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A Look at California’s 2016 Cannabis Regulations and Deadlines

Katie Podein

Katie Podein from California Cannabis Law Group joins us to share how California plans to make sweeping changes to the state’s cannabis laws and regulations in 2016 and the deadlines you need to know right now. Very important if you need to understand packaging, labeling and testing requirements.

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

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

California by itself is the eight largest economy in the world when measured by its $2.3 trillion of GDP that come from the state. With 39 million residents, abundant capital, technical resources and a strong tradition of agriculture there is arguably no place better positioned to help the cannabis industry grow. However, recent laws and regulation changes made in the state capital of Sacramento are introducing new challenges and opportunities that business owners should be aware of. To help us sort through the new regulatory changes in California I have asked attorney Katie Podein from California Cannabis Law Group on the show today. Welcome to CannaInsider Katie.

Katie: Hey Matthew. Thanks for having me. You know I’m a big fan of the show and I just want to thank you for what you’re doing to illuminate the stars of the cannabis industry.

Matthew: Oh thank you. Katie, to give us a sense of geography can you tell us where you are in the world today?

Katie: Yes I am currently sitting in my law office in well not so sunny Los Angeles, California right now. You know it’s raining a little bit out and in Southern California when it rains everyone runs around both fascinated and terrified by this weather.

Matthew: Yeah you all definitely need rain out there for sure.

Katie: Mm-hmm.

Matthew: So tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into the cannabis industry?

Katie: Well eventually my job was actually you could say to help suppress the industry. I was originally working for (2.42 unclear) a law firm, and for about 10 years our firm had been working with cities and counties to help create local regulations for the medical marijuana business. That meant providing legal advice on regulation of medical marijuana, drafting ordinances and zoning codes to even ban them out of the cities. But one day my partner’s wife was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer and he confided in me that she used edibles to ease her nausea and pain during chemotherapy. Around the same time our firm was getting approached by dispensary owners asking us as city attorneys for our guidance on how to be compliant on a local level. So at some point I just took a step back and realized all the signs were pointing in a different direction, and I wanted to create a specialized legal practice that would bridge the gap between the cannabis business and local and state agencies.

Matthew: Okay and what is the California Cannabis Law Group?

Katie: Well on a basic level I would say the California Cannabis Law Group helps the cannabis business owners come out of the closet. I find many players in the industry are afraid to come into the light in California because of the lack of state regulation and that it’s still illegal on a federal level. So our firm helps to provide guidance to clients to become and stay compliant with local and the state laws. So in short we provide clients with legal services for everything they need from seed to sale really.

Matthew: Let’s set the stage here. There’s some big legal changes in how cannabis is treated for a lot of different parties, but how is cannabis regulated and treated by officials prior to this year’s legislative change and how is it different now?

Katie: Well before this current legislation California has been nicknamed “The Wild West” and that’s only for a reason. The laws governing medical marijuana, that’s Prop 215 and that’s State 420 has giving the industry a little to no guidance on a state level. And then on top of that some cities and counties have nothing in their municipal codes either way about regulation of medical marijuana, either allowing it or prohibiting it. So it’s been a very laissez-faire approach and as a result of the somewhat lawless environment the cannabis industry has really taken an opportunity to come up with some pretty creative business models.

You know, I know you interviewed the founders of Weed Maps on a previous show and that was founded in California in 2008. These delivery services, excuse me, Speed Weed. I believe you interviewed Speed Weed.

Matthew: Right Speed Weed. We both got that wrong. Right okay. Speed Weed.

Katie: Okay so Speed Weed is a delivery service and they got started in California in 2008. You know usually these delivery services have no storefront dispensary. Sometimes they’re even operating out of the personal residence and have become very popular throughout all of Los Angeles and the most of Southern California, even with celebrities and soccer moms alike. Another business model that has been created as a result of this is the Gorilla Grows up north with the cultivators. You know this isn’t always a good thing. This is the legal cultivation sites that usually divert water from other crops or agricultural sites, use heavy pesticides and even I’ve heard using rat poison to put on the crops.

Additionally this lawlessness of the land has left extractions and manufacturing really up to the business itself and that can lead to some detrimental consequences. For example, if people aren’t well-versed in using volatile solvents, there can be a lot of injuries if you can imagine; blown off hands, fingers, etc.

Matthew: So truly the Wild, Wild West. Not much guidance and a huge market. So that makes for; it’s nice not to have regulatory strings in some capacity, but not everybody’s playing with; it’s not a level playing field necessarily either. So from that, from the Wild, Wild West what have we transitioned to? What is the new legislation that went through Sacramento this year and how has it changed the landscape?

Katie: Well the new legislation is the State’s attempt to tame the Wild West. That’s the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, also known as MMRSA, and that was signed into the law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 9, 2015 and it becomes effective in January, so coming up soon.

Matthew: What an unfortunate acronym that is. Isn’t MMRSA like some sort of medical problem you get when you’re wrestling in the gym or something?

Katie: Oh yeah yeah, and on top of that the bureau that was established under MMRSA is the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. The nickname as you can imagine the BMMR is also known as Bummer.

Matthew: Oh boy.

Katie: So it has been interesting in the acronyms that they have chosen to regulate the medical marijuana industry, but nonetheless the MMRSA is comprised of three bills that provide regulations for all different areas in medical marijuana industry and provides a comprehensive system of control. And the BMMR has been tasked with the responsibility of developing and implementing the rules necessary to enforce these laws including oversight state licensing and regulation of the industry.

Matthew: So if I’m a business owner listening to the show right now or I’m someone considering getting into the cannabis industry, what’s the most important in your mind changes here that really should be kept top of mind if you’re in the cannabis business?

Katie: By far the most important thing is the local license and the state license you will need to operate. You know, you need local approval, and then once you receive local approval whether it by a license, it depends on each locality how they approve you for a business. Then you have to bring that to the state and say you know my city or county approved of my business, can I have my state license please. Now there’s 17 different types of licenses under this new law.

Matthew: Wow.

Katie: Yeah it’s a lot of different licenses and there may be even more coming. The focus is on cultivation, really trying to prohibit or regulate certain large scale cultivation sites, and you can see that there’s more flexibility for smaller scale cultivation sites.

Matthew: Sorry to interrupt, but did you mean it’s going to be maybe less burdensome to be a smaller grower and as you go up the scale there’s more hurdles you have to jump through?

Katie: It appears so because one thing that MMRSA also allows is a bit of vertical integration for small cultivators. So if you have certain; if you grow under certain sizes, the state will also grant you a license for manufacturing and/or owning a dispensary as well. So it seems that they are favoring the smaller business models which will help the small growers and those mom and pop shops stay open under this new licensing scheme.

Matthew: Interesting. Go ahead. I’m sorry to interrupt.

Katie: Some other, I just wanted to point out some other important changes. There’s three other things that are really important for people to keep in mind. That’s the testing of all medical marijuana. That means all cultivators will have to have their medical marijuana tested before it goes to a dispensary. Now in addition to this testing of the medical marijuana, there’s the role of distributors. And the state has created a role of distributors and they are the ones to take the medical marijuana from the cultivators to the lab, to the lab to either the manufacturer or to the dispensary owner. And on top of all that they’re implementing a track and trace program similar to the one you see in Colorado now.

Matthew: God it would be great if they could just turn into Silicon Valley right there to make that instead of coming up with some sort of crazy bureaucratic system that’s not user friendly when you’ve got such great technical there. I hope they outsource that in some capacity.

Katie: Yeah I hope so too because you know I think this year is going to be a bit of growing pains for the entire industry under these new laws.

Matthew: Are any of the regulations seem like; is there certain things that seem the most financially onerous? I mean going to your local municipality or town and saying hey please recognize me as having a cannabis license might sound like it takes a little but not necessarily expensive. Is there anything that really strikes you as adding cost to the whole supply chain?

Katie: I really think it’s going to start with the cultivators. They are the ones responsible for implementing the track and trace program. Additionally, they have state agencies that will be imposing regulations and standards on their grow sites. Just to name a few it’s going to be the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Public Health, all with their standards that they must meet to grow medical marijuana. And I think that’s just going to drive the cost of medical marijuana up.

Matthew: Oh my god, this sounds like a lot of regulatory burden. This really does.

Katie: And not to mention that the cultivators also pay for the testing of their medical marijuana. You know it’s a great time to be a distributor or a lab tester in this upcoming year.

Matthew: Okay. Wow, so a lot of us in the cannabis industry have gotten comfortable, set in our ways a little bit, maybe in California used to being on one side of the spectrum of really having no regulation now. They’ve got all these three letter agencies that are going to be swarming them. So what do you think is going to be the most painful? Is it just having to create whole new process, maybe adding staff just to manage the compliance burden?

Katie: Yeah you know I think it is going to be a lot of standards of that that the industry is going to have to be educated on if they want to continue to play. You know it’s great these laws are allowing the cannabis industry to become for profit entities now. You know they no longer need to stay nonprofit. So that allows a little more flexibility and control over your personal cannabis business, but you have to play by the rules now and that is going to be quite a burden on the industry.

Matthew: Okay. Are there any bright spots, anything we should feel good about here? I mean the fact that regulation is coming in that it’s going to make it a more robust industry that maybe the public sees or recognizes as more trustworthy.

Katie: Yeah you know I don’t want to sound too pessimistic about these new laws. I think that like I mentioned you’re allowed to transition from a nonprofit to a for profit business. So that allows greater flexibility, increase revenue and yield for your company. Also people can start investing in the cannabis industry. So we will see a lot, you know, this market is projected in California to be; I mean it’s a wide range that they project, but anywhere between the $2 and $4 billion industry. Also organic standards are going to be coming out for medical marijuana and testing standards that will be imposed will also mean that we know what’s going in to our product. And as a consumer you know I would imagine most consumers want to know the breakdown of their product and whether; have the choice of whether it’s organic or not.

Matthew: Okay.

Katie: And all the new regulations on cultivators it does mean for a more environmentally friendly cultivation practices. You know I know it can appear to be burdensome, but it’s also to preserve the environment and that wildlife in California that we all cherish here.

Matthew: Katie, what about personal cultivation? What’s allowed there or what’s changed?

Katie: Patients are exempt from the state permitting process. So they don’t need a license if you are cultivating for yourself so long as it’s under 100 square feet for personal medical use. Primary care givers that five or fewer patients are allowed up to 500 square feet. There is some troubling legislation that AB243 says that it does not prevent a local government from further restricting or banning the cultivation of medical cannabis by individual patients or caregivers in its jurisdiction. Personally I hope that cities aren’t starting to ban or restrict cultivation for individual patients or caregivers, but we’ve yet to really see how that will play out.

Matthew: Switching gears to labeling requirements, what can we expect in terms of changes in labeling requirements?

Katie: So in the laws stated right now it says that the Department of Public Health is to develop standards for producing and labeling all edible medical cannabis products. Also the Department of Public Health will be in charge of regulating edible potencies as well, but no specific labeling standards have come up yet. I imagine that you know once this all this becomes effective and the departments start to develop standards it will look something like Colorado’s too. You know specific warning labels, a list of nonorganic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, maybe a list of solvents and chemicals used to extract the marijuana etc.

Matthew: Okay. So we have some deadlines rapidly approaching here. Can you summarize those?

