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DJ Parmar and the Documentary, Cannabizness

DJ Parmar Cannabizness

In this interview filmmaker DJ Parmar tells CannaInsider about his new documentary CannaBizNess that will explore the topics of: cannabis entrepreneurs, cannabis investors, and the growing cannabis market.

Learn more at: http://www.cannabizness.com/

You could be listening to this interview on your commute, get the Cannainsider podcast free.

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Each week I’ll take you behind the scenes to interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving legal marijuana industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That’s www.cannainsider.com/trends. Now here’s your program. The cannabis industry continues as exponential growth and as it creates more and more jobs, you and I may feel it is an unstoppable force. But most Americans still have grave misconceptions and fear around cannabis. That is why some bold filmmakers are stepping in to help the rest of America and the world understand what is really going on. I’m pleased to welcome to the show DJ Parmar, the filmmaker behind a documentary called Cannabizness. Welcome DJ.

DJ: Thanks for having me.

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

DJ: I’m currently in Los Angeles, but my schedule brings me all over the world for the various projects I’m involved with, and all over the US for Cannabizness.

Matthew: What is Cannabizness about?

DJ: Cannabizness is the first theatrical documentary highlighting the legal cannabis industry and what it means to be an entrepreneur and investor in this multibillion dollar industry.

Matthew: What inspired you to make Cannabizness?

DJ: You know, a business partner of mine is heavily involved in the legal cannabis industry. And the reason behind creating the documentary was after speaking with a number of people across the US and Canada, I felt that there’s still a certain stigma attached to cannabis regardless of whether it’s a legal cannabis industry or not. And I think that your average individual just needs some more education and information on the legal cannabis industry to understand that it’s no longer an industry that’s a black market where you’re growing marijuana out of your basement and selling it out of your car. It’s actually a legitimate multibillion dollar emerging industry whereby there are many different business verticals that have high profile potential that are legitimate and legal that your average individual just doesn’t know about. So we just wanted to educate and inform audiences in the US, Canada and around the world what that industry meant.

Matthew: And what’s your background? How did you get started in the documentary business?

DJ: My background is I’m a film producer. I’m involved with a number of different high profile projects across US, China and India. And you know, my background has fortunately brought me into a number of various opportunities and one was the legal cannabis industry and this documentary. So it’s definitely a fascinating subject, and I think that it’s an industry that is one, is now highlighted as the new tech era of the world. So it’s a fascinating opportunity to be able to highlight and document this industry.

Matthew: What topics are you planning on spending the most time on in the documentary?

DJ: Well I think that, you know, there have been a number of documentaries on marijuana and they’ve covered, you know, politics, legalization, the drug war, etcetera. There hasn’t really been a documentary that’s covered the legal cannabis industry in the business investment side of the industry. So we focus really on what it means to be an entrepreneur and an investor in this industry highlighting the various business verticals and investment verticals for this industry.

Matthew: Since you’ve started digging into the cannabis industry, has there been anything that surprised you that you’ve discovered?

DJ: Yeah I mean I think the two things that have fascinated me the most about the legal cannabis industry, one is just the sheer amount of business verticals and the potential for this industry. You know, with the one comparison I would give is, you know, for example if you look at, you know, a different industry, say real estate, you compare marijuana to land, you look at land and talk with different business verticals that are built around land. You’ve got development companies, construction companies, insurance, financing, housing, trades, etcetera. So that is exactly the same for the legal cannabis industry. There are all these business verticals that are being built up from the ground up right now in this industry. So the sheer volume of opportunities and potential in this industry are massive.

And then the second point that was just fascinating to me was that, you know, meeting a ton of these investors and interviewing them, it was just so interesting to understand that there are so many investors. There literally is tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars financing available in this industry. And there just aren’t enough investible companies yet in this industry, and that I feel is a lack of understanding for the industry, lack of entrepreneurs and a lack of just building companies that have a business model and a revenue model that makes sense to investors. And I think the great thing about this documentary is our goal is to really educate not only investors, but also entrepreneurs about this industry to be able to provide those opportunities to build and grow and have investible companies.

Matthew: Who are some of the people you’re going to interview for the documentary?

DJ: You know, we’ve had great access all across the board, across the cannabis industry from top entrepreneurs to top investors. So you know, it’s been fascinating to be able to have the access we do, and we’ve had some of the most high profile people in the industry from, you know, Steve Deangelo from Harborside or Troy Dayton from ArcView or Tripp Keber from Dixie Elixirs. You know that is definitely on the entrepreneur side. On the investor side we’ve had a lot of great people, you know, such as Douglas Laden and a lot of analytics and investor review companies such as Alan Brochstein and you know, the Marijuana Index. So all across the board. I mean it’s been fascinating to be able to have the access we do to very high profile individuals across all sectors of the cannabis industry.

Matthew: We recently had Adam Scorgie on the show, and he has two documentaries; The Culture High and The Union: The Business Behind Getting High. Most people who are listening are familiar with those documentaries. How would you contrast? You’re saying this is much more focused on the entrepreneurial possibilities and the investor possibilities. Is that fair?

DJ: Yeah it’s a really funny story. I was actually speaking to Adam a week ago, and we were talking about our documentary Cannabizness and what he did with The Culture High and the Union. And he said literally the one aspect that he didn’t cover in The Culture High and one of the areas that he felt there was a ton of potential to do with cannabis documentary was the business side of the legal cannabis industry. And you know, after talking to him in depth about Cannabizness, he had felt there was definitely an opportunity for this type of documentary in this space and it’s something that he didn’t actually cover in The Culture High. So definitely I think, you know, our difference subject matter wise from Adam’s documentaries is that we are definitely covering the aspect of the industry that hasn’t really been covered yet which is the business and investment side of the legal cannabis industry. So ultimately we feel that it’s a fresh, unique take on the industry, and something that’s definitely timely and needed for audiences to understand this industry.

Matthew: I enjoy documentaries a lot, but I have no idea what goes into making one. I’m sure there’s a lot of different variables. Can you tell us what it’s like? Give us a kind of a snap shot of what it’s like to make a documentary?

DJ: Yeah I mean, making a documentary is pretty fascinating. I think it really comes down to being able to manage high profile interviews. I think, you know, a documentary is really based on the information you provide audiences and the access to high profile individuals that people are very interested to hear and learn from. So I think, you know, the job of a documentary producer or director is really to access some of the most high profile interviews that you can from top keynote to individuals across various subject matters. And then also just providing accurate, up to date, and interesting information and data. So I think really a lot of it has to do with relationships, connections to access those individuals and then also just, you know, on a research and analytics side to really be able to take a fresh take on the industry or topic that you’re covering to provide information and data that people are hungry for and also interested to learn about.

Matthew: What do you think people are most hungry for? Is it how to invest? How to start a business? Because it does seem like the scale is there’s a lot more investors than there are entrepreneurs. So if you’re listening out there, I always try to ask the question to the guests on there, on the show is what are the big problems that need to be solved because this is an absolutely once in a lifetime opportunity. What have you found DJ?

DJ: Yeah I think it’s fascinating. I think people are interested to know more about the industry in general. A lot of people just don’t understand it. You know, our media has created a certain stigma about marijuana and the cannabis industry. And I think we’re just here to help educate and inform people that, you know, it’s not an illegal substance that is run by the mafia. It’s literally a medical drug that is used by patients and also has the potential for massive business opportunities for legitimate entrepreneurs and businesses. So really it’s just educating and informing not only entrepreneurs, but investors the opportunities and investments that are available in this industry that are very high profile and have massive potentials. So I think it’s literally just, you know, highlighting an industry that most people don’t know or understand. So it’s really just providing them that information to understand it in more detail.

Matthew: Now you mentioned you have a career that spans several continents here. Can you tell us some of the other projects that you’re doing overseas?

DJ: Yeah definitely. My company is Original Entertainment. We are very heavily involved in the Indian and Chinese markets. We closed a very high profile deal whereby we purchased the official remake rights for a series of hit action Hollywood franchises such as Rambo and the Expendables which we’re remaking into big budget Bollywood blockbusters for the Indian market. We’re also now in the process of closing a very similar deal to secure a number of high profile films for co-production out of China. And then ultimately we’re doing some films out of Hollywood as well that are various action/romantic/comedy films and ultimately we’re focused on the international markets. So whether that means we’re doing Hollywood, Bollywood or Chinese co-productions, we’re really focused on appealing to the international market.

Matthew: Gosh I can’t wait to see Rambo as a Bollywood film. That sounds pretty interesting. There’s a lot of people that are listening that have heard the term Bollywood that maybe haven’t seen a Bollywood film. I saw one about a year ago that someone suggested. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was just fantastical dancing and singing. It was just… it was so much going on. It was really a feast for the eyes. If something just wants to see their first Bollywood film and kind of put their toe on the water, is there one or two titles you could recommend?

