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Bringing Culinary Expertise to Edibles with Jamie Lewis

Jamie Lewis has a deep history with cannabis. After helping famed dispensary,Good Chemistry get up and running she went back to her culinary roots and started creating sweet and savory edibles and launched a company called Mountain Medicine. Learn more what it takes to run a winning edibles company in this interview.

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: 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 www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at cannainsider.com to get started. Now here’s your program.

As the cannabis consumer continues to spend more dollars on cannabis infused products that market is growing large enough to allow for segmentation and specialization. Foodies are gravitating to cannabis edibles and infused products that resonate with their values and creative expression. Edible artisans with backgrounds in culinary arts are taking their formal training and applying it to the cannabis industry. One such artisan is Jaime Lewis of Mountain Meds, and I’m pleased to have her on the show today. Welcome to CannaInsider Jaime.

Jaime: Thank you very much. I’m happy to be here.

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

Jaime: In the world today I am in lovely Denver, Colorado embracing this beautiful fall weather that has come in.

Matthew: Yes it has come in with a hurry.

Jaime: Yes I’m exited actually. Not so much for winter, but I’m going to enjoy fall while it’s here.

Matthew: Pumpkin spice lattes?

Jaime: That’s right, that’s right.

Matthew: Well tell us what is Mountain Meds.

Jaime: Ah Mountain Medicine is a marijuana infused products manufacturer. It’s located in Denver, Colorado. We’ve been in business for over five years now. We just had our five year anniversary this month and we produce edibles. We are currently in 120 locations in Colorado. The logo for my company is the mountain goat, and the reason for that is that it symbolizes the industry in cannabis in my mind. This animal is extremely agile and strong and maintains great traction. And it sometimes survives in the harshest of environments which can be very similar to the ever emerging industry that we are currently operating in with constant changing regulations and trying to change the conversation of cannabis as a whole. So that’s Mountain Medicine in a snapshot. We serve edibles anywhere from chocolates to baked goods, and we’re about ready to launch a whole new line of products with beverages and healthier options for the cannabis consumer.

Matthew: And how did you get started in the culinary world and then intersect with the cannabis world with your culinary skills?

Jaime: Well I went to culinary school in San Francisco to the Culinary Institute. I wanted to be a James Beard rock star. That’s like the Academy Awards for chiefs in our world, and that was my path. I was extremely driven. I worked in some really high end restaurants in San Francisco under some amazing chefs. It’s where I got my epic work ethic just working in kitchen. It can be quite grueling and very brutal, but that was my role. Originally I set out to do all things wonderful in the culinary world.

And about ten years ago I got involved with a co-op in California who was looking to construct edibles. The gentleman who worked for the co-op his father was HIV positive. So he wanted a product that his father could use. His father was at a point where he could no longer smoke the medicine to get it in his system. So from there I began extracting and creating various recipes that were very helpful for him and started working with other members in that community in San Francisco and found it to be extremely fulfilling for me. Of course back ten years ago that was pre-marijuana industry so there wasn’t a lot to go off of in terms of simple recipes or extraction processes. So there was a bit of a learning curve and some misbatched brownies here and there, but overall what I got from it was a firm understanding of how helpful cannabis can actually be to patients, and there began my launch over into the cannabis industry. From there I came to Colorado about five years ago, paying close attention to the regulations that were about to come online and decided to close down in California and go all in in Colorado.

Matthew: Now you’re deeply involved in the cannabis in Denver. For many that aren’t familiar what that might look like and how it’s evolving, how would you describe it?

Jaime: Ah it’s been amazing actually. I was at a point… I came on at a point early on where we were just about ready to help pass House Bill 1284 which governs us under the medical marijuana. So I was already actively involved legislatively with that process. Was involved with the Trade Association. We then started our own Trade Association, The Cannabis Business Alliance, which actually has a strong edibles advisory council, and I currently sit on the chair of that association. But we were playing so well with legislatively over the medical marijuana process and then I was actively involved during the passing of Amendment 64. So I got a real hands-on experience in terms of what it means to do the process from legislatively all the way down to the rule making process with the Department of Revenue in terms of setting up two separate industries; one for the medical and for the recreational.

And the great thing about Colorado is you know we were the first obviously, but with that we were able to just have just this access to such a great community of entrepreneurs that came in early on. So we are a tight nit community in the cannabis industry as a whole, but in Colorado especially just because we’ve been established a little bit longer than some of the newer states that have come online.

Matthew: And how would you describe some of Mountain Medicine’s edibles so we get a sense of what they’re like?

Jaime: Yeah my company produces products that are on the high-end side. With my culinary background my recipes are really honed in. I specialize in baked goods as well as high-end chocolates and confections. I’m getting ready to launch a whole new line of products; some beverages. I have a coffee drink coming out. I also have some honey that’s coming out that I’m really excited about. It’s locally sourced. I try to pull in that sort of sustainability, experience that I had in California and San Francisco. You know I was in the industry right about the time that Alice Water blew up. So the concept of sourcing everything within 100 miles, I really try to apply that to Mountain Medicine as best I can to get those local products. I try not to use refined sugar, and I’m very cautious about where I source my trim making sure that it’s grown properly, working with the growers to get that right precision of THC to CBD for certain products as well as just having my hand in the mix to make sure that everything from the top down is of quality going into the Mountain Medicine products.

Matthew: Now you said you have a coffee product coming out. Is that going to be a hybrid, a sativa or indica? I’m curious because I’ve often wondered what it would be like to combine a coffee drink with like a strong sativa that has an uplifting type of feeling to begin with and combine it with a coffee makes it a little more fast acting. I’m just trying to understand what’s possible in there in the coffee arena.

Jaime: That’s a really good question. Our R&D department worked really hard on this process because of that and a few other things too. We’re using a different extraction process in this and we wanted to make sure that emulsified correctly. Coffee it helps activate the THC in your system so we were very sensitive to using a hybrid. So it’s a 60/40 split on the sativa side and that sativa is a hybrid as well. So it’s got a nice uplifting feel to it, but it doesn’t add to the intensity that the caffeine will give you as well. And it’s going to be launched on the recreational side so my dosage is limited to that 10mg. So it’s just a little 10mg shooter that you can actually add to coffee or you can just drink it as a standalone beverage, either hot or cold.

Matthew: Okay. And so I’m trying to understand. Your background is with the dispensary Good Chemistry is that correct? I know you guys are related somehow or you worked there. Can you give us a little background there?

Jaime: Absolutely. I was one of the beginning members of the team in Colorado when they launched five years ago. So I played a very active role in setting up the operations from everything from the cultivation to the dispensary as well as the MIPS which is Mountain Medicine, it was sort of a sister company of Good Chemistry all owned under the one entity. So I worked in the very beginning stages getting everything up and running. I did everything from helping to hang the curtains in the dispensary to designing the dispensary as well as the inventory tracking systems. As you can imagine coming into a new industry and trying to set it up as well as trying to set up your company can be quite a mission, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

So I often explain that I went to the Harvard Business School for Marijuana. I got all the aspects of it, and I worked with a great team at Good Chemistry. They were amazing people to work with. I learned a lot, and in January of this year I decided to go out on my own, purchase Mountain Medicine as my own company and separate myself from Good Chemistry. I had taken Good Chemistry to amazing places and just kind of wanted a new challenge so to speak and to start something all on my own. So for good or bad I made the choice and here me and the billy goat hang and I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can do for it very similar to what I did for Good Chemistry.

Matthew: Great. Now do you feel like your background with dispensaries and Good Chemistry kind of puts you in their shoes when you’re approaching a dispensary that you want to carry medicine. How do you approach them differently than maybe someone else without a background in cannabis?

Jaime: Oh absolutely. That’s a great question. In Colorado it’s a very competitive environment that we dwell in. There are over 500 dispensaries in the state. The population of the state total is somewhere around three million. So that gives you an idea, or the Denver metro area is in the three million. So it gives you an idea of the small populates state with a large density of dispensaries and edibles manufacturers as well. So it’s an extremely competitive environment which actually makes it a very well educated environment. So I find the bud tenders and the dispensary owners to be extremely educated. So I approach them as business owners having the same knowledge that I have.

The great thing that I learned at Good Chemistry was having that dispensary bud tender to customer/patient relationship to really try to hone in on what markets best to the consumer and the patient. How to get the consumer or patient interested in edibles as a whole because some of them may not be familiar with usage as well as it just being a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis. So I think Good Chemistry was a huge lay out for me in that realm, and then also just having a well-knowledged industry that I work with makes it really easy for me because there’s not that sort of base 101 education that has to start.

Matthew: Yeah. You mentioned a little bit about the regulations you have to deal and you have to be adaptable like a mountain goat.

Jaime: Yes.

Matthew: There’s a dispensary here local in Boulder that’s really good and really popular and they made their own line of edibles and they were selling really well, but I talked to the Operations Manger and she said we just can’t keep up with the landscape of all the regulations around edibles. So we’re just going to buy wholesale from X, Y and Z. And I thought that was really crazy because hey, here they are people asking for edibles that they made, they were good, they were selling, but there was just too much to keep up with. Can you talk a little bit about what that means like keeping up with all these regulations and what that feels like?

Jaime: It’s constant. I mean I really channel my muse, the billy goat, when it comes time to talk about packaging because I have to be in a very centered place. It’s a constantly moving target. I mean just this last session there was new legislation that was passed that put it in the department’s hands, the Marijuana Enforcement Division that governs us in the State of Colorado. Some oversight to put regulations in place to further restrict the way edibles are packaged and sold, and it’s a constantly changing conversation in the sense that when you buy packaging at the beginning of January of this year, literally less than a year ago, my packaging will become obsolete in about six months. And from a manufacturer’s perspective we purchase our packaging in two year blocks as most manufacturers do in the sense that when you buy it in bigger bulks you’re able to get a discounted rate. So when you can’t do that you have to pay absorbent amounts in cost just in shipping alone to have smaller freights dropped just to stay ahead of the curve and make sure that you’re not sitting on additional packaging.

So the packaging requirements I find to be the most difficult and extremely helpful to the consumer all of the regulatory language that is on there, but the one piece is is that they just keep adding to the regulatory language without giving us any time to see if it actually works, and that seems to be the biggest things that we have to go through is that you know we just passed legislation two years ago. We don’t have enough data and statistics to show if that works before we seem to be changing it almost every year with different stuff coming down the pipe. It’s interesting and you know we’re a lower marginal product that’s sold. I mean flower obviously is one of the highest marginal items as well as extractions. And when you come to edibles we’re sold on the cheaper side on the medical marijuana side with a heavy amount of milligrams in it. We have really tight margins to go through. It is literally just like running a small kitchen and those are very competitive and very rough to keep going.

Matthew: So you really have to be a Swiss army knife here. You’ve got to have a really good sense of what the marketplace wants in terms of the edibles at the right milligram level. You also have to be a packaging expert and a regulatory expert and then an operations expert. Are those kind of big categories you would say?

Jaime: Absolutely. I say it all the time. I’m a lab. I’m a kitchen. I’m a manufacturing plant. I’m a distributer. I’m responsible for the deliveries of my own products. We have a sales department. We have an R&D department. There are a lot of moving pieces to being in the edibles business, and moving forward rightfully so. I mean I do appreciate and understand the regulations. The difficult part is just to keep your numbers really tight and stay afloat in the first few years so that you can get through this sort ever changing regulations. As the dust settles I do think, I’m hoping anyways, I hope when the dust settles it will be a much easier process to move through, but I mean it’s only been less than two years in terms of it being a regulated product sold recreationally. So I will say overall for the past two years for all the hiccups. I am still very grateful to be in this industry and wake up happy almost every morning. So for that I’m blessed.

Matthew: Good. Now you talked a little bit about sourcing ingredients when possible in 100 mile radius. How else do you approach ingredients? I mean when you’re creating a new edible do you just have something that pops into your mind. Are you saying hey, something with caramel. I mean how does the whole process start when you’re creating an edible that you think will do well?

Jaime: Well unfortunately I have a chef’s mentality. So I think about it in terms of what looks lovely and delicious and good in my mind and then put that to market. There are a lot of different moving pieces to that. So I actually have an R&D department and I have a gentleman that runs it. I come up with the ideas and he figures out how to streamline it into mass production. And it’s actually a really beautiful system that we have. I don’t launch a product often. When I do it’s usually, this will be the first time that I’ve launched new products in almost two and a half years.

And we developed these products over a period of nine months. So there’s a lot of time and energy that goes into it to fine tuning the recipe, to making sure that the THC and CBD and cannabinoid profiles are broken down correctly and we’re getting consistent test results as well as making sure that this product can be packaged. You know it’s very wonderful to think about a beautiful, you know, cupcake but when it comes time to figure out how to get that into child resistant packaging out goes the cupcake because it’s virtually impossible. So my R&D guy thinks along those lines. He thinks packaging first. I think product first and we somehow meet in the middle. It’s just a perfect synergy that we have. He’s my rational R&D guy, I’m the creative one.

Matthew: Do you feel limited at all about the milligram dosage limits on the rec side? Do you feel like that limits your creativity or ability to do things? How do you feel about that in general?

Jaime: No, I actually embrace the limited milligram dosage on the recreational side specifically just because this product has been on the medical side for so long those patients have an understanding of milligram dosage and all of that. And then there’s also the process in place for recreational where you’re dealing with a lot of novice consumers, and with those novice consumers you really have to educate them on going slow and low and making sure that they have a really good experience on our products otherwise they won’t come back to enjoy them again. So I completely support a low milligram dosage on the recreational side. I do not support it on the medical side for various reasons and one being mainly that we’re talking about a medical marijuana patient who’s trying to manage an extreme amount of pain or needs a lot of this medicine in their system constantly. So it’s not as necessary on the medical side, but on the recreational side I find it to be very helpful and a good way to message to the country as well in terms of how this product can be launched safely and effectively.

Matthew: Great point. And to give listeners a sense of context here 10mg is the limit per edible in the recreational side of a dispensary, but a medical dispensary it could be ten times that or you know 50 times that. It can be, I don’t know, is there a limit on the medical side, I don’t know.

Jaime: There isn’t. Yeah there’s no limit. And there is a limit on the rec side is 100mg totally but they have to be individually packaged in 10mg dosage. And on the medical side, again which I think is very important, is that there is no limit and rightfully so. And generally in my business I sell anywhere between 100 to 250mg. I don’t go above that and it intends to be around that 100mg sweet spot that seems to be what consumers and patients seem to purchase the most of.

Matthew: So you have a fun way of categorizing the dosage that relates back to the mountain goat. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Jaime: I’m glad you picked up on that actually. I thought it was very creative. Obviously being in a state that is now recreational where we don’t just have to market to the medical marijuana patient we were giving a great opportunity to market and brand a little bigger than we ever thought we could. And with that I wanted to have some fun with the mountain goat but also have it a fun, educational sort of jumping off point. So I categorized my milligram dosages into four categories. It’s the rookie grazer, the veteran and then the old goat. And it goes along the line if you’re a rookie grazer you should start around that 5mg, wait 2 hours and see how you feel. If you’re a veteran you can jump up to that 10 to 15 even possibly 20 spot. And then when you get to the old goat we suggest a 20 to 25mg dosage. So it’s just a fun way to educate the consumer on milligram dosage. I also use a pretty crafty tagline that I like very much that’s the “Don’t Graze and Drive” just to educate everybody to make sure that they consume these products safely and don’t get behind the wheel. So I like to plug the mountain goat in wherever I can as an educational tool.

Matthew: Now which of your edibles is the most popular? What sells the best?

Jaime: Ah the most popular product that I have is the chocolate dipped pretzel. That one has just been a staple of ours for quite some time. It’s dipped with a dark Belgian chocolate that we outsource as well as there’s something to be said about that sweet and savory element. So that is my number one product on the medical side. And on the recreational side I offer four product lines right now and they’re the high-end chocolates and they’re little chocolate discs. And my popular on that side too is that sea salt chocolate. So I have salty and savory on both sides sort of winning out all the other edibles.

Matthew: Yeah and you got some crunch there. I feel like if something has a fat flavor, sweet, salty and crunch it’s like there’s a tractor beam pulling me in and I can’t. There’s no way.

Jaime: And that right there is how I have my creative process. What tastes good, feels good. I mean so it’s really thinking about a fat kid, what you like to eat I think.

Matthew: How have you seen edibles evolve over the last couple of years and where you do you think they’re going in the next couple years? I mean we touched on packaging a little bit, but edibles themselves how do you feel like it’s where you were and where you’re going to? How is it going to contrast?

Jaime: Well I think it’s a really exciting time to be in this industry overall. Obviously it is growing all the time. So being involved in it on the ground up is very exciting in any of these industries, but the edibles especially because what we’ve noticed in the State of Colorado is there’s an increase in sales recreationally speaking on edible consumption where flower and cannabis smoking on the medical side is still a very popular item for the patient to consume. So what we’ve seen is that the novice consumer and the recreational consumer wants to eat the product rather than smoke, and I think that opens us wide open to an untapped market that maybe never has had access to this or even though about consuming it. So I see the market growing for edibles manufacturers and demand. And I think that’s a pretty exciting for us at Mountain Medicine. In the next couple of years I think it will just grow even more. I think that the science behind it will help us also and I think we’ll see more tightly controlled, extracted cannabinoid edibles coming out on the market here soon if not already and pretty genius branding the marketing coming out too just from what I’ve seen in Colorado.

