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Expert Designers Give Tips to Make your Cannabis Brand Stand Out

croc and plover cannabis brand

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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(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. We’ve talked about CBD or cannabidiol on the show many times. Just to review though CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound from the cannabis or hemp plant that has many benefits. Now our friends at Treatables have put together a wellness chew that can help your dog or cat become more calm and balanced. Valerie wrote in to tell us about her experience with Treatables.

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

Many people listening right now already have a cannabis related business and others are looking to start a cannabis related business. Either way one of the most important decisions you’re going to need to make at some point is how to create a brand that resonates with your target market. To help me intelligently think about branding for your cannabis business I’ve invited husband and wife design team Jamie and Pika Stearns from the firm Croc and Plover to the show today. Jamie, Pika welcome to CannaInsider.

Jamie: Hi Matt. Thank you.

Pika: Yeah thanks for having us.

Matthew: Sure. Jamie and Pika can you each in turn tell us a little bit about your background, your design experience, and how you pivoted to the cannabis space?

Jamie: Yeah I’ll kick things off. So I’ve been working in branding for over 14 years. Most of that time has been spent in Minneapolis and New York City. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of the bigger brands like Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Target. I’ve worked with a variety of different types of agencies like the innovation company IDL to product design consultancy Smart Design and then in the past five years we’ve been spending most of our time working on our own startups. We’ve also been doing a lot of branding for entrepreneurs developing products and bringing them to market.

Matthew: Cool.

Pika: My background is mostly in package design and illustration. Before we moved out here to Boulder I worked in New York freelancing at some really great packaging studios and I also worked as an illustrator with innovation consultancies. I got to work with a lot of big brands and my favorite ones were Carlsberg, Bath & Body Works, and Disney and while we were in New York Jamie and I started to work on projects together outside of freelancing and we found that we actually work really well together and wanted to start trying our own thing and so started our own studio called Croc and Plover with our own clients and projects that we could just have more control and influence. Neither of us are really city people so we moved to Boulder on a gut instinct that it would work out for both business and lifestyle reasons and that was two and a half years ago and now we’re living by the mountains and we have two dogs and a baby and things are going really great for us.

Matthew: Well that’s great. I should be a Boulder tourism show. We give so much press to Boulder. It is such a little zanadoo though that it’s hard not to brag on it.

Jamie: It is.

Pika: Yeah.

Jamie: It’s a pretty great place to live in. It had everything that we were looking for and then when we came here we mostly did work with food and beverage companies but then once cannabis was legalized we saw a really great opportunity to help influence this industry from a branding and product development perspective. So I started going to the conferences that were around here and to the meet ups and because it’s such a small world I started meeting a lot of the people that are now the innovators in the space. Then we got involved with mentoring at Canopy Boulder. We’re really excited about a lot of the companies that we see going through that program and what we do is we help companies with brand strategy, we help them with naming companies or naming products, writing around story, helping to come up with marketing tag lines, and then designing logos, designing custom structures for packaging, designing all the graphics that go on to the packaging that go into marketing materials, websites, and now helping companies that are going off to investment with their pitch decks.

Matthew: Wow.

Jamie: And in some cases even if a client doesn’t have a budget to hire a photographer for a photo shoot we’ll even do that in our studio. So we’ve kind of become a one stop shop to get brands off the ground or if a brand has been in the market and they’re getting a lot of traction we really need to take their brand to the next level we can help companies with that as well.

Matthew: So for a new company that’s just starting that doesn’t have a logo, branding, or anything yet what advice would you offer so they can put their best foot forward? I mean it’s really a pivotal time because I notice that we’re moving out of the 1.0 of the cannabis world where even my own brand I have a cannabis leaf on there. It’s green but I recognize it’s time to evolve to something else, a second iteration of the cannabis look and feel of what consumers and people want in general. So with that in mind how does someone put their best foot forward in creating their cannabis brand?

Jamie: Well I think the first thing you said there is the first thing people should consider is to try to get them away from doing the stereotypical things that we see around marijuana and avoid using the pot leaf in your logo and get away from using the tie dye gradient as your color palette. I think the main thing to separate yourself is to think of your brand as more of a lifestyle brand then a pot product and then consider how your brand is going to fit in to your user’s lifestyle. I think it’s also a good idea to take a look at the landscape or the category that the brands going to live in and identify that sliver of the market that they think they can own and then just go for it.

I think it’s also a good idea to look outside of your industry for inspiration. If you have a smoking product maybe you look at furniture companies or end carriers or beauty products. Maybe the way you see that a lamp illuminates a room will give you an idea for how to package your product or maybe the way an architecture firm tells their story will inspire how you talk about your brand but by broadening your inspiration pool you’re going to have more of a unique collection of resources to pull from and ultimately it’s going to help you develop more of a unique brand for yourself.

Matthew: Okay and how about an existing cannabis brand? There’s companies out there that have some traction. Maybe they have a logo and some branding and messaging but it’s really not a fit. It’s not honed or really crafted or contoured to the needs of their customers. What would you suggest for people in that boat?

Pika: I guess the trick is to really find out why your logo or your branding or your messaging whatever it is that isn’t resonating with your customers try to figure out why it’s not resonating which I know is a lot easier said than done but one thing you could do is to start by asking a few people from your target market what they think about your branding. This could be friends or family or co-workers or anyone but really just make sure it’s your specific audience and not just a general cannabis user. Try to figure out why they would or wouldn’t buy or use your product. What do they feel when they look at your logo like if you’re selling a product at a premium price does it look like it’s worth the extra cost? Do they feel like they’re paying for the quality and are they willing to pay extra for quality?

Matthew: Yeah.

Pika: If you’re selling a medicinal product does it look effective? Does it look like it will do what you’re promising it will do and if the problem is that people don’t believe that your product will do what you’re claiming it will then you have to figure out how to get them to trust you.

Matthew: Good point. Now Pika you have a flare for illustrating ideas during brainstorming sessions. When you were talking with me about this it sounded really interesting. I had never really seen or heard someone that can do this personally. Can you talk a little bit about how you can do that and what happens during that process?

Pika: Yeah. I used to work at an innovation consultancy called What If and I’d sit in during their brainstorming sessions with clients and quickly sketch up ideas that were being discussed in the team. So whether it was trying to come up with new products or services I would just illustrate them on the spot and it was great because it would give everyone something to instantly react to and build on and at the end of the session there would be walls covered in all these visualized ideas and you could literally see everything that the group had come up with that day and so yeah it was just really great because you could figure out is this idea working or is it something that just sounded great in my head but now that I see it now it’s actually probably not something that’s right for whatever problem we’re trying to solve.

Matthew: And are there any helpful exercises an individual or team can do to crystallize what their branding and messaging should be cause that’s back to that kind of product market fit and be getting into the consumer’s head about why they’re buying it and the benefit and so forth?

Jamie: Yeah I think if the company or the people that launch their product have a unique story of how or why they came up with the product or what problem they’re solving that’s a really good place to start to build the brand and kick off the brand story and it’s great because then it’s an authentic story that you have to tell. But I think the other thing that you want to think about is if you’re launching one product you want to try to forecast what all is going to live under that brand. Maybe it’s going to be that that one product is what the brand is but if in a short time you’re going to have three or four more products under that umbrella then making sure that you set up the right umbrella brand to support everything that you’re going to have is a really good idea as well.

Pika: Just to elaborate a little bit on what Jamie was saying as far as exercises that could help I think what helps sometimes is to think of your brand as a person and that way you can start to really build its personality. So you can ask yourself is this brand fun, creative, is it serious, is it quiet and then going further.

Matthew: Does it have Tourette’s or a weird feature that people are complaining about.

Pika: Yeah and I mean when you start to personalize it in that sense or personify it I think everything else can fall into place in a more maybe tangible way. So when you’re thinking about the messaging or the colors or the visuals that you use relating it back to that person does it make sense that that person would say that or do those things or act that way? It’s easier to think about what’s right for your brand so that it doesn’t feel like a brand that’s got multiple personalities and so yeah you can see how does it speak? Is it loud? Is it witty? Does it get right to the point? What does it look like? Is it sophisticated or masculine or young and then if you want you can also take it a step further. Imagine your brand is a kid going to its first day of school and you want to know how does it stand out from all the other kids. What’s going to make it unique or different and if you can’t find a reason or a thing that does make it unique or different it could be a sign that you’re entering a super saturated market and you have a real uphill battle ahead of you.

Matthew: Great points. Now packaging let’s pivot to that. I’ve really started to notice packaging recently over the last couple years and have an appreciation for companies that can take the time to invest in their packaging and also I can tell when something is packaged well that I subconsciously maybe I’m willing to pay more for it when packaging itself is not necessarily really expensive. There’s a big ROI there so can you talk a little bit about the importance of packaging and how companies and brands should be thinking about their own packaging?

Jamie: Yeah when we approach packaging we always try to find a design or find a structure that’s interesting to the product and houses the product properly but if your long term goal is to have a custom structure but you’re just getting your product into the market you might end up going to a stock structure that’s cheaper just to get your product to market and then once you see that there’s a need for it and you’re generating some revenue then you can go to that custom structure that you’re looking at. Another thing like you talked about if it feels nice in your hands that’s going to draw people to it as well. So you might look at different finishes that are in line with your brand and in line with your price point. Do you use gold or silver foils or do you use screen print metallic ink or do you use spot varnishes?

These are all options that can really help elevate what your packaging is but when you package your product I think it’s also a good idea to think about how your customer is going to see your product and how they’re going to interact with it so you might look at where it’s going to be displayed and where it’s going to be sold. For example if it’s going to be in a dispensary you might talk to the dispensaries or talk to the bud tenders and find out if it’s going to be in a glass case, if it’s going to be hung on the wall behind them, or maybe you have the opportunity to do a little display that’s going to sit on top of the countertop and then if you sell your product online you’re going to have to rely on your photography to capture the unique features of what your product has and then your opportunity is when you package it for them to receive in the mail you make sure that it’s a memorable experience.

What kind of materials are you using? Do you have any clever little messages that are revealed as they open the product? I think everybody always uses Apple as a good example for packaging and I think it does apply in this case. When you get your Iphone or your computer it really is an experience and the products reveal to you as you open it. It’s not just thrown in a box. So the best thing is to do what you can to show your product well and make it feel like something that your customer is going to be really excited to open and they might even want to keep the packaging because it’s so nice.

Matthew: Great points and also a lack of packaging sometimes. In Apple’s case I think the first Iphone came with no instructions. I mean that’s pretty telling in its own way that you don’t even need instructions to operate it.

Jamie: Yeah absolutely and then in some cases it is a matter of you have to educate them. So then we always look at what is the Apple way of doing that? What’s the 1, 2, 3 that tells them perfectly clear of how to use this product.

Matthew: Let’s talk a little bit about mistakes and what people run into when they’re creating branding and packaging and all these things. Is there one or two things that stand out in terms of mistakes you see clients make or have made by the time they get to you that maybe people can think about sidestepping when they create their brand?

Pika: Yeah. This is I guess the most common mistake is one that we find isn’t really intentional and a lot of people might not even be aware of it but it’s when owners of companies or products get too personal with their brand and by this I mean with their branding and specifically their logo. For example if they first launched their company maybe they were bootstrapping their branding and made their logo themselves or they had a cousin or an aunt who could help them out for free and so they have this really emotional connection with their logo. It was their first and it was the face of their company for a long time so they don’t think there is anything wrong with it and are reluctant to make any changes or too many changes.

And so really the thing that we try to tell people is when you create a brand try to separate yourself from your brand. The brand isn’t you. It’s not art. It’s not an extension of yourself or an expression of your feelings. It’s a product or a service that is hopefully filling a need in another person’s life. So when you make decisions make sure you’re asking yourself what’s right for the brand not necessarily what do I like personally. So don’t rule out the color yellow for instance just because you or your partner hates it but to that same point you’re the one that has to live with your brand so at the end of the day make sure that whatever you create is something you’re happy and proud to live with and then the second point would also be to find good partners to help build your brand in an effective way. Don’t think you can or should do everything yourself. You’ll still be the captain. You’ll steer the ship but find good product designers or web designers or marketing people or whoever the expert is in the field that you need help with so that you can really focus on what you do best for your company.

Matthew: Great points. I want to really zero in on differentiating and give listeners some public examples of brands that have done a good job of differentiating themselves. Is there a company or two you might be able to highlight that has done a good job branding their cannabis company?

Pika: Yeah. I think this might be an obvious designer choice but Leafs By Snoop is really great and this will go against what we said earlier about not having to use the obvious cues but even though they use the leaf on it and it’s like their main symbol I think it’s done in a really elegant and classy way. The branding and packaging overall just look like a range of beauty products and not your obvious cannabis product. They have interesting structures to house their products. They have different finishes to add that premium touch to the brand and they also have it’s like a more subtle detail but the copywriting is really cool. One of their products is called Dog Treats and it’s playful and descriptive and it’s not trying too hard and then also carries in a little bit into the types of flavors that they’re offering for their edibles. So it’s not just a dark chocolate but there’s strawberries and cream with waffle bits and peanut butter gems and I don’t know that I would try all these things but they were really different and it’s cool just to see that out there.