DJ: Yeah I mean, there are a number of great Bollywood films and classics. And I think, you know, the Bollywood industry is also progressed so much that, you know, we not only have the typical song and dance type movies. We also have more progressive cinema that is definitely catering to be more edgy and doesn’t have song and dance. But definitely a huge hit in recent years is a film called Three Idiots, which is now being remade into a Hollywood movie. So that’s definitely a huge blockbuster but also a very amazing story that people really connected with. There are just a ton of movies. I think Bollywood makes many more movies statistically and percentagewise compared to Hollywood, but Three Idiots is definitely a great start to enjoying the Bollywood experience.

Matthew: DJ I understand you’re crowdfunding this documentary. How can listeners support your efforts?

DJ: Yeah definitely we’re looking for people to support this documentary and people who want to see this film come out, educate and inform the world about this industry. So we have a Kickstarter campaign that’s live right now, and we’re driving all of our traffic to our website which is www.cannabizness.com, and that’s spelled www.cannabizness.com.

Matthew: Great. Well thanks so much for being on the show today DJ. We really appreciate it. We wish you all the best with Cannabizness. It sounds like you’ve got some big names and I hope everybody will go out there and support your efforts.

DJ: Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.cannainsider.com, email us feedback@cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Betty Aldworth – Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Betty Aldworth

Betty Aldworth, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy talks about what it is like on the front lines in Washington D.C. fighting to ensure the continued progress of the legalization movement.

You could be listening to this interview on your commute, get the free podcast HERE

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Each week I’ll take you behind the scenes to interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving legal marijuana industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.canninsider.com/trends. That’s www.canninsider.com/trends. Now here’s your program. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” I believe this quote from Margaret Meade serves as a perfect introduction to our next guest, Betty Aldworth. Betty is the executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, commonly called SSDP. SSDP is a grassroots student led effort to end the failing war on drugs. I’m pleased to have Betty on the show today. Welcome Betty.

Betty: Matt thanks so much for having me.

Matthew: So listeners get a sense of your geography, can you tell us where you are in the world?

Betty: Yes, I’m today sitting in the Students for Sensible Drug Policy office in DC just a couple of miles from Capitol Hill.

Matthew: How cool.

Betty: And I also spend a great deal of time in Denver, my hometown. My hometown for the last 20 years anyhow.

Matthew: For listeners who have never heard of SSDP, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Betty: Sure. In 1998 we were founded by a group of students who connected across the nation from their various campuses over bulletin boards, a very early communication tool on the internet where they were able to, over the Drug Reform Network, a very specific set of bulletin boards, they were able to share their experiences, talk about why they thought the war on drugs was failing, start to build a community of students who cared about this then activate that network. We were founded in 1998 in that way, and we have been working to end the failed war on drugs ever since. We today have a network of more than 3,000 students on almost 250 campuses nationwide and a handful of international campuses as well. We also have about 30,000 alumni members who have come through the SSDP program including some of the most prominent members, prominent leaders of the cannabis industry.

Matthew: So Betty how did you personally get involved in Students for Sensible Drug Policy?

Betty: SSDP actually wasn’t a thing when I started college. I became involved in 2012 when I was working on the Amendment 64 campaign in Colorado, and at that time Students for Sensible Drug Policy members were integral in helping us get the word out about the initiative, especially on campus with the young people. And earlier this year I took over as executive director here after spending a year with the National Cannabis Industry Association. I’ve been doing drug policy and marijuana policy work for about five years.

Matthew: Okay and where are we right now in the push to end the war on drugs and adopt a sensible policy?

Betty: Certainly much further than any of us had imagined at this point I think, even the most optimistic. The national conversation about the war on drugs is really shifting and significantly is right now. People broadly are recognizing that the war on drugs is a failure, that criminalizing drug users does nothing to actually help them in their individual situations, and also significantly harms communities. Especially communities of color and communities of low income. In that recognition, people are realizing that the negative impacts on the war on drugs reach so much further than they ever imagined, and they are starting to stand up and say no more. A very, very small percentage of Americans actually support the war on drugs. I believe the last poll that I saw was about 4 percent. Everyone else feels that it is either a tremendous failure or a marginal failure. We just have got to get politicians to come along with us in significant and substantial ways.

Matthew: Do you ever get the opportunity to speak with members of Congress or the Senate and kind of get their views of how they really feel about it and what could be done to change federal laws?

Betty: Well I don’t know that I necessarily get to know how they really feel about it. But as much as I am able to have conversations with our supporters, you know, people like Representative Blumenauer out of Oregon, Representatives Polis and DeGette and Perlmutter out of Colorado. They really understand that marijuana prohibition is a total failure. And they are 100 percent in support of fixing that system and allowing states to figure out the best ways to handle marijuana within their borders. Some of them are more progressive than others. I think though that much like with the end of alcohol prohibition we can assume that politicians will be the last to come along.

Matthew: Right. Now we had Brian Vicente an attorney here in Denver on the show recently, and he said that there’s so many representatives from California that he thinks once that state adopts wider legalization it could be the breaking point. What do you think about that?

Betty: Sure, I mean I think that we’re looking at a series of tipping points both in terms of the public perception and in terms of the federal approach, specifically to marijuana. There are a couple of states that once they tax and regulate or adopt medical marijuana will push the conversation forward more quickly than others. You know, smaller states have less influence. It’s going to be less important. One of the real disappointments about Florida this year and that’s the failure of that initiative to reach the 60 percent mark is that if Florida had passed, that would have been an incredible strategic victory in terms of bringing along a very large percentage of the population and a very large percentage of Congress who would then be interested in supporting their state’s ability to move the program forward. So yes, California, Florida, New York, Illinois, those are all very important states.

Matthew: And just to point out I think Florida, they needed a 60 percent vote, but they got 57 percent or 58 percent and not even the last few governors, I think the last five governors haven’t gotten a 60 percent majority. So it’s an incredible hard thing to do and just how close it came is really remarkable.

Betty: You know it’s one of those loses that you almost count as a win when it comes to how voters at least felt about it. It’s incredibly rare these days for any ballot initiative to surpass 52 percent, 56 percent anywhere. In order to reach that 60 percent threshold that would have been quite a significant lift.

Matthew: Is there a formal cannabis lobby in DC that represents businesses?

Betty: Of course. You know for many years Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access and others have been working on Capitol Hill to shift the conversation around cannabis in general. But since 2011 the National Cannabis Industry Association, for which I worked last year, has been specifically focused on the issues for cannabis businesses inking protection from the federal government and tax issues that are mostly relevant to businesses.

Matthew: What is the response you get from law enforcement about your efforts for a sensible drug policy?

Betty: Well there is one organization out there, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, that is bring together those members of law enforcement who are outspoken against the war on drugs. And many times those folks though are retired because that’s the point at which they have the freedom to speak out. There are Progressive Sheriffs. For example the King County Sheriff up in Seattle who is adamantly against marijuana prohibition and takes fairly progressive approaches to the drug war generally. But as much as we get a great deal of support from beat cops and those in lower level positions, it’s very difficult for a law enforcement officer at a higher level position in their department to come out in support of drug policy or forum. It’s a very political statement unfortunately still in police departments and sheriffs’ departments across America. So that’s a difficulty. But when we were out campaigning for Initiative 71 waving signs here in DC every cop car that drove passed us, every marked car that drove passed us we were getting a honk and a wave.

Matthew: Nice.

Betty: So clearly there’s a great deal of support, you know, police officers just as well as anyone else understands that marijuana prohibition is a failure and waste of their resources. They don’t want to be doing this job to bust people for using drugs. So they tend to support on that level. And in fact I was having a conversation with a retired sheriff a couple of weeks ago in my hometown who understands the failures of the drug war so well that he was actually able to arise me a little bit by making a joke about the gateway effect which I took seriously. So we do get a great deal of support from those members of law enforcement who are free to talk about it.

Matthew: One thing I would like to point out too is that there is prison guard unions that are extremely powerful, particularly in California, that have a vested interest in seeing prohibition continue for cannabis, and you know I encourage listeners to support representatives that are aware of this fact and are trying too. And prison guards pull in the political process. Have you seen or heard anything around that at all?

Betty: We talk all the time as performers about the fact that marijuana and marijuana prohibition leads people down a path that traps them in the criminal justice system. And you know we can’t for moment be so naïve as to think that the people who benefit from that system aren’t as aware of that issue as we are. Whether that’s a prison guard union or a private prison company or a private prison advocacy organizations here in DC, they all understand that as well as we do. And they will be, I think, among our most formable allies when it comes to trying to change this conversation and change the way that we’re approaching marijuana policy. Our prison industrial complex is a business, hands down. We saw after the passage of 47 in California to reduces mandatory minimums and to free many prisoners that one of the arguments against letting prisoners out as quickly as possible is it reduces the prison workforce. These are people who are getting paid pennies a day to do labor. It is hands down the new American slavery system.

