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Roy Bingham or BDS Analytics describes how his point of sale data collection at cannabis dispensaries provides key benchmarks for dispensary owners. BDS also uses the data they have collected to create an analytics and insights platform for customers in the cannabis space that want to have a pulse on what is selling.
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[3:24] – Roy’s background
[5:11] – Roy explains BDS Analytics
[9:52] – An example of what BDS Analytics does
[12:10] – Is the data private
[13:16] – Roy compares the cannabis market with other markets
[16:42] – Roy talks about surprises in data
[18:31] – Plans on expanding outside of Colorado
[21:41] – Roy talks about common questions
[23:54] – Other parties interested in data from cannabis sales
[25:03] – What is the pricing for the platform
[27:14] – Roy talks about going through Canopy Boulder
[29:15] – BDS Analytics contact info
Matthew: Wow welcome to CannaInsider. This is Matthew Kind the host of CannaInsider where we interview the leaders of the cannabis industry, and I just want to stop and reflect a little bit because this is the 100th episode since the show started and I cannot believe we’re here already. When I started this show I really had no idea how many people would listen and I’m absolutely humbled by it. I thought it might just be a couple hundred people, but it’s exceeded my wildest expectations and I really appreciate you listening.
This 100th episode is a really special one with a gentleman named Roy Bingham who is the founder of BDS Analytics that provides an incredible service to companies looking to get into the cannabis industry or who are already in and they want to learn how to launch a new product that has a reasonable chance of success. So very important service he offers. I do want to also thank the ArcView Group for their sponsorship of CannaInsider, and I’d also like to ask you if you’re enjoying the show to please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every time I see a review it gives me a catalyst to keep going and keep enthusiastic about bringing you the best guests and the best topics. So if you have an opportunity and haven’t done so already, please consider leaving a review for CannaInsider on iTunes and we also love you on Stitcher. If you’re listening on Stitcher, we really appreciate you listening and of course the CannaInsider app on iPhone and Google Android. So with that I want to introduce you to Roy Bingham.
The legal cannabis market in North America is now in the billions and growing rapidly. With such a large and growing market it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. Many new entrants assume anything they bring to market in this gold rush will sell. While the market is fragmented on a state by state basis, there will come a time when national players with a lot of capital and operational experience enter the market. That is why it is important to know what the marketplace really looks like before entering and to get some objective data about what is selling well now, but also what is emerging as a hot selling product category and what may be fading in interest among cannabis consumers. That is why I’m pleased to welcome Roy Bingham founder of BDS Analytics to CannaInsider today to tell us how to navigate through all the static and to find the hard data on what cannabis consumers are actually purchasing. Welcome to CannaInsider Roy.
Roy: Thank you Matthew. It’s nice to be here.
Matthew: Roy to give us a sense of geography can you tell us where you are in the world today?
Roy: Yeah today I’m actually about half way up the coast of Maine on a trip with my family to visit the in-laws.
Matthew: Great, and can you tell us a little bit about your background and why you decided to get into the cannabis industry?
Roy: Yeah sure. I grew up in the UK and worked in banking and finance in London for about ten years and then I came to the United States to go to Harvard Business School, did my MBA there. And then I worked at McKenzie the big consulting firm gradually becoming accustomed to the different ways that business works in the United States. And after that I started a firm called Health Business Partners and we focused on consulting, mergers and acquisitions and advisory work in the nutrition industry which really became anything that you could buy in a whole foods market.
After about ten years of doing that then I got the bug that so many consultants get and started building businesses and built a data business as well as a nutrition industry newsletter business and a conference business in that industry before getting into consumer products and creating a fish oil company and then eventually working in the team, executive team at a digestive care company based in Florida called Renew Life. And then about nine months ago I decided to leave Renew Life and started doing consulting again, and decided that this was really probably the time look at the cannabis industry again which I had become curious about about three years ago. And at that time I decided it was a little too early for me to get involved, but when I took notice again about nine months ago I realized wow it’s come a tremendous long way in two and a half years. And so eventually I decided to join the Canopy Boulder accelerator program and start my current company BDS Analytics.
Matthew: And what is BDS exactly?
Roy: So BDS Analytics is a business that my partner and I have done before in two other industries. Most everyone has heard of IRI and Neilson. They are the two big data analytics companies that focus on the consumer packaged goods industries and products sold in supermarkets. And what they do is they take point of sale information about which products sold yesterday, last week and last month and they break that information down into huge databases and provide the analytic information to the huge consumer packaged goods companies. Well what we did in the natural products industry is we created a company called Spins that was similar but very narrowly focused just on natural and organic foods, supplements, personal care products. And so we provided a set of data from the point of sale information that the people like Whole Foods were willing to provide to us so that they could then compare their performance relative to the averages in the market and that’s the key to retailers.
So having done that in the natural products industry my cofounder Liz (unclear 6.25) had done the same thing in the biking and outdoor industry with a company called (6.30 unclear) Trends where she worked her way up from entry level all the way to the head of business development. And we got together and decided that there was a tremendous opportunity and a lot of demand in the cannabis industry to do something very similar and that is the birth of BDS Analytics.
Matthew: So a company like Whole Foods or even a bike retailer you’re saying what they get out of it is they get some way to benchmark how they’re doing relative to the industry?
Roy: Yes. So a retailer like Whole Foods gets to figure out in fact how to layout their store, how much of their store to dedicate to which categories of products based upon sales data. So they get to actually see the totality of the demand in the market for the products that they provide and then they can choose what percentage of the store to dedicate to you know fresh produce for example and what percentage of the store to have in supplements. And then within those categories they use our data to figure out which brands to carry, which products are growing rapidly and therefore should have the best dedicated space so that they satisfy the customer demand. And the important thing of course in the cannabis industry is what we’re now seeing is the emergence of brands and consumers going into the dispensary and actually looking for a specific brand.
If you at that dispensary don’t carry that brand, you might lose that consumer for life and a lot of value walks out of the door. So what we help dispensaries do is make sure that they’re stocking their store with what’s really in demand in their state and whether it’s in the medical use or the adult use channels. Now thinking about brands, the other part of your question, brands want to know (A) which products to develop for the future, (B) which marketing strategies are working for them if it is discounting strategies or promotional strategies or buy one get one, and they want to know immediately. They want to know it from off the shelf sales data rather than sell into the store data so they can figure out which of those levers to tweak. And then perhaps the most important thing if you’re a brand is you want to be able to go to a new retailer who doesn’t already carry your products and show them that you have third party data that proves that yours is a major brand or a fast growing brand in your particular category or subcategory and therefore it would be good for the retailer to carry your product in their store.
Matthew: So bringing this home to a real world example, let’s say I’m a cannabis infused drink manufacturer. I notice after looking at some BDS data that 8 oz-10 mg drinks that are both have some spicy and sweetness to them are starting to sell really well. So you get that extrapolate like hey if we’re creating a new line within our brand that that’s something to really focus on because we can see that selling well at BDS.
Roy: Exactly yes it’s a very good example. It goes down to a very detailed level of data. In fact we track attributes as well so you might even know if it was an organic product or if it was super critically extracted with CO2 for example. That gives you a sense of what the consumers are going for now and that might be a tiny micro niche this month but in six month’s time that might one of the hottest categories in the industry.
Matthew: I imagine the retailers want the benchmarking but they’re not going to go into a tremendous amount of customization for you. They will throw you the data and say you figure it out. Is that pretty much how it works?
Roy: Yes it’s very easy really for the retailer. So everybody in the industry has a point of sale system and those point of sale systems all capture data into some kind of internal database. My technology team has worked with AT80 different point of sales systems in extracting data from those systems. Usually we can automate it. Probably over 90 percent of cases it can just happen automatically at the end of the day or the week or the month and our client barely even knows it’s happened. In some cases we have to ask them to manually create a certain format of spreadsheet. But once the spreadsheet is created we can swallow that data in all kinds of different forms and then we normalize it and standardize it which is very difficult actually. As you can imagine the descriptions in people’s computer systems depend upon who was typing it in on that day. And so there are hundreds of different descriptions in use that might be exactly the same product for example. So a big part of what we have to do is figure out how to normalize that data, but that doesn’t worry the dispensaries at all. They don’t need to be concerned with that.
Matthew: Now the retail dispensaries are, how does their data treated? Is it anonymized so it goes in and we don’t know actually who the retailer is just maybe either zip code or region or how does that work.
Roy: Yeah the first thing actually is we encrypt the data immediately. So we are very hacker proof. And then the second thing we do is we anonymize the data so nobody can use the data to look at their immediate competitor in any way. When they access the data through the portal they will be able to see their own information and we have very strict password protections on that data so that only the dedicated client can see their own data in comparison to the average of the market. So that’s really important. You’re not going to get to see competitive data. Nobody is sharing data that would be seen by their immediate rivals.
Matthew: You mentioned working in the grocery store vertical in the past and your partner working in the bikes and leisure trends industry. Is this just a matter of plugging and playing into the cannabis industry or are there unique considerations and nuances coming on to the cannabis market?
Roy: Will it has a lot of similarities to the natural products industry and the bike industry, but there are subtle differences . The similarities are that there are a lot of small, independent stores or small chains of stores, but in the natural products industry there is a lot more mom and pop type of operators who were (1) reluctant to share their data, (2) not as confident about the value of the data. What we’ve found especially in the Colorado dispensaries is a number of sophisticated management teams who are very data centric. They tend to be quite young. They realize that information is extraordinarily valuable.
So it’s been exciting to us to see how quickly people have embraced our technology much quicker than the penetration we achieved in natural products or in actually in biking and outdoors as well where you had companies that emerged as people like REI and Sports Authority eventually, but you had a lot of mom and pop small operators who felt that, who were skeptical about the value of data. They thought that they could decide which were the products they should carry in their store. And their customers would choose based on what was presented to them rather than having preconceived ideas from the customer about what they wanted. So those are some of the important differences.
Of course in the dispensary channel our clients carry HIPPA data, very secret information, very private information and it’s very important to us that we do not see that information. We’re not looking to touch any of that information. So that’s on subtle difference. And another one is that because this industry has different regulations state by state we’re building our databases state by state. So we will compare data within Colorado for example and we will be able to provide data about Colorado to people who are looking at Washington or Oregon for example, but we’re not going to generalize early on in this process that if you seen Colorado you know what it’s going to be like in Illinois because we all know that’s not going to be the case because of a different regulatory environment in different states. So therefore we’re building 50 different databases if you like as opposed to one big national database.
Matthew: That’s an excellent point. For example I know in Washington State there still is a higher percentage of people that prefer flower to edibles which leads to my next question. Is there anything that surprised you from your initial data? One thing that surprises me is that how fast the market is turning away from flower and turning towards the infused products of various kinds. I mean it seems logical in many ways, but it’s just happening so much faster than I thought would happen. Is there anything that surprised you from your initial data that you hadn’t anticipated?
Roy: Well I couldn’t agree with you more. I suppose I wasn’t that surprised given my background with packaged goods in other industries. I guess I wasn’t that surprised by the speed with which the infused products emerged and of course the power of branding that is driving that. And I think a lot of this is introductory products for people who were new to consuming cannabis as well. And many tend to prefer not to smoke for example so they’re looking for alternatives that are easy and that are perhaps a bit more medical or a bit more dosage controlled in their minds so that they can begin to learn what’s right for them. So we’ve certainly seen that in the data.
I think the other thing that we’ve perhaps been a bit surprised by is the speed with which concentrates and extracts have grown in the last 18 months as well. And a number of our clients have had tremendous growth in the extracts area for example. And then of course things like vaporizer cartridges as vaporizers become so popular. So we’re dealing with very rapid change in an industry that’s very new and very innovative at the moment. And the established patterns of consumer behavior haven’t really happened yet and we’re going to see very rapid change I think for the next several years both overall and on a state by state basis.
Matthew: So you mentioned state by state database. Are you starting just here in Colorado or is other states on the roadmap? What does it look like, your plans there?
Roy: Yes our initial focus is Colorado for the next several months. We already have had a lot of contact from other states as well. And what I’ve really said is after Colorado. And basically in Colorado we need to establish a panel that gives us statistically meaningful data which is 10 or 20 percent of each of the two markets in Colorado. Once we have a retailer panel of that scale we have a PhD statistician who works was us who will extrapolate that data to the size of the total market and we can be confident with a 99 percent accuracy that when we have 15 or 20 percent of the market that we know what the total market looks like as long as we have the right distribution of different types of dispensaries. At that point we will expand to Washington, Oregon and other states that have a market that has some maturity in scale and we can roll out in those markets relatively efficiently.
Matthew: That’s pretty fascinating. That’s all you need is 15 to 20 percent to extrapolate those numbers. So after a certain point…
Roy: Yeah you need 15 or 20 percent not concentrated. Like if it was all in one city, you know, one big city like Denver that wouldn’t be statistically meaningful. If it was all one type of store, it probably wouldn’t be meaningful either. So we do have to include independent and mom and pop stores in the database for example even if they may not be a massive percentage of the total. They can be very important because they have different characteristics, different consumers that still comprise an important percentage of the total market.
Matthew: Which is a good point. If I’m a manufacturer, a brand in the cannabis space and I’m looking to target let’s say you know people in their 20s that live in an urban environment, are you able to drill down to that level or is it higher up or you can’t really quite get that?
Roy: Yeah we’re not really drilling into individual cities for example. The problem with that is that there are a few cities that are very large to the point where competitive data might not be the objective there. So you need to have a significant number of retailers in any one area. And so we tend to look at the state level data.
Matthew: You mentioned HIPPA compliance. So there’s the opportunity then to segment a recreational sale from a medical sale?
Roy: Yes most of our clients have completely separate systems and databases between the two markets.
Matthew: Okay. Now I’ve witnessed some infused products companies showing interest in what you’re doing. What is the benefit they see working with BDS? I mean are they approaching you and kind of have similar questions as to what they want to do and how they want to work with you?
Roy: Yes the first one is usually how do I rank in the market? How am I doing? I know what my own sales are, but I don’t know how that compares with the overall marketplace. So they love to see data that shows their own ranking. The other thing is they know in aggregate how rapidly they’re growing based on their wholesale sales data, but they don’t know what the sell through rate is. So you can have this situation where you’re growing 100 percent based on the wholesale data, but only 50 percent based on the retail data. What that tells you is you’re filling up the channel and you might start, you know, and that might create a problem for you in the future.
And of course on the opposite side you might see a situation where your retail sales are going up twice as fast as your wholesales sales in which case you know that there’s a lot of demand and you better stock up some infantry fairly soon. So those are a couple of examples. And the big one really is to be able to go to a new chain of retailers that you don’t already work with and show them the data that says you’re the number three brand of this type or you are the fastest growing or the second or the third fastest growing and therefore it would be a good idea to carry that product. And that’s what I did in my previous job in the digestive care market. We started off in the independent health food stores and then we used the spins data to show Whole Foods market that they should carry more of our product in their stores. And then we showed the natural products industry data to Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, etc. and said okay if you’re going to have a natural digestive care section, you should have the number one brand in that section, and that’s how we grew from $40 million to $100 million in 5 years.