Matthew: Do you mean the ability to dial in at a more surgical level, maybe the terpene profile and the strains and so forth combining into a unique blend for your product?

Jaime: Absolutely and I explained this like ten years ago because I was involved in this industry when it was just a movement, before it was even an industry. We were all fighting for something we believed in. And so much of that has changed. In the beginning stages I mean we couldn’t even get people to talk with us you know attorneys, accountants, you know nobody would touch us. Now that it’s become a viable industry we have access to so many intelligent people that do this in other industries. So I’m really excited about being able to tap into that.

As you know I sit on NCIA which is the National Cannabis Industry Association and I’m also the chair of it and we have been having these conversations about setting forth industry standards and testing standards and moving forward with this sort of overall standards and with that we’ve been approached by various companies to how they can help us; from testing companies to manufacturing companies. So I think just having access to smarter people than ourselves or people that we weren’t actually able to have access to in the past, they’re going to help us pull this industry even further along than it already is and the cannabinoids and the terpenes, with the sciences that can come on and the extraction operators. I mean I think it will be very exciting actually.

Matthew: Now earlier this year in June you were at the ArcView Group Cannabis Investor Forum in Denver and you hosted a very popular cannabis cooking class for ArcView members. Can you tell us about that?

Jaime: I can. I was really excited because I thought I was actually going to do the cooking demo, but instead I actually gave a really amazing sort of open forum conversation around a light explanation about what edibles look like in the State of Colorado. And I went from everything from compliance to packaging and a lot of what I took from ArcView I incorporated into my conversation with people that joined us around the marketing and branding of products because as we know that’s really become a big thing that a lot of companies are paying attention to. So we focused a lot on how companies are marketing and branding in the edibles realm and how they’re marketing and branding in the extraction world as well to really get their products out to the consumer. And a lot of those questions that came from the crowd were around that in terms of how companies were branding, how companies were marketing and packing requirements and restrictions were also a hot topic as well.

Matthew: Jaime, how can listeners learn more about Mountain Medicine and find your edibles?

Jaime: Well if they are over the age of 21 in the State of Colorado they should most certainly go to my website which is www.mountainmeds.com and from there we have a location on the webpage that shows you all the 120 dispensaries that we are located in to get access to the recreational. And if they are a medical marijuana patient, they can do the exact same thing on the website to find out where our products are sold.

Matthew: Great. Well Jaime thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today and educating us. We really appreciate it.

Jaime: Thank you very much for your time. Always a pleasure.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.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 www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.cannainsider.com, simply send us an email at feedback at cannainsider.com We would love to hear from you.
Some quick disclosures and disclaimers, me your host works with the ArcView Group and promotional consideration may or may not be given to CannaInsider for the ads placed in the show. Also please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Key Takeaways:
[2:07] – What is Mountain Meds
[3:16] – Jaime explains how she got started in the culinary and cannabis space
[5:20] – Jaime talks about the evolving cannabis market in Denver
[6:40] – Jaime talks about some of the edibles at Mountain Medicine
[9:09] – Jaime discusses working with Good Chemistry
[10:50] – Approaching dispensaries about marketing her brand
[12:51] – Keeping up with the regulations around edibles
[16:33] – Creating a new edible
[20:02] – Jaime talks about how she categorizes dosages
[21:18] – Jaime talks about her most popular edibles
[22:36] – The evolution and future of edibles
[25:24] – Hosting a cooking class at the ArcView Group Cannabis Investor Forum
[26:25] – Mountain Medicine’s contact details

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

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

The Pot Baron of Colorado, Andy Williams

Andy Williams, CEO of Medicine Man Denver. Pot Barons of Colorado

Andy Williams, founder and CEO of Medicine Man Denver and co-star of MSNBC’s The Pot Barons of Colorado shares his insight into being a cannabis entrepreneur, raising money, creating an innovative grow and pivoting to provide what customers want. Learn more about Medicine Man: http://www.medicinemandenver.com/

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: 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 www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at cannainsider.com to get started. Now here’s your program.

In Denver, Colorado there are more cannabis dispensaries than Starbucks Coffee Shops. In other words it is a competitive market. However, some cultivators and dispensary owners stand out in their ability to run thriving businesses despite the competition. To help us understand how to run a successful cultivation and dispensary operation in this competitive Denver environment I’ve invited Andy Williams of Medicine Man on CannaInsider today. Welcome to CannaInsider Andy.

Andy: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Matthew: Andy I mentioned Denver are you in Denver today? I just want to give the listeners a sense of geography?

Andy: Yeah I am in Denver today. I have two stores here one in Denver, one in ([1:48] unclear) and my cultivation is in Denver and then I also just started a new manufacturing product company and that’s also in Denver I have a building there.

Matthew: Great, great. How did you get started in the cannabis industry? What’s your background?

Andy: Well my background I’m an industrial engineer and I’ve been in manufacturing in the corporate world for the majority of my adult life. But I’ve always also been an entrepreneur and I’ve had multiple businesses over the years that have failed to one degree or another but it’s a real passion of mine. I’ve always wanted to have my own successful company. It’s been a lifelong not just goal but activity of mine and my brother is also a lifelong entrepreneur and he had a successful tile business. He also grew as a caregiver in his basement under the Colorado laws and was actually making very good money doing that. And when the Ogden letter came out in October of 2009 I went to him and I saw what he was doing and he’s a great grower and a great inventor, and I said let’s go big with it and he quickly agreed. So that’s how we got into the cannabis business.

Matthew: Oh okay. I’ve been fortunate enough to go on a tour of your facility and dispensary and it’s very extensive to say the least. Can you walk us through your grow room so listeners can get a picture of the scale and technology involved?

Andy: Sure you know when you’re in our facility I don’t know how recent you’ve been there Matt but we have 40,000 square feet in one building. We started with half of that and it’s kind of a museum of our company’s history in that when we first started we didn’t have a lot of money to work with and we did what we had to do in order just to get a crop out and while you won’t see the early, early stuff you’ll see some of the early stuff still in use in our facility.

Then over time as we got more money we just built out as we learned things improved, processes changed, techniques changed, and you see that growth through our facility until the newest side which is 20,000 square feet all by itself. It looks like a lab. It’s white, it’s bright. It’s extraordinarily clean, it’s very aseptic and we have rooms ranging from of course our clone rooms where are babies are which are relatively small. They contain lots of little plants growing. And then we have two large vegetative rooms that are about 100 feet x 18 feet x 10 feet and both of them contain all of the vegetative plants and mothers, and then we have 18 flower rooms as well that range, most of them are about 75 feet x 18 feet x 10 feet. And then of course we have our cure rooms which the finished products are in and our trim room as well. So that’s what the cultivation facility looks like. There’s a lot of rooms within a large warehouse space.

Matthew: So Andy do you break everything down into smaller rooms to mitigate risks or is that too provide what you’re doing by function or what’s the strategy there?

Andy: There’s multiple reasons for that. One is power. I only have so much power in the building. Right now we have about 5,000 amps in our facility. In order to maximize how many lights that I can build in that facility I have to restrict whether they can come on and off at any certain time. So I have big switch boxes that throws power from one side of a room to another side of a room every 12 hours and because of that I can have twice as many flower lights in my facility than I would be allowed otherwise. So that’s one reason just capacity.

And then another is that control. So if you have a room and you just have a big warehouse full of plants that are growing; one you have to have a large crop all at once which is not very good when it comes to harvest time. But also the dangers of pests and mold and mildews and what not would flow throughout the entire facility all at once. So those rooms do mitigate bad things that might happen to your crops as well. So with that those are the reasons that we do it. Oh and one more we also control the climate that way. So having nice; you know we try to control the climate in the entire warehouse it would be much more difficult than controlling climate in our facility.

Matthew: Yeah speaking of the climate control I noticed it looks really extensive. Something like you’d see at NASA or something. There’s these big columns it looked like it might be a German name on the climate control. Can you give us a little summary of what’s going on there?

Andy: Yeah as an industrial engineer and in manufacturing I know that to have a consistent and high quality output you need to control the inputs into our process and we also need to control the environment and the climate as well as these plants are growing. And so what we’ve chosen is what’s called a STULZ unit and STULZ is a manufacturer of what are called CRAC units and a CRAC unit C-R-A-C is computer room atmosphere control and these units are typically used to control the atmosphere in data centers.

What benefit it offers us is that it controls temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels and is completely programmable. So that we can tell it we want our humidity at this level and our CO2 at that level and our temperature at this level, and if it deviates from that over a specified range, the range we specify in any way we get notices. Whether it’s a text notice or whatever we can program it in there and we get warnings if things are out of tolerance. In addition we can program that machine to take action on this so if we have a spike in humidity we can tell it to slow the fans down to 71% which helps draw some humidity out. Raise the temperature up to 80 degrees and pull the humidity out of the room and then cool the room back down. It also keeps data for us and then we have a lot of data on the rooms so if one room is doing better than another room we can actually determine why and mirror those same qualities that help the other room out now.

Matthew: Now if there’s someone’s just won a license that’s listening to cultivate cannabis you know one of the big threats is obviously pests, funguses, and mold and it impacts almost all growers at some point or another. What do you think the best way is to mitigate those risks to have an optimal harvest?

Andy: Yeah that’s a really good question. So a little history on that in Colorado, specifically Denver there’s very little that we can use in terms of pesticides. They’ve really cracked down on that and there’s really very few pesticides even though they might be safe to use on our products it hasn’t been proven as such, and if it’s not proven as such or if the definition of its uses are broadly defined enough we cannot use the pesticides. So our hands are very tied on what we can use for control once something has been identified.

So really where we put our biggest effort is prevention. And so we have an integrated pest management system that is multi-faceted but we look to very much prevent any outbreak and we do that through cleanliness, we do it through restricting access to the rooms to only people necessary, and making sure that; we have uniforms that our employees will change multiple times each day. When they go from one room to another they wash up, etc. There’s mats on the floor that they walk over when they go in to get any contaminates on the bottom of their shoes.

I can go on and on. There’s a lot of stuff that we do that takes time and energy throughout the day but controlling those outbreaks and whether it’s a pathogen or an insect of some sort is very important because getting rid of them once they occur is typically destroying a lot of plants because we don’t want it to spread. That’s very costly.

Matthew: I noticed that there’s wheels on your cultivation tables. Can you explain why you do that?

Andy: Yeah so one of the things this industry; if you get into this industry that you have to be an inventor. We don’t have off the shelf products. So those tables are one of our inventions and what we do is; the way we run our shop is we run it off a 6 light system. So in our flowering rooms everything is on a 6 light system that’s in there and under those 6 lights we have 54 plants and those 54 plants are divided among 3 tables and we use 3 tables because they’re easier maneuvered than if we had two or just one. It’s not as heavy.

And we designed these tables to be able to fit close together. We have an extended halo around the footprint of the table to allow us a little bit more canopy space and they go together as one unit. When you’re looking at it it looks like one big table but then when you want to work on a plants to whether it’s Scrog which is to; we use a Scrogging system to screen a green so our plant canopy is tied down to a net and so to do that you have to get in between all of the systems. So we have to move the table apart. So those tables move very easily from side to side so that our growers can get in there and work with the plants if necessary.

Matthew: I noticed on the tour of your facility you cleaned the water before delivering it to your plants. That’s something that’s really not talked about very often. Soil medium is talked about, lights, humidity, temperature, but not water. Why do you feel it’s important to treat the water and how do you treat it?

Andy: Yeah that’s something that is very important in that remember I said we have to control the inputs to the process to get the same output.

Matthew: Right.

Andy: And water is the biggest input to a plant. It’s what it drinks and if you’re not controlling the water that it’s getting the nutrients that are in it and the minerals then you’re going to have a product that’s not consistent. So treating that water with a purification system is important to us. So we have a purification system that pulls all the solids out of the water so there’s less than one part per million of a solid in that water. It’s more pure than deep; it’s wonderful water. We actually also treat it after that to deionize it and we’ll use deionized water to spray the plants and deionized water will help clean the plant or whatever. It helps treat the plant a little bit and it’s a very safe way to do it. So the water is a very big portion of controlling the input to the plants life.

Matthew: What do you think the ideal growing medium is for cannabis plants? What do you use?

Andy: Well that’s interesting. My brother used to use hydroponic crossed with an aeroponic system in his basement and we thought we would move that right into our warehouse and replicate what he did in his basement and we soon learned it’s a different world in an industrial level than it is in the basement, and we didn’t have the knowledge to control in a large scale what he did on a small one. So we quickly found that going to a soil medium was much more forgiving but then we also found that when you buy your soil to put the plants in you purchase bugs with the soil.

So we went to a Soilless coco and we did a lot of experimentation with different mediums and the coco that we’ve landed upon is wonderful. It’s a sterile medium. We don’t get bugs with the mixture and being sterile we also can control exactly what the plant is uptaking as nutrients. So again we’re controlling the inputs to the plant. But it’s also very forgiving in that we don’t have to worry as much about; because if you’re not using a medium like that you have to control the water temperature very much and pathogens within the water as it’s recycling and lots of other things. So I really like the coco medium on that mix with ([14:47] unclear).

Matthew: And where do you stand on LED lights? I know it’s kind of a controversial subject. A lot of people think they’re not ready for primetime but perhaps when we need to do have devote a small area to the cultivation facility to test things and see how they work. Where do you stand on LEDs?

Andy: We do a lot of testing like you said, and lately LEDs have been improving. The testing that I’ve done with LEDs now are coming close to the results that I’m getting with the high pressure sodium bulbs but it’s still not the same. I don’t; it’s not quite as much production in flower from the LED and I don’t want to poo poo it though because I think somebody better with LED lights and the different spectrums that they can put onto a plant might be able to replicate that.

But right now in terms of mass production, mass sell, and mass use I don’t think it’s quite there yet. Now I do think that in the vegetative state the LEDs are very good and very useful right now but it really needs to be designed ([16:07] unclear) light. So the rooms that I have designed for the HPSs, High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halides and in replacing them with off the shelf LEDs isn’t feasible because they’ve already been engineered so I need new construction. I certainly would look at LEDs for vegetative but there are some other lights that are on the market right now that I would also look at for flower ([16:32] unclear) and others they’re doing a good job.

Matthew: Is there any technology that is emerging for the cultivation room that really excites you? Either something you’re considering making or something that’s out there in the marketplace?
Andy: You know I’m having a lot of fun right now with greenhouse technology. This is something that we’re looking to get into. Not exclusively I like having my industrial space and the controlled environment but having a greenhouse environment is something I’m playing with right now. And my brother’s actually been working on a design for probably a year and a half and I think it’s pretty nailed down on what he’d like and we’re going to move forward with that and see what we can do. So that’s kind of taking up some creative juices from both my brother and I.

Matthew: Do you feel like there’s any lingering misconceptions about cannabis cultivators? For someone that’s on the outside looking in that just thinks like hey I put some seeds in dirt and then I make millions. I mean what are some of the misconceptions out there versus the contrast of the reality you live day in and day out?

Andy: There’s a really big cut so I get a lot of education. We have local politicians and local officials come through. Yesterday we had our monthly police department tour through where we take police not only from Colorado but from other states and give them an idea of what a cultivation facility looks like and then people from all around the country come through and I hear their reactions and their reactions are wow I never expected this. They expect the stoners sitting around kind of smoking dope with dirty clothing on and probably haven’t showered and working on these plants that are just on the cement floor in the warehouse and they’re watering them and maybe cutting them and watching tv and playing games and what they walk into is a manufacturing facility. They see people in uniforms. They see things; tools and what not hanging in their place. They see a very clean environment. They see very organized. They see charts up there tracking data for us so that we can improve what we’re doing.

They see a business and that’s what shocks them and then they start thinking wow how do they do this without a bank and then all these questions start coming up that really start hitting home for these people and like you said this isn’t something that you get into the cannabis industry and you’re just a guaranteed success. This is like any business. It is very competitive and in new markets it’s typically a little bit more forgiving in terms of margins and some mistakes can be made and still survive but as this market; and that’s not even a guarantee but as the market matures if you’re not able to produce at a low cost and high quality and serve your customer well, you’re not going to stay in business.

Matthew: Can you tell us a little bit about the infused products you’re manufacturing now?

Andy: Yeah I’m really excited about this. So right now we don’t have any products of our own on the shelf. We use our own product. We use our own marijuana and we have other people do extractions for us and so it’s really our own product that we grow. But we are now going to be able to do our own extractions and our own products. This facility is being built right now so it’s in its initial phase but it’s going to be focused on the medicine side of marijuana. And I have teamed with a gentleman named T.J. Johnsrud and he’s from NuCara Labs. He owns and has been running pharmaceutical labs for over 40 years and he has 27 labs around the country and they do fractionalization and compounding formulation in dosage forms for different medicines and working with the FDA etc.