Matthew: That sounds exactly like slavery.

Betty: It really does. And as advocates and as entrepreneurs we have a responsibility to ensure that we are remembering that there are still people who are trapped in this system, and we are responsible for making a better world for them and getting them out of prison and rehabilitated. And that’s one of the reasons that I advocate strongly for state laws that don’t disallow with criminal convictions for drug use, possession or low level distribution to participate in the cannabis industry. And I advocate strongly for businesses to hire formerly incarcerated people.

Matthew: Great point. I want to ask you who would be the best presidential candidate in 2016, but I think that’s somewhat of a polarizing issue. So maybe you could describe what characteristics a good presidential candidate would have around cannabis.

Betty: I think that the most important thing is finding a candidate to support who really fundamentally understands that prohibition is a failed policy. Who is willing to look objectively at the evidence and not be swayed by the political, the overtly political influences that are holding back our current efforts for reform. One of the things that’s really interesting about the Obama presidency in particular and that isn’t talked about very often is that the Affordable Care Act is actually one of the most significant drug policy reforms of the last 40 years in that it puts treatment for drug misuse into the mental health context in a much more significant way than any other policy shift. Unfortunately we also see with the Obama administration a lot of lip service given to focusing on treatment in the priorities of the Department of Justice and the DEA and out of the office of the Drug Czar where they’re actually still spending much more effort and energy on supply reduction rather than demand reduction. So we need a presidential candidate and leaders in general who really understand that effective methods for reducing demand are much more critical than trying to fight supply. Because if there is a demand, someone will be ready to meet it whether it is criminalized or not.

Matthew: Sometimes we as individuals may feel a little bit discouraged or powerless when trying to affect changes in DC, but you seen some amazing examples of how small groups of students can really have an impact. Can you give us an example of how students are having impact in changing the conversation?

Betty: Sure. Students for Sensible Drug Policy itself was founded to dismantle the drug policy related pieces of the HEA, the Higher Education Act. Many listeners should be familiar with these policies which divorce students who have drug convictions on their record from being able to access financial aid. I mean if that’s not a perfect example of how the drug war keeps people down, I don’t know what is. You get busted for pot on graduation night from high school and you can’t get financial aid. That ruins a person’s life potentially. So over our first eight years we worked on fixing that provision. Is it perfect, no, but we gained a major victory in 2006 when the HEA was substantially changed to allow those students to access federal funding for higher education. That’s one great example. It took only eight years which I know sounds like a really long time, but that is… in Washington that’s almost light speed, especially these days. We also had a lobby day a couple of months ago and our efforts really did educate a number of offices, congressional offices on the issues that are facing students. And we were able to influence a number of representatives to consider signing on to the Smarter Sentencing Act, which is reducing mandatory minimums across the board in order to allow judges and juries more flexibility.

Matthew: Now I’m sure you’re familiar with Portugal’s drug policy. They have somewhat of an unorthodox but effective drug policy. Can you tell us a little bit about that and any pros that you see that we can adopt from them?

Betty: Yeah so about 12 or 13 years ago Portugal decriminalized all drugs across the board, use and possession, not distribution. So drug users are no longer criminalized, no longer put into jail or prison for their use or abuse. And what we’ve seen over the course of the past decade or so is that drug use rates in Portugal have dropped to the lowest level of any European Union country, and drug misuse rates have basically been cut in half across the board.

Matthew: Wow.

Betty: Yeah, I know it’s an incredibly powerful example of what taking a health based approach will do. So when someone is found by the police to have a problem with drugs in Portugal they aren’t put into prison, they are given the option to go into non-coercive treatment, and that is really the core piece of how we best approach drug use, drug misuse from a harm reduction prospective is allowing people to enter treatment when they are ready. And when you do that you remove a great number of the social and community negative impacts of drug use and misuse.

Matthew: Great point. I think that’s something people really need to understand is that if we arrest someone that’s an addict, we’ve just criminalized an addict. We haven’t solved the addiction problem. So really happy to hear that about Portugal. Hope we can steal some best practices from them.

Betty: Well you know, Matt, the Global Commission on Drugs recently released a report, and this is Kofi Annan and Richard Branson and former presidents of various Latin American countries, recommending a new global approach on drugs that focuses on regulation based on actual harm and decriminalization across the board. Focusing on treatment, and making drug use when people are going to engage in it safer.

Matthew: What big events do you see coming down the pipe that we should be aware of either in DC or the state level or even internationally?

Betty: Sure, 2016 of course is going to be a huge year for marijuana policy reform at the ballot box. And in the coming years we can expect to see a handful of states take up marijuana policy reforms in the legislature. I think that there’s general consensus that as long as we continue to build a responsible, accountable and transparent marijuana industry that we will be able to see these reforms continue to move forward in other states. There’s also the question of what the federal government is going to do about the marijuana question, and that will be very interesting in the coming years. The question has been batted back and forth between Congress and the Department of Justice and the Executive Branch more generally around marijuana rescheduling. There’s even a court case going on right now that will address the question of rescheduling. So these are all major events to watch. We also have coming up in 2016 in New York City at the UN, the UN General Assembly special session on drugs. This is a great opportunity for the UN to look again at drug policy treaties that govern international drug policy. And one of the really interesting things for us as Americans is that the US has been driving the drug war globally for 40 years, but we’re also right now leading, along with Uruguay and Chile and other countries that are considering lessening penalties or even taxing and regulating marijuana, we are now leading the dismantling as well. And I think it’s incumbent on us to make sure that our voices are very loud and saying listen, this is a failed policy globally. It’s not okay that we can go buy marijuana legally in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska and Uruguay, but in some countries possession of marijuana can lead to a death penalty.

Matthew: God, that’s really an important point. I mean we got to remember, and Troy Dayton did a really good job of pointing this out at his last event, is that there’s people sitting in jail right now at this moment, thousands in this country and families that are broken apart. This is not an intellectual argument. This is real consequences that have disturbing effects of people’s lives. So I really encourage them to support SSDP. In a closing Betty, what’s the best way for listeners to learn more about SSDP?

Betty: Sure. I would invite anyone to visit our website www.schoolsnotprisons.org or www.ssdp.org, where you can learn much more about the work that we’re doing to dismantle the war on drugs. And for those listeners who are members of the cannabis industry, we will be launching a job board as well as a new internship program so the students in SSDP are able to bring the skills and values that they learn while they’re with us to the (24.14 unclear) marijuana industry and make sure to create these accountable, responsible and transparent business that will be looking to right some of these wrongs. So that’s an opportunity for businesses to support out work and our individual students. We also have something called the Sensible Society. There are many businesses and individuals who are supporting us on a monthly basis with donations ranging from $25 to $500 a month or more that are enabling us to do the work of supporting these 3,000 students nationwide and really pushing the envelope on the question.

Matthew: Betty, are there any businesses out there that are really helping SSDP that you would like to give a shout out to?

Betty: Oh absolutely. We get such great support from some really wonderful members of the cannabis industry, and there are quite a few. So bear with me for a moment. We have CannInsure Insurance Advisors, Idea 420, Dixie Elixirs for some national groups as well as the Vicente Sederberg of course, the ArcView Group and Troy and Michael from the ArcView Group, and Greenbridge Corporate Council. A couple of dispensaries out in California including Tahoe Wellness Center, Berkley Patients Group, Spark and Harbor Side Health Center. In the Denver area we have Terpene Care Station. Let’s see, we’ve also got Good Chemistry and the Farm in Boulder. Those are some of the dispensaries that are wonderfully helpful for us. James Sladdock [ph] at Med West in California and so many others who have just done such an incredible job of supporting us this year. But I really have to give a big thanks to Idea 420. They’ve done a wonderful job of incorporating SSDP into their (26.18 unclear) plan this year and become one of our most significant supporters.

Matthew: Well thanks so much Betty for being on the show. We really appreciate it.

Betty: Oh it’s such a pleasure, Matt. Thank you so much. It’s a great show. I’m really excited.

Matthew: Thank you. If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guest to you. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.canninsider.com, email us feedback@cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

 

Sean Campbell – Opening a Bank Account for your Cannabis Business

Sean Campbell

Sean Campbell, CEO of Blue Line Protection Group (BLPG) describes how to meet all the regulatory hurdles and satisfy the legal requirements to open a bank account for your cannabis business.
http://www.bluelineprotectiongroup.com/

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Matthew: Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Each week I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving legal marijuana industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That's www.cannainsider.com. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Now here's your program. Something as simple as having a business checking account is a difficult thing for most cannabis related businesses. Sean Campbell from Blue Line Protection Group is going to brief us today on how cannabis related businesses can have a banking relationship. Welcome Sean.

