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The Cannabis Cultivation Cube With Trent Woloveck

Trent Woloveck

Trent Woloveck, COO of American Cannabis Consulting, walks us through their modular cannabis cultivation cube. This efficient use of space ( an extra eighteen lights) allows cultivators to create up to 250K more revenue a year.

Key Takeaways:
[1:14] – Trent explains what American Cannabis Company does
[1:35] – Trent gives is background and talks about how got started
[2:43] – What is the Cultivation Cube
[6:31] – Trent explains how the Cube’s watering system works
[7:58] – Ideal customer for the Cultivation Cube
[9:12] – ROI on the Cultivation Cube
[9:59] – Pricing on the Cultivation Cube
[10:42] – Trent discusses other ACC products
[13:14] – How much money is saved by group purchasing
[14:21] – What’s in store for the rest of 2015
[16:36] – Trent discusses mistakes made by people new to cannabis
[18:04] – Trent discusses what makes a professional cultivation team
[20:40] – Contact details for American Cannabis Company

*Guess What? You could be listening to this interview on your commute. Get the FREE iPhone app or Android App*

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday look for a fresh episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the leaders of the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Do you know that feeling when you sense opportunity, when you see something before most people and you just know it will be successful, then you're ready. Ready for CannaInsider Consulting. Learn more at www.canninsider.com/consulting. Now here's your program.

American Cannabis Company provides a wide range of B2B services and products to cannabis businesses including the Cultivation Cube. I am pleased to welcome Trent Woloveck, COO of American Cannabis Company to CannaInsider today. Welcome Trent.

Trent: Thanks Matt for having me. Looking forward to our conversation and congratulations on all the success and awesome individuals that you’ve had on the show so far. Pleasure being here and looking forward to following in their footsteps as well.

Matthew: Thanks Trent. Now Trent to give a little background, what is American Cannabis Company do?

Trent: So American Cannabis Company is a fully integrated business 2 business solution. We provide full service consulting and management as well as provider of proprietary and preferred products specific for the cannabis space.

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

Trent: So my background, I come from a Fortune 19 Healthcare Company doing finance, sales and supply chain management for them. I saw a huge gap in the industry around the ancillary product side of the house. And after having a brief discussion with having my existing company provide the services, they were not willing to do that. And so I took the business opportunity to then start what is now our products division, The Trade Winds, and really bring that to (2.12 unclear) for the cannabis space.

Matthew: Now I want to start with the Cultivation Cube because it’s still so fresh in my mind. A special thank you to Dixie Elixers. Last week Trent and I were able to do a tour through Dixie, and Trent showed me the Cultivation Cube they have there. And it’s really interesting growing situation that they have going on there. I’m going to let you talk about, Trent, what it is the Cultivation Cube is. Can you introduce that concept so people can kind of visualize it?

Trent: What we’ve been able to do there as they’ve been building out this state of the art facility is be able to bring to them a solution from the cultivation side of the business. And so with the Cultivation Cube it is a fully outfitted, recycled shipping container that is ready to roll for you once the license is awarded in the state. And so it’s fully outfitted with HVAC watering and then also being able to understand to grow in this environment. And so this is a solution that we’ve been able to implement with Dixie and looking forward to expanding that across the U.S. and up into Canada and other international markets as well.

Matthew: So give us a size, the general size and dimensions of the cube, and what you’ll find inside.

Trent: Sure, so what you’ll see in a lot of these new facilities that are coming online is a large commercial scale building. Our cubes can range from anywhere from 10 feet in length all the way up to 40 feet in length, by 80 feet wide by 8 ½ feet tall. And so what you’re able to do is fit 16 cultivation lights in one cube which equates to in a 1,000 square foot footprint, approximately 48, which then is a much more efficient use of space. In a traditional build out you’re only able to fit about 30 lights. So that extra 18 lights allows us to pull down an extra $250,000 of revenue per year.

What you’re also able to do with the cube is really take control and be able to leverage the vertical space within these buildings as well by stacking them on top. And so what we’re able to do at Dixie and we’re working towards right now is looking to be able to double stack the Cultivation Cube there within their facility.

Matthew: So there’s a lot going on inside the cube. It’s really interesting there. Can talk about the lights, the HVAC and the watery system?

Trent: Absolutely. So I’ll talk towards out standard 40 foot cube. Again we have what we feel are the best in class lights, the 1,000 HPS E Papillions. Within there we have a controlled environment thought a 5 ton HVAC which really is able to allow us to control the environment to those specific requirements to cultivate medical grade cannabis. And then once you’re looking into how or what you want to use as far as a methodology to cultivate, we’re able to bring in some of our other solutions such as 100% organic growing medium, which we then partner that with an automated gravity fed watering system that we can really reduce the overhead in efficiencies and effectiveness of a lot of the grunt work that go in from mixing (6.14 unclear) and hand watering plants and so on and so forth during a life cycle of a plant.

Matthew: So a little bit more on the watering trough. Can you just help us visualize how that works and how the plants take up the water?

Trent: Absolutely. So one of our solutions or recommendations, as ACC as a consultant, we’re solution agnostic, but we can absolutely make recommendations as to what we feel is best in class at the time. And we’ve found that solution with Auto Pots. And what that allows us to do is set up a trough outside of the cube and have it gravity fed for all plants within the cube. This flows through and really is a ground up feed for the plant. That way you have the strong root growth, and this really then allows the plant to come down and really search for that water when it’s necessary and needed throughout, again, the lifecycle of the plant.

Matthew: So the cube is pretty interesting because you can have a lot of flexibility and throwing up a growth space really quick if you need to. And I think what Dixie’s doing is a perfect example is if you need to get your plants going and maybe you have some construction going on, it’s a very helpful thing. Can you talk a little bit about that, you know, what’s an ideal type of situation, what’s your ideal customer for the Cultivation Cube?

Trent: So our ideal customer is a first off and foremost a licensed producer in a state that has a medical and/or adult use program put in place. So once they obtain that license, we’re then able to deliver the cub, you know, pretty much that next day. And so with that being said you’re able to really get your production up and running and get to market, you know, your brand, really mitigate a lot of that risk around understanding patient adoption. You don’t want to have to overbuild or underbuild. And so the cube really allows individual businesses to leverage and use the scalability of the cube in order to meet the demand and then also be able to produce that medical grade cannabis that each and every patient in that state and across the U.S. and the world would like to be able to leverage.

Matthew: So in terms of return on investment, how should a business owner in the cannabis think about what’s my ROI on a cube?

Trent: Sure. So you know what we’re seeing and really practicing in principle is tradition stick builds, they can take anywhere from 3 to 9 months to do. And so with the cube you’re able to actually get a full harvest in and done within a cube. So return on investment can range, depending on the pricing and just the lay of the land, you know, as short as 6 up to 18 months of the initial investment.

Matthew: And I know you said there they come in different sizes, but can you give us a general overview of what cost is on the cubes?

Trent: Absolutely. So what we’ve seen kind of taken into the market is a 20 foot cube and then a 40 foot cube. You know the 20 foot cube, you know, we’re looking at approximately $28,000 to $30,000 there depending on how much or how many you’re buying. On the 40 foot side, you’re looking at anywhere between $38,000 to $45,000, again depending on quantity bought.

Matthew: Now we talked about the cube, we talked about the trough system a little bit. Is there anything else in the product arena that ACC does?

Trent: Absolutely so on the proprietary side of the house and as an overview, and I’ll get into it in a little bit more detain on the preferred product side. But on the proprietary side we have two other really materials or products that we’ve brought to market in 2014. The first one being the SoHum Living Soil which is 100% organic, fully amended growing medium. A cocoa based soiled that really allows for the guesswork of mixing nutrients and hand watering and so on and so forth of the plant throughout its lifecycle. This takes all that away, and all you really have to do then is add water throughout the entire lifecycle of the plant. So we have that aspect.

As well as on the retail side of the house we have a child-resistant exit packaging that’s ASTM approved in being actually distributed out into the Colorado market right now called the Satchel. We’ve seen orders and a lot of positive feedback from these dispendaries on the product itself which has been very very exciting to see. So that’s on the propriety product side. On the preferred product side we’ve been able to put together what’s called a GPO or a Group Purchasing Organization. What this does is really aggregate spend or volume to preferred vendors that we feel are best in class for the cannabis space. So anything from lighting fixtures, the E-Papillon, the Gavetas, starting to look at LEDs, down to toilet paper and paper towels for your ongoing operations as a business. We’re able to be able to provide a low cost yet quality product delivered direct to your business moving forward. So we have over 500 products associated to that kind of full service supply chain solution.

Matthew: Now I’ve seen the group buying technique used for other businesses and it works really well. It’s a win/win, but people that aren’t familiar with it, can you give an idea of what kind of savings they realize by working with you in a group purchasing way.

Trent: Absolutely. So I equate it back to individuals that are going to a grocery store. So Matt if you and I were wanting to buy, in total 10 boxes of Kleenex, and you and I both go to King Supers and we each buy five, we’re going to pay you know pretty much retail price for those products. However if we decided to go to Costco and split you know the larger kind of pack, then I’m able to sell back to you at a much lower unit cost. While you’re saving money, the manufacturer’s happy because we’re bringing them volume and sales. And then it’s a win/win/win for all three sides.

Matthew: I got it. I wish there was a group purchasing arrangement for beer when I was in college. I think it could have paid for my whole college tuition, the savings.

Trent: It’s called Daddy Light.

Matthew: Now switching gears to services, what states are on the horizon for 2015? What are you looking at right now.

Trent: So we’re really excited from both the domestic standpoint, states like Maryland, states like New York, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania. The adult use market’s coming online in Oregon, Alaska, fingers crossed D.C. are kind of the big states that we’re seeing here within the U.S. But I also think there’s a huge momentum building in other international countries. So Guam recently passed a ballot initiative back in November. Jamaica, Uruguay, Spain are all kind of other international communities and countries that are looking to be able to bring this solution and program to their individuals within those states. And then also countries within Africa I know are starting to look at and really reach out to understand what it would look like for their communities as well.

Matthew: So that’s a good point. There’s people in other states and also in other countries reaching out to ACC. What are the questions they’re asking you, what’s the help they’re looking for?