Matthew: Wow that’s great. Apart from infused products companies and different manufacturers and brands, are there any third parties, government or regulators that want to access this data or anybody that kind of surprised you that came out of left field.
Roy: Well certainly investors find this data very interesting indeed. Obviously when they’re looking at possibly investing in a company it’s very reassuring to see independent, third party data that shows how well that company is doing. So typically a manufacturer will come to us and start using our data and they may be showing that data to investors as well. So that would be a classic example. Then the other thing is that of course we can help regulators to focus their resources as well. They’ve got a massive data, imagine through the metric system the MED in Colorado has tons of data and we’re very experienced at figuring out what’s important about that data. So we do have a dialogue going with them and some of their advisors about how we might be able to help them to use their resources more efficiently and focus on the things that they’re most concerned about.
Matthew: What about price point? How much does it cost to access the BDS Analytics platform?
Roy: Yeah it varies depending upon the size of market that you’re interested in. So first if you’re a dispensary, it’s very economical. It’s somewhere between $50 a month and $200 a month if you’re a chain. At the moment as we’re expanding in Colorado we have a program called BDS Preferred for dispensaries which basically provides the service for free as long as you’re one of our beta testers who’s helping us to refine the system. For brands it could be as little as $500 a month if you were just looking at one subcategory that you are particularly interested in, and it could be many thousands of dollars a month if you’re looking for a large category. And of course as the categories grow as sales increase so the cost of the data on that category will increase as well.
At Spins we had customers who were spending well over $1 million a year with us on particular categories, and we had embedded staff who were working full time with our clients helping them to crunch data about new markets and market opportunities in competitive situations. So it’s really a matter of how much appetite and demand branding clients have for the data.
Matthew: What a great secret weapon here to have. I would not be telling my competitors or talking about using BDS that much if I was using it because it sounds like a great tool. Now you were part…
Roy: Yes I mean people become very used to this data. I used it for six year as I told you in digestive care and we could barely begin our product development process without studying the data intensively for several days actually.
Matthew: Great point. Now you were part of the first class of Canopy Boulder the first cannabis accelerator. For our listeners that are not familiar with Canopy Boulder, can you tell us what that was like going through that program?
Roy: Yes, yeah. Canopy Boulder was a very intensive program, extremely helpful to people starting a business. Of course you know I’m in my 50s. I’ve started several businesses so I had different needs from the program perhaps than some people. There were ten new companies that joined that program. My primary needs were for relationships so that I could validate the business model in the cannabis channel and compare it to what I had done in other industries and rapidly develop relationships. But many of the other people in the program were relatively new entrepreneurs. So they would have mentors who worked with them on marketing, sales, finance, accounting, the full range of capabilities that you need to start a business. And then Canopy Boulder helped those companies to raise capital and of course prepare for pitching which is a very important part of this process in order to raise capital through ArcView, through the Rockies Venture Club and from other angel investors.
Matthew: Are you still looking for investors for BDS Roy?
Roy: I’m not really, no. We were very successful. We originally intended to raise $900,000 and we’ve actually raised $1.4 million so far. And that’s actually about what we need to build this business. Originally I was going to do two raises, $900,000 and then another raise of something like a similar amount about a year later, but the appetite we’ve seen for investors has been great and so we’re at the point where we probably won’t need to do a second round.
Matthew: Roy in closing how can listeners learn more about BDS Analytics?
Roy: Well one thing is just to go to the website www.bdsanalytics.com and there is an opportunity there for you to register your interest. Go to the contact task page and send us a message of course. My email is just email@example.com My cofounder (29.38 unclear name) she’s firstname.lastname@example.org. And we’d be delighted to correspond with you and tell you what we’re doing and connect over when we’re going to be able to satisfy your needs as well. So that will be an approach to take initially.
Matthew: Great. Well Roy thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today and telling us how this expanded, crazy market works. There’s so much intelligence we need to make great decisions here. And I’m glad you’re stepping up and filling that need in the marketplace. Good luck to you.
Roy: Thank you very much Matthew. It’s an honor and a privilege to be on your show and it’s really been fantastic for me to join this industry that’s so filled with vibrant exciting entrepreneurs with such positive attitude. I’m delighted to be here and look forward to helping people grow very successful businesses in the coming years.
Matthew: A very special thank you to Roy Bingham of BDS Analytics. If you want to know the future, look at the past and that’s what BDS Analytics helps to do. I really appreciate you sticking with us through 100 episodes and here’s to 100 more. Don’t forget there is now a full archive of 100 episodes you can listen to on iTunes, and in fact that’s all that iTunes store. So occasionally you’ll start to see a flashback episode appear on Wednesday because iTunes won’t even store all the episodes we have. So I’m going to have to bring some blasts from the past. There’s some great great interviews back there that can really help you understand and digest the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. So I encourage you to go back to the archives and listen to all the guests we have there. Again thanks so much for sticking with CannaInsider for 100 episodes and here’s to 100 more.
Get a behind the scenes glimpse at the booming cannabis tourism industry with the CEO of Budandbreakfast.com, Sean Roby.
[1:57] – Sean talks about his background
[3:52] – What is Bud and Breakfast
[4:25] – Sean talks about price ranges
[5:02] – Most popular destinations
[7:39] – Sean discusses the different experiences people are looking for
[10:56] – Sean talks about adding value and experience to a customer’s stay
[12:36] – Sean talks about the different ways to book with Bud and Breakfast
[15:11] – Sean discusses 420 week
[15:50] – Emerging cannabis markets
[17:07] – Is Alaska coming onboard
[19:07] – Sean talks about the medicinal tourism crowd
[21:09] – Sean discusses Ayurvedic doshas
[26:00] – Contact details for Bud and Breakfast
Matthew: Hi. I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I will take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.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 email@example.com to get started. Now here’s your program.
Cannabis tourism is booming. Excited by the end of prohibition many travelers are choosing to spend their vacation dollars to experience cannabis where it’s legal and have fun while doing it. Entrepreneurs are popping up to serve that need. One of those entrepreneurs is with us today, Sean Roby of Bud and Breakfast. Welcome to CannaInsider Sean.
Sean: Hey Matt thanks for having me.
Matthew: Sure thing. Sean to give listeners a sense of geography, can you tell us where you’re located in the world today?
Sean: Sure, I live in Boulder, Colorado. Our website is international though. So I could be anywhere on the planet and still function pretty good.
Matthew: Good. You’re like the four hour work week guy. You can be anywhere.
Sean: I would say it’s a bit more than that.
Matthew: Especially with the beginning of a startup.
Matthew: Now what’s your background and how did you get into this business?
Sean: Sure so you know I started actually way back when in holistic medicine and I went to school for Ayurvedic medicine and acupuncture and things like that. I had moved over to Hawaii and my wife’s family was living in Napa Valley, and so they kind of you know had a really nice, they still do have a real nice winery over there. And we started getting people kind of coming to California and to Hawaii sort of simultaneously to stay at our places, and we kind of decided to come up with this business called Taste of Travel.
And so in Napa we were kind of doing you know wine to table or farm to table experiences I should say. And just kind of giving tours of the local area and everything wine related. And then over in Hawaii we would basically, people would come and we would take them to waterfall tours and take them to kind of ancient (2.52 unclear) was you know raising his children and farming ancient taro patches and whatnot. And we had a lot of customers that were really into that, and we kind of started thinking more globally. And you know my daughter was going to come over to see you, and she gave me a call one day and said hey dad cannabis has been legalized in Colorado. And I don’t know it just kind of clicked and you know we thought oh okay cannabis tourism, that’s the next one, and it was a smart move because now it’s definitely at the forefront of everything related to Taste of Travel.
Matthew: Yeah it’s amazing how fast in the last six months has come into the forefront of the public conversation. So good timing there. I am very interested in Ayurvedic medicine. I didn’t know you had a background in that so we might hit you with a couple of questions about that before the end of the interview. But give us a background, what is Bud and Breakfast? Who does it serve? Who’s using it now? What geographies?
Sean: Sure so www.budandbreakfast.com is an online reservations website for cannabis friendly accommodations worldwide. So I mean when you ask who’s using it I would have a really hard time to kind of profile that because we have everyone from doctors, lawyers to you know international travelers to Grateful Dead Heads to every person in between all of that. It’s a full gamut and it’s everyone.
Matthew: Wow and the price range, is it from really inexpensive all the way up to something quite expensive?
Sean: We have basically from tents to mansions. You know what I mean, it’s pretty full spectrum. I mean we have you know kind of like our B&B in the sense of you know people offer couches and a bedroom within their house and then people offer their whole house. You know we even have wilderness retreats where people can stay in teepees and kind of do a camping sort of climb the summit, stay in teepees you know kind of full excursion. We have tours, we have you know the full gamut.
Matthew: And what geographies or cities are the most popular right now?
Sean: By far nationally would be Denver. You know it was the first and probably has its roots in deepest. And the other cities in the rec states are coming onboard fairly quickly, but I would say Denver for sure is number one. And then internationally I would say it’s kind of a tossup between Uruguay and Jamaica. Jamaica is really coming on strong right now. We’ve been getting a lot of listings from there, and Uruguay is kind of an exotic location as well. You know we’ve been getting a lot of people that want to go down there and I want to go down there.
Matthew: Yes interesting what’s happening both in Jamaica and Uruguay. We have some Jamaican listeners so hello to you in Jamaica. What an awesome culture and history to now be legalizing cannabis and doing it legally. So that’s awesome. And Uruguay they’ve kind of got an interesting situation where they kind of are going back and forth with hey we want this to be a commercial market, and then saying no we don’t. We actually want to control it all, the government. And they kind of go back and forth with that. Every time they kind of surrender a little bit of the market to the commercial entrepreneurs. Then they say you know what to cultivate this all ourselves. So I hope that gets cleared up soon and I hope they let the commercial cultivators and entrepreneurs flourish instead of just having one source of cannabis.
Sean: Yeah it’s interesting you know I mean what I heard lately was $1 grams. And you know I mean that is hard for a cultivator to contend with. You know at the end of the day we deal more in the tourism. So for people to be able to go to a place like Uruguay and potentially land themselves a $1 gram and you know kind of have that experience, I think it’s going to be a plus for us either way.
Matthew: Right, to just people a sense of pricing here locally in Boulder you can see anything from $10 to $20 a gram, more like $15 to $20 a gram at some of the nicer dispensaries on some of the nicer strains. So that’s a huge huge dealt on price.
Sean: Sure. We were just up in Vail and you know they have a moratorium on dispensaries within Vail, but two miles down the road in Eagle Vail there’s quite a few. And you know Vail is pretty upscale, but I saw $37 grams in the dispensaries.
Matthew: There’s a markup for you. Now what are people interested in in terms of experiences when touring, doing cannabis tours or staying at someone’s residence. I mean is it simply hey I want to place to lay my head at night and fall asleep or they want to interact with the hosts, and if so in what way?
Sean: Yeah so you know a lot of people are coming just for a full out relaxation. You know they just want to sit in a hammock and partake of some herb and just kind of rest and heal from their long work week or whatever situation that’s going on in their life. But then yeah we do have, you know, a lot of the customers coming in from out of states are wanting the full experience. And a lot of our B&B accommodation owners do offer that. Such as you know they come in, they’ll pick them up at the airport and take them to a dispensary or just come back to their house and cook for them. Some people actually are cooking with infused edibles and whatnot.
That’s kind of a big thing. A lot of people like that, and then the wake and bake kind of, you know, bacon and eggs in a bowl waiting for you. And then you know potentially a show out at Red Rocks. There are restaurants now that are infusing or even just even cannabis theme you know kind of satirical names on food items and whatnot. It’s all just so new and for a lot of people that are coming in from more draconian [ph] states it’s a big deal. You know for those of us that live here it’s just kind of life every day, but it’s not so for the rest of the country.
Matthew: That’s true. Now is there one thing in particular you’ve seen a host do to stand out and create an experience that really said wow that’s creative.
Sean: Sure I guess I could kind of reiterate my last question answer was, you know, basically the ones that are the full Bud and Breakfasts are by far the ones that are getting the most bookings. A lot of our places are cannabis friendly, but smoke outside and you know get your herbs from down the way at the dispensary. And you know we get bookings on those, but by far the ones that are doing the best are the all inclusive bud and breakfast where you get there and like I said there’s a bowl burning, potentially infused foods that are all kind of moderated by, you know, I mean these guys are pros that do this. They might even have mip or a license to serve food or make food. They include those. But definitely the bud and breakfast, the all inclusive ones are the ones that are the hot commodity.
Matthew: They’re getting the most bookings I imagine.
Sean: Most of them are booked out. It’s hard to even get them at this point.
Matthew: Now are some of these hosts thinking like hey I can turn this into a full time or a heavy part-time gig with all the traffic I’m getting and all the bookings I’m getting here?
Sean: Oh yeah I think that many of them are, you know, have probably quite their day job at this point. I think short term rentals and whatnot, I think they don’t need to go outside looking for occupation anymore. I think that they’ve found their niche. And again this is exploding. I think it’s probably the fastest growing aspect in the hospitality and travel industry at this point.
Matthew: So is it far to say if you’re a host, if you go out of your way to add some value in terms of experience, it really makes up for how much you can charge?
Sean: Yeah you know I mean it’s definitely, they cannot sell marijuana. That is illegal, but you know a lot of people are basically within recreational states you’re allowed to gift. And so you know up to a certain amount per day. And so a lot of them will just have a couple joints on the pillow you know or a bowl or a couple buds sitting out. Some of them actually have like a small minibar set up where you walk in and instead of there being alcohol there there would be jars, you know, labeled O.G. Kush, Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, what have you. It’s a novelty and it’s a lot of fun for these folks. They said it’s the most fun they’ve ever had in any job they’ve done.
Matthew: Wow. Yeah you get to really express yourself too by the strains you select and kind of explain and why you enjoy them and everything. So that’s really cool. I know here in Colorado there’s kind of, you know, kind of how there’s the foodie scene, the cannabis scene there’s a whole new language and lexicon and you know a whole new psychology to it that’s kind of, I can only say akin to the wine industry in terms of people sitting around talking about the characteristics of different strains. It’s amazing to witness the creation of that. I’m sure it always existed. It just seems more public now.
Sean: Sure I mean Denver is absolutely the Napa Valley of cannabis. I mean 100 percent. Colorado is producing some of the finest in the world at this point. I think they’ve dubbed it the new Amsterdam.
Matthew: Are bookings happening 100 percent online or do they happen by phone? What are the different ways people can book with Bud and Breakfast?