Sean: Thank you very much Matt.

Matt: Sean can you tell us a little bit about Blue Line Protection Group and the clients you serve?

Sean: Blue Line Protection Group was set up to help people in the cannabis industry initially to protect their premises and protect their businesses and to help them with the transportation of their product and the transportation of their currency to wherever they wanted it to be distributed to. However we've progressed that substantially, recently with being able to help these cannabis businesses and presenting them to certain banks who are willing to bank them provided they do the appropriate compliance basically as dictated by the feds and some of the memos that they put out in response to states legalizing cannabis.

Matt: I want to dig in a little bit to those memos, but first tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in the industry.

Sean: My background is a bit different as far as the industry itself. I came from the hedge fund industry where I've been for the last 10 years. We've invested in many microcap and smaller companies, under $300 million generally. And so I have quite a bit of experience evaluating companies and evaluating opportunities and in this case evaluating the industry. And what made this particular business exciting was that every contract they engaged was profitable, so that they were doing real business, real revenues. At least initially in the industry a lot of the publicly traded companies were largely story lines where they were planning on doing things and planning on being successful. Whereas this is the real company doing real business and having real connections with the various players in the industry.

Matt: Now the banks are or some of the banks are a bit skittish about working with clients in the cannabis industry. However, there's some recent developments and memos from the federal government that you touched on just a couple of minutes ago. Can you tell us about those memos, the banks' skittishness and how to bridge that gap so banks are comfortable working with cannabis companies?

Sean: Well initially you cannot blame the banks too much because obviously cannabis is federally restricted as a product that can be bought and sold. And because the banks, whether they're state chartered or nationally chartered, are still regulated by the feds because of the insurance aspect. All banks have to have insurance. They're subject to federal regulation. However, the feds recognize there was a bit of conflict now with the states legalizing the production and sale of cannabis and the banks' inability to help with that. I mean any normal business would be able to find banking to carry on their business. The two problems with that are one, that money cannot be used by the cannabis producer or seller. And secondly, of course, you've created a crime magnet. All this cash moving around creates quite the potential for crime, and that's something that the feds didn't want to be responsible for in my view. In response they issued several memos, the most famous of which is the Cole Memo, where they enunciated eight points at the banks would have to hit. And if they were able to meet these requirements then the feds would basically say that were allowed to bank cannabis accounts.

Matt: Interesting. Can you highlight one or two of those eight points that are the most important?

Sean: The problem of course for the banks is that they’re not used to doing, I would say, any of the eight points.

Matt: Okay. Sean: The points they require is that the age of the purchaser is validated. The banks have what they call KYC, Know Your Customer, but that’s generally they know the business that they’re banking. Generally that doesn't require for them to know the customer of that business and who that customer is and what their age is and that it’s been validated. The memo requires that they make sure that the product’s not grown on federal land. They make sure that no one is driving high. Obviously responsibilities the banks don’t usually undertake. The memo requires that they validate that the product being sold is exactly the same as the product that’s being taxed so there’s no criminal enterprise, so there’s nothing going missing, so there’s no skimming out the back with the money or product. And it’s features like these that the bank never undertakes in any other business. And so the feds is now mandating that they have to be responsible for making sure that these actions are undertaken and that there is no criminal enterprise and that none of these requirements are being breached. So that’s why the banks appreciated that they made this effort to give them this memo, but immediately stated for the public that we can’t hit any of these requirements.

Matt: Okay got it. And so what are banks doing to help cannabis businesses right now? How do they work with them then?

Sean: I would say that the banks generally are not working with the cannabis businesses to help them and that’s probably 99 percent of the banks out there. So what you’re left with is smaller banks if you are looking at the opportunity and going well how can we effectively meet these requirements. And that’s generally where Blue Line comes in. I mean there’s three things that we very quickly do, we think, and that’s help people get their license, help people keep their license so they don’t break the rules. And the third thing is that we help them get their money into the banks by helping the businesses meet the Cole Memo and the other (6.57 unclear) requirements that are out there. And so we provide the guards. We did normally anyway and these guards validate the age. We provide the product, so we weigh the product when we pick it up, and we weigh the product when we drop it off. And we make sure that where we’re picking this product up from is the actual grower. And we make sure when they give us their money to distribute that it matches the product they sold. And finally we actually take their money to the tax office so we know what they paid in taxes and that it relates exactly to the monies they've earned from the sale of the product. So with these features in place we’re able to add what we call Hard Compliance, and we’re in the best position to do that because we’re vertically integrated all the way through. We provide all of these services naturally. And going forward we’re taken that one step further where we’re now providing kiosks, so when the purchaser comes in they select from the touchscreen the product they want which can only be the product that’s been delivered there. The home base, the office, the grower can manage exactly what the dispenser has available and that it’s been tracked seed to sale all the way through so that we integrate with several of the seed to sale companies and their software. Once they’ve chosen that product, the customer puts the money into the kiosk directly so that there’s no opportunity for the bud tender or anybody else to skim the money, goes straight into a safe which is part of the kiosk. We then remove that kiosk and take it to the bank that’s agreed that it’s customer is meeting the compliance requirements. And therefore we’ll be able to service the industry in that respect. These are all safeguards to make sure that we are able to say, not really us, the bank is able to say to the feds when they inquire, are you hitting this compliance that they can respond we could do no more. We have done everything that we possibly could to hit your requirement. Matt: Interesting. And then you also have some sort of documentation that says hey we picked up the cannabis, picked up the cash. We matched all those things so you have a record. Sean: We do a compliance package. We were doing it every month, and a couple of the banks have said that every quarter will suffice. So we’re doing a package. It’s about 132 pages long. It compiles all the people that have purchased the product in that time. It compiles all the products that came at that time, seed to sale tracking of what we sold, the tracking of the taxes and that all reconcile together. We have forensic detectives doing this. When we were doing it monthly, they were spending 8 to 16 hours per dispensary to prepare this package and then present it to the bank because it’s really the bank’s digression. But with the package and with the thoroughness of our compliance requirements, we have found several banks now who are willing to accept cannabis cash openly and willing to work with the feds to show them the compliance that they’re undertaking to make sure that these Memos and so forth are hit.

Matt: So when a bank starts to welcome cannabis customers is there like a tidal wave of new customers that are lining up to get into that bank?

Sean: There are. In Nevada where they haven’t even started the business yet, one of the banks has at least 80 customers all ready to go the day that they start business. Likewise in Colorado. It’s been over a year without banking, and the bank that has agreed to now undertake this it will start with a beta which they’re doing this month. And they’ll start taking all accounts on January 1st.

Matt: If I’m a bank president, I might say well, yes I’m welcoming some cannabis customers, but do I want a quarter of my business to be cannabis customers. Are they putting a ceiling on how many, what percentage of their customers will be cannabis related or is that a non-issue?

Sean: That’s going to be different for every bank. It’s different in Nevada as opposed to Colorado. In Colorado they’ve agreed to access additional equity so that they can take a larger deposit. That’s something the banks have to work with, and they believe they’re capable of that. If they are not capable of it, that would be different. But then we would look for another bank.

Matt: Okay. Recently the IRS issued a notice in regards to CPAs working with cannabis businesses. Did you read that? Can you comment on it at all?

Sean: Not really. I know very little of it. They’re generally just… they seem to be mostly concerned about making sure they get paid.

Matt: Right. They want to make sure.

Sean: So it would be any industry, but the IRS just want to make sure they get paid which again is rather hypocritical. It’s the same for the states. I mean they take cash. We deliver cash to the state to pay the taxes, and somehow that cash manages to get into the banking system.

Matt: Yes so that’s interesting. It’s okay.. well I will reserve my comment there, but it’s not a positive one. So you drive in armored vehicles with like AKs or how does this work when you’re pulling up to deliver huge amounts of cash somewhere?

Sean: Ninety-five percent of our employees are ex-police or ex-military. They are better trained, we believe, than anyone else on the street currently. We feel that makes them hard targets and therefore not the first option for criminality. We haven’t had any instances of anyone going after our guys yet, obviously happy about that. Honestly there’s too many easy targets for them currently in every state where we've been. The number of easy targets is so common and so large in number that they don’t need to go after the hard targets which is our guys, and yes they roll fully armed with the equipment you can imagine they would need to carry.

Matt: Okay and so they’re not only transporting large sums of cash but at times large amounts of cannabis and some other special cargo. Okay.