Katie: Well so far we already have had one deadline pass. That’s July 1, 2015 and that was the date by those cannabis business to claim vertical integration and to be able to operate as a vertically integrated business under these new laws. Now again vertically integrated means that your business does the cultivating, the manufacturing or extracting and the dispensing of medical marijuana. If a city allows vertical integration and you’re vertically integrated before this July 1, 2015 date, then you’re allowed to continue for some time under the new laws. The next one coming up is January 1, 2016. That’s the date in which MMRSA will become effective. That’s also when priority licensing will begin to roll out and those eligible can apply for that priority licensing.

Now there’s one deadline that’s caused a bit of controversy in California in the past week or so. That’s the March 1, 2016 deadline. That deadline is a deadline for local cities or counties to impose regulations or ordinances prohibiting the cultivation in their locality. This has caused controversy because in the past probably two/three weeks we’ve seen city councils quickly banning, doing everything they can to ban cultivation in their city, their city council meetings. Now Assembly Member Wood helped with, developed the laws for MMRSA said that this was a mistake, this deadline. He said that it was a mistake and that there will be no deadline for local jurisdictions to enact their own regulations governing medical marijuana cultivation.

Me personally I don’t know how much of that was a mistake. It is you know on paper, in the laws and the damage is done. Cities have already been banning cultivation. So you know Assembly Member Wood said that once the legislature reconvenes in January he plans to pass the urgency legislation striking this deadline, but I’m not too sure it’s going to have any effect since cities have already acted.

Matthew: This is a crazy thing here.

Katie: Yeah this has been the problem we’ve seen in California is that cities appear to be scrambling to really ban cultivators and dispensary owners in their cities and counties. And I know that I’ve been at some meetings where small grows and even local dispensary owners are wondering where are they going to go with their business.

Matthew: Yeah.

Katie: Like I said, there is going to be some growing pains in this upcoming year for sure.

Matthew: What about do these local municipalities now have the ability then to tax so I would think that some of these revenue starved municipalities in California would jump at the chance to possibly get some more taxes.

Katie: You’d think they would and you’re right, but there are a lot of cities that could use the revenue with medical marijuana, but it seems when you’re sitting at city council meetings that the fear, you know, it’s that cliché fear of robberies or violence or even just increased traffic going through cities is what is keeping them from creating some type of comprehensive regulations in their cities rather than just stop banning them.

Matthew: Right. God it’s amazing the education that still needs to be done. I literally have some relatives in the East Coast that know (22.39 unclear) think that everybody in Colorado sits around and gets high all day, everybody, 100% of the state. So I mean it’s a persistent stigma and I hope; I think a lot of people would be surprised at what cannabis is being grown in their municipality already. If they knew that, maybe they wouldn’t freak out so much.

Katie: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Matthew: Okay so we talked a little bit about the deadlines; January and March. Anything else on the horizon maybe that’s not set in stone but looks like the way the regulatory boat is turning that we should be aware of?

Katie: Well you know a lot of people are scared by this January 1st deadline that are in the industry, but I assure them that licensing really won’t affect them until 2018. You know government moves slow and I don’t think it’s going to be any exception here. The exciting thing we get to look forward to in 2016 is legalization of marijuana; adult use or recreational use, however you want to call it. That is on the November 2016 ballot. We have a couple of initiatives that are all competing for that vote.

Matthew: Wow that is exciting. That would be big. Now the Napster guy, I can’t remember his name, Shawn?

Katie: Shawn Parker.

Matthew: Yeah okay. So Shawn Parker what’s he have going there because I know he has an initiative that he’s pushing really hard. What is he doing?

Katie: Okay Shawn Parker is a Napster cofounder and former Facebook president. He has gotten behind and backed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, AUMA. This is the big act that, the big ballot initiative that everyone is focusing on. There’s been you know a little bit of controversy about this act. When you speak to small small growers and dispensary owners they feel that this promotes big business. And for a little while there was another ballot initiative competing with the AUMA, but Shawn Parker has actually come out and said that he will match dollar for dollar all the donations given to support this initiative. Now I don’t know if that’s necessarily true or not. It would be interesting to take him up on his word.

Matthew: Right.

Katie: But recently in the past week or so there’s been some amendments to the AUMA to help rally more people around this act. I think one worry with people in the industry is that there’s so many initiatives out there that the votes are going to all be spread and then again just like in 2010 we’re not going to have legalization. So this time I believe that the AUMA is acting more as a working document right now that can be amended so that we can really; it can be all inclusive for everyone in the industry.

Matthew: One thing that I forgot to ask is that currently if you’re not from California and you’re visiting you can get a medical marijuana card. Is anything changing there with this new; the new regulations and legislation at all?

Katie: Well right now it is very easy to get a medical marijuana recommendation. The environment is very friendly. Now the rule states that you need a California, a valid California ID or a driver’s license and you can get that at the DMV showing that you have a local residency and your medical marijuana recommendation takes all of about 15 minutes to obtain from a doctor. I’ve even heard stories that doctors who are licensed in California can recommend medical marijuana over Skype and you can get it that way.

Matthew: Yeah I’ve heard that too. I’ve also heard from people from out of state coming in and getting recommendations somehow. I don’t know if that’s true.

Katie: You know I would not doubt that especially if they’re going down to Venice to get it.

Matthew: Yeah on Venice Beach it’s like every other shop there is like $50 for a recommendation.

Katie: Oh yes you’ll see them and you can identify them because they’re in doctor scrubs I think with marijuana leaves printed all over it. Very legitimate looking you know. But under the MMRSA that’s all set to change so they say. I don’t know how it will actually be in practice but the state will now be examining and investigating doctors that overly prescribe medical marijuana or recommend it.

Matthew: What does overly mean? Does that mean that they have like if they have 100% recommendation right now they have to lower it to something so they’re rejecting some people?

Katie: Well of course they haven’t given that specific standards but I think what that means is they’re going to be looking at doctors who have patients that come in maybe once a year, one time only you know it’s that revolving door of patients unlike a primary caregiver or a primary physician who you see regularly once a year or you know for specific ailments. You can point them out here in Los Angeles. There are certain centers where you know the doctor all he does all day is recommend medical marijuana. So they will be the subject of investigation by the state. And they’re going to start cracking down. So that may mean that doctors are less likely to hand out recommendations which thus in turn means less people getting their recommendation especially since you have to renew your recommendation each year.

Matthew: Okay. Anything else we should be aware of for 2016, I mean the implications of rec are huge. Does it sound like adult use is going to pass in 2016?

Katie: You know what I mean I personally think that adult use will pass. I think California we were the first one in the nation to allow medical marijuana and now we’ve taken a back seat while states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon have really run with recreational use and I think we’re ready to get in the game and start playing with those states. And I think that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the AUMA will likely be the one that will legalize marijuana for us.

Matthew: Katie in closing how can listeners learn more about California Cannabis Law Group and connect with you?

Katie: The best way would be to just email us. Any questions you have about our firm and what it can do for you, you can email us at .

Matthew: Great. Well Katie thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

Katie: Thank you so much Matthew and hope you have a very happy holidays and a great new year.

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

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

Key Takeaways:
[2:31] – Katie’s background and how she got into the cannabis industry
[3:51] – Katie talks about the California Cannabis Law Group
[4:42] – Katie discusses how cannabis is regulated and treated by officials
[7:40] – New legislation that has passed in 2015
[9:20] – Most important legislative changes for people in the cannabis space
[12:39] – Added costs to the supply chain
[14:10] – Katie talks about the compliance burden
[15:03] – The upside to the new regulations
[16:36] – Katie discusses personal cultivation in California
[17:37] – Changes in labeling requirements
[18:29] – Katie talks about deadlines
[23:12] – New bills on the horizon
[26:06] – Can travelers still get a medical marijuana card in California
[28:59] – Katie gives her prediction for adult use
[29:46] – Contact details for California Cannabis Law Group

Important Update:

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

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Cannabis Changing the Life of Kids with Lung Disease

Fulton Family

The Fulton family relocated from Australia to Canada to help their two daughters, eight-year-old Georgia-Grace and 13-year-old Tabetha have a degenerative lung disease.

Before consuming cannabis oil, Georgia-Grace and Tabetha could barely walk a block comfortably. Now both girls enjoy walking, running and surfing comfortably thanks to cannabis oil.

National Access Cannabis Founder Alex Abellan also joins us on the call to talk about how he has helped the Fulton girls access safe and effective cannabis oil.

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

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

Hi this is Matthew Kind. I just want to give you a little bit of an update on this interview before we get started. There’s five total individuals in this interview other than me. Alex Abellan of National Access Cannabis, Bobby Jo Fulton and Marcus Fulton who are the parents of Tabitha and Georgia Grace Fulton. Tabitha and Georgia Grace have a degenerative lung disease that causes massive inflammation in their lungs and the only way they’ve been able to experience relief is with cannabis oil and they left their native Australia to come to Canada to access that oil because they haven’t been able to do it there legally. So you’re going to hear their journey from Australia to Canada and how it has affected them as a family and what they’re up to and I just wanted to give you a little context before we got the interview started so I hope you enjoy it.

While many of us here in the U.S. view full cannabis legalization as inevitable and many states have now legalized full adult and medical use that is not the case everywhere. As you’re about to hear our next guests moved from Australia to Canada to legally access the life changing benefits of cannabis to treat degenerative lung disease. I want to welcome to the show Alex Abellan, founder of National Access Cannabis and the Fulton family, mother Bobby Jo Fulton, Tabitha Fulton, Georgia Grace Fulton, and father Marcus Fulton. Welcome to CannaInsiders everybody.

Group: (Group hi’s)

Matthew: Did I get everybody’s name right? I just want to make sure.

Group: (Yes’s)

Matthew: Great. Well first the Fulton family can you tell us where you are in the world right now?

Bobby Jo: Victoria.

Matthew: Okay.

Bobby Jo: A long way from home.

Matthew: Yeah and how about you Alex?

Alex: I’m in Ottawa, Ontario right now.

Matthew: Okay great. Well let’s get a little background here from the Fulton family first. Can you give us a little idea of what you’re doing in Canada and you’re journey from Australia for your two girls? Bobby Jo or Marcus if you want to lead us off that would be great.

Marcus: Go ahead Bobby.

Bobby Jo: Well to begin with we given that it is highly illegal in our own country, Tabitha was getting very sick very quickly. We had no alternative pharmaceutical medicine. We had run out of every option there. So we did a twelve week trial in our own country that proved that we could get her off steroids and in fact off her daily oxygen procedure as well but what we couldn’t do was continue to use the cannabis oil in our own country.

Matthew: Now Tabitha and Georgia Grace how do you feel when you take the cannabis oil versus when you don’t have access to it? How does it affect your life would you say?

Tabitha: Well with the steroids I feel like after a while I wasn’t getting the benefits of the help I was supposed to be getting from the steroids.

Matthew: Okay.

Tabitha: And so obviously I did not have very good quality of life and when I; since being on the cannabis oil I have had an amazing quality of life. I’ve been able to do so many things that I have never been able to do like I got to surf. I got to do so many things. I could ride a bike and to me that’s a big thing. I have never been able to do that in my entire life.

Matthew: Wow.