Trent: Yeah so this more along the lines of wanting to understand what a state ran program looks like. Being able to leverage our expertise and our knowledge, what we’ve seen work for businesses, what we’ve seen not work for businesses and really help develop what a program should look like. That’s one aspect. More importantly they’re really wanting to understand from a patient prospective what is really a good and the right way to implement a commercialized program in a regulated market in order to ensure success of these businesses to produce medical grade cannabis for the patient’s said country.

Matthew: So what are some of the mistakes you see people make getting into the cannabis industry?

Trent: So sometimes mistakes, general mistakes are not really understanding the macro level of the environment, what it truly takes to cultivate at a commercial scale within a regulated market. There are a lot of variables that you know you can really control within what is “basement or smaller grow”. And then now with these limited number of licenses in all of these new states, you really have to look at it from a big Ag or manufacturing standpoint, and there are a lot of pitfalls when looking to be able to cultivate on that end. As well as, then on the dispensing side really understanding what it takes to bring patients into your business, as well as being able to service them with the best possible product so they keep returning to your business.

Matthew: Cultivation is key. I mean you really have to build a team and have growers that know what they’re doing. I mean how do you frame this to someone that’s reaching out to you? What should their team look like? I mean how big does it need to be for let’s say 40,000 square foot grow? I mean what do you have to do? What are some of the things you should be thinking about?

Trent: Yep in our big push and really what’s core to our ethos is being good Stewarts and Bellwethers of the industry. With that in mind we want to ensure that these new businesses that are coming for each state are looking to hire local. We’ve been able to really McDonald-ize and set up a streamline process to help these businesses get off the ground and succeed, but at the same time be able to come in, boots on the ground and teach individual, you know, either business owners and/or labors how to truly cultivate cannabis the right way to have that economic growth, to keep that tax revenue within the state and really drive economic development both within that city, that community, that county, but for the state and the patients of that program.

Matthew: Now looking out for the rest of the year, what are some of the opportunities that get you excited? Where do you think the biggest growth is?

Trent: Yeah I think, you know, as we kind of touched on earlier, a lot of momentum has been built behind these programs and these states putting legislation and ballot initiatives in place. So really excited about, you know, the continued expansion and momentum of all of these new states and international countries coming online, but also a lot of these new markets that have been awarding these licenses. I think the huge opportunity for 2015 and really over the next 18 months is the buildout the design and then transitioning into ongoing operations. You’re looking at 1.7 billion dollars of spend going towards the construction of these facilities and buidout of these facilities. And so from an ACC perspective we really feel like we’re in a very unique position to capitalize on a majority of that spend both on the products and less so on the services side and really focusing that on the new markets. But the product side is really something that we see as a big opportunity for us.

Matthew: Trent as we close, how can listeners learn more about American Cannabis Company and what you offer?

Trent: Sure so they’re on the web. They can go out to www.americancannabiscompanyinc.com. You can also feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. My email is trent@americancannabisconsulting.com. As well as we are a publically traded company. We are a fully reporting company on the OTCQB. Feel free to look up out ticker, its AMMJ, that will provide you all publically disclosed information and financials. The exciting piece is we’re rapidly growing right alongside with the industry as a whole and we’re in a unique position to where as a publically traded company that is focused strictly on cannabis, we were able to actually turn a profit in the third quarter, and so that’s been a very very exciting benchmark for us as a company as well.

Matthew: Trent, thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today.

Trent: My pleasure Matt.

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

 

The Race for Cannabis Home Delivery Heats Up with an App Called Meadow, Interview with David Hua CEO of Meadow

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David Hua, the CEO of Meadow walks us through his cannabis home delivery app called Meadow.

David tells us how his app is different then competitors such as Eaze and NestDrop. Recently Meadow was accepted to the famous accelerator called Y Combinator.

*Guess What? You could be listening to this interview on your commute. Get the FREE iPhone app or Android App*

Key Takeaways:

[1:09] – David gives his background and how he started in the cannabis industry.
[3:40] – What is Meadow and what is it used for?
[6:20] – Native apps versus non-native apps
[7:33] – David explains his feelings on Nestdrop
[10:05] – How Meadow compares and contrasts with its competitor Ease
[12:14] – David explains how to find a doctor and become part of a collective
[14:45] – How do dispensaries benefit from working with Meadow?
[16:32] – David explains how money is handled with a delivery service
[17:47] – What is Y Combinator?
[21:55] – Contact information for Meadow

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

See $20 Coupon Code to get $20 off your first order with Meadow.

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday look for a fresh episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the leaders of the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Do you know that feeling when you sense opportunity, when you see something before most people and you just know it will be successful, then you're ready. Ready for CannaInsider Consulting. Learn more at www.canninsider.com/consulting. Now here's your program.

Meadow is a mobile app that allows cannabis patients to receive delivery of cannabis from a local dispensary or collective. I am pleased to welcome David Hua, CEO of Meadow, to CannaInsider today. Welcome David.

David: Thanks Matt, really great to be here. Thank you for having me.

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

David: Yeah, we’re in San Francisco, California. I’m in the Bay area.

Matthew: What’s your background and how did you get started in the cannabis industry?

David: Yeah, I’m really passionate about technology and the startup world. I moved out here about eight years ago from New York where I was in sales and trading, not surprising, in the finance world, and decided I wanted to start a company. So came out here and have been working at startups for the last eight years and decided to jump in and start Meadow. It’s been interesting because the first startup I had was we made every mistake in the book.

We were in the gaming space. We launched a product called Got Game, got some traction, but ran into a lot of problems in 2008 with fundraising, and we had to shut that thing down. But, you know, one thing I learned was okay I didn’t do everything right. Can I learn from the people around me, and I went to a health startup for a while, Health Central and (2.04 Wells Fear?), and learned about a lot in the health space. Health is about, what 17% of GDP and there’s a lot of pain there. And then from there jumped in the mobile space with a startup called Sincerely, and learned a lot about how to execute with a great team and focus on mobile.

Then what ended up happening was we got sold to Provide Commerce, and I was trying to figure out what to do and what the next thing is. And most people in the entrepreneurial world tell you like find something that you can stick with for seven, eight, ten years. And I’ve always been passionate about cannabis and decided to enroll in Oaksterdam University and learned a ton. You know, I had a lot of great teachers there. Debbie Goldsbury was one that really inspired me to think about how dispensaries operate and how to build the tools for them to scale and leverage the technology that I’ve had exposure to for a long time and bring that to this space. So, yeah, that’s how we… how this all got started, Oaksterdam and then Debbie and then talked with this lawyer Robert Reich [ph] and really figuring out our model. Yeah, then started building with a few co-founders that I worked with previously at Sincerely.

Matthew: Now let’s dig into what Meadow does. Can you describe for both a patient or adult user and for a dispensary? Why do people want to use Meadow?

David: Sure, yeah. You know Meadow is a website where medical cannabis patients view menus and order on demand from local dispensaries. And that’s what we started with. You know, one great thing about it is we’re creating this whole backend platform for dispensaries. For them to manage patients, to look over inventory, to make sure their orders are right, and most importantly to be compliant. Everyone that uploads their documentation as far as ID and doctor’s rec or card is put into a HIPPA compliant server. Everyone that signs up signs a collective agreement. So everyone’s compliant with SB420 and Prop 215 and not have to really worry about where they’re storing everything.

Matthew: What about platforms? Is it going to be specifically an app or will it be a mobile version of a website to get around iTunes and DIOS platform having difficulty with the cannabis industry? Can you tell us how people can use Meadow?

David: Sure. Anyone can go to www.getmeadow.com and start looking at the menus of the different dispensaries that we’re partnered with. As far as iTunes and the Google Play store, our expertise is mobile. Like we built great apps for Meadow on these platforms, but unfortunately their policies aren’t really friendly toward cannabis, and they were basically denied to get on there unless we sort of made a bunch of concessions for the product. So we started making those concessions and started removing features and functionality. And by the time that we were done it was just the shell of what it was, and it wasn’t what the experience that we wanted to bring. So we ended up abandoning the app store and just focusing on the website www.getmeadow.com.

Matthew: If I was over at Apple, I would be thinking holy cow people are choosing not to use our platform because it’s so restrictive. I mean they’re really shooting themselves in the foot. I hope they come around on this in a big way and change their policy.

David: Yeah I think it’s just going to take time. And when you look at the app store, you know, most of their revenue is coming from gaming. They’re not really focused on cannabis. And you know, I think as this industry grows and the more smart and great people that we bring into this world, I think they’ll start changing. I hope so because we’re ready. I’d love to start building again on IOS and Android.

Matthew: So can you help us understand what a native app is versus a non-native app?

David: Yeah sure. It’s just, you know, a native app is an app you can get in the app store. So whether you’re going to iTunes or Google Play and you download that into your phone. Non-native means you’re going to, you know, a website. In my mind what’s really fascinating about what’s happening with technology, the languages that are being created for browser based web apps makes it almost seem like it’s not… it is native. And so we spend a lot of time really thinking about that user experience and choosing the right languages and the right, you know, platform so that we can scale. So, you know, hopefully if you check out www.getmeadow.com you’ll see an experience that feels native and just add that button to your home screen, and it will feel like an app.

Matthew: Now I’m sure you’ve heard of what’s going on in Southern California with the injunction that the city of Los Angeles put on Nestdrop which is also kind of an Uber for cannabis delivery. How do you feel about that? Is that a threat? How are you digesting that information and how does that affect your go to market?

David: Yeah, you know, I actually met the Nestdrop team in Vegas at the ArcView event, and they’re great. They’re solid people. You know, one’s a director. Another guy’s a lawyer, and they really set out to revolutionize the alcohol deliver space, and they jumped into cannabis. And it’s unfortunate that the city of L.A. took, you know, basically put an injunction on them. You know for us, you know, the way we’re thinking about it is, you know, how can we build tools for the dispensaries that aren’t doing delivery. And one such service that we launched about a week ago is a pick-up service. So if you check out Bloom Room in San Francisco, they’re an awesome awesome shop in Mint Plaza, and you can order in advance. You can look at their menu, you can see what’s going on. You can put that order in, and then go and pick it up in this express checkout lane. So for the people that know exactly what they want. They still want to visit the dispensary, we have that functionality that we’ve built. And you know, continue to figure out what the best way and what the best tools that we need to build to accommodate the dispensaries in L.A., but yeah I do think that delivery is really important for people that can’t get out of their home. And I mean driving around in L.A. is crazy, but I don’t know. It’s still far away for us. So we’re just going to focus in the Bay area and see how that all works itself out.