Sean: Special cargo is probably the right word. But you know the edibles and so forth, some of the concentrates are so valuable and do not take up very much space. So the value can be significant.

Matt: So from a compliance point of view if you’re educating a dispensary or infused products company about Blue Line’s compliance services, how should they start to think about compliance, security and cash management in a way they probably haven’t before?

Sean: We won’t take any legacy monies from any of the business that we start to help get or introduce them to banking. Because what’s most important is you’re able to track the sales from the product, the creation of the product to the sale of the product to the taxes, all the way through. So that we have to have a tracking on them. So I think as a first instance they should start to make sure that they have those tracking facilities in place and how they’re going to get there, and how they’re going to make sure that they can track everything all the way through. If they have those systems in place and I have auditors doing their accounts and they’re accounts are up to speed, it’s going to make our job easier. It’s going to be very much less expensive for them to use our service, and the bank is going to be very much happier that they can be confident that the business that they’re banking has been legit from day one and didn't just suddenly become more legit.

Matt: And for the listeners that are perhaps Illinois or Oregon or Alaska or Washington DC, different places where legalization efforts are going on or there’s medical marijuana is legal, will Blue Line be able to help them there or are you only in the larger states where cannabis is legal?

Sean: We’re in four states currently. We are in Illinois. We are in Nevada. We are in Colorado. We are in Washington. We went to California. We ran away partly because they weren't really interested in compliance at that point in time and they will be in the future. We will be going into Oregon. We would advise these people applying for licenses to choose the best companies with the best reputation. We find that helps with their license. We've helped hundreds of people with their applications at this point. In Nevada we were mentioned, I think, 44 times in the hearings as a name. And hopefully that helped some of the ones that got their licenses, and we’d love to help people in these new states on their application.

Matt: Great. In closing how can listeners learn more about Blue Line Protection group?

Sean: It’s easy to look us up on the internet. You will see lots of nice videos and nice things that we’re doing even on YouTube. Just look at www.bluelineprotectiongroup.com. That will give you a link to most of the press we've had and most of the videos and so forth. We’re also publicly listed so that you can check our filings to see what sort of company we are and our board members and so forth.

Matt: What’s your ticker symbol? I’m sorry to interrupt. Sean: BLPG, Blue Line Protection Group, BLPG. Matt: Great. Sean: That 1-800 number which is 1-800-844-5576. Matt: Great. Well thanks so much to Sean Campbell of Blue Line Protection group for being on Canna Insider today. Thanks Sean.

Sean: Thank you very much Matt, thank you.

Matt: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guest to you. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.canninsider.com, email us feedback@cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

The Cleanest Cannabis Concentrates in The World from MadFarma

Interview MadFarma

Interview with Alex Taracki and Darrin Farrow from MadFarma.com.  MadFarma creates the cleanest cannabis concentrates. Concentrates are typically much higher in THC and CBD concentration and offer a lot of benefits over other kinds of cannabis consumption.

Learn how to spot a bad concentrate so you can avoid them. Fascinating interview and provides a great glimpse into why consumers are migrating to concentrates and edibles.

Don’t have time to listen to the interview now? get the free podcast and listen while you drive.

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Matthew: Hi I'm Matthew Kind. Each week I will take you behind the scenes to interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving legal marijuana industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That's www.cannainsider.com. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Now here's your program. They say a jack of all trades is the master of none. Whoever pinned that quote has not met the people at MadFarma.com. MadFarma.com has a deep experience and expertise in several areas of the cannabis business, but they are best known for extracting the cleanest concentrates. I'm happy to welcome to the show Darrin Farrow and Alex Taracki. Welcome guys.

Darrin: Thank you Matt.

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

Darrin: Well currently we are building at a facility in Nevada. Our concentrates you'll find all over the state of Oregon, we're looking to expand currently into a bigger facility there. And we have another warehouse in the Denver area that we're specking out and getting ready to build out also.

Matthew: What does MadFarma.com do?

Darrin: Well we do a number of things. We do consulting. We've helped people that are applying for licenses, obtain licenses in certain states. We help speck out their facilities. Myra [ph] and Alex, my partners, have extensive backgrounds in construction. And I would say that cultivation and construction are two disciplines that complement each other very, very nicely. and then I would say the third piece licensing, building out and then the operational peice.

Matthew: And why are the concentrates from MadFarma.com different?

Alex: This is Alex. So concentrates are different because they're extracted the same way every other extraction company extracts, but their purged and finished up a little bit different. We use a very long time to finish our product. So our products are super clean and very, very, very pure.

Matthew: Great and there's a few different ways to extract. Can you, Alex, summarize how extraction exactly works for people that may not be familiar and why they might want to experiment or try a concentrate?

Alex: Okay so there's two ways of extracting. It's a open... we're talking about hydrocarbon extractions is what we are using. There's two different categories. There's the hydrocarbon extraction, then solvent extractions. We use hydrocarbon extractions, and there's two ways of hydrocarbon extraction. You can use a closed loop system or an open loop system. Open hose system is usually in people's back yards, small time growers, nothing commercial. And then a more professional way is closed hose system. That's what we're using. It just blowing hydrocarbons straight through the marijuana and extract all the oil. And then the final part about this is extracting that hydrocarbons away from the oil so it gives you a 100 percent pure oil.

Matthew: And for people that are doing extractions like yourself, do you use all parts of the plants or just certain parts when extracting the oil. How does that work?

Alex: This is Alex again. So it all depends what product you're looking for. We generally extract the whole complete plant, but we separate it in three different parts. One part is we extract just the (4.11 unclear), just the flower of the plant to give you the best and tastiest product is the wax. Then we can extract the fine trim in which fine trim is just the trim that comes off the flower, and that gives you as well a very nice product. It's an edible product, but not as tasty and not as therapy as the flower does. And then there's a third extraction which is the extraction of the rest of the parts of the flower of the plant. And that's used for cooking oil.

Matthew: And for people that may not familiar what the dab is or dabbing, can you just introduce them to that concept?

Alex: Yes so dabbing, dabs usually it's just a concentrates are much smaller, smaller amount than the (4.53 unclear) THC content or CBD content. Titanium nail gets heat up really hot, so about 700 degrees. And then you just put a little piece and a little bit of oil on top of that titanium nail and it evaporates instantly and you inhale it. Very simple.

Matthew: Okay. Your concentrates are extremely pure and you have a painstaking process, but let's talk about maybe some company that creates concentrates that doesn't use best practices like MadFarma.com. How would they know that they're dabbing with a concentrate that is suboptimal, let's say?

Alex: Okay so the way that you know it's not dabbed, that harshness. So upon exhaling that vape our of your lungs, first it's going be terpene that you're going to taste which a super good flavor terpene of the flower or the extract that you are vaping. And then second it's going to be that harshness which is (6.03 unclear) that's left over in that. So upon exhaling if you have this huge harshness kind of coming through your chest and kind of almost giving you hiccups, then you know it's super (6.12 unclear). Which (6.14 unclear) MadFarma.com products there's absolutely no harshness. It's super, super, super smooth.

Matthew: Great point and you know, to give listeners a sense of how high a THC can be in this wax, can you tell us a typical or average THC concentration on these dabs?

Alex: The typical is between 65 percent to 85 percent. We have some that tested as high has 93 percent. That's really... there's just a few strains out there that will give you that high THC that it's high, i mean, low 90s, but a typical is anywhere between 65 to 85.

Matthew: And tell us a little bit about how CBD levels interact with THC in concentrates and why that's important.

Alex: Okay so CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid in a marijuana plant, but it's extremely medicinal. A lot of people like CBD as a pain reliever. I mean it has multiple medicinal effects. We're all over the board between the CBD and THC. We have some of strains that are super high CBD and very low THC. We have some that are super high THC and very low CBD, and then we have some that are in the middle, they're about 50/50 or 2:1 CBD to THC ratio or the other way around 2:1 THC to CBD ratio. CBD dabs, it looks similar to the THC oil. The extraction process is exactly the same. The purging process is very similar. The difference is like I said it's a non psychoactive so after dabbing you will feel the relaxation in your body, and if you have any kind of pain, that pain kind of relieving, but it will not get your head high. So like I said non-psychoactive so you don't experience that normal high as you will after smoking a regular joint.

Matthew: Right. There's a lot of excitement about CBD out there right now and all it's medicinal properties. So thanks for giving us some color around that. Which states can listeners find MadFarma.com concentrates right now?

Darrin: This is Darrin. The high CBD that we're working on is predominantly in Oregon. You will be able to find our products throughout Nevada I'm going to say in the next 4 to 6 months and following that we'll be in the Colorado are. And I did want to expand a little bit, Alex and Myra who have done a phenomenal job. They're our top Mad scientists, and we currently just got lab results back on one of our Mad oil, high CBD products. And I believe that's testing at around 80 percent CBD. Is that correct Alex?