Matthew: That is cool. He has some talented people that help him for sure. He’s got so much stuff going on.

Pika: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jamie: Yeah and then another brand that I think they’re doing really good stuff is IVXX. It’s a very minimal design that’s executed very well. It’s really nothing more than a well crafted logo with a unique name. A very subtle pattern and some gorgeous colors on simple elegant packaging and then they also take it a step farther and their website is done really well. It’s a real branded experience where every little element is considered from the black and white photography and videos that you see on the homepage to the rollover effects and then the pop out windows. I really think they did a great job and I also think companies like IVXX and Leafs By Snoop is really elevating the way people in cannabis are seeing branding and packaging. So it’s really great to see stuff like that out there.

Matthew: Yeah. So IVXX is an infused products company?

Jamie: Yeah.

Matthew: Okay pretty cool. I’m at their website now. I just pulled it up. You’re right. It’s Very sleek minimalist and very interesting overall. So I encourage people to check those two out Leafs By Snoop and IVXX. So how do you text your color and narrative get woven together to give a cannabis focused business its unique brand identity?

Jamie: Yeah so a brand is made up of all the components that are going to live out in the world together. Once you identify what your brand is going to stand for and then what sliver of the market you’re going to own then you’re going to develop a look and feel through a logo, through color palettes, icons, supporting patterns, unique packaging, website, product design but all these things are going to have a consistent esthetic to them to make them feel like they’re part of the family and then the other important part is the tone of your brand. How does it sound? Are you giving it a point of view and a certain attitude that’s going to help to distinguish it from the other brands? The idea is that every time somebody interacts with your brand they get a consistent quality experience that’s in line with what you set out to create for the brand.

Matthew: So let’s go to personal development questions here. I’ll start with you Pika. Is there any book that when you look over the arc of your life has had a big impact on your that you’d like to share with the CannaInsider listeners?

Pika: Yeah. I wouldn’t say that it was one book that has a massive impact on my life but one that definitely influenced how I think and work was its called “Sticky Wisdom How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work.” It’s just a great guide on how to be creative. How to think about being creative, how to problem solve creatively no matter what the task at hand is, and it’s a super quick and easy read. It’s something you can always refer back to if you need a creativity refresher. So I definitely recommend that to anyone that might feel like they aren’t creative or they might say oh I don’t know how to think like that. It’s something that can apply to anyone no matter what your background is.

Matthew: That’s great. I want to check that out. One book that I’m going to throw in there is called “Cradle to Cradle” by William McDonough.

Pika: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matthew: That book is probably one of the top five best books I’ve ever read and the book itself is actually not even made from paper. He made the book of some other compound that’s recyclable and when put in water can be molded into other things as an expression of how to think about design differently right down to the very book he wrote it on and he challenges the reader all the time when there’s problems in your life you run into. It’s a design problem. It’s nothing more and has you reorient your thinking. I just found it extremely helpful and I still go back to that book all the time. So I’ll throw out that plug for “Cradle to Cradle.” Jamie how about a tool web based or otherwise that you use daily or weekly that you consider an absolute must have that you would recommend to listeners?

Jamie: Well I think when we approach design problems we always approach it from gathering all the information that we have to solve for and then we sit down at the table. We grab a paper and pencil and we start sketching out ideas that solve the problem. So a lot of people will go right to tools to execute ideas where I think it’s solving the problem, coming up with a lot of solutions, and then deciding what you’re going to move forward with; what’s worth moving forward with. So I recommend paper and pencils.

Matthew: I like it. You’re going Amish on us and we probably need to do another one once in awhile and get away from the technology. So I like your recommendation.

Jamie: Oh and then we do use the computer but after we have the ideas done we go to it and we use Adobe Illustrator to render our ideas in a finished, polished way.

Matthew: Okay.

Jamie: Yeah.

Pika: I think just to add to that the reason pencil and paper are so great is that you don’t become too precious with what you’re drawing or sketching up. It doesn’t feel like it has to be perfectly in place or finalized by sketching it. You can be loser and rougher and just get that idea out of your head and on to paper to see if it’s working or not.

Matthew: Great points. Pika and Jamie as we close how can listeners find out more about your firm and the services you offer?

Pika: You can check out our website and I’ll just spell that in case anybody has trouble finding us. It’s

Matthew: Great. Jamie and Pika thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

Pika: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Jamie: Thanks Matt.

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

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention this little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye bye.

Husband and wife design team Jamie and Pika Stearns have helped many famous brands hone their branding, packaging and design, including; Disney, Best Buy and Coca Cola. Jamie and Pika have now turned their focus to helping cannabis-focused companies improve their branding and customer experience.

Key Takeaways:
[2:18] – Jamie and Pika’s background as artists and designers
[6:37] – Jamie talks about creating your cannabis brand
[8:19] – How to improve your cannabis branding
[9:56] – Pika talks about brainstorming idea
[14:26] – Jamie talks about the importance of packaging
[17:45] – Pika discusses common branding mistakes
[20:12] – Examples of companies with great branding
[24:16] – Pika, Jamie and Matthew’s book recommendations
[27:38] – Croc and Plover contact info

Learn more at:

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

Integrating Cannabis into Traditional Medicine – Dr. Gregory Smith

dr gregory smith

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Matthew: Hi I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. Are you an accredited investor looking to be part of some of the most sought after private cannabis investment opportunities? Get on our free private investment alert service at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. Once you have subscribed to the investor alert service you will get access to curated opportunities that the public will simply never see. Again that URL is www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. Now here’s your program.

As the ecosystem of cannabis professionals grows often doctors are left out of the conversation. Many doctors are concerned about their reputation if they recommend cannabis and many don’t yet understand what conditions can help or how to prescribe it. That is why I’ve asked Dr. Gregory Smith on to CannaInsider today to help us understand how physicians are beginning to grapple with cannabis in traditional medicine practices. Dr. Smith welcome to CannaInsider.

Dr. Smith: Oh yeah thank you Matt. I’m glad to be here.

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

Dr. Smith: I am at the beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

Matthew: Oh great.

Dr. Smith: 80 degrees and sunny here.

Matthew: Now tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into cannabis?

Dr. Smith: Yeah. I’ve been a physician for about thirty years. Six of those years in the United States Army and about fifteen years ago when I was a California physician I took the course on how to prescribe medical marijuana and I’ve been using it as part of my practice since that time. I do primary care practice, family practice, and some public health. Several years on and off in public health as well.

Matthew: Okay and recently you’ve written a book about cannabis can you tell us about that?

Dr. Smith: Yes. So it’s called “Medical Cannabis, Basic Science, and Clinical Applications” and during these years I’ve been practicing there has been no textbook out there, no science based textbook at all to help a doctor give him a companion manual to go to as different conditions arise that may respond to cannabis. So over the years I gradually transitioned so now I’m full time in medical cannabis and about two and a half, three years I started writing a textbook working closely with a very prestigious Boston publisher and to make sure it’s a peer reviewed, high quality text and it just came out about a month ago.

Matthew: Okay. Do you see doctors hesitant to recommend cannabis to patients? Is there a stigma?

Dr. Smith: Those are two questions. That first one I’ll give you a couple numbers here in the states like Colorado and California where they’ve had medical cannabis for decades; two decades only 10% have ever prescribed it once and 1 1/2% have prescribed it with any regularity. So that gives you some idea of what a minority of the population. It’s something like 700 doctors in the whole country have ever prescribed medical cannabis out of about 700,000; so one in a thousand. So yes I would say there is a problem with doctors prescribing it and the stigma is half the problem.

Matthew: Yes. Now I notice when I go to the doctor if I bring up certain topics they kind of roll their eyes like uh oh we’ve got an internet doctor here in the building. He’s got just enough information to be dangerous but do doctors have the information in general to help their patients with cannabis? I mean is that changing? Where do you see it prescribed where it is prescribed that 1% of the time?

Dr. Smith: Oh okay so that goes to; it’s being prescribed 94% of the time in states like Colorado, Washington, California. 90% of the time is for chronic pain condition which is a very huge distribution. However it’s very easy to get a recommendation letter with an issue like chronic pain where there’s not a lot of objective things to go after like there is with multiple sclerosis, PTSD; there’s some very objective findings as to just saying you have chronic back pain. So traditionally or historically it’s been 94%. Also there is a stigma because I think a certain significant proportion of the patients over these past twenty years in California and Colorado were using the medical cannabis system to bypass prohibition against recreational use of marijuana. So that’s what was going on in California for many, many years and Colorado until recently so there is that always in the back of your mind that this is a drug seeker trying to get marijuana and not for a valid medical reason and that is how most of the medical community doctors and doctors groups have looked at medical marijuana until the last couple years.

Matthew: So let’s say there is a doctor listening and they’re curious or would like to begin incorporating cannabis into their practice. What’s a way they can start to integrate cannabis into their practice for their patients as one tool on their tool belt?

Dr. Smith: Okay without plugging my book alone; a book whose title I mentioned earlier; a medical cannabis book there is a wonderful treatest which was put out about three or four years ago by the Canadian Health System which is a couple hundred page summary. It’s a little obscure the way they cite the science. It’s not so easy to use in a day to day practice for a doctor and whereas my book is specifically targeted to make it easy for day to day use for different diagnoses and there is a JAMA Summary Journal that came out about July of last year that also gave some pretty good insight to what conditions; to gain insight into what conditions it can be used for effectively.

The only thing I can think of that can tell you how a doctor can use it for dosing, for managing a patient month to month and year to year is the book I wrote. I can’t think of another without being self-aggrandizing; I can’t think of another document that tells doctors how do I start the patient, how do I follow them, what tests do I do, when do I stop it, when do I increase the dose? So that has been missing.

Matthew: Now you mentioned that you were in the Army. Were you in the Army as a physician?

Dr. Smith: Correct yeah. It was a scholarship program where they paid for medical school and I did six years active duty and got out as a major and they shot at me too many times. I thought it was time to get out.

Matthew: Did you see any use of cannabis for PTSD?

Dr. Smith: Not in the slightest. In fact we could probably use our medical license to bring up the subject in the exam room with a patient. I could probably lose my medical license.

Matthew: Wow. That’s harsh. So let’s talk a little bit about a patient kind of bringing up the subject of cannabis with their doctor. What’s a way to do that so you maximize your chances of the doctor being open to it?

Dr. Smith: Very good question. I would say for your symptom or your diagnosis. You just have a symptom that you’re wondering if it may be helpful and you do your Google search and you print that up and you bring it in to the doctor and they especially if it’s got some interesting information because there’s not much real good research. There’s going to be anecdotal information. It’s going to be non clinical trial kind of information. People with case studies or some doctor that observed this or that after you used cannabis so but bring that into the doctor so that he knows there’s some foundation and you’re not just trying to get cannabis to get high and then if you have an open minded doc he’ll go out there and research it and get back with you. He may just refer you to a website and there are two websites which I hope you bring up eventually. Where to find a doctor that is already educated and willing to listen to your needs for medical cannabis.

Matthew: Where do you see cannabis having the best response to certain symptoms or conditions?

Dr. Smith: Another good question. I’d say it has moderate effects with pain. The best evidence has been showing it helps you cut your opioid use so these people; several million in this country that are on chronic, daily opioid use. You can cut your opioid use dramatically and maybe 10% can actually stop opioids altogether and substitute it just with cannabis. So pain is a big one and along those lines then we move to arthritis and inflammatory processes. Not acute pain or acute injury but chronic pain from arthritis, chronic inflammation from an inflammatory bowel disease. It’s very, very effective in these chronic, inflammatory, painful, achy, stiff conditions that the older population tend to have.

Matthew: Yes and I witnessed that in Colorado with the baby-boomers starting to age and getting different creams and stuff for arthritis and different tinctures and similar things to help them with inflammatory or autoimmune issues. Do you think as there’s more cannabis medications available such as oils and so forth that are maybe in tablet form or something like that doctors will feel more comfortable prescribing it?

Dr. Smith: That is a huge observation Matt and so other than the stigma the other half of the reason why doctors are not prescribing it is because it’s unlike any other medication. There’s nothing else in our armamentarium; a doctors bag where it’s a plant and then you send them to a dispensary and they go home and have to smoke or vaporize or eat a cookie there are no water soluble versions in a pill and there’s no injections of it. So 99% of all medicines are water soluble and you can make a pill or an injection but the cannabis is oil based and fat soluble and you can’t make a pill or a reasonable injection yet. So it’s a different substance. There’s very little advice to them on dosing and you can get high. You can go have a car accident if you give the patient too much. So those are barriers. Other than stigma there are these barriers and they are changing quickly with the advent of biosynthetic cannabinoids.