So these guys are really good at creating and making, manufacturing medicine, and so we teamed up with them. We’ve teamed up with other folks as well in the medical community and we’re going to be doing not only in order to keep our lights on an extraction business where we create our own extractions and sell them in the marketplace but also doing research and manufacturing necessary to really take marijuana to a medicinal level because right now it’s very therapeutic. It’s whole plant medicine. We’re not really quite sure that the mixture of the compounds that are impacting people for different reasons and we want to isolate those, we want to identify them, and then be able to produce it in a way that’s reliable and reputable for people and it’s extremely exciting for me.

Matthew: So Andy switching gears to your dispensary one of the things visitors to Medicine Man Dispensary in Denver will notice upon entering is that there are two sides to the dispensary. There’s medicinal and adult use. Can you tell us why they are separated?

Andy: Yeah there’s a couple reasons for that. One the state requires us to track our inventory separately and of course our point of sale we have to make sure that we’re charging the proper tax and what not with the different products that we sell because it is different between medical and recreational and so that’s one reason.

Another reason is that on the recreational side we pre-pack things so that if you come in you’ll see eighths and quarters pre-packed of our different strains and while you can still look and smell the different strains from sample jars it’s not the same as on our medical side where we have large jars full of the marijuana that people can look at under a magnified lens and really get some nice aroma from the jar itself and take some time shopping. It’s meant to really speed things through. We see a lot of people on a recreational side and we just don’t, we just can’t take the same amount of time as we do with the medical folks on that side.

So that’s one of the reasons we have actually two ways to serve customers. On the medical side we get more of a; I don’t know of a consultation session where the bud tender is very knowledgeable to help you out a little bit more privacy. It’s not as close to the others the recreational side. That’s not to say the recreational side is hurting or uncomfortable. It’s just different.

Matthew: So you touched on a good point there Andy. Why would anybody in Colorado consider getting a medical cannabis card and you mentioned one of the reasons is that the tax treatment is very different so you can tax less. But also in terms of edibles and infused products you can get a much higher dosage is that right? What are we talking about in terms of dosages between the rec side and the medical?

Andy: That’s right. On the rec side the dosage for any one product in terms of an edible can be up to 100 mg and on the medical side there really is no limit although most of the products are 500 mg or less. Although there are some that are a little bit higher and the reason for that is people that are medicating with marijuana will develop a tolerance to it that they need more milligrams in order to have the desired result.

And of course on the recreational side we have a lot of people that maybe aren’t frequent users or even first time users that has been publicized by so well in the media that people have over consumption issues with cannabis if they’re not careful so that’s one of the reasons they restrict the amount in those edibles.

Matthew: Andy in terms of strains are there any particular strains of cannabis that are selling well right now or trending in a positive direction?

Andy: You know with strains we’re always working our genetics and Girl Scout cookies has been doing well for a while. I have heard there’s some new strains that are becoming very popular and ([25:00] unclear) at the moment but one thing that is very popular is live resin. That seems to be something that is very popular which is you take a plant; a whole plant without trimming it and freeze it and then we use an extraction technique to extract the cannabis from the method and it’s a very heavy terpene extraction. So you get a lot more flavor and smell in the extraction and more live plant properties or whole plant properties than you do when you use just a straight extraction so that’s very popular right now.

Matthew: Yeah you touched on terpenes there that really seems like a word we’re going to start hearing much more and maybe even the creating a terpene profile that really delights customers because of the flavor. I mean that’s what we’re getting down to is the flavor. I mean it impacts your perception of the cannabis even before you consume it if the terpenes have a pleasant psychological effect. So do you think that’s a big trend moving forward? Do you think we’re going to see a lot more about that?

Andy: I do. I think extraction techniques are going to improve so that we do see more of the terpenes surviving the extraction. They’re very volatile and so getting them to survive the extraction is you know so getting better at doing that is what’s going to be important and quite honestly I have a feeling that terpenes have some benefit medicinally for people. So it’s not just; I have a feeling anyway that it’s not just the cannabinoids that are making this beneficial health effect for folks but it’s the combination of the cannabinoids and the terpenes that are having that effect. So it will be fun to see over time what research proves for that.

Matthew: Since you’ve started in this business how have you seen preferences change in terms of flowers, concentrates, edibles, gums, candies? Has it surprised you at all to watch this evolution?

Andy: No it really hasn’t surprised me. We’ve seen the preferences go from over 80% flower to probably in my stores anyway high 60% flower and then of course the remainder other whether its concentrate or edibles. And so it’s still in my stores predominantly flower but the trend certainly is for concentrates and edibles and I see that continuing over time. I don’t think flower is ever going to go away nor do I think it’s going to be a minority but it sure is convenient to have a vape pen or a candy bar or whatever if you want to; if you need to medicate or just relax in a very discrete way.

Matthew: Do you have any ideas where consumer tastes will be in three to five years? We touched a little bit on terpenes playing a more important role but do you have any guesses on what the market will look like then?

Andy: Well the cannabis market is going to mature of course. There’s going to be a consolidation in terms of ownership a little bit anyway during that time. Of course a lot more states are going to come online during that time maybe, maybe as many as ten more. And one of the things is there’s going to be a lot more research and development so different types of extraction methods are going to be utilized, and we’re going to have different products in terms of concentrates and edibles on the market with different dosage forms so different ways to deliver cannabis. So we’re going to see our choices opening up. We’re going to see the quality of cannabis getting better and more reliable, more consistent, and we’re going to see prices drop. So it’s going to be tougher to compete so all those things are going to be happening in the next three to five years no doubt.

Matthew: Now you went to the ArcView Group and raised some money for Medicine Man. Would you mind just discussing how that experience was for you?

Andy: Yeah that was fun. Well I had been chasing money for three years because Pete and I when we started we had some seed money from my mom and what little we could scrape together and we just; every dime we made we put back into the business to be able to cultivate more and better and I didn’t take a salary for the first couple years. I worked another job to boot. And so in order to stay on the forefront of the cannabis industry here in Colorado we had to work really hard to make money to spend money, and so I tried finding money that we could borrow in order to expand faster and ArcView is what gave us that opportunity.

So Troy Dayton the leader of ArcView told me once that they were because they; ArcView is if you don’t know it’s a Shark Tank for the cannabis industry. They bring qualified investors together with entrepreneurs who need money and they provide that forum for the qualified investors to listen to those entrepreneurs and make a decision whether or not they want to invest. So it brings people together for that purpose and he told me; and then when they first started it was just for ancillary businesses. So if you were maybe BioTrack and supporting the cannabis industry with your software it might be a place you would go and get money or other people it supported in the ancillary faction didn’t touch cannabis to get money.

And he told me that someday they were going to open it up to cannabis businesses and I said well as soon as you do let me know, and so I got that invitation in the summer of 2013 and there’s a selection process that I had to go through and was able to do that and able to present. I was the first cannabis company to present with them and we were able to raise about $1.6 million in unsecured loans through its members in order to help build our newest and greatest cultivation in our facility. So since then we’ve actually improved upon what we do and we have newer and better now but at the time it was the best. It enabled us to double in size from 20 to 40,000 square feet in one build which was fantastic.

Matthew: Wow, wow. That is amazing.

Andy: Yeah it was fun. We really enjoyed that.

Matthew: Now one thing I neglected to mention which is a huge deal really is that you were on MSNBC’s Pot Barons of Colorado which was a show that kind of gave people an inside look into the life of people in the cannabis industry. How was that experience for you?

Andy: That was a lot of fun too. The Executive Director of that, Gary Cohen and his crew did a phenomenal job and they did just hours and hours and hours of footage of us and I really liked them and they didn’t ask us because we’ve had other camera crews follow us and they’re always wanting us to act out a scene that helps their drama a little bit and while we don’t do that Gary’s crew never asked us to do it. They would ask us every once in a while to relive a moment that they didn’t capture, but they didn’t ever ask us to do something that was fake and they just got that raw footage and it was just so much fun doing and I had a really good time watching that in that I got to see some of my friends like Bob and Trip and others in their normal day to day life that I don’t necessarily get to see all the time so it was great.

Matthew: And in closing Andy how can listeners learn more about Medicine Man and all you do?

Andy: Well you can go to our website which is www.medicinemandenver.com and at that site you can hook up with all of our social media outlets and what not and see lots of pictures of our facility and then you can also go to if you’re looking for a consultant or would like to learn more about what we do on the consultancy side you can go to www.medicinemantechnologies.com and soon we’ll be having a website for our production company but that remains to be done yet so.

Matthew: Okay well Andy thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

Andy: My pleasure. Thanks for having me Matt.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.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 www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.cannainsider.com, simply send us an email at feedback at cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Some quick disclosures and disclaimers, me your host works with the ArcView Group and promotional consideration may or may not be given to CannaInsider for the ads placed in the show. Also please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Key Takeaways:
[2:03] – Andy’s background
[3:20] – Tour of Andy’s grow room
[6:56] – Andy talks about the climate control system in his facility
[8:54] – Andy discusses controlling pests, funguses and molds
[12:13] – Andy talks about treating the water in his facility
[13:28] – Ideal growing medium for cannabis plants
[15:05] – Andy talks about using LED lighting
[17:45] – Misconceptions about cultivators
[19:41] – Andy talks about his infused product line
[21:45] – Why the dispensary is split between recreational and medical
[23:49] – Differences in dosages in medical and recreational
[24:48] – Andy talks about popular strains
[26:10] – Andy discusses extraction techniques
[27:58] – Andy’s predictions for 3 to 5 year trends
[28:58] – Andy’s ArcView experience
[32:52] – Medicine Man’s contact details

Amsterdam’s Cannabis Scientist – Joost Heeroma from GH Medical

joost heeroma

Joost Heeroma is a scientist and researcher at GH Medical in Amsterdam. Joost shares the important science around cannabis that isn’t often talked about and discusses the future of cannabis technology and science.

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Matthew: 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 www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at cannainsider.com to get started. Now here’s your program.

As the perception of cannabis evolves from a back alley drug for society’s misfits to a plant medicine that can help a myriad of conditions the question on the mind of millions of people is how? How can this plant treat so many disparate conditions? Part of the answer lies in how cannabinoids interact with the human endocannabinoid system. I am pleased to welcome Dr. Joost Heeroma, Director of Science at GH Medical in Amsterdam, to better understand the promise of unlocking the many secrets of the endocannabinoid system. Welcome Dr. Joost.

Joost: Thank you Matt. Thanks for having me.

Matthew: Joost before we get started can you tell us your background and how you got into the cannabis research field?

Joost: Yeah sure. I’m a medical biologist by training with 15 years of research experience behind me and that’s mostly in the fields of genetics and neuroscience and in short the central theme of my research has been homeostasis which is basically balance in your body. How it is your body preserve its integrity throughout life. That is, so that will be the central theme and to go slightly deeper into that for instance as a student I was fascinated by diseases like Cancer and Alzheimer’s and how they are essentially flip sides of the same coin if you will. So in Cancer cells sort of forget to stop dividing and in diseases like Alzheimer’s cells forget to do the opposite. They forget to stay alive and I was fascinated by these processes. How this worked and how they govern the integrity of your body if you will and that started my research.

That later turned into does the same thing happen in the brain? Is this homeostasis just balancing things important for your brain? It turns out that it is. In fact all the learning rules are based on these principles. Without going deeper into that I then started studying human genetic mutations and how these mutations disrupt the feedback mechanisms that usually keep you alive and how these mutations can in turn cause diseases like for instance Epilepsy. Then finally I used all that information to devise intelligent ways of curing diseases for instance by common opportune therapy for epilepsy.

Now that was my career in a nut shell and then the economy collapsed and I found myself looking for a job and then basically as an act of serendipity I saw Arjan and Franco on an episode of Strain Hunters and I had my epiphany and well the rest is history. Now we’re talking to each other.

Matthew: Okay. We’ve had Arjan on the show but can you give a little background on what GH Green House and what they do there in Amsterdam with seeds and what GH Medical is so people can kind of have a context of what the operation is there?

Joost: Yeah definitely. So the Green House is one of the most successful if not the most successful cannabis seed selling companies and they also have a string of coffee shops or cannabis cafe’s in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. And what sort of separates the people at Green House from the rest of the industry as I know it is the passion that Arjan and Franco show for keeping the diversity in cannabis strains in tract and in order to do this they have organized these Strain Hunter expeditions basically traveling to the furthest corners of the globe to find the original land races of cannabis that have essentially not been tampered with by 17 of crossing and this crossing was essentially done for one purpose, the recreational purpose. How high can you get out of it?

So in short Arjan and Franco and the Green House have been looking for less chemical cannabinoids in distinct land races of cannabis and I found this hugely interesting because I’m not sure if you know but the cannabinoids are receiving huge amounts of attention in the medical world by now but 99% of this information is based on THC. Now CBD is sort of getting into the game but there are tens if not more other cannabinoids that are virtually unresearched. So this was the point that got me hooked. When I saw the Strain Hunter’s travel the globe finding these new or old untempered cannabis races I thought bingo that’s, that’s the pharmacological gold mine that we’re looking for. So that in short is how it got started.
Matthew: Yeah and land races just for people to understand that’s a plant in this case the cannabis plant that evolved over a period of time to be ideally suited for its environment is that how you would describe it?

Joost: Probably yes. So a land race is nothing more than an original race so it hasn’t been tampered with by us.

Matthew: Okay.

Joost: And to give you an indication in let’s take the West, Europe and America. Since 1937 when the UN imposed its ban on cannabis the only selection criterion for cannabis was of course how stoned do you get and you can really see the results of this. So in the last couple of months I’ve profiled a lot of different strains of cannabis that you can find here in Amsterdam and essentially they’re all the same when you look at cannabinoids. That basically means we have found a way to purify THC and luckily THC has lots of therapeutic potential but all these other cannabinoids that are in there are practically unresearched and that’s what we want to do and for that you actually need these original races.

Matthew: Okay. Now switching gears to the encannabinoid system.

Joost: Yeah.

Matthew: How would you introduce that to someone that still quite doesn’t understand that?

Joost: Yeah and I can understand why it’s difficult to grasp because until about a year ago I didn’t have a clue and that’s strange because I actually found out that this endocannabinoid system is the mother of all feedback systems and therefore I should have known about it. And so what does it do? I would say that the endocannabinoid system is basically what puts; what stands between us and bacteria. If you see humans as successful life forms, we consist of billions upon billions of cells and to me as a biologist is actually surprised that we are not just a pile of, an amorphous pile of cells. Now we’re actually very nicely sculpted human beings and for that to happen you need to have a system that keeps several factors in check.

First of all, all cells in your body need to know whether or not to divide. If this goes wrong, if cells continue to divide when not necessary you get diseases like Cancer. If cells stop dividing where they should be you get degenerative diseases like for instance Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s and many other diseases.

Another thing that is crucial to successful multicellular life is the distribution of energy. Each cell needs to get the right amount of energy not more, not less, etc. Now failure to control the flow of energy in your body can lead to diseases like Obesity on the one hand or anorexia on the other or Diabetes. Anyway all these metabolic diseases sort of indicate that there’s some level of regulation going wrong. Now the other factor that is crucial to successful multicellular life is the immune system. Your cells need to know what is self and recognized as from anything foreign that invades your body. Anything that is self you need to protect. Anything that is foreign you need to viciously attack.

And finally the cells of your body need to be able to communicate to each other. Now the best example of this is the brain. You need brain communication, neurocell communication in order to be successful in your life. Now the four things so cell division, energy, metabolism, self recognition, or immune response and cellular communication or brain activity those four pillars of life are in fact colonized or governed by the endocannabinoid system. Does that answer your question?

Matthew: Yes, yes. And so those are things; those are kind of background operations that are going on in our lives and we really don’t notice it until there’s a problem perhaps.

Joost: Yeah.

Matthew: Is there any way that people can experience their endocannabinoid system without a problem? Is there something they can see in their life where they say hey that’s my endocannabinoid system at work?

Joost: Hmm good question. I think the most noticeable function of your endocannabinoid system may well be the runner’s high. Are you familiar with the runner’s high?

Matthew: Yes.

Joost: Yeah so I think this story started about 20 years ago and it was primarily explained as an endorphin based story. So endorphins are the body’s own opiates where endocannabinoids are the body’s own cannabinoids and it turns out that the happy feeling you get whilst running is endorphin based and the satisfied feeling that you get after running is actually caused by endocannabinoids. So that is an actual thing you can experience yourself where your endocannabinoid system is at work keeping you happy.

Matthew: Now we’re throwing around the word cannabinoid a lot but what exactly is a cannabinoid and how does it fit into the endocannabinoid system?

Joost: Let’s see to put things in a slightly broader perspective. Have you ever heard of the citric acid cycle?

Matthew: No.