Alex: That is correct.

Darrin: And to put that into prospective, there's a concentrate, but there's kind of a famous strain out there called Charlotte's Web, and that's about 24 percent CBD, less than 1 percent THC. So this is... I have yet to see anything as high as what we've been able to manufacture recently.

Matthew: Now switching gears back to Alex, I just have another question about extraction. There is storied of people trying to make oils in their basement or things like that with disastrous results. That's often done via butane hash oil. Is that correct? Can you tell us a little bit about that, and what happens when things go wrong when people try to do this themselves?

Alex: Okay absolutely. Earlier I was saying that there's two ways of extracting. One is a close loop system and one is an open loop system. Open loop system means you are literally stuffing marijuana into the little glass tube, and you're blasting butane straight through the glass tube and butane is coming out of the bottle evaporates in the atmosphere and then it drains all the oil out of marijuana. So that butane evaporating in the atmosphere is extremely dangerous. I mean any kind of spark, anything around it, it's going to instantly light up and explode. And therefore people come into an issue is they don't really look into it as much as they should. They don't have enough ventilation. They don't have enough air movement, smoking around or whatever else happens around it and it explodes, extremely, extremely dangerous. I don't absolutely recommend it. Don't try it. I mean it's just not the thing to do. The way that we do our extraction it's all 100 percent closed loop system. Which closed loop it means that we take the gas out of the bottle, we send it through the system that's closed loop which means it's completely closed loop. Gas never comes out into the atmosphere, and then upon extraction, finishing extraction, we complete extract that gas right back into the same bottle, and we extract 99.5 percent of the gas. So there's absolutely no gas coming out into the atmoshpere which obviously if the gas is not in the atmosphere, there's no risk of explosions.

Matthew: How do you see the concentrates evolving over the next three to five years? They're somewhat of a newcomer on the scene for most people. They're just starting to become familiar with them. Where do you see it going?

Alex: So let's talk about, if you're talking about (11.39 unclear), we can talk a little bit about the state of Colorado. The state of Colorado is by far the furthest ahead in the marijuana world, concentrates and just marijuana. Two years ago marijuana was about 80 percent, concentrates were about 20 percent on the market. Today they're are about 60 percent concentrates, 40 percents flower or marijuana, and I would say within 3 to 5 years it's probably going to be 75 concentrate and 25 percent flower.

Matthew: Wow, that's amazing.

Alex: Yes. So and the reason behind it is it's easier to use. You have to use a lot less of the medicine to get the effect of the THC or the CBD because it's a much higher concentrate. It's a lot more discrete. If you use this high end vape pen that you can get on the market, there's no smell, it's very discrete. It's the way to go.

Matthew: Okay. And just as how things are evolving towards concentrates, how do you see cultivation changing. I mean it's gone from back rooms to pretty high tech cultivation centers. How do you see cultivation changing?

Alex: So cultivation is pretty much, you know, everything is obviously changing. The way I see it changing is cultivation is all going to be in the light. The less electricity, more yields is where cultivation is trying to go, trying to implement LED lights or ceramic light bulbs, trying to use all that so that the fewer amps, electrical amps the more grams per lot. That's really what all it's going to be. It's not really there yet. There are many manufacturers of LED lights that are doing a good job, but still not there yet. But I would say 3 to 5 years it's definitely going to be there.

Matthew: There seems to be a great bifurcation and opinion about LED lights. Are they ready for prime time in your opinion?

Alex: No, not yet. So LED lights, really the technology behind LEDs they are saying that you're not going to... like let's say the result of 1000 watt HBS light bulb, the HBS is a high pressured sodium light bulbs, those are the light bulbs doing cultivation all over the world. So the most popular light bulb is 1000 watts. They are saying you do not have to use 1000 watts of LED light bulbs to get the same amount of flower being produced under the same light which is not there yet. LED bulbs work, but you still have to use the same amount of watts to get the amount of flower. So it's getting there, but no absolutely not there yet.

Matthew: Is there a technology in the cannabis industry that really excites you right now apart from what you're doing at MadFarma?

Alex: Absolutely. I was just talking about it. It's all about those light bulbs.

Matthew: The light bulbs.

Alex: Yeah, if we can get something that's not going to release that much heat as a HBS light bulb and that much electricity, but it's going to produce as much as a 1000 watt HBS light bulb does, that's the future no doubt about it.

Matthew: Is there any LED manufacturers right now that you think are very close?

Alex: There's a manufacturer, I don't know the name of it, but it has something to do with the Army. They're doing some kind of lights for the Army, and they're trying it in the cannabis industry right now. They're saying they're there. I have not tested those bulbs yet, but no anything that's in the market, everything that we've seen just in the last (15.13 unclear) conference we were on. Nothing is there yet.

Matthew: Okay. In closing how can listeners learn more about MadFarma?

Darrin: This is Darrin. Our website they can go to, it's www.madfarma.com, and just so everyone knows it is MadFarma.comceuticals, but it's spelled as in farming, F-A-R-M-A. So that's MadFarma.com.

Matthew: Thank you to Darrin and Alex from MadFarma.com for joining CannaInsiders today. If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guest to you. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.canninsider.com, email us feedback@cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Classy Cannabis Events & The Women Leading Legalization

Jane West

Jane West is the co-founder of Women Grow, an organization with chapters around the country that is designed to allow the women leaders of the cannabis industry to connect with one another, but also help women trying to get into the industry.  Learn more at: http://www.womengrow.com

Jane is also the co-founder of Edible Events. Edible Events is Colorado’s premiere cannabis event production company. Imagine having a swanky party for your next event where the delicious food is designed to enhance your cannabis experience. Learn more at: http://www.edibleeventsco.com

Also don’t miss this interview ABC’s Nightline did with Jane recently, she handled herself beautifully.

You could be listening to this interview on your smartphone while you commute, subscribe to our podcast.

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Matthew: Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Each week I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving legal marijuana industry. Learn more at CannaInsider.com. That's C-A-N-N-A Insider.com.

What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at CannaInsider.com/trends. That's C-A-N-N-A insider.com/trends.

Now here's your program.

Jane West has rocketed to the forefront of the cannabis scene catering to the more sophisticated cannabis user. Jane and her two businesses, Edible Events and Women Grow, have been profiled on many news outlets including the Denver Post and ABC's Nightline. I'm pleased to have Jane on the show with us today. Welcome, Jane.

Jane: Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

Matthew: Jane, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in the cannabis industry?

Jane: Certainly. I have worked in events my entire life for the past 20 years. I started in New York City working for non-governmental organizations like UNICEF and UNBP doing fund raisers at Lincoln Center and branding and messaging events for UNICEF nationally. Then I moved to Denver, Colorado, and love it here, and got my masters degree in social work from Denver University. And then continued to do events and outreach messaging for organ donations and different - various organ procurement organizations nationwide. So I've always been kind of involved in community building and outreach and messaging.

I've always been a cannabis consumer, but was not part of - was not an advocate, was not part of the movement, was not part of amendment 64. But once it started to become apparent that legalization was really going to become a reality, I wanted to utilize my event funding skills to create events that I would like to attend. I went to a few different advertised cannabis events at the end of 2013, and it really wasn't an environment that I felt comfortable in.

I'm more of a mild user. I prefer to smoke flower. It was the first time I'd even been introduced to dabbing by a few of those events. And so, I just kind of wanted to create a welcoming environment for women within my demographic who may be kind of cannabis curious and want to find out more about utilizing the substance as an alternative to alcohol.

Matthew: Now I want to get into Edible Events and Women Grow, but before we do I just want to talk a little bit about the ABC Nightline interview with you. My wife and I, we watched this, and we laughed and we cheered for you. I mean this is really a case study for anybody that wants to take like a public relations course or something like this. It's a must watch, and I'm going to include a link to it in the show notes.

Jane: Thank you.

Matthew: But what amazed us is how the interview kept on framing questions to you in a way that subtly, and at times not so subtly, framed cannabis in a negative light. And instead of responding to those questions, you reframed and re-contextualized it in such a way, it turned in a total 180. Can you tell us a little bit about how you did that, and what that interview was like. It was so interesting to watch. Jane: Well, it is about the power of the pivot and knowing that when you're going to put yourself in front of a major news organization or any interview you do that it's really important to send your message and understand that you're in control of the interview.

I think that her - I don't want Nightline or Judy Chang to be - her questions were appropriate because they are the questions that non-cannabis users and people who just have these old, out-dated, uneducated information about marijuana, the messaging from years of the drug war, and failed scare tactics and all those other endeavors, they still have that in the forefront of their minds. We're definitely in a bubble here Denver, and we need to always remember that. And so, I actually think her questions were excellent because if they would have been a little bit more softball, it would have seemed as if she was on my side or would have already been converted to understanding what a great substance cannabis can be as an alternative to alcohol.