Alex: Yeah if I could interject here I just want mention that Tabitha and the Fulton Family, Georgia Grace too they’ve been through a lot. Tabitha she was awake for only 45 minutes a day and sleeping the rest of the time because of the lack of oxygen she was getting and her quality of life in Australia was; it was really hard on the Fulton family and I have to say Marcus and Bobby you guys are the best parents in the world for what you guys have had to struggle with and the frustrations you were experiencing in Australia. I can tell you right now that the girls are amazing. They’re doing so wonderful Matt and it’s like a, it’s like night and day. I don’t even know if I could describe how amazing these girls are doing here in Victoria and really what we’re asking is we want to make sure they can go home and have the same safe access there in Australia.

Matthew: Alex let’s back up a little bit and maybe you can tell us what National Access Cannabis is and how you came to help the Fulton family?

Alex: Well the National Access Cannabis was a model that I started in Canada to help my community by helping the people that were using cannabis as a medicine and helping them from being ostracized from the community because if you were; if anybody says I’m using cannabis or marijuana then people all of a sudden with the Reefer Madness everybody would think oh you’re taking drugs when in reality it was a medicine. So the first thing I did was National Access Cannabis came up with a state distribution law.

The number one thing for us whether it’s medical or recreational really it should be done safely. So we developed a model that does risk reduction and health awareness through education and then that way people can make an informed decision if they want to use cannabis recreationally or medically. So that’s how it all started and then that’s how I met the girls because once National Access Cannabis started working with the community we started seeing amazing results. I mean people were coming in it was almost like a miracle for half of these people.

So when we started realizing that we need to spread information out there and help as many people as we can and when I found out that the Fulton’s were having trouble in Australia with these two little girls I said well if you come to Victoria on vacation ya’ll come over here and we’ll see if we can help you out and sure enough they came to British Columbia. They flew all the way from Australia and I think Tabitha you had an attack on the plane I believe right at the airport so we needed to get her a doctor right away. So we ended up getting her a doctor when she came to Canada and because of National Access Cannabis we work within the healthcare industry we had contacts with physicians so we were able to find the girls quite quickly a pediatric lung specialist to help with their lung disease. So we started that way and now we have Bobby and Marcus and the whole family with us and we’re all participating together trying to spread the word.

Matthew: Alex can you give us an overview of the medicine’s that Tabitha and Georgia Grace are taking quantities, strains? What can you tell us about the cannabis oil?

Alex: Okay so presently, well now that we’re allowed to make oils the licensed producers here in Canada are not ready to make the oil in the way that these kids need. The children needed our cold fuse so of course the THCA so that it’s not psychoactive and also with the CBD. So what we did was we connected the Fultons to a licensed producer here in Canada and Bobby their mother is very knowledgeable in making these oils and the father too. So what they did is we presently got them cannabis oil licensed producers and then when the Fulton family received it they did the dosing from what they got from their doctor. So I can let Bobby answer that question. Bobby so can you run us through and Marcus how exactly you’re making your oil?

Marcus: Sure. As you’ve heard we’re using a prescribed amount of cannabis with a prescribed amount of sunflower oil and pairing it with the use of a Magical Butter machine which regulates temperature and basically does the infusing for you. It’s a very reliable way of doing it. Previously we had been using a slow cooker or something like that with that it’s psychoactive and a little bit harder to control. With specific machines like the Magical Butter it makes it very easy to basically dial up what you want and that way you get a very consistent result.

Alex: Yeah so ([10:10] unclear) called Magic Butter where you can make your oil. It doesn’t hold temperature so it does activate the THC so then you can make cold fused oil. So they’re doing it at home and within like the next couple months we’re expecting our licensed producers to have these products available to our patients here in Canada, National Access Cannabis so the future is already here I think with the cannabis industry with these oils so we’re just waiting just for the government to allow us; allow the licensed producers to be able to produce these oils for children.

Matthew: Anecdotally is there any particular strains or concentrations or anything you can tell us that is working better for you Tabitha and Georgia? I mean I guess that question is for Alex or Bobby Jo or Marcus but I mean is there any difference here or is it really any cannabis oil seems to be doing the trick?

Bobby Jo: Well yeah.

Marcus: Besides basically supports a holistic medicine if you like so it needs to provide at least a certain amount of THC as well as the other cannabinoids and CBDs. So realistically something with a high CBD and a lower THC, there are various varieties which are specifically grown by producers now with understanding the specific conditions. So you can definitely get the particular type of flower that you like. Something with a higher CBD and a lower THC so that your extraction will reflect that as well it would be much higher in CBD and lower in THC or both in the acid form. It is still very useful.

Alex: Yeah to answer your question Matt presently right now we’re not going to specific strains. I mean that is the research that we’ll be doing in the office in the clinical trials as well to prove efficacy, but presently we just know that cold fused oil of THC and acid based and also with the CBD that it seems to work for their girls without strain specific. That’s something that we want to look into in the future Matt but presently it’s not strain specific right now.

Matthew: Okay and Alex just to clarify so you said the THC is not active so that means there’s no decarboxylation going on here is that?

Alex: That’s correct. You know there’s different temperature when you depending on how much you heat the cannabis plant or cannabinoids you lose some cannabinoids and you change the dynamics of that cannabinoid. So yeah we’re keeping it below a certain temperature so that the THC does not become psychoactive so you can take THC and just not get high as long as you don’t heat it up and that’s why people have to light a joint or even vaporizing it to have a heat to it to get that high effect but in this case yeah THC won’t give you that psychoactive effect at all.

Matthew: Bobby Jo and Marcus as the parents of Tabitha and Georgia Grace what has it been like for you to witness this transition. I mean we heard first hand your daughters are able to surf and run and do cardio activities. What do you see as the biggest change?

Bobby Jo: Tabitha and I have spent twelve years in the hospital together. The biggest change for us is that Tabitha and I don’t have to spend the time together. Tabitha can live a somewhat normal life. We were told a few years ago that we would have our little girl until she was sixteen if we were lucky. Now we have hope and that’s something that we never had before.

Matthew: That’s great. Now we’ve already heard that the Australian government is not friendly to cannabis right now. Has there been any signs that they may make an exception for the Fulton family or is it something where you’re considering staying in Canada or what’s the next chapter in your journey do you know yet?

Bobby Jo: Oh absolutely. We’ve been pushing our state government for a special exemption to get the girls home and on their oil. The Australian government is taking very, very, very tiny steps towards this but hopefully Tabitha and Georgia Grace can push it a bit further and a bit faster.

Matthew: Yeah.

Alex: Yeah and we’re working now as well, we’re communicating with now, the person we’re communicating with the Health Minister in Australia and definitely they do believe that there are proven anecdotal evidence anyways and there’s also a ([15:37] unclear) in the United States for infants as young as three months old for severe seizures. So the Australian government is aware of those effects, it has a medicinal benefit but they still have a lot of criteria so we keep it very tight for example for these girls that’s not part of their criteria and that’s why we’re communicating with the government over there in Australia to let them know that there are other benefits as well here which we’re doing research and then until we can prove efficacy it seems as though Australia is not willing to allow too many people to try cannabis. Because the last message they want to deliver and I agree with them is that cannabis isn’t a cure all for everything but just because that’s true doesn’t mean that we have to be so stringent on our rules regarding cannabis that has; that’s not going to hurt anybody and show that it’s helping these girls with their rare lung disease.

So that’s where we’re at right now and at least we’re in communication. The government is being really nice and cooperative and they just want more research but the issue we have here today is that I have this family from Australia staying with me here in Victoria and when their VISA expires that they might have to return home and I can’t allow that to happen because first of all they are a beautiful family. I don’t want them to leave at all because they came into my life and just kind of turned it upside down it’s amazing. They’re a beautiful family so I don’t even really want them to leave, but at the same time they have friends back home, they have a life back home and the courage of this whole entire family is amazing. It makes me want to just breakdown and cry. I love these guys and they can’t go back home if they can’t bring the medicine I mean that’s impossible so it’s almost like a hostage.

It’s a strange situation where we’re at right now Matt but I can assure you that we’re going to you know we’re working together and we’re going to make this happen and we’re going to help these kids and I can’t wait till the day till they can all go back home it’s going to be amazing.

Matthew: Yeah. Now can you tell us a little bit about the degenerative lung disease that the girls have because I just want to understand how the cannabis is actually helping? Is it an inflammation fit here where the cannabis is reducing inflammation?

Bobby Jo: Absolutely.

Alex: Talk to Bobby because Bobby is the mother that has been doing so much research on this for her children. She’s the best advocate for her kids so she’s; so Bobby I think this is one that you should just explain you know it from top to bottom do you want to explain that to Matt ([18:15] unclear)?

Bobby Jo: Absolutely. The girls we basically called the rarest of the rare. They were undiagnosable in our own country. They saw every specialist available to them. We then took it a few steps further and actually had them diagnosed by a specialist at Colorado Children’s and their diagnosis is actually an unknown ILD. So basically it’s the outer lung that’s affected. It becomes so inflamed they can’t put oxygen through to their bloodstream.

Matthew: Wow. So you didn’t really receive a diagnosis you’re saying until you came to Colorado. It’s this variant that nobody understood.

Bobby Jo: Yeah absolutely. As I say they’re the only children in the world that we know of like them. We had been told that we won’t have a name until autopsies so it’s not something that we really want to push for as you probably understand. So we’re happy with an unknown ILD. With is an interstitial lung disease which essentially says it affects the outside of the lung. Where asthma intends to affect the inner and outer airways. Our girls have massive inflammation around their lungs.

Matthew: Okay and Tabitha how does that feel when you’re fully inflamed like that with no treatments?

Tabitha: Well like when I was on steroids when I would get; when my lungs would get quite inflamed for a few years steroids would put the inflammation down to an extent but it never really went away. I was always sore chest and when I would breathe you could hear a crackling noise it was not a fun time but unlike the cannabis oils all the inflammation is gone and there’s no crackle anymore which is a good sign.

Matthew: Right. So a lot of listeners out there who might be on the edge and not understand that you can have the access to this medicine without a high. I mean you’re not walking around high. It’s a legitimate medicine. I mean do you get that question a lot Bobby Jo like hey are you giving your kids drugs.

Bobby Jo: Oh absolutely, absolutely. It’s the go too oh my goodness you’re giving your kids joints. No absolutely not, absolutely not. No it is so high in Omega 3, Omega 6, Omega 9, the list goes on and it is not psychoactive in any way, shape, or form.

Matthew: Yeah.

Alex: Yeah and you know Matt that is the most important thing is we need to educate the public, our communities so that families like the Fulton’s don’t get ostracized just because of the word cannabis and that’s one of the issues that we’re trying to tackle right now and of course through education that’s what we’re going to do and hopefully in the next five or ten years with proper research and clinical trials we’ll prove efficacy and we’ll be able to help other children with this same lung disease.

Matthew: Now have any individual politicians in Australia expressed any sympathy towards your cause Bobby or has it just been across the board just no feedback?

Bobby Jo: Oh no we’ve had the leader of the Green in our own state, Tammy Franks, we’ve been working with her for nearly three years now to try and get some type of exemption. Leaving the country was our last resort.

Matthew: Sure. Yeah especially as you approach a Canadian winter I’m sure you’re thinking that more and more.

Bobby Jo: I will tell you I’m glad she’s on Canada soil because a Canadian winter on Prednisone and oxygen there was just no way.

Matthew: Oh my goodness.