Matthew: And for people that have a hard time visualizing this there is kind of a rush hour dispensaries or cultivation, I’m sorry, dispensaries or collectives. And like on a Friday starting at maybe three or four in the afternoon, you know, you may have to wait a while to get, you know, served. And that’s where, when David’s talking about like an express pick-up, that’s where that can be really handy if you know what you want.

David: Absolutely. And what’s really interesting is a lot of these dispensaries don’t have great parking, and so, you know, they want faster turnover so that they can satisfy more customers especially if it’s a five-ten minute parking space outside their dispensary. So this pick-up option I think is, you know, I think a good solution, but we’ll continue to expand it as we get feedback.

Matthew: Now you have another competitor called Ease that’s there right in your backyard in San Francisco. How would you say Meadow compares and contrasts with Ease?

David: Yeah, so Ease launched a few months before us, and they’re really focusing on the logistics side. So their value proposition is really about speed, and I think they can get stuff to you in about 10-15 minutes. For us, I think we differentiate ourselves with selection. We have a variety of dispensaries with a ton of different products anywhere from flowers to edibles, to tinctures to topicals, to different concentrates whether it’s shatter or wax, you know, concentrate syringes, anything. And our delivery takes about an hour. And the delivery that’s conducted is with partners that have been doing delivery for a long time. And so these are experienced drivers that know what they’re doing and have a lot of knowledge about cannabis.

And I think another important distinction is that we view dispensaries as partners and not just in the sense of hey like here’s an order coming through, please fulfill it. It’s more around hey, here’s an order and here’s a platform in the backend that will help you manage your business in a compliance but also you know, scalable model. And so far the tools that we’ve built have been pretty great, well received and we’ll continue to build out more of that. And, you know, I think that’s how we’ve sort of differentiate ourselves so far. And you know, we’re just trying to remove friction from the experience of getting your medicine. We keep looking at the feedback that we get to keep improving the product.

Matthew: Now for a lot of people in California, you know, they’re part of a collective. So this is something you can use right now, but what about, you know, prospective patients that want to connect with a doctor or they don’t know where to begin? How do I find a doctor that, you know, I can describe my symptoms to and be, you know, get a card and become part of a collective? How can that problem be solved?

David: Yeah sure. Well there’s a ton of doctors offices that exist today where you go and you can get evaluated for a cannabis recommendation. The experiences though that I have seen are pretty wide and varied. You know, some operate as a, I don’t know, I guess turnstile type of an operation where you go in, you see someone for five minutes and then you’re out and then you get your recommendation. There are others that actually spend more time and help the patient realize what their problems are and actually how to medicate with it.

And you know the problem was, that I’ve seen, is some people don’t want to go to these offices. And so what we ended up doing, actually today we announced Cannabis MD. And so Cannabis MD is an on demand doctor service where a doctor will come and make a house call. They’ll come to you and evaluate you for medical cannabis and really sort of be there to help guide you and educate you on the best ways to medicate and best ways to alleviate the pain that you’re feeling. We found that people don’t get that much education, and there’s so much going on now that it’s important that the patient knows. Right, it’s not just smoking a joint or a bong or anything like that. I mean look at the innovation that’s happened. We have edibles, low dose and stronger dose. Edibles come in chocolates or sublinguals, tinctures. You have concentrates for people that are dabbing or using vape pens and vaporizing. You have topicals for people that want to, you know, calm some of the pain that they’re feeling. For me, like my shoulders and neck. It’s just there’s so much, and really kind of educating the patient is super important, and that’s kind of what we did. We started working with the doctor network through an introduction from Oaksterdam, and we’re going to find doctors that are passionate about cannabis and are educated about it so that they can, you know, provide that information to the patient.

Matthew: Now you mentioned that the dispensaries and collectives, they are more of a partner for Meadow. What’s their benefit from working with Meadow? What do they get out of it?

David: Yeah, you know, I think it’s a combination of the tools that we’re building. You know, especially for managing orders, inventory and patient information in a HIPPA compliant environment. It’s access to a whole new group of patients that are, you know, that have found us and really like the brand and what we’re about. You know, we’re really big into privacy. We treat everyone’s emails and phone numbers like as a first class citizen. You know we really want to provide a seamless experience for them that they feel comfortable in and especially if they’re, you know, in the privacy of their own home. You know, most people they’re getting delivery or either, you know, can’t make it out appreciate the convenience or just don’t want to be seen in a dispensary yet. So that’s kind of what we’re providing.

Matthew: So David, I know you’re a fresh, new startup or Meadow is a fresh, new startup, but is there a sense of how many dispensaries or patients you’re working with in California or it’s still too early?

David: Yeah, I mean we have six dispensaries that we’re working with now and serving the entire Bay area. And as far as patients, you know, we’re serving the entire Bay area and the specific numbers we’re not revealing yet, but we will be when we start fundraising.

Matthew: Okay. And a lot of people are curious and obviously people that object to cannabis delivery services are, you know, want to know in detail how does money change hands when the cannabis is delivered to a qualified patient?

David: Yeah, so the dispensaries have their own drivers, and those drivers when they deliver the cannabis takes usually cash on delivery or they have a debit card system or some even take credit. And it just depends on the dispensary and the relationship that they have with their banking partners. You know, I’d love to offer like a stripe integration, but unfortunately there isn’t… there aren’t really banks out there that are for cannabis yet. So right now it’s still pretty archaic.

Matthew: Yes and for people who don’t know what Stripe is, that’s an easy way to integrate, fast and easy and cheap way to integrate credit card services into a web app which leads me to the next question. I just saw a press release that you were accepted into Y Combinator, is that true?

David: Yeah it is.

Matthew: Holy cow, well congratulations. That’s big news.

David: Yeah.

Matthew: Is Stripe part of Y Combinator?

David: Yes.

Matthew: Okay. We’ve got to back up a little bit here. What is an accelerator first of all, like Y Combinator and tell us a little bit about Y Combinator.

David: Yeah Y Combinator has been in the Bay area for a long time now. They’re pretty much an institution and really finding some of the best startups in the country and helping them with advice, guidance, over a three month period. And it culminates into what they call Demo Day, and Demo Day is a day where you pitch to investors and angels and reporters and you show off what you’ve done. And you know, after which you usually raise a round of cash to take your vision, to realize your vision I guess. Because most of us are still building that, and it’s you know, brick by brick.

Yeah and so we got into the winter batch this year, and we’re so far a month into it and have been really fortunate to have such great people advising us and pushing us and making us think about the cannabis industry in a little bit different way than from their experience that they have.

Matthew: Now can you name some of the more well known alumni companies of Y Combinator?

David: Oh yeah absolutely. I mean you have anything from DropBox, Reddit, HitMunk, AirBNB, Scribd, JustinTV which is on Twitch, which sold to Amazon for almost a billion dollars. Parce, Codecdemy, Mixed Panel, Optimizely, Teespring, Homejoy, Loopt, Wufoo.

Matthew: God that’s amazing.

David: It’s an incredible pedigree of companies and founders.

Matthew: That’s remarkable. And I also, I want to mention that here in Boulder, Canopy Boulder has created a cannabis accelerator run by Patrick Rea that is focused just on cannabis businesses for people that are interested.

David: Yeah Canopy right?

Matthew: Canopy Boulder, yes I’m a mentor there. So I just wanted to throw that out there. Shameless plug.

David: No, no worries. I think it’s great. I saw the presentation at ArcView, and you know I think it’s needed. There’s a lot of talent that’s coming in that want to build businesses, and they need the proper guidance and counsel especially to navigate the cannabis industry. And I think what they’re doing is great, and you know, we’ll see what happens.

Matthew: So what about other markets. I mean I know you’re still young and maybe you’re not sure but you’re in San Francisco now. That kind of seems like it’s a testing grounds for a lot of new technologies that emerge, but is there any plans on the horizon for expansion?

David: Yeah, yeah. I think we’re going to focus in the Bay area for a while and then really see where that goes and takes us. I think there’s still a lot to build. There’s still a lot of feedback to get and, you know, what we’ll try to do is look at the map of dispensaries and potential partners and really figure out who to partner with and what’s the best way to give them the tools that they need to scale their business and be compliant. You know, I think California is definitely going to be a big focus still for us for a while, but we’ll see. I think Colorado looks interesting, Oregon looks interesting, as far as legal markets. But you know, we still believe pretty heavily in medical, so you know, there’s Vegas, there’s Arizona that look really interesting too. So you know, it’s just really being knowledgeable about the state laws, but also local laws in making sure we’re working with the right people.

Matthew: Absolutely, and they’re all so different right now.

David: Yeah so different.

Matthew: So David as we close how can listeners learn more about Meadow and try it out?

David: Sure. Just go to www.getmeadow.com. That’s www.getmeadow.com.

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

David: Oh no, thank you it was a real pleasure. I really appreciate the time.

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

Should I Tell the Truth About My Cannabis Use on My Insurance?

cannabis insurance issues

Recently I heard people discussing how to properly answer questions related to cannabis use on insurance paperwork. Answer truthfully about cannabis use on your insurance and you could possibly get denied the critical coverage you need for you and your family, or lie become subject of future rejected claims or worse insurance fraud. This is the type unintended consequences that occur when government makes a plant illegal. We won’t suggest how you should answer on your insurance paperwork, but suffice it to say this is yet another example of how outdated and outrageous laws kill us by a thousand little cuts.

Thankfully there is some good news. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined Senators Rand Paul and Corey Booker this week to introduce a bill called the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act or (CARERS). In short this bill would move cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug, remove restrictions on banking, and allows states to chart their own destiny with cannabis.

It seems outrageous that people you don’t know in far away city with different motives and incentives get to decide how you live your life, I am waiting for Democracy 2.0 to make an appearance that can properly represent the will of the people, are you?