Sean: Sure so you know we are an online reservations website. So generally a booking is made, and then our clients either manually sort of okay it or it just automatically goes through. They can set that in their settings when they first set up their account. You know when a booking gets made I automatically get notified and then call the customer within a short time after the booking and talk with them and kind of vet them and see what they’re looking for specifically in the booking. And you know we get to kind of know each other. It’s a real customer service orientated business. I spend most of my day talking with people all day long.
So I feel when a booking is made, I feel comfortable that by the time they kind of through our screening process that it’s good to go. So at that point once the booking is made then we have them directly contact the accommodation owner and they kind of take it from there.
Matthew: And how many people are booking now this year so far?
Sean: You know it’s interesting we launched officially on April 1st. It was interesting because we launched on April 1st and with the 420 holiday, you know, the cannabis holiday we thought oh you know we’ll have a couple bookings per day. When we went live we were in the Denver region in particular we were completely sold out. We did not have one place. I was directing people up to Boulder, to Vail, Pagosa Springs, Glenwood Springs to our other accommodations because we were just completely sold out. Things did calm down a little bit right after April 20th holiday, and that has a lot to do with just being able to advertise. You know Google sets limits on cannabis advertising. So we’ve had to get creative and get our brand out there. And now that we’re having a lot more success in that I would say we went from a couple per day up to about 10 to 15 per day now. Exponentially when you look at the graph it’s just going up, up, up. So it’s a positive thing.
Matthew: yeah it is kind of a crazy scene here in Colorado, the 4/20 week. We had the Cannabis Cup which was huge by itself, World Cannabis Week and a number of events there along Colfax, and I’m sure a lot of other things going on, parties and stuff. It’s amazing to see how this is growing and how 420 has just really taken off that week. What have you seen?
Sean: Yeah well you know I was down there at the Cannabis Cup which was an amazing event. We did a ton of networking. I must have talked to thousands of people that day. And then right around that time was the Marijuana Investors Summit which is out by the airport and then the music events that were all happening downtown. It was quite a weekend I must say. It was a lot of fun.
Matthew: Now which markets do you think will grow the most both domestically and internationally? We spoke a little bit about Jamaica and Uruguay. Are there any others that you think will be coming on board soon in a big way?
Sean: Sure well what we’re seeing now you know Oregon legalized quite a while ago, but they actually didn’t implement a legislation until July 1st. So it actually hasn’t been officially implemented. And so as we’re getting closer to July 1st where starting to notice our Oregon accommodations coming on board which is really exciting. I think that you’re going to see a lot more, you know, obviously in the recreational states; Washington, Oregon and Alaska, we’re starting to get a lot of accommodations from them. And you know D.C., D.C. is still kind of our hold out. You know it’s kind of a, I think people are not quite sure what to think there. You know the mayor legalized going against…
Matthew: Yeah that was pretty bold. They threatened him pretty hardcore.
Sean: They did, they did. We’re really, you know, now that that’s kind of official we’re starting to advertise pretty hard down in D.C. I think that it’s going to be good for, you know, all kinds of people really but you know lobbyists and whatnot that come into town, I think that they stress relief. And I think that they’ll appreciate our accommodations that are coming onboard down there.
Matthew: How about Alaska? I think there’s a lot of crazy opportunities there with fishing and nature, but I mean it’s not, they’re still creating the rules and guidelines there, but any interest in Alaska?
Sean: Oh yeah you know we’ve been marketing up there. We have quite a few accommodations in Alaska now on our site. And you know we’re working with Charlo Greene who is the director of the Alaskan Cannabis Club. And we definitely feel that Alaska is going to come on strong. You know they’ve always kind of been sort of on the forefront or on the front tier of this whole thing. I mean I think that they actually had legalized back in… don’t officially quote me on this, but I think it was the late 80s or sometime in the 90s where they actually had legalized and then they kind of went back on it, and it’s been going back and forth for quite some time. It definitely makes sense that they would have been on the forefront of the states to go ahead and legalize recreationally.
Matthew: That’s great. I’m so curious to see what all these interesting hosts will come up with in terms of creative ways that they’ll entertain and provide experiences for their guests. I’m curious what do the hosts or hotel that are part of Bud and B, what do they think about cannabis guests? Are they thrown off by them? What’s their general reaction?
Sean: Oh no in fact the contrary. I would say our hosts have found the cannabis clientele to be way more friendlier and easy to deal with. You know as quoted by our friends from the First Inn down in Pagosa Springs, this is the kicker, “these folks are way less likely to be throwing bottles of Jack Daniels through the window.” You know I mean honestly like when people are smoking cannabis they are, they’re wanting to relax. They’re just having a good time. They’re not binge drinking. They’re not trashing and destroying and vandalizing things. You know and this is going to, you know, at the end of the day this is going to make it so that cannabis travelers are way more desirable than your average traveler that just wants to drink and party and kind of come from that more aggressive standpoint.
Matthew: We’ve been talking about recreational tourism, but is there any medicinal tourism you see?
Sean: Absolutely. You know we’re working with the Charlotte’s Web crew. It’s CW Botanicals, and they’re kind of on the forefront of the CBD strains and providing medicine for children with epilepsy and you know people in general with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s, colitis, diabetes, I mean, even celiacs and whatnot. And so what we’re seeing now I wouldn’t say it’s the majority of our travelers, but we are definitely seeing an up tick in people coming to Colorado kind of as refugees you know looking for a place where they can safely and legally administer medicine for either themselves or to their loved ones. So we’re actually working with the realm of care folks to get in wellness baskets and whatnot that are going to have CBD tinctures and lotions and whatnot. Our accommodation owners are really excited about this.
Matthew: I particularly notice a lot of people from Texas fitting kind of that refugee status because they can’t really do anything or help their kids or help themselves in any meaningful way. So it seems like almost every day I’m bumping into someone from Texas. So there is a steady stream, and I hope their legislation changes down there soon which it looks like it might.
Sean: Yeah I keep hearing things. Little snippets of, you know, potentially even full legalization which would be amazing for Texas. I would say that for Colorado, specifically for our accommodations, Texas is our number one market.
Matthew: Wow, interesting. A lot of people are not familiar with this Ayurvedic diet or Ayurvedic medicine, and I just became familiar with it in the last couple of years. And there’s certain dosha types. Can you explain what doshas mean. It’s not every day I have someone on the show that understands this really well, the different doshas, what they mean and how to think about them?
Sean: Sure so you know I think a lot of people know probably a little bit more about Chinease medicine and the elements that go into that, and you know whether a disease or a medical history was based on too much dampness, too much coldness, too much heat and whatnot. In Ayurveda we have Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. And Vata is the element that represents or the dosha that represents air and ether. So it’s cold and dry. So for a person I mean this is a real quick sum up here, but if a person was cold and dry, you would treat them with the opposites. So like increases like and opposites treat each other. So in the case Vata air and ether is cold and dry so you want to treat them with warm and moist. Pitta is fire and water. So think steam, they’re the leaders. They’re the real direct kind of CEOs. You know physiologically they’re probably kind of musclely, maybe freckley, you know tend to be prone towards heat, but again really good at directing.
And so you know generally we, you know, if it’s moist and it’s hot we’re going to treat it with the opposite which would be dry and cool. Kapha is generally it’s going to be the thick boned, you know, kind of big teeth, slow, generally get things done. These all can be related to animals too. So Vata is like when you take the pulse of a person who’s Vata it’s going to be they kind of attribute it a snake. So it kind of jumps from finger to finger when you’re taking the pulse. It’s kind of sporadic, you know, maybe some palpations here and there like a flutter. And when you get into Pitta it’s going to be strong, steady, kind of like a frog jumping. And then a swan is going.. oh sorry, a Kapha is going to be more like a swan where it’s just kind of like a little slower, steady, not as intense as Pitta.
But generally the foundation of Ayurvedic medicine is you know going to the root of the disease. We call it dis-ease you know. Instead of covering up the symptoms Ayurvedic medicine is I think it’s the oldest known medical system on the planet. So a lot of, you know, when I lived in India and Nepal during my internship, a lot of Western style doctors actually go to school 50 percent for Ayurvedic and 50 percent for Western medicine to kind of give that well-rounded approach.
Matthew: It’s amazing too. When I first started learning about this I took a couple online quizzes, and I wasn’t expecting much. It’s so easy to identify what dosha you are, and some people kind of overlap maybe two, but it’s amazing. What’s your dosha?
Sean: You know actually it’s interesting. My professor told me that I was tri-doshic. So it’s really rare. You know that a person can be Vata, Pitta and Kapha in equal proportions. And so you know when I’m in Hawaii, you know, which is warm and moist, my Pitta and my Kapha come out. So I have to kind of like eat a little bit lighter and tend to be a little bit more active so I don’t kind of get into that sort of Hawaii lethargy because it’s so warm. When I’m in Colorado I tend to be drier, you know the upper elevation, my Vata comes out more so I have foliate myself a lot more. I have to eat a lot more sort of nutritive, moist foods.
You know per the season too, in winter I’m going to be eating a lot more warm foods, and in the summer I’m going to be eating lighter foods and cooler foods. The foundation of Ayurvedic medicine is opposites treat each other and like increases like. You don’t eat more of what you are. If you’re having a heat condition, you know, you’re not going to drink a bunch more alcohol and eat a bunch of hot food, that would be contrary to wisdom. So you’re going to be generally, you know, doing the opposite of the element that you’re existing in. And so that somehow runs contrary to a lot of Western thought, but it is kind of simple wisdom ultimately.
Matthew: I will try to include a quiz or a self diagnosis, something, a link in the show notes for people that are interested in this because I find it really fascinating and very helpful too. Once you understand your dosha or two doshas or in Sean’s case three which is really rare from my understanding, you can start to eat and treat yourself a little different and notice positive benefits. As we close how can listeners find Bud and Breakfast online?
Sean: Yeah so you know it’s real simple. You can do a Google search for Bud and Breakfast or you can just type in www.budandbreakfast.com. So www.budandbreakfast.com is our website.
Matthew: Sean thanks so much for being on CannaInsider and educating us. We really appreciate it.
Sean: Thank you Matt for the opportunity.
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In this episode we welcome Holly Alberti-Evans, co-founder of Healthy Headie Lifestyle to CannaInsider. Healy Headie is the Mary Kay of Mary J and they bring the cannabis market to you with in-home shopping and education.
Learn more at: http://www.healthyheadie.com/
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[1:37] – Holly talks about her background
[3:17] – What is Healthy Headie
[5:21] – Holly talks about the stigma between the different ways to ingest cannabis
[5:53] – How customers are responding
[6:33] – Is there a specific demographic that asks for Healthy Headie services
[8:18] – Holly discusses what products get the most attention and questions about
[9:32] – What is the Magical Butter Machine
[12:17] – Holly explains the dynamic for an in-home session
[15:35] – Initiating an in-home presentation
[19:48] – Where is Healthy Headie available
[20:35] – Investment opportunities in Healthy Headie
[20:58] – Contact details for Healthy Headie
Matthew: Hi I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I will take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.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 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 part of an ongoing series to chronicle the innovation that is occurring in the cannabis industry I will be profiling entrepreneurs from Canopy Boulder, the first cannabis accelerator here in Boulder, Colorado. I’m pleased to welcome Holly Alberti-Evans co-founder of Healthy Headie Lifestyle to CannaInsider today. Welcome Holly.
Holly: Thank you so much for having me Matt. I appreciate it.
Matthew: Sure. Before we get into Healthy Headie can you tell us a little bit about who you are and how you got into this industry, your background and so forth?
Holly: Sure. You know at heart I’m an activist and advocate and business creator. I worked in corporate for a while, but I knew that it wasn’t the right environment for what I was looking to do. And I actually started my first consulting company while at the same time becoming a flight attendant. There was great flexibility there.
Matthew: Oh wow.
Holly: We had a successful commercial, residential painting company as well that I started with my husband. So that’s two businesses under the belt I guess. Moved onto an executive board position for the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce. I received an award Forty Under Forty Award there. And then I got to this tipping point in Massachusetts where I started the petition for Question 3 which is the medical law there. And I knew the first hand I had seen the effects, the positive results that cannabis had brought, and too many people were afraid to speak up or they couldn’t speak up. And I couldn’t sit by any longer so that’s when I really started getting involved and did what I could to move along the process in the community. And of course, you know, there’s a little bit of politics that come with that. And after the law passed in Massachusetts we become more of a resource of friends and families and even strangers that wanted more information about the medical community. And that’s when my husband and I decided it was time to put everything we had behind something we felt so strongly about, and took that leap into the cannabis industry.
Matthew: All right I like to hear that. You pushed all the chips into the middle of the table, and you said we’re all in.
Holly: Yes, yeah absolutely.
Matthew: And you created Healthy Headie, and what is Healthy Headie?
Holly: Yeah so the easiest way to describe it, if you have any knowledge of the direct sales world, is we’re kind of like the Mary Kay for Mary J, but we don’t sell cannabis. It’s been a tag that we’ve gotten some great reception out of and people really seem to understand that model. So what that means is that Healthy Headie is an in-home, direct to consumer network of independent distributers that actually provide education and a hands-on demonstration as well as the sale of cannabis ancillary products.
Holly: And in layman’s terms kind of what that means is we actually bring the smoke store to the customer’s door. So in the comfort of the consumer’s home our independent distributer would provide an overview of cannabis and the many ways that you might consume your cannabis. We talk about methods of ingestion a lot and the different forms or how you might be able to ingest it. Our primary focus does land on the vaporizers which is a device that you can use to consume the cannabis itself.
Matthew: Yeah. I kind of liken it to the Genius Bar at Apple stores where they take something that there’s a lot of questions around and answer them in an easy and digestible way. Is that a fair comparison?
Holly: Yeah it is. We get a lot of questions, and of course everybody’s knowledge base is different. So we try to answer, you know, what is a vaporizer? What’s a transdermal? What are sublinguals? What are tinctures? And kind of give them a level playing field to then start their education base off of.
Matthew: This is just my opinion, but I feel like that there is still a stigma around the smoking but less so towards the vaporizer and then even less around tinctures and edibles is that the feedback you’re getting.
Holly: Yeah. I think that there is, you know, smoking is just unhealthy so people understand that. But they’re really confused about these other terms. What’s transdermal? What’s sublingual? What is a tincture? So that there’s less of a stigma, however, there’s still this fear associated with cannabis as a whole, and it probably comes with that federal legality.
Matthew: Yes that would be it, and what’s the response been so far from the people that had the in-home education?
Holly: You know it’s actually… the response has been really great. Our customers actually seek us out, and we have a lot of interest from people that are looking for that level of hands-on training, and as well as becoming part of the team. So they’re interested in becoming part of the community with Healthy Headie Lifestyle.
Matthew: Okay. Is there a certain demographic to the people that want the in home education and want to look at the vaporizers and the different things and talk about this, or is it really just a very broad spectrum.