Joost: No. Okay well the citric acid cycle is like the sense we’ll have in all our metabolism and whether you’re bacterium, or a horse, or a human it’s all the same and what this citric acid cycle does is it takes everything that you consume, everything that you eat, sort of grinds it down to atoms and from that your entire; every component of your body is constructed again. From the citric acid cycle everything is made and parts, the three major components of products that are made the energy that you need to keep your body up and running. The lipids to produce all your cells or the membranes surrounding your cells and the proteins of DNA which are essentially the machinery that our body’s work on.

And so straight from the citric acid cycle from the central hub of our metabolism all lipids are made and one major subdivision in these lipids is diacylglycerol which will mean nothing to you but it is like the top of the pyramid of all endocannabinoids. So what I’m trying to say by this is straight from everything that you eat lipids are made and from these lipids your endocannabinoids are made which govern pretty much everything in your body so. Cannabinoids are very natural substances if you will.

Matthew: How can the endocannabinoid system become dysfunctional or overpowered? Does that go back to what you were talking about with Cancer and Alzheimer’s?

Joost: Yeah. So I would say a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system is for instance caused by a mutation. A mutation in your genetic information which may lead to I don’t know Cancer or any other disease that is based on ([15:53] unclear) metabolism or cell division or immunity or brain communication. Did that answer your question?

Matthew: Yes.

Joost: Okay. Now.

Matthew: Go ahead.

Joost: One other thing that I wanted to mention is so all the endocannabinoids are made out of diacylglycerol. It very much, very similar to this all plant cannabinoids are made from terpenes. Now terpenes is also something you’ve probably heard before.

Matthew: Yes.

Joost: And know that we’ll be discussing later on but what is crucial to your understanding of cannabinoids and terpenes is that they are essentially the same thing. Terpenes are very basic chemical building units and for instance if you take one unit you get the smell of menthol, take three units stack them together you get the smell of ginger, you take four you get cannabinoids, you take six you get cholesterol, sex hormones that kind of thing. Take eight you get carotene antioxidants in your body. Have you ever heard of Q10?

Matthew: CoQ10 or something like that?

Joost: Yeah exactly so but the stuff that’s in all these creams for your face and etc, etc. Q10 stands for ten units of isoprene, ten of these terpene units.

Matthew: Okay. So you stack these isoprene units and you get different compounds as you stack them?

Joost: Exactly. You get different compounds with completely different properties and to go one step further if you stack thirty of these compounds on top of each other then you’ve got latex. So that’s sort of to show you the, well the background against which all this stuff is happening. The central point here is that terpenes, terpinoids, cannabinoids are really natural compounds and they are involved in every step of multicellular life.

Matthew: Okay. So terpenes, there’s a lot of talk about flavor and fragrance and so forth. What’s happening with terpenes there that gives us that experience? I know you mentioned the stacking but can you tell us anything about how we experience terpenes from fragrance and so forth?

Joost: Yeah. So as I just said and so one isoprene unit gives you the smell of ([18:40] unclear) and two isoprene units gives you the smell of menthol, etc, etc. Basically every odor, every essential oil that we know of is a terpene. That’s, yeah.

Matthew: Okay.

Joost: Every smell is a terpene and is also important to realize how all this works. It’s not for nothing that we can smell something. The only reason we can smell something is because we have a receptor and it’s also not for nothing that it has an effect on us. For instance if you smell Pinene so the smell of pine it has a physical effect on you. It dilates your lungs which is already making the crossover in between the food substances that we know as terpenes and the medicines that we will get to know as terpenes later on.

Matthew: Do terpenes affect our metabolism in any way?

Joost: Well yeah they do but it’s not really easy to give an example of this. But for instance I’m sure you have smelled nice food and all of a sudden got your gastric juices pumping and before you knew it you were hungry.

Matthew: Yeah sure.

Joost: Yeah so the physical process behind all that is it is fueled by terpenes and in the end it primes your body for eating. So does it have an effect on your metabolism yes definitely?

Matthew: And where can cannabis have the biggest impact on fighting illness and disease right now do you think?

Joost: That’s also a difficult one. Well seeing as cannabinoids actually show therapeutic potential in some of the most well prevalent and debilitating diseases in the West. I can think of Cancer, Obesity, Diabetes, Depression, Insomnia. I would say the total potential impact of cannabis and cannabinoids on disease is huge and which one will prove to be the biggest or which one is the biggest right now I actually have no idea. Everything.

Matthew: When you smoke a joint versus taking an edible, an infused product how is that different? How does that affect your endocannabinoid system differently?

Joost: The differences are huge. For starters when you eat cannabinoids they invariably end up in your stomach. Your stomach is full of acid and that acid immediately breaks down like 50% of all cannabinoids. After your stomach the cannabinoids enter your guts and your intestine or through your intestine and end up in your blood and they get metabolized by your liver which again causes a 50% reduction. So basically if you eat cannabinoids you are already at 25% of the total effect that you could’ve had if you would have injected the cannabinoids which of course no one does but that’s the standard against which we weigh it.

So if you want to preserve cannabinoids for their medical function you probably don’t want to eat them and other roots of application are for instance you could use topical application, just rub an ointment on your skin which will for instance work well for Eczema or Psoriasis but if you got Cancer probably there is a better way of getting the cannabinoids unless it’s Skin Cancer. Speaking of Cancer then you probably want to have a really high dose of some particular cannabinoid in a very specific spot so you might be thinking of an injection or you might be thinking of; for instance if you want to reach your brain and you want to reach it very quickly nasal injection or a nasal spray would make more sense.

If you want it to get there more slowly then maybe eating is better. You see that’s, it really depends on the specific condition that you’re looking to treat. It really depends on that for your choice of rules of application.

Matthew: I really haven’t heard of people injecting cannabis as a medical treatment but is seems like it might be a good idea. Is that happening more or are people talking about that more?

Joost: Yeah. To be honest I don’t know of anyone who has injected cannabinoids either but I know this is how for instance the ([24:03] unclear) so the drug lap of the DEA got their data, you need to have a standard measurement of pharmacological products and the standard is pretty much what happens if you inject it. That constitutes 100% biodegradability and it is against this biodegradability that for instance everything that happens when you do a nasal spray or you already consumed cannabinoids everything is weighed against what would theoretically happen if you inject. Does that make sense?

Matthew: Yes, yes.

Joost: And like I said for real, real nasty cases where you need a really high dose of cannabinoids such as for instance Cancer. I can well imagine that the way to treat it in the future will be an injection. At the moment I don’t know any examples.

Matthew: Joost based on what you’ve seen. Let’s say God forbid you develop some sort of Cancer would you be treating it with cannabis?

Joost: A very good question. I think yes. I’ve spent the last year reading everything I could about cannabinoids and their potential to cure diseases and even though I know we’ve only scratched the surface of the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids I would say the promise is huge and especially for Cancer. I mean people have more or less known that cannabinoids can work against the nausea, basically against the side effects that you have from regular Cancer treatments. But now we actually know that THC kills Cancer cells. It actually kills Cancer cells whereas it leaves non Cancer cells alone. That finding in itself is huge.

Of course we need more information, we need more tests but I think a system that can decide whether a cell is Cancerous or not and then eliminate the Cancer cell is just way better than what we have been able to come up with in regular medicine. Which one will prove to be better I don’t know.

Matthew: Okay. Do you see any clinical trials going on that are promising in Europe or elsewhere with cannabis or cannabis oils?

Joost: There are a few clinical trials going on not too many and a lot of these clinical trials are still being done with synthetic cannabinoids and so these are still primarily initiatives from Big Pharma who of course love patents of all drug and for that you need synthetic cannabinoids. For the plant cannabinoids it’s sort of getting started now. We hope to launch as many clinical trials in the next couple of years as possible and we should be thinking about 100 or 130 different types of disease indications for which we could launch a clinical trial. The most important one going on right now I don’t know.

Matthew: Okay. And where do you see GH Medical going over in the years ahead?

Joost: Well basically doing precisely that launching clinical trials. So what we’ve done in the last year is basically nothing else but making an inventory of all the knowledge that is out there. So I have screened or am in the process of screening approximately thirty thousand scientific papers on fifty different disease areas and this is work that has been done in the last forty years or thereabouts by scientists who did it anyway even though they weren’t supposed to and I’m categorizing all this data trying to find the lacks in our knowledge and trying to supplement that.

So now we’ve more or less reached a point where we know the bits of knowledge that are lacking and we can start formulating the research that is necessary to actually go further and because cannabinoids are such a hugely safe, biologically safe class of product I think we can go straight into the clinical trials and forget about most of the pre-chemical research that’s usually done before. Which is like to find out how safe is the compound? How much can we tolerate, etc, etc.? We already know from thousands of years of user experiences that you can tolerate as many cannabinoids as you want to test so we can skip all that straight to the clinical trials and we’ll take it from there.

Matthew: Yeah that would be great if we could get some solutions quickly here. There’s a lot of people suffering and its like why wait years when it’s really a benign influence at worst. So why?

Joost: Exactly.

Matthew: Why can’t we move forward? So.

Joost: Yeah but the problem is as you are probably very well aware of that everyone is waiting. Well they’re the policy makers doing it at the moment.

Matthew: Right.

Joost: And the whole world I mean I would love to start 100 clinical trials tomorrow but if we would do that we would be shutdown the day after tomorrow.

Matthew: Yeah.

Joost: And we are finding ourselves in a very strange situation that we’re actually dealing more with policy makers, with politicians, etc, etc., than with the actual science.

Matthew: Yeah that’s unfortunate. What’s the reaction from the policy makers? Are they becoming? I mean Amsterdam and the Netherlands are historically liberal relative to other countries but are they receptive to the message of cannabis as medicine?

Joost: Not really. I think it was the Dutch Minister of Justice who said A) that he knew people that have died of smoking cannabis which is impossible. But it does show you the level of information that they use and so I don’t expect much out of the Netherlands anytime soon. But what is very interesting is that we are now being contacted by other governments around the world who are actually sick and tired of having to chase old granny’s that have a bottle of cannabis oil because they have Cancer. People are just getting tired of having to incarcerate other people for just that.

And so the interesting development is that we are now being approached by governments who are actually looking for our advice in how to change the rules so that we can do our research and that’s new.

Matthew: Yeah.

Joost: And maybe this will be the way in which we can start our research but we just don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen next week. Hopefully what’s going to happen is we’re going to get our license to do our research and then we can start our trials. But who knows?

Matthew: Joost what’s the best way for listeners to learn more about GH Medical Green House Seeds, Arjan’s cannabis cafe’s there in Amsterdam? Where should they go to learn more about these things?

Joost: Yeah. So first of all to learn more about GH Medical you can go to www.ghmedical.com and that website basically contains all the information that you need to see whether cannabinoid based therapy might be something for you. How it works, etc., etc. It also contains a white paper where we explain our backgrounds, disease backgrounds, and the potential of cannabinoids to cure all these diseases and that is probably good background reading material for most people, for patients, for healthcare professionals, for policy makers and what not. Now going to the Green House as the larger company, Green House Seeds. For information you can go to www.greenhouseseeds.nl.

Matthew: Okay.

Joost: And finally if you want more information about the cannabis cafe’s or coffee shops as we call them over here. You can go to www.greenhouse.org.

Matthew: Okay. Yeah and the cafe’s are really well known there in Amsterdam and very kind of classy places and while we have legal retail shops here in Colorado I hope we go to the next level and have cafe’s similar to what you have in Amsterdam there where there’s a social aspect. Because while it’s legal we can go to a retail shop and then everybody goes home. There’s no public forum.

Joost: Yeah.

Matthew: Which would really I think enhance the experience for everybody so I hope we get to that step soon. But again also Arjan and his partner Franco are also a great place to find them is on Strain Hunters too which is a really kind of interesting show where they go all over the world finding these land race cannabis strains which Joost spoke about a little earlier.

Matthew: So Joost thanks so much for being on CannaInsider and educating us. We really appreciate it.

Joost: Thank you. I hope you learned something from it and hopefully meet again.

Matthew: Thank you.

If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.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 www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.cannainsider.com, simply send us an email at feedback at cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Some quick disclosures and disclaimers, me your host works with the ArcView Group and promotional consideration may or may not be given to CannaInsider for the ads placed in the show. Also please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Key Takeaways:
[1:52] – Dr. Joost’s background
[4:41] – What is GH Medical
[8:42] – Joost talks about the endocannabinoid system
[12:24] – Joost explains the functions of the endocannabinoid system
[13:27] – What is a cannabinoid
[15:28] – How your endocannabinoid system can become dysfunctional
[18:30] – Joost talks about terpenes
[20:32] – Cannabis’s biggest impact on fighting illnesses and disease
[21:27] – How do infused products, edibles and joints affect your system
[23:49] – Joost talks about injecting cannabis
[26:55] – Cannabis clinical trials
[28:04] – Future of GH Medical
[30:54] – Are policy makers receptive of cannabis as medicine
[32:38] – GH Medical Green House Seeds contact details

An Update on Oregon Cannabis Legalization with Jeremy Kwit

Jeremy Kwit

In this interview with Jeremy Kwit of Bloom Well Bend http://www.bloomwellbend.com we discuss how prohibition is ending in Oregon. Specifically what legalization looks like and the key regulations that are both helping and hurting patients and growers.

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Matthew: 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 www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at cannainsider.com to get started. Now here’s your program.

With all the action going on around the country we often forget that recreational cannabis has been legalized in Oregon. That is why I’ve asked Jeremy Kwit, Bloom Well Cannabis Apothecary on to CannaInsider today to talk about what is happening with legalization in Oregon? Welcome to CannaInsider Jeremy.

Jeremy: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Matthew: Jeremy to give us a sense of geography can you tell us where you are today?

Jeremy: So I’m sitting at about 3500 feet above sea level where the Cascade Mountains meet the high desert right in the center of Oregon. I’m on the East side of the Cascades, and so to the West of me are Ponderosa Pines and out East of me are Juniper Pines, and so we live in a climate that is really incredible for cannabis production especially an indoor and in climate controlled greenhouses because we have cold, dry night time air year round. Now it doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful I think the plants like that as well and so for the same reason that Facebook and Apple opened their large data centers about 40 minutes from Bend in Prineville. Cannabis cultivation indoors is phenomenal because any time throughout the year the temperature drops to 30 to 40 degrees at night and we have a very low humidity we are super dry so we have less problems with mold, mildews, and pathogens.

Matthew: Yeah that’s a great point about the humidity level. I know the Bend has a really thriving micro-brew scene. Do you see kind of that culture now going into the cannabis scene now that people are coming out of the shadows?

Jeremy: It certainly is. We are very fortunate in Bend to have had a fairly open climate towards cannabis not just recently but even the last half dozen years where there have been dispensaries that were operational under kind of a grey model before 3460 had passed because our criminal defense; excuse me our criminal justice system didn’t see any problems with cannabis. So we are seeing now and experiencing a virgining craft cannabis industry that is growing very dynamically and we’re seeing lots of different brands of cannabis farms, processing, and edibles companies come out of Central Oregon as well as dispensaries like myself.

Matthew: Can you give us a little background on what Bloom Well Cannabis Apothecary is and your involvement in it and what you’re trying to do there?

Jeremy: Oh certainly. Bloom Well is a community dispensary that provides safe access to cannabis in a judgment free environment and I mean every bit of that statement. As a community dispensary we believe in the open source cannabis model versus the sole source cannabis model so think Len X or Nescafe’s Mozilla browser where we want to bring in a variety of different farmers’ products and processors’ product into our facility to share it with our clientele. So an alternative model for a dispensary is the sole sourced one where growers are forward integrating into retail to sell their wares directly and the alternative for us is that we bring in and represent family farmers from around our region and around our state and we procure the very best products that we can find to provide diversity for our clients and to support community based agriculture in the region.

Matthew: So I’m familiar with; I grew up Irish/Catholic so I know what a judgment rich environment is but I’ve never heard of a judgment free. What does that mean exactly?

Jeremy: Well we don’t really care why people use cannabis. So a lot of folks may come to us with a condition or with symptoms that they will talk about and that will be maybe the driving force or factor in their choice to consume cannabis as an alternative to other prescription drugs and for us we don’t judge them for the conditions that they have, for their choice and use of cannabis because a lot of people will use cannabis in a multitude of different ways and the reasoning or what they get their medical card for on paper might be different than how they end up using the product in actuality or in practice. It might become something very spiritual for them and most doctors aren’t writing a recommendation for the spiritual use of cannabis so.

Matthew: Not yet.

Jeremy: Not yet and to that point about physicians the fact that somebody has a doctor’s note or an attending physician statement in the state of Oregon doesn’t necessarily make them any more entitled in my view to their consumption of cannabis then somebody else who has been self medicating with cannabis to feel better that doesn’t have a doctor’s note. So part of the judgment free environment is even the notion that if you’re a medical cannabis cardholder you’re entitled to cannabis and if you’re using cannabis without your medical card you are somehow an outlaw. Ultimately I see people use cannabis to feel better and if they’re using cannabis to feel better that’s great and cannabis is certainly a lot better for many individuals than their consumption of alcohol or other narcotics and so I look at cannabis use as one of relaxation, enjoyment, decompression, stress reduction and that is as important then ameliorating some into a debilitating physical condition.