Matthew: You are involved with Marijuana Doctors is that site where people who want to connect with a physician that’s familiar with cannabis can find those doctors?

Dr. Smith: Yeah Matt just so you know my involvement is only to help those guys grow. I have absolutely no business connection or paperwork connection other than I love what they do.

Matthew: Okay.

Dr. Smith: And the gentleman behind it is a very bright young man probably in his thirties who has produced a wonderful website. So I’m helping him get specialists. He has a real need for specialists. 95% I’m going to guess that number of the docs in the country the 700 doctors are family practitioners or general practitioners who and generally much older doctors who are willing to prescribe medical cannabis and what we need is neurologists, pediatricians, oncologists working at medical centers willing to take a look at this as a medication. So I have been giving him free advice and recommendations on how to build up his specialist database.

Matthew: Let’s go over a hypothetical treatment that involves cannabis. Could you just maybe highlight one that you see used often so we can just kind of get a sense of what that would look like?

Dr. Smith: Yeah. Let’s go with Alzheimer’s one of my particular favorites at the time. I’m involved with some Stage II trials for a cannabis medication. So there are five FDA approved medications for Alzheimer’s right now. All of them work for about six to twelve months. They reduce symptoms and then they stop working. They do not reverse or stop the progression and just making the symptoms go away for six to twelve months and then they don’t do anything. Cannabis is amazing both CBD and THC are amazing medicine for this at a low dose once at bedtime for an elderly patient 2.5 mg of each of CBD and THC; sometimes 5 mg each. It can be any format you want to give to get those medicines into the body. They prefer an edible. The old population don’t like the idea of smoking. It’s a drug in a pipe but you can give them that kind of dose once at bedtime. It takes months to make sure it’s the right dose because the evidence that it’s working is that they don’t get worse.

So if they get worse that dose isn’t working and you have to bump up to the next dose. So it’s a slow process but very effective and it actually halts the progression as well as doing the same thing that the FDA approved drugs do that helps the symptoms but it also halts the progression. So if you find someone early on in their 60’s, 70’s with only a mild case you can actually stop it from becoming a condition that requires day care and those kind of things.

Matthew: Wow. Let’s clarify I haven’t really heard too much about Alzheimer’s and cannabis as a treatment for that. So you’re saying like a one to one ratio THC to CBD?

Dr. Smith: Correct and again a bedtime dose. It can be given an edible, it can be a tincture, they can vaporize four hits and get 2.5 mg and the nice side effect is a little anti anxiety and a little relaxation which is always helpful to Alzheimer’s patient to get rid of a little bit of the agitation and the anxiety that they have.

Matthew: Let’s talk about CBD a little bit for a second. Do you think that’s kind of a gateway for physicians because there’s really no associated high with CBD so that’s how they may start is recommending something that’s CBD primarily as they warm up to cannabis as an application and they start to round it out with THC?

Dr. Smith: Yes and that’s already happened. So CBD oil is the treatment for all these little kids with intractable epilepsy’s so the 17 states that don’t have medical marijuana that do have CBD is because of these kids with the intractable epilepsy’s. If you add the 24 states and the 17 we’re getting way up there and it’s the 40’s of the number of states where you can get CBD to use for medical purposes and so docs; unfortunately it’s just pediatric neurologists who are using it and it is over the counter. It is considered a nutritional supplement and it’s over the counter in all 50 states but it’s good to get a doctor’s advice on how to use it when you’re dealing with something like intractable epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and things like that but you literally can buy it. In fact I bought some the other day at my vapor store.

Matthew: Okay and for people that aren’t familiar with CBD let’s back up a little bit. How do you describe it to patients that maybe have never heard of CBD before?

Dr. Smith: It’s a nutriceutical. So it’s a lot like all the other things at the GNC counter that have small doses; tablet size or capsule size doses that can have an impact on your health. So a small amount will have a nutritional and health benefit and its safe and doesn’t require a doctor to use it. It has very, very few side effects until you get way up in the 100s of mg so there’s essentially no side effects until you get up to the 100s of mg. So it’s a nutriceutical like you’re CoQ10 something or other oils. The fish oils and things like that. It’s that safe; literally as safe as fish oil.

Matthew: Okay.

Dr. Smith: In fact it’s safer than fish oil.

Matthew: So it’s a compound of the cannabis plant but you have some concerns about the stalk and the stem when extracting the CBD compound from a plant. Can you describe why that might be?

Dr. Smith: Yeah, yeah. You really know how to cut it right to the issues. So the CBD oil that is available in all 50 states has to originate from a hemp plant which is a cannabis sativa but it’s cannabis sativa that has less than .02% THC and so it’s essentially THC free but it also has to remain from either the stem or the stalk. You can’t take it from the bud of the hemp plant even though there is no THC in that either but the way the law is written so what happens is something called bioaccumulation. The stems and stalks accumulate pesticides, heavy metals, whatever is in the soil is multiplied by dozens of times in the stalk and stem material and not in the flowering bud at the top of the plant. So when you take that stem and stalk and hundreds of pounds of it to extract maybe one pound of CBD oil you’re getting a lot of contaminates that you really don’t want to put into what you think is a healthy elixir.

Matthew: Okay. So how do you remove impurities from CBD?

Dr. Smith: Multiple extraction processes. So most of the CBD oil that you can buy from these online websites or at your vapor store or wherever mini marts sometime have gone through three extraction techniques and so they’ve extracted with different methodologies and they’ve gotten to a liquid; a green smells like grass liquid that’s probably 70% CBD but the 30% is other things that we don’t know. So that’s what’s mostly available. There’s maybe two companies in the United States that use four extraction techniques and they end up with a 90 to 99% pure CBD oil and those companies their product would be called pharma grade and that’s a very important thing for any consumer when they’re buying CBD oil to look pharma grade. It means that it’s been certified that that’s what’s in there and 98 or 99% CBD oil and the contaminates are at a minimal level and you can get a consistent dose. So you know you’re consistently getting 5 mg when you take 2 cc or whatever it is it says on the jar. So that’s huge difference between the different CBD oil products that are out there.

Matthew: In general since The Affordable Care Act passed what kind of impact has that had on doctors in general? When you speak with other doctors over the water cooler how do they feel about it?

Dr. Smith: Well we have a lot more patients.

Matthew: Okay.

Dr. Smith: Which isn’t necessarily a good thing. It has facilitated the addition of mid level providers so nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to help us with the increased volume. So I’d say there’s pros and cons like anything. I don’t think it’s a perfect law and it was modified by politics heavily as we probably all know. So it’s not a perfect program and the results are not perfect but there are a lot more patients and we’re seeing a lot of people that would have been uninsured getting free preventative care and very inexpensive or less expensive care than they would have got without insurance.

Matthew: Okay. Now you’re working on a CBD oil would you like to tell us a little bit about that at all?

Dr. Smith: Oh okay yeah. So I’m working with a company and this company I am associated with called CBD Biotechnology’s and they are using yeast fermentation and enzymes to create biosynthetic CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. So what they will have is a 99. something percent pure product that was never in a plant at a cost of about 1/6 per gram of material that comes from a plant so it’s much less expensive and much more pure and they’re well underway to having this kind of product. That product can then be made water soluble through some new nanotechnology and so you can now have tablets of THC, tablets of CBD, tablets of one to one. Also it’s a wonderful thing to have injectable CBD’s and THC’s. All sort of pharmaceutical grade 99.9% pure products will be coming along the pipeline that did not go through the plant growing process.

Matthew: Interesting.

Dr. Smith: Very interesting.

Matthew: Now switching to a personal development question is there a book that you would recommend to listeners that’s had a big impact on your life?

Dr. Smith: Yeah I think it’s called “Cannabis Pharmacy.”

Matthew: Okay.

Dr. Smith: It’s been out several years. I’d say 2010, 2011. I think it’s targeted at the patient. So they’ve seen the doctor, they have the diagnosis; they went to the dispensary and now what do you do? Not only what do you do at the dispensary but what do you do when you get home from the dispensary. So it’s really much more targeted at the patient, end user and what to look for. Good science, bad science that sort of handbook for the patient called “Cannabis Pharmacy.”

Matthew: Okay great and as we close can you tell listeners how they can learn more about your work and your book and so forth?

Dr. Smith: Yes so the book title I gave you and it’s at Aylesbury Press and it’s and we have a newsletter which you’ll be directed at medical professionals not just doctors but nurses and caregivers called the Medical Cannabis Advisor and it’s coming out every quarter where we summarize all the new studies coming out of Israel, Europe, and some in the U.S along the way like the Alzheimer’s, Melanoma, Glioblastoma Cancer, Psoriasis but there’s so many interesting articles finally coming out now that we can do the research. The last three or four years we’ve been able to start doing these clinical trials that we hadn’t been able to do for forty years. So that’s coming out every quarter.

Matthew: Awesome. Well Dr. Greg thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider. We really appreciate your time in educating us.

Dr. Smith: Oh you’re welcome Matt. I appreciate the opportunity.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today please consider leaving us a review on ITunes, Stitcher, or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on CannaInsider? Simply send us an email at feedback(at)cannainsider(dot)com. We’d love to hear from you.
Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.
Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye bye.

Who better than a doctor than to help doctors understand the benefits of cannabis and then show them how to integrate cannabis into their traditional medicine practices. Dr. Gregory Smith walks us through how he is leading this change.

Key Takeaways:
[1:42] – Dr. Smith’s background
[2:12] – Dr. Smith talks about his book
[4:09] – How often is cannabis prescribed
[5:42] – How doctors can integrate cannabis into their practice
[7:46] – How to bring up cannabis to your doctor
[8:59] – What symptoms or conditions have the best response to cannabis
[11:41] – What is the Marijuana Doctors site
[12:46] – Dr. Smith talks about using cannabis to treat Alzheimer’s
[16:29] – Dr. Smith describes what CBD is
[18:41] – How do you remove impurities from CBD
[21:07] – Dr. Smith talks about CBD oil
[22:33] – Dr. Smith’s book recommendation
[23:19] – Dr. Smith’s contact details

About our Guest:
Dr. Gregory Smith, MD, MPH earned his medical degree from Rush Medical School in Chicago, and a Masters of Public Health from Harvard University. He completed residency training in Preventive Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Since leaving the US Army with the rank of Major, Doctor Smith has been in primary care practice in California, Georgia and Florida for the past 25 years. He first trained on use of medical cannabis in California in 2000, and has made medical cannabis and CBD oil part of his practice since that time. Dr. Smith is an avid writer, having published two medical textbooks, a novel called Malpractice, and articles with many magazines and over a dozen peer reviewed medical publications.

Cannabis Investing?
Are you an accredited investor interested in high quality cannabis investments? Sign-up for the free cannabis investment alert service at

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

Creating Quality Cannabis Infused Products That Customers Embrace

nancy whiteman wana brands

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s cannainsider(dot)com. Are you an accredited investor looking to be part of some of the most sought after private cannabis investment opportunities? Get on our free private investment alert service at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. Once you have subscribed to the investor alert service you will get access to curated opportunities that the public will simply never see. Again that URL is www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. That’s cannainsider(dot)com/invest. Now here’s your program.

As the public interest and appetite grow for edibles and infused products certain companies are assuming leadership positions and grabbing market share from competitors. One of those companies commanding a leadership position is Wana Brands. I’ve invited Nancy Whiteman, Founder of Wana Brands onto CannaInsider today. Nancy welcome to CannaInsider.

Nancy: Thank you so much Matt. Thank you for having me.

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

Nancy: Yes. I’m in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.

Matthew: Great and how did you get involved in the cannabis industry and come to start Wana Brands?

Nancy: Well initially I became involved in it. I had a neighbor who was making infused soda pop and we ended up teaming up with him. It turned out to be a short term partnership but I really was intrigued by the whole industry. So initially it was more of a business opportunity that attracted me but once I got into it and I started to get feedback on how our products were helping people I completely fell in love with the business and got very committed to it and very dedicated to it. I like to say it’s the only thing that I’ve done in my career professionally where people out of the blue contact me and tell me how much their products; how much my products have helped them. So that’s a pretty cool thing.

Matthew: Yes that’s very rewarding; keep you going.

Nancy: Yes.

Matthew: What are your most popular products?

Nancy: Our most popular product is our sour gummies which come in several different flavors but they are artisan made. We make them from scratch. They’re infused within the gummy not sprayed on and they’re absolutely delicious and we sell a boat load of them.

Matthew: That’s a good point there infused versus sprayed on. Can you tell us a little bit about the difference there in some of the other gummies out there?