Bobby Jo: We had them at the end of that.

Matthew: Well what can we do, what can listeners do to support the Fulton family here and Tabitha and Georgia Grace? I mean this is really, this is really a touching story. It’s hard to believe that governments with the flick of a pen can restrict our personal freedoms like this but I guess it’s the world we live in at the moment. But how can listeners support you Bobby Jo and Alex?

Alex: Well first of all we do have a foundation or we did start something for the girls here. Anybody who wants to help with donation, Bobby will probably know more about that. The most important thing and maybe Bobby can answer that and you can say what it is the name of the foundation or I keep forgetting the name so what was it again Bobby?

Bobby Jo: It’s the Go Fund Me page.

Alex: Yeah and any help we can get would be amazing that’s for sure. You know we’ve been doing all we can and what I’d really like the listeners if they wanted to do anything that ([23:45] unclear) and that is that you should be open minded and to look into this anecdotal evidence and then see for yourself and then hopefully we can get these licensed producers or people that are producing cannabis to start doing more research and clinical trials and create like a den number so that we can get this medicine in pharmacies for these kids and it could be probably covered by the government.

But also I think if there’s anything that I ask for this whole industry is for us to come together and for us not to make people, just because they use cannabis oil, feel ostracized and put them in the same realm as a drug user or stoner when in reality they’re using it as a medicine that helps them to function through life, and I can assure you that I’ve been in this industry for a while and I’ve helped a lot of people, and they’ve actually healed me by educating me on this plant even more through seeing it happening in real life and I just think if we can share that information with everyone out there and it’s happening. The movement has started and it’s an amazing shift that’s happening right now and it’s happening around the world, and I think we should just continue on the path that we’re on and I think people are opening up. People are really looking at cannabis differently and yeah just educate yourselves and through education we can figure out more about this amazing plant that some people consider medicinal and some people call it spiritual and I’m on both camps for sure.

Matthew: Well Bobby Jo, Tabitha, Georgia Grace, Alex, Marcus thank you so much for being on CannaInsider today and sharing your story with us. We really appreciate it and we hope you Tabitha; I know Georgia Grace isn’t in the room anymore but we hope you get continued access to this medicine and there’s a quick resolution to all this for you.

Bobby Jo: ([25:50] unclear)

Tabitha: Yeah.

Alex: Thank you Matt for the time and for you considering how to spread the word this is amazing. I can’t thank you enough Matt for doing this for this Fulton family. They’re a special family and we really need to get this message out there for all the families and Bobby we talk all the time and she’s getting emails from so many families here in Canada wanting to know more about what these kids are doing and how it’s affecting them and how it’s helping them now with their lung disease. So again Matt I can’t thank you enough.

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

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

Key Takeaways:
[3:27] – Fulton Family background
[4:16] – Tabitha discusses her condition without using cannabis oil
[5:59] – What is National Access Canada
[8:26] – Overview of the cannabis medicines Tabitha and Georgia Grace are on
[11:11] – Particular strains that are working better to treat the ailment
[14:02] – Biggest change in Tabitha and Georgia Grace
[14:58] – The possibility to be able to use the cannabis oil in Australia
[17:58] – What is degenerative lung disease
[19:55] – Tabitha talks about how it feels with no treatments
[22:11] – Are politicians in Australia onboard with the treatments
[23:11] – How can people support the Fulton family

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

The Impact of Cannabis on Tourism, Consumer Spending, Society and Taxes

adam orens

Adam Orens of Marijuana Policy Group dives into impact studies for the state of Colorado.

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Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at That’s Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at to get started. Now here’s your program.

As more and more cannabis tax revenue rolls into states such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon we begin to see trends emerge in the way that cannabis is impacting society. To help us understand the impact of cannabis on business and societies Adams Orens of the Marijuana Policy Group. Adam welcome to CannaInsider.

Adam: Thanks Matt. A real pleasure to be here.

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

Adam: I am in downtown Denver, Colorado what is the epicenter of cannabis at the moment.

Matthew: Yeah Rand Paul was just in town like a week ago for the debates and he was saying people in Washington think everybody in Denver is running around high with axes naked. It’s just absolute pandemonium.

Adam: Well as I look at my window I don’t see any of that, but what I am noticing and what I would counter that with to the people in Washington is that this is the center of cannabis business and there are a lot of people running around with a lot of great entrepreneurial ideas at the moment and it’s exciting to be here.

Matthew: So Adam tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in the cannabis industry?

Adam: Well I started as an economic and public policy consultant and I’ve been doing that for over a decade with a firm in Denver called BBC Research and Consulting. So that’s a local firm that we deal with a lot of pressant issues in economics in Colorado; land use things like that. But what really started getting me into the cannabis industry was I saw the election returns in the Fall of 2012, and when Amend 64 passed and I really felt that this could be a new opportunity for my consulting practice.

What I thought at the time was there was going to be a new highly regulated industry with a lot of curiosity around as too how big it is, what are going to be the characteristics of the recreational market and at that time I decided that I’d like to try and wade into this industry and see as many people as I could meet at the time, and I could not have expected the fast growth and our involvement in it from the beginning but I’m very happy that I made that decision in 2012.

Matthew: Together with your co-authors you prepared a report for the state of Colorado titled “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado.” Can you give us a little overview of what was covered in that report and what’s important about it?

Adam: Sure. This was a report that was commissioned by the State of Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. It was so the state could get a handle on how big marijuana demand was in Colorado. And the reason they needed to do that is they are the agency in the state that is responsible for regulating the market and also adhering to the conditions that were handed down through what’s called the Coal Memorandum from the Department of Justice. And so the state that needs to ensure that I believe there are about eight conditions; eight to twelve conditions were met from the federal government and two of those that are important for this report were to minimize diversion across state lines into states where marijuana is not legal.

And then the other one was to ensure that the black market is as minimized as possible and those two conditions have to do a lot with price and price is dependent on supply and demand. And so that’s why the state hired my group to put forth some demand estimates for them.

Matthew: We see more tax revenues coming into Colorado and obviously places like Washington and now starting with Oregon we’ll see more too. What other big impacts are there besides tax revenues and how do you see tax revenues shaping or changing the conversation or perception around cannabis?

Adam: Well there’s a number of other impacts. I would say they’re not financial in nature like Texas. I mean one could say and a lot of this is uncertain at the moment. Marijuana legalization has impacts on children, it has impacts perhaps on education attainment, traffic impacts, and those are still being studied at the moment. I don’t think enough time has passed for there to be any real clear findings on that. I also think things like the cost of incarceration is important when thinking about tax revenue impact and other public costs. It costs a lot to keep a lot of people in jail for cannabis.

One thing also that’s not discussed as much that I’d love to get a little more information on or study more is how does cannabis used for medical purposes impact spending on pharmaceuticals and also public programs for that as well. Can cannabis be used as a substitute for expensive pharmaceuticals and I think that those are important points that we’ll find out more about as more research comes forward.

Matthew: Anecdotally when I talk to PTSD sufferers it does seem to have a huge replacement impact on traditional pharmaceuticals which I think is a net positive, but no way to measure or I don’t have any metrics around that but I do hear that pretty consistently which is interesting.

Adam: Yeah and I’ve heard the same and I think we’re really still at the beginning of our discovery of other conditions and other applications for cannabis as far as medical treatments. Cannabis has not been studied into the degree that other substances had, and I think we’ll have a period here in the next few years where there will be new discoveries coming to light.

Matthew: Give us an idea in pounds or tons how much cannabis is being consumed in Colorado now?

Adam: So that was one of the pieces of our study that the state asked us to quantify for them. And so our estimate and this was at the time. This was done in 2014 and we’re still in the process of working with the state to define a scope for what could be our next study. At the time it was about 130 metric tons. So that’s about 290,000 pounds of total demand and that’s including medical and recreational. All of the cannabis users in Colorado and our best estimate as too the amount that they would consume in a year and that includes what we had estimated for tourism as well at the time.

Matthew: Who are the super users of cannabis and what are their consumption habits like? Can you compare and contrast those to say a regular or occasional user?

Adam: Sure and this is a really important point that was a finding in our study and I think is important for your listeners as they think about their cannabis businesses and what segments to market too. Super users or heavy users are those that use daily or near daily. And in Colorado we found that those cannabis users are about 20% to 30% of the market of the past month users in total, but they account for north of 70% of the demand of marijuana. So it’s very important for those that are thinking about segments to market too those heavy users are a very important market segment in terms of sales volume.

And then also they consume more per day right. On any given day of use if you’re just an occasional user, we did a survey as part of our study and there was one done in Washington as well that according to the responses to those surveys said that the heavy users would consume over a gram of cannabis per day and that is a lot more than a very occasional user. Even those that consume once a month or so are far less than that on any one given day. So if you think about it if there is someone using every day and then their amount per day is so much, maybe more than three times what an occasional user would use. That’s why they account for so much of the market and the demand.

Matthew: Sure. Are there any other findings in your report that surprised you as you were gathering data?

Adam: Well that and this was focused on Colorado. Colorado had a higher percentage of those monthly users were in the daily or near daily category. So in Colorado and that was compared to the nation as a whole, and what that says to me is if you are a cannabis consumer on at least a monthly basis in Colorado there is more of a chance that you’re in that very regular consumer cohort or category.

Matthew: In terms of potency have you uncovered anything between flower, concentrates, and edibles in your data gathering?

Adam: We did a second study for the state. On this one was asked or was mandated by a piece of legislation in the state house here, and that was to look at equivalencies between cannabis in different forms. Between flower, concentrate, and edible and one additional piece of information that came from our study was some trends on potency and a quantification of potency using the state’s seed to sale tracking system called “Metric” and to my knowledge it was the first published study that had a whole lot of records behind it to look at these potencies and what we were showing were that flower was at about 17% THC in potency.

So when you compare that to other literature and kind of historically it’s trending up and sure there are other producers out there that can get their flower as high as I’ve seen things higher than 25% and higher than 30% even. So I think due to the genetics and the research being done and I think largely also because of the rec market flower potency is trending up. Concentrates and edibles are very related. They have a lot of similar components and concentrates are used to make edibles and they’re also developing new techniques for efficiency. It’s more efficient if you are making edibles that your concentrate is strong and so that you can use it to spread out among more batches and so we see a lot of these processes becoming more efficient and people developing new techniques that push efficiency when making concentrates and edibles.

Matthew: You mentioned Metric which is the state of Colorado’s seed to sale tracking system. How onerous is it to keep up to date for that for a business? Is this pretty simple? Do you have anything you could tell us about what businesses like about it or don’t like about it? What it does well any gaping holes?

Adam: I see a system that it’s useful for the state, it’s useful for their enforcement practices, and it’s becoming more useful for data gathering and for using market data in leveraging it for scientific studies like that equivalency study that I mentioned. I have heard anecdotally when we were doing that equivalency study. We interviewed a number of concentrate and edible producers and they did say that it is somewhat onerous to use that they have to devote some staff to it.

That it’s a system that has a learning curve. It’s a little difficult to get in and become a comfortable user of it, but I feel that it was a common complaint among the concentrate and edible producers that we interviewed that they have to hire a staff person and devote it to using Metric, and so they do find that somewhat onerous. Anecdotal though I think from what I’ve heard from the state they are committed to making this industry and this system work, and so I’d encourage those that have issue to report some of that back to the state.