Matthew: Now what would you say was the spark that got you into the cannabis industry just give us a little background there because it seems like you really have a strong sense of your values around cannabis and I kind of want to get; how did that happen?

Jeremy: So as a teenager I distinctively remember my mom invading my sister’s privacy and going into her bedroom and finding a note in her drawer where she wrote that to a friend that she had tried using cannabis at a Madonna concert, and my mom was incredibly upset and of course grounded my sister and punished her for her experimentation with cannabis and I remember the dialogue that I had with my mom saying I felt that it was invasive of her privacy and inappropriate to have discovered this note in her drawer. My mom responded with a statement similar to but Jeremy she was experimenting with marijuana and it struck me well one a Madonna concert is the perfect place for somebody to try marijuana as opposed to the parking lot at school because the reality is somebody probably passed her a joint and she tried it. Took a puff and it wasn’t a big deal.

But my mom turned it into a big deal and so it struck me then that sort of the reefer madness mentality can be really divisive inside of families and now 25 years later my mom and my sister are still struggling to rebuild trust in their relationship and I felt that that sort of instance with cannabis was what initiated the ball rolling from my mom creating a police state like environment in our household to preventing dialogue and conversation about cannabis and choice and for me personally I also experimented with cannabis in my youth but chose to be very private about it because I knew my mom’s attitude and there is nothing worse than children and their parents having walls of secrecy between them and so I sensed that our historically terrible drug policy has a traumatic effect on our youth and our family structure.

Matthew: Yeah that’s a good point I mean everybody knows they’ve seen pictures of DEA destroying plants and breaking down doors and using flash grenades and all these things but then there’s a trickle down staucy component of it where you’re family then becomes militant in preventing these things mostly from miseducation and kind of brainwashing. I don’t know another way of saying it.

Jeremy : I would agree. There’s a lot of research that shows I think that the Drug Policy Alliance has a publication on their website called “Beyond Zero Tolerance” and it’s a fact based guide to drug education for parents and it uses a lot of research from a PhD, I believe his name was Rod Stryker that shows that having an open relationship and open dialogue with children or youth about cannabis and all drugs for that matter is going to produce better outcomes. So rather than saying that cannabis is terrible don’t never use it well young people will try it and they’ll find out that it wasn’t the end of the world and then they now realize that their parents lied to them, their teachers lied to them, and so did their school administration and officials.

So rather engage in conversation about use of cannabis and that will allow parents to be more able to distinguish the difference between experimental use and abuse and again forging lines of communication instead of creating barriers of secrecy is going to help kids to stay sober and that’s what I would want for everybody. Now that also applies to adults as well let’s just be honest with one another about what we’re doing with ourselves and our bodies.

Matthew: So true. We’re going to get into the Oregon legalization here in a second but I call cannabis the gateway truth not the gateway drug because after I experienced it for the first time I realized hey wait a minute here this is a total lie what this plants about. It feels totally different then everything I was told and then my next thought is what else are we being lied to about. So that’s why it’s the gateway truth because then you start pulling at the string like wait a second if cannabis is not this evil plant in fact it has all these medicinal benefits and therapeutic benefits and it helps life in many ways. If it’s such a 180 lie about this what else are we being lied to about? So when you pull up that string it’s fun but dangerous at the same time and you tend to go down the road less traveled.

Jeremy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah you start questioning everything our government is telling us and where does our government come from? Culturally the Puritan’s started America and they were trying to flee persecution in England so they could practice a much more stringent or religious ideology and I think that Puritanical culture still is very much pervasive and has an influence on us today. There’s something wrong with our country that says it’s not okay for you to feel good.

Matthew: Right.

Jeremy: And we have been self medicating with; throughout human history. We’ve been always trying to change how we feel and that could be through fermented beverages, it could be through sleep and food deprivation, it could be through twirling around in a circle reciting Turkish poetry. We’re trying to change sort of our ontology and the way in which we look at the world around us in some ways and it can be temporary or permanent and I think cannabis helps many individuals provide a different lens through which to experience their reality and look at the world around them.

So for me personally I’ve had a spine injury and I was originally turned onto medical cannabis in the Bay area back in the late 90s after Prop 215 was passed in California and folks had suggested that cannabis provides natural analogies and anti-inflammatory properties so should be really wonderful the bulged disc in my spine and I found that sometimes when I was using cannabis that I certainly did feel some pain relief but what I also found is that more than anything else while I was trying to stretch or do physical therapy the cannabis helped me to be present in my body and relax and find sort of the source of pain and allowed me to stretch out because my own Type A personality; I had always characterized myself as almost having ADHD with OCD tendencies. I can’t sit still for a minute let alone for forty-five minutes to an hour to do physical therapy so the cannabis just allowed me to relax and sit still and it didn’t always solve the back pain but my own ability to relax and sit still with cannabis was incredibly therapeutic.

Matthew: Yeah. Well that’s great context for your background. Now switching gears a little bit to Oregon and legalization first what was the vote, what happened, and where are we at now?

Jeremy: So Oregon started its medical cannabis program back in 1998 and the program was based or modeled on sharing where a grower could grow six plants for a patient and the patient could provide some reimbursement to the grower not for their labor but for their materials and supplies. And so it was very much based on a trading system and so the challenge though you know if cannabis helps to settle your stomach or for example I use if dairy or yogurt or kefir settles your GI tract issues you would then have to go find a dairy farmer who could have six cows and they would give you a quart of milk a month and if you realized that maybe dairy milk upset your tummy and you needed a shot of raw goat milk a day how are you going to find a goat shepherd?

And the same thing was true for patients and growers throughout Oregon that it was hard for patients to find growers. So that evolved into the recognition by legislatures that patients need a store, need a dispensary to go procure their cannabis. So 3460 passed by the legislature in 2013 and it was signed into law and implementation started in 2014. So Bloom Well applied for its license and has been in good standing since we opened our facility serving medical cannabis patients. The more recent activity in the state of Oregon was with the passage of Measure 91 last November that made or that is seeking to make cannabis fully legal for adults over the age of 21 and that passed last November. A joint task force to implement Measure 91 was put together by the legislature and they’ve been enhancing some of the guidelines that Measure 91 put forth.

What they did very recently was introduce some legislation called HP3400 which was signed into law by our Governor recently as well that is actually going to allow medical marijuana dispensaries like Bloom Well to start selling cannabis to all adults twenty-one and over this October and they’re calling it Early Interim Recreational Sales. Early because the Oregon Liquor Control Commission is still writing the regulations that will govern recreational production. Seed to sale processing and distribution as well as retailing and the implementation of the OLCC Recreational Cannabis stores is not expected to be fully rolled out until October 2016 at the earliest and so then the legislature recognized well where are individuals; where are adults going to buy cannabis before 2016? If we don’t allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell them flower then they’re going to procure it in the alternative marketplace. So starting this October medical marijuana dispensaries if they choose to will be able to sell a quarter ounce of flower or bud to adults 21 and over per day as well as seeds and 4 plants.

So this July a few months ago in Oregon cannabis became decriminalized. So it is now legal in Oregon for adults 21 and over to have 8 ounces of cannabis in the home, 1 ounce of cannabis out of home, and they can have 4 plants. And I say that it was decriminalized in July because it’s not truly legal unless you can go buy it somewhere so the possession of cannabis became okay this July and what’s also really wonderful is they’re changing a lot of the sentencing guidelines and the I don’t know what it’s called the different; they’re rescheduling different types of misdemeanors and felonies and so it will also affect everybody who is presently jailed for cannabis related crimes and many people will be able to leave jail and have their records expunged starting this past July.

Matthew: Oh interesting.

Jeremy: So we will be able to now sell cannabis. Gosh two weeks from now I’m both incredibly nervous and excited about the amount of work that we have to do to gear up to be able to sell cannabis flowers, seeds, and up to four clones to any adult who walks into our door starting October 1st.

Matthew: Is there a limit on the number of seeds that can be sold?

Jeremy: Unlimited number of seeds.

Matthew: Wow. That is really cool. Awesome and do you anticipate a lot of demand for the seeds and clones? What’s the word on the street there?

Jeremy: I think there’s; I mean I think there’s going to be a lot more demand for flower for the bud. I think after prohibition most people wanted to consume alcohol not everybody wanted to suddenly become home distillers and home brewers. That being said I do recognize that there is already and will continue to be a surge in demand or desire to cultivate cannabis at home and we had some clients who came in gentleman probably in his late 70s or 80s just bought a cannabis plant because he wanted to hold it and he and his wife stood outside. They took pictures in front of our sign and so there’s something incredibly dignifying about being able to have choice about the type of cannabis that you’re buying as well as the ability to grow it at home for yourself and so it’s a lot like tomatoes. A lot of people will grow tomatoes at home but they still buy tomatoes in the marketplace.

You can build soil beds and build hoop houses and build your tomato garden and you’re tomatoes are just going to taste the best that anybody’s ever produced and you’re going to share them with your neighbors and I think that’s going to happen with cannabis as well and those folks that love to make salad will also go to the stores and buy plenty of tomatoes as well.

Matthew: How do you feel in general about the way regulations are being rolled out? You gave us a nice summary there but in some other states the regulators create rules that don’t allow for a functional market in some ways. Is there any ways it could be different?

Jeremy: We’re really lucky in Oregon because we have had Washington and Colorado as models and so the folks Anthony Johnson and Dave Coppolack [ph] who were the chief petitioners and co-authors of Measure 91. They looked at those models as they were crafting Measure 91 and Measure 91 is very much modeled after Oregon Craft Beer and Wine different than alcohol. You know hard alcohol is sort of owned by the state. It has a different sort of regulatory and distribution system and so the intention is to create a truly craft cannabis culture so that family farmers from around the state can benefit and small craft producers will thrive and so we’ve got this dynamic craft beer and wine industry in Oregon that is doing quite well and cannabis I expect it to follow in a similar pattern in Oregon and that’s because we’ve got a very well written; we had a very well written measure.

Of course I think the legislature made some modifications to Measure 91 allowing municipalities to opt out of commercial cannabis and so in areas of the state like Bend in Deschutes county or Portland in Multnomah county we’re going to see cannabis havens where the municipalities are choosing to regulate cannabis in a way that makes sense for their communities rather than opt out with moratoriums and bans and because of this recent legislative tweak to Measure 91 under the guise of 3400. And it was through a lot of lobbying from the Oregon League of Cities and the County’s Association to allow more conservative count as in conservative cities to choose to opt out of commercial cannabis which could include cultivation, processing, distribution, or retailing.

And Measure 91 was designed to encourage small communities to participate in this system because if you don’t have a retail component there’s no cannabis businesses operating in your city or county you’re not going to get the tax revenues that come from the taxation of cannabis which is allocated towards the school general fund and local policing. So I’m in a very unique and lucky; fortunate position geographically because I’m operating in a community that is tolerate of cannabis but unfortunately very close by Crook County for example they’ve chosen to opt out and it’s really unfortunate because they, they’ve got in Central Oregon we refer to Crook County as a banana belt because it’s got really wonderful weather, it’s very sunny and rather than farmers producing Kentucky Bluegrass they could produce cannabis instead but they’re not going to be able to do so because their community or their county commissioners have opted out. So we’re going to end up with a bit of a quilt around the state of Oregon unfortunately.

Matthew: What about edibles and infused products? Where do those stand?

Jeremy: Medical cannabis patients can consume those in October. We will not be able to sell edibles to adult consumers 21 and over which is quite ridiculous. The edibles in Oregon; all products actually that is running through or sold through a dispensaries has to be tested for safety and potency. So on the safety side that’s mold, mildew, and pesticide testing and then on the potency side it’s the amount of THC and CBD for flowers. The percentage in those products and for finished products like hash oil concentrates or edibles the total amount of THC and CBD has to be determined and so as a consequence it’s very easy for us to dose our edibles.

We have edibles like hard candies and chocolates and savory snacks and we know the dosages is between 4 mg per candy up to 40 or 140 and so we encourage people to find their dose and through some experimentation everybody can quite easily figure out how much cannabis is appropriate for them in an edible dosage form and so we find our clients really enjoying their consumption of cannabis as an edible because it may be more discrete or actually we just might be more long lasting and have a different physical or an emotional effect on themselves. So edibles are great. We can sell them. I would characterize edibles as maybe 25% of our business and unfortunately we won’t be able to sell them to adults 21 and over.

Matthew: Right just for medical then and is there talk of changing that or is it too early to say?

Jeremy: There’s no discussion that I’m aware of regarding such change. I think that there’s been some edible hysteria in the media and then some of that are from instances in Colorado or there’s even an instance here in Central Oregon where a woman called the ambulance for her friend because she had three candies and felt herself getting really, really sick, and so I think there’s been some media hysteria but like anything else when somebody; like alcohol if you’re learning to drink alcohol you don’t introduce your friend to alcohol and provide them with a fifth of Tequila.

Matthew: Right.

Jeremy: Somebody is going to get sick with alcohol well the same thing can happen with cannabis. We’re aware of that and if you introduce cannabis to somebody who’s already drunk then the likelihood of them having a negative first experience is pretty darned good, but we encourage people to try edibles with a 3 to 5 mg dose. We have a line of medicated ginger-ale’s called Magic Numbers and they come in a 3 mg, a 10mg, and a 25mg bottle, and so I personally know based on my size and metabolism that 3 mg is perfect and it’s really awesome because I can drink a whole bottle and feel like a complete human that I’ve finished my beverage and I feel a nice effect without feeling debilitated in any way and other individuals that have a different size, stature, and metabolism will want 10 mg or 25 mg dose.

We have a line of medicated ([28:40] Cambushas?) that have 15 mgs per bottle and so people can find their dose. You realize well drink a third of the bottle and your good or two thirds and your fine and so we have the ability to control our dosages if we’re conscientious about it and ultimately that’s what we’re talking about here. We’re trying to sell cannabis to adult consumers who are rational, who are self aware, who are responsible and idiots are going to do stupid things with anything. There are people who self medicate or who over medicate with sugar and caffeine and have eating disorders and all sorts of problems and cannabis isn’t going to prevent somebody from abusing it but for the other ninety-nine. something percent of humanity they’re going to be fine with their choice of consumption of cannabis as a smoked or vaped flower in an edible form or in a hash oil concentrate.

Matthew: Did you find yourself educating new customers about the endocannabinoid system and if so how do you introduce that subject to them?

Jeremy: I would characterize our audience as maybe one third really well knowledgeable about the plant and their consumption of the plant and they come to use seeking variety, different novel dosage forms from edibles and concentrates as well, and I would say there’s another third of our audience that has a relationship to cannabis but they’re not trying to learn more about its use and different ways that they can incorporate cannabis and different types of cannabis into their overall health and wellness and then there’s another third of our clientele that are absolutely new to cannabis.

So two thirds of our audience is seeking knowledge, they’re seeking education and consultation about how cannabis can be used more appropriately, and so we do talk about the endocannabinoid system and that’s often where we lead in the conversation because a lot of time folks are seeking an answer because Western medicine has typically said okay if you take this product your headache will go away, if you take this product your belly ache will go away and so some folks are seeking sort of that clear cut black or white answer. With cannabis I want a strain that provides me with this sense of relief and we’re very honest and we recognize that everybody has an endocannabinoid system that’s very different and that endocannabinoid receptor cell or the endocannabinoid receptors are in our cell walls. They are our nerve endings and therefore cannabis is a smart plant and it will go.

The cannabis oils are cannabinoids we’ll go to where the body needs it most. That could be in your gut? That could be in your head? It could be in sort of the neuropathic pain in your feet and so we are always encouraging people and folks to try and experiment with different types of cannabis because the different ratios in the cannabinoids are going to react differently to everybody and often when we’re in a trade room and there’s a number of individuals whether it’s our staff or our clients we’re honest and say hey all of us can consume the same cannabis plant but it’s going to produce a different reaction. It might make you sleepy Matt, it might make me wanna go reorganize all the tubbys in my garage, and it might open somebody’s heart and inspire them to write love letters to their love; their friends and family and loved ones.

So the endocannabinoid system is complex and has recently discovered and all of us have a very unique one and so it’s; again we’re using our own bodies as an experiment to find out what works best for us and when.

Matthew: Are topicals in the same category as infused products or are they allowed for adult use or is it medical how does that work?

Jeremy: So topicals ironically are considered an infused or a concentrated dosage form of cannabis and will not be available to sell to adult consumers in October just a quarter ounce of bud is all we’re going to be able to sell with respect to cannabis products to adults. We find a lot of our clients using topicals very successfully and I.

Matthew: What are the symptoms? Would you say they’re using them for?

Jeremy: Well we opened our doors about a year and a half ago and I had no idea how many in our culture suffered from migraines and insomnia and we have a lot of clients who will use topicals before; while their sensing themselves getting a migraine. They’ll rub topical salve on their temples to prevent the onset of the migraine and they say they wake up feeling a lot better maybe 90% better with a lot of the migraine being avoided and we also see clients using topicals applying it to sore parts of their body from places where they have achy muscles or joint pain and their finding tremendous relief from salves or from roll on oils that are infused with cannabis oils; often blends of different cannabis oils as well as a blend of other healing herbs and healing oils. We see clients using topical lotions and salves to address a variety of different symptoms.