Holly: You know there is a specific demographic that we tend to see a lot more of. My husband and I started this business in Massachusetts. Again that was a restricted medical market. We were surprised to find that the majority of people we were speaking with were my parent’s age. They were Baby Boomers, new retirees that maybe were looking for alternative healing. So we found that a lot of these individuals may have had previous knowledge or one time way back when had potentially tried it, but now they were more hesitant to just kind of go out on their own and experiment. They really had lots of questions and didn’t know where to turn to answer those.
Matthew: Do you feel like women in general are less likely to step into a dispensary? Is there a stigma there that seems to keep women away in particular?
Holly: Yeah I think as a whole, you know, I think women are still scared to really come out and talk about this. They’re absolutely fearful. They hear these stories about other parents losing their children, and that’s absolutely frightening in itself. So I think that most females are very cautious and hesitant when it comes to their consumption or even the discussion of a potential consumption.
Matthew: So in-home shopping, bring the store to your door, we talked a little about vaporizers and tinctures and so forth, but what are the one or two things that seem to get the most attention and the questions around that? How does a vaporizer work? Show me, you know, put it in my hand and show me?
Holly: Yeah so I mean aside from the vaporizers they really do like to try the device before they buy it, and that’s one of the benefits of having Healthy Headie provide that service is you can take it for a test drive, and it doesn’t happen online, clearly, and a traditional retail store. There isn’t that option. But we find that once we get through our in-home demonstration we talk about other devices such as like botanical extractors or a storage container. So we find, on in particular we carry a device. It’s a botanical extractor. It’s called the Magical Butter Machine. We find as soon as we show that device people are absolutely intrigued. They want to know more. It’s a really fun device, but they want to know more about the potential that they can create their own edibles, and this is really kind of an easy device to be able to use and have those edibles be created. So they get really excited about, you know, different items like that as well as accessories that we bring in for them to experience.
Matthew: How does the Magical Butter Machine work? I seem to see that here and there, but I don’t know myself. It extracts it into an oil of some sort? How does that work?
Holly: Yes, absolutely. So we will have to get Garin on the phone for you. So the Magical Butter Machine it’s a got a microprocessor and a computer built into it. So it’s actually regulating the temperature at which the cannabis is extracted. So there’s a process called decarboxylization , most people want it to be decarbed. Some people do not and that will create a psychotropic effect. So you really have the ability to take your cannabis and then infuse into a medium that works best for you.
So we talked about tincture. You can do a vegetable based glycerin tincture, or you can do an alcohol based tincture. You can also do butter or coconut oil which is great because it’s shelf stable and really easy to use. So depending on what you’re looking to treat and the medium that you want to infuse, you have the ability to do so in a very easy machine. It’s looks similar to a Cuisinart. You can put it right onto your counter. And there is cycles, you push the regulation for the temperature, and then you select what mode you would like. So if you’re making a butter, an oil or a tincture. And super, super easy. Yeah it’s got a built in light show as well. So you can actually turn the lights off and get super creative while you’re making your infused oils and butters.
Matthew: So the market for the Magical Butter Machine is for someone that wants to make a concentrate or extraction very easily, but then wants to customize their experience a little bit more, but they don’t want to become a scientist to do it.
Holly: Yeah the double boil method or the crockpot method is what’s been used in the past, and that is just time consuming. So you know going along the lines of that we don’t have a ton of time on our hands, this device really just makes it very easy for people to be able to make those edibles which can then be turned into other recipes or creations as well as the tinctures or suppositories if that’s something that you need for your treatment. So it really allows the consumer to put their health and healing in their own hands and decide what’s better for them. Of course here in Colorado the dispensaries have a wonderful selection of edibles, tinctures, different sublinguals and transdermals that in some areas you don’t have access to. So this allows the consumer to really have a broad approach for their healing.
Matthew: What’s the dynamic like for an in-home session?
Holly: So typically the in-home, it starts off, you know, people aren’t really sure what to expect. There’s different layers of knowledge. So you know there might be four people in the room and they all might have a different gauge or level of knowledge with cannabis itself. And so what we do is we try to take their nerves and you know uncertainly out of the equation. And we just have a quick overview to be able to get everybody on the same page of Cannabis 101. They’re very timid when we start out about asking questions. They feel very lost, but we provide just a quick summary at the beginning of our session. What we’re going to be covering, kind of a top-level overview, and in minutes you can see the consumer start to begin to relax. They feel more comfortable. They start asking questions, and then they frantically start taking notes. They get very excited and they know that the knowledge that they just received it really provides them with more empowerment for them to move forward. So we see that quickly change throughout the in-home session.
Matthew: So it starts maybe being a little timid to okay I’m getting some good education here with the Cannabis 101, then they’re kind of moved to ask questions and then does it kind of open up into a more social atmosphere by the end of it?
Holly: Yeah so when we’re actually letting them try the devices, you know, you’re getting them to relax and unwind even more. They really get a feel or a sense of how these different devices operate. So we let them open it, close it. How hard is it to grind the product and put it in to the device. They get to literally touch and feel and go through each of the components and how it’s going to work. I mean even simple questions such as maintenance. That’s a big deal for a lot of people. Many folks don’t want to have to maintain the device on a regular basis, and that’s something that you won’t have that hands-on training when it comes to an in-store experience. And that’s when you really start to see them get excited because now they’re touching it, they’re playing with it.
Matthew: Right and a vaporizer, the smell is much more contained compared to say a bong or something else, and that’s probably something they’re wondering about. Like hey am I going to stink up my whole neighborhood here if I take one hit off this thing.
Holly: It’s so true. I mean a lot of people don’t understand vaporizing and how it’s going to be different. So then they realize it’s a lower odor that’s really helpful for a lot of people who maybe sneak away and into the garage quickly. You know it allows them to have more flexibility when and where they can medicate. And again portable versus tabletop. I mean if you talk to somebody who doesn’t know what a vaporizer is, that doesn’t mean anything for them. So we have different devices for whatever the need may be. If they need something that is battery operated that they can take camping with them for several days when they won’t have access to electricity, we really can customize it depending on what the customer’s needs are.
Matthew: How does a in-home presentation get initiated? Who starts it?
Holly: That’s a great question. In Massachusetts we worked a lot with the doctors who were providing letters of recommendation. And so they were looking for an additional service and our information was actually given to the patients. So that’s something we’re going to be doing in every state that we roll out into, but for the most part we get phone calls from interested parties that would like to find out more information. So we give them the option to do a very private one on one in-home session or they can invite their friends, family, some other folks together and do a group party or setting. And it is similar to a Tupperware even where you would schedule the party. The host has the ability to make that as flexible as possible whether that’s nights, weekends. And we ask some specific questions to the host to customize it to their needs specifically. Then from there we’re off and running and in their home providing this great service.
Matthew: Now people may hear this and say is this multilevel marketing. What’s your answer to that?
Holly: That’s another great question. So when we designed this platform we actually took a boutique hybrid direct sales model. So we adapted some of the tride and true aspects of traditional network marketing, but our focus is on helping people and creating jobs in this budding industry. So our motives come from a place where we want to see people get the resources that they need and then we also have an opportunity to create many jobs in the cannabis industry. So we chose the direct sales model as it allows us to really provide that discreet, comfortable environment in the home that these consumers are looking for. That fear of being seen at the head shop or the dispensary, and of course the level of customer service was conducive for what we were trying to put together. And it became the perfect model for exactly what we were providing.
Matthew: Now the multilevel marketing thing, people get compensated if they bring people onboard who are selling. So that dynamic doesn’t exist at all here. This is a straight commission type sale.
Holly: Yeah and thank you for asking these questions because it’s really important for us to differentiate ourselves from the traditional multilevel marketing. So our independent distributers really are strictly sales commission based. They have the potential to unlock additional bonuses to increase their incentives. Think of it as a Mario game. If you collect certain amounts of point, you get a 1up. So there is a potential for them to have more incentive power, however it’s not about recruiting new team members. It really is about helping other people by providing this service and making a sales commission that’s attractive to somebody who wants to look at this as a sales opportunity.
Matthew: Okay. And so the host of the part in addition to helping friends and family, they get some little perks and gifts and possibly some sales commission type arrangement.
Holly: Yeah they do. They get some free gifts just for hosting the party, and then the way it works is that for every $100 of sales that are generated at that unique party, they would get $10 off of their purchase. So it really works for them to of course invite a few additional people. If those people are interested in purchasing, they’re clearly going to get a benefit from that sale. So it really comes down to fulfilling the educational side and then that quick, easy sale in the comfort and privacy of the customer’s home. And we bring all this together for them and be able to give them some incentive to holding it or hosting it at their home.
Matthew: Okay. So you’re here in Colorado now. You’re from Massachusetts. How is this going to roll out and which geographies?
Holly: So we are choosing to take a very strategic rollout. We do have traction and we began the company, as you mentioned, in Massachusetts. And we launched in Colorado a little bit over a month ago. And we’ll then expand into Arizona, California and Washington State. Ultimately our goal is to provide the service in every medical and retail state there is. So we’re going to do this in a very methodical way, but we will be coming to a town or city near you.
Matthew: Yeah. As soon as you legalize you’ll go out to them, okay. Are you still looking for investors for Healthy Headie?
Holly: Yes we just launched our seed round. We just opened that last week and we’re currently raising $500,000 for our program and the strategic rollout. And that’s been a great experience so far.
Matthew: And if there’s any listeners out there that are interested in becoming an investor how can they find you?
Holly: Oh of course they’re more than welcome. They can reach out to me directly. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. And we also have a founders email, that’s email@example.com. Our main line, you can always get us through our direct corporate number, and the number for our corporate line is (617) 231-6363.
Matthew: Okay and for listeners that want to find you online can you say your URL one more time?
Holly: Of course. For anybody who wants to look at our website as well as anybody who may be interested in becoming an independent distributer, head over to www.healthyheadie.com. So it’s www.healthyheadie.com and right on the homepage actually there’s a great segment. CBS This Morning did a video on us and you can check that out. And right below there there’s a link that says “Click here to take the pilot program survey”, that will connect you to one of our team members. And if you’re interested in becoming an independent distributer, we’re happy to give more information.
Matthew: I feel like in every friend and family circle there’s someone that’s already kind of doing this. They kind of assume the educator role and demystify all these things about cannabis. So I feel like there’s natural sales force for you out there, and if you’re someone that’s listening that has those characteristic where you’re saying hey I’m already telling my friends and family about this stuff and they’re coming to me and asking me these questions anyway, this could be a great opportunity for you. So Holly thank you so much for being on CannaInsider today and telling us about Healthy Headie.
Holly: Thank you so much Matt. I really appreciate this opportunity.
Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.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 CannaInsider? 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.
In this episode, Julianna Carella and Marjorie Fischer from Treatibles explain how we can help anxious or suffering pets with a hemp and cannabis derived compound called CBD.
>>> Read The Treatibles Review <<<
[1:55] – What are Treat-ibles
[2:45] – What animals can have Treat-ibles
[5:49] – Julianna discusses the law in regards to .3 THC
[7:26] – Julianna discusses the endocannabinoid system
[10:20] – Why do people use Treat-ibles for their pets?
[12:01] – Marjorie talks about the ingredients in Treat-ibles
[14:00] – Are people really open to using cannabis for their pets
[15:32] – Marjorie discusses dosaging for different sized animals
[17:24] – Julianna compares lab testing for CBD
[19:25] – Julianna talks about hemp CBD vs. flower CBD
[22:38] – The pets’ reactions when eating Treat-bles
[24:46] – Are vets chiming in on Treat-ibles
[26:42] – Where are Treat-ibles offered
[28:47] – Julianna discusses their experience at the ArcView Group
[30:23] – Future states to approve licensing for Treat-ibles
[33:10] – Contact information for Treat-ibles
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 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 premiere Angel investor that 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’ll 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 at feedback at cannainsider.com to get started. Now here’s your program.
We often talk about cannabis as medicine on CannaInsider and have many guests on that highlight the benefits of cannabis for the human body but we often overlook our pets that our such a huge part of our lives. That is why I asked on Julianna Carella and Marjorie Fischer to CannaInsider today to give us more details on one part of the cannabis plant known as CBD that can help our cherished pets. Welcome Julianna and Marjorie.
Julianna: Thank you.
Marjorie: Thank you.
Julianna: Thanks for, thanks for having us.
Matthew: Sure. To give us a sense of geography can you tell us where you are today?
Marjorie: We’re based in Oakland, California, Northern California.
Matthew: Okay and what are Treat-ibles and why did you start making them and what’s CBD? What should we think about this Julianna can you help us understand it?
Julianna: Sure. So Treat-ibles are our CBD rich product that we make for animals. They’re specifically designed for dogs, but all animals can actually enjoy them and they’re different from our other products in that theyre… we include the CBD as opposed to the THC and it makes the product effective without being psychoactive. So the benefits of the CBD are in the product without the effects of THC, and so you can give this product to your pet and gain all the benefits of CBD without getting your pet high.
Matthew: Now what about, are we talking mammals here or what if I have some reptiles I want to give a Treatable to?
Julianna: Well all animals have an endocannabinoid system, except for insects. So as long as you’re not trying to give it to any insects in your world then you should be okay.
Matthew: Yeah okay good. I didn’t know we all had endocannabinoid system. That’s pretty interesting except for insects okay.
Julianna: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matthew: And it’s probably I mean dogs are the most common pet and cats, but do you hear of any other animals I mean are we talking Hedgehogs. Everything under the spectrum is this like full Noah’s Ark, any animal? What would you say to that?
Julianna: Absolutely. Well I think some people have even said you know that animals roaming in the wild would naturally be you know coming up to hemp plants and perhaps smelling it and eating a little bit of it. I mean it grows naturally in our environment and animals in the wild would, if it were allowed to grow wild, they would be able to go up to the plants and actually enjoy it and gain some of the health benefits from it so that, that’s interesting and animals shouldn’t be excluded from, from the benefits of this product. And we’ve had experience with dogs and cats using the product, but we’ve also heard from bird owners that have crumbled up the dog treats and given them to their birds including chickens and parrots and other pets around the house.
Matthew: Now if anybody remembers Julianna’s voice you have a good memory because I don’t know what, that was some time in 2014 that Julianna was on the show talking about her company Auntie Dolores and it’s the same Julianna and now we’re talking about Treat-ibles which are the CBD infused dog treats or animal treats. I’m sorry. So I just wanted to make sure that anybody’s having a déjà vu moment that we, we covered that. Now what’s the difference is is Auntie Dolores and Treat-ibles two different companies or are they under the same umbrella?
Julianna: At the moment they’re under the same umbrella and Treat-ibles is considered an Auntie Dolores product and now we’re only distributing it in California at the moment because we have to setup pet food licensing in other states and so we’re just really interested in providing the CBD pet products in other states and worldwide. And so we’re kind of looking at different, different avenues to carry that out.
Julianna: We do get a lot of requests from other states and although the product is 50 states legal in terms of the formula we still need to go through the process of setting up the pet food licensing.
Matthew: Okay. So Julianna can you give us a little refresher on .3 THC and what that means and how the law is different once you go under .3 THC?