Matthew: You mentioned before that the super user uses so much more than the occasional user. Is there any other intelligence a business owner in the cannabis industry should have handy when considering a new product or how to market their product that you would say would make sense?

Adam: Looking at the overall demand figures I think are very helpful, looking at some of the processes in the equivalency study that would be for a new entrepreneur trying to consider as a business. I would find those two documents to be considered would be a very useful part of your kind of elementary education into this cannabis business. I think looking forward there is a lot that is going to be forthcoming. I think for an established cultivator or product company those two reports are a bit basic for them. They already know some of this. They’re already producing things, but I think moving forward there’s going to be more information that segments markets either geographically or also demographically. I think some of that could come out in our forthcoming study for the state when we get to use Metric a bit more and are able to have two years of this data to start to uncover characteristics of the market that haven’t come forth yet.

So I think next year will be an exciting time for this part of it. I think it’s a great question because this industry is maturing right. In places like Colorado it is a few steps beyond other states. And so I think trying to work your margins, target your marketing to specific market segments those things are going to be a lot more important coming up and I think the research is going to start tracking with that, the market research and a lot of that also can come from their own point of sale providers too. These businesses do have a lot of information at their finger tips. Some public like I was describing but also some that are private data that they are collecting on their own. And I think they’ll have a great opportunity to start using these first couple years of data to benefit them in the next few years.

Matthew: Are there any interviews you’ve done with cultivators, dispensary owners, or someone that’s maybe a processor in the cannabis space that really stood out in terms of it being a learning experience that was impactful for you that changed the way you maybe thought about the cannabis marketplace?

Adam: Yeah, yeah and this is the first tour of commercial cultivation that I went on. This was in February of 2014. We were doing our market size study for the state. We were taken on a tour of a larger cultivation in Denver and I was able to see just the amount of professionalism that went on in that operation and that this was industrial agriculture. This was an agricultural operation and it was very dialed in, very precise, and the expense in the infrastructure that went into that cultivation facility was really eye opening.

The science behind the process was also eye opening and I mean it was really kind of important for me understanding the amount of investment that goes into this and how real this industry is. How it has staying power I believe here. I learned that in my first tour of a large grow facility. I’ve also gone on tour with the equivalency study I did. These extractors and edibles manufacturers and those again were just a high degree of professionalism. Very welcoming proprietor of the operation very invested in their processes and the safety. Either food safety or in the extraction process safety and so that also stood out so just the combination of those tours really kind of I earned a high degree of respect for the professionals that are doing that work.

Matthew: If you could wave a magic wand and get some piece of data that seems impossible or just near impossible for you to get right now that you think would shed a lot of light on things what would you; what would that be?

Adam: I’d love it if there was a piece of data that could say if the vision of Amendment 64 here was working. I wish that would exist. I mean I know this is kind of nebulous what I’m talking about here but people are going to start asking is this working, is this a net positive for society here and I don’t think we’ll ever really know that for sure. There will always be these just disparate pieces of data that we all know may be affected by cannabis legalization like number of incarcerations, incarceration costs, emergency room visits, traffic fatalities, graduation rates all these things that people mention are part of how to measure it but we’ll never be able to isolate the impact of cannabis on that in a silo or in a vacuum and so I wish there was a way to point, a figure that we could point to say oh it’s working or oh it’s not. But I don’t think that is going to exist anytime soon.

Matthew: What can you tell us about tourists and their appetite for cannabis? I’ve witnessed some things on my own in their purchasing behavior at dispensaries but I’m curious your thoughts on that. What the tourists are doing?

Adam: Yeah. It’s funny because you hear a different thing from the state tourism office than you do hear from business owners. I think the state says that it’s a very small percentage and I don’t know the exact figure of our tourist related cannabis but in dispensary owners that I’ve talked to and things that I’ve read in the newspapers. The coverage everybody sites their client base or their customer base as being half and half locals and tourists and that’s even around Denver right so I bet if you’re in more of a tourist based county or area like up in the mountains in the ski resort areas I bet that’s higher.

I bet those retail outlets in those mountain communities may have a higher degree of tourists coming in there. I’ve also heard anecdotally that the universities in Colorado, the public ones are having record high amounts of applications coming in from out of state students and yeah I know that’s pretty funny isn’t it. So I see this disconnect and I see also the tourism impact is going to be a declining phenomenon right. I think as more states or to the degree that more states legalize cannabis I think that that tourism component of the market is going to slowly decrease. But still if you have a cannabis consumer that is trying to decide between too going skiing in Colorado versus going skiing in Utah maybe this weighs in the way they decide where to go skiing that week.

Matthew: What has changed in the cannabis market since you put your report together?

Adam: When we put our report out very early on it was released the July after the rec market opened in January and at the time there was a lot of coverage in the media about taxes being way too high and about how the market is not gaining converts from the black-market as fast as we would’ve hoped and from what I can see that impact is starting to subside. I think as more centers came online, as more product was being introduced into the recreational market, as the novelty started to wear off and the high tourism impact in those first few months we’re seeing prices come down and I think that it’s an indicator that this market is working. That the regulatory structure is generally working. Based on some numbers we saw from the first year of sales in calendar year 2014 the regulated market was in both medical and recreational able to satisfy somewhere about 70% of the demand and I’m not including the caregivers in there as well in Colorado.

So I think for a first year rollout that’s a success and I think as prices when they settle, when they steady to an acceptable amount I think the regulated market share what they’re taking from black-market and underground producers is only going to increase and so I think given what has transpired since 2014 I think both the state and the industry have done a great job at trying to cooperate to make this market a success and I think both sides know that they’re success is dependent on the other and I hope all of that will continue going forward.

Matthew: Adam in closing can you tell listeners how they can find the Marijuana Policy Group online and follow your work?

Adam: Absolutely and we do have a news feed that we try and keep updated as best we can. Our website is Once again

Matthew: Adam thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

Adam: The pleasure is all mine Matt. Thanks.

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

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

Topics covered:

  • How much cannabis is purchased in dispensaries
  • How much cannabis super-users purchase, and why you need to pay attention to this particular type of consumer
  • How tax revenues are impacted and how that is changing the perception of the public

Key Takeaways:
[2:24] – Adam’s background and how he got started in the cannabis industry
[4:10] – Adam discusses the report Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado
[5:59] – Tax revenues and the cannabis industry
[8:19] – Adam talks about how much cannabis is being consumed in Colorado
[9:24] – What are cannabis super-users?
[11:37] – Adam talks about surprising findings in the report
[12:26] – Discussing potency
[15:00] – Adam talks about Colorado’s seed to sale tracking system, Metric
[16:45] – What should entrepreneurs consider before launching a new product
[19:21] – Adam talks about his view of the cannabis market have evolved
[23:04] – Adam discusses the tourists’ behavior around cannabis
[25:10] – What has changed in the market since the report was produced
[27:40] – Contact details for the Marijuana Policy Group

Important Update:

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

Love CannaInsider?
Please consider leaving the podcast a review here:

Every 5 star review helps us to bring you the best guests.

Using Cannabis as a Holistic Medicine with Donna Shields

donna shields holistic cannabis network

Interview with Donna Shields, Cannabis Culinary Nutritionist and Co-Founder of Holistic Cannabis Network.

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at That’s Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at to get started. Now here’s your program.

There is a growing curiosity about using cannabis medicine, particularly as an alternative or supplement to existing traditional medicines prescribed by doctors. However there is a huge chasm between what doctors know about cannabis as medicine and what patients want from their doctor or healthcare professional. To help us sort through this I have invited Donna Shields, Cannabis Culinary Nutritionists and cofounder of Holistic Cannabis Network onto the show today. Welcome to CannaInsider Donna.

Donna: Well thanks so much. It’s a great pleasure to be here.

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

Donna: Well I am based in Boulder, Colorado. I am a registered Dietician/Nutritionist that has found their way actually from corporate food industry to a health education platform for cannabis. My cofounder, Laura Lagano and I have recently founded the Holistic Cannabis Network, as you’ve already mentioned, and we are building a cannabis education platform specifically for health practitioners.

Matthew: Okay. And what’s the interest here? What was the spark that caused this to happen and change from whatever you were doing before to get into this?

Donna: Well you know Matt like most things in life I think people find things because of a personal situation in their own lives. And for me that was a breast cancer diagnosis a few years ago which really put me on this path in being more interested about the therapeutic of cannabis in health conditions and realizing that as a nutritionist I had this great body of knowledge about nutrition and holistic healing modalities and why not combine that expertise with my own personal experience and really bringing it together to try and educate other practitioners about what I was finding to be true in the therapeutic world of cannabis.

Matthew: Okay. So tell us more about Holistic Cannabis Network, what that means and how we should think about it.

Donna: Well as you’ve mentioned in the introduction there is a huge gap here between what is traditionally been done with this healing herb and what modern day practitioners know about it, and basically they know very little. And so as we looked around and thought how can we try and educate consumers, educate practitioners and move this national conversation forward in a very legitimate and positive way. We came to the place we really have to get people trained and educated. So that’s exactly what we’re doing. The Holistic Cannabis Network is an online platform for providing cannabis education training for what I would call Holistic Minded Practitioners.

So when I say that I mean our audience are really practitioners such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, health coaches, nutritionists, Reiki practitioners, yoga instructors, everyone who is working in, already working in one of these holistic healing modalities and would like to integrate cannabis education into their practice not only to educate their patients and their clients, but we see this also as a great business building tool for the practitioner as well.

Matthew: Yeah gosh that’s a good point. I feel like there is such a huge shortcoming with traditional medicine. It’s a challenge but also an opportunity. I’m sure there’s a lot of healthcare practitioners that want to get this information, want to help patients with it, but you know it’s just not there. Maybe I’m wrong but it seems like the more into insurance a practice is, the less they seem open to cannabis. It’s more the healthcare providers that are not taking insurance. They’re more outside the system where there seem like they’re more open to it. That’s my perception. I don’t know if it’s true. What do you think about that?

Donna: Well I think you’re spot on. The reality is that the practitioners who are open to this and who want to integrate into their practice tend to be more of the integrative or functional medicine practitioners. And when I use those words, integrative and functional medicine, what I’m really referring to is practitioners who are approaching healthcare by getting at the root cause of a problem. You know in this country we do a fabulous job of treating acute situations with our means of surgery and medications and we’re good at that. But what we’re not so good at is really approaching all of the chronic health conditions that are plaging our country. Things like cancer and heart disease and fibromyalgia and these things that are just chronic problems for people.

And using that integrative or functional medicine approach really allows us to get at the root cause of what ails you. And that’s really where we see the shift heading in this country. There’s a big paradigm shift in this country moving from the mindset of let’s just relieve the symptoms with a pill to let’s dig a little bit deeper, find out the root cause and then we can really get people on the path to wellness.

Matthew: Great point. There’s an inspirational writer, Louise Hay, who says every time you take a prescription medicine you’re telling your body to shut up. I don’t want to hear what you’re telling me, what you’re trying to tell me about what’s going on and it’s masking it. You know I get the point there. Obviously there is conventional medications that are really important and that don’t fit that criteria, but I think a lot of times now we’re just looking to pills to you know quick fix. It seems like there’s a huge opportunity in just autoimmune situations alone because there’s a tsunami of autoimmune problems sweeping the country. I don’t know if it’s just from GMO foods or what, toxins in our lives, but it seems like everywhere you turn you’re seeing more and more autoimmune issues and that might be a good kind of entry way for cannabis to come into people’s lives. Where do you think the low hanging fruit is where we can incorporate cannabis treatments for different ailments?