 

 

The Ultimate Cannabis Conference for Networking with George Jage

marijuana business daily conference coupon code

The Marijuana Business Conference and Expo is the place where everybody in the cannabis industry meets everybody else, industry information is shared, friendships are formed, and partnerships are created. Listen in to hear how to make the most of your conference experience with George Jage, The now former president of Marijuana Business Media.

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CannaInsider listeners get $50 off of All-Access or Sessions + Exhibits passes with coupon code: cannainsider50
register here: https://mmjbusinessdaily.com/conference/

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*Guess What? You could be listening to this interview on your commute. Get the FREE iPhone app or Android App*

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday look for a fresh episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the leaders of the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Do you know that feeling when you sense opportunity, when you see something before most people and you just know it will be successful, then you're ready. Ready for CannaInsider Consulting. Learn more at www.canninsider.com/consulting. Now here's your program.

While it seems there are new cannabis related conferences popping up every day, there are very few that are worth it. The Marijuana Business Conference and Expo is definitely worth it. If you really want to get oriented as to what is going on and network with others in the cannabis industry, this is the place to be. I’m pleased to welcome George Jage, President of Marijuana Business Media to CannaInsider today. Welcome George.

George: Thanks Matthew. I really appreciate the opportunity. I love listening to your interviews and what you’re doing and of course thank you for the stellar introduction about our company.

Matthew: Oh sure. Now you have a background in trade shows and expos. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into this business?

George: Sure. Actually my background is really in B2B media. Out of college my family had a business where they were liquidating and jobbing surplus clothing in the marketplace. You know, very much at the beginning stages of when you started seeing big box discounters like TJ Maxx’s and Marshall’s and stuff like this, you know, companies that would liquidate excess manufacturers’ inventory and then we sell it to these types of companies. Very tough business, very cyclical. And the time when I was getting out of college was experiencing some pretty big challenges.

So I ended up coming on board to help my father’s business kind of dig out of the weeds a little bit. And, you know, at the time there was a major national peril event that was growing rapidly and kind of pushing these exhibitors or these jobbers out of the space that they had typically exhibited in. They really weren’t welcome at the big manufacturers’ show because, you know, quite often they might be selling Tommy Hilfiger’s last year’s merchandise at 70% below what Tommy Hilfiger is selling it at. So we saw an opportunity to organize a trade show, and organize some of those exhibiting companies. We actually not really as a business, but just as more of a means to an end. We ended up starting the off price specialist show. It was held in three floors of the Debbie Reynolds Casino Hotel and Movie Museum. Debbie performed nightly by the way. And so it was really again, you know, a means to an end. And that was in 1993, and we saw the opportunity that we were actually able to, you know, grow that business and actually get out of the apparel business.

We were doing four shows a year. We had nearly 500 exhibiting companies when we sold it to a company that’s based in London. That was a big conglomerate for Business 2 Business media assets. So, you know, a lot of our clients would do 70 to even 90 percent of their annual business at this event. You know really it kind of shows the power of very hardcore order writing trade show. You know, we launched a magazine as well for the off price of apparel industry, and I think we really helped elevate that industry kind of out of what, you know, the jobbers were always kind of considered kind of backroom, you know, businessmen and you know kind of somewhat of a shady industry. So there’s a little bit of parallels to what I’m doing now, but you know, it was absolutely a fascinating space. And I ran the company on a management contract for another two years after they acquired us. Then I moved out to Las Vegas.

You know when I moved to Vegas I started a couple of different businesses, but one in particular was a trade show for the specialty tea industry. And I honestly, I didn’t drink any tea at the time. I had a friend who’s wife had asked me if there was a trade show in this market, and it really just kind of stuck in my head so I started looking at it, and I saw that there was all these tea companies that were starting to emerge in the market that, you know, exhibited at a coffee show or a restaurant show but didn’t really have a marketplace of their own. So we started an event and it was really, you know, not my primary business I was running at the time but I really saw this opportunity and then I moved all my focus into that business which was World Tea Media.

And you know over the next ten years, you know, we had created the World Tea Expo which was the largest trade show for the Tea in world at one point. It was three times recognized as one of the fastest 50 growing events in North America. We also created the World Tea News which is an online publication, you know, kind of comparable to what we do with Marijuana Business Daily. We created the World Tea Academy which was an online training program for tea sommeliers and tea professionals. And the North American Tea Championship which was absolutely probably the most fun thing we did from a standpoint because we created our own proprietary kind of Parker Style wine rating system for tea to evaluate the best teas in the market. And basically with that competition we would have people from all over the country and at one point all over the world would send us the absolute best teas they ever had or ever made. So whenever the competition was done we would have this huge surplus of incredible tea leftover. So that’s why I like that one the most.

Matthew: You know there’s a lot of people like me out there and you mentioned that you really weren’t into tea until you got in that industry. You know I’m still in the stone age here drinking Lipton tea out of bags, and I know that there’s loose leaf tea is better but I really don’t know what I don’t know, and I think a lot of people are in the same boat. Is there any suggestions on what to get started with tea?

George: Sure I have to laugh a little bit. I get that question a lot. And you know, I even have people who come up to me and are just like compelled to tell me what teas they drink. And they’re like hey I drink Smooth Move, and then I have to explain to them that that’s actually a laxative in their tea. But honestly the thing that’s fascinating to me is there’s so many parallels between tea and marijuana. Yes they’re both plants, they’re both green and everything else. But actually one of the things I uncovered when I was coming forward with Anne Holland Ventures and Marijuana Business Media. Actually both tea and marijuana were both attributed to being discovered by Emperor Shennong who lived 5000 years ago in China and he is considered the father of modern herbal medicine.

Each of them has very unique biochemical components in them with cannabinoids and for tea it’s L-theanine and certain types of catechins and flavonoids that are really unique to that plant. And they both have a profound effect on your brain function. They cross the brain, the blood/brain barrier. Obviously there’s a little bit different impact of the effect to the brain for tea and marijuana, but you know you could argue that actually it’s just a different modality for effecting brain function. With tea the L-theanine that’s unique to tea actually has been clinically shown and I’ve seen these great brain maps of people that actually drink tea and it shows how it stimulates alpha wave activity in the brain which actually creates calmness and a relaxing state. And then coupled with the caffeine creates this calm state of alertness which is why Buddhist monks have used tea to meditate for a millennia.

But getting back to your question about drinking Lipton versus whole leaf tea. It’s kind of funny I mean this is almost like comparable to like the brick weed or the ditch weed that we all smoked decades ago. And I don’t want to say the Lipton’s ditch week, that would probably have Lipton’s attorneys calling me by the end of the week. But the importance really of creating a premium product, and you look at, you know, premium products. You know, look at the specialty coffee industry. You can look at the California wine industry where there was an investment into the quality of the product and offering a premium experience. And people are going to pay premium price. I mean Starbucks is the company that everybody wants to use as like Wal-Mart. You know I want to be the Wal-Mart of this or I want to be the Starbucks of that. You know, they’re successful because they’ve created this premium experience for people.

And I think the same can be said about, you know, marijuana and you look at the evolution of the product quality available to the consumers both medically and recreationally. You’ve created this connoisseur element to the industry and the same with tea, same with wine, same with coffee in those specialty markets. That’s really where I think that it’s kind of exciting to kind of see those parallels in those markets. But anyways really back to your question. Sorry.

You know I have my own personal favorites. I really like Japanese steamed green teas, you know, Kukicha, stuff that most people would never have heard of. A lot of times people will associate brands instead of actually products. It’s really about kind of exploring yourself a little bit and trying different teas. Time and temperature are going to affect the quality of the brew the same way as, you know, however you would consume a marijuana product. You know, if it was a vape pen versus and edible versus, you know, smoking a flower. But, you know, it really comes down to is just try it. Do you remember the Cajun chef that used to be on PBS years ago?

Matthew: Yeah.

George: Yeah, he used to say, he’s like people would ask me what type of wine to drink with my chicken and I’d say any damn type you like. I always loved that guy. It really is about going out and exploring what you and your taste buds are going to enjoy the most. But there is a huge benefit to drinking loose tea. At the end it’s a higher quality product. It’s actually more cost effective for you.

Matthew: Now how is the Marijuana Business Conference different than say the tea or the clothing conference?

George: Sure. We didn’t have a big educational program around the clothing conference. I actually did launch another event called the Healthy Beverage Expo where, you know, education was really importing. Obviously communicating innovations in science, technology and packaging to deliver better products. You know the same thing with tea. There’s a tremendous amount of science and research. There’s also a tremendous amount of marketing, you know, data and everything else. But you know, as you know, I joined the Marijuana Business Team just a little bit less than a year ago, and this was actually the first time I’ve had a job since I’ve been in college. I’ve actually owned my own businesses before this.

Really for me, you know, for this opportunity, you know, what really really attracted me and this is so core to what I’ve done with my past businesses is just the exceptional journalistic integrity of the company as a whole, but also the very high level of curation of the conference programs. This really isn’t the norm but the exception. I mean there’s a lot of, and I’m not being specific to the marijuana industry, there’s a lot of event organizers and conference programs, and they don’t really understand how to develop a good and effective conference program and I loved what they were doing, and I really enjoy being a part of the team and helping to continue to grow and elevate that.

Chris Walsh is our managing editor. I mean he’s just an amazing business journalist, you know, for our conference program and he highly vets all our speakers, curates all the sessions, you know, has several phone calls with the panelists or the speakers, you know, before the show, reviews all the PowerPoint presentations and really makes sure that we’re speaking to the topic that we’re communicating to the attendees. And most importantly is we don’t allow the outside influence of many owners, board members, exhibitors, you know, advertisers determine what topic and who speaks. You know, this industry like every other one, you know, there’s a lot of opinionated people who might not always agree that a speaker we put on stage is the best speaker, but you know, it’s the best speaker that we felt that could speak on that at the time.

You know, there’s also so many new people coming in the market that we are always going to continue to make efforts to try to bring those new ideas into the dialog that we really get to facilitate. We’re not the ones making the conversation, we’re facilitating it. And yes, we want to be able to bring in those new ideas, those new speakers. We still want to balance out with, you know, some of the industry stalwarts that we have speaking at our show. And so I think that, you know from a standpoint of what makes our conference different is just that, you know, we’re approaching this strictly from an approach of saying that this is content, this is journalistic content, and we are going to make it, you know, create it with the highest integrity possible. And there will not be any type of pay for play type of opportunities.