Julianna: Yeah. So there’s a legal threshold for THC content on, on all products and because most cannabis is obviously above that amount and you know like our edibles and our Auntie Dolores edibles are a certainly above that amount so we are not able to legally ship that product out of state because it’s considered a controlled substance and it’s a schedule one narcotic. CBD on the other hand particularly hemp-derived CBD has less restrictions, and the reason why we’re using hemp as opposed to cannabis is because we wanted to be able to make this a product that that pets worldwide can use and in order to do that we needed to make sure the THC level was below that legal threshold which is .3 percent. That’s a very, very low amount of THC and a lot of companies that are selling CBD rich products do indeed have above that threshold and so it’s something to just you know producers have to be really mindful of so that they don’t you know get into trouble legally.
Matthew: Sure. Let’s circle back to the endocannabinoid system for a second Julianna. We talked about it briefly there, and you said every animal other than insects has an endocannabinoid system and it’s just such an important thing that I was wondering if you could highlight it for a second because we go through biology in you know grammar school and high school and we learn about the respiratory system and the pulmonary system. How do you think about the endocannabinoid system?
Julianna: Well I think it’s largely overlooked in the medical community. It’s not taught in medical schools. It’s definitely not taught in veterinary schools. So doctors and veterinarians are essentially misguided around a huge, huge piece of science that has been sort of strategically removed from the consciousness and unfortunately it means that we’re quite behind with our research, but there’s enough research out there for us to know that you know indeed all animals have an endocannabinoid system and that this endocannabinoid system is actually incredibly important in our physiology. I mean it regulates homeostasis. It pretty much underlies almost all physiological functions in our body because we have these receptors in our brain and throughout our body.
And then the cannabinoids are really these neuromodulators that talk to our system and help our system to act in balance and to you know fend off disease and to just basically bring a balanced state to our whole system. And so when the whole community, whole medical community at large has sort of overlooked the, the piece. If you haven’t acknowledged that the endocannabinoid exists, then it’s very easy to dispute the purported results that people and animals get from CBD because how can this possibly work so profoundly. Well it works very profoundly because apparently we’re setup to, to need this in our systems.
Apparently I mean if you really look at science objectively on this it’s clear that without cannabis, without cannabinoids in our systems that our systems are operating less than with 100 percent optimum you know a balance and effectiveness. So and I think that really sheds some light on this concept of endocannabinoid deficiency which is something you’re hearing more scientists talk about and I think there’s something to that and I think humans experience it and so do animals. They experience an endocannabinoid deficiency when they don’t have cannabinoids in their system.
Matthew: That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of that endocannabinoid deficiency. Marjorie what are the primary reasons people are seeking out Treat-ibles for their pets. I imagine seizures is a big one, separation anxiety are there any other reasons people are reaching for Treat-ibles for their pets?
Marjorie: Yeah definitely. I mean what we see overall is that similar with people you know animal, animal owners, animal you know human companions are looking for alternatives to a lot of traditional medicine and things that are not working for their animals. And so they reach out to us at that moment where they’re seeking an alternative in something else and so it’s really this wide ranging amount of conditions and those are emotional, they’re behavioral, they’re physical, physiological. They’re just like when people start to seek out cannabinoids, and so seizures is a big one, separation anxiety, other forms of anxiety that are induced by fireworks or loud noises or going to the groomer. And then we see muscular skeletal being another big one seems like arthritis; aches and pains of old age.
We’ve had a lot of animals start it at the end of their life as well where their owners are looking for a way to improve their quality of life during those last months or that last year. And then we also see animals with heart conditions. Apparently they have certain issues with eating and their anxiety increases because of their heart rates so that’s another one and then cancer. You know often animals stop eating when they have cancer or diseases similar to it, and we’ve seen a lot of our customers reporting that their animals will start to eat again when they’re using the Treat-ibles along with chemotherapy.
Matthew: Huh that’s fascinating.
Matthew: So what are the major ingredients for the treats Marjorie I mean what are the top ingredients I should say?
Marjorie: Well we really put an emphasis on the quality of all our ingredients not just the CBDs. So you know first and foremost it’s about using super foods, organic foods, and things that are really going to benefit the animals in every way. So pumpkin is a big one and that’s really great for digestion in animals and turmeric and cinnamon we put those in because their, they’ve got these really great anti-inflammatory benefits. And then coconut oil is another great one that is really great for the animals and then peanut butter. High protein you know we really want them to get that great protein source and the combination of these things together make the treats really delicious. So we find that animals just adore eating them and in fact want more than you know often what, what they’re getting so.
Matthew: There really are some synergies between certain foods, especially super foods cinnamon and turmeric and tumeric and ginger. There’s something going on there when they’re mixed together that their more powerful than they are individually. I don’t know what the science is there but I’ve experienced it myself.
Marjorie: Yeah and it’s a big reason we use the ingredients that we do. We believe whole heartedly in that synergy and that’s really what cannabinoids you know how they act in the body. You know it’s about all of these things sort of working in concert with each other to produce this you know these amazing effects. So we choose our ingredients really carefully with all of that in mind. Everything is in there you know for beneficial reasons. We want to increase vitality and create this really overall harmonious effect in the body of the animal.
Matthew: Are people that don’t consume cannabis do you find they have more questions about the Treat-ibles or are they just as you know open to it as people that do consume cannabis?
Marjorie: They definitely have very different questions and the reason is because they are very unfamiliar with cannabinoids and what the effects are. So very often they assume that it, it’s going to be psychoactive for their animals. So the biggest question I get is you know will this affect, will this get my animal high you know that’s, that’s the number one question coming from people that don’t know about cannabis. So THC is the only cannabinoid that has that psychoactive effect. So really it’s about educating them and explaining that they’re all these other cannabinoids like CBD that don’t have that psychoactive effect.
So we’re able to use them in children and animals and you know people with you know compromised immune systems and you know it’s, I tell you that’s the biggest education piece and then helping them to understand that endocannabinoid system and why this is a great alternative for you know the body whether it’s in an animal or a person. And what I find is that there’s this great amount of excitement that happens. They go from skeptical to excited really quickly as soon as you take out that psychoactive piece which is really that’s the fear barrier I think for animal owners. And once they learn that that’s not actually there they get really excited about the possibility of you know what this can do.
Matthew: What about dosage Marjorie because I mean I for CBD I just wouldn’t be that worried about too, over consuming. At the same time you want to get the right dosage. What, what is the right dosage for different size animals?
Marjorie: Yeah so it is true this is a totally, it’s totally safe. It’s totally nontoxic. It’s not possible to overdose, but it is definitely important to you know get in the right place. So what we recommend is one treat which has 1 mg of CBD, so it’s one treat per 20 pounds of an animal. So if you’re animal is less than 20 pounds, you can actually split that treat in half and if the animal is 60 pounds let’s say than you know you’re going to calculate accordingly. And this is essentially like a foundation for how much to use. So we always say that as an animal owner you know your pet better than anybody else, and so maybe your animal is going to need a little bit more than this or a little bit less.
It’s important to kind of monitor and watch them and you know look to see if you are noticing you know a benefit. And what we see is that essentially within about 30 minutes as a maximum that it should start to take effect and it should start to work. So if you’re noticing that maybe you’ve given you know one treat and your animal is 20 pounds and you’re not necessarily seeing nothing you can give another half a treat you know. So there is a little bit of room for making that decision and because their safe and nontoxic as I said you know if you end up giving 2 treats and your animal is only 15 pounds, well it’s very similar to eating an extra slice of bread at breakfast. You know maybe my tummy is gonna get a little full, but you know I’m still going to be you know perfectly happy and healthy so there is no harm in giving a little bit more if an owner would choose to do that.
Matthew: Switching gears to testing. Julianna how does the lab testing compare for pet products to human cannabis products?
Julianna: It’s pretty much the same process. You know testing edibles in general is really different than testing concentrates and flowers, and you know the lab that we work with CW Analytical does a really good job. And often what we’ll do is we’ll test our materials. So we’ll test the CBD material first to make sure that it’s got the percentage that we you know were told that it had. And then we test the treats afterwards, and we’ll take random treats from multiple batches and get them tested to make sure that they come out like just around 1 mg. Some of them come out at like 1.000 or something like that but for the most part each one does test out at 1 mg.
And you know that’s important because we’re providing very specific dosage information on the packaging and want to make sure that the testing average like you know our recipes and how we executed them properly and what not. Also to note, there’s other cannabinoids in these treats which are non psychoactive, but we decided to have more of an entourage effect with this product so there’s actually a little bit of CBG and CBM in these treats as well.
Matthew: Oh good, good. Julianna I’m curious your thoughts on hemp based CBD versus let’s say cannabis flower based CBD. I mean these are all the you know hemp cannabis. They’re all the same plant in some ways, but there seems to be a lot of different opinions, and I get emails where people say hey well what’s the difference? Why is hemp better? Is cannabis flower better and the opinions seems to be all over the place. Where do you weigh in on this?
Julianna: Well I weigh in on the side of science on this as opposed to the side of politics because the only reason there’s a difference between hemp and cannabis right now has to do with politics. And truly their the same plant you know there’s obviously different attributes but just like there’s many different strains out there. It’s the same with this plant. Hemp is just another type of strain really and obviously the plant provides so much but it’s gotten a bad rap with regards to CBD. Partly because some of the manufacturing practices that we’ve seen in the last few years which undoubtedly are not great practices, and then they were practices that were an industrial form of extruding this material and the you know the purported medical CBD that was extracted from the material perhaps had some other elements to it that were unsavory such as some heavy metals and bio contaminants and other elements that should not have made its way into the material and subsequently that material was given to epileptic children, and you know people got sick.
So certainly we want to be mindful of how these products are processed and extracted and all of that that’s really, really important to us. Let’s just say that all CBD that’s derived from hemp should be classified in that way that it’s not good because it’s got this and it’s got that. That’s just a huge over generalization and then really you could say the same thing about cannabis cultivation too. And then consumers should be wondering where any of their cannabis or hemp where that cannabinoid material is coming from in the process. It does feel that hemp CBD is under extreme scrutiny and I think it’s a bit unfair. We have sourced some really, really good material that we know is clean, and as I said at the beginning of the interview it was important to us to use the hemp because we could not make a product that is 50 states legal derived from cannabis. There’s just simply too much THC in it and although that has fantastic health benefits, it’s not a product we can sell worldwide. And so we really sought out this excellent hemp CBD that comes from Europe and it’s virtually 100 percent pure so it’s, it’s really fantastic to be working with that kind of material.
Matthew: Marjorie if you were to rank the number one or two things customers of Treat-ibles say about how their pets react when eating a Treat-ible what do they say most often?
Marjorie: Well there’s always a lot of explanation points and capital letters in the emails because people are just so excited. And this happens usually within just the first Treat-ible that they give. And so pain and immobility is definitely one of the top two. For example we have one rather large dog who was unable to walk and wears a harness and you know basically needed their owner to carry them around, and once they started using the Treat-ibles the dog can now walk on their own. And we have a lot of other stories similar to that when it comes to you know that kind of joint pain and immobility.
I would say that the second thing would be separation anxiety. We, we have a dog locally that, whose owner uses it almost every day for that. Without it the dog would cry and you know just be beside itself in the home, and the owner would have a really hard time leaving and now you know it’s just incredible the calming benefit. And it really just neutralizes you know it doesn’t sedate them. I think that’s a misconception people often have. It really just balances their systems so they don’t feel that anxiousness any longer. And so that’s really a second one and you know it’s, it’s impossible not to mention you know that, that epilepsy.
We have so many stories about animals that had almost daily seizures no longer having those seizures at all because of the daily regimen of Treat-ibles. I can think of one woman in particular in Northern California who has a couple of Chihuahua’s and you know recently got an email that she was running out of treats and desperate for more treats because you know she didn’t want to spend one day without them. So it’s quite dramatic and really heartwarming and you know those are, those are three of the top ones, but it’s just so incredible how wind ranging you know the benefits seem to be and what we hear from our customers.
Matthew: Now what about vets? Have they reached out to you at all or they provided any feedback?
Marjorie: Yeah and actually that just continues every week. We have one vet in particular down in Southern California that has started using them in his practice for a lot of the conditions that I’ve mentioned, and what we’ve heard is that there really a wonderful part of a regimen whether it’s a wellness regimen or like I mentioned before if an animals on chemotherapy, because there really is no interaction. That’s what we’re hearing from our customers and from this vet and other vets that have started to use it. It really is a wonderful part of whatever else the animals are using and taking. And so that’s been really great feedback from the vets.
And we’re also in the process of putting together a study with this vet in Southern California where we’re going to recruit a bunch of his clients and dogs and look at dogs with heart conditions and dogs with cancer and dogs with arthritis and immobility issues and you know epilepsy and all these conditions I mentioned, and it will be a yearlong study and we’re going to be using our Trea-tibles obviously in that. And it’s really exciting and you know it’ll provide us with just even more wonderful evidence of the benefits. And it’s great to be able to work with a veterinarian because we’re really eager to you know to have more animals using the product and really get that feedback and you know see how it does work when they’re on all these other regimens. And we think it’s really a great partnership to be able to work with veterinarians and have their support.
Matthew: Julianna are Treat-ibles offered in dispensaries, pet stores, online I mean you said it was 50 states legal so I’m wondering is dispensaries even necessary or are they offered there cause people think about them in the same breadths. Where are they?
Julianna: Yeah originally we didn’t, we weren’t sure if it was going to work out to sell them in the dispensaries, but it has been and it’s been great. A lot of our dispensaries are really excited about the product. And then we also have direct to customers sales through the Treat-ibles website. Like I said as long as they’re in California and we will be selling out of state soon once all these licenses are approved, and then we just got a couple orders for some pet stores here in California. So this is kind of new for us. There’s quite a few boutique type pet shops in California that really appreciate you know holistic alternatives for food items as well as medicine and nutriceuticals and so it kind of covers all of those categories and can be placed in a variety of you know spots in a pet store, depending on the emphasis that they are trying to promote. So that’s been exciting.
Matthew: Well that’s interesting. Traditional pet shops that’s really going to open things up quite a bit I imagine.
Julianna: Um-hmm, yeah we hope so yeah. A lot of people, you know may not be interested in cannabis for various reasons or maybe they’re just you know they’re, all they know about is THC and then they find out about these other benefits of the plant and it’s like a real eye opener for people that have sort of shunned cannabis for a long time now. They’ve got an alternative for their pet that’s not going to get their pets high and is pretty affordable compared with all the other meds that they might be giving their dog.
Matthew: Your Auntie Dolores company that provides the edibles for human consumption and the now Treat-ibles for pet consumption both businesses are growing. You’ve presented at the ArcView group which is an investor forum. Can you tell a little bit about your experience there and what you did?