Matthew: How about patients do they consume cannabis leaves by juicing? Is that something you hear of?

Jeremy: We do hear of that quite a lot and what we often will do for clients who are seeking leaf to juice we will just try and introduce them to growers or cultivators directly because it’s a very time sensitive product. If somebody does a lot of defanning or defan leafing in their garden those families need to get into the juicer immediately and because what I had indicated earlier everything that comes in our facility has to be tested by an analytical firm for safety and potency it would be prohibitively costly to have a big bag of leaf tested for mold and pesticides as well as potency because the amount of juice. You get two ice cube; an ice cube tray potentially worth of juice. So it’s not really economical or viable for us to do that through our facility but because we’re a community agency and a community dispensary we just introduce patients to growers and through the original sharing model growers will just share their leaves directly with patients and we hear amazing stories about the benefits of the juiced leaf. It’s very high in THCA which is the acidic form of THC. It’s non psychoactive and we hear a lot of folks benefiting tremendously with respect to their digestive systems and their overall health and well being.

Matthew: Now a lot of people listening would like to hear more about cannabis from their doctor but their doctors are not really bringing up the subject. Is there; do you have any suggestions on how to initiate that conversation with their medical doctor?

Jeremy: Be forthright. There’s nothing wrong or illegal about discussing medical cannabis with a doctor under the ([36:38] Conna?) decision the federal courts have already ruled that doctors and patients have a confidentiality and therefore they have the ability to discuss medical cannabis and certainly recommend it to their patients. Doctors are very I think accustomed to patients bringing ideas to them about different treatment options and preferences and cannabis therapeutics shouldn’t be any different. The challenge is that many doctors are unfamiliar with cannabis or dosing with cannabis and therefore might be hesitant to recommend it so a patient should bring in documentation, research about cannabis used medically as well as some documentation that describes or information that would be beneficial for the physician to understand how the patient has been using cannabis with benefit or what they hear about other patients using cannabis for.

There is a organization that does a lot of great work in policy called “Americans For Safe Access” and they have a website called www.safeaccessnow.org and there are articles out of their website that talk about how to talk to your doctor about cannabis and we often encourage our own clients or folks that call us on the phone or walk in our door and say hey I want to; I’m interested in learning more about medical cannabis and I want to get a recommendation and I don’t know who to go and who to talk to and we always encourage folks to speak to their primary care physicians first and foremost and have that conversation with their physician because I would think that physicians want to know what their patients are using because it might affect their regular prescribing habits. Certain medications are dampened with the use of cannabis and then others have the opposite effect and so a physician may want to dial up certain types of medications or dial them down if they know that cannabis is being used in concert with ongoing treatment. And we recognize that not every physician is going to be comfortable recommending cannabis because of their own morals or because of their own sense of comfort and knowledge about the plant and there are often alternative; there are other doctors that are cannabis specialists that will then be willing to be engaged with a patient to see if cannabis could be appropriate for their consumption and their use medically.

Matthew: Great points Jeremy. In closing how can listeners learn more about Bloom Well?

Jeremy: We always love it when people come right into our facility but knowing that not everybody is in Bend, Oregon we do have a website which is www.bloomwellbend.com and we can also be found on Instagram and other social media places like Facebook, we’re on Leafly as well and a quick search for bloomwellbend will find us on any of the social media sites as well.

Matthew: Great. Jeremy thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

Jeremy: Oh it’s been a pleasure.

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

Some quick disclosures and disclaimers, me your host works with the ArcView Group and promotional consideration may or may not be given to CannaInsider for the ads placed in the show. Also please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Key Takeaways:
[3:42] – Background on Bloom Well Cannabis Apothecary
[5:01] – Jeremy talks about a judgment free environment
[7:14] – Jeremy talks about how he got into the cannabis industry
[15:08] – Jeremy discusses the legalization process in Oregon
[20:09] – Jeremy discusses the demand for seeds and clones in Oregon
[21:51] – Jeremy talks about regulation in Oregon
[25:09] – Jeremy talks about edibles and infused products
[29:43] – Jeremy discusses introducing customers to the endocannabinoid system
[32:38] – Jeremy talks about topicals
[34:30] – Consumption by “juicing”
[36:28] – Initiating a conversation with your doctor about cannabis use
[29:20] – Bloom Well’s contact details

What are The Five Tends That Will Disrupt The Cannabis Industry

(Hint: It’s not about legalization)
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https://www.cannainsider.com/trends

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: 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 www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at cannainsider.com to get started. Now here’s your program.

With all the action going on around the country we often forget that recreational cannabis has been legalized in Oregon. That is why I’ve asked Jeremy Kwit, Bloom Well Cannabis Apothecary on to CannaInsider today to talk about what is happening with legalization in Oregon? Welcome to CannaInsider Jeremy.

Jeremy: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Matthew: Jeremy to give us a sense of geography can you tell us where you are today?

Jeremy: So I’m sitting at about 3500 feet above sea level where the Cascade Mountains meet the high desert right in the center of Oregon. I’m on the East side of the Cascades, and so to the West of me are Ponderosa Pines and out East of me are Juniper Pines, and so we live in a climate that is really incredible for cannabis production especially an indoor and in climate controlled greenhouses because we have cold, dry night time air year round. Now it doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful I think the plants like that as well and so for the same reason that Facebook and Apple opened their large data centers about 40 minutes from Bend in Prineville. Cannabis cultivation indoors is phenomenal because any time throughout the year the temperature drops to 30 to 40 degrees at night and we have a very low humidity we are super dry so we have less problems with mold, mildews, and pathogens.

Matthew: Yeah that’s a great point about the humidity level. I know the Bend has a really thriving micro-brew scene. Do you see kind of that culture now going into the cannabis scene now that people are coming out of the shadows?

Jeremy: It certainly is. We are very fortunate in Bend to have had a fairly open climate towards cannabis not just recently but even the last half dozen years where there have been dispensaries that were operational under kind of a grey model before 3460 had passed because our criminal defense; excuse me our criminal justice system didn’t see any problems with cannabis. So we are seeing now and experiencing a virgining craft cannabis industry that is growing very dynamically and we’re seeing lots of different brands of cannabis farms, processing, and edibles companies come out of Central Oregon as well as dispensaries like myself.

Matthew: Can you give us a little background on what Bloom Well Cannabis Apothecary is and your involvement in it and what you’re trying to do there?

Jeremy: Oh certainly. Bloom Well is a community dispensary that provides safe access to cannabis in a judgment free environment and I mean every bit of that statement. As a community dispensary we believe in the open source cannabis model versus the sole source cannabis model so think Len X or Nescafe’s Mozilla browser where we want to bring in a variety of different farmers’ products and processors’ product into our facility to share it with our clientele. So an alternative model for a dispensary is the sole sourced one where growers are forward integrating into retail to sell their wares directly and the alternative for us is that we bring in and represent family farmers from around our region and around our state and we procure the very best products that we can find to provide diversity for our clients and to support community based agriculture in the region.

Matthew: So I’m familiar with; I grew up Irish/Catholic so I know what a judgment rich environment is but I’ve never heard of a judgment free. What does that mean exactly?

Jeremy: Well we don’t really care why people use cannabis. So a lot of folks may come to us with a condition or with symptoms that they will talk about and that will be maybe the driving force or factor in their choice to consume cannabis as an alternative to other prescription drugs and for us we don’t judge them for the conditions that they have, for their choice and use of cannabis because a lot of people will use cannabis in a multitude of different ways and the reasoning or what they get their medical card for on paper might be different than how they end up using the product in actuality or in practice. It might become something very spiritual for them and most doctors aren’t writing a recommendation for the spiritual use of cannabis so.

Matthew: Not yet.

Jeremy: Not yet and to that point about physicians the fact that somebody has a doctor’s note or an attending physician statement in the state of Oregon doesn’t necessarily make them any more entitled in my view to their consumption of cannabis then somebody else who has been self medicating with cannabis to feel better that doesn’t have a doctor’s note. So part of the judgment free environment is even the notion that if you’re a medical cannabis cardholder you’re entitled to cannabis and if you’re using cannabis without your medical card you are somehow an outlaw. Ultimately I see people use cannabis to feel better and if they’re using cannabis to feel better that’s great and cannabis is certainly a lot better for many individuals than their consumption of alcohol or other narcotics and so I look at cannabis use as one of relaxation, enjoyment, decompression, stress reduction and that is as important then ameliorating some into a debilitating physical condition.

Matthew: Now what would you say was the spark that got you into the cannabis industry just give us a little background there because it seems like you really have a strong sense of your values around cannabis and I kind of want to get; how did that happen?

Jeremy: So as a teenager I distinctively remember my mom invading my sister’s privacy and going into her bedroom and finding a note in her drawer where she wrote that to a friend that she had tried using cannabis at a Madonna concert, and my mom was incredibly upset and of course grounded my sister and punished her for her experimentation with cannabis and I remember the dialogue that I had with my mom saying I felt that it was invasive of her privacy and inappropriate to have discovered this note in her drawer. My mom responded with a statement similar to but Jeremy she was experimenting with marijuana and it struck me well one a Madonna concert is the perfect place for somebody to try marijuana as opposed to the parking lot at school because the reality is somebody probably passed her a joint and she tried it. Took a puff and it wasn’t a big deal.

But my mom turned it into a big deal and so it struck me then that sort of the reefer madness mentality can be really divisive inside of families and now 25 years later my mom and my sister are still struggling to rebuild trust in their relationship and I felt that that sort of instance with cannabis was what initiated the ball rolling from my mom creating a police state like environment in our household to preventing dialogue and conversation about cannabis and choice and for me personally I also experimented with cannabis in my youth but chose to be very private about it because I knew my mom’s attitude and there is nothing worse than children and their parents having walls of secrecy between them and so I sensed that our historically terrible drug policy has a traumatic effect on our youth and our family structure.

Matthew: Yeah that’s a good point I mean everybody knows they’ve seen pictures of DEA destroying plants and breaking down doors and using flash grenades and all these things but then there’s a trickle down staucy component of it where you’re family then becomes militant in preventing these things mostly from miseducation and kind of brainwashing. I don’t know another way of saying it.

Jeremy : I would agree. There’s a lot of research that shows I think that the Drug Policy Alliance has a publication on their website called “Beyond Zero Tolerance” and it’s a fact based guide to drug education for parents and it uses a lot of research from a PhD, I believe his name was Rod Stryker that shows that having an open relationship and open dialogue with children or youth about cannabis and all drugs for that matter is going to produce better outcomes. So rather than saying that cannabis is terrible don’t never use it well young people will try it and they’ll find out that it wasn’t the end of the world and then they now realize that their parents lied to them, their teachers lied to them, and so did their school administration and officials.

So rather engage in conversation about use of cannabis and that will allow parents to be more able to distinguish the difference between experimental use and abuse and again forging lines of communication instead of creating barriers of secrecy is going to help kids to stay sober and that’s what I would want for everybody. Now that also applies to adults as well let’s just be honest with one another about what we’re doing with ourselves and our bodies.

Matthew: So true. We’re going to get into the Oregon legalization here in a second but I call cannabis the gateway truth not the gateway drug because after I experienced it for the first time I realized hey wait a minute here this is a total lie what this plants about. It feels totally different then everything I was told and then my next thought is what else are we being lied to about. So that’s why it’s the gateway truth because then you start pulling at the string like wait a second if cannabis is not this evil plant in fact it has all these medicinal benefits and therapeutic benefits and it helps life in many ways. If it’s such a 180 lie about this what else are we being lied to about? So when you pull up that string it’s fun but dangerous at the same time and you tend to go down the road less traveled.

Jeremy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah you start questioning everything our government is telling us and where does our government come from? Culturally the Puritan’s started America and they were trying to flee persecution in England so they could practice a much more stringent or religious ideology and I think that Puritanical culture still is very much pervasive and has an influence on us today. There’s something wrong with our country that says it’s not okay for you to feel good.

Matthew: Right.

Jeremy: And we have been self medicating with; throughout human history. We’ve been always trying to change how we feel and that could be through fermented beverages, it could be through sleep and food deprivation, it could be through twirling around in a circle reciting Turkish poetry. We’re trying to change sort of our ontology and the way in which we look at the world around us in some ways and it can be temporary or permanent and I think cannabis helps many individuals provide a different lens through which to experience their reality and look at the world around them.

So for me personally I’ve had a spine injury and I was originally turned onto medical cannabis in the Bay area back in the late 90s after Prop 215 was passed in California and folks had suggested that cannabis provides natural analogies and anti-inflammatory properties so should be really wonderful the bulged disc in my spine and I found that sometimes when I was using cannabis that I certainly did feel some pain relief but what I also found is that more than anything else while I was trying to stretch or do physical therapy the cannabis helped me to be present in my body and relax and find sort of the source of pain and allowed me to stretch out because my own Type A personality; I had always characterized myself as almost having ADHD with OCD tendencies. I can’t sit still for a minute let alone for forty-five minutes to an hour to do physical therapy so the cannabis just allowed me to relax and sit still and it didn’t always solve the back pain but my own ability to relax and sit still with cannabis was incredibly therapeutic.

Matthew: Yeah. Well that’s great context for your background. Now switching gears a little bit to Oregon and legalization first what was the vote, what happened, and where are we at now?

Jeremy: So Oregon started its medical cannabis program back in 1998 and the program was based or modeled on sharing where a grower could grow six plants for a patient and the patient could provide some reimbursement to the grower not for their labor but for their materials and supplies. And so it was very much based on a trading system and so the challenge though you know if cannabis helps to settle your stomach or for example I use if dairy or yogurt or kefir settles your GI tract issues you would then have to go find a dairy farmer who could have six cows and they would give you a quart of milk a month and if you realized that maybe dairy milk upset your tummy and you needed a shot of raw goat milk a day how are you going to find a goat shepherd?

And the same thing was true for patients and growers throughout Oregon that it was hard for patients to find growers. So that evolved into the recognition by legislatures that patients need a store, need a dispensary to go procure their cannabis. So 3460 passed by the legislature in 2013 and it was signed into law and implementation started in 2014. So Bloom Well applied for its license and has been in good standing since we opened our facility serving medical cannabis patients. The more recent activity in the state of Oregon was with the passage of Measure 91 last November that made or that is seeking to make cannabis fully legal for adults over the age of 21 and that passed last November. A joint task force to implement Measure 91 was put together by the legislature and they’ve been enhancing some of the guidelines that Measure 91 put forth.

What they did very recently was introduce some legislation called HP3400 which was signed into law by our Governor recently as well that is actually going to allow medical marijuana dispensaries like Bloom Well to start selling cannabis to all adults twenty-one and over this October and they’re calling it Early Interim Recreational Sales. Early because the Oregon Liquor Control Commission is still writing the regulations that will govern recreational production. Seed to sale processing and distribution as well as retailing and the implementation of the OLCC Recreational Cannabis stores is not expected to be fully rolled out until October 2016 at the earliest and so then the legislature recognized well where are individuals; where are adults going to buy cannabis before 2016? If we don’t allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell them flower then they’re going to procure it in the alternative marketplace. So starting this October medical marijuana dispensaries if they choose to will be able to sell a quarter ounce of flower or bud to adults 21 and over per day as well as seeds and 4 plants.

So this July a few months ago in Oregon cannabis became decriminalized. So it is now legal in Oregon for adults 21 and over to have 8 ounces of cannabis in the home, 1 ounce of cannabis out of home, and they can have 4 plants. And I say that it was decriminalized in July because it’s not truly legal unless you can go buy it somewhere so the possession of cannabis became okay this July and what’s also really wonderful is they’re changing a lot of the sentencing guidelines and the I don’t know what it’s called the different; they’re rescheduling different types of misdemeanors and felonies and so it will also affect everybody who is presently jailed for cannabis related crimes and many people will be able to leave jail and have their records expunged starting this past July.

Matthew: Oh interesting.

Jeremy: So we will be able to now sell cannabis. Gosh two weeks from now I’m both incredibly nervous and excited about the amount of work that we have to do to gear up to be able to sell cannabis flowers, seeds, and up to four clones to any adult who walks into our door starting October 1st.

Matthew: Is there a limit on the number of seeds that can be sold?

Jeremy: Unlimited number of seeds.

Matthew: Wow. That is really cool. Awesome and do you anticipate a lot of demand for the seeds and clones? What’s the word on the street there?

Jeremy: I think there’s; I mean I think there’s going to be a lot more demand for flower for the bud. I think after prohibition most people wanted to consume alcohol not everybody wanted to suddenly become home distillers and home brewers. That being said I do recognize that there is already and will continue to be a surge in demand or desire to cultivate cannabis at home and we had some clients who came in gentleman probably in his late 70s or 80s just bought a cannabis plant because he wanted to hold it and he and his wife stood outside. They took pictures in front of our sign and so there’s something incredibly dignifying about being able to have choice about the type of cannabis that you’re buying as well as the ability to grow it at home for yourself and so it’s a lot like tomatoes. A lot of people will grow tomatoes at home but they still buy tomatoes in the marketplace.