Matthew: Right so the integrity’s there, but then how do you dial in what people actually want to hear more about?

George: Sure, you know, there’s a couple of different ways to approach that. In organized conference there’s a push method and there’s the pull method. I mean, basically we can kind of say hey we’re going to push out and tell everybody what they need to know because they might not know what they need to know at this point. Or we might pull the content where we really, you know, analyze data from the industry, the community surveys, you know, educational advisory boards and everything else. I think we really kind of have a nice balance. I think any show and industry that starts up, it tends to be heavy on the push side of content creation. And as it evolves it definitely becomes more pull and more community driven, you know, content.

So I think we have a nice balance of that, and the way that we have that nice balance is the fact that we’ve got a team of journalists. We brought on several new people onto our team last fall. You know, one of our editors, you know, is from Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal. You know Tony Dreibus. We’ve got John Schroyer out of the Denver area that’s written in local beats and throughout the Denver area that’s really an exceptional journalist as well and then Chris. And then, you know, even that I mean the owners of the company and the founders of the company Cassandra Farrington and Anne Holland. I mean they’re both exceptional, you know, journalist in their own right too to kind of support the team.

So I think, you know, really having our editorial team’s ear to the ground, they’re constantly having conversations with people in the industry. What is the challenges that they’re facing? What are the successes they had? And really being able to, you know, kind of have that really kind of unique knowledge I don’t think that a lot of other organizations have of really having this many conversations with the community on a regular basis allows us to really have some great input to pull content. And then as I said before, you know, we do kind of internally create the topics that we want to create, and then build the speaker line up around those. So we do have a balance of that push and that pull.

Matthew: You mentioned Anne Holland there, and I just want to give listeners a little context about her. She is a business internet marketing Jedi for sure.

George: Jedi, I like that.

Matthew: I’ve followed her work from Marketing Sherpa all the way to Which Test Won. I’ve learned so much from her. And I think people may not realize because she’s kind of behind the scenes, but she’s really a brilliant woman, and I follow her work closely.

George: Yeah I agree with you. I mean I’ve learned a tremendous amount from her as well. You know, she serves a lot of different roles within the company, and I think, you know as everybody knows, when you start a new company and kind of do things there’s a lot of kind of everybody’s kind of doing a little bit of everything. But from a marketing standpoint, I mean, she’s brilliant. She literally wrote the book and she really has kind of created the framework for us to be able to build the audience that we have and the followers and the listeners and the readers over the years.

Matthew: So let’s figure out what year is the conference in right now and what was it like for the first couple years? I went to Vegas in November just a few months back and it was great and booming and there was tons of people, but I think the first couple years it wasn’t quite like that. It was much smaller correct?

George: Absolutely. You know it’s kind of hard to believe. I mean this is our fourth year, and certainly one of the things that we tout in our marketing is that we’re the oldest national event for the industry because we have been around for five years, or moving into our fourth year. But the conference and expo was originally launched in Denver in 2012, you know, it was held in a Masonic lodge in Downtown Denver. Several hundred people came, there was a lot of excitement. And I think that, you know, that’s kind of that foundation for creating, you know, the bigger picture event and having that kind of yeah core group of people that were there at the first year.

So from there the event the second year in 2013 moved off to Seattle. It was held at the Emerald Downs Race Track. They ended up selling out that conference with I think a total attendance of around 720 people. It was wall to wall. The fire marshal was there making sure that they didn’t go over capacity. And you know again it was definitely a nontraditional venue that they had to go into because of the stigma of, you know, having a marijuana event and what that means to different people and the perceived value, you know, of the business to a venue operator. So fortunately we were able to get the show moved to Las Vegas for 2014 that you were at. You know it’s the trade show capital of world for a reason. We have great entertainment options, you know, unprecedented convention space, hotel rooms and everything else to really support that type of draw to Las Vegas. You know you get cheap hotel rooms. I mean you’re not going to see rooms at $69-$79, quality rooms like you would in Vegas in the San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. You know, there’s always going to be that price disparity.

Matthew: Right so you mentioned Chicago, and the next expo is going to be in Chicago in May. Is there any estimates on how much that will grow from the Vegas event?

George: Sure. Well and I just sent out an email this week kind of to the community talking about this. And you know we don’t use slang terms in our publication as a professional business magazine and certainly in print, but we’ll make an exception for this interview is that, you know, we’ve really kind of broken things down into pot years in our business. You know, the pace of this industry is so fast that you kind of have to look at dog years, you know, being 7 dog years to 1 year. I mean it’s probably somewhere in the range of 4 to 6 pot years in a calendar year of how quickly this business is moving. And this is really why we’ve moved to having a second national annual event is because the amount of investors that are coming into this market, the amount of new companies that are being launched, the amount of existing companies that have gotten funding and are going to market with a stronger, you know, go to market strategy, and the number of new licensor winners.

You know, Illinois just obviously released its licensee winners and other markets are coming online. So this is really why we wanted to move the two events. The market has changed so much in six months that you can’t wait a year to come to a big annual event. This is what really kind of catalyzes bringing the community together, driving innovation, driving ideas, getting products to the marketplace, you know facilitating the business deals that are done at events. And it’s so important to the industry as a catalyst. So we projected that we were going to have 1500 people come to the Las Vegas show. As you know we had way over that. It was about 3200 people plus that were at the Las Vegas show. And that certainly I think is driven by the growth in the market.

For the event that we’re doing in Chicago we’re projecting to have 2000 attendees and in that same context we are making our projections with I think the journalistic integrity the organization is founded on of not saying that we’re going to have 50-60 thousand people and, you know, it ends up being 1000 people . So we want to make sure there’s truth in our advertising.

Matthew: So you’re having it right there on South Michigan Ave by the lake in Chicago in May. That’s a good time to be in Chicago.

George: Yeah it is. And you know, it’s going to be a great event. You know really kind of having the background that we had in Vegas. I mean you know, it’s kind of unparallel, but you know this is really an amazing venue. You know Chicago is obviously very centrally located in the United States really to get the people that are, you know, developing their businesses in the New England states, Florida, Missouri that are on the cusp of coming into the industry. The Illinois license holders have just been awarded. But the destination that we’re going to be at, the Chicago Hilton, I’m sorry, the Hilton Chicago. There’s a number of Hilton properties through Chicago, but this is the Hilton property of Chicago. It is exceptionally historic and architecturally unique, but every president since I think going back at least 150 years has stayed at this hotel property. So, you know, if this is where presidents of the United States come and stay when they’re in Chicago, I feel it’s an appropriate venue for the future emerging leaders of the marijuana industry to stay at.

Matthew: And just to make a plug as a Chicago native. Buddy Guys is pretty close to that Hilton in the South Loop there, and that is some of the best live blues music you could ever hear in your life. So switching gears back to the conference. Were there any panels or speakers that stood out at the last conference?

George: Yeah. You know Ben Cohen for sure. And this last show we really wanted to set the bar high and bring in somebody with a really big name from outside the industry. I think that the industry’s evolution, we need to, you know, start seeing that type of star power. We are seeing it in other areas of the industry. You’ve seen Snoop Dogg is investing in raising capital. Other people from PayPal are investing big into some cannabis ventures. But no, Ben Cohen was phenomenal. He really nailed his presentation.

And his message really resonated very strongly with our audience. You know he’s been a very passionate, you know, entrepreneur. He’s very very much for social change and you know really kind of wrote the book on corporate social responsibility. I think that that’s something that many of our audience and attendee members really are very passionate about. They’re creating a business based on a medical need by patients. And so they’re trying to do, you know, a lot of the foundation of this industry based on people creating opportunities to help other people. So Ben’s message was fantastic. You know it’s ironic, you know, it’s usually when you have a big trade show and a conference, it’s usually you don’t get to enjoy your own part. So I was able to kind of peak into a few session, but by no means, you know, was I able to sit and listen to every single one.

Patrick Basham from the Democracy institute really did a phenomenal job. We had a session talking about the impending invasion from Big Pharma, Tobacco and Alcohol. You know that’s I think always on people’s minds, and I thought he gave some really really powerful insights into it. And you know, the content that I love is really bringing together thought leaders to really kind of, you know, kind of decode some of the myths and the facts of the industry. The final closing session that, you know, had really powerful industry leaders like Tripp Keber and Andrew D’Angelo and Meg Sanders and met Rob Campia from the Marijuana Policy Project. You know it was great to listen to them kind of have this debate about when do they see the end of federal prohibition you know coming to its term and getting some really powerful ideas. They have their different opinions, but you know at the end of the day to have those types of people up there talking about and saying this is in sight. It’s three years, it’s four years, it’s five years out that we are going to finally have a end to federal prohibition and a full national legal, recreational and medical market.

Matthew: And just to clarify. Ben Cohen is the cofounder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and he was really inspiring. I didn’t really fully understand their philosophy. I knew they were into social change, but he talked about how he considered himself being in business to help different people in their Ben and Jerry’s ecosystem. For example he was thinking of making a profit, not to make a profit so much for shareholders as to keep people employed in Central America who were getting his cacao or his chocolate to him. So he had all these kinds of ideas that were I would call capitalism plus, like yes very capitalistic, but he had a reason behind what he was doing that were kind of his passion. And he had just a fantastic talk I thought.

George: Yeah and you know you hear about the shareholder, and it’s really about the stakeholder. And I really believe that in a business model. I mean the tea industry, my previous life to this, I mean you know is in a business that is highly profitable. I mean there’s so many people in that industry that are really driven by the passion of I’ve experienced this amazing thing, this tea isn’t normally available in the United States. I mean tea is the second most drank beverage in the world next to water. People are kind of surprised by that, but 2/3 of the world’s population live throughout India and Asia and in those countries where drinking tea is part of their culture, and it’s in every other culture Europe, Africa, Canada, just not so much Central and South America and the US. But you know it’s really that passion that drives up business.