Nancy: Yes. So other gummies when we actually make the gummy itself and our gummy actually is a vegan gummy. It’s made with pectin rather than gelatin. We are actually putting the medicine right into the gummy mixture itself and that way first of all it tastes really good because we’re very careful with our recipes and it’s very homogenized. Everything is exactly the same. When you spray hash oil or something on top of a gummy first of all you can usually smell it. You can open up the container or the bag and you can smell a big whoosh of kind of hash oil and it’s usually a pretty harsh taste and it’s also very difficult to get it consistent from gummy to gummy. So we think that infusing it is really a better way to go for gummies; really for all products.

Matthew: Yeah I actually read some research reports about how well the gummies are doing at dispensaries so well done.

Nancy: Thank you so much.

Matthew: Can you tell us a little bit about the extended release capsule and how that works?

Nancy: Yes that’s actually our Wana Caps and they come in three different THC/CBD formulations. We have a high THC which is a 10 to 1 THC to CBD, a balanced which is equal, and then we have a high CBD which is 10 CBD mg to 1 THC and the thing that makes this product really unique is that we have partnered with a pharmaceutical company in Israel who developed this extended release patent and we use their technology in the product and what it does is well several things. It basically extends the life of the product if you will. Most people report getting benefits for 8 hours and some people even up to 12 hours but the other really important thing it does is it smoothes out the experience. So unlike edibles where they can take up to 2 hours for onset this you feel the first wave of this in about 20 minutes because it’s very bio available and then it kind of builds up in the system and then as it starts to decline the second part kicks in; the extended release portion kicks in and so it’s very, very comfortable for people. They don’t have big ups and downs like they can have with edibles sometimes.

Matthew: That’s pretty interesting. How does that work? It’s like the second stage of a rocket that comes off after a period of time.

Nancy: Yes. It’s actually called fractions and they’re two different mixtures that we make for the capsules with different parts of the formulation going into each of the fractions and the first fraction releases quickly in about 20 minutes and then the second one kicks in about 4 hours later.

Matthew: And how did you arrive at what products to launch when? Is it through customer feedback, gut intuition I mean how do you come up with that?

Nancy: Oh that’s such a good question. In the early days and we’ve been around since 2010. There was a little bit of hit or miss about it. We would try stuff that we thought would be delicious and we would see what sold well but as we got into the business a little bit more what we realized is that our sweet spot if I can make a little pun here was things that had a long shelf life. We ended sort of moving out of more of the baked goods arena and more into the confectionary products. So we have the gummies, we have a lozenger called a jewel, we have the most delicious caramels in the world. I love them. Unmedicated they’re just so yummy. We’ve got drink mixes. We’ve got a chocolate roll type product. They’re all things that have a very stable shelf life and in a state like Colorado that has a pretty big geography we can only deliver to the Western slope which is the farthest most part of the state once a week.

So what we found is that the baked goods just didn’t hold on the shelf long enough. So then we’re thinking about what products to release we start there. We also have to be thinking about whether they can be clearly delineated into 10 mg serving sizes. So packing is a part of it and then of course we look competitively for what’s on the market and we try to develop products that are not just me too products but have something unique about them.

Matthew: Now in terms of the ratios; let’s circle back to the caps. You talked about a THC heavy cap, equally weighted cap, and then a CBD heavy cap. Which are most popular?

Nancy: The two most popular ones are the balanced ones and the high CBD. I think people; it’s a really interesting thing. So of course we have medical and recreational in Colorado but what we are finding is that a more medicinal product like our high CBD caps or our balanced CBD caps are actually very popular within the recreational market because a lot of people do want the medicinal benefits without all the THC but they don’t want to go through the trouble of getting their red card. So we do see it tilting towards more of a medical usage the high CBD products.

Matthew: That’s interesting and how about getting in front of dispensary owners or buyers for dispensaries? I mean at this point it’s probably not difficult at all for you because you have relationships in Colorado but if you’re going outside the state or looking to expand I mean how you present a unique value proposition to get dispensary owners interested?

Nancy: That’s a great question because the biggest challenge is that most dispensary have relatively limited shelf space. So it really is a battle for shelf space. We do I think what probably most companies do which is that we provide samples so that their patients can try them or their customers can try them, their bud tenders can try them but I think it’s gotten so, so much easier obviously now that we are better known but it really is being very persistent, being very professional, following up with people, really listening to them about the products that are working or not working, and also really wanting to work with and to understand what works for their dispensaries. So encouraging them to try some products understanding that we’ll take them back if they don’t sell and replace them with things that are selling better; that sort of thing.

Matthew: You kind of reverse the risk proposal. You put all the rick on yourself instead of them and that really makes it easy to say yes.

Nancy: Exactly because we’re very confident that our products will do well once people have an opportunity to try them and of course a lot of this business is about winning the hearts and minds of the bud tenders. So we also try to do a lot of customer events and bud tender trainings just so that people are really familiar with us as a company and are familiar with our products.

Matthew: Looking back from 2010 or even the soda pop; the cannabis soda pop days how have you seen the infused product market segment evolve since you got started?

Nancy: Oh my gosh it’s changed so, so much. When we first got it started there really was not a lot in the way of really professionally made edibles out there. A lot of them looked like something that people had made in their home kitchen and had wrapped in Saran Wrap and thrown a label on. So all of those people really either upped their game or they’re just out of the business at this point and time so there’s a lot more professionalism now then there was then. I think the second thing that I’ve really seen change is that there’s a lot more consistency in the products. I know for us we actually used a third party lab to test right from the beginning because we didn’t know how much tincture to put into a product if we didn’t know the potency of it and we adjusted that tincture with every batch but not everybody did that.

Now that we have laws in place that say basically you must third party labs and you’re held to very strict standards in terms of what the potency on the label says and what the lab says it is the products have gotten a lot more consistent and that makes me a lot more comfortable with edibles in the market place because they can be very strong for people.

Matthew: Right. Good points. Now how do you educate customers about the ways that Wana Brands differentiates itself? I mean you have a very limited label space to do that.

Nancy: Yes.

Matthew: So how do you do it? Is that more back to the bud tender as your ambassador to do that?

Nancy: Yes. That is a big part of it. We also try to provide materials that are educational both as a company and as an industry so we often are putting information pieces into our packages for example, doing bud tender trainings, making PowerPoints available to people so that they can review them after the training. I’m also the chair of the Edibles Council for the Cannabis Business Alliance here in Colorado and we’ve really worked as an industry group to put educational materials for people about edibles and safe use of edibles in general. So you have to come at it from a bunch of different angles.

Matthew: Circling back to the extended release capsules you can tell I’m interested in this is how do you or what kind of feedback do you get from customers that have used this; especially the maybe 1 to 1 CBD/THC or the CBD heavy capsules? What kind of conditions are they using this for medicinal linked use?

Nancy: Oh my gosh yeah so we’ve gotten amazing feedback on it and I should say before I even get into that one thing that I would like to mention is this is very exciting to me. It’s actually in full clinical trials in Israel right now with cancer patients and specifically looking at contribution to improving appetite, increasing weight gain, pain reduction, and just general quality of life and feeling good about life and that’s really exciting. We’re just starting to get the first round of feedback on those clinical tests but in terms of what we’re hearing here we have people who are using it for Multiple Sclerosis, we have people using it for cancer, people who are using it for Crohn’s Disease, all kinds of different conditions. People have found it to be extremely helpful and some of the testimonials we get are really, really touching in terms of what a difference it’s making in their life and often making much more of a difference than prescribed medications that they were using sort of Western medications if you will.

Matthew: Gosh that’s so true. I can’t wait for this to be widely adopted. It’s really going to have a huge impact on society; especially just even the cost. The cost of pharmaceuticals are just so high.

Nancy: Oh my gosh yes.

Matthew: ([14:51] unclear) cannabis. So what are some of the challenges in being in the infused products business? I’ve heard others in the infused products business say you’re really in the regulatory business. I mean that’s what you have to cover first. What do you see as kind of your day to day challenges and long term challenges that you have to surmount?

Nancy: Well certainly I would agree with that. I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Marijuana Business Conference and my topic was about building a sustainable and strong infused products brand and my comment was it’s sort of like trying to build a brand with one hand tied behind your back because of all the regulatory constraints that are put on us as an industry and there’s challenges really constantly. Literally every year if not more frequently than that there are new regulations we have to comply with in terms of packaging, labeling, dosages. The one that’s coming up soon in October is that every product is going to have to be sprayed or stamped with a universal THC symbol so that anybody picking it up knows that there’s THC in it.

There’s just a host of regulatory issues that we’re always dealing with but I would say even beyond the regulatory issues I think the challenges for infused products have a lot to do with as an industry us doing a lot of education with people in terms of using products judicially and slowly and safely so that people have good experiences with them and don’t have any kind of a situation where they’re uncomfortable or feeling like they’re too high or they’ve taken too much. So I think that’s a really important part of our challenges as an industry as well and then just the ongoing demonizing if that’s a word cannabis both as a medicine and a form of recreation. I think that that’s clearly still a challenge for the industry when we have a substance as helpful and benign as marijuana still classified as a Schedule 1 substance you know we have a long way to go.

Matthew: You covered the challenges there how about the opportunities? What opportunities excite you the most in the next few years?

Nancy: Well certainly just for us we do have a lot of opportunities in terms of expanding our brand outside of Colorado through licensing agreements. So that’s a very exciting opportunity for us. I would say that’s probably our biggest opportunity although I think even within Colorado we have opportunities for innovation and more product introduction which we are actively working on.

Matthew: Looking at the price of wholesale cannabis and the wholesale market is the price surprising to you? High, low I mean is it where you thought it would be roughly?

Nancy: Well you know it’s funny when the recreational market was legalized there was a seed change in terms of growers. So for the first time people were allowed to be independent growers which they really were not able to do under the medical market. They had to either have their grow tied to a manufacturing or a MIPS license or it had to be tied to a dispensary. So I think we were all predicting with all of these independent grows on the rec side that the price of trim which is what we use for our products would sharply decline. In fact for the last year or so it actually didn’t decline at all and in fact went up which speaks to the growing popularity of infused products because so many people were trying to buy that trim. Just in the last month or two I’ve started to see it look more like we were expecting which is that the prices are falling but it’s always sort of a supply and demand issue. My guess is over time as these recreational grows kick in and are more consistent that we will see it stabilizing somewhat at a lower level than we’ve seen.

Matthew: If you could wave a magic wand and change just one thing about the cannabis market for infused products what would it be?

Nancy: Hmm... magic wand. Gosh I would love one of those. I would like to see some stability around the regulations. I think Colorado has actually done a pretty good and reasonable job about putting good regulations in place. I think public safety has been addressed. I think child safety has been addressed. I’m a mother myself and I care about that stuff but I’d like to see some stability. The constant change makes for a very challenging business environment and it doesn’t allow us to focus on the things we’d like to focus on like innovation and brand building.

Matthew: Yeah I think that’s one thing I noticed. The regulators in Colorado do seem open to feedback which is great and not the case in other states but there’s not always a sense of like hey we’re going to change something here with the flick of a pen and they don’t understand the huge cascading effect.

Nancy: Yes.

Matthew: On the lives of so many people and how that one turn in the cog at the top just affects everybody so I wish there was a way to do that. To have them understand at a gut level what this does to business and people’s lives when they make a change; especially one that has to be enacted quickly.

Nancy: Yes and that is very key. I think just the way you put it is perfect and I will say about the MED or the Medical Enforcement Division is they are open to sitting down with the industry groups and discussing that stuff and they have I think come a long way in terms of understanding that there are things that we simply can’t implement that quickly and so building that into their timeframe’s a little bit more but certainly a year without major upheaval and major change would be fantastic.

Matthew: Alright. Just one that’s fine.

Nancy: Yes just one would be awesome.

Matthew: Are you beginning to license the Wana Brand outside of Colorado?

Nancy: Yes we are. As a matter of fact we are eminently about to launch our brand in Oregon and we’ll be launching in Nevada sometime in the summer. So that’s really exciting and we’re in discussions with several other states as well.

Matthew: Okay. Any reasons you jumped at Oregon and Nevada first?

Nancy: Oregon for the obvious reason which is it has both medical and recreational and in fact it’s just beginning it’s recreational program sort of in baby steps on June 1st which is exciting. Nevada is an interesting one. Right now Nevada is just medical but it is widely expected that the 2016 initiative to legalize for recreational is going to pass and then Nevada will be an enormous market. There’s forty million tourists that go to Nevada every year. So it has the potential to be a truly huge market.

Matthew: When you talk with partners in other states is there an expectation gap at all in terms of what they think they should get as a licensee and how you have to educate them on intellectual property or anything like that or are people pretty much in line; perspective partners?

