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Sean Campbell – Opening a Bank Account for your Cannabis Business

Sean Campbell

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

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

Sean: Thank you very much Matt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt: Right. They want to make sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean: Thank you very much Matt, thank you.

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

The Cleanest Cannabis Concentrates in The World from MadFarma

Interview MadFarma

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

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

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

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

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

Darrin: Thank you Matt.

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

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

Matthew: What does do?

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

Matthew: And why are the concentrates from different?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex: That is correct.

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew: Wow, that's amazing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew: The light bulbs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classy Cannabis Events & The Women Leading Legalization

Jane West

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

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

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

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

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

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

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

Now here's your program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane: Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane: Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have a suggestion for an awesome guest on, email us at We'd love to hear from you.

How to Use Packaging to Delight Cannabis Customers

Garett Fortune

Garett Fortune, CEO of Funksac, walks us through where packaging is in the cannabis industry. He delves into how Funksac not only protects your cannabis but also how it can be used to effectively build a cannabis brand that customers love. Visit

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FunkSac is helping to fill in a very critical hole in the cannabis industry. FunkSac provides safe secure bags that keep cannabis fragrance in while keeping children out. FunkSac also helps dispensaries customize their packaging to ensure they get the most visibility to their brand. I'm pleased to welcome Garett Fortune, CEO of FunkSac to the show today. Welcome Garett.

Garett: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Matthew: Garett, so let's get a sense of your geography. Where are you located in the world?

Garett: Right now I'm in Ohio. So we have offices here in Cleveland, Ohio as well as in Denver, Colorado. So I split my time between those two mainly, but with the growing industry, I'm finding myself in Washington, Portland, and every other airline around the country.

Matthew: And why did you decide to get into the cannabis packaging industry?

Garett: Well, unfortunately, my brother passed away last year of cancer. And then by the time they found it, it was stage 4, and I started looking into different remedies. And it was the only thing that really helped him with his pain and getting him through those last couple of months.

And then on top of that, I served in the military with some folks that were suffering from PTSD. So I was aware of the studies that they were doing. And when I started researching on both fronts, I found there was no real packaging leader with this emerging market that was coming out in the cannabis industry. And I had a background in odorless packaging and in plastic. So we decided to go into that opportunity and expand, and start a business, and go after child resistant and odorless packaging to fill a void in the market.

Matthew: Great. And what exactly does the FunkSac do? How would you introduce to someone that has never heard of it before? It's childproof, it's puncture proof, what are all the things that it does?

Garett: So we've got about 50 different skews right now, and FunkSac has become the brand. The original FunkSac is an odorless technology, and we have a patent pending on that. It doesn't allow oxygen to transmit through the bag as well as smell. But it also has a UV protectant to protect the contents, and the original version was for storing cannabis and keeping the odor in whether it be at the cultivation side or the dispensary or the home-use side. And then that expanded into child resistant packaging that was required by compliance issues for the state of Colorado as well as other states that are adopting.

So we developed our own proprietary locks called the FunkLoc, which expanded into child-resistant packaging. So we have lines of odorless packaging for storage, security, and compliance, as well as tamper evidence, and then we also have child-resistant packaging.

And we're launching a bunch of new lines just based on what our customers need out there with the expanding market and the different forms that are out there whether it be vaporizers, or edibles, or just expanding lines based on what their requirements are.

Matthew: I love the name FunkSac. How did you come up with that?

Garett: Well, it was actually very quickly. I've got a few companies, one called Commodigy, and one called OdorNo. And I've always been good at coming up with names. We were brainstorming around a bunch of people at the office and saying I'm going to go to this market, and what are we going to do. And we just sat around the room on the bean bags and going over different options. FunkSac came pretty quickly. It was to the point. It was fun. Part of our brand is be relaxed but also be professional. So we want to have a fun name and everyone knew exactly what it would be just by saying that name, but also be relaxed and reflect the culture of our company.

Matthew: Troy Dayton, CEO of the ArcView group mentioned FunkSac, and how you're serving a critical role because he said packaging just doesn't exist in the industry. So you're coming on the scene providing the packaging. Where do you feel like there might still be holes and opportunities to fill?