Julianna: Yeah, yeah I’d be happy to. It’s been a fantastic experience I have to say. It’s been really, really wonderful just meeting the network of investors that are involved with ArcView. We have a fantastic group that has you know helped fund a lot of our Auntie Delores initiatives to increase our sales and build out our sales team and just really go full force with our brand and the products line and it’s been, it’s been awesome to make those pushes with our company and to have that kind of support. And then you know since we were in ArcView in June of last year. It’s been almost a whole year now and we’re, we’re realizing that the pet treat thing might be a really interesting opportunity as well, and so we might need to raise some money again so that we can you know sort of capture this opportunity since we sort of spaced ourselves as one of the first movers in this industry and that’s really exciting we want to be able to sort of take advantage of the momentum.
Matthew: Sure. Well that makes a lot of sense. I mean it really helps to be a first mover in the industry. Now Marjorie we’ve talked about the Treat-ibles only being available in California right now, but what states do you think are likely to approve your license next so you can offer Treat-ibles there?
Marjorie: Oh I would love to think that every state will approve our license. It’s really, I don’t consider there really to be barriers other than bureaucracy you know which would be the case even for filling out you know a new DMV application. You know I think it will be fairly straightforward and you know that we’ll be able to get those licenses in every state at some point which we are working on and will happen at some point soon. And we’re also hoping to produce more products specific for cats and larger dogs and you know have a variety that would include possibly raw treats things like that. So there’s a lot of things coming on the horizon and you know we’re, we’re very excited about and look forward to being available all over the country and hopefully all over the world.
Matthew: Gosh I hope there’s somebody from the zoo’s listening because I enjoyed the zoo but at the same time I feel terrible for these animals. It would be great if they could have a little, in the corner have a bucket of CBD Treat-ibles and to relax and normalize a little bit you might need a lot if it was an elephant or a giraffes but I mean I’m serious.
Julianna: Well we thought it would be fun to provide the treats for some of these shelters and just you know. The whole shelter of dogs like a few treats. Give them their dosage and see how it goes. It might calm the whole place down.
Matthew: Yes cause I volunteered at some animal shelters and you go in there and sometimes it’s quiet the other half the time it’s not because when one starts barking and then they all start barking and then they all make each other nervous and upset. It would really help things out there so that’s a great idea.
Marjorie: Yeah there’s a lot of opportunity with that I mean you know think about the grooming facilities or the training facilities you know a lot of these animals like the dogs in particular come in with a lot of anxiety and you know it’s, it’s a great way to help them in those situations as well. We’ve started to get contact from people besides the rescue organizations from dog organizations that run you know certain dog shows and gatherings, and I think there’s a lot of applications for it in the settings when you know animals come together.
Matthew: Yes. Combat dogs too and you know maybe in, in Iraq or Afghanistan or that work for police I mean I might be, I might join your sales team here. I’ve got a lot of ideas.
Margorie: We’re ready for you Matt.
Julianna: I love it.
Marjorie: Come onboard.
Julianna: You’re hired.
Matthew: Well Julianna in closing how can listeners find Treat-ibles?
Julianna: Sure so visit us at www.treatibles.com and you can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. We love getting Instagram photos of before and after of dogs. So people should feel free to send those over. We love posting that stuff.
Matthew: Right. Well Julianna and Marjorie thank you so much for being on CannaInsider today we really appreciate it.
Julianna: It was great. Thanks so much Matt.
Marjorie: Yeah thank you it was 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 CannaInsider? Simply send us an email at feedback at cannainsider.com. We’d love to hear from you.
The Cannabis Cup is the most prestigious award in the cannabis industry. Growers compete for the glory, but what does is take to win?
High Times cultivation editor, Nico Escondido takes us behind the scenes and tells us what really goes on and what the judging process is like. He also discusses how to avoid the most common cannabis cultivation mistakes.
*Get the FREE CannaInsider Podcast for your smartphone, CLICK HERE.*
[2:01] – Nico’s background
[5:44] – Nico talks about his day-to-day work life at High Times
[8:35] – Nico discusses the Cannabis Cup
[18:03] – Increasing your chances of winning a Cannabis Cup
[23:53] – Nico talks about the Cannabis Genetics Institute
[27:16] – Nico talks about genetics and traits
[32:23] – Horticulture technology
[35:08] – Nico gives his opinion on LED versus traditional lighting
[38:52] – Typical growing mistakes
[42:11] – Bad growing habits
[50:43] – Photobiology and genetics to him
[53:06] – New York Medical Marijuana Legalization
[59:35] – How to find Nico’s work
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to get started. Now here’s your program.
I’m really excited to have the High Times Cultivation Editor and expert grower Nico Escondido with us today. Welcome to CannaInsider Nico.
Nico: Thanks Matt. Thanks for having me. I’m a big fan of the program, and I’ve been listening in and I knew I was going to be on your show. And you guys really have a great cross section of the industry. It’s a very interesting show.
Matthew: Oh thank you.
Nico: Yeah, absolutely.
Matthew: To give us a sense of geography can you tell us where you are in the world today?
Nico: Today I’m in my hometown which is New York City. That’s where the High Times offices are in Manhattan. And it’s a bit warm and a bit muggy here in New York City as usual.
Matthew: Okay, and before we jump into everything you’re doing at High Times, can you give us a little background on yourself and how you got into the cannabis industry?
Nico: Yeah sure. I guess it goes back, I mean, I’ve been growing, I’ve been a grower for over 20 years now. I started as a teenager. And then breaking into the industry back before there was an industry was a bit of a challenge, because I’ve been at High Times now for almost 10 years. And first at High Times it’s really… it’s a tough thing to find people who can excel in both industries that we have these base meetings, publishing of course and then also cannabis. So to find guys like myself, like Danny Danko, the Jorge Cervantes, the Harry Reisig [ph] guys who can write, but also know a bit, a fair bit about cannabis, it’s a tough racket.
You know for me it’s just like everything else. It’s a bit of who you know and a bit of timing. So I guess at the turn of the century, in 2002 my girlfriend now my wife, and I decided to just hit the road. And we went down to Mexico where we had some family, and we helped them do the old conversion from smuggler to grower because they’d been down here for years and the Mexican brick weed product that we all know from our youth was starting to fizzle out and get overtaken by the Canadian weed. And they needed to step up their game. So we went down there and it was a great experience. We learned a lot. We helped set up huge hydro warehouses down there. We did that for a few years before finally coming back to the United States.
And once I got back here I continued to grow, but I was also writing at a newspaper, a small weekly paper. And a few stories back then got picked up by the Associated Press, and a friend of mine saw my name. She gave me a call. She said oh would you like to write for High Times. I said yeah right sure. She set that up and it turns out her neighbor was the Associate Publisher at the time for High Times. So she made the connection for me, and the rest is history.
Matthew: So was the article in the Associated Press, was it cannabis related?
Nico: No not at all. We were living in New Jersey. It was a small, weekly paper. I was a beat writer for one of these towns here. Actually it was a snake that had gotten shipped accidently in a box in a return to Samsung, and when they opened the DVD player a snake popped out. And it had travelled all the way from Tennessee or somewhere. I forget, and I had written this kind of quirky story about this snake. Anyway it was just one of those kind of mainstream, pop culture story things that got picked up by the Associated Press. It had my byline on it, and that’s what happened. So you never know, you know, you think you’re in this rut. You think you’re doing something that really doesn’t interest you. You’re writing about snakes in the mail, and the next thing you know you’re sitting at High Times having an interview with Danny Danko and Rick Cusick.
Matthew: That’s a great story. Now what is your day-to-day life like working at High Times? I mean both there in New York City in the office and then when you’re going out on the road doing various things.
Nico: Yeah I mean the gig at High Times requires a lot of travel. When I first started at the magazine I would say I was probably on the road about 50 percent of the time. And now with the events that we do seven times a year plus editorial there’s a lot of travel, and there’s a lot of shifting of gears. You know kind of going between content production on the editorial side and then putting on the Cannabis Cups. When I first started at High Times I was on assignment probably, I don’t know, half the time. But it was really a dream job at the beginning. Not that it’s not anymore, but you know you tend to burn out with that much travel.
I got to travel the globe and visit the world’s biggest marijuana plantations. I mean Amsterdam, Spain, Israel, Morocco, British Columbia, Africa. I mean you name it, I went shooting for the magazine and writing about cultivation. And I just got to learn so much and meet so many people. It was really a blessing. These days the travel is more on the Cannabis Cup side. I’m going to probably get away two or three times a year to do a nice long piece, a good read for the magazine. But you know other than that when I’m home in New York it’s pretty standard, you know, Mondays are editorial meetings. Thursdays are planning meetings. Wednesdays are our Cannabis Cup meetings. And then it’s just trying to put a book out while trying to set up the next event.
Matthew: Interesting. It sounds like a lot of different stuff you have going on now. Everybody has heard of the Cannabis Cup, and if you haven’t it’s essentially the equivalent of the Stanley Cup in hockey in which the Blackhawks won last night, Go Hawks. Just a little plug there. Can you take us behind the scenes and tell us how growers enter the competition, how a winner is selected and what the lab testing process is? Here in Boulder I believe Native Roots came in number two with the Griz, I think one of their strains here for the last Denver Cannabis Cup. And it’s a huge deal. I mean that’s a note worthy event that goes on your Facebook timeline when you win something like that.
Nico: Oh absolutely.
Matthew: It can really help a dispensary get a lot of business to because everybody wants to try a Cannabis Cup winner. So if you would just kind of walk us behind the scenes. What’s the selection process like? How doe growers enter and how does that whole system work?
Nico: Sure. This is something I can talk about for days. So I’m not sure how much time we have. You might have to cut me off. I serve as the Competition Director as you probably know as well as the Cultivation Editor. So when it comes to Cannabis Cups this is what I do. I run the competition, and before I really get too far into it I have to say that we’ve been doing this now for 28 years. We’ve only been doing it for five or six years here in the states, but this actually goes back into the mid 90s. And I have to give a shout out to our former Editor in Chief and the founder of the Cannabis Cup Steve Hager who had the vision almost three decades ago now to hold this type of event and of course it was annual. It was in Amsterdam every year. We still do the Amsterdam Cup of course, but now with the advent of medical marijuana and legalization we do these all over the United States and some in Europe.
The process has evolved significantly since Steve had it. Back then it wasn’t nearly as big and it wasn’t as organized as it is now. So to start with the competition regularly sees about 500 entries in these cities which is a lot and we developed a system that utilizes obviously judges who score on qualitative characteristics and then we have at least two labs at every cup that runs a host of tests for us, and we get measurements on the quantitative side. What we do then is we actually have created a fairly complex algorithm which we’ve now digitized and put into an online scoring program that we call High Times Score Book. So the judges get to create accounts and login to that. All the score sheets are digital for the entries. All the judging is blind of course.
So if they’re judging, you know, we break it into 12 categories; hybrids, sativa, indica. Same for concentrates, we have CBD categories with edibles and your topicals now. Depending on the category the judge is in they login and the score sheets come up for those entries for that category. And they’re just labeled simply Hybrid 1, Hybrid 2, Hybrid 3. So it will know what the strain is now and who it came from. You know from a logistics standpoint it’s pretty hard to do this especially for a company coming out of New York City to put these on. So we don’t have a lot of time.
So typically, you know, I’m out there on the ground usually two to three weeks beforehand so is our other competition director Craig Coffee [ph] with an intake team and so the competitors have to come and show up a couple weeks before the actual event, and they have to actually submit their entries. We do that for a couple of days and then for a couple of days after that we break it all down. We actually create kits for the judges. Everything has to be put into smaller baggies and labels and put into the correct kits for the judges. We have to make kits for the photographer, kits for the labs, kits for the judges. The judges typically get about 7 to 8 days to judge the entries. We tap the categories now at 50 so they got to smell, you know, it’s work. People think oh what a great job, you know, you’re a judge for the Cannabis Cup. Don’t get me wrong it’s a phenomenal experience, but at the same time you are on the clock man. It’s a job, you’re working and we take it very seriously. And we sometimes drive our judges a little too hard and we’ve learned our lesson in that regard. I never thought it was possible to actually seen an overdose from cannabis. But if you’re an edibles judge, you can certainly disappear for a couple of days.
We’ve kind of backed off on that and kind of instructed our judges on how best to sample the edibles. Yeah it’s a process and it’s something I’m extremely proud of. The score book system is amazing. It’s customizable, it’s scalable, it’s tweakable. Judges will judge, let’s just take flowers for instance, judges will judge on visual aesthetics, on taste, on aroma, on the burnability or the flush of the product and then lastly on the effects. Now a lot of people say well geeze how do you, you know, you have 50 strains to smoke in a week, and how do you know the effects. And you know what I tell them is we’re not looking for the judges to tell me how strong something is.
I get the potency values from the lab. So I know how strong those are. When I say effects I’m asking the judges, you know, you’re a sativa judge. Is it a sativa? Does it belong in this category? Does it have a real uplifting high? Does it cut right through? How does it make you feel? So it’s a bit objective, you know, in that regard. And so we don’t want one judge versus another judge trying to tell us this is stronger than the others. We don’t want any of that. We just want to know how do you feel and does it do the job. Is it an indica? Is it a sativa? And then once they put in all of their lab scores, I’m sorry, once they put in all of their scores at the end of the week I get the lab results. I put those into the system. The lab results account for 30 percent and the judges’ scores count for 70 percent.
So the system will average all of the judges scores. And then we’ll add in the lab values and the system will score those. And you get a total score out of 100 points. And so really it’s pretty dialed in at this point. I mean we incorporate everything now from THC to CBD to terpenoids, residual solvencies for concentrates. And we show that to the judges at the end. What we’ll do is have a meeting at the end of the week. The judges will all come. They’ll sit down with their group. There’s usually about somewhere between 5 and 7 judges for each category and we sit down and we show them the results from the score book system. We give them the top five. We don’t consider anything outside of the top five, but we do allow the judges to judge to pose the positioning of those strains. The only caveat is that whatever came in first place has to place, and we do that because we put a high value and emphasis on the human element.
You know when we started these Cannabis Cups they were, in the United States anyway, they were Medical Cannabis Cups. So they really were about the patient. They really were about the product, and we didn’t want the lab values skewing that too much. So as a safeguard we have these judges meetings. And it’s a real nice evening for all the judges. We typically run about 70 to 80 judges per Cannabis Cup. We have a nice dinner on the Friday night before the event. The event expo starts on Saturday. All the judges come. They bring (15.35 Plus One) and we get it catered. And we just do breakout sessions and we break them into their groups, and we sit down and we pick the winners.