However, because she kind of utilized that mindset of Americans that haven't quite understood what cannabis is and how the end of prohibition is inevitable nationwide. I thought it was great because they got their questions asked, and I got my answers in. So in my mind, it was a win-win.

Matthew: Yes. Good point. Now before we move on, there is one edit in that interview that I just want to draw people's attention to, and that is when your friend is talking in the interview and they kind of turned the camera from your friend talking down to her tattoo. I thought that was kind of odd like why are they focusing on this tattoo. And to me that was like kind of like on the fringe. Look at the wild tattoos.

Jane: I hear you. People have really commented a lot on Brittany Driver's tattooed hand. You know, I think at the end of the day what's important to me also is that within the female demographic there's diversity. So to me, I hope cannabis users with or without that view thought it was great that there was a diverse group of women and not just a group of 38-year-old moms. Well, Brittany's mom also.

But I think it's good that we're showing a diverse group of women are all cannabis users and - but you're right, I think that's the purpose of the media is to kind cater to everyone's different view points, and I don't know what else to say to that. I don't have a very good answer for that. So other than the fact by doing that and having that shot close in on her hand, it did create more conversation around the topic, and more conversation about the media's influence over messaging, which I think overall is good.

Matthew: Now switching gears back to edible Events, you have this idea in your head about creating these events that are more upscale for people that are curious or maybe have tried cannabis once or twice before and they're looking to get back in. How did it translate from the idea in your head into actually doing it for the first time? Were you surprised by anything? How did it feel?

Jane: Well, when I first put the series together, I planned for success. I booked out the entire year to begin with knowing that some people would only be able to make certain dates, or maybe a certain culinary feature from one event would appeal to some one more. And so, I really kind off just jumped in with just one a month. And the very first event, the best part about it, and the best part actually about all the events we've held, the orchestra event, and some other private events we've done is this element of like mindedness that just makes it such a positive social experience.

Our very first event based on like only three or four news article on it before it occurred, and there was a group that drove in from Kansas after reading about it. And there was a group of people - a few people flew in for it. And the exciting part about that this is a group of people that read a newspaper article about something that had never even occurred yet. And actually, it was something that was hard to even understand what it is. Like, is this a culinary event, is there weed in the food? What's going on here?

And so, they were all a group of 100 people that were like I want to do that. That is what I want to do on my Friday night. And what that leads to is just this really excellent mix of like-minded individuals coming together for an evening event where you get to consume cannabis like you would a glass of wine.

Matthew: Sure. Just for people that are wondering the cannabis is - you bring your own cannabis.

Jane: You bring your own cannabis. I hash tagged #BYOC for the first time a year ago. I looked at the time. This is good. It was all like bBYOchairs or BYOcoffee. But we went with BYOcannabis mainly because we did a few focus groups, and my original concept was that everyone would come into the event at the same time, and all consume the same edible. And for each event, we would feature a different edibles company and everyone would kind of be on the same journey.

But everyone - edibles affect everyone differently. I don't want to pigeon hole people into a certain cupcake. Everyone kind off has their own preferences, their own strains they like. And so, also there's issues legally with the distribution off any form of cannabis. So in order to stay as - to follow as many of the rules as we can and stay as legitimate as possible with our events, they are all BYOC. You bring your own cannabis, and everyone just enjoyed the evening together.

Matthew: So everybody is consuming the same food together, and the food is designed to complement and extenuate the cannabis experience. What comments have you heard more than once or twice where the people are saying, gosh, this food really jumps out or this aspect of the event of the event jumps out?

Jane: Well, one of the things about munchies and traditional munchy foods is that they tend to be like with a very singular flavor like an entire bag of Doritos or something that's more like dry. And cotton-mouth is a proven side effect of consuming cannabis. So we really designed a menu with succulent, decadent, small bites. Something that you really favor and enjoy, and that the flavor really evolve on your palate like bacon wrapped fig with blue cheese on the inside that you kind of like savor and all the different flavors come across.

We also have a lot of non-alcoholic beverages featured at all of our events. So they're not sweet. I don't like sweet beverages. So more like infused waters. We've had an Italian soda bar station. Some people like coffees and so we also try to feature - it's just so normal to have a drink in your hand at any social event. If you are standing, especially at a networking event or social event, you stand there without a drink in your hand, it's funny. I tested it out in January or February by not drinking at all. I didn't want to hold my water. People kept asking me if I needed a drink. I'm sorry, do you need a drink? It's just such a natural in our society. So we have a lot of non-alcohol beverages, so people can really focus on their cannabis experience, but also stay like hydrated and have something to enjoy.

Matthew: You mentioned briefly the Denver symphony orchestra, and I read about that event, and I have to say I was like how did she pull this off. Can you just talk a little bit about what went on there?

Jane: It was a lot of luck and timing. And also, I had proven myself with high-end events. The development director at the time of the (indiscernible) attended my March event, which was (audio distortion) being called (audio distortion) hungry, and he loved it. And he was like I think this is - I think this is pure fund raising. And I think there's a lot of people that feel that way. I've spoken to the Colorado non-profits association, and I was on a panel for them. I've also spoken to the International Society of Event Planners.

This is definitely going to be a new arena that event centers utilize for experiential events. I mean, there's a reason why at a fund raiser they don't do the auction until an hour and a half in. They wait for everyone to have a few drinks. And I personally feel like - if you've really done fund raisers that you know it's not about raising funds. It can actually be quite expensive, but it's about raising awareness and messaging. And I feel like when you have your attendees consuming cannabis as an alternative to alcohol, your message may get by more impactful and be more memorable than having alcohol being the substance consumed at your event.

I think that's what the Colorado Symphony Orchestra thought too. They had just launched a Beethoven in Drews series that was doing exactly what they wanted to do. It was brining in a new demographic of users to the Colorado Symphony. And when we first launched the event, without asking permission from the city, over 90 percent of the first hundred people that bought tickets had never registered for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra before and had never been to see a classic music event at the symphony. And so, they were doing - we did accomplish exactly what they wanted.

Now once the city started to crack down and try to define public versus private for us, that led to more issues where we had to actually refund all of those tickets and turn it into a private event as defined by the city. Meaning that everyone at the event had to be personally invited by me. Basically, in nine days I have to go through everyone I ever knew in the industry and get them on board with these events. Luckily, these incredible business owners in the cannabis industry here in Colorado, they want to support the local fine arts. They're parents, they're citizens, they're part of this community, and they were glad to be able to really show case their companies by supporting the cause of the orchestra that is desperately in need of funds.

Matthew: Now this was outdoors at Red Rocks, correct?

Jane: We had three private smaller events for up to 300 people at an art gallery leading up to the Red Rock finale. It was so amazing. The weather was incredible. The entire Colorado symphony orchestra got to perform at Red Rock Saturday night, and that has never occurred before. Pieces of the symphony perform at Red Rock very often with different bands. Like Sarah McLaughlin and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. But that's usually just a small set of artists that they send for those type of events. And this really got to feature the symphony orchestra as a whole. It was just such a wonderful event all around. I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.

Matthew: Well, kudos to you for putting that together. That sounds like an incredible accomplishment. I hope to be able to attend one of those in the future, if it can be done again.

Jane: Yes. I hope so too. We have a lot of ideas for next year, and hopefully we'll partner with the symphony again for another series.

Matthew: So moving on to Women Grow, can you give us some background summary of what that is? How many members and chapters there are now?

Jane: So as I entered into the cannabis market, it was clear to me that it was more of a male-dominated field. From my community building and social work background, I really wanted to kind of identify a group of women and female entrepreneurs in the field as I kind of entered into the market.

So there was a group of women in Denver, Colorado that had started this Women's Cannabis Business Network, which is part of the National Cannabis Association here. But it was a volunteer-based group, and all of these women, they have their own businesses to run. They would get together. They had breakfast. They were able to do a few excellent events. One was called Mother's High Tea. But over all no one's sole goal was to promote women in the industry.

And so, as I started to get to know more and more about the industry, I identified a need for a professional women's networking organization. There are women's groups focused on marijuana and advocacy in that realm, but I really wanted to advocate for women in the field. As a lot of women reached out to me how do I get more involved? How do I get in the industry? I don't have the capacity to onboard them, but I can connect them.

And the more and more women I learned about in the industry and the more fascinating their stories were and more experience they had, more I identified the need to connect them all and pull them out of the woodwork. I mean each one of them is burrowed in a hole working on their companies and projects and have so little time to invest in other endeavors especially because their businesses are doing very right now. But those are exactly the women that we need to have mentoring this next generation of cannabis industry professionals.