Garett: Well, we have. We're finding stuff everyday. With the regulations changing on a regular basis, and it's state by state. We have to keep on every individual state what those issues are as well as it's expanding. People are coming up with new forms. There's edible. There's flower. There's oils. And there's lots of different forms that are out there. There was no real package that was out there to keep them secure from children as well as keep them odorless. So that's why we went into that pair. In the future, I see those coming down to single use bags. We're offering a couple of more lines that are coming. There's a huge opportunity in packaging not only on the security side, and the odorless side, but also the branding.

Branding is a big thing that people are starting to realize that on top of that compliance issue that really differentiates your product and brand from the others that are on the shelf. So the edibles that are there are in a very competitive space want to have good packaging to draw attention to those packages just like any consumer products that are out there. So there's a two-fold approach on the marketing and branding side as well as a the security.

Matthew: Great point. I mean, if you're a dispensary owner, you can have one contact where a patient or a customer comes in and gets some cannabis, or why not have them think of your dispensary every time they open the bag. So you're getting this touch over and over and over instead of just one time. So I see that as a big benefit. I agree with you there.

Garett: And I think if people see you with an exit bag for instance with your brand on it, they know where that came from, and that's a little more appealing than just a plain white bag. And also, everyone is looking for differentiators in the market, and there are certain brands that stand for certain things. And having a quality package that's your first impression to those end users and always leaves a good impression. On top of that you're going to get repeat business. People are going to want to come back and utilize your bags over and over again in your space.

Matthew: Great point. And that's actually a theme of the show is that at some point in the future, dispensaries are going to be more of a commodity and they need a way to set themselves apart. Is there any examples that you've seen of dispensaries or brands that they've done a really good job of presenting themselves in a unique way in customer's minds?

Garett: I think there's a few out there. Take Dixie Elixirs for example. We work closely with Dixie, and I think that is an excellent brand. The team there has done an incredible job on their packaging. Everybody knows what their brand is based on the packaging as well as their content. And you're looking at something that they've done it the right way. There's other packages out there that just sit on the shelves, but theirs always jumps off of the shelf. And they've realized that it's more than just having a great product, it's also having a great brand and making aware the market for those people out there.

Matthew: Great point. How are FunkSacs different than a traditional plastic bags. I'm just playing devil's advocate here. So I have a Zip Lock bag that's potentially odor proof but it's not puncture proof, and there's no lock. Is there any other differences?

Garett: Well, first off on your regular Zip Lock bag, it's a lower quality product. It's just going to be a resealable bag. It doesn't meet compliance. So you can't utilize that bag and be compliant in the state of Colorado, and the other states are adopting that. So you have to have a child resistant lock that's gone through the government testing and passed to meet ASTM guidelines, which are set in the laws. That plain plastic bag is not going to have any of that. Also the material that we make our bags out for the odorless side also stores materials better. It's puncture resistant. It's got that proprietary odorless lock on there. And if you put some cannabis for example, in a regular Zip Lock, you're going to see it. It can puncture the bag. You're going to smell through it right away.

Whereas an odorless bag - we also have tamper evidence that hit on the cultivation side. So we've talked about the dispensaries, and we've talked about some of the edibles out there. There's also the requirement for cultivators. For example, in Washington everything comes to the dispensary already packaged, and they need to have tamper evidence requirements. So they just use our bags with heat seal, and then it stores it. It doesn't allow that smell, and it also meets compliance.

Matthew: Right. So great point. So if a wholesale cultivator is getting the cannabis to a dispensary or some other venue, it's a good idea to - 1) that odor free as you mentioned, because if you have enough cannabis being transported, that's a huge smell risk, I imagine.

Garett: It is. It has actually opened up a new market for us - the security company. We've been in line with a couple of the top security companies because first off, they're transporting cannabis that has to be tamper evident. Also, they're transporting money, and the banks won't take that money if it smells like cannabis. And a lot of the dispensaries out there store their cannabis as well as their money in the same safe, and it allows for that transfer of smell. Our bags allow it so you can keep it separate, keep it tamper evident. It doesn't smell. It allows for that transport and security aspect.

Matthew: And for someone that's considering FunkSac, can you give them an idea of how much it costs to get into some of your most popular products?