And it’s really a great process, and what I love about it is there’s a lot of transparency. Everything I just told you is sent to all the competitors so they know how the competition works. We publish it online. And then what we do is if you win a Cannabis Cup, we invite you to come and judge a Cannabis Cup at the next one. And even if you don’t win, you don’t have to. If you just came to us and said hey I’m a competitor. I entered in Los Angeles and Seattle and I’m thinking about coming to Amsterdam, can I be a judge? Fuck yeah, you can be a judge. Come out to Amsterdam, see our process, you know, see it from the other side. See how we do it. You know with any competition at the end when the people think they should have won and they don’t there’s a lot of naysaying. There’s a lot of rumors that go around. And we work very hard to bring integrity to the Cannabis Cup and make it a fair competition. And it’s the best and it’s the biggest in the world. I know there’s a lot of competitions out there these days that try to do similar things, and I support everyone in doing that. I’m a bit bias, ours is the best.
Matthew: Wow that’s an amazing amount of detail and work that goes into it. I’m glad you shared that. I don’t know how many people really know how in depth it goes, but I’m glad there really is a process. And you mentioned how the Cannabis Cup started in Amsterdam. Actually Arjan Roscam was on the show and he shared how when the Cup came there it really changed the whole course of history for him. Similar to how when your article came out about the Samsung and the snake and everything, his whole life changed with the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. So that’s fascinating.
Nico: Arjan’s been there from the beginning. Him and Falco and Greenhouse are great supporters. I actually did hear a little bit of that interview you did and it was excellent. I applaud really Matt your reach and the people you get to come on the show. It’s a great archive and history of our industry.
Matthew: Thank you. Is there anything entrants into the Cannabis Cup can do to increase their chances of winning even if that’s just eliminating stupid mistakes or little things, little pitfalls they might encounter?
Nico: Yeah there are a couple of things that I tell people. The first mistake people make is that they think that the strongest cannabis is going to win and that’s absolutely not true. We get lab values these days that hit in the high 20s, you know, 27, 28. I think I had a 29 percent in Denver this past April. While those are nice, they don’t win. What usually wins is somewhere in the high teens, low 20s, but what wins is taste. Flavor is paramount. And so there’s two things I tell competitors that they can do in this regard, and the first is obviously make sure you flush your crop at the end. And I’m a big believer in a solid two week flush. No nutrients. I might even go three weeks depends on if I’m doing organics or not.
The second is obviously cure. You know don’t bring anything that’s going to be too wet or too fresh and not burn right because the judges, I mean, they’re sophisticated. These are experts we pick from a large database now of judges. We have over 1,000 in it, and they’re all experts from the industry. So you know if they roll up a joint and it doesn’t burn white at the tip and it gets all kind of black and resin-y and cloudy, you know, that’s not going to win. And then as far as taste goes I have to say the competition has really opened my eyes because from the score book the database we’ve created and how much info we have I get to go back and really analyze the winning strain.
We have the competitors fill our entry forms of their entry everything from did you grow from seed or clone, what nutrients did you use, what medium did you use, lighting, indoor/outdoor. You name it, we have the info on every strain that’s entered. And so when we get the winners I get to go back and I really get to correlate all of that data, and I can tell you that a majority of the winners are grown organically.
Matthew: Wow that’s great to know.
Nico: Yeah isn’t that something? Not to give a shameless plug to my ole buddy Kyle Christian, but his new veganic nutrient line has produced, you know, I mean quite a few winners and a couple at every Cup. And so much so that I’ve started using it, and the organic and the veganic stuff just really brings out that flavor. You might not get as big of yield I guess, but when you’re growing a specialized crop for a competition, that’s what I would recommend.
Matthew: You bring up a good point here. It’s not about THC concentration. It’s about flavor, but there’s a few objective things that get measured; THC, CBD. What do you think the next thing that everybody’s going to want to see measured is?
Nico: That’s a great question. We just had a long talk at the office last week about this. Someone was asking me about CBDs and they were saying, how much THC do you need with CBD or do you need any THC to activate the CBD. And we had this whole long conversation, and at the end of it I said, you know, what’s funny about this conversation is that next year it will be about a different cannabinoid, and the year after that it will start to be about specific terpenoids. And after that it will be the entourage effect that we hear so much about which is how various cannabinoids and terpenoids interact to create an effect. And then once we get passed that and we figure out those different combinations, then it’s going to be how do those combinations react in each individual person’s chemotype.
So this question is immensely interesting and it is the question because what I think it shows is that this is just the tip of the iceberg here Matt, what you’re asking about. And the reason for that and the problem is that we don’t have a federal legalization bill here in this country, and so that stymies any legitimate and long term research we can do in this regard. I mean we’ve known about CBD for quite a few years now. But it’s really just coming into the mainstream, and the politicians are getting into it and doctors are getting into it. But those kind of people who aren’t in our industry with us here every day, you know, they don’t know about CHCV or A. They don’t know about terpenoids. They don’t know about mercene. They don’t know about the various effects of these other things. And then the combination of those therein.
Yeah I think the future, to answer your question more specifically, I think the future is going to push more into terpenoids because terpenoids and flavonoids produce that flavor which is really, that’s the selling point in these dispensaries and you know, in terms of marketability. All these strains are strong. You know, they’re all going to get you high. So it’s going to come down to what’s your palate, what’s your preference, what’s your taste, what’s your flavor and that’s very marketable. Oh you know, I like grape and I like blueberry and bubble gum. Who knows, you know this banana craze and the Tangie [ph] and all this stuff. So terpenoids I think is where you’re going to see it go. The question is when, how long is it going to take us to get there, and how much research is going to be allowed on this front.
Matthew: Switching gears a little bit, what is the Cannabis Genetics Institute? What are you doing there?
Nico: The Cannabis Genetic Institute, CGI we’re calling it for short, it’s a side project of mine, my latest side project. And, you know I’ve taken a little bit of a break from doing the videos in my spare time, and I decided to try my hands in genetics. So I have to say first that I’m very lucky to have a great partner in this endeavor who is one of our popular writers at High Times in Amsterdam, Mr. Harry Resin, who has moved his family from Amsterdam. And he and I together with a few of our other partners we’ve built the Cannabis Genetic Institute and it’s out in California.
It’s in its infancy so I don’t want to say too much about it. We haven’t really launched it publicly, but the aim of it is for it to be a place of education, research and development for cannabis genetics. It’s something that’s not about money. It’s certainly not about awards. I mean as far as your typical C companies and stuff like that, I could never enter a Cannabis Cup or anything of the sort. So it’s not about any of that. It’s purely about the plant and about people, about educating and about helping readers and about really reinvigorating the cannabis gene pool which is a concern of mine. It’s kind of my cannabis philanthropy if you will.
I saw a documentary I guess, you know, years back and it was about the Svalbard Seed Bank, the doomsday seed bank up there in Norway that has every conceivable plant and flower and botanical variety in seed form up there frozen. And I thought we need that for cannabis, you know. I’ve heard that there’s cannabis in that vault and I’m sure there’s hemp and whatnot, but that’s how this idea spawned, and I thought okay well I have quite a collection of genetics. We just started launching some cryo preservation freezers and started storing seeds, and that evolved into getting, we’re building a testing facility, that evolved into doing some breeding work.
And so that’s kind of where we are now. We have a good group of people in there. We lit the facility I guess maybe eight months ago. So we’re just in the beginning of our testing and our selections and I hope, Matt, that it becomes a… not a, I mean, an institute for sure, an institution, but not like a college, but a place for collaboration. A place where, you know, I obviously have a lot of contacts and access within the industry and a lot of good friends. It seems like all of my friends are breeders in the industry. So I hope it’s a place where we can all come together and do good things for the cannabis community.
Matthew: How do you feel about genetic versus environmental effects, and what traits are you measuring and most interested in?
Nico: Well they say the equation for a phenotype is simply genotype plus environment. So what that basically tells us is that you grow ten seeds, you get ten different phenotypes, a lot of that is a environmental factor. So while the genetics play a huge role it really depends on where you are in the lineage meaning what generation you are, how many crosses, how many back crosses and how stable you can get something meaning will it show the traits that you think it will show or will it show variation. And for me what I’m looking for is I’m looking for variation at this point. Every good breeder out there is looking for that diamond in the rough which is the mutant phenotype. If you want to create something new or you want to find something new you got to make crosses, and you got to get offspring and you got to grow them out and do a mass selection and really look for something different.
And that’s part of the problem these days is that everything has become a clone only strain. And what’s essentially happening is we’re losing the males. We’re losing that Y chromosome, and so that’s why you hear like oh man can I get seed to that, and they say oh it’s only clone only. And while you live on the other side of the country and now you have figure out how to ship some cuttings across the country or something like that, and it’s sad. It’s sad because that means that we don’t have the male for that plant anymore. And if you think back way back to our father’s generation and you think of the Tie Stick and the Maui Wowie and some of these legendary strains, we don’t have them anymore. You know, you might find them somewhere, but they’re not the same, and it’s because they’ve been bred out and nobody’s kept the males. So that’s part of the mission at CGI and that’s what I’m looking for when it comes to new phenos and genetic drift and stuff like that.
Matthew: So you gave us a sense there a little bit about seeds and seed versus clone, but do you think more people should be growing from seed? Do you think it’s a problem to be growing so much from clone and just getting away entirely from seeds just because it’s faster?
Nico: I think there’s a definite place for both. And I’m not sure that it’s faster. I think with the cloning, you know, you might save a week or two. But I think there’s pros and cons for both. Obviously if you’re a commercial grower and you’re doing something in large format, you know, cloning is just a lot easier. It’s the way to go. You have consistency and uniformity in your crop and that’s important. But as you know at the same time I’ve seen people growing from clones for, you know, the same clone for ten years. You know what I mean. They’re making clone mothers from clones and then taking clones of that clone mother and make another clone mother. Before you know it they’re at F20 or F25 Generation, you know. And there’s a big debate amongst growers and breeders about genetic drift and meaning what happens after you know ten years of not reinvigorating a strain with new genetics.
And so that’s what we call hybrid vigor, and that’s what you get with seeds. So aside from just the male/female issue and losing that Y chromosome, I think that using seed can really be an interesting way for growers to get something new and reinvigorate their gardens. I don’t think people really look at it that much. You have a lot of smaller home hobbyists and stuff who don’t want to be bothered with throwing down seeds and sexing from male female and then of course now you have feminized seeds which is basically why that revolution started was from a marketing standpoint and salability. But we’re in danger. I’m not saying we’re in grave danger of losing strains or the gene pool going stagnant. But if a hundred years ago we had started to think about global warming then we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in today. But we only started thinking about global warming 20 years ago. So I look at seed versus clone as the same thing. We’re not in a dire situation. I’m not opposed to clones. I use clones all the time as well. We better start thinking about what we’re doing now so that in 50 years we’re not like oh shit, you know, everything is so G Kush.
Matthew: What excites you in terms of horticulture technology that’s out there right now?
Nico: All of it, Matt really, you know, I love technology especially as a component of science because science is what begets progress plain and simple. And that’s, you know, I’m all about the evolution of the plant and the evolution of our laws and the evolution of the interaction of the plant which humans and technology is the cornerstone of that. So I get excited when I see new technology coming into our space because that tells me you know the industry is legitimizing. People are less afraid, companies, manufacturers are less afraid to market to our industry. So those are all good signs.
But what I like the most, I suspect you already know the answer to this, is indoor lighting. I don’t know, I just got into this. It’s the one little niche of cultivation that really struck me years back. And at the time I didn’t think that it would become this platform that I talk on all the time, but it has. It’s something I find extremely interesting especially with the advent of new lighting technology. I actually just finished, probably, I’m going to say one of, if not, the best feature that I have ever done for High Times in ten years and it will be out this summer in the magazine. And it’s all about the new technologies in horticultural lighting, and it covers all the new technologies such as LEDs, plasma lamps, ceramics, the new digital HPS systems. I mean you name it, we got it and we tested it.
We went out and we bought some real expensive scientific equipment to measure the light, a radio spectrometer. I’m sorry a spectroradio meter. I’m dyslexic there. And you know it takes measurements of the light. It gives you the whole spectro chart. It gives you the intensities. And it’s just something that I find to be just fascinating which is photo synthesis which is how plants harvest light energy, and you know create food from it. And then when you take that inside and you just think about light as an artificial sun and how we’re replicating these natural processes indoors and it all starts with lighting, I mean I just geek out on it. I think it’s cool stuff.
Matthew: There’s a lot of people that are really polarized on the topic of LED versus traditional lighting. Where do you stand on that?
Nico: You know in the beginning when these came out, I obviously wasn’t a very big fan of it. High Times as a magazine took a different stance. It’s a bit of a war there in house, but it’s become a big part of the industry that we can’t ignore. And I think that since the time maybe four or five years ago when it first came out until now it’s advanced a lot and it’s made a lot of leaps in terms of the LED technology. But when it comes to lighting, you know, we have to look at light or full spectrum light as nutrition for a plant.
Full spectrum is like taking a multivitamin, and plants need the full spectrum. And there’s a lot of science out there and I won’t get too technical, but there’s a lot of science out there and it likes to break down into its color frequencies. And so you see that a lot with LEDs. And you see just the red and the blue and there’s a lot of arguments for that. And to a certain extent they make sense. Plants process and absorb different wavelengths of spectrum and color differently, but they also use them differently and they each have their own place in those physiological and biological processes. And that’s the part that people don’t realize, and I try to talk on that a lot especially when I do these seminars at our Cannabis Cups, but you know. I tested and you will see in this article when it comes out, I think it’s out in August. There was an LED that came in second in our trials, two months ago when we did it at CGI.
That LED lamp, it produced a white light. You know, or whiter. It wasn’t this pink or purple hue and it was very strong and it really had a very broad spectrum and it was nice. And it’s something I can actually say wow you know, I would use that, but at the same time, that lamp costs $1,600. It uses nearly as much power has an HID lamp does and it creates just as much heat. So those were the initial benefits for LEDs was that they ran cooler and used less power. Well the truth is if you want to LEDs up to an HPS or MH type standards, you’re going to lose those benefits. So it will be interesting to see how the industry goes with that, but I don’t think LEDs are going to take over. I think really the future lies in some of these newer technologies. I was impressed with the ceramics, of course the Gavita bulbs are the new HPS, the digital HPS systems are great. And plasmas are starting to come along. So I think that’s what you’re going to be seeing more of in the near future.
Matthew: Great summary. It sounds like the consumer wins here with all of this incredible competition going on.
Nico: That’s true.
Matthew: So I want to get into some practical tips for new growers. There’s a lot of new growers coming online in Nevada, Oregon, even still here in Colorado, but in other states they’re starting to come online. They have a lot of capital but they’re trying to get seasoned growers to help them, but they’re going to make mistakes. If you were to walk into a commercial grow for someone that’s doing it for the first time, what mistakes would you typically see?
Nico: You know I think one of the biggest mistakes that new growers make is in their feeding programs, in their watering and feeding programs. You know of course there’s a lot of over and under watering. And that’s tough because there’s not a real good template that’s standardized for just any grower. It depends on your environment. It depends on your guard and your system, your lighting and all of that, how much water your plants are going to need.