From that standpoint previous business World Tea Media, I mean, it was always I think was with the onset of saying how can we help companies be successful. And that, you know, by us helping companies be successful as a B2B media platform, you know, we get to be successful. And it’s really an amazing business to be in, and that’s where I really kind of, you know, really connect with Ben on this is, you know, making sure I mean that, you know, this isn’t about our company or profits. It’s about are the attendees going to get tools that they need at our event that’s going to help their business grow. If they do and they’re successful, they’re going to be great customers of ours. Are exhibitors meeting with the right people to sell their products or services and getting a positive return on investment through that? Are the readers of our magazines getting insights and tools that they can put to work in their business and the advertisers, you know, getting good reach into the market that way.

So yeah you have to look at a business very holistically as terms of stakeholders and you know the employees of the business. And you know are they finding, getting a meaningful experience and the better that they’re able to contribute to our business, again we can be better at serving the market. It’s all cyclical and I love the fact that Ben looks at this as really as a global, you know, kind of picture. And some personal conversations with him, I mean, I could tell that you know, they did sell their business at one point and the business I think modality changed significantly and was much more corporately driven and you could tell. It was a lot of I think you know kind of angst and pain in his eyes when he had to talk about it that way because he was very mission driven.

Matthew: Yes I believe Unilever acquired Ben and Jerry’s sometime ago.

George: Speaking of Lipton tea they own Lipton too.

Matthew: Okay, okay, but the two are still fun in Watertown, Vermont I believe. It is still very, very fun place to go visit if you get the chance. Now for somebody that is considering purchasing a spot on the expo floor in hopes of growing their business, what advice can you offer them to help them put the best foot forward?

George: That’s really the art of the trade show. There’s so many simple things that companies can do really to make the most out of their marketing spend, you know, looking at the return on investment. You know trade shows are very well documented as being the most cost effective medium for generating leads for your business for sales leads. And you know when you look at I mean you know it’s your ability to meet with a large group of people very quickly in a face-to-face opportunity because you know that that’s so much more valuable than being on the phone with somebody and be able to qualify those prospects in a single location as opposed to, you know, making scores of sales trips and having a field of sales people out there or cold calling them which is going to produce marginal results.

So you know trade shows in my opinion, I mean, I’ve always been a big fan of them because they drive commerce. They catalyze markets. On the flip side of that it’s actually pretty shameful. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research actually estimates that 80% of trade show leads are never followed up on. And this is the most important part of any company’s investment in the event. So you know my first tip is always, you know, is to ask questions first when you’re at the trade show and having a good plan and really realize that you have a finite amount of time that you are going to have in that booth meeting with attendees.

So you know, you don’t want to spend a half an hour talking with somebody that’s just looking to gather information when, you know, ten people could have walked by that might be in the early buying stage or you know with money in hand ready to buy your product or service. So ask some questions and find out what stage they are in the buying process. You know are there other people in that company that are going to need to be involved in the decision making process so that they, you know, get to the decision makers quickly. And find out, you know, what are the key obstacles for them engaging with a product and service. So really that qualification step is really important. You know if somebody’s not qualified, you don’t have to say hey get out of my booth. You know you could say listen, you know, I’ve got an appointment in a few minutes, I would love to follow up with you with more information, but if you give me your card I will follow up with you afterwards. And spend two minutes with that person instead of twenty. And spend twenty minutes with the people that are going to be potential leads.

And then once you qualify those leads is certainly taking copious notes. You know, rent a lead retrieval system, and you know add comments to the record. You know if you can remember hey the guy was a big fan of dog sweaters, you know, so when you follow up with him you can tell him that, but that’s kind of salesmanship 101. But when you really think about it is making sure you have that plan before you get to the show of how are you going to qualify the leads? How are you going to capture that information, and who and how and when are you going to follow up with them after the show. And if I walk to a show and met with 30 companies that were selling a product or service and I went to that show to find more information about, and I got two follow-ups within 24 hours of being back from the show, those 2 companies are going to be on the top of my list. And I think that’s just, you know, anybody would probably agree with that.

So making sure you follow up with them. You have a plan. You know what you want to send them and say to them, make it personal so that they know you remember them and that you generally care about them. And there’s tons of other little things that people can do at trade shows to really optimize that opportunity. You know, they really discourage you, at least some of the trade show trainers that are out there, say don’t ever put your table at the front edge of your booth. You know make your space inviting so that people can walk into the space. Don’t put yourself behind a counter to them. But it’s a deep topic and if anybody ever bumps into me in the market, in the community, at another event, at our event and they want any tips and tricks, I will spend as much time as they want with them. I love making sure that people get the most value out of it.

And it’s not just at our event. You know, I want to make sure people get value out of events period because, you know, if somebody goes and does an event that they don’t do well at, they’re going to devalue the proposition of doing events elsewhere.

Matthew: Okay so let’s take an aerial snapshot of the expo floor. It’s a pretty large space that was there at the Rio, and I went around it several times. So I saw all the, you know, exhibitors, but in your mind how do you think about the exhibition spaces, some real estate more valuable than others, what’s the park avenue?

George: Well you know location location location. You know I think it’s always, I think it’s human nature. I mean I think anybody that’s looking at a show floor, they want to be as close to that front door, as close to that main isle as they possibly can. But you need to look at a number of different factors. And you know first of all is recognizing that you’re not paying for real estate, you’re paying for access and the access to the attendees. So you know depending on the attendee density of a show and that’s a measure that we use in the trade show industry, the number of attendees per exhibiting company. And we always have maintained, you know, close to 20 to 25 attendee density, 25 to 1 attendee density. And then that’s strong. I think a good show is anywhere from 10 to 15 is really good. When you start dipping below 10 you kind of get that feeling that there’s a lot of room in the trade show isles for you to move around.

If you have a very highly dense show where you have a lot of attendees coming, being in the front of the show might not be the best space because there’s this kind of natural push to kind of surge in the front door. So a lot of that kind of initial tidal wave of attendees coming on a show floor kind of go past that first booth and then when they’re coming out they don’t see it because they have their back to it. So it’s not so much about real estate. I think you know, if you want to kind of drill into that, don’t necessarily look at just where the front isle is. Look where the bathrooms are. Everybody’s going to have to go at some point. And you know, where the food area is. You know, are there other attracters such as a press room or show management office that’s going to draw people over into that area, you know, there could be equally as good space. Or you know, if there’s a big company that you know is always busy at every single trade show, get a booth next to them. It’s open season at trade shows and everybody has equal access to the attendees coming to the show.

And I think what companies need to realize though, going back to that, you know access versus real estate, is when they evaluate a show to go to, I mean, you know you got to say, you know, you can go to a show and pay $1,000 for a booth and maybe walk away with 10 quality leads, or you might end up spending $5,000 for a booth in another show and walk away with 100. Clearly you got to look at what is that cost per lead for my business. And this really gets into the return on investment for events. And obviously return on investment, you’re looking at return on your investment. And you know, this is one of the things that’s really also very core to me is, you know, making sure that the experience for the exhibitor and the attendee is at a very, very high level. You know the old way of doing trade shows, I shouldn’t say the old way because most trade shows are still run this way, is that they will sell somebody a booth and once they’re on board they have tons of hidden costs, most prominent being drayage or material handling. And that’s a fee that an exhibitor would pay to have their freight moved into a show flow. And the way that that’s set up is the organizer would hire a general contractor and the general contractor would kind of have unbridled egregious ability to charge people for moving their freight from the dock to their booth and back again. And I might be $500 or $2,000 depending on how much freight they have.

You know so this is something that exhibitors have complained about for decades and very few show organizers you know choose to listen. But you know it’s important, you know, making sure that experience is there. And at our events I change this for the fall event and will be the way moving forward. You know we package that into the booth price. So you basically have a host of freight package. So if you don’t, you know, you bring in a single box or you bring in four crates of really heavy, there’s no extra charge to you and there’s not that surprise factor. It’s so punitive on so many levels. I mean you’re creating a ton of non-value added workflow. So now the contractor would have to set up a billing department on the show floor. Usually the second morning of the show, they have an invoice in that exhibitor’s booth saying hey by the way you owe us $2,000 for moving your stuff in and you’re not going to be allowed to move out unless you pay this which isn’t going to make very many happy customers. And it just creates a lot of conflict in the show.

So there’s things like that that you know when you look at what is the cost of doing a show, the general rule of thumb has always been that it’s 20% of your overall cost for doing the show is the booth. And then when you add in the staff, the time, the travel, your display, meals and entertainment, everything else. I mean it’s usually about a five time multiple of what it costs you for the booth at a show. And what we like to do and really where I feel that we can offer a competitive advantage is that you’re not going to have the surprise costs at our show. You’re going to get to the show. Yes you’re going to have still your staff time and travel, but I don’t like to have exhibitors or a customer come and be surprised and all of a sudden be upset because they’re having all these nickel and dime charges.

Matthew: Great point. And circling back to you know, how you can put the best foot forward. I noticed that some of the exhibitors can really state their value proposition well in one sentence. You say oh what do you do, and they say it very clearly and so you can understand and make that connection, and everybody on their team has that. And some other exhibitors don’t really have that quite as polished where they say what they’re doing so you can understand it just instantly and what the benefit is for a prospective client. Just that simple thing, it made my understanding of what they’re doing much better in talking with people.

George: Yeah and I agree. And that gets into you know making sure your staff’s trained and that you guys have a consistent message and kind of elevator pitch and everything else. Again when you’re at a trade show it’s also, it tends to be very long days, you know. Make sure you have enough people out there so that whosever staffing your booth, you can kind of rotate some breaks in there. You need to kind of take a mental holiday from standing in a booth. You know, I’m sure you’ve seen it before and everybody else has. You know, you walk by a booth and a guy is sitting down reading a newspaper or you can tell that he’s just frazzled. He’s spent for the day or she it, and you know so you want to make sure whosever in that booth, you know, is fresh, you have breaks scheduled and for your staff and everything else.

But yeah going back to that is there’s a lot of businesses that are still trying to figure out where they’re going to fit in best in this market. So you know, they might be kind of a little bit all over the place. That’s I think inherent for a young industry like this. But you know, you should be able to, you know, walk up, look in their booth and have a very clear understanding of what that company does. I mean I think it goes leaps and bounds of them being able to more effectively meet with the right buyers that are coming to their show too.

Matthew: George in closing, how can listeners learn more about the marijuana business conference and expo?