You can build soil beds and build hoop houses and build your tomato garden and you’re tomatoes are just going to taste the best that anybody’s ever produced and you’re going to share them with your neighbors and I think that’s going to happen with cannabis as well and those folks that love to make salad will also go to the stores and buy plenty of tomatoes as well.

Matthew: How do you feel in general about the way regulations are being rolled out? You gave us a nice summary there but in some other states the regulators create rules that don’t allow for a functional market in some ways. Is there any ways it could be different?

Jeremy: We’re really lucky in Oregon because we have had Washington and Colorado as models and so the folks Anthony Johnson and Dave Coppolack [ph] who were the chief petitioners and co-authors of Measure 91. They looked at those models as they were crafting Measure 91 and Measure 91 is very much modeled after Oregon Craft Beer and Wine different than alcohol. You know hard alcohol is sort of owned by the state. It has a different sort of regulatory and distribution system and so the intention is to create a truly craft cannabis culture so that family farmers from around the state can benefit and small craft producers will thrive and so we’ve got this dynamic craft beer and wine industry in Oregon that is doing quite well and cannabis I expect it to follow in a similar pattern in Oregon and that’s because we’ve got a very well written; we had a very well written measure.

Of course I think the legislature made some modifications to Measure 91 allowing municipalities to opt out of commercial cannabis and so in areas of the state like Bend in Deschutes county or Portland in Multnomah county we’re going to see cannabis havens where the municipalities are choosing to regulate cannabis in a way that makes sense for their communities rather than opt out with moratoriums and bans and because of this recent legislative tweak to Measure 91 under the guise of 3400. And it was through a lot of lobbying from the Oregon League of Cities and the County’s Association to allow more conservative count as in conservative cities to choose to opt out of commercial cannabis which could include cultivation, processing, distribution, or retailing.

And Measure 91 was designed to encourage small communities to participate in this system because if you don’t have a retail component there’s no cannabis businesses operating in your city or county you’re not going to get the tax revenues that come from the taxation of cannabis which is allocated towards the school general fund and local policing. So I’m in a very unique and lucky; fortunate position geographically because I’m operating in a community that is tolerate of cannabis but unfortunately very close by Crook County for example they’ve chosen to opt out and it’s really unfortunate because they, they’ve got in Central Oregon we refer to Crook County as a banana belt because it’s got really wonderful weather, it’s very sunny and rather than farmers producing Kentucky Bluegrass they could produce cannabis instead but they’re not going to be able to do so because their community or their county commissioners have opted out. So we’re going to end up with a bit of a quilt around the state of Oregon unfortunately.

Matthew: What about edibles and infused products? Where do those stand?

Jeremy: Medical cannabis patients can consume those in October. We will not be able to sell edibles to adult consumers 21 and over which is quite ridiculous. The edibles in Oregon; all products actually that is running through or sold through a dispensaries has to be tested for safety and potency. So on the safety side that’s mold, mildew, and pesticide testing and then on the potency side it’s the amount of THC and CBD for flowers. The percentage in those products and for finished products like hash oil concentrates or edibles the total amount of THC and CBD has to be determined and so as a consequence it’s very easy for us to dose our edibles.

We have edibles like hard candies and chocolates and savory snacks and we know the dosages is between 4 mg per candy up to 40 or 140 and so we encourage people to find their dose and through some experimentation everybody can quite easily figure out how much cannabis is appropriate for them in an edible dosage form and so we find our clients really enjoying their consumption of cannabis as an edible because it may be more discrete or actually we just might be more long lasting and have a different physical or an emotional effect on themselves. So edibles are great. We can sell them. I would characterize edibles as maybe 25% of our business and unfortunately we won’t be able to sell them to adults 21 and over.

Matthew: Right just for medical then and is there talk of changing that or is it too early to say?

Jeremy: There’s no discussion that I’m aware of regarding such change. I think that there’s been some edible hysteria in the media and then some of that are from instances in Colorado or there’s even an instance here in Central Oregon where a woman called the ambulance for her friend because she had three candies and felt herself getting really, really sick, and so I think there’s been some media hysteria but like anything else when somebody; like alcohol if you’re learning to drink alcohol you don’t introduce your friend to alcohol and provide them with a fifth of Tequila.

Matthew: Right.

Jeremy: Somebody is going to get sick with alcohol well the same thing can happen with cannabis. We’re aware of that and if you introduce cannabis to somebody who’s already drunk then the likelihood of them having a negative first experience is pretty darned good, but we encourage people to try edibles with a 3 to 5 mg dose. We have a line of medicated ginger-ale’s called Magic Numbers and they come in a 3 mg, a 10mg, and a 25mg bottle, and so I personally know based on my size and metabolism that 3 mg is perfect and it’s really awesome because I can drink a whole bottle and feel like a complete human that I’ve finished my beverage and I feel a nice effect without feeling debilitated in any way and other individuals that have a different size, stature, and metabolism will want 10 mg or 25 mg dose.

We have a line of medicated ([28:40] Cambushas?) that have 15 mgs per bottle and so people can find their dose. You realize well drink a third of the bottle and your good or two thirds and your fine and so we have the ability to control our dosages if we’re conscientious about it and ultimately that’s what we’re talking about here. We’re trying to sell cannabis to adult consumers who are rational, who are self aware, who are responsible and idiots are going to do stupid things with anything. There are people who self medicate or who over medicate with sugar and caffeine and have eating disorders and all sorts of problems and cannabis isn’t going to prevent somebody from abusing it but for the other ninety-nine. something percent of humanity they’re going to be fine with their choice of consumption of cannabis as a smoked or vaped flower in an edible form or in a hash oil concentrate.

Matthew: Did you find yourself educating new customers about the endocannabinoid system and if so how do you introduce that subject to them?

Jeremy: I would characterize our audience as maybe one third really well knowledgeable about the plant and their consumption of the plant and they come to use seeking variety, different novel dosage forms from edibles and concentrates as well, and I would say there’s another third of our audience that has a relationship to cannabis but they’re not trying to learn more about its use and different ways that they can incorporate cannabis and different types of cannabis into their overall health and wellness and then there’s another third of our clientele that are absolutely new to cannabis.

So two thirds of our audience is seeking knowledge, they’re seeking education and consultation about how cannabis can be used more appropriately, and so we do talk about the endocannabinoid system and that’s often where we lead in the conversation because a lot of time folks are seeking an answer because Western medicine has typically said okay if you take this product your headache will go away, if you take this product your belly ache will go away and so some folks are seeking sort of that clear cut black or white answer. With cannabis I want a strain that provides me with this sense of relief and we’re very honest and we recognize that everybody has an endocannabinoid system that’s very different and that endocannabinoid receptor cell or the endocannabinoid receptors are in our cell walls. They are our nerve endings and therefore cannabis is a smart plant and it will go.

The cannabis oils are cannabinoids we’ll go to where the body needs it most. That could be in your gut? That could be in your head? It could be in sort of the neuropathic pain in your feet and so we are always encouraging people and folks to try and experiment with different types of cannabis because the different ratios in the cannabinoids are going to react differently to everybody and often when we’re in a trade room and there’s a number of individuals whether it’s our staff or our clients we’re honest and say hey all of us can consume the same cannabis plant but it’s going to produce a different reaction. It might make you sleepy Matt, it might make me wanna go reorganize all the tubbys in my garage, and it might open somebody’s heart and inspire them to write love letters to their love; their friends and family and loved ones.

So the endocannabinoid system is complex and has recently discovered and all of us have a very unique one and so it’s; again we’re using our own bodies as an experiment to find out what works best for us and when.

Matthew: Are topicals in the same category as infused products or are they allowed for adult use or is it medical how does that work?

Jeremy: So topicals ironically are considered an infused or a concentrated dosage form of cannabis and will not be available to sell to adult consumers in October just a quarter ounce of bud is all we’re going to be able to sell with respect to cannabis products to adults. We find a lot of our clients using topicals very successfully and I.

Matthew: What are the symptoms? Would you say they’re using them for?

Jeremy: Well we opened our doors about a year and a half ago and I had no idea how many in our culture suffered from migraines and insomnia and we have a lot of clients who will use topicals before; while their sensing themselves getting a migraine. They’ll rub topical salve on their temples to prevent the onset of the migraine and they say they wake up feeling a lot better maybe 90% better with a lot of the migraine being avoided and we also see clients using topicals applying it to sore parts of their body from places where they have achy muscles or joint pain and their finding tremendous relief from salves or from roll on oils that are infused with cannabis oils; often blends of different cannabis oils as well as a blend of other healing herbs and healing oils. We see clients using topical lotions and salves to address a variety of different symptoms.

Matthew: How about patients do they consume cannabis leaves by juicing? Is that something you hear of?

Jeremy: We do hear of that quite a lot and what we often will do for clients who are seeking leaf to juice we will just try and introduce them to growers or cultivators directly because it’s a very time sensitive product. If somebody does a lot of defanning or defan leafing in their garden those families need to get into the juicer immediately and because what I had indicated earlier everything that comes in our facility has to be tested by an analytical firm for safety and potency it would be prohibitively costly to have a big bag of leaf tested for mold and pesticides as well as potency because the amount of juice. You get two ice cube; an ice cube tray potentially worth of juice. So it’s not really economical or viable for us to do that through our facility but because we’re a community agency and a community dispensary we just introduce patients to growers and through the original sharing model growers will just share their leaves directly with patients and we hear amazing stories about the benefits of the juiced leaf. It’s very high in THCA which is the acidic form of THC. It’s non psychoactive and we hear a lot of folks benefiting tremendously with respect to their digestive systems and their overall health and well being.

Matthew: Now a lot of people listening would like to hear more about cannabis from their doctor but their doctors are not really bringing up the subject. Is there; do you have any suggestions on how to initiate that conversation with their medical doctor?

Jeremy: Be forthright. There’s nothing wrong or illegal about discussing medical cannabis with a doctor under the ([36:38] Conna?) decision the federal courts have already ruled that doctors and patients have a confidentiality and therefore they have the ability to discuss medical cannabis and certainly recommend it to their patients. Doctors are very I think accustomed to patients bringing ideas to them about different treatment options and preferences and cannabis therapeutics shouldn’t be any different. The challenge is that many doctors are unfamiliar with cannabis or dosing with cannabis and therefore might be hesitant to recommend it so a patient should bring in documentation, research about cannabis used medically as well as some documentation that describes or information that would be beneficial for the physician to understand how the patient has been using cannabis with benefit or what they hear about other patients using cannabis for.

There is a organization that does a lot of great work in policy called “Americans For Safe Access” and they have a website called www.safeaccessnow.org and there are articles out of their website that talk about how to talk to your doctor about cannabis and we often encourage our own clients or folks that call us on the phone or walk in our door and say hey I want to; I’m interested in learning more about medical cannabis and I want to get a recommendation and I don’t know who to go and who to talk to and we always encourage folks to speak to their primary care physicians first and foremost and have that conversation with their physician because I would think that physicians want to know what their patients are using because it might affect their regular prescribing habits. Certain medications are dampened with the use of cannabis and then others have the opposite effect and so a physician may want to dial up certain types of medications or dial them down if they know that cannabis is being used in concert with ongoing treatment. And we recognize that not every physician is going to be comfortable recommending cannabis because of their own morals or because of their own sense of comfort and knowledge about the plant and there are often alternative; there are other doctors that are cannabis specialists that will then be willing to be engaged with a patient to see if cannabis could be appropriate for their consumption and their use medically.

Matthew: Great points Jeremy. In closing how can listeners learn more about Bloom Well?

Jeremy: We always love it when people come right into our facility but knowing that not everybody is in Bend, Oregon we do have a website which is www.bloomwellbend.com and we can also be found on Instagram and other social media places like Facebook, we’re on Leafly as well and a quick search for bloomwellbend will find us on any of the social media sites as well.

Matthew: Great. Jeremy thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

Jeremy: Oh it’s been a pleasure.

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

Some quick disclosures and disclaimers, me your host works with the ArcView Group and promotional consideration may or may not be given to CannaInsider for the ads placed in the show. Also please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Securing your Cannabis From Theft with Tony Gallo

Security expert Tony Gallo from Sapphire Protection walks us through how to protect your cannabis from external and internal threats.

http://tonyrgallo.wix.com/sapphire-protection

What are The Five Tends That Will Disrupt The Cannabis Industry
(Hint: It’s not about legalization)

Click this link to get your free report on the five disruptive trends. https://www.cannainsider.com/trends

Key Takeaways:
[1:58] – What is Sapphire Protection
[2:24] – Tony talks about how he got into the cannabis space
[2:54] – Tony discusses the biggest threats to a dispensary
[4:46] – Tony talks about the security piece
[5:35] – Tony explains proper disposal of trash
[6:28] – Tony talks about armed robberies of dispensaries
[7:08] – Misconceptions of theft or robbery
[8:45] – What makes a good safe
[10:46] – Developing a winning security plan
[13:34] – Tony talks about camera placement
[14:56] – How to respond during a robbery
[18:05] – Ensuring security when you are not in the dispensary
[19:21] – Firearms in a dispensary
[22:49] – Making a location unappetizing to a criminal
[26:52] – Tony explains alert phrases and how they’re used
[28:25] – How do panic buttons work
[32:20] – Sapphire Protection contact information

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: 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 www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at cannainsider.com to get started. Now here’s your program.

As cannabis sales cross the three billion dollar mark this year and begin their march towards the tens of billions by the 2020’s criminals are beginning to target cannabis dispensaries for robbery. Some dispensaries are particularly rich targets as many dispensary owners are not able to get bank accounts and thus have a lot of cash on hand. That is why I invited Tony Gallo of Sapphire Protection on the show today to help us understand how to properly protect a dispensary and when possible prevent theft and robbery. Welcome to CannaInsider Tony.

Tony: Thank you.

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

Tony: Well we’re located in the Dallas, TX area but we have cannabis clients from Oregon to New Jersey and basically everywhere in between.

Matthew: And what is Sapphire Protection exactly?

Tony: Sapphire Protection is a security consultant company that specializes in high risk businesses. Our clients are usually businesses that have a large amount of cash on hand and a very desirable piece of merchandise. Some of our clients are jewelry stores, pawn shops, and obviously cannabis business owners.

Matthew: And how did you get started helping clients in the cannabis space?

Tony: It was very interesting about two years ago I was asked to speak at a cannabis conference in Boston on security and at the time I really didn’t know much about the cannabis security and after doing some research about the industry I realized that it’s very similar to the ones I had been supporting for over twenty years. Currently now I speak across the United States on security in the cannabis industry.

Matthew: So at high level what are some of the biggest threats to a retail cannabis dispensary?

Tony: Well you know most dispensaries focus really on the wrong security threat when it comes to losses you know although robberies and break-ins are very important and need to be safeguarded I think they lose a lot of focus and this is common in a lot of retail companies. Where they spend thousands of dollars on cameras, alarms, and safes but they do very little on their biggest threat which is the internal theft.

Matthew: Right yeah internal theft. Well tell us a little bit about that.

Tony: Well you know most businesses have about 80 percent of their losses really come from internal theft. If you take the cannabis industry if you look at a dispensary it’s very much like a retail establishment. The safeguards and security procedures that they have in place are at a high level but when it comes to the actual employee when it comes to cash thefts or merchandise thefts there’s a lot of holes there. Same thing in the cultivations centers. If you look at a grow well there’s a fence around there, there may be some sort of guard agency, cameras, or alarms but a lot of times where the biggest loss you see in grow comes a lot of times from the trimming section or from the storage section and that’s really where policies and procedures come into play.

Matthew: Yes I’ve heard about theft in the trimming arena. It’s so easy to do there. I mean there’s even some trimmers that are surrounded by cameras and still you know I mean is a business owner going to go back and look at hundreds of hours of footage for a single split second when cannabis is stolen? I mean how do you, how do you properly address this without spending all your time on you know on the security piece?

Tony: Well I think like in any security program you have to minimize your exposure. I’ll give you a perfect example of a situation with a trimmer. There was a trimmer that what he would do is wear the latex gloves and as he was trimming he would palm a bud in his hand take off his gloves leaving the bud in the latex and through it in the trash. Well this company didn’t have good disposal procedures so at the end of the night that bag of trash was thrown in a dumpster outside and it was easy for him to come back and retrieve the buds that he had put in his glove. By having proper trash disposal procedures you would’ve minimized that risk where that trimmer probably would not have taken that chance.

Matthew: Good point so what’s proper disposal look like? What does that mean?

Tony: Well you for a proper disposal you want to use a clear trash bag so that you can see what actually is being thrown in there that is very common in any retail establishment. You want to put the clear trash bag into a dumpster that is secured at night where only access to the dumpster would be the company that would be removing the trash. You may want to have the dumpster in a location which there’s lighting or there might be a camera that’s also watching it. Preferably be inside the fence of a grow facility. So there’s a lot of procedures that come into security play that a good security consultant will identify when they do an onsite visit.