Garett: So our child-resistant packaging now depending on the volume is anywhere from $1.75 to $2.15 I've seen on the market. And that's a printed exit bag with the lock. And they usually sell those to the consumers for $3.00. So the dispensary usually makes about a buck. Then on the odorless bags we sell the two gallon, which are equivalent to a turkey-bag size, and those sell for $.50 a unit or a bag. And that's cheaper than what's out there on the cultivation side and the turkey-bag size business.

Matthew: Now you presented at the ArcView Conference; is that correct?

Garett: I did last year in Las Vegas.

Matthew: For people who aren't familiar with what that is and how it works, and maybe they're a hobbyist of some kind that has some product or service in the cannabis industry, and if they could hear your story about how you presented and were successful, it might inspire them.

Garett: Yeah. I love ArcView Group. I think it's been great for our business. I'm a big fan of Troy and Dayton as well as the organization and what they've set up. What it is a shark tank specific for cannabis.

We went and presented on stage, and we had evaluators just like the shark tank you see on TV with the exception of there were 120 investors in the crowd as well. So you give your five minute elevator pitch. They ask some questions, and then everyone has the opportunity to follow up with you. We had a huge success on follow up not only on potential investors and people that we allowed to invest, but also people in the business and the industry. The networking there is invaluable. All the industry leaders are there. All the big investors that want to get into it just putting their toes in. So it brings that network together of entrepreneurs, financial people, and industry experts all in one location.

Matthew: Where do you see the future of packaging? I mean, it seems like innovators are coming up with endless ways to provide cannabis to customers. It just amazes me. Where do you think this industry is going to be in five years?

Garett: It amazes me as well. Everyday we're seeing new things. And now with our brand growing, we're getting approached by other products that want to work with our brand to take to market. I see a lot more secure smaller sizes packaging. Like our locks are very secure, and they're big and bulky. And you can tell that no kid is going to get in there. And I think that is a big thing to show that there is secure. There are some products on the market that haven't gone through proper testing, or they just look really flimsy, or if we test them we can see that they are not really compliant.

We have some smaller zippers that are coming out that are going to make it a little more sexy and sleek. We see the brand increasing hugely as well as future advertising. Advertisers are coming in and they are going to be packaging and branding on their packaging, so that they can send it out to the market place. But I think everything is going to be getting smaller, sexier, sleeker, more efficient, and cost-reduced.

Matthew: Now you mentioned sexy. Most people don't think about sexy and packaging, but I guess there could be a sexy aspect. Can you tell us a little bit about the tactile response that you consider when creating packaging because it's not just a visual. It's also a touch. What you think about when you touch something. What's the first thing that comes to mind? Does this feel like quality? Does this feel like security? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Garett: Yeah. We've gone out of our way where we've produced, for example, our exit bag and our child resistant has a more space in it. It's gusseted. There was one competitor that had a tight package that met compliance, but was squishing the contents. And it does no good if you damage the contents. So you've got to look at what you're putting into it.

For the outside, the textile feel, we like to have a smooth feel that if someone's holding it, they don't want it feel as though it's not pleasant. So it's a matter of having a good material. We make all of ours here in the U.S. as well, which is a good advantage because we can turn around quickly.

Not only having the brand name but also having that safe secure feel, and people want it smaller. They also want to make sure that the contents of that package are not damaged in any way. And that's what we've gone out of our way and that's why we keep developing new packages in different forms as well because there's so many different forms going into it whether it be flower, edibles, or anything. So we want to make sure that we have the right package that fits it well, as well as presents it well for the public and keeps it secure.

Matthew: Now everybody's had the experience where they take a potato chip or a sandwich out of a Zip Lock bag, and you can smell kind of like an off-gassing of the bag or it's like a scent of the plastic. Does that exist with FunkSac?

Garett: I've never heard of that and I've never experienced anything like that. I think that the plastic that we use isn't that strong polyethylene that is normally out there. And ours doesn't submit an odor or anything. And I can actually continue everything with that. Even if you smell the outside of the bag, it doesn't smell like a real plastic bag.

Matthew: Garett, as we close can you tell listeners how they can learn more about FunkSac?

Garett: Sure. Our website is And we're also available at 844 GOT FUNK. And we're always in the market and at the trade shows, and it's pretty easy to find us.

Matthew: I love that telephone number. Well, that's so much to Garett Fortune for being on the show today. We really appreciate it Garett.

Garett: Thanks for having me.