Donna: Well you know certainly chronic pain is the number one reason that people cite for using cannabis. And so if we look at just that area along we know that a lot of that chronic pain is the result of autoimmune disease of inflammation. And we know that cannabis has great anti-inflammatory properties. So you know whether it’s arthritis, fibromyalgia, Chrohns, a whole host of conditions we believe that cannabis as an adjunctive therapy, and so I want to be really clear about that. That in no way are we suggesting to practitioners that cannabis is the panacea for everything because it clearly is not, but when used in combination with a lot of these other healing modalities, when you put the whole package together in an integrated approach then that is really a great way to get people to feel better more quickly with less side effects from medications, probably with less cost and it also empowers people to take responsibility for themselves.

I think people, many people certainly are wanting to participate in their healthcare, and so we’re getting away from this idea of healthcare is something that the doctor does to you or for you, but you have to have an active role in it. So as we can get people to understand the therapeutic value of cannabis along with a great diet with exercise, with meditation and other modalities, this is really where we want to bring people.

Matthew: Yes, consumer driven change too. I mean we’re beginning a golden era here with exponential technologies allowing and empowering patients to do more of what they want or at least exploring more of what they want. I just had my gut bacteria biome sequenced for under $100. I mean it’s really just a remarkable thing to think that that could happen.

Donna: That’s great and that’s exactly the kind of testing that, you’re right, is now more readily available where people can dig a little bit deeper to see what the underlying problem is. And so as registered dietician/nutritionist we see a great interplay with cannabis therapy and obviously diet because when you really stop and think about it this is a medicinal herb not unlike many other botanical herbs that we encourage people to incorporate into their diet. You know using tumeric for inflammation, using Ashwagandha for anxiety relief. So this is not a farfetched ideal and we are, what we’re communicating to people and to the practitioners that we’re training, you know, this has been around for a really long time and we need to think about this medicinal herb just like we would all of these other herbals that have a therapeutic effect.

Matthew: I want to circle back around to that term integrative medicine which is becoming more widely known and understood, but there’s still a lot of people out there that say I’ve heard that, I don’t know what it means. I mean you might see someone on TV like Dr. Andrew Wilde, the guy with the huge salt and pepper beard talking about it. But we just don’t know what that means. And you said hey that’s getting at the root cause, but how is that different than traditional. Can you just compare and contrast, integrative with traditional a little bit more?

Donna: In a traditional appointment with a physician you go in for your 7 minute or 15 minute appointment, whatever is allotted by insurance, and you tell the doctor your symptoms and the prescription or the therapy is based on relieving those symptoms. So you go in with an earache, a sore throat, whatever, you get an antibiotic. Well in an integrative approach the appointment typically would need to be a little bit longer because this requires a conversation between practitioner and patient to find out a little bit more about what’s going on in the patient’s life. What’s their diet like? What kinds of products are they using? And you know after a little more conversation and maybe thinking about doing that micro biome test that you just had, you find out that there is a dysbiosis that the bacteria in the gut is not quite what it should be. So gee your immunity is compromised and that’s why you keep getting all of these recurring sore throats and ear infections. So that means let’s stop this repetitive cycle of giving antibiotics because while they are relieving the symptoms of the ear infection and the sore throat it’s playing havoc with the bacteria in your gut thus compromising your immunity even more.

So what’s happening is sometimes the treatment that we give people in a conventional setting is really compromising and compounding what the root problem is. So it really requires stepping back, digging a little bit deeper and the therapy needs to address the root cause and in that example I just gave you would be repairing and enhancing the bacteria landscape in the gut that’s going to build your immunity, you’ll get less ear infections, less sore throats, end of story.

Matthew: What is holding back healthcare professionals from integrating cannabis more? I mean my sense is that there’s a lot of fear out there. It’s like hey if I talk about this with a patient, the DEA is going to bust through the window and I’m going to lose my license. Also there’s not really a clear way for prescribing cannabis so much. I mean doctors are used to saying take 10 mg of this and do you think it’s going to take moving more to cannabis oils and capsule form where they can know exactly okay this is what I’m prescribing. It’s very objective. There’s very little in the way of differences from one cannabis oil pill to another. What’s it going to take to surmount those challenges?

Donna: Well I think the first and foremost thing is that physicians as well as others need to get some basic training and education because they really are operating in the dark right now. To understand the mechanisms of the endocannabinoid system and all of the other things that go on with understanding how this plant impacts the different systems in the body. The thing that you’re suggesting about dosage and what’s going to be the best way to address this with a patient, this is a very individualized situation because one size does not fit all for every patient. So you really can’t just send somebody out of the office after one visit and say here, this is it, this is the dosage that may work for you.

You know people respond differently just like they do to other medications. And so I think first and foremost we have to get practitioners trained and get comfortable with this whole topic. And there is a certain amount of fear that exists that they think oh will my patient think I’m a little, you know, am I crack pot if I bring this up? You know am I compromising my professional ethics by even suggesting this? And certainly in some states it’s more readily accepted than in other places. And so I think this is going to be really a slowly evolving process, and the more that practitioners hear about this at conferences, I mean, I’m delighted to say that at our annual… those of us who are registered dieticians at our big annual meeting this year there’s a program on cannabis and cancer care. Now that’s a very mainstream conference and yet it has made its way onto the program and I’m delighted to see that.

So you know Laura and I are trying to do exactly that to get ourselves onto speaking panels for different medical professional conferences so we can start getting the word out and getting the word out in a way that is accessible, understandable and very practical. Because at the end of the day you know the practitioner wants to know okay how do I implement this in my practice tomorrow.

Matthew: Great point. Now with your nutritionist’s hat on, just looking at cannabis as a food, I know I’ve had guests on in the past that say hey you know I take the fan leaves of cannabis and I make a salad out of it or I juice and so forth. Do you hear anything like that going on?

Donna: Well I think everyone is going to be comfortable with a different form, Matt, and again that’s one of the areas that I think most people think oh the only option is to smoke this. Well we know there’s many other delivery systems; tinctures, topicals, edibles, what have you. So that’s one of the other areas that we’re trying to get people to understand that depending on your personal preference and what you’re more comfortable with, and again I really want to drive home this idea that you have to meet people where they are. Whenever you’re asking people to make a behavior change, whether it’s exercise more or change their diet or start incorporating cannabis, you have to meet them where they are.

So for some people you know the idea of vaporizing or smoking it may just seem a little bit too out there. So for them maybe a tincture or maybe incorporating it into a meal that they’re preparing is the way to get them to take a baby step moving forward. So I think we have to offer all of these options to people and just get them in their comfort zone with it.

Matthew: Now you have some infused edible prototypes in development right now. Can you tell us about those?

Donna: Sure. Laura and I have a brand that we are looking to bring to market called CannaBatana, and the premise of this product line is using botanical based ingredients as the foundation for these food products because if you look at what’s readily available for the most part in the edible category most of it is candies, baked goods, sodas, foods that are highly sugared. And while you know that’s fine it’s not fine if you’re trying to use cannabis in a real therapeutic way.

If you walk into a dispensary and you’re looking for an edible to take therapeutically and you’ve got an inflammatory problem, why wouldn’t we want to have a product available for somebody that also has some other ingredients that have some nutritional ethicacy. Maybe some green tea in there, maybe some tumeric, some rosemary. Some other herbal and other ingredients that are delivering on a nutritional benefit. So that is our concept with the product line that we are looking to create. And I would clearly say that if any of your listeners have an interest in collaborating in developing this kind of a product we are absolutely interested in speaking with people who have production capabilities and are in a like-minded philosophy of bringing some nutritionally based products to the marketplace. I’m looking to talk to collaborators on this topic.

Matthew: And let’s talk a little bit about the Cannabis Kitchen, a book you contributed to. You know back to talking about meeting people where they are, are there any popular recipes or dishes in that book which would kind of help people just get their toe in the water and experiment with cannabis cooking that you would recommend?

Donna: Well you know the approach of this cookbook which different from some others that I’ve seen out there is that these recipes needed to be doable and practical. It’s not fancy company recipes, although some of them are certainly appropriate for entertaining, but the idea was to you know create everyday recipes that people really could make. So one of the things that I really like about the approach in the book is that every recipe has three different tiers of the foundational oil or butter that one would make the recipe with. So there’s a beginner oil for somebody who’s just getting their toe wet with this. So the milligram dosage is fairly low. And then there’s a moderate and a more ramped up version.

So I think this is a great way to get people comfortable with hey let me try this recipe with the beginner oil. A more experienced person could ramp it up. So I think these are the kinds of tools and tips that we need to give people to get them to try this. There’s a lot of base recipes for drinks. You know, you’re busy. How to make a really good smoothie. Things that people already understand how to make a trail mix, something like a stuffed mushroom. Okay we all know what a stuffed mushroom recipe is like. Here’s a way to do it with a cannabis infusion. So I think Robin Lawrence who is the author of the book had about ten of us from around the country who are experienced chefs and recipe developers all contribute to this book, and I think what you get is a really nice assortment of recipes that speak to everyday cooking. So I think people are really going to enjoy this book. The photographs are beautiful, very appealing, and the book just came out a couple of weeks ago. So it’s out there for people to try.

Matthew: Many listeners out there have a deep interest in integrating cannabis into their work lives. You have a seminar coming out in early 2016 in this area. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and how people can learn more about it?

Donna: Sure. We are hosting the first ever Virtual Holistic Cannabis Summit. This has never been done before. We are hosting this February 16th through the 19th of 2016, and online summits for those who are familiar with it know that it’s a great way from the comfort of your home or your office to tune in over the course of several days and listen to presentations by renowned speakers. So we are doing exactly that. We are bringing together over the course of four days presenters from the integrative medicine world as well as clinicians and researchers, growers, edible producers from the cannabis world.

So we’re taking these two disciplines and we’re integrating them together for an online summit that is going to have 20 to 30 speakers. So people register for free. This is all completely free content. Our website is what’s up right now, but very shortly and in fact right now we have a save the date on And beginning in January people will be able to start registering. You register, it’s free and then you tune in. If you’re not able to sit through four days worth of our presentations, you have the ability to get all the presentations with the PowerPoints. So there’s that option as well. So I really encourage people whether you’re a consumer, you’re a health practitioner, you’re in the cannabis industry, this is a great way to get access to a broad spectrum of speakers right from the comfort of your home without any travel.

Matthew: Okay and could you give out the URL one more time?

Donna: Sure that is So that’s where the information will reside for the summit and we will have all of the speakers up there with the presentations they will be giving. So you will have a very good idea of what you can expect when you tune in.

Matthew: Okay and is there any other ways that you would like listeners to follow you online or get a hold of you?

Donna: Sure, you know, our website is and that is where we are actually having our training modules reside. Very shortly there will be very detailed information about our webinar modules which when a practitioners completes that we will be offering a certification as Holistic Medical Cannabis Coach. And this is going to be a great business building tool for the practitioner. It’s a way for them to get a competitive edge in the marketplace, establish a point of difference for themselves within their community and really be able to enhance their practice, bring more clients in and obviously generate more revenue for themselves in their practice.