Nancy: Well you know that’s an interesting question. I think even before we get to sort of the licensing piece of it that sometimes people will have unrealistic expectations of just what getting into this business is going to look like in general and that’s something that I’m now I’m always when I talk to a potential partner I’m always trying to probe and understand what got them interested in this? What are their expectations for the business and gauging whether they feel realistic based on what I know about the market. So for example if people think in Illinois that they’re instantly going to make a huge amount of money and they’re just getting in they don’t understand how much the restrictions on the medical conditions allowable is going to limit the patient count.

A lot of times I’m just having some discussions with them about sizing the market and understanding what it takes to build marketshare within a market. So that’s a part of it. In terms of the licensing stuff we’ve been pretty satisfied with our conversations and discussions with people on the licensing end of it. I think what’s happening is that a lot of these states now are requiring people to have pretty significant investments before they’re going to grant a license and so people do understand the importance of speed to market and while we had five years of luxury of experimenting and building their brand etc., etc. with investors expecting paybacks and all of that they understand the value of going with a brand that is already proven. So we haven’t had too much of a misalignment yet on the licensing side of it.

Matthew: Yeah I really see it as a great deal for a perspective licensee because they get the full download of all your trial and errors.

Nancy: Oh yes.

Matthew: So they can see everything that worked and didn’t work without having to try it themselves. So there is a lot of benefit to that.

Nancy: Agreed, agreed and believe me we’ve made lots of errors along the way. So if we can shortcut that for people and get them to market quicker I think it’s a huge benefit to them.

Matthew: When you look at California and that market and obviously we have a big vote coming up here in November but how do you gauge the California marketplace? What are your thoughts about it?

Nancy: Well I would say that just strictly from a population point of view and the size of their economy point of view there’s no doubt that California is going to be a hugely important market. What will be helpful is when they have a clear regulatory structure in place so that companies can go in and really be confident that their brands won’t get caught up in anything that you wouldn’t want your brand associated with. So I think it’s in the process of becoming an amazing market and it just needs a little bit more structure and regulation around it. Who would have ever thought I would be saying it needs more regulation but I think it does.

Matthew: Okay and what about women entering the cannabis space? Do you have any suggestions or tips for women listening that maybe would help them get success earlier, a more direct path, and avoid some pitfalls?

Nancy: That’s an interesting one. I’ve been involved with Women Grow which I think is an awesome organization and I support women entrepreneurs and I think risk taking is just an amazing thing but I tend not to divide up the world that way from a business point of view. I don’t think about these are good opportunities for women and these are good opportunities for men. I would say the same thing to a woman that I would say to a man is figure out what it is about this industry that fascinates you and what’s in best alignment with your skill set and your experience and try to be creative and figure out how to enter it in a meaningful kind of a way. I don’t think there’s anything that is closed off to a woman in this industry because she is a woman and as a matter of fact some of the statistics that I have read indicate that the cannabis industry has more women in key positions than many other more traditional industries that are out there. So I think women are already seeing the opportunity and taking advantage of it.

Matthew: I would agree with that. It seems like its compared to other industries I’ve been in in like technology that’s top heavy male I just don’t see that in the cannabis space. People tend to be more open minded in the cannabis space because they got into it early and they see the light about this plant. So it just doesn’t seem to be any kind of things preventing women from getting to where they want to go.

Nancy: I agree, I agree. I think it’s wide open and women and men should jump in with both feet. It’s fascinating.

Matthew: Nancy let’s turn to some personal development questions. As you look over your life is there one book that stands out that has had an impact on your life that you would recommend to listeners?

Nancy: My favorite book when I was in high school and it’s still one of my great favorites was; I don’t know that this is what you’re looking for because it’s not really a business book but it was “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Matthew: Sure, sure. That’s great.

Nancy: A classic book but I think it said so much in terms of social justice and kindness and people caring about each other and Atticus of course was one of my all time favorite father role models. So yeah I think there was a lot in that book that I would recommend to anybody if they haven’t read it in a long time to have another read.

Matthew: Yeah that’s a great suggestion. I know Harper Lee has a second book I think out. I haven’t read it yet or heard any feedback about it but she just had that one “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Nancy: Yes.

Matthew: And I’ve been curious to hear what the second one is like so we’ll see.

Nancy: Yeah.

Matthew: Now if you could go back and talk to the 18 year old version of Nancy what advice would you give her?

Nancy: Well I think what I would tell her is to take more risks, to travel more, to experience other cultures more, to live life fully before settling down into a more conventional lifestyle, and just to not be afraid of trying things and having them not work out that that’s part of the process.

Matthew: Great point. I’m heeding that point myself. I’m trying a new experiment every month in my business just to see what works and I fully expect at least a chunk of them to fail and I’m alright with that. So it’s not a big deal.

Nancy: Yes. That’s great. That’s fantastic and I try to keep that philosophy in this business too. I really do think if you’re not blowing it every now and again and failing every now and again you’re probably not taking enough risks.

Matthew: Well Nancy as we close how can listeners learn more about Wana and find you online?

Nancy: Probably the easiest way is to go to our website which is w-a-n-a-b-r-a-n-d-s and there you can find out all about our products and a little bit more about our company. So that’s probably the easiest way or if you’re in Colorado go into almost any dispensary and you’ll see all our products there.

Matthew: And when can listeners in Oregon and Nevada look for Wana Brands?

Nancy: Well in Oregon we should be hopefully on the shelves in the next couple of weeks. Nevada I’m thinking probably August.

Matthew: Okay. Nancy thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider. We really appreciate it.

Nancy: Oh thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

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

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye bye.

Nancy Whiteman is the founder of Wana Brands. Wana has emerged as a clear leader in the world of cannabis-infused products. Most notable among Wana’s products are their sour gummies that are frequently the most sought after infused product in cannabis dispensaries. Nancy shares her secrets and outlooks on licensing her cannabis brand, what she thinks about wholesale trim prices and more.

Key Takeaways:
[1:32] – How Nancy got in the cannabis industry and started Wana Brands
[2:27] – Wana Brands most popular products
[4:05] – Nancy talks about Wana Caps
[6:05] – How do you decide which products to launch
[8:57] – Nancy talks about getting dispensary owners interested in her products
[10:31] – Evolution of infused products
[13:22] – Medical reasons for using Wana Caps
[15:11] – Nancy talks about challenges of being in the infused products business
[19:25] – One thing Nancy could change about the infused market
[25:16] – Nancy talks about the California marketplace
[26:17] – Nancy’s advice to women entering the cannabis space
[28:13] – Nancy’s book recommendation
[30:21] – Contact details for Wana Brands

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

Huge Leaps in Cannabis Tech Happening in Israel

saul kaye

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. Are you an accredited investor looking to be part of some of the most sought after private cannabis investment opportunities? Get on our free private investment alert service at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/invest. Once you have subscribed to the investor alert service you will get access to curated opportunities that the public will simply never see. Again that URL is Now here’s your program.

We often focus on North America when we talk about cannabis but today we’re going to shift our focus abroad to Israel to hear about the innovations going on there. I’ve invited Saul Kaye to talk about his international cannabis forum called Cannta. Saul welcome to CannaInsider.

Saul: Thank you very much for having me.

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

Saul: So Israel is a small country embedded in surrounding countries; Arab countries in the Middle East. It’s one of the only democracies and it also happens to be the center of cannabis research for the world. One of the oldest cannabis programs in the world and of course Professor Raphael Mechoulam who discovered THC in his lab in Hebrew U. So Israel has been at the forefront of cannabis innovation for a long time and it’s lucky for us that we get to live in a time where we get to bring that out and educate people about the opportunities in Israel and some of the innovation that’s going on here which will lead the future of cannabis in my opinion.

Matthew: And what city in Israel are you in?

Saul: So our co-working space; our cannabis co-working space is in a little city called Bet Shemesh. It’s halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv the two major centers. The country of Israel has eight million population so small population in terms of a market size but a very good environment to do research and development and test your products in market and commercialize that over in the USA which is a large part of what we’re involved in doing.

Matthew: So a cannabis co-working space that’s a great idea. How many people are in your co-working space?

Saul: So our co-working space is about 70 seats. We have right now two cannabis companies, 12 people, and we have some other companies that are non cannabis related but this is being built out into a full cannabis incubator for technologies that we’ve seen throughout CannaTech pipeline by getting involved in the education side, by getting involved in the conference side of things bringing together for the first time when we did our CannaTech Conference investors, regulators, governments to the table to speak about cannabis reform and cannabis as a business and the medicalization of cannabis which is our focus. It’s a unique opportunity in Israel and we believe it will grow significantly in the coming years.

Matthew: Interesting. How did you get involved in the cannabis space? What were you doing before and what motivated you to jump in?

Saul: So I’m a pharmacist by trade. I studied at Sydney University in Australia. I came to Israel around twenty years ago and operated retail pharmacies specifically caring for nursing homes, palliative care. In the last few years my partner Jason in CannaTech and Israel-Cannabis fell ill and we tried the pharmaceutical route, we tried diet and nature, and we ended up with cannabis. This was about two years ago and it opened my eyes to the effect that the plant can have and the ability for it to heal and we dug into it. So I come from a SEO optimization and operations background in the pharma industry and we’re going to try and apply that to the new cannabis which is coming.

Matthew: How would you say at a high level the people of Israel treat cannabis and compare it to how we treat cannabis, cannabis research, and the whole cannabis eco system in North America?

Saul: So the major difference is it’s federally legal in Israel to research the plants; the medicinal effects. We have a program here with 22,000 registered patients, a well established program including many the disease states Crohn’s, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ALS, Parkinson’s with an ability to do clinical studies in Israel at a federally legal licensed level that doesn’t exist in the U.S. So that’s definitely our advantage. On top of that the program has existed since the 1990’s and all the data has been heavily recorded and it’s one of the first programs that we can actually take and understand what has happened both with the medical use of cannabis and what happens when they’re on cannabis to their other prescription medications and lifestyle and there’s a lot of data behind it which obviously we need to now bring to light.

But the industry is very well established. The eco system was a little disrupted here. There were only eight licensed growers and obviously in a very tightly regulated environment with very few players and there was some monopoly but the government has moved to change that. The major move the government is introducing is that cannabis will be dispensed through the National Pharmacy System. So they’re not looking to re-regulate it, they’re not looking to make it a recreational commodity. It is a medicine and will be considered a medicine through the regulatory environment in Israel. So it’s quite unique.

Matthew: Now you talked about the inner play of cannabis with traditional pharmaceutical drugs. Is there anything there that as a pharmacist you’ve noticed how that inner play exists that people can maybe start to think about that in a different way; the marriage of the two or using them together?

Saul: Sure. So again cannabis certainly to people in the industry is often a one solution for many, many things and it is but it isn’t the only solution and pharmaceuticals work and interrogative health care program is very important and especially with cannabis. I say to patients here in Israel often the effort that go into it to get a license is the journey they think they need to be on whereas the journey they really need to be on is once they have a license which cannabis medicine will help you because as you know there are thousands of different strains and we can modulate the effect through other chemicals and we really don’t know enough and it always comes back to that. That the clinical research in order to be accepted by the medical community has to be done in a way that a medical community understands and there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence out there but that’s not yet translating into evidence based medicine that the medical community can get behind.

So cannabis is kind of hard because we need both education and a changing in attitude. We need to demystify and at the same time we actually need to research and find out what is in this plant that is so healing and can help so much.

Matthew: It seems like the dosaging and coming up with a uniform way to prescribe cannabis will really be a way that doctors will begin to embrace it. I mean from a pharmacy side do you think that’s true when they can start to say hey you need 10 ml of this oil or that I can prescribe and I know what it is and it’s uniform and it’s consistent. How big a part of the puzzle is that being kind of uniform?

Saul: It’s probably the largest piece of the puzzle and it’s something that’s very hard to crack on the cannabis plant. When you have a normal plant that delivers an alkaloid; something like Digitalis it’s very easy to extract. It’s one compound and we know the effect of it. With cannabis because you’re dealing with so many compounds that you have to stabilize the genetics. You have to have a methodology that grows it the same way each time so that the yield; not the amount of yield but the cannabinoid yield is always the same; the terpene profiles are the same. So standardization is a key element in this industry and it’s something that hasn’t been cracked yet.

On the flip side of that you have the whole plant movement where it’s important to have all the components in so the traditional farmer approach would be to break it down into its components and rebuild it in a protectable formulation and the push from the market at the moment is whole plant medicine with evidence behind it but it’s very hard to prove evidence where one strain helps for Epilepsy in 60% of the cases but in 40% a different strain helps. So there’s a lot of noise. There’s a lot of noise around the strain issue that needs to be removed as well. So Israel has a program where essentially they’re putting cannabis into categories.