MassRoots – The Cannabis Social Network with Isaac Dietrich

Isaac Dietrich CEO of MassRoots

What is it like to come up with an idea for an app with a couple of friends only to watch the app grow from zero users to 215,00 users in a year?

We explore this question with the CEO of MassRoots, Isaac Dietrich. Isaac was a finalist in Peter Thiel’s 20 under 20 fellowship program. Isaac shares the difficult but rewarding journey it has been to get MassRoots to this point, and how he feels MassRoots is now poised for greatness.

MassRoots trades under the stock trading symbol: MSRT

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Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: What is it like to create a social network for the cannabis community, and watch it go from one user to over 215,000 users in a year? We're going to find out the answer to that question today in our interview with Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots. Welcome, Isaac!

Isaac: Good to be here. Thank you for having me.

Matthew: Can you give us a little background on yourself, and how you came to start a cannabis social network?

Isaac: Sure. A couple of friends and I were working on republican campaigns in Virginia last spring, and we were kind of just smoking together. And we thought of all of our friends that smoke weed, almost none of them post about it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter because their families, bosses, and co-workers are connected to them on those networks. So we wanted to create a semi-anonymous environment where they would feel comfortable posting about marijuana, pictures of them smoking with friends, things of that nature.

So we launched a minimum viable product at the app store last July. And in our first eight weeks, we got about 6,500 users. We took that initial traction to the ArcView Group last September, where we met Doug Layton, our lead investor of Duchess Capital. He gave us our first investment. We were able to raise a seed round from ArcView, and we invested those funds into scaling the network to 100,000 users by March of this year.

When we back to the ArcView Group and were able to close a series A round, again from ArcView investors, again led by our lead investor doubling down on his initial investment. So that was an incredibly exciting sign, and we're just blessed to be where we are.

Matthew: That's amazing. Many people don't think of young republicans getting high, but I'm glad to hear they are.

Isaac: Yeah. Well, we're more libertarians. But we just happen to work on republican elected officials campaigns. And one of the main things that we were thinking about was, yes, we can work on these legalization campaigns in various states, but there's not really that much money involved. Like, yes, you can make a monthly salary. Yes, you can get a victory bonus, but you're opening up a multi-billion dollar market in states like Florida, if you get a legalization initiative successfully passed. So that's not where the real money is. The real money is in creating a service that can be used in every state where medical marijuana is currently legal, and in every state where it's going to be legal. So that's really what we're doing with MassRoots.

Matthew: Now you were involved with billionaire Peter Thiel's 20 Under 20 fellowship program. For people who don't know who Peter Thiel is and what that program is, can you give us a little background?

Isaac: Sure. So Peter Thiel was the co-founder of PayPal. He was the first outside investor in Facebook, and he started a program called 20 Under 20, which invests $100,000 into kids that are willing to drop out of school and work on the next big thing. So I was actually a finalist for that competition.

I don't think they are backing any marijuana plays right now, but I had the opportunity to meet Peter, and he recently wrote an incredible book called Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future. And basically, that book is his instruction guide on how to build a multi-billion dollar company. It's what we love to read here at MassRoots. I require all of our employees to read it because it really outlines what makes businesses successful and how to go about doing that.

Matthew: Right. He is a fascinating character, and obviously - arguably maybe, one of the most successful venture capitalists ever. And correct me if I'm wrong, I haven't read the book, but I've heard him talk about it. But he's saying if you're going into a market where you have to compete with somebody else, that's a disadvantage. You want to be the first mover and just have like a silo with a barrier to entry so people really can't compete with you. Is that somewhat of the story there?

Isaac: That's exactly correct. You want to be working on something that no one else is working on. You want to be able to really monopolize that market and really own it. So if you look at Facebook, their main that they cracked was they were the first social network where people had a real identity. Your Facebook profile is your identify online. And they were really able to own that niche. And with the capital that was invested, they were able to dominate that market to the point where even when Google +, was introduced as kind of the Facebook killer, that's what it was billed up to be, they completely flopped because Facebook already owned the market.

Similarly when Facebook launched Facebook Poke as a competitor to SnapChat, that completely flopped because SnapChat had already owned that ephemeral market. So the key to building a successful company is to do something that no one else is doing, and then to quickly own that market.

