weekend from investor pitches to even a Blues Brothers concert. Can you share a little bit about that agenda for that weekend and who is attending?

George: Sure. I don't want to call our show an onion, but it does have a lot of layers. We're doing our event on Thursday and Friday. On the Wednesday before, we're going to have a brand-only mixer and a retailer-only mixer. It's really just taking the time to have the conversations with our target audience and understanding what their need sets are. The brands are looking to engage with brands from other states and explore licensing and partnership opportunities.

The retailers are doing the same thing. They're looking to acquire additional licenses or existing businesses or also looking to create partnerships, to create a multi-state brand the same way that brands are doing that currently through licensing agreements. We want to really create some intimacy around that to kick off the conference. The event itself when it starts, BDSA again, as a strategic partner, not just of MJ Brand Insights, but also MG Unpacked will be in a leading off with incredible data session. Kelly Nielsen, who joined their team a few months back.

She comes from Nielsen Media. There's no relationship to her last name and the company's name. We've got some really fantastic sessions. The way we're designing our event gives us the ability to really elevate the conversation. No disrespect to the great sessions that NCAA or MJBiz, or Cannabis World Congress offers, but they're trying to do 50 different topics and they have 70 or 80 sessions. It's how deep can you get, right? You can. By keeping our event focused allows us to really focus on high-level retailer and brand pain points, real success stories, actionable intelligence.

We're bringing in gentleman Michael Spremulli. My wife and I talked to him and within like a minute and a half, he was able to tell us exactly what roles we play in the company and how we effectively communicate with each other and what our strengths are. He's really great at helping build teams. Having the right team and having talent on your team is such a critical thing of importance.

We're bringing in, as I mentioned, we have the Blues Brothers concert, Dan Akroyd, and, Jim Belushi are going to take the stage with Christie Hefner, Hugh Hefner's daughter, really talking about CPG brands. Dan's got his Crystal Skull Vodka line. Jim's such an iconic figure in our industry, and Christie Hefner obviously has had a very central role in building the Playboy brand. That's going to be a fantastic session. It's content around how do you localize your retail location in new markets, right? If you go and take a store-- Sinead, where are you located?

Sinead: I'm in Bend, Oregon.

George: You're in Bend, Oregon, you take that same-store concept that appeals to you in your market and try to drop it in Florida or in Massachusetts, you might not have the same response. It's really understanding those localized nuances that you can really create a successful retail footprint well beyond your localized market, partnering with your community, brands, how do you partner with the retailers to sell more products, really key topic for the brands in the space. Right now, the relationship with the consumer exists almost exclusively with the retailers.

There's certainly case studies for that existing in other markets like whole foods. For example, whole foods owns the relationship with the consumer in a lot of cases. Ultimately, if we continue to migrate towards the alcohol industry model, the brands are going to be the ones that own that relationship. Right now, because of the limitations on advertising and marketing, the brand's best bet is to really partner with the retail store and find ways that they can support their activities and the sale of their brand in-store. We also know there's a lot of M&A activity.

Andy Williams, who recently sold Medicine Man to Columbia Care for $43 million, will be moderating a panel that talks about integration, best practices for merging your company. We've got a great session talking about the future of cannabis consumption, which to me, is I think really the next generation topic for our industries. How do we build a successful on-premise consumption model? You look at the alcohol industry, again, $200 billion in sales in the US, 48% is on-premise consumption.

A lot of things are happening right now are precursors to us seeing a cannabis lounge bar orr going to a restaurant and being able to order a cannabis-infused iced tea at some point as that product development of companies like Canne or Vivid Oak, who's got a cannabis-infused wine in California. Well beyond, what we saw originally in the market from a beverage standpoint, which was 100 milligram, 16-ounce bottles of really having that fast-acting low dose so you can go to a social lounge and have multiple consumption instances and have a good time.

When you start seeing interstate commerce and the ability for these brands to not have four or five state operations but start creating some economies of scale and some production efficiencies, is going to be a huge valuation. I think the federal legalization and the development of on-premise consumption lounges is going to just send this industry to the moon.

Everybody talks about how big is the industry going to be? I see no reason that the cannabis industry can't exceed a $200 billion industry that alcohol is because it's safer, it's better for you, it's less harmful to society. We're going to get the cannabis industry or the world paying attention to cannabis instead of alcohol someday soon.

Sinead: Yes, I couldn't agree more. George, going on that if you had a crystal ball, when would you say we're going to see our first national cannabis brand?

George: Oh man, that's such a loaded question because there's some brands out there. You look at Select and Won On and Wild and Cann, for example. You could say that those, to some extent, are national brands. I think we'd find a national brand when we have a national market, right? Somebody can be producing a product that you can get in every single state I think is really the starting line of one when we'll see a national brand. There'll be some mix-ups and some stumbles at the starting line for some companies that you think might be in the pole position. We won't know who's going to win that race until the race truly starts.

Sinead: Absolutely. George, something you said a second ago, there really seems with MJ Unpacked, you guys are really lowering the entry to barrier for young brands that are looking to access capital and even just network. I know you guys have multiple investor pitch sessions at the MJ Unpacked this year. What are some good things that take a pitch from good to great, would you say?

George: Oh, well, listen, access to capital is key for the brands and the retailers in the space. Tied in with the fact that we've got all these venture capital firms already setting up in suites at our show, marketing our event has opened to accredited investors that are actively investing in the cannabis space. We'll have a lot of investment capital there and a number of the MSLs that are looking for acquisition opportunities.