Then more so than that the feeding program, and by feeding I simply mean your nutrient solutions. So you have water, and then when you feed you have your water mixed with nutrients. And I think that right there is probably the biggest mistake. And that isn’t necessarily the grower’s fault. It’s the manufacturer of these nutrients faults because they people, the growers they just read the instructions on the bottle, but those instructions are wrong. You know it’s in the benefit of a nutrient manufacturer for you to use those nutrients as quickly as possible and then go an buy their nutrients again.
So I tell growers you know if you’re going to go buy the bottle, you know, whatever that dosage is those instructions are, half it. You know if it says use X amount, use half of X because you can always add more. But once you get into over fertilizing, that really creates a whole new host of problems that a new grower will not be able to handle. And basically what can happen is, especially with the synthetic nutrients is you over fertilize and you create what’s called nutrient lockup down in your root zone. That’s a buildup of the salts that the synthetic nutrients are really made of, and they kind of bind down in your medium and they prevent your root zone from uptaking any nutrients, and that’s also why flushing is very important.
Now you should always do a fresh water flush once a week just to clean out your medium and get all that residual nutrients out of there. So when I come into grow rooms you know with new growers and they have discolorations and they have fatigued plants and drooping plants and stuff, they say yeah you know I mean I have this nutrient deficiency so I gave it more. And then that didn’t work. So I gave it even more. The problem is just that. You’re giving it too much, and you created nutrient lockup in your root zone. And so it doesn’t matter how much you give it, it’s not getting into the plant.
And so with nutrients less is more, and there’s this formula, it’s called a Lucas Formula which growers can go and Google and look up. And it basically describes how to take a minimalistic approach in your nutrient program. And that’s probably the biggest thing I think for new growers is trying to really feel that situation out.
Matthew: What about let’s say adolescent growers, growers that have been at it for a while. They’re feeling confident in their skills but they may have developed some bad habits. Do you see any bad habits that kind of across the board wherever you go where people are doing a certain thing. They’re having a successful harvest, but they’re making a couple mistakes and they’re not really aware of it.
Nico: I like to write a lot about this. For your average grower, it’s an often overlooked topic but it’s pretty simple, and it’s just pruning. Pruning, topping and trellising and they all kind of interconnect. What a lot of growers don’t realize is that you know when you go in and you have a plant that’s halfway through its life cycle, and you see those real big fan leaves, especially on the lower half of the plant, those should be removed. About halfway through a leaf’s lifecycle, when it gets really big like the size of your hand or whatever, it’s actually using more energy than it’s creating for the plant. And this is even more true the later you get in flowering and you even begin to see some of that yellowing and purpling in the petioles and stuff, those leaves need to be removed.
Every gardener should have a daily pruning program meaning they should go into garden and they should be taking several leaves off of a plant each day. Not too many leaves. I’m talking about you know, just a handful four or five, six leaves. Usually from the lower half of the plant where the growth is older, leave the newer growth at the top alone. That’s not going to shock the plant. It’s not going to stress it out or anything. The plant is not going to try to regrow those lower chutes or lower leaves. It’s just going to take that new energy that it was using and try to sustain that leaf, and it’s going to bring it to the top of the plant. All the energy is going to go to the top of the plant. And of course that’s where the top colas are and the flowers are forming, and that’s where you want the energy. You want the energy going into yields and into potency and into trichome production. So what I tell people all the time is a rigorous pruning program is one of the best things you can do for a plant. In fact I will go so far as to say that the bottom third of your plant that should be empty. I mean it looks unnatural I know that, and it requires time and it’s laborious, but taking that bottom third off and really just letting the top half of that plant flourish is one of the best things you can do for your plant.
Matthew: So that kind of goes against perhaps grower’s instincts where they say oh it looks unsightly or seems unnatural but you’re saying that produces the best harvest.
Nico: Yeah I mean people are afraid to cut the plant. You know, we forget that out in nature everything goes back to Mother Nature in how these plants are. I mean in a rain storm, a regular rainy day with some wind, you know it can lose an entire branch. And I’m not saying that you should take off branches, you know, start with the leaves. Take off the lower chutes when they’re still just coming out. Don’t go in there and take off a whole branch unless of course you have some mold or something awful going on with it. Because even then it can handle it. But if you use a good pruning technique in conjunction with a trellising system meaning just like some mesh netting or something that you put over the canopy and you take off the bottom portions, you take off the yellowing and the big leaves, and you take the new growth and you really spread it out using that trellis and you pull it through the netting, you’re going to get such great light penetration. You’re going to get extra support for your branches. You’re going to direct all that energy that would otherwise be wasted on that lower half of the plant with those little popcorn buds and stuff, and that’s how you’re going to get those nice big cola developments at the top.
Matthew: I’ve watched a lot of your videos where you’re travelling around the world and going to different places. You know on your international travels have you noticed any best practices from cultivators that you’ve turned around and use here in North America or maybe you can tell some North American grower some things you’ve seen outside the U.S. that they can use here, some techniques or ideas.
Nico: That’s an interesting question. I have to say I’m surprised I’m saying this, but the best outdoor gardens that I have seen are in the United States in Northern California. And I say I’m surprised because I have seen a lot of excellent stuff outside of the country, stuff that I mean, like Morocco. I’ve been out to the Rist Mountains, and I’ve been up in Tatyana, and I’ve also been out in the vast country in Northern Spain. I’ve been out in Switzerland. I’ve been out in British Columbia and seen huge huge grows in the rainforest there on Vancouver Island. And I’ve also been in Northern California in Mendocino and I have to say, I mean the biggest and best plants I’ve ever seen have been up there in Humboldt and Mendocino.
Matthew: Perfect weather.
Nico: What’s that?
Matthew: Perfect weather out there.
Nico: Oh geeze I know. If you think that they can grow those giant sequoias and redwoods within that climate, you can probably grow a huge plant. But no I mean I think, you know, it was funny because in Morocco for instance, they may have been doing it out there longer than us, but at the same time they’re very traditional and they’re set in their ways. And so there’s very little sexing of the plants, and there’s very little pruning. So when you go up there all the trees, all the cannabis trees are just, you know, they look like just spears coming out of the ground with one big pot cola. There’s hardly any branches and then when they cut them down, they take them and they drag them all out into the sun and make a big pile and just let them cure and bake right there in the sun. And they have all these weird practices.
And then when you go out to Mendo, you know, they have a 40,000 square foot warehouse, tin frame that they built on the side of a mountain and it’s just holding you know 1,100 pounds of primo cannabis. It’s a big difference than what you see outside of the country versus here. I think that the biggest thing though is that outside of the country when I do see growers they’re not afraid to go big, wherever they’re doing it, they’re pretty comfortable whether it’s legal or not, they’re pretty comfortable with what they’re doing. I’ve seen probably bigger plants I will say outside of the country than I have in the United States. And I’m not sure if that’s because security measures here and people are afraid of getting busted or if it’s just because growers outside of the country in other countries are you know just going for it and just letting the plants go wild so to speak and you’re getting these 14, 15, 16 foot plants. But I mean I’ve seen plants, or trees I should say that yield 10 pounds.
I think that part of the problem outside of the country is money and technology. The growers in Northern California and in Colorado I’ve seen some nice grows outside in Colorado in greenhouses. We have the money here in this country to implement automated irrigation systems, you know, whereas if you go down to Mexico, I mean you’re lucky if you find a hose running through the field with some holes punctured in it. Whereas over here each plant site has four spray emitters staked into the ground with spaghetti lines all nicely spread out. You have natural spring reservoirs with 50,000 gallons of spring water in them. Outside of the country, you know, a lot of these countries are third world that do this and that’s why they’re doing this. They’re growing cannabis because they’re poor and they’re making hash out of it, and they’re exporting it to countries like Amsterdam or the United States or whatever where there is more money. So I have to say the outdoor scene in our country is pretty impressive.
Matthew: You seem like you’re always learning. What from the genetics and photobiology side of things are most interesting to you that listeners might find helpful.
Nico: From the genetics standpoint, I mean, and this often goes back to some of the questions you asked earlier about the Cannabis Cup and about the competition, helping entrants. You know you can only do so much as a great grower. If your genetics are crap, you know that’s half the dial right there. So starting with good genetics is the key. Now people are saying well how do you know that you have good genetics, especially if you don’t have access to clones, if you don’t live in Colorado or California and you don’t have dispensaries, you have to rely on seeds.
That is a problem and that is something that we also want to work on at CGI which is the certification of seeds and certification of strains so people know what they are getting. But I find that the genetic side of things is paramount in terms of what’s the most important when you’re starting out. You know people will say is it indoor versus outdoor or is it technology or my grow medium or my grow system. The first and foremost you need good genetics. At CGI we like to work, we’re working with a lot of land raised stuff and I have a lot of seeds from the mountains of Tatyana and a mountain found in Mexico and stuff I feel is a true land raised pure sativa or pure indica. And then we put it in what I like to think is a great garden you know filled with the best, greatest, latest technologies and everything. And you can only get those strains to go so far.
I mean even the best version of a Mexican or a Moroccan is going to be, you know, and that’s grown I would like to think pretty well is going to be only half as good as some of these new hybrids that we have out there. So genetics goes a long way.
Matthew: Now you’re a New York native. How do you feel about how medical marijuana is being rolled out in New York. If I have it correctly I think there’s going to be five licenses and of those five that will entitle each of the winners four dispensaries. So we have 20 dispensaries for 20 million people in New York. I mean aside from just a numbers problem, how do you feel about in general how it’s being rolled out there?
Nico: I have a lot of problems with a lot of these medical laws in these states and it’s because the people writing the laws, the legislators they just don’t understand what they’re talking about. They don’t understand the plant. They don’t understand the science. They don’t understand horticulture. I think in New York they made some kind of weird law where I think you can’t even… the cannabis can’t even be smoked. It can only be vaporized I’m pretty sure. And all of these people who are awarded the licenses they have to grow their own so there’s no outside growing like there is in California or Colorado.
So as you said there’s definitely a problem with the numbers there. But I think they look at it more as this is a starting point and if all things go according to plan and go well, they will expand it. So I’m not too concerned on that front, but what I’m concerned about is you say something like well we’re going to be progressive and we’re going to be ahead of the curve on this, and we’re going to say there can’t be any smoking. Smoking is bad and it’s unhealthy, and so we’re going to vaporize.
So now these guys don’t even know that what they are essentially you know wrote a bill for was concentrates which means all of the flowers. You know they don’t even get it. You know all of the flowers now have to be, you know, blasted and extracted and turned into concentrates. They don’t even understand what kind of regulation that’s going to require and with these facilities and how dangerous that can be. And then how do you really expect people to consume that? So what you think that vaporizing that these vape pens that everyone is using we think that that’s healthier than smoking cannabis in a joint. You know I’ve got news for you, it’s not. These pens all come from the same two or three factories in China. There’s no sort of regulation on how they’re manufactured, what kind of chemicals and lubricants and all that kind of stuff is used in these factories on these parts. And then we go and we have these heating elements that are not titanium or medical grade ceramic or anything of the sort. We’re applying our concentrates directly on the heating element, and they’re oxidizing. We’re breathing in all kinds of chemicals and fumes.
So this is something that, you know, here’s some politician in Albany and you think okay you know I’m smart. I’m going to write this law, be progressive and the voters are going to vote for me. And he doesn’t even know half of the things that I just said. And then what really irks me is that when people like myself are Danny Danko or people at High Times, you know, we try to reach out sometimes in our home states to these people and say listen I would be happy to consult and do it pro bono and come and sit while you try to formulate these bills and legislation. And they look at us and they laugh. You know they say, we don’t want to talk to a guy from High Times or whatever. And then they go off and they write these bills and they look like clowns.
It really irks me Matt, you know, I could go on forever about it, but you know then you look at a place like Colorado which really has it dialed in. Which really has it regulated, and yeah I mean I know there’s been bumps in the road and everything there’s going to be, but there’s a template right there. There’s a model in Colorado. I mean I would love it all to just be more like California, but you know see that’s the problem is that everybody is definitely afraid. They don’t want to be the next California. They think god California (56.47 shot the bed) and all those hippies are burnt out out there and they don’t know what they’re doing and it’s a free for all. And you know what it might be a free for all out there, but let me ask you something, are there any problems in California regarding cannabis? You know, are kids smoking cannabis more, no. Is there crime, no. You know are people dying from weed overdoses, no. So here’s the politicians and they think they know better and they don’t.
Matthew: Now here’s another New York question for you before we close. I’ve walked around Manhattan quite a bit and every place says they have the original number one New York style pizza. And I’m like how can they all be number one. Which one is the true number one New York City pizza?
Nico: You know I had this same debate with my wife except that it’s over Chinese food because no matter what city I go to there’s a number one Chinese restaurant. And so I’m confused, which one is really number one. I don’t know.
Matthew: Maybe you should start the Chinese Food Cup. There you go.
Nico: I think we’ve had that behind the scenes actually. There’s a lot of munchies going on. About the pizza, I tell people. There’s a chain in New York. It’s called Ray’s Pizza. Okay. If you want a regular, old slice of pizza that’s really true gritty New York, go to a Ray’s Pizza, and I promise you you won’t be disappointed. It’s not artisanal, it’s not gourmet or anything like that. Okay, it’s just your basic New York Style pizza, and whatever it is that makes New York Pizza the best, they boiled it down I think from all the ingredients because they tried to replicate it elsewhere in the country. So all they can really ascertain is that it must be the water. It must be something in the water is what they always say that makes the dough or the flavor. I don’t really think that’s true but that’s what they say. And so you can get a decent slice of pizza at any Ray’s. But if you want, if you really want to know.
Matthew: Okay we do.
Nico: The real deal is a place called Grimaldi’s Pizza, and you will find that only in Brooklyn and Hoboken so you have to cross one of the rivers, and it’s not far, but it’s this old kind of family run. I think there’s maybe only two or three Grimaldi Pizza shops in existence. And that is a bit more or a gourmet, but New York Style Pizza. So that would be my recommendation.
Matthew: That’s great. I’m writing it down. It’s going to go on the list. Well Nico in closing how can listeners follow your work online and read more about you?
Nico: Pick up a copy of the magazine, always on newsstands. Also carried at Barnes and Nobel. Check me out on www.hightimes.com. You know I do a Q&A there. I put up some features. We republish old articles there. And just now I’ve been told I’m starting to become an old man, and I need to get more current. So I’m on social media now. And I do the Twitter and the Instagram @Nico_Escondido and there’s a lot of photos and little tips an stuff on cultivation up on there. And as everyone at High Times, and before we close I just want to give a shout out to everyone at High Times. As you know we are now in our 41st year. We’ve been around. We’re not going anywhere and the people there, my colleagues are great and they’re good friends, they’re good people and they believe in the plant. So I just want to thank all your listeners and thank you for supporting all of us over the years in everything we do. And you know just remember to grow and help the world grow too.
Matthew: Awesome, great closing. Well Nico thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.
Nico: Absolutely. I had a great time. Thanks for having me Matt.
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