Matthew: Now you kind of have a unique perspective on high school, college, its value versus the value of being an entrepreneur. What would you say to somebody that's in high school that is considering becoming an entrepreneur, but maybe has a little fear holding them back?

Isaac: If you truly believe in the idea, if you truly believe that what you're going to start is going to be a success, then go out and do it. No one is stopping you. No one is telling you that it can't be done. If you work hard, if you believe in it, then you can do it.

College isn't for everyone. At the same time, dropping out of college isn't for everyone. I'm not advocating that. What's really important is that you love what you're doing and that you're learning something while doing it. And here at MassRoots, I really feel that I'm learning more on a day-to-day basis than I ever would in college, than I ever would in an MBA program just because I'm on the ground floor actually doing it, actually executing. And I think that's far more valuable and I'll learn far more than I ever would in college.

Matthew: Really, what's a better skill than creating a product or service that people want? I mean, that's what it boils down to. So I really agree with that statement. I've had some business ventures in the past, and I'm not a fearless entrepreneur, but I joke that I'm 51 percent courage, 49 percent fear. It just - you don't have to be an overwhelming over-the-top, fearless leader, but if you just have a little bit more, that's enough to get started.

Isaac: Definitely. When I started MassRoots, we went to silcone Valley, and pitched all the Silicone Valley VCS on MassRoots, and they all said it's a great idea, great concept, but we can't touch anything marijuana related. So I ended up maxing out about $15,000 to $20,000 worth of credit cards to start MassRoots. So sometimes it does take that courage and that believe in yourself and the belief in that what you're doing is valuable despite what other people think.

And actually, when we pitched at ArcView last September, we had one of the lowest rated pitches of that ArcView meeting. I remember afterwards people came up to us and said you'll never be able to compete with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You'll never be able to make money. You'll never be able to reach it to the scale that it needs to be to be successful. And having faith in yourself and really knowing what you're doing is absolutely critical. Typically that's a good sign. It's a very contrarian indicator, but if everyone tells you that you're on the wrong path, typically, you're on to something. Maybe that's not always true, but you get what I'm saying.

Matthew: Yeah. That's a great point, and I'm glad you mentioned that because I think there's a perception out there that you throw some code on a website and you have some unique gift. But it's really a lot of persistence and believing in what you're doing, and I'm glad you mentioned that because a lot of people - I think will give them the courage a little bit maybe to get them over the 50 percent mark to start their endeavor.

So switching gears to MassRoots in detail about what it is. How are people using it right now.

Isaac: Sure. What we are is a community of marijuana consumers. If you smoke marijuana once a month or once a year, you're probably not interested in MassRoots. We have the people that smoke on a daily or weekly basis, where this is a major competent of their lives. The people that are spending hundreds or thousands of dollars every year at dispensaries, people who really view marijuana as a core component of who they are. So we have those people in an app and website like environment where they're sharing this important experience of their lives. So MassRoots at it core is a community of marijuana consumers.

Matthew: I noticed that some of the users on MassRoots just have unbelievable following. What are they doing? How do they amass that following? I mean what unique sharing abilities do they have to cultivate that following?

Isaac: They're the first marijuana celebrities. So they're the people who can take gram dabs or the people who can smoke huge blunts without coughing and function just the same as soon as they're finished. And a lot of these people are also - yeah, that's kind of how I would answer that.

But they are posting just incredible content. The thing about MassRoots is if you post low quality content, typically you're not going to get that many likes or that many followers. But if you're taking hi-def shots of the best marijuana in the world with the latest equipment, those photos are just incredible. And people respond to high quality content, and that's what we want to encourage to be posted on MassRoots.

And then another thing is people kind of use their MassRoots profile as their marijuana identity. So just as Tender is becoming someone's dating identity, LinkedIn is becoming a person's professional identity, we want MassRoots to be a persons marijuana identity. Where that really comes into play is we're kind of expanding into a "find a smoking buddy near you" feature. So if I'm new to Denver and I want to find someone to blaze with, I can go on MassRoots and see profiles hundreds of different people within a 20-mile radius of my location and go through their MassRoots profile and really determine if they are real or not, if I want to blaze with this person. It's kind of like their social proof that who they are as a person is the same as who they are purporting to be online. So we find that incredibly powerful.