We also brought on Debra Johnson who worked at Arcview for a number of years. She's really managing our investor engagement opportunities, and we're creating what we call the money stage. This is really like a micro-cap type of event for companies that have that corporate presentation. The only people allowed in that room will be people that have identified themselves as an accredited investor and verified that. I've seen a lot of pitches in this industry.

Anybody who's on that side of the world looking at decks know it takes a lot. Fortunately, I had Patrick Ray do a lot of coaching with me when I went through the Canopy Bowler program. You need to be concise. You need to be able to tell the story of why your product will be different in the marketplace, that you have the right management team, you have the right vision for the business because anybody's business plan today is going to be different tomorrow. As long as they have confidence in the team, that's executing on that plan, will make the difference.

Without going into a two-hour discussion about what makes a good pitch, I think, it's be authentic. Really sell on how you're different and your product will get traction in the marketplace, or define what traction you've already gotten, and don't be afraid to make the ask.

Sinead: Those are some great tips. I appreciate you offering that advice to our listeners who are just now getting into the game. That's really helpful. George, on the flip side of that, what advice do you have for our listeners who are looking to invest? Anything they should look for in a brand? Any red flags?

George: I think you got to make sure that the company through the due diligence process, you really want to make sure the company is buttoned up, has good legal representation and has the required licenses for them to operate, that they have the vision to scale the business. On the licensed operator side of the business, we've certainly seen companies that have fallen from grace.

I forget the name of the retailer that got busted for what they call looping where people were able to go into the store multiple times throughout the day and buy mass and mass of cannabis and then be able to bring it out of state. They completely destroyed that business and went glove-glove or got shut down by the Colorado marijuana enforcement department. I think making sure that you do some due diligence, not only on the business plan, and that they have the proper licensing, but also the operators.

There's some people that have unusual relationships with ethics in our industry from time to time. Make sure that they're committed, that they've got some skin in the game, that they're ready to go, that they're all in, and then support them. The operators in the space like the investors that we have in our company have been incredibly accretive to our success.

I talked to them frequently, I send them updates so they know what's going on and keep them bought into what we're doing. There's always an interesting relationship between the capital and the management of any organization. Use that to your advantage and make sure that the management is open to having you involved as an investor to help support them when you're asked.

Sinead: Okay. That's great. Thanks so much for that, George. I'd like to-- As we wrap up here, I'd like to move into some personal development questions. First question, is there a book that's had a big impact on your life you'd like to share with the listeners?

George: Yes, I know Matt loves asking that question. A book that I read probably most recently I thought was absolutely fantastic is a book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It really addresses what he refers to as an upper limit problem. Our ability to fully actualize ourselves is all self-inflicted. Being able to recognize when you run up against these upper-limit problems that we've created for ourselves, and realize that we're the only ones holding ourselves back from being able to break through that.

It's really a great book. I think it would fall on a self-help type of category. We're all human beings, we're all flawed. I've got plenty of my own misgivings and defects as a human. Being able to accept those, and recognize those, and then be able to resolve those I think is what allows us to grow as human beings. Love that book very much.

Sinead: Great. George, I would imagine in your last interview with Matt, this is where he probably would've asked you a Peter Thiel question. I've got an equally thought-provoking question for you here, I think. You can only watch three movies for the rest of your life, which do you choose?

George: Wow. First and foremost, it'd be The Blues Brothers. As a kid, I had my VCR. I taped it when I had SelectTV. This is like back where HBO's called QTV, so I'm dating myself a little bit there for some of your older listeners. I must've watched that movie 100 times when I was a kid. I just love that movie. Obviously, I've gone back and watched it a few times recently. Love that movie. Miracle, about the 1980 Olympic hockey team. Every time I watch that, there's just goosebumps and my hair and my back of my neck standing up. Such an awesome movie of the underdog where somebody took a bet on a team that nobody thought had a chance, and they surprised the world. The last movie, I don't know. One of the movies I love watching with family is Secretary. I think probably the other movie I'd also probably like to throw in there is what I would consider my top five sports movies of all time is called Let It Ride with Richard Dreyfuss. It's technically not a sports movie. It's basically a story about a degenerate horse gambler, a horse better. I just love the raw humanity of that movie. He'll go into a bathroom, there'll be an attendant there, and he'll have this internal dialogue with himself. He's like, "All right, if people need to go to the bathroom every two hours, you have this many people here. If they leave an average of 50 cents a person--" Calculating his mind the exact productivity of every job in the world. It's a hysterical movie. If you haven't watched it, I strongly encourage you.

Sinead: I haven't seen that. I'll have to check it out. That sounds so good. Very cool. All right. George, as we wrap up, how can listeners find you and maybe connect with you online?

George: They can find about our business by going to mjbrandinsights.com and about our event for mjunpacked.com. We have a site jagemedia.com if you want to look at who is on our advisory board, and a little bit more about our mission and our values. We are certainly are on social media @mjunpacked@mjbrandinsights. They can reach me at george@jagemedia.com.

Sinead: All right, great. George, thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it, and we wish you the best of luck with MJ Unpacked this year.

George: Awesome. Thank you so much, Sinead. I really appreciate that, and give Matt my best. I love his smooth, silky radio voice. He's really been a pioneer, and I'm glad to see you join his team. CannaInsider was a podcast before podcasts were cool, and you guys have how many episodes in your belt now?

Sinead: Oh man, I think we're closing in on 360, I think. Yes, so quite a lot.

George: Fantastic. Listen, it's been an honor, it's been a privilege. Really appreciate what you guys do for the industry really with the storytelling, and having people come on and talk about what makes them passionate. I'm a big fan and avid listener of your podcast, so please keep up the great work.

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