So there’s neurological, gastrological and they’re breaking it down into THC and CBD profiles and percentages, ratios inside that to give a guideline to doctors. So okay it’s a neurological disease here’s the best place to start. So it would be low THC, high CBD and these are the available commercial products available in that category and that’s an essential part because a doctor can’t say to a patient take two puffs and come back in the morning. Doctor’s don’t understand that. They need to be able to prescribe it like they do other medications and it’s a crazy situation if you really think about it. Doctor’s are happy to prescribe medications that we know will kill you. We do it all the time with chemotherapy and we do it with opiates and there are 200,000 plus deaths from opiate abuse in the U.S. every year.

That is okay but cannabis we don’t know so we can’t prescribe it for you. So it’s kind of weird and that’s why education is very important to us. But yeah it’s going to be one of the challenges. There is an Israeli country who’s stepped up to the challenge. They have a medical cannabis delivery device. The company is called Syqe and interestingly enough they were invested in by Phillip Morris who are a tobacco company.

Matthew: Wow that is interesting.

Saul: Yeah.

Matthew: What’s the investment scene for cannabis like in Israel? Is there an eco system or an angel network that helps to invest in cannabis companies?

Saul: It’s part of what we’re building through the CannaTech pipeline. We’ve seen a lot of the innovators and entrepreneurs out there who need both a program to accelerate or incubate their idea to commercialization and through our network being invested in the high tech eco system that exists in Israel they are interested in the cannabis space as everyone else is. They’re kind of sitting on the side and waiting to see what happens but we’re building a funding vehicle so that the public can invest in new innovative technologies through an incubation like model and it’s being built out now. So the eco system is young but it exists. We had 300+ investors come to our CannaTech event and these are family offers, private equity, and some small cannabis funds. But in the U.S. there’s no really leading cannabis fund with significant volume behind them. So Israel might lead the way there as well.

Matthew: And let’s dive into CannaTech a little bit more. Can you give us an overview of what that is and why it’s important?

Saul: Sure. So we started with CannaTech because we came to some of the conferences that are going on in the U.S. and we met some of the players and the U.S. is very focused on the U.S. market and to a degree where it’s focused on a hyper local market. So it’s down to which territory, which county you can participate in cannabis activities in and because of the regulatory environment you can’t commercialize a product over multiple states and we saw that across the world. We visited the Czech Republic and Holland and Germany and Australia. All these countries are emerging cannabis economies without a global force or conference expo that can showcase what cannabis is, speak about the regulatory issues, look at the deep medicine inside cannabis and of course bring investors into a network that makes sense.

Because investors at this stage are under educated and they are taking their time to put their big toe into investing in this space because there’s a lot to learn. Cannabis is a very broad term. Is it the genetics? Is it the cultivation? Is it the process? Is it dispensing? Is it branding legal ancillary services? All of these things are playing in each VC. Each investment group we meet has a specific sort of slant towards a certain part of the industry without understanding that the industry is very wide and of course we haven’t even included hemp inside there as well so it’s very broad and we’re trying to narrow it down so that investors can make smart moves in winners rather than what’s going on in the industry unfortunately which is grabbing up low hanging fruit.

So the industry is focused on cultivating and dispensaries whereas if you look at another disruptive model say Uber. Uber came along and traditionally taxi medallions or taxi licenses were worth a lot of money and all of a sudden you disrupt that environment and that goes away. There’s no value to a taxi license and I see the future of cannabis that everyone now is protecting their license. I have a license to cultivate right now. In ten years I see a free open market so what really differentiates you when a license isn’t going to be a differentiator.

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Matthew: Gosh I think that would be a great vision when license isn’t a differentiator but at the same we’ve got a crazy Puritan streak over here in the U.S. Saul and a lot of regulators that have big pens and they might regulate up this industry even more than it is now. So we don’t know. We could still be divided up into fiefdoms and then every place outside of the U.S. and potentially maybe Canada. Canada seems more liberal but every place outside the U.S. could be this free open market and we’re divided up into fiefdoms and the regulatory red tape. We’ll see. I hope your vision sounds great if that can happen.

Saul: Yeah well I kind of look at the liquor market in the U.S. Liquor stores and their licenses. Their licenses are not as valuable as they were ten years ago and similar to pharmacies. I’ve operated pharmacies in Israel. There was a limitation you had to have 500 meters between every pharmacy and that eventually went down. So I think the progression will be to a more free open market and the concentration should be on building excellence and brands that can last through the fact that you may have competition at the end of the day on cultivating and dispensing.

Matthew: Let’s pivot to the last CannaTech Conference. What was that like? Can you paint a picture of who was there, what went on, and what the general vibe was like?

Saul: Sure. So it was described in the media as the Darvis of cannabis conferences. It was a level of science and dialogue that hadn’t been expressed before and we got that feedback from many of the players. Some of them who have been on your show like New Frontier who go to a lot of conferences in the U.S. and there is a form of conference fatigue going on in the U.S. People are tired. They’re seeing the same thing at every conference. There’s not a lot of progression. Okay so we’ll miss this one, we won’t miss this one. What happened in Israel was for the first time really serious investors came to the room. The regulator was there, the top scientists from Professor Mechoulam who gave the key note through many different scientists in Israel who presented their findings from clinical studies.

It’s not really going on in the U.S. where investors, operators, entrepreneurs, and scientists are coming together for this industry. So you’ve got very medical focused conferences like Patients Out of Time and you’ve got the big shows in Vegas which are more expos and tradeshows but this was the first one that brought the global cannabis community together to talk about hang on this is a big opportunity than what’s going on locally in the U.S. and how do we take the various opportunities that are going on all over the world and put them into a platform that other investors and other entrepreneurs can gain value from that eco system and we executed on that. The media came through. We had a huge following. We were quoted in many media outlets from CNN to the New York Times, Tech Crunch, and we made a splash and I think the industry needed a splash. It needed a wakeup call to say hang on it’s not just a U.S. focused market especially not Washington, Oregon, maybe California by November.

This is happening all over the world. It’s happening in Australia right now. They approved medical cannabis in the fastest regulatory process I have ever seen. It took about four weeks and they passed it. They begin clinical studies now for Epilepsy. That’s really, really quick. So the globe is happening and the focus of what’s gone on in America in the U.S. that IP; that technology is ready to be deployed outside of the local states and economy that currently exist and that’s what CannaTech was really about.

Matthew: Now at least my perception is is that the flavor of how cannabis is working in Israel is that it seems kind of a fusion of technology and cannabis. I don’t hear about people that are just interested in cultivation. It’s always some sort of technology application. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I mean the name of your conference is CannaTech. Besides Syqe which you mentioned Phillip Morris invested in is there any other emerging technologies that are coming out of Israel that you’d like to highlight that are perhaps interesting to you.

Saul: Sure. We’re seeing some new technology in extracting and refracting off the terpenes. We have a company in Israel that’s deeply involved in terpene research and they’ve actually been able to modulate the effect of sativas and indicas and change them up by changing the terpene profiles added back in after the extraction process. We’ve got technology here in metrics on the grow side. We’ve been very good on the ag tech side of things and how to grow; industrial growing and often what happens in cannabis unfortunately is a master grower is someone who grew six plants in his basement or a collective of 60 plants. The farm we have partnered with in Israel grows 50,000 plants. So it’s a totally different scale of cannabis production than what’s happening. We also live in a very good climate to grow cannabis so we can test indoor and outdoor and again it comes back to the regulatory environment which allows us to test.

So we have a piece of test land up north in Israel where we’re able to run side by side tests and look at lighting, look at extraction methods, mediums to grow in, nutrients, sensors and we’re trying to integrate all of that technology into a package which can be commercialized where the industry is happening which is in my opinion California. It comes down to California. So the industry is prepped here. It’s also an industry you have to remember that when you optimize growing tomatoes you have to grow so much weight of tomato to make that optimization process worthwhile investing in whereas in cannabis raw THC is currently traded purified 99.7 percent. THC is traded around 130,000 dollars a kilogram. So if you can optimize your process whether it’s on the grow/cultivation side or the extract side to increase your yield than you’ve got money to invest into the innovation and I think that’s why cannabis innovation is happening and why the investor segment is looking at it because they see this is a very large economy.

I’ve heard numbers of 60 billion, 100 billion. We don’t know. It’s one of the first commodity items ever released in the digital age that has a core user base already. So we don’t know how big this market can get but we know that there’s a lot of technology that can be used to optimize the process to bring stability and transparency to this industry and take it from the dark into the light and that’s what Canna Tech and cannabis technology in general we now refer to it like you refer to Ag Tech and Water Tech. We need to start referring to it that oh I saw this great CannaTech and to that note we’re also trying to promote cannabis is not really a pharmaceutical and it’s something more than a nutriceutical and I believe that we’ve coined the phrase of the cannaceutical which fits somewhere between a nutriceutical and a pharmaceutical so.

Matthew: Interesting.

Saul: Yeah.

Matthew: Now when you had the North Americans, Canadians, Americans, and perhaps people from Mexico in that CannaTech did you kind of see their outlook and mindset broadened as to the terms of the possibilities that exist? Maybe some ah-ha’s and how they could pivot and think about their businesses?

Saul: Absolutely. So first of all it widened their reach to international cannabis companies that have new technologies whether it’s Greenhouse, black Cap technologies whether it’s part of the extraction process and typically the focus has been in consulting on the U.S. side. They’re the ones that have been doing it in small collectives somewhat legally for some years but this is taking it to a new level industrial growing and optimization and standardization that I don’t even think those terms have been used in cannabis and I just came back from a five week trip in the U.S. and I traveled down from Seattle all the way to San Diego looking at the cannabis space. All verticals and all aspects of it and there really isn’t medical cannabis in America unfortunately. There is a recreational cannabis and there’s recreational cannabis used for medical purposes but if we want to understand medicine and repeatability and stability and it does the same thing each time the industry is not there yet.

Matthew: Okay. What’s next for CannaTech? How do you see it evolving in the years ahead?

Saul: So it’s definitely a flagship once a year event in Israel. We believe the core of the industry and new technology will be coming out of Israel and we’re nice and close to Europe so that event will be every March and we’re looking to do a satellite event to raise funds for some of the companies who are in our pipeline so that will be coming up in New York most likely and we’ve had a reach out from the government in Puerto Rico to do a CannaTech over there. So there is international interest. We want to keep the platform exclusive. It’s not going to grow to the size of a show in say Las Vegas but by keeping it exclusive we get to cherry pick the best of the technology and handpick the investors to come in and we keep it at the highest level of cannabis conference that exists today.

Matthew: So before we close I’d like to ask a few personal development questions so people can get to know you a little bit better. Is there a book that as you look over the arc of your life that has had a big impact on your thinking that you would recommend to CannaInsider listeners?

Saul: Sure. That’s quite a hard one because I read a lot. But a book I recently read sort of cemented a lot of my philosophy in how I operate this call it technology startup and that would be “Linchpin” by Seth Godin which is essentially a book about how to re-educate ourselves not to be robots. We were in an education system that needed robots and that sort of stuck around and a robot today is a worker and a computer. It’s not a person pushing a bun and if we can get technology to do the menial tasks of humans than humans can use their brains to do something much better. So that was quite a pivotal book and its part of our corporate structure and policy. We try and not give names to our employees or associates because everyone has a skill and I like to hire people based on their CB; not based on their CB but based on who they are and what they’re passionate about and if I can find something that they are passionate about that fits my business model that’s the person I want inside and I think “Linchpin” sort of cemented that in a cohesive way for me.

Matthew: Oh good. Now you say you spent some time in Australia. When you first arrived there and when you started spending time there how did you feel like was there any contrast to Israel that really came out to you and you said wow this is quite a different culture and what were some of those things that if you were to compare Israel to Australia just so people can understand different mindsets and how different cultures work?

Saul: Well Israel is kind of a very highly stressed environment both with the threat from outside which is constantly on us plus all of our kids go to the Army and there are random stabbings and things like that. Australia is a very, very laid back environment. So it’s kind of completely different but Australians and Israelis get on very well. Israelis like a good lifestyle. They like to be happy and try new things. Australia is really all about sport. The whole country is sports nuts. So if you can find the common denominator between that I guess you can have a really good conversation but I grew up in Australia so I am Australian more than I am Israeli I guess but cannabis wise actually Australians are very, very conservative. They’ve really bought into the myth that it’s a dangerous drug and it’s a gateway drug and there’s a lot of education that needs to change there to move it forward and all of my friends surprisingly in Israel it’s quite common that there is cannabis around in my social circles. In Australia it’s quite uncommon. I find that quite interesting.

Matthew: That is interesting. Is there a tool web based or otherwise that you use daily or weekly that you would recommend to listeners?

Saul: Absolutely. We use OnBoard Technology quite often. I try not to get married to the technology. We do OnBoard because it’s never perfect and it never always suits your needs and there might be something else out there that works really well. I use my email is gmail based and we have an extension on top of gmail called Sortd. We found it on Product Hunt. Product Hunt is a good website if you’re looking for new technologies usually by invite only and be the testing at the first stage but Sortd essentially takes your dream out and creates tasks from emails and a way to sort them and it’s definitely increased mine and my teams productivity.