There's' also the possibility for reverse mentoring because these 20-some things that are going out into the field, they know a lot more about social media and how to be more efficient and productive online than I do for sure. I'm a digital snail compared to them. And so, there's a lot of possibility there. And so, the women in the women cannabis network got together and decided that we wanted it to happen. And so each one of them funded and kicked in seed money for Women Grow, which without, we could never have existed.

The co-founding members all got together. We had about$30,000 for a start up operating budget for 2014, and so our very first networking event was in Denver, Colorado in August. They occur on the first Thursday of the month nationwide. And we got a lot of press around it. We try to push that out to kind of expand. We connected with other women business leaders in other states that our contacts knew. We doubled our size every month. We're in 16 states. We have a chapter in Guam, where it's just legalized, in Alaska. And so, it's been really, really exciting. We have more chapters coming on. Our Boston chapter is going to kill it in the beginning of 2015.

And right now our goal is to end by January 1, have our first (audio distortion) campaign funded. So we are looking for 50 cannabis businesses that want to declare themselves female-forward and fund Women's Grows 2015 operating budget with $5,000. If we can get 50 businesses to give $5,000, I will have the quarter million dollar operating budget that I need for Women Grow for 2015 in order to hold a leadership summit in the spring, a national conference in the fall, hire a seasoned executive director to really build a solid foundation for this organization as well as do some other outreach and mentoring beta tests to see how we can expand that.

Matthew: That is incredible. You made an excellent point there about the reverse mentoring there. There is a kind of symbiosis where the younger people have a much better skill set in the social media and other technological things. So it's not just a one-way street. Do you have any examples of where maybe someone who is more of a veteran in the industry kind off takes someone that's younger under their wing and helps them?

Jane: Absolutely. A young woman named Amanda (indiscernible) emailed me like three months ago. She was in Baltimore, was very interested in entering the cannabis industry, and her apartment flooded. And the apartment company said, well, you can either have $1,200 and move somewhere else. Or we'll move you to this other apartment and clean up your apartment and move you back in. She took the $1,200 and drove to Colorado and emailed me and said I've love to do anything. I'm willing to do anything. I just want to learn about the industry. And that particular day, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed. Women Grow didn't have offices or a headquarters yet. So I told her to come to my house. I gave her a list of some things that she could do for our next upcoming event. She accomplished all of them, and proved herself to be a go getter. Julie Dually of Julie's Baked Goods is one of the co-founders of Women Grow, and was looking for someone to do her social media and help with administrative tasks there. She has a full-time job now. She is assisting Julie in her social media platform and developing that out, and is loving her job with a high-end company in the cannabis industry.

Matthew: That's a great story. That is a really good story.

Jane: Yeah. I was really good. And there's more and more of those coming up. I want to be clear. We are not a job search website. That is a great analogy and a story, but what our motivation for Women Grow is to connect women. But it is up to each individual entrepreneur to be tenacious and proactive and make those connections themselves. We just want to create an environment where they can do that with a constructive group of female entrepreneurs.

Matthew: And a great example there is that this young woman provided value first, and then something good came out of it.

Jane: Yes, exactly. And that's such a good point. I'm glad you brought that up. That's kind of actually kind of the model we're following here at Women Grow. I've worked on Women Grow for six months straight trying to get it off the ground, and then Jasmine Hut came along. She is an incredible power house with a skill set just like unparalleled. She created the Women Grow website. She's doing all of the newsletters. She's so savvy. It's almost like a language I'm learning when it comes to social medial that you just speak in an entirely different way.

And so, she's worked for Women Grow non-stop for three months and only recently have we been able to start compensating her for her time. But in proving herself, she's got a bevy of opportunities available to her. And right now, I'm standing here in the headquarters and next door is a young woman who has skill sets in CRM and building databases. She's working on building our founders database because that's her skill set. She wants to apply for Women Grow. And after a few months of utilizing her skills here and proving herself, I guarantee you she will find a position somewhere. In fact I'm just trying to keep her long enough to finish this project.

And that's really what it is. A lot of these women are not going to own groves or dispensaries, but their skill sets are desperately needed in this industry. And by showcasing what they can do with women grow, we benefit and they also benefit building their portfolios in getting the positions they came looking for.

Matthew: Now for some women that are out there listening and they're kind of on the fence where they're saying, well, I'm interested in getting into the cannabis world, but I'm a little bit worried about what my family will think or this or that. They have some reservations and they might be outside of Colorado, what words of encouragement could you offer them to maybe get them off of the fence?

Jane: Well, I think the best thing I can do is keep showcasing the incredible entrepreneurs within Women Grow and have them be models for the industry. I definitely hear what you're saying. There's a young women that created a whole new website for the dispensary she was working for, and was heading home for Thanksgiving. And I said I bet you're so excited to show everyone - show your family what you've done. And she was like, oh, they don't know I work in the cannabis industry. I don't know how I would tell them.

So actually we're kind of working on some talking points and help people talk to their families about either working in the cannabis industry or their own cannabis use and kind of coming out of the cannabis closet. And then on the other side, we really just are saying I want to make sure that we're showcasing all of these professionals. But I really just want women to understand that the end of prohibition is inevitable nationwide. Now - right now, is the time to enter this industry and utilize whatever - I mean, re-brand yourself, re-brand your company, utilize whatever skill set you have.

These companies, whether it's a future construction technology, a grow, a dispensary, edibles company, I mean, they are just like every other American business. And I'm concerned that stereotypes about cannabis use and cannabis consumers are going to prevent women from entering the market at exactly the time that they should. So we're just going to try to keep modeling success stories and the type of professionals that are in this industry to kind of keep changing the space as fast as we can.

Matthew: Well that's a great parting thought for us.

Jane: I also have to plug. I have to plug. Okay. There's 16 chapters nationwide. They can go to womengrow.com and see if there's a chapter in their area. If they feel motivated and there's not chapter in their area, and they are motivated to become that central hub and networker in their area, they follow the process, and they can start their own chapter.

When you start your own chapter, as soon as you have more than 10 members coming to your networking event, you get half the profits for every event you plan. I think it's very important that we're valuing women's time and aren't basing or requests on everyone working in a volunteer setting. That happens way to often with women's organizations. And so, when you're that networking hub, if you get more than 50 people at an event you get half the profits every month. You have to agree to do six networking events for six months dedicated as that chapter chair, and at that point you can decide to transfer. Maybe you've found a position in the industry. Maybe you want to move on to something bigger. That's what we're asking everyone to pledge, and that's what the 16 chapter chairs and why we have (audio distortion) chapters nationwide, that's how that comes to be. And I want to be clear. If you live in Alabama or Texas or a state where it seems like marijuana legalization is years and years away, that's okay because it all started somewhere. And with our connections and the incredible group of women that are part of this group from Letty ≈lborg from Students for Sensible Drug Policy, to Taylor West with the national Cannabis Industry Association, we can help you start a ballot initiative. We can help you start. Because all of these women were part of the cannabis industry as it started and have that knowledge base of how to get to the point to where Colorado is now.

Matthew: Excellent point. There's no more opportunity than being on the bow wave as it changes.

Jane: Absolutely.

Matthew: Now, Jane, as we close you mentioned the website for Women Grow, can you also tell us about how we can learn more about Edible Events?

Jane: Yes. The website of Women Grow is where you go to sign up there. Edible Events is edibleeventsco.com. Currently, we are working with legal issues with the city to make sure that everything that we're doing is completely legal. And we're trying to really get the state of Colorado to define public versus private events.

Currently, I can only do truly private events. So if someone is interested in coming out, whether it's for a long tourist weekend, we can connect you with an executive chef to craft edibles for you, and we have (audio distortion) packages. Or is you want to do a private party in Colorado, we can plan those for you. I'm doing some Christmas parties. I'm doing a huge New Years Eve event. But right now in order to remain completely legal with the state all events must be private. And it's really unfortunate because the original idea was to educate the public about cannabis consumption and almost have like slates so that you can try different forms of cannabis and see which one is best for you.

And that public eduction element, which wineries and whiskey companies get to do all the time, is something that we're being restricted from because we're not allowed to open our events up and our ticketing up for the general public. But we're working very hard with the legislature on getting to that point, and possibly having an actual cannabis special events permit just like there's an alcohol special events permit so that responsible, adult, cannabis-friendly events can be something that's very normal and happens every weekend here in Colorado.

Matthew: Great point. There's all these micro brew events every weekend it seems. It would be great to be able to do something like that in the cannabis industry. Jane, thanks so much for being on the show today. We really appreciate your time.

Jane: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate you're sharing our story.

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