Matthew: It's funny that you mentioned that because I was just about to ask that question. So there's going to be a way where I can say, okay, there's Isaac, or whatever your name is, and he's within a mile from here. And I'll be able to see some things about you that give me a sense of if we're compatible is what you're saying? What will you give to show that these two people might be compatible?

Isaac: Sure. So it's called the assess feature and people will be able to toke or not toke very similar to Tender. So basically, they'll be able to see all their MassRoots posts. So if I want to blaze with you, I can go on your MassRoots profile, look at your past 20 posts and be like, hey, this guys pretty cool. I want to blaze with him.

So it's really - you can take your MassRoots profile in any direction that you want to take it. You can post selfies of yourself getting high with friends. You can just post pictures of the best content, the best strains that you can find. You can just use it to talk about legalization issues. It's really completely up to you. We now have 215,000 people where marijuana is a core component of their lives posting on there. So chances are, there's someone on our network who feels a similar way that you do and is interested in the same exact things within the marijuana space. So it's really that common interest. We now have to users in Iran. So they can literally get sentenced to death for using MassRoots.

Matthew: Oh, my God. I don't mean to laugh about that, but that's crazy.

Isaac: We're expanding quickly in Canada and Spain. And actually, Brazil is the international country where we're currently growing the fastest. And I have absolutely nothing in common with someone from Spain besides marijuana. So marijuana is the common interest that is bringing people together across all sorts of different cultures, across all sorts of different income levels. It really brings people together and is a common bond, and that's what MassRoots is all about.

Matthew: So you create this social network, and you give users this platform and in a sense ingredients to interact with each other. Has anything surprised you about the way people are interacting with each other that you didn't anticipate.

Isaac: Well, first of all, when we were first starting this thing, I was just excited to see two or three people actually using my app on a daily basis. So the most incredible thing was that people actually responded to it. People actually download it. People actually use it and use it a lot. I mean our core users are accessing MassRoots multiple times a day and making multiple posts a day.

And it's grown despite our technical expertise. For instance, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram have invested tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars into their platforms to make it as best as possible. Our initial platform was hacked together in two weeks by a self-taught developer. So we don't have all the cool bells and whistles as these other platforms, at least not yet. But we've grown despite that. We've grown despite our platform sometimes not working. We've grown despite us not even having direct messaging right now. We've grown despite features directly for marijuana consumers.

So what we're incredibly excited about is as we're able to invest the money into making the best possible platform for our users, we're seeing engagement increase. We're seeing our user growth rate increase. And that, I think, just is going to open up a whole other - hopefully, it will take MassRoots to a whole other level.

Matthew: It sounds like, I mean, if dispensaries listening, this is really they should pay attention to because it sounds like if you were to look at the sales of dispensaries as 80/20, these users of MassRoots might be the 20 percent that account for 80 percent of the dispensaries revenue just because they are just so fanatical. So that's pretty interesting.

Isaac: Exactly. And we're getting ready to launch our MassRoots for business portal here within the next few weeks, which will allow a dispensary in Denver to promote a post just about edibles to edible consumers within a 20-mile radius of their dispensary. It's data that no one else has. It's an avenue that is previously unavailable to these dispensaries because Facebook, Instagram, and Google banned marijuana-related advertising on their networks. And we really feel that the users on our network are those hardcore consumers, where the value per consumer is hundreds or thousands of dollars to these dispensaries over the course of the year. And we're just incredibly excited to start building out products and services for our dispensaries and get them just as enthused and just as engaged as our users.

Matthew: So for the dispensaries or the business services you're mentioning will they be able to go, okay, if a post is really popular pictures are really popular I would like to sponsor it if it's within a certain geographical area; is that how it will work.

Isaac: Sure. It will work just like Facebook ads or Twitter AdWords. So basically, you post a very high quality picture with content just about your business. Maybe it's a daily deal 20 percent off today, wax Wednesdays, shatter days, whatever it is. And then you can target it just to people on MassRoots within a 20-mile radius of your dispensary. So just by the nature of someone being on MassRoots, they're an active cannabis consumer.