Matthew: Well Donna thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate your time.

Donna: Oh well this was delightful. Thanks for having me.

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

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

Key Takeaways:
[2:28] – Donna talks about how she got into the cannabis space
[3:26] – What is the Holistic Cannabis network
[5:36] – People outside the insurance system seem more open to cannabis
[8:16] – Cannabis for ailments
[12:14] – Donna compares and contrasts integrative and traditional medicine
[15:16] – What is holding back healthcare from recommending cannabis?
[18:13] – Incorporating cannabis into your diet
[19:42] – Donna talks about their edible prototypes
[24:32] – Donna talks about a seminar she is conducting in early 2016
[27:10] – Contact details for Holistic Cannabis Network

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

The Next Big Thing in Cannabis – Terpenes – with Dr. Jeff Raber

dr jeffrey raber

Dr. Jeffrey Raber received his PhD in organic chemistry from The University of Southern California with an emphasis on developing new synthetic methodologies useful in scientific drug discovery and development efforts. In 2010 Dr. Raber founded The Werc Shop and independent laboratory focused on botanical analysis with a focus on serving the cannabis community.

In this interview Matthew Kind and Dr Raber discuss the best practices of cannabis testing as go over why understanding the cannabis plant’s terpene profile is key to creating a successful harvest and infused cannabis products.

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at That’s Are you an accredited investor looking to get access to the best cannabis investing opportunities? Join me at the next ArcView Group event. The ArcView Group is the premier angel investor network focused exclusively on the cannabis industry. There is simply no other place where you can find this quality and diversity of cannabis industry investment opportunities months or even years before the general public. If that’s not enough, you will also be networking with the top investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the cannabis space. I have personally made many of my best connections and lifelong friendships at ArcView events. If you are an accredited investor and would like to join me as an ArcView member, please email me at feedback at to get started. Now here’s your program.

As the market for cannabis grows savvy companies are looking for interesting ways to differentiate themselves including publicly showing testing results of their cannabis and also creating unique terpene aroma profiles that make their cannabis more desirable. To help explore these subjects I’ve invited Dr. Jeff Raber from the Werc Shop to the show today. Welcome to CannaInsider Jeff.

Jeff: Thank you Matt.

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

Jeff: I am in Pasadena, California.

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

Jeff: Yeah my background I’m a trained Chemist, Bachelor’s in Bio-Chemistry, a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from USC in Southern California here. The way I got into it my brother was actually working at a construction company at the end of 2008 and he was approached too build out a store front dispensary in Southern California. When he came home and he said we were asked to build out a dispensary and of course the questions start to begin from there. What’s a dispensary and how does that all work and how can that be legal.

Matthew: Right.

Jeff: And that was kind of where we started. I don’t know if you should do that that doesn’t sound right, but then I did understand that there was Prop 215 and SB420 and looked into the Civics class again and there state’s rights and there should be a way to go ahead and do something of that type and help improve and change society in a better way. And in the beginning of 2009 when President Obama said we’re not going to prosecute individual patients we’re focusing on drug trafficking organizations, I thought that was a good chance that he was kind of speaking to patients like myself and others as well and saying if you guys want to do this the right way we’re going to see what happens with the experiments and that was kind of how we got started.

Matthew: And what’s the Werc Shop?

Jeff: It is a scientific organization though we didn’t want to call it the Cannabis Company or the Cannabis Lab or anything like that. We’re solely based on sustainability and anything renewable. So it’s not just one plant. It’s any plants that are of interest to us. We’re really just a bunch of broad-based scientists with an interest in Chemistry and sustainability.

Matthew: Okay and how do you approach testing cannabis that’s perhaps different than conventional testing?

Jeff: It’s pretty similar. We use the same types of equipment. The same equipment you’d find in a dietary supplement house or a pharmaceutical company and its again just another plant. I think a lot of people asked us that when we first started. Oh really you guys can test this stuff. We don’t need a magic machine. These are machines that are bought right off of the shelf basically. They are technical machines. You got to know how to run them the right way and certainly testing cannabis is very challenging because there are so many active ingredients and it is so complex in many different ways. But really it’s the same way that you would approach any other plant for the most part just like if it was Hopps or other types of products like that; Ginseng, things like that.

Matthew: And how is the industry as a whole doing in terms of testing? Are they falling short in any areas or leaping ahead in any areas?

Jeff: Well it’s still an evolving process I would say for that one. They’ve certainly come a long way so far. They were significantly short in the beginning. There were not many of us. I think a lot of people didn’t understand what might be proper equipment to analyze cannabinoids. What’s the best approach for some of those things but I think we now see that most everyone accepts liquid Chromatographs and being able to see both the neutral in cannabinoid assets is very important for a large number of reasons but we’re still falling significantly short in Pesticides.

I think that’s a very big growing issue and literally a growing issue when they put them on during the cultivation cycle that can be a problem, and I think the industry still has yet to set standards in that respects looking to the regulators to try and guide what you should test for. When a testing lab hears the word Pesticide up to thousands of chemicals can arise inside of a Chemist’s head in that respect. That’s pretty much impossible to look for. You need to understand a narrow list, you need to understand the limits that are required, and that’s what we’re looking to state regulators to try and set so that we can understand how to configure the right equipment and go after that the right way.

Matthew: So if you could wave a magic wand and before you buy let’s say an eighth of cannabis you want to buy for yourself personally. What would you like to see on the side of that package? What variables we like to see measured? What chemicals measured? What tests done? What would be ideal?

Jeff: Well knowing that it just has a label I’d like to understand that it had microbiological screening and contaminant screening for Pesticides or residual solvents so that you’d know that there was nothing in there that could harm you. And then in terms of what information about the particular product would be useful. I’d certainly like three to five well I’d say four to six maybe cannabinoids at the very least. More is always better but sometimes it’s hard to get them in a good Font size. There’s a lot of info that needs to go on the label and what we have done with strains has been with terpenes as well.

We tried to put on the top five or seven of those so that that can help guide people to selecting which product is right for them and I think that would be most ideal. More information is better than none so if you have a way of linking that to electronic results or someone can share those results with you at the point of purchase that would be fantastic.

Matthew: So you mentioned residual solvents there. Is there an acceptable level of residual solvents or does it have to be none where do you weigh in on that?

Jeff: No I think most states have set it at 500 parts per million combined for all the solvents that they require you to test. I’d prefer to see that be a little bit lower. I think 50 is doable maybe a 100 would be better, 500 just feels like a little bit too much like they are on the side of leaving a little bit more in there. When you’re talking about in relation things can be more potent. Certainly those types of things can also irritate the airways. So I would say less is better in that respect but they; it’s not completely none. It was none in California for quite a while but with the laws changing here I think we’ll see that we have to set limits much like every other state has done.

Matthew: And you also touched on microbiological testing. Can you delve into that a little bit more? What that is and how we should be thinking about it?

Jeff: Sure there’s usually classes of pathogens. Total aerobic counts those bacteria that love oxygen and live in that fashion and Terrabacteria is a class that includes E Coli, Salmonella, Pseudamona. Some of the really bad players and combine yeast and molds. So when you look at those three classes in a broad sense it’s a general picture of cleanliness and sterility and how well the plants were taken care of. More specifically you’d want to look at certain pathogenic type things like Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Listeria, and E Coli so that you’re sure none of those gather there even in a very, very small amount because people could get extremely sick from that.

Matthew: Okay and in the lab is there any kind of results that come up more often than you would’ve guessed that just keep on coming up?

Jeff: We see the E Coli ones yeah in that class the Antero class there not always E Coli but that class of bacteria comes up more often than I thought it would. You kind of expect the yeast and mold failures. There’s certainly ubiquitous molds and everything around and sometimes they can really take hold and kind of exceed the allowable limits, but dirty ones from dirty hands and things that you just didn’t wash or contaminated nutrients. You might think that the manure is really good to put onto to your plants but it’s not very good when it’s all over the plant in the end. I think we were most surprised at some of those and then when you’ve got one that fails everything and there’s just an entire bacterial party that’s certainly alarming.

Matthew: So controlling the inputs into your cultivation facility and also making sure there’s the best practices around hygiene sound like two ways to mitigate that risk?

Jeff: Exactly, yep, yep knowing exactly what you’re putting on there and just general sterility, being clean, washing your hands, wearing gloves, washing your shoes before you go in, or wearing certainly only clothes like certain dedicated clothes to go in and out of the cultivation facility is another good practice as well.

Matthew: What is cannabinoid profiling?

Jeff: Well that’s taking an analytical look at the cannabinoids present inside of the plant or another product. So they call it a profile it’s probably a better word than chromatogram. It’s a little shorter, a little easier to say but that’s how you’re going to try and look at the different types of cannabinoids that are present in your product.

Matthew: I have a question about terpenes but before we go into that subject can you just talk about what terpenes are a little bit more so we can understand that for people that might be new to that term?

Jeff: Sure, yeah. Terpenes are the component that smell. They’re volatile and those are the ones that you can smell. We often use the term aromatic not to be confused with a type of chemical but it says that they have a smell and they smell good with the nose. On top of their smell in terms of cannabis they are physiologically exceptionally important. They’re the components that play along with the cannabinoids to form what’s called the ‘entourage effect.’

While terpenes are very small hydrocarbon based molecules they are key components and building blocks for many things of the plant the plant uses terpenes to ward off pests or molds or different types of signaling mechanisms between themselves that we don’t quite understand fully today but they’re meant for protection purposes for the most part for themselves. When we consume them they actually help elicit the different effects that are predominant between different strain varieties and different types of plant products like that.

Matthew: Are you starting to see businesses think about their terpene profile and how to get the best aroma, fragrance so their product is more desirable?

Jeff: Certainly have seen a great big interest in that much more recently. We first started testing for terpenes back in 2011. We were the first commercial lab to do that and when we did it most people were like why are you doing that are you just trying to charge me for some other tests? I have no idea why I would want any of that which is kind of funny today when you look back and you see today a lot of people are very excited about it. We’re obviously having a conversation about it.

I think people have really kind of awakened to the idea that these are key components within the ‘entourage effect’ though they are the critical pieces that make cannabis very different than single molecule THC like Marinol. So it’s not just is there THC or CBD around but what else goes along with that from the plant so that we can have a much better interaction with our endocannabinoid system and I do see a lot of people paying attention to them nowadays. There are certainly cultivators that are trying to select breeds based on their terpene profiles.

There’s some trying to breed for them and certainly within other derivative products I think more and more people have become aware that forming a concentrate really strips out a lot of the terpenes. It can be a very different product and when you’re done processing that into THC or CBD such that it’s no longer representative of what was in the plant to begin with and now you have to figure out how can I get those things back in there.

Matthew: Great point and how do I get those things back in there and do I even need to use the original terpenes that were part of that cannabis plant? Maybe I can create a designer terpene profile. Incorporate some plants that aren’t even cannabis that maybe we want the aroma from lemon or combined with a different terpene profile of a different plant entirely.

Jeff: I would say those things are certainly possible. From our perspective a molecule is a molecule so you mentioned lemon. One of the popular terpenes inside of citrus fruits is limamine. So if I captured limamine at very high purity from the orange industry, orange juice industry, that’s the same molecule as the limamine that cannabis produces. So a molecule is a molecule and if I have that limamine I understand the product purity of that type I could use that in the same fashion that the cannabis plant would to create my concentrate product.