Matthew: Oh that sounds great. So you can assign the task to others within your team that use Sortd as well?

Saul: Correct and you can delay it and it pops out of your inbox and comes back when its necessary and you can divide it into five; it essentially takes five columns and allows you to name those columns and you can drop an email from your inbox into one of those columns keep your inbox clean and my columns are for example to do follow up and I create essentially a pipeline within my Gmail that allows me to become more productive.

Matthew: Wow that sounds like a great suggestion. Thanks for that.

Saul: My pleasure.

Matthew: Saul as we close how can listeners find out more about you and follow your work in CannaTech?

Saul: Sure so our website is Israel Cannabis. We commonly refer to our company as Ican; Israel cannabis because we can and we’re looking to make change and CannaTech the yearly event is and we’ll be launching some new web assets in the future regarding the incubator that we’re setting up and the fund but all that information can be found on Israel-Cannabis.

Matthew: Saul thanks so much for joining us today on CannaInsider. We appreciate it.

Saul: Thank you very much. It was a great conversation.

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

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye bye.

Saul Kaye of iCAN joins us from Israel to discuss the huge leaps in cannabis technology coming out of the country and the cutting-edge cannabis tech conference called CanTech.

Key Takeaways:
[3:46] – Saul talks about how he got in the cannabis industry
[4:54] – How is cannabis treated in Israel as compared to North America
[6:57] – Saul discusses using pharmaceutical drugs with cannabis
[8:56] – Uniformity in prescribing cannabis
[11:56] – Saul talks about the investment scene in Israel as it relates to cannabis
[13:05] – What is CannaTech
[18:08] – Saul describes the CannaTech Conference
[21:14] – Emerging technologies coming out of Israel
[26:13] – Future of CannaTech
[27:24] – Saul’s book recommendation
[30:26] – Saul’s web-based tool recommendation
[32:02] – CannaTech contact details

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

Cannabis Grows – Solving The Light and Heat Challenges

joseph dimasi

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. Do you know that feeling when you sense opportunity? When you see something before most people and you just know it will be successful? Then you’re ready; ready for CannaInsider Consulting. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/consulting. Now here’s your program.

More cannabis entrepreneurs are thinking big. Joseph DiMasi Founder of Suncast is one of those entrepreneurs thinking really big. Joseph’s company is developing a technology that promises to route or bend lights to dramatically reduce the cost of lighting a cannabis grow. Joseph welcome to CannaInsider.

Joseph: Thank you Matt. Happy to be here.

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

Joseph: Sure I’m one of the lucky few who gets to live in Boulder, Colorado.

Matthew: Yes.

Joseph: I came out here for graduate school in 95 and haven’t been able to leave since.

Matthew: A lot of people are saying like wow a lot of your guests are from Boulder and it’s just happenstance that there’s just a lot of cool things going here. A lot of innovation in the cannabis space so it’s nothing intentional I’m doing it’s just a cluster like Silicon Valley for technology I’d say.

Joseph: Well apparently Boulder has the largest number of PhD’s per capita of any city in the U.S. and it’s on all the top entrepreneur cities in the U.S. too.

Matthew: Gosh yeah. I didn’t realize there was that many eggheads going around. I had to think I had a lot of triathletes so that’s like a weird combination.

Joseph: Right.

Matthew: So Joseph if you would give us a little background about yourself. Your education, your career so we can get a sense of who you are and how you came to start SunCast.

Joseph: Sure Matt. Gosh, so my background is largely engineering. I’ve got an undergraduate degree in engineering and then a graduate degree in optical and laser engineering where my research thesis was in holographics and optical computing so some real advanced stuff. So for the last 25 years I’ve been in and around technical projects. I’ve run my own consulting firm since 2000, done about three or four million dollars worth of Government grants for high tech, run lots of multidisciplinary engineering teams, been in engineering sales, technical marketing, and for the last four or five years have been pursuing this project now with SunCast.

Matthew: So tell us at a high level what SunCast is and what’s it do.

Joseph: Awesome, yes. SunCast is a new solar cogeneration technology and those are a bunch of fancy words. What cogeneration means is we’re doing two different energy technologies with sunlight. So we scoop up sunlight and we split it into the half you can see and the half you can’t see. The half you can see and that plants can use we cram that into fiber optic cables. They are like pipes for light but they’re skinny and flexible like your shoe lace and we can route the sunlight deep into buildings. The other half of sunlight is heat. It’s infrared. It’s what makes your hands and arms and body feel warm when you’re in the sun. Well the plants don’t use it and you don’t want it in your building because it’s just going to run your air conditioning costs up. So we split that off and we send that to another technology which turns it into electricity more efficiently than a solar cell.

Matthew: Wow. That is really interesting. You know I’m probably one of the many people out there that equate the suns energy and think of the heat component as so important and don’t think about there’s an aspect other than the heat that’s going on in the light spectrum that’s doing such incredible things. So that is really interesting and now when you say you move the light around how exactly does that happen?

Joseph: So yeah it’s a technology called fiber optics. For example most any telephone conversation you have like our conversation we’re having right now is going over the internet and the internet is communicating the light pulses that are going through these pipes for light called fiber optic cables. So once you can cram light in it it will just go down it like water goes down a hose. We’re using a different kind of fiber optic cables and we cram light into them; sunlight into them and just like water goes through a hose you can route these cables and bring the light into your building.

Matthew: So who do you picture as the ideal customer for SunCast. I mean obviously we have a cannabis focused show here but who uses this technology ideally?

Joseph: Well the ideal customer is any of the pioneers in indoor agriculture. Some 90% of legal cannabis grows are still inside. There’s a lot of benefits to growing inside. You get superior number of crop rotations, better yield control security but the challenge is always trying to replicate the sun. Well we can make that challenge much, much less for them by bringing the sunlight that’s hitting their roof inside their grow and lower their costs dramatically and we believe increase their yield.

Matthew: Yeah there is a lot of pioneering efforts in the indoor growing space apart from cannabis. I follow some of these container companies that are growing food crops in they look like shipping containers and they’re doing it in a way that looks so efficient and incredible that I hope we see some breakthroughs there.

Joseph: Yeah indoor agriculture the time is coming. If you even look up the information from the USRDA they talk about a nine billion dollar market; target market of people growing food indoors and there’s a lot of reasons for that. That average fruit or vegetable you eat probably travels 1,500 miles to your plate. So a lot of what you’re paying for is the cost of the transportation, you’re paying for the cost of refrigerating, the cost of spoilage as it comes to you, and there’s now a new hyper local movement going on; people care. Even if you buy organic food you don’t know if your next door neighbors have GMOs or not so indoor agriculture is coming.

Matthew: Yes. Now tell us a little about your connection with the Department of Energy and their interest in SunCast.

Joseph: Yeah so well I’ll just say it right now. The Department of Energy did not give us several million dollars to grow weed for people right. So this technology was funded through the Building Technologies Program and it’s for commercial lighting. So commercial buildings represent some 70% of electricity used through buildings and the number one cost of energy use in buildings happens to be lighting and you could say oh if you want to be green about it you can put up LEDs and solar panels but the truth is once you get above two stories you just can’t get enough energy from solar panels to light up LEDs due to all the efficiencies. So we are really a breakthrough in green building design.

SunCast is the company that’s taking it to agriculture and taking it into the cannabis industry. So there’s two sister companies that are working with each other and we do have to keep church and state separated a little bit. Make sure we’re not using federal money, taxpayer money to grow weed. There’s some concern there so SunCast is the one that’s allowed to use the technology for that.

Matthew: Can you tell us a little bit about the upfront costs to implementing SunCast in a grow?

Joseph: Sure. Well you know that’s one of the really exciting parts that we want to provide our customers. There’s a company called Solar City. Have you ever heard of them?

Matthew: Yes. I have.

Joseph: Yeah. I mean what Solar City did solar panels have been around a long time and the technology has advanced but it hasn’t changed that much. The real breakthrough is when Solar City provided financing for its customers. So it was able to put the solar panels on a person’s house for free or little money down and then only charge for the electricity that the solar panels deliver but charge that electricity less than what the utility would charge for electricity. So it’s a no-brainer right? Who wouldn’t want free, cheaper, green energy on their house and they’ve been crushing it and the solar energy industry has been one of the fastest growing clean energies ever, ever seen. SunCast will be the Solar City of cannabis. So we intend for just a fraction of the install costs to put these systems on a grower’s rooftop and then only charge for the full spectrum daylight that we deliver at a cost cheaper than any full spectrum electric light lifetime costs that they could run it for.

Matthew: Wow that’s fascinating. Now is Solar City is that an Elon Musk company as well.

Joseph: It was actually Elon and his brother, Kimbal. We’re talking to their cousins and I can’t remember their cousin’s names. So actually the cousins of Elon and Kimbal are running Solar City and the majority owners although I believe both Kimbal and Elon are on the board and involved.

Matthew: We got to figure out a way to clone these musk family members here because their clearly having a huge positive impact on the world.

Joseph: Yeah well maybe everybody out there can cross their fingers for me. I was told that I’m going to get an introduction to the family in the months to come so hopefully we can all work on this together. It would be a great strategic entity to work with. We would really get some great leverage there.

Matthew: Oh yeah. So tell us a little bit about; we talked a little bit about how sunlight is different than normal electrical light. How the sun is a better growing medium than artificial light but can you tell us anything more about how growers should be framing this concept in their mind of the sunlight versus artificial light and what it means to them on a practical level day to day running their grow?

Joseph: Absolutely. I mean first I’ll talk a little bit about electric lighting. It is the largest cost to the grower. The lights; energy is the largest cost to the grower and it can be anywhere from 30% their costs up to 50% their costs depending on where they live and their circumstances of their grow and it all starts with the lights. Not only does it take a lot of energy to run one of these lights; you can have a 1,000 watt light spaced anywhere from 4’ to 6’. When you talk about a grow one of the first questions the growers will talk to each other is they’ll say how many lights do you have right? Actually they don’t even talk in terms of square feet.

Matthew: Right.

Joseph: How many lights do you have right?

Matthew: Right.

Joseph: And each one of these lights is actually producing more heat than light. I mean up to 80% of the energy that you’re getting out of the electrical socket is being turned directly into heat. So there’s an enormous amount of energy that has to go into the air conditioning. A single 1,000 watt HID lamp can take anywhere from 5 to 6,000 BTUs of air conditioning and even the high end gavita’s, ePapillon’s, double ended lamps still take 3 to 4,000 BTUs. So they’re talking about HVAC in terms of tons of HVAC and then this extra heat depending on how it’s hitting the plant can heat it up and drive its respiration. Respiration is the way the plant defends itself from that extra heat. It will pull up more water out of the soil and then it will pump it out the surface of the plant. Well then you have a dehumidification problem so that’s the other great energy sucker right and dehumidification is actually a double problem because if you don’t manage that quite right that extra vapor can turn into mold and take down crops.

Matthew: Yeah. A big problem there.

Joseph: Right. So there are lots of options in the lighting space. I just mentioned a couple. The vast majority are standard HID lamps, high pressure sodium, metal hay light. There are some up and coming technologies the double ended lamps will get you anywhere 10 to 30% more efficient than standard HIDs. There’s ceramic metal hay lights they are great for vegetation. They may be 10 to 20% more efficient than other HIDs. There’s plasma lights and then of course the one that everybody loves to talk about is LEDs. That stands for light emitting diodes and for all the talk about how efficient and how great LEDs are a lot of third party research has shown that even the best LEDs are just about as efficient as producing light as double ended lamps but the upfront cost can be anywhere from 5 to 6 times the upfront cost of double ended lamps.

Now LEDs will get there. I work with the Department of Energy Solid State Lighting Group so I do know a lot about that technology and it will be; the costs will be coming down in the next few years. They will be getting more efficient the next few years but not that much maybe a factor of two. So it’s still going to be a big pain area and it’s still going to be a big cost. There are other advantages to LEDs that I could get into they use light more efficiently and spectrum more efficiently but when we talk about spectrum of sunlight versus man made light. So a photon is a photon so if we’re actually creating a photon with some kind of electric light it’s a useable photon. That photon isn’t too much different than what comes off the sun. It’s really the collection of all the different colors and we call that spectrum and there’s a particular range that horticulturists know and talk about in terms of light spectrum. They call it PAR, P-A-R and I’m just going to geek out a little bit here.