And the ads really aren't that big. We're talking about sponsor posts. We're not talking about banner ads or pop-ups or anything intrusive. We're talking about an ad that looks and feels like a normal post. And the users, we really feel, won't mind because it's content directly related to marijuana. I mean, I would be stoked to see a picture from Denver Relief right down the street every time I log into MassRoots. And that's what we're already seeing. We already have, I think, 150 dispensaries onboard on MassRoots right now already actively posting on our network. And once we develop products and features director toward them, I think that will be incredibly powerful.

Matthew: How do you measure users engagement on a cell?

Isaac: We have our internal metrics. So we're constantly evaluating our daily, weekly, monthly active users, how engaged they are, what exactly they're doing on the app, what they're searching for. What pictures have the greatest response. So we're actively evaluating all those different metrics and using that data to develop products and features directly for our users.

Matthew: And what percentage of users are in a mobile versus a tablet or a desktop? How do you decide that?

Isaac: We actually just enabled web sign-ups about two weeks ago. So of the 215,000 users that we currently have, I'd say probably 213,000 or so are mobile, have downloaded our mobile app and are accessing through that mobile space. That's the most valuable way to reach consumers these days is on their mobile phone. That's where they're spending the vast majority of their time. That's what is with them all day everyday. So we feel that's another important factor at MassRoots.

Matthew: Where do you see MassRoots evolving in the next three to five years? I know it's so far out for a young company, but what's your best estimate?

Isaac: Yeah. We've only had a product for about 15 months now. We launched it in July of last year. So it's kind of hard to project a week in advance let alone years in advance. But I can tell you what we're focused on right now is growing the app to a million users. We really feel that once we're at a million users we will kind of define the space and kind of own our market.

We're obviously working on a MassRoots for business platform, which we feel will have valuable products and services for businesses. So I'd say within three to five years, we'd like to be one of the premier, nationwide, cannabis brands with a product that is synonymous with marijuana networking. And if we do that, I think we'll have an incredibly valuable business.

Matthew: You see a lot of technology, I'm sure. What technology in the cannabis field outside of MassRoots do you see and say, man, that's exciting what this company is doing?

Isaac: Obviously, Canaregs was one of Marijuana Tech's startup competition, and I think what they're doing is extremely valuable in terms of creating a centralized database of all marijuana laws in the country that people can easily reference and have memos sent out to the dispensaries about how new rules and regulations impact them. I think that's incredibly valuable.

I think these marijuana delivery apps, obviously, within the next five years, I think the vast majority of people will have marijuana delivered to their house rather than making the trip to a dispensary. Whether the rules and regulations will allow that to happen is yet to be seen because that is kind of a legal gray area. In Colorado marijuana delivery is completely banned. So it will be very interesting. I think there's probably six or seven delivery apps now. It will be very interesting to see who the eventual winner will be in that market.

Yee has just raise $1.5 million dollars from traditional
Silicone valley VCS, and I think that bodes extremely well for them, and those are investors that we had upped just last summer. So just a little over a year ago and they slammed the door in our face. Yee has just raised from them. And that just goes to show how fast public opinion and opinion among even the most traditional VCS are changing. And so, yeah, those are really the two areas where I'm most excited about.

Matthew: Speaking of investing, is it still possible to invest in MassRoots, and who is eligible?

Isaac: Sure. So we will be opening on the OTC QB on the second week in January. We're still waiting for an official date and an official ticker symbol. We'll have that probably within the next two or three weeks. And then people will be able to buy MassRoots through their Scott Trade Etrade account just like any other stock, and we're incredibly excited.

Matthew: And as we close, how can listeners learn more about MASSROOTS?

Isaac: We just launched an investor site, And we'll be continuously adding to that just as we would a product. That's going to be kind of our investor portal. Just as we're building our apps for users and MassRoots for Business for businesses, we're also going to be doing something very similar for investors and really keeping them informed on a regular basis of what we're up to, what our accomplishments are. And I think communication is absolutely critical to being a successful company. So we're incredibly excited.

Matthew: And if I have my iPhone or android device in my hand right now, do I just go to Google Play or the iTunes app store to find MassRoots?

Isaac: Yeah. You can go to Google Play and download it. We're having a little bit of issues with app store at the moment. We have issues all the time just like every other marijuana related app. So you can go to and access our mobile web version. We'll be back in the app store probably within the next week or so.

Matthew: Well, Isaac, thanks so much for spending time with out today at CannaInsider.

Isaac: Thanks you very much for having me.