Matthew: So people aren’t complaining? Your customers aren’t complaining about the terpene tests anymore but they’re just really getting started in terms of customizing that terpene profile or are there any leaders that are already pretty far ahead in this game that have already created kind of a custom terpene profile on a finished cannabis product whether it be edible, drink, or some other kind of infused product salve or capsule?

Jeff: Sure I think there are some that are recognizing they are important parts of effects and also could be imparted in flavor if it’s a tincture or something of that type. Certainly some epileptic patients their parents have seen benefits with the tincture products where terpenes have been infused and typically asked if it could taste a little better that would be great so that their children are more willing to consume their medicine as opposed to not.

There’s also I’d say a lot of people are recognizing that that can standardize effects can produce desirable product in terms of vaporizing with vapor cartridges and electronic cigarette cartridges and we have seen some people pick standardized products so that patients can rely on them and are starting to baste those based on well engineered strains that they’ve had for a long time that they may have cultivated or bread themselves and found that a lot of people were benefiting from as well.

Matthew: So aside from an aromatic effect or a fragrance with these terpenes do you think there is a medicinal benefit as well from the terpenes? They have more than one thing that they do. There not just fragrant they also.

Jeff: Oh absolutely, absolutely. I mean we definitely have a big interest in terpenes and provide those types of compositions for infusion into other products and our goal in doing that was for the effects. It was not for the flavors or the taste or anything of that type. It’s so that you can standardize the effects. People can understand what types of products are best for them when it’s made in a reproducible and standardized fashion it’s consistent so that as a patient you can rely on that same type of effect time and time again. And it’s almost like the taste is an afterthought. It’s a little bit extra add on to that but there is an element that the way your mind and your nose are connected there is a scent memory and if things taste good and you feel good you might just smell that scent again and really kind of elicit some of that same feeling. There is a very interesting connection there on how we associate things with smells. It’s a very powerful memory trigger.

Matthew: Yeah.

Jeff: And if you are starting to feel better than that can be a really good thing and then there’s ways that you could play with putting that scent around in a lot of different fashions to just kind of elicit some of that mental I feel better effect which may be even advantageous in a number of ways, but terpenes themselves do have their own physiological impacts. There are a couple of different dietary supplement type products based solely on terpenes out of Europe and there’s certainly a number of components inside of a lot of different plants that we know are medicinal. Terpenes are definitely a very physiologically active class of compounds.

Matthew: You mentioned vape pens there. The market continues to spend a lot of money on this segment because vape pens are so convenient and discrete, but what about some of the solvents that are in vape pens and propylene glycol in particular. How do you feel about that and how do you feel the market might be turning away or to other alternatives?
Jeff: Yeah we’ve seen, yeah there’s definitely a concern there. I would say there has been studies done in the electronic cigarette market when you start to get heating elements they get really hot. Some of those diluting components they can turn into harmful components that you wouldn’t want to consume in any rate, let alone via inhalation. (PG) Peg we’ve seen the use of MCT which really kind of concerns us a great deal. Medium-chain triglycerides are fats and one thing that you can get from excessive fats is Lipid pneumonia where your lungs can’t clear them and you’re actually drowning in fat. So it typically happens with larger chain-fats but whether it could happen with large amounts of fats from cannabis or even MCT type oils remains to be seen.

So some of those are venturing into unknown territories and you might not know some things are not good until it’s too late. Others I think they’ve been around and been inhaled by many people for quite a while but things like PG can be irritants. They can irritate a lot of people’s airways. Some can develop allergies to those. Some people have no problems with them whatsoever and I’d say it’s a difficult choice to inform yourself with. There is a number of years worth of data in at least the E cigarette market about some of those but a lot of people are kind of trying to move away from that and understanding how they could utilize just the plant components to make sure that that would be a much more softer, I would say, approach. Things that you’ve already been haling being used is a much better approach as to adding things that you don’t know about.

Matthew: So it is becoming more popular to add medium-chain triglycerides or coconut oil and things like this as a way to make cannabis oil more viscous and easiest to vape but you’re saying that might not be the best solution?

Jeff: Correct. It would be less viscous, too viscous is why they don’t work in the cartridge so they want to thin them out. We can use the thinning out to make that standardized number so you can say every cartridge has a certain amount of cannabinoids in there which is certainly very advantageous from a standardization perspective but when you start to pick those types of pollutants you’re just not sure what the potential health affects maybe in that respect too.

Matthew: Okay so apart from propylene glycol which is used to cut cannabis oil or to make it less viscous and coconut oil or MCT oil is there anything else that appears like it might be safer or a better solvent to add to the cannabis oil?

Jeff: The other choice people use is Peg and I don’t know if one of those three is better than the other. I think the search is on to try and find other solutions that maybe be related to the plant and really figure out those types of components are a much better approach and solution to those who are concerned about what they’re inhaling. There may be no adverse effects from (PG) Peg or MCT at all we just don’t know so it’s kind of a hard one.

I don’t want to act like people should be scared of those we’re just not quite sure. I think what you are sure of is if you turn the battery power really high where you’ve got the voltages set high and using them for a while you can see those types of components start to break down and form other decomposition products that may be harmful like formaldehyde in a very trace amount. That is certainly a concern. I don’t think anybody wants to be inhaling that but you could also say even in an all natural cartridge if I do the same type of voltage am I turning the cannabinoids or other components into things that I don’t want either much like the combustion product.

So it’s a little marriage of kind of like software and hardware. So if the hardware works really well and it’s not getting too hot then I can use pretty much a broad based software and it’s going to work pretty well and I’m going to consume what I think I’m going to consume and not some sort of other derivative product that forms from overheating.

Matthew: Turning to CBD what are your feelings about extracting CBD from hemp versus cannabis I mean we’re talking about plants that are essentially under the same umbrella but there seems to be a big difference of opinion in terms of CBD coming from cannabis versus hemp. What are your thoughts there?

Jeff: I always find this one interesting. I mean hemp is cannabis.

Matthew: Right.

Jeff: Right so we start from the same plant Cannabis sativa L and underneath that fortunately for us I guess you could say the law has defined two parts of the plant in two different ways. So the flowering props and the foliage are called marijuana and the rest of the plant the stalk, stems, roots, seeds, and oils pressed from those parts are determined to be hemp. When it’s from that part of the plant and it has less than 23% THC. You kind of need both and really there’s next to no cannabinoids in the hemp parts of the cannabis plant.

So those who are saying that deriving CBD from hemp I really questioning exactly which part of the plant they’re deriving CBD from. I think some of the arguments get a little bit confused when they say CBD from hemp is not the same as CBD from marijuana. CBD is still CBD. I think the point in that is what else is going along with it. So do I have other whole plant components are there things like terpenes? Are there other minor cannabinoids, other fat components that may be going along with it in terms of an extraction?

So we are not really good fully well characterizing all of the concentrate components or the derivative components when we go and process the plant material to see how similar that is to the actual flower material that we started with and how is that compared to what people have been inhaling before is the other question. So I think the confusion comes from if they have really high purity CBD, say it’s like 99% pure or greater, and we have seen some of these products around. Well now that’s a single molecule right type of therapeutic, very different than a whole plant or broad based botanical profile type product where you might add CBD at 50% purity with the whole bunch of other minor cannabinoids, fats and waxes and it’s from say a CO2 extract for example.

There have been studies that have shown the single molecule CBD has an exceptionally narrow therapeutic window and it can be very difficult to dose that properly and it’s not predictable, if you take more you don’t get more of a response you might actually get a very different response in that respect. Whole like broad based botanical profiled CBD, whole plant people typically call it which I should clarify as well, that type of CBD product seems to have a much more linear predictable profile. So if I take a small amount I get a response. If I take a larger amount I get that response for a longer period of time.

That’s demonstrating how unique a broader based profile concentrate can be in terms of interacting with the endocannabinoid system. One single molecule with that system does not seem to elicit the best response. That’s why people don’t enjoy or find relief from Marinol at the same rate that they do from consuming via vaporization or something with all the plant components, whole plant cannabis. When I say whole plant cannabis it’s not that I took the whole plant and threw it in my extractor, eliminated everything and got a high purity CBD or THC product it’s when you’re trying to keep as many of the components that you can understand are present on the flower inside of the derivative product as well.

Matthew: We had a really big crackdown going on right now in Colorado over the last few months in terms of cultivators getting busted for using certain pesticides and fungicides in particular Eagle 20. How can cultivators raise healthier plants so they don’t have to treat their plants with pesticides and fungicides in a way that might be dangerous for their customers?

Jeff: Sometimes that can come down to the strain selection. So some strains are just much more robust and resistant to certain types of pests that’s because of their terpene profile predominantly. Your cultivation methods and practices certainly how built your room, how clean you keep your room, how sterile it is going in and out of that. Integrated pest management is a pretty viable approach.

There are some nicer more natural softer approaches that you can use to mitigate pests and you can even cultivate with other plants around that would actually cause a synergistic terpene mesh basically that would keep other pests away as well like growing with garlic and other things can actually be beneficial in that respect as well.

Matthew: Interesting. So if you were to create a product and you really wanted the chemistry in the terpene profile and everything to be just right what would your starting point be? How would you be thinking about it because we have a lot of entrepreneurs out there who are creating infused products or they’ve already created some or they’re thinking about it? What would your suggestions be for them in terms of making sure that they have products that test well?

Jeff: I’d probably call those guys at the Werc Shop. Yeah I think you really need to understand that you’re going to work with a good competent analytical lab and that can be an exceptional challenge. So just producing numbers doesn’t mean that the numbers are always right or that they fully understand what’s going on in that respect and I think that you do have to drive towards lots and lots of testing when you’re going to manufacture or produce a product so that you can understand the composition that’s there and what’s present or not present.

And what you’ll find is that it’s exceptionally difficult to try and standardize your process when you start to look at more than one component. It can become a very big challenge and then there has to be other ways that you might want to try to approach how can you get that reproducible profile inside of a product?

Matthew: Jeff as we close can you tell listeners how they can learn more about the Werc Shop?

Jeff: Certainly you can visit our website at And I think that there’s a great deal of information there. We do plan on updating that website in the not too distant future but you can certainly contact us or learn more about us on my website.

Matthew: Jeff thanks for being on CannaInsider today we really appreciate it.

Jeff: You’re welcome. Thank you for the opportunity Matt. I appreciate that too.

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

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Important Update:
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Key Takeaways:

[1:42] – Jeff talks about how he got started in the cannabis industry
[3:06] – What is the WercShop
[3:37] – Jeff talks about testing cannabis
[4:32] – Jeff explains how the industry is doing in the testing space
[7:14] – Is there an acceptable level of residual solvents
[8:03] – Jeff explains microbiological testing
[10:09] – What is cannabinoid profiling
[10:41] – Jeff explains terpenes
[14:52] – Moving to creating terpene profiles
[16:07] – Do terpenes have a medicinal benefit
[18:09] – Jeff talks about vape pens
[22:46] – Jeff gives his thought on extracting CBD from cannabis vs. hemp
[26:36] – Jeff explains how cultivators can raise their plants without harmful pesticides
[28:51] – Contact details for the WercShop