George: Well we certainly invite them to come to our website, but and more importantly come to our show. So we have a number of brands in our portfolio, you know, really built around that marijuana business media family. So we have our Marijuana Business Daily and you can go to www.mzbizdaily.com and sign up for your free subscription. We have Marijuana Business Magazine www.mjbizmagazine.com. We obviously publish the Marijuana Business Fact Book which you can find at www.mjbizfactbook.com. And the conference is www.mjbizconference.com and as a special offer to the listeners of your program we set up a discount code for our spring show. So if they enter in CannaInsider50 when they register for our event, they’ll save an additional $50.

Matthew: Awesome, awesome and everybody just a reminder Canna has two N’s in it. That will be helpful when trying to put in a coupon code. Thank you for that George.

George: Absolutely, absolutely.

Matthew: George thanks for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

George: Hey I love the opportunity Matthew and continued success to you.

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

The Endocannabinoid System and Cannabis Testing – Dr. Michelle Sexton

Dr Michelle Sexton

Dr. Michelle Sexton helps us understand how cannabis interacts with the human body’s endocannabinoid system. She also describes the problems and shortfalls with modern day cannabis testing.

*Guess What? You could be listening to this interview on your commute. Get the FREE iPhone app or Android App*

Key Takeaways:
[1:47] – Dr. Sexton explains how she got into the field of medicine
[4:44] – Dr. Sexton talks about the endocannabinoid system
[6:02] – What symptoms does CBD help with and how does it react with the body
[10:27] – Dr. Sexton talks about less well known cannabinoids
[12:02] – Dr. Sexton explains her involvement in creating testing guidelines in Washington State
[14:06] – Dr. Sexton talks about the cannabis testing process in Washington
[18:34] – Dr. Sexton discusses cannabis testing procedure
[22:01] – Dr. Sexton talks about an article she wrote on expectant and nursing mothers
[25:56] – The benefits of home birth versus hospital birth
[27:45] – Dr. Sexton explains a spiritual component to the plant
[31:30] – Dr. Michelle Sexton’s contact info

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday look for a fresh episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the leaders of the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Do you know that feeling when you sense opportunity, when you see something before most people and you just know it will be successful, then you're ready. Ready for CannaInsider Consulting. Learn more at www.canninsider.com/consulting. Now here's your program.

Our next guest is Dr. Michelle Sexton. Dr. Sexton is a naturopathic doctor, herbalist and formally a midwife currently in private practice in San Diego. She began her formal study of phytochemicals with a degree in horticulture, and has specialized in the phytochemical analysis of botanical medicines. She owns and operates PhytaLab, a cannabis analysis laboratory and served as an editor and advisor on the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Cannabis Monograph. She has been a consultant to the Washington State Liquor Control Board on the implementation of I 502. Welcome to CannaInsider Michelle.

Michelle: Hi Matt. Thank you for having me today.

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

Michelle: Well I am a half a mile from the coast in San Diego, California.

Matthew: Oh great. How’s the weather there today, nice?

Michelle: Oh beautiful. In the mid 60s, sunny and the surf is up.

Matthew: Oh good. You have a really impressive resume. Can you tell listeners how you got into this field and what you’re doing day to day now at PhytaLab?

Michelle: Well I have sort of a long and eclectic background. I became interested in natural health when I was actually still a teenager. I was 17 years old, and started reading about herbs and herbal medicine and just practicing that mainly on myself and encouraging other people to take on a position of preventive practices by healthy eating and healthy living and using natural products for enhancing health. And it really was a passion for me. As I grew older, had some children and became very active in the women’s health movement surrounding natural childbirth. I became a midwife and a certified herbalist and was really extending my practice out to the families I was serving beyond just midwifery and women’s health, but often they would… We were just sort of a support group for one another.

This was in West Texas. There was not, you know, a lot of doctors there or alternative health options for us so we were sort of our own support group. And eventually thought that what I would do was have an herb farm and grow medicinal plants, although I was very curious about what made plants medicine. I had no, absolutely no concept of chemistry and decided to go back to school at age 40 to get a horticulture degree, but I didn’t realize that I would wind up in something very different which was research and studying phytochemistry or the chemistry of plants, the actual compounds in the plants and the human/plant relationship, how those compounds interact with the human body. I wanted to extend what I could do so I ended up going to naturopathic medical school at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. And got involved in research at the University of Washington in a laboratory studying the endogenous cannabinoid signally system and its role in neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory disease. And that’s really sparked my interests in cannabis as a medicine.

Matthew: Now you’re really familiar with the endocannabinoid system and it’s something that many listeners may have heard of but they don’t really understand exactly what it is and how it operates and how our body interacts with the compounds in the plant. Can you intro the endocannabinoid system to us and how we should be thinking about it?

Michelle: Well I think a good way to think about the endogenous cannabinoid signaling system or what we call in short the endocannabinoid system is that it’s basically a complete biochemical system in the body. And what this means is that there are protein receptors. Our body synthesizes compounds so there are enzymes creating these compounds to bond to the receptors, and there are signal transductions that when this binding happens there are intracellular events that eventually lead to physiologic adaptations. And then there are enzymes that then break these compounds back down to their original substrates. So that’s the definition of a complete biochemical system in the body.

Matthew: And CBD is a cannabinoid that’s been getting a lot of attention lately and obviously there’s entourage effect. We don’t want to look at CBD by itself, but what kind of symptoms can CBD help and what’s happening in the body when CBD is introduced?

Michelle: Well cannabidiol is a really interesting compound because unlike THC that has a really strong binding affinity for the cannabinoid one receptor. The affinity for cannabidiol for the specific cannabinoid receptors that we know of it’s not a very strong affinity. But it has been found to bind to some other receptors that are considered to be outside of the cannabinoid system such as a serotonin receptor. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter. The endocannabinoids are considered to be neurotransmitters of a type when in the central nervous system. And what’s been shown, you know, basic science, so I’m talking about cell culture models and then again in animal models many of these actions have been shown is that cannabidiol has a neuroprotective potential because it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and these are really the two most important things for protection of all the tissues in our body.

Cannabidiol hasn’t been shown to have one specific action. It may be acting at various receptors in the body. It may be acting nonspecifically. It may be acting even down to the level of our DNA by turning specific genes on or off. So it has a very broad range of effects which may mean that it has a broad potential as a disease modifying therapy.

Matthew: You mentioned inflammation there. Have you seen any kind of positive results for people with conditions of inflammation or autoimmune diseases firsthand?

Michelle: Well specifically in gut inflammation. So listeners might be familiar with irritable bowel disease or Crohn’s disease. They all sort of are lumped into IBS or irritable bowel syndromes. There’s been many many reports and a little bit of scientific research in humans on the ability of cannabis in general and also cannabidiol to have effects at calming that inflammation and maybe even reversing what might be causing it. One of the most poignant examples, I think, has been highlighted in the media with the children who have intractable epilepsies.

Matthew: Yes, yes definitely seen that.

Michelle: So what’s happening in epilepsy when you have this constant firing of neurons that can’t be turned off, it’s a huge amount of inflammation and radical oxygen species generation which is neurotoxic. And cannabidiol by its anti-inflammatory action or even slowing of seizure appears to be having some profound effects on these kids with regard to their cognition and motor skills and general development.

Matthew: Yeah that’s been amazing to watch the progress of Charlotte’s Web and some of these other CBD rich strains and what it can do for kids with seizures. It’s remarkable.

Michelle: It really is and it’s unfortunate that, you know, it’s not more widely available or there’s not a lot of quality control of some of the product being sold to these parents. That the doctors and neurologists are uninformed or hesitant to be supportive of these families using a botanical medicine.

Matthew: Now we talk a lot about THC and now CBD on the show. But is there any other cannabinoids in the plant that you feel like should be talked about more that don’t have their medicinal benefit highlighted as much as they should?

Michelle: Well you know it might still be a little bit early. Most of what we know about the other cannabinoids, there’s the precursor to most of the cannabinoids is cannabigerol or cannabigerolic acid is the native compound in the plant. There’s cannabichromene is another one. Cannabinol is a breakdown product of THC that’s getting a lot of attention. Still most of what we know, you know, comes from cell culture data, maybe a little bit of animal data is popping up. And there’s this inclination to take that literature and apply it directly to humans. And we know from a lot of pharmacologic research, you know, like in drug development of new synthetic compounds, you may have wildly successful results in an animal model and absolutely nothing or even negative effects in humans. So I think there’s a lot of potential, but I think that we still need more data in humans. I think we need to translate some of that into humans before we start really making that leap.

Matthew: Now switching gears to lab testing, how are you involved in creating the testing guidelines for cannabis in Washington State?

Michelle: Well I first opened my laboratory in 2010 in Washington. That was when I was finishing my post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. And like I said the experience of study the pharmacology really peaked my interest in the growing medical use and particularly what was the composition and the potency of what people were using. And there were only a couple of labs in the US at that time, and it seemed like what I wanted to study I wouldn’t really be able to do at a basic institution because of federal restrictions.

So I thought a laboratory, a private laboratory would be a good way to go about doing the research. So I opened the laboratory and started doing testing. When Initiative 502 passed in Washington State I was contacted early on by the Liquor Control Board for general guidance. I put them in contact with other people and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia we were in the process of writing a cannabis monograph at that time. And Washington ended up adopting that monograph as guidance in rule for quality control of cannabis in Washington State. And then a little while down the road they contacted me and asked me to write the laboratory certification checklist for labs that would be providing the quality control of the retail product in Washington. So I basically took, the World Health Organization has a document called Good Laboratory Practice. And I took that document and adapted it as a checklist for a certification process in Washington State.

Matthew: Now you feel like the cannabis testing process in Washington State is less than perfect I understand. What’s broken and how can it be fixed?

Michelle: Well you know this isn’t just an issue that is isolated to cannabis testing. You know there’s a lot of lack of oversight for all kinds of laboratory testing out there. Even lab assays that are marketed to doctors often are not FDA approved, and you know sometimes they’re just a sales and marketing tool honestly. And there are problems inherent to the herbal products industry and herbal product testing. I think probably one of the things that could help remedy is just more basic proficiency. So even though we have a checklist of all of these things that a laboratory has to do and how they operate, right now for cannabis testing or maybe even other botanicals, there’s no proficiency testing. So a laboratory may be performing analysis, but there’s nobody checking in to make sure that they’re giving an accurate answer. And so this is a process, you know, a lot of people are up in arms about the testing industry which I find interesting and I think it’s because it’s thought of as well this is science.