The way they talk about that spectrum is they use a unit called nanometers which talks about the wave length; how long that wave is and the PAR spectrum is generally regarded from 400 which is a deep, deep purple out to 700 which is just beyond what we can see; what humans can see in red. In fact humans see differently than plants see. So it’s really important to get a spectrum. You don’t really care about lumens, you care about how it feels out this McCree Curve of plants. So different lights will do that but still if you look at all the spectrums of different electric lights they’re choppy. The high pressure sodiums kick out a ton of this yellow/orange light that isn’t actually ideal for flowering. It’s just better for flowering than the metal hay light lights that don’t have any orangish/reddish light. It’s really the deep red that plants really like.

LEDs have spiky; they can really hammer certain frequencies. You can have a blue and you can have a red and it kind of gives this purple light and then new LED vendors are putting these white phosphorus in there to give a nice even glow. In general they’re all compared. If you go to all the literature they always compare it to sunlight. If you look at all these lamps they compare it to sunlight and why it’s because sunlight is the gold standard and it’s what the plant has evolved to use and they’re even showing that these plants will use wave lengths, frequencies, colors of light that go beyond this PAR range and well beyond what we can see into the UV, into the IR, into the near IR. So sunlight is kind of what you want to recreate and we’re just bringing it in your building.

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

Wow that’s fascinating. I have heard some of these terms before but you put that into a nice easy to digest context so I appreciate that. In terms of men sequestering or separating the heat into a useable form of energy what are the exact mechanics there that allows that to happen? So we’ve separated off the sunlight into a useable format for our plants and now we’re going to separate the energy or the heat to create energy can you walk us through some more of the mechanics there?

Joseph: Yeah and let’s talk a little bit about this magic word heat right because heat is a tricky one. So when you have an HID bulb okay the heat comes out the bulb itself. That thing is several hundred degrees. You don’t want to touch that. You don’t want that near your plants. It’s going to burn them okay. That’s a high temperature and it will come into your building as heat that you have to remove.

Matthew: Okay.

Joseph: Okay but you know honestly in the light you can see there is heat there too. It’s just the plants can use that energy so it doesn’t turn into extra heat load for the room. LEDs similarly give out just as much heat although they’re at a lower temperature and it’s out the back so they feel cool out the front but you’ll notice they’ve got these big heat sinks out the back. Now sunlight has the full spectrum. The plants use a portion of it and what we’re saying is that the portion of light that the plants don’t use would just land in the room as extra heat. So that infrared spectrum, that infrared energy would be heat because the plants don’t used it. If the plants didn’t use visible light that would be heat too but they suck it up.

Matthew: Okay.

Joseph: Now we split the visible and the infrared with a technical term called magic. No we have some patent pending technology but I can’t fully get into here and after the light is split off we have a very particular chemistry of solar cell that is sensitive to infrared light and not to the visible light and so that research is part of what’s been funded by the Department of Energy.

Matthew: That’s fascinating. Okay so how much cooler would you say a grow would be that is using SunCast or supplemented by SunCast than a traditional grow?

Joseph: Yeah. So let’s talk about how do I want to say that? I guess I want to talk about in terms of there are electric light usage and then there’s SunCast usage right because they’re each kind of separate. Let’s say they’re using just as much electric light as they were before and they’re adding our sunlight to it.
Matthew: Okay.

Joseph: So adding our sunlight to it would only add the extra visible photons that the plant could use. We are not adding extra energy that the plant can’t use and because of our delivery we’re not spraying unnecessary light around the room. It’s either going directly on the plant or we have some exciting technologies that allow us to deliver light throughout the canopy of the plant which is really cool. We can talk a little bit more about that later. In that case we would hardly change their heat load at all right so if they had a certain tonnage to manage their existing lights adding our cold light to it will keep their heat load just about the same. It will increase a little but not very much.

Now some growers may want to save electricity and save costs so they will have much, much, much less electric light. You still want some maybe as much as a cloudy day which isn’t very much just to keep the plants going to extend the cycle and the timing or as backup whenever it’s cloudy outside. So in that case their heat load is only going to come from their electric lights which are say maybe reduced to a 10th of what they were before and their heat load is going to be a 10th of what it was before and then again we won’t add very much to that.

Matthew: Okay. Now for people that are listening and saying well how much; if I’m renting a building or leasing a building would I have to make huge substance changes to the roof or how do we get the SunCast technology into the building in a minimally invasive way?

Joseph: Right.

Matthew: Impact on a grow facility.

Joseph: Right. So the first thing we have to say is every rooftop is wildly different. So every installation will be custom and we will work with the customers and with structural engineers to work with their rooftop and their needs. The first and most important consideration is structural load. Most buildings at least here in Colorado have at least a four pound per square foot structural load. Many are as high as ten pounds per square foot structural load. We will be under that and largely you don’t want to affix things to the roof. You want them floating on the roof. So our systems are modular which can work around other things like HVAC systems. We can fit our technology around that upon their roof.

Now we do have to get the light in the building right. Now we concentrate the sunlight thousands of times into these fiber optic cables. So what that means is for the amount of light we’re letting in our penetrations into the roof are thousands of times smaller. So in general when they put an HVAC system on the roof they’re cutting a big hole sometimes 3’ x 3’ and they’re making huge structural adjustments to put the extra HVAC load on the roof. So our penetrations will be much, much smaller than that 4’ x 4’ hole but there will be more of them right because we have to let the light in more often throughout the roof. We want to work with the growers and the building owners. A lot of the people who are renting facilities the landlords know that hey this is a big business and I can charge a certain premium to these cannabis growers. I’m going to let them put the HVAC on the roof, I’m going to let them make penetrations, I’m going to let them modify the electric.

We’re going to work with those building owners and show them that this is going to be improvement to their building and when it’s all done we can take our modular systems off their roof and we can seal up those penetrations with a professional roofer and let them reuse their building how they see fit.

Matthew: You mentioned a little bit about how to use the light in the canopy. Let’s circle back and let you talk about that a little bit in terms of maybe running a light for the canopy under the canopy or in different ways.

Joseph: Yeah right thank you for that. We have a couple other really cool things that I haven’t even talked about so I’ll talk about this and one other thing. When you have a cannabis bush outside I mean it’s really a tree. If you go to an outdoor grow these things are huge 12, 15 feet tall, sometimes taller. They’re enormous.

Now when they are outside the sun walks around the whole surface of the plant and its fruit, its flower, its bud grows around it like ornaments on a Christmas tree right. That’s an outdoor grow where the plants have lots of space around them and that’s what the plant is built to do. Now if you have an indoor grow your economics have changed. You now have to think in terms of how do I maximize my yield per square foot and the way people maximize their yield per square foot when the number one cost is the lights is they cram the trees together and at the very top where they get the light from the electric light they form a canopy and that canopy is where all the bud, all the flower grows, and then they cut the undercarriage. They spend a lot of time and energy trimming that undercarriage because the plant will spend extra energy creating vegetation down there but there isn’t enough bright light to create any bud down there because of the shadowing of the canopy.

Matthew: Right.

Joseph: So because our light is in these skinny, flexible fiber optics and because we have eliminated all the heat from the fiber optics or from the sunlight we can actually take the sunlight and drop it under the canopy of the plant. We can have light go down through the body of the plant and create more vegetation or I’m sorry more flowering under that bright canopy. So if you’re canopy say all your profit centers come from a 12 inch plane right that’s where your flowers are the top 12 inches of your plants. Well if we can bring light under the canopy and maybe double or triple that profit center plane to 24 inches, 30 inches, 36 inches then we can actually leverage the output of the entire facility. Now that’s a huge gain for the growers. No one else can do that except LEDs because they don’t have a high temperature; they have a lot of heat but not a high temperature but the problem with LEDs is they’re expensive. So if you want to have an LED bar every few feet the cost of that adds up and they still use a lot of electricity too.

So we think the fact that we can bring in cold light that’s full spectrum and under the canopy is a real disruptive aspect to this technology and we do think it’s going to change the face of indoor growing and it’s going to make indoor grows comparable or better in many regards to a greenhouse.

Matthew: Fascinating stuff. Now for growers that are listening that want to start to implement something like this or want to make it part of their long term planning when will this be available to commercial growers?

Joseph: Thank you. We are in late stages of development. We have to ramp to manufacturing levels and we hope to do that in early 2017. However right now we are looking for BETA test partners. We’re looking for grows that can really take measurements of our system and compare it to an electrical only system and give us results, give us feedback, and give the industry honest feedback from horticultural people, from people in the trenches growing day in and day out to show what our product can do and to show how we can improve our products. So we’re looking for those BETA test partners and I ask them to reach out to me at the website or either by email and let’s start talking. Let’s start talking about your grow, about your needs. We can go through some of the fine details of what our technology looks like and we can get that conversation started.

Matthew: Now let’s talk about where you are in raising capital. I mean you recently pitched at the ArcView Group can you tell us a little bit about that and where you are in raising capital and if you would like any investors listening to reach out to you? Can you do that?

Joseph: Yeah. I mean ArcView was great. Oh man what a great community. Everybody was connected and sincere and really excited about the industry. We had an especially good time. From the pitch we got first place which is really exciting.

Matthew: Well yeah that always makes it fun.

Joseph: Oh it was totally fun and people were coming up to me and chatting the whole time. We just pitched early. We are just actually starting our fundraising now so although we had talked to a number of investors we are just starting that process now and I do invite you please come talk to me and we are doing a seed round right now and would love to discuss our business model and where we think the business can go and how we’re poised in this industry. It’s all extremely exciting. As the judges showed us when we got the results at ArcView.

Matthew: For investors specifically how should they reach out to you? Go to your website or is there an email? What’s the best way?

Joseph: Our website right now. So here’s our website Our website right now is really pretty fluffy and vague. We are in stealth mode and the reason your listeners get to hear it is because this is CannaInsider right.

Matthew: Right.

Joseph: Yeah. So we’re not to market yet and we don’t really want to let the cat out of the bag. We do have a contact portal there so you can fill in the form and that will send me an email or I can just give you an email right now.

Matthew: Whatever; it depends how brave you’re feeling.

Joseph: Oh I think you have good people here.

Matthew: Okay. Go ahead.


Matthew: Okay great. Well let’s talk a little bit about a couple personal things here. It’s something I’m trying and we’ve gotten good feedback and that is is there a book that has had a big impact on your life. I mean it sounds like you’ve been very immersed in technical subjects and the world is about to get the benefit of that but is there any book when you look back over the arc of your life that maybe opened up a crossroads for you or helped you to develop a lens on your life and where you wanted to go that you would like to share with listeners that you’d recommend?

Joseph: Absolutely. Yeah I mean I’ve definitely had a strong technical background my whole life but that’s not really my north start and it came out. Boulder is a very open mind, progressive town and when I came here I was like a sponge with different spiritual traditions and I have to say that having a deep spiritual connection whatever that looks like for you right. It could be a particular modality. It could be nature right. It could just be enjoying a sunset or enjoying other people. Whatever that is for you I invite you to go deeper because that’s going to provide a richness to your life and it’s going to provide you a more finely honed moral compass which is really going to help you in the tougher questions and ultimately business is all about people anyway and for me it was my spiritual path that really made me want to take technology and have my life be a contribution. So there is about a ten year process of me looking at spiritual paradigms and saying God I’m just a nerd. What can I do that actually makes a difference in the world and then for me I learned about climate change and what a mess that is and I said okay how can I do something about that and after about seven years of looking and working in the solar space I stumbled on this technology.

So I would say develop your spiritual north star. A book for me when I was in my early 20s was “Autobiography of Yogi” and that’s the life, autobiography of Paramahansa Yogananda. I was never his teacher or anything but he’s just a beautiful example of a humble spirit with an open heart who was always willing to take more and more and miracles happened in his life and I think we all need to hear more stories and miracles to show us what’s possible.

Matthew: That is a perfect place to end Joseph. Thanks for sharing that. Can you give out your website one more time for our listeners?

Joseph: Sure. and my email is

Matthew: Joseph thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today and educating us. This was really a fascinating subject to learn about and we appreciate it.

Joseph: Oh what a pleasure.

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Cannabis grows are challenged by heat caused by traditional grow lights. This often results in cultivators having to invest a lot in chillers, special HVAC systems and more. Also, as much as we try we can’t replicate the perfect energy of the sun when lighting our plants indoors. Joseph DiMasi of Suncast believes he has solved both of these problems, listen in to learn more.

Key Takeaways:
[1:59] – Joseph talks about his background and how he started SunCast
[2:58] – What is SunCast
[5:16] – SunCast’s ideal customer
[7:12] – Joseph talks about his connection with the Department of Energy
[8:40] – The cost of implementing SunCast in a grow
[11:30] – Sunlight versus artificial light
[19:16] – Joseph talks about separating the heat into usable energy
[21:22] – How much cooler is a SunCast grow compared to a traditional grow
[26:32] – Joseph talks about using the light in the canopy
[30:03] – When will SunCast be available to commercial growers
[31:22] – Joseph talks about pitching at ArcView and how investors can reach out
[34:02] – Joseph’s book recommendation

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

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