Matthew: And how common are cannabis armed robberies? Is that something that’s picking up, declining, or just sense there’s more dispensaries now is it that there’s more instances of it?

Tony: You know although as the industry increases the armed robberies are also increasing and we see it across the board, but the cannabis industry is still far behind other businesses such as convenience stores or jewelry stores or pawn shops. The fear I have is that as the industry continues to grow so will this particular exposure grow especially with the communication to the public of it having so much cash and so much marijuana at its location.

Matthew: Are there any persistent misconceptions about cannabis business theft or robbery that you run into a lot?

Tony: Well you know most robbers of a cannabis location are looking for cash. If you look at most robberies and you boil it down and no matter really what they’re doing they’re trying to convert either to stolen jewelry or stolen cannabis into cash and you know cash is king and that is what they want the most. So I think that a lot of times that it’s kind of a misconception in some ways when people think oh they’re here to steal the cannabis they’re really not a lot of times. Most robbers are there really to get your cash.

Matthew: Okay. So merchandise theft is probably more internal threat than an external threat is what you’re saying?

Tony: Well we’re seeing, we are seeing an increase in late, not late night break-ins who are focusing on the cannabis. A robber during the day usually will start with the cash whether it’s out of the register or the safe and then if he or she has some time they’re going to then move to the cannabis. You know one of the goals has always been to get the robber out of the business as quickly as possible and that’s really where a good safe is very important and you know most early cannabis owners who started their business made really poor safe choices which in the long run is going to hurt them over time and that’s one of the things that I’m seeing over the last two years now changing where business owners are really realizing the importance of a good safe.

Matthew: Yeah well what makes a good safe?

Tony: Well you know one of the things that when a lot of new dispensary owners opened up several years ago was that they realized that they just needed a way to secure the cash or their cannabis but did not really understand how a safe worked. So a lot of them went to Costco or to Academy or somewhere and bought a gun safe. Well the whole if you look at the word it’s a gun safe and it’s a great safe for guns. It’s designed perfectly for guns but it’s really not designed for a business location. Whether you’re a jewelry store or whether you’re a cannabis location. A gun safe really from a business line is not the right safe for locations but you’ll see them in a lot of dispensaries you know and even more so if you take, if you look at a gun safe from a purely business point of view and you look inside a gun safe you notice that it’s nicely done with felt which is for to protect the guns from any scratching or whatever.

What a lot of cannabis owners don’t realize is that when you put a product in that safe the felt actually is an insulator so as you would know cannabis needs to be at a certain temperature and as the temperature rises that cannabis will break down. So if your store is at 72 degrees, the inside of your safe you hope should be at 72 but with that felt now you’re running closer to 78 maybe 80 degrees. So not only is it a gun safe or a fire safe it’s also not the best safe to protect you from a break-in it also is damaging your product inside the safe.

Matthew: If you were to have a cup of coffee with a new dispensary owner that knows nothing about security, theft, robbery how would you orient their thinking so they have the best chance of developing a winning security plan?

Tony: You know again I see a lot of misinformed owners when it comes to security. It’s like building a house. If you ever built a house and contacted a plumber or an electrician chances are you’re not going to get the same level of quality or service as if you used a proven general contractor to help you with your design and your build out so I see a lot of times when I talk to a new dispensary or a grow that they don’t really understand security and they spend a lot of time understanding the other parts of the business but when it comes to security and they rely solely on calling up a local alarm company or a local camera company that really maybe doesn’t deal in their industry. But they don’t know what they don’t know basically. So one of the things I would always point out is just like they focus and make sure they have the right equipment to process their product or the right employees, they also need to make sure that they have the right security in place and not just picking up the phone and asking someone to design their security program.

Matthew: Okay so what does that involve I mean do you recommend security audits or something like that?

Tony: Well there’s several things I think that the first thing that a person who’s going to design their location should do is contact someone who understands how the floor plan should look when it comes to security is where the cameras should be placed. I’ve seen locations where they’ve placed ten more cameras than they really need in the store and unfortunately they miss three locations that they should have definitely had covered by cameras. More is not always better. What type of camera they should use? What kind of alarm system they should use and whether it’s a cellular backup? What kind of safe they should use? How they design for the dispensary? How did they design the flow of that location? Where did they place their emergency panic buttons?

So there’s a lot that’s involved when it comes to that and you know just again most business owners and that’s across the board have been doing this for thirty years. They’re not security trained and they shouldn’t be that’s not what they do, but they should rely on contacting someone whether it’s reputable security consultant to help them or a reputable camera company or an alarm company they should really do a little more research before picking up the phone and just calling anybody to put a system in their location.

Matthew: So is there a few spots where the cameras are pointed where they’re not helpful? Where are the spots where the cameras are typically not pointed but should be?
Tony: Well if you look where the cameras should be pointed one of the things that is a disservice from most state required laws is they really don’t specify exactly where all of the cameras should be placed. They do give you some recommendations. So obviously a camera should be facing your parking lot. A camera should be facing your front door as you walk into the building. Cameras should be facing where you dispense your cannabis. A camera should be facing your safe. A camera should be facing your register. So there’s kind of some set non negotiable places that cameras should be placed in your store and then again you have to look at the location and find out is there any emergency door accesses or are there any other avenues that a product or cash could be pushed out a window or something like that. I’ve been to locations where the store had a state of the art camera system and had a great safe and the bathroom window opened up in the back so you know that’s another avenue you need to look at.

Matthew: The weakest link yes okay.

Tony: The weakest link yes.

Matthew: Let’s say a robbery does happen. How should an employee or business owner respond during the actual robbery?

Tony: You know I’ve dealt with over two thousand retail armed robberies in my career and you know one basic fundamental rule comes into play and it’s the same way you should react if you’re approached on a street or in a car and that is you need to cooperate. Do what is asked of you. Don’t do any more. If someone asks you for the money in the register you give them the money in the register. You don’t need to volunteer that there’s money under the register or that there’s money in a safe nearby. But the goal is really to get the robber to leave. If they approach you in the street and they ask you for your purse, you give them your purse. But cooperation is the key. I’ve seen many times when people do not cooperate and the ramifications are much worse.

Matthew: Yeah they don’t cooperate but they really don’t have anything to leverage. They don’t have a gun or anything they just, their just yelling back or what do they do? What do you mean by that?

Tony: Well you know not cooperating would be if someone came and let’s take a dispensary and said give me the money in the register and your answer to that person is no I’m not giving you the money in the register or go away or throwing the money at that person or trying to resist if they’re breaking the cases and trying to get the cannabis out of the location. Cooperating is and that’s something that every employee should be trained on is what to do during a robbery. You hope it never happens but when it does happen that training is so valuable and so important for the employees to understand.

Matthew: How about immediately after the robbery takes place what should the next steps be for an employee or business owner?

Tony: I think immediately after a robbery takes places the very first thing you need to do is you need to lock the doors from the outside world and there’s two reasons. First of all the robber isn’t coming back but what it does is it sends a message to everyone that’s in the location that they’re secure. That someone else isn’t going to come in. It brings down the level of stress that’s after a robbery with not only the customers but the employees. So the very first thing you want to do is you want to take control back of your store and by locking the door you’re sending a message that no one else is going to come in and do any harm. The very next thing you want to do is you want to pick up the phone and dial 911 and you want to do that before you activate your alarm and the reason why is when you dial 911 and you notify the police you’re informing them of an actual robbery that occurred. They will respond much different than if they get a call from an alarm company informing them that an emergency alarm button has been pushed.

Matthew: Right.

Tony: So the first thing you want to do is dial 911. The next thing you want to do is activate your alarm.

Matthew: So a business owner can’t be at his dispensary or her dispensary all the time. How do they ensure that the proper protocols are followed while they’re absent?
Tony: Again we go back to retail 101 how do you ensure your employees are following any approved policies and procedures whether it’s security or sales and you know you need to develop good checks and balance programs. You need to be able to send a message to your employee that what they’re doing could be reviewed and everyone should have those procedures. Cameras which you can view from your home need to be communicated to the employees that you have the ability to look at what’s going on in your store. How to define your opening and closing procedures. When to do your cash counts which would be reviewing the cash in the register. Is that something you do every morning, every night? Will you do unannounced counts during the day to make sure that the count is right? Maybe even showing up at the store with an unannounced visit and what you need to do is again going back and this is really coming straight out of the retail 101 is you need a perception of what could happen at that location so that employees understand the importance of following the proper policies and procedures.

Matthew: What place do firearms serve in a dispensary?

Tony: Well you know like I said I’ve been in retail for thirty years. I’ve dealt with robberies over and over again. I really see no place for firearms in a dispensary. I have seen too many high risk businesses close after someone was killed in their store. And here is the question you always have to ask and we can talk about guards, armed guards or we can talk about just having a firearm in the store. One question I always ask and I come across this all the time especially when I go to a jewelry store or a pawn shop location. If you’re carrying a gun are you willing to kill someone and that’s important to say to someone and it’s a harsh thing to say but it’s important to understand that because if the answer is I don’t know then you are putting yourself in harm. I’ve seen where the business owner has gotten the drop on that robber by pulling his gun but couldn’t pull the trigger and he was then in turn killed and again and if you cannot utilize that firearm for its purposes then it’s really a negative to carry a firearm.

The other thing is what kind of message are you sending? If you walked into a convenience store and there was someone standing there with a gun on his belt one of the things that’s going to come to your mind is am I in a dangerous place? Should I be coming to this convenience store? Maybe I should go somewhere else down the block. Same thing with a dispensary if you have someone and they’re walking around with guns in the store which actually is illegal to do you know federally to carry firearms in a cannabis location but even if you were or you would have known what message do you send to your customers from a business point of view?

Guards same thing you need to understand who your guard is. I believe that guards are great when it comes to as a greeter and I believe that also there is an advantage for them when it comes to keeping honest people honest. So if someone is going to come in the store and they want to do, they want to steal or they want to shoplift or something like that I think a guard has some merit. Also for allowing people to come in by checking ID’s or whatever I think there is some merit for the guard but when you bring in a firearm into that location you now send it up a notch. If someone is going to rob your store and they don’t realize, and you don’t have a firearm they’re going to rob your store with one thought in mind which is different than if you did have a firearm because then they know hey I’m going to rob this store but that guard has a gun or that manager carries a gun. Very first thing I know is if I’ve made a decision to rob your store I have to remove that individual who has the gun and I’ve seen times when the robbers decision guard standing at the front of the location with a shotgun before he even walked in very first thing they did was to shoot and kill the guard.

Matthew: Oh God. Now in terms of making the dispensary look unappetizing to a criminal that’s casing the dispensary to see if it’s got vulnerabilities is there anything you can do to the appearance or the structure that makes it unappetizing to a would be criminal?

Tony: I think one of the things that’s important is to send a message to anyone who’s thinking of doing something wrong at that location that this may not be the location you want to come to. My goal has always been as a security consultant is not to stop people from robbing your store or stealing from your store. It’s to make them go somewhere else and do that and here’s a couple of easy fixes for that. If you have a camera system you spend thousands of dollars on a camera system and when a customer walks in they have no idea you have a camera system and a lot of people say well look there’s the camera system and they point to this little black globe on the roof, on the ceiling most people don’t know what that really is or it may not click in their brain what that is.

So the first thing you want to do is you want to communicate that you actually have a camera system and the easy fix to that is you want some sort of visual deterrent. A monitor at the front door maybe showing the camera shot of just the front door so when I walk in I look up I see my face on camera it clicks in my mind that well there’s cameras in these stores.

Matthew: Yeah.

Tony: A safe, a well designed safe, a safe that appears to not be able to be attacked very easily. Good customer service one of the biggest assets any company could have is good customer service. Are people really engaged with me? Are they asking me for help when I’m on the floor? How do I get into the dispensary? If I’m looking at a grow facility do they have fencing? Is there any other kind of security? There are various alarm systems now that basically works on a radar basically. It shoots an infrared beam and if you get close to the facility at night various things will happen whether it’s a light or an alarm or a siren or something. So what’s the perception of security at that location and how do we deter people because again my goal is for people never to have a problem more so than trying to catch it after there’s a problem.

Matthew: Great point ounce of prevention. Now with the cultivation facilities if, do we need to have razor wire when we have a fence or anything like that or that kind of makes it look like a concentration camp but then again there’s no customers visiting a cultivation center so is that necessary?

Tony: I think a good fence barbed wire or razor wire on the top is a pretty prudent thing that I would have at a location. Again some grow facilities are in an urban environment. Many of them are out there in the middle of nowhere. I have a grow in Washington state that really you’re only coming to that grow, you’re only driving down that road if you’re coming to that grow and again that has to send that message. So I could see, I would recommend some sort of good fence, some sort of wire at the top so people aren’t inclined to climb over. It’s not that expensive if you’re already using good fence. Some locations and cultivation centers where there is more people access you may even want to cover the fence with some sort of material so that people can’t look through your chain link fence to see what’s going on and then I have a client who has car barriers where if you come through the front gate just like you would at an airport or a rent a car or something like that there’s a barrier that would restrict you from leaving unless it’s approved.

Matthew: Interesting. What are alert phrases and how do we use those?

Tony: You know again that’s a very it actually costs nothing but the value of that is immense. So an alert phrase is a way to communicate to other employees that there is something possibly wrong in your store. If you have a concern with a customer not something an over concern where you’re pushing the panic button or you think something is going to happen right that minute but there’s a concern well it’s difficult to get the attention of everybody in the store all the other employees that you have a concern other than walking up to them or leaving wherever you might be and going to your manager or whatever.

So an alert phrase is something that would not alert a non employee but will alert the other employees to take notice. You might say your alert phrase might be Matt’s batteries came in today. Well everyone knows in the store that there is not Matt working there and no one ordered batteries but everyone knows that someone has said Matt’s batteries came in and their head should go up and they should look at that employee who said it and kind of get an idea of what they’re looking at that might have concerned them and from there you can establish are you giving good customer service to that person. Are you getting close to a panic button? Do you go to the back room and lock your safe or what security procedure does the store feel they need to do when that code phrase is said.

Matthew: Is a panic button go directly to police typically or to a security/alarm company? How do those work?

Tony: So a panic button is either remote or fixed to a counter. You push that button and that button then alerts the alarm company that you are in distress. The alarm company then will have their protocols whether the protocol is to contact the store and say you’ve pushed an alarm button is everything okay and then you have to have a code phrase to say yes everything is fine or does the alarm company immediately contact the police and that’s something that you work out with your alarm company on what you want to do. And the reason why you would do one or the other might be because you don’t want any false alarms by someone accidentally pushing the button. But that is another silent way one of the things you never want to happen is you never want any sirens to go off during business hours. Maybe at night when the burglary alarm goes off a siren does go off but during business hours you do not want a siren going off. So this would be a way to notify the alarm company silently.

Matthew: Many people are a little nervous to visit a dispensary for the first time. If the dispensary feels like Fort Knox and it doesn’t provide a comfortable experience to customers it’s really not serving its purpose so how do we find the balance between security and creating a welcoming environment?

Tony: You know that’s a tough question for most high risk businesses not just the cannabis industry. You need to send a message to people who want to do bad things but you also want to make the majority of your good customers that come into your store want to come back and want to enjoy the experience. Again it comes down to the perception really. What are you trying to communicate? I don’t think anyone is worried when they walk in and they see themselves on camera in fact some customers appreciate that.

If you look at there are new safe designs that come out. There’s a great safe that comes from a company called Rolland Safe that is a drawer management system and it’s a safe that you might, you could put right behind your counter which basically shows that the cannabis is being stored inside a safe but you can still utilize it to service the customers. That sends a message to people going well I can’t just come in with a big black trash bag and empty everything out of the safe that easily into a trash bag so maybe it’s not worth it for me to come here or are the cash drawers locked. Are you using drop boxes which is a small safe or a small device that you put under the register that you say once the cash in the cash drawer reaches a certain amount you want to take that money and put it in this little temporary safe and at the end of the night we remove that money and put it in the main safe.

Communicating that to the public I don’t think is a negative thing to people. I think a lot of people appreciate that. They understand the day and age where we are and what goes on and that kind of balancing act is a tough one. You know jewelry stores sometimes buzz you in and that’s a difficult thing to rationalize because if you buzz someone in and they’re a bad person how do they get back out but you see that sometimes in the city, in a city location or whatever. Again I think that you want to make your customer invited. There’s some beautiful, beautiful dispensaries nationwide that I have been to and it’s warm, it’s inviting, the people are good but again you want them also to realize that this is a business and that there are certain safeguards in this business that would prevent them from doing something wrong.

Matthew: Okay great points. Tony in closing how can listeners learn more about Sapphire Protection?

Tony: If you want to find out more about Sapphire Protection you can contact us our website is www.sapphireprotection.com. Our main number is 817-520-3315 and you can always reach us there or you can contact me at tonyrgallo@gmail.com.

Matthew: Great. Thanks Tony we really appreciate you being on CannaInsider today and educating us.

Tony: Thank you Matt.

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