There should be nothing wrong with it, and the testing is really providing the general final approval for what goes on the market, but yet the testing proficiency isn’t really there yet. So it’s been a process. You know we did the checklist in Washington. The labs have gone through a process showing that, you know, they’re operating by a set of standards and yet there’s no oversight, there’s no enforcement. And the really important thing is that there’s not proficiency testing. And the reason that there’s not proficiency testing is a good one. It’s because the professional organizations who typically do this have been hesitant to become involved because of the schedule and status of cannabis. But that’s coming to an end, and for instance the American Oil Chemists Society is very interested in helping to design proficiency testing for the cannabis industry.

Matthew: And what are your thoughts about dispensaries or cultivators? Are they doing any kind of lab shopping, going from one lab to the next trying to, you know, get the results that they want instead of what’s there?

Michelle: I think that’s probably undoubtedly true because my PhytoLab we’ve mainly been working with licensed producers in Washington State. They’ve been shopping around a little bit more for the microbial results because the outdoor growing has, you know, challenged their ability to pass the microbial contamination limits that were set by the State of Washington. There seems to be some shopping around going for that, you know, who can get them to pass the test. I think there is, you know, there’s still this drive for these mutant plant varieties of really high THC. And so people do still want the highest THC number that they can get. And you know I hope as the market and the industry and the consumers continue to evolve and mature that this will calm down, that people will realize that maybe that high of THC isn’t what everybody wants or of the highest benefit to every and that these more balanced, you know, in the cannabinoid profile plants will become of interest and desirable to everyone.

Matthew: Now if you were to say what’s the best way to get a sample of cannabis to then have it tested, what size would that be? How many milligrams would you need and how would that need to be taken from a harvest to get it a truly representative result?

Michelle: Well we have a lot of guidance, you know, from agriculture in general. I mean we could look at crops or any field, I mean, it depends on what are the growing conditions, what is the size of your lot, but these things have all been well defined in agriculture for many, many crops. And this is what we looked to when we wrote the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Monograph. You know, we went to those areas of expertise and tried to apply it to cannabis. In Washington State a lot is defined as five pounds.

And so typically the way that you do this is you take the entire five pound lot and you put it all in one place like you have a sterile tabletop and you mix it all together. You quarter it several times and until you end up with maybe one pound of it. You take a scoop for a random sample and ten grams of a five pound lot would be how the European Union would say to do it. And this is then ground up, homogenized and then you subsample out of that homogenized sample for all the various tests that you do.

Matthew: So you’d be crosscutting somehow or when you say quarter, so you would be kind of mixing this five pounds together so you can get those ten grams or how many grams to get a representative sample? And that’s better than what’s happening now? Is that really not happening in Washington State?

Michelle: No, that was a real failure that for some reason the Liquor Control Board didn’t want to adopt a formal sampling plan. I think that now they’re realizing that was a mistake, and you know it was all starting place, and I think this will all be revisited in the coming months. For instance, you know, one way that laboratories are trying to get business is by saying well we only need a two gram sample, for instance. So it wasn’t mandated what was the sample size that a laboratory should take. It just said up to seven grams. And I don’t even know how they came upon seven grams. I don’t remember the process, but it didn’t match our recommendation from the Pharmacopoeia.

So the problem with that is if you have a two gram sample for five pounds, that’s only .0008% of the lot and so therefore if you used 500 milligrams of that, for instance for microbiologics testing, you would only have about a 1 in 4,500 chance that you would even sample something that could be contaminated. And so this is the reason for having a bigger sample. It’s really an interest of public health and safety.

Matthew: Now you recently wrote an article on Lady Bud I believe about cannabis and expectant mothers or nursing mothers. And I wanted to kind of understand your thoughts around that. Can you kind of summarize what that article was about and how you feel about it?

Michelle: Yeah so that article, I was asked to write that by Lady Bud because I think there is a lot of interest. And there’s a real, you know, we have a real lack of safety data because it’s a difficult area to study. You can’t administer something that might be harmful to a pregnant patient. So most of what’s come out of the research is often viewed through the lens of addiction, and studying mothers who are addicts who are using cannabis for instance. And through the process of learning and my post-doc at the University of Washington, you know, I learned a lot about neuro development and the role of the cannabinoid receptor in the development of the brain. And it has a leading role literally as it’s on the leading edge of neurons as they’re travelling out to make connections.

And so, you know, while we know that THC is a really nontoxic compound, what we do know is that it binds to this cannabinoid receptor with much stronger affinity than the natural endogenous compounds. So if a baby or even a developing fetus is exposed to THC and it’s binding to these cannabinoid receptors right now it’s an unknown for us how it may affect general brain development. And so we don’t know whether it’s good or bad. It’s just an unknown, and the point I think I tried to make was that we don’t know. And so don’t assume that it’s safe, but you know really question and make your own judgment not only about, you know, the potential for your unborn baby or nursing baby to be exposed to THC, but there’s all kinds of things that we need to think about exposures to.

Matthew: What’s your personal opinion taking your scientist and doctor had off, what’s your, do you have a gut sentiment about it at all?

Michelle: Well I think I wrote that in the article as well. I personally I suffered, it was debilitating for me the amount of nausea and vomiting that I had in pregnancy. There was nothing to treat it. I was virtually incapacitated for six to eight weeks of a pregnancy. I had five pregnancies. I kept doing it, and you know what looking back now, and I remember thinking of it several time because I knew at that time that cannabis had been touted as a remedy for nausea. I had no access to it in Texas at that time.

I think that I summed up the article that to really take an approach of the potential risk versus the benefit. If a woman is suffering that badly with really not good options from conventional medicine, it could improve her quality of life and maybe, we know that also CBD, you know, has the same sort of effect on nausea and vomiting. So maybe a high CBD variety used sparingly, given orally so it has a longer effect and that kind of thing might be worth a risk/benefit analysis.

Matthew: Now you have a background as a midwife. I’d be interested to hear how you would compare a traditional hospital birth to say at home with a midwife and kind of the benefits of that because I think there’s a lot of people that have an interest but they’re not quite sure what it is and what it’s like.

Michelle: Oh wow that’s a loaded question. I don’t think the two experiences are anything alike. I think there is even research evidence showing that just the process of a mother leaving her home and going into the hospital setting is a very stressful experience. And when you undergo stress your body releases all these stress hormones and compounds, even inflammatory compounds that probably have an effect on the process itself and maybe even the baby. We know that stress in pregnancy in general isn’t good. And I think the home based experience is the natural experience to have.

I started my career as a midwife as wanting to be an advocate for the mothers, and interestingly by the time I finished my career as a midwife, I had been at home births for about ten years. I got invited to go back to a hospital birth, and I literally cried at how the new born baby was handled by the staff, how roughly and a lack of dignity for this new being in the world. So I think for people that want to be really conscious of their child and they feel that the safest place on the planet for them to give birth is in their own home, that it’s a really really good option.

Matthew: Now going back to the cannabis plant, we talked a lot about the hard science and phytochemicals and your research. But do you feel like there’s a spiritual component to the plant and plant medicine in general.

Michelle: Oh I think there’s definitely that, you know, connection with nature is how many many people define spirituality. And for myself that is true. For me any plant or just the earth in general, you know, treating it with a lot of respect and almost as a piece of humanity is an imperative. And as far as the spiritual connection with cannabis I think many people report that. That it heightens, it seems to heighten their sense, you know, just to the present moment I would say that many of the senses are heightened, the visual experience, olfactory experience, you know, touch and sounds. Everything seems to come more alive and put people in the present moment, and I think when we are brought into the present moment and we’re not thinking about the past and things that happened or what may happen in the future, that that’s when we connect to spirit.

Matthew: You know I wonder why that we evolved to have this endocannabinoid system. It seems like a lot of things in our body there’s a purpose that we evolved to have it. Do you have an theories on that? I mean is there a benefit for survival or is it for communicating with others? I mean this is total speculation, but I would be interested in your thoughts.

Michelle: Well we know that some of the earliest organisms had endocannabinoid systems. So it’s a system that has evolved, you know, as biology evolved. And we don’t know exactly or I personally, that’s not a field I’ve studied. I don’t know what role it played in those simple organisms specifically. I do know that for this endogenous system in humans today, it provides a really important feedback loop not only for neurons and neurotransmission, also for the immune system. And we know that there’s a lot of crosstalk between the immune system and the central nervous system. And we know that there’s this same role in metabolism by this system in the body. So I often describe it the way that people can often relate to it as like a thermometer, and you have a set point. Like on your oven you turn it on to 350 degrees, when it reaches 350 degrees it turns off. It doesn’t just keep getting hotter and hotter and hotter.

And so our neurons need that same thing. There’s neurotransmission and there has to be something to tell the presynaptic terminal okay I got the message, you can quit sending neurotransmitters across the synapse, and that’s what our endocannabinoid system, that’s one role that it has is to take that feedback and got it. And the same way with inflammation. This is what chronic inflammation is. Inflammation gets turned on and for some reason it goes awry and doesn’t get turned off, and the endocannabinoid system has a role in that as well.

Matthew: Fascinating. I love this subject matter. In closing Michelle how can listeners learn more about your lab and follow your work?

Michelle: Oh we have a website www.phytalab.com. We have a Facebook page. My medical practice I have a page on Facebook it’s called Uttermost Health, and I would say those are two of the best ways. I’m also the Executive Medical Research Director at the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy. And the website for that is www.cannabisandsocialpolicy.org, and what we do there we’re following the legal cannabis market in Washington State, as well as doing some cutting edge medical research and staying on top of the transitional experience of the medical part of marijuana in Washington State right now. So those would be the best ways.

Matthew: Now just for people that may not know how to spell phyto, can you just spell PhytaLabs for us?

Michelle: Yeah it’s www.phytalab.com.

Matthew: Great. Well Michelle thank you so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

Michelle: Matt, thanks so much for having me. I enjoyed speaking with you.

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