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Adam Scorgie – Documentary Filmmaker of The Union & The Culture High


Don’t miss this candid conversation with Adam Scorgie creator of two gripping documentaries about the cannabis industry, The Union: The Business Behind Getting High and his most recent work, “The Culture High.” Adam has unique and entertaining way of breaking down both the dysfunction of marijuana prohibition and the opportunity that lies ahead. The Culture High interviews some of the most outspoken cannabis advocates including: Sir Richard Branson, Joe Rogan, Dr. Lester Grinspoon and more. Visit

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 a little more at that is C-A-N-N-A One of the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years. Find out with your free report at That is C-A-N-N-A Now here is your program.

Today we have with us Adam Scorgie who produced and narrated the documentary The Union: The Business Behind Getting High in 2007 and his latest The Culture High that was released this month. Adam's documentaries are gripping, entertaining, and very informative and I highly suggest if you haven't seen The Union please go see that and The Culture High just came out. We'll tell you how you can see that, but it is incredible as well. So I'm super excited to have Adam on the show today. Welcome Adam.

Adam: Well, thank you very much for having me.

Matthew: Sure. For people that aren't familiar with you can you just give a little bit of background about who you are, how you got into documentary filmmaking and specifically into the cannabis genre for your first two documentaries?

Adam: Sure. I'm a comedian producer. I went to film school in New York, I actually started in front of the camera and was acting in stuff first and then when I came back to Canada in 2003 really a lot of people that I went to high school with and stuff had now gotten into the marijuana business in Canada and British Colombia. So I wanted to do a film about how this billion-dollar industry seems to function while remaining illegal and why was it so accepted by culture for everyone that we point the finger at growers for being the bad guys yet they were the life source of a lot of their businesses.

So we dove into this film The Union: The Business Behind Getting High, which we thought, would be something we put together in a year and four years later we finished this film and it became an accidental gold classic. It went viral online and almost everyone that has ever tried to look for any research on marijuana has come across The Union and has accidentally become which is total honor to us, kind of this like the one you want to get into to be in there understand what's going on start with The Union.

Then when we thought we were done with drug policy films and cannabis films then The Culture High came about. We were done we didn't want to do another drug policy film or anything about cannabis. But really this online audience that we built up over the years had said they wanted another one and then we just received thousands of emails and social media messages and everything else so we just finally said we embraced it and said, "Okay let's do it." Then we went to Kickstarter and the audience supported us loud and clear. We raised $240,000 in 42 days and people said, "Damn right! Let's go make another one."

Matthew: So get some context there. I mean that's way, way more than a normal Kickstarter right?

Adam: Way more and at the time it was actually, it was like the sixth highest grossing in film and video project in Kickstarter history. But since then you've had Veronica Mars go on there, Zack Braff, some other really big people are coming and not just out of there but it was, at the time, it was the largest, six largest film and video and it was like the third largest or second largest documentary and it's still is in the top 20. I mean it's really hard to raise anything $100 especially in the film genre. So it's amazing to me this audience that had fell I love with The Union that just was like, "Yes, go please make another one."

Matthew: It's so funny you say that because it seemed to be people that like documentaries or have Netflix I bump into them and we are taking about a couple of things. We talk about The Union and it comes up and immediately the conversation deviates for like 10 or 15 minutes just about all the things that you saw on The Union. So I think you've got a very passionate following that's interested in the subject matter for sure.

Adam: It's a total sloop and something that it's an honor I mean it's weird for us to even say it because we dot consider ourselves those kind if guys we are small-town guys and it's weird to say to people are like, "I'm a big fan." And I'm like, "Wow! That's weird we have fans." And then they want to take pictures and things and of course I'm honored. I'll take any picture, I'll do a thousand of them if people want and sign photos whatever. I can't even believe people want to take pictures with me and sign photos it's awesome. But it's just weird that this film because we did everything you are not supposed to do. We borrowed family money, it was our first film, we did a documentary which just documentary stands for making no money and we did it about cannabis which.

It seems like now everybody thinks, well everybody is getting into cannabis business and there is TV shows, but we The Union like it was really taboo. Before I found my director Brett Harvey and the original crew Steven and Brad the three of us no one wanted to touch it because like it's so controversial. That's why even at the time getting Joe Rogan in the first film to talk about and not just talk about it but talk about his personal youth back in 2005 that was a big thing for mainstream NBC guy that was hosting a couple of shows to come out and be like, "Yeah, I smoke weed. I don't just think it's okay for people to smoke it I smoke it."

Matthew: Yeah, he spoke about it in a way that was just so candid but also made people look at it in a different way and that was very refreshing. I mean 2007 wasn't that long ago but in the evolution of what's happening with cannabis now it kind of is. How do you feel things have changed since your first documentary The Union and now The Culture High?

Adam: Things have changed so much and that's what's actually made it really tough for us to do The Culture High because The Union really kind of opened the door for a lot of people with knowledge of like basic knowledge. If you were someone that had any experience or done some research on cannabis like you'd get the hardcore activist going, "I knew everything in there." and it was like, "Yeah, but this wasn't targeted for you. it was targeted for people like us the film makers and we went into it just wanting to do an expose of this industry and we were like holy cow what we knew about cannabis and the drug world is completely wrong." So we evolved from there. Then now doing The Culture High people are way more sophisticated and smart. So it was really tough for Brad, the director and myself and the team to really find a way to be different, bolder.

We've got better filmmakers and the expectations on us was incredible. There were times where Brad and I were in tears because some people literary were expecting our film to change the world. The messages we get they are like, "You guys are the key." And I'm like, "Wow!" Pressure is so overwhelming. Majority of the time when you make a sequel it sucks. Dog shit film that just cashed in but that wasn't the case for us. we certainly didn't cash in because we went and borrowed more money from my dad again to make this one on top of Kickstarter and everything because to make something bigger and better than The Union we had to really step it up. So it was really a big challenge but I absolutely think Brad fucking ...excuse I don't know if I can use that language.

Matthew: Sure, sure, go ahead.

Adam: He absolutely nailed it on this one. I'm not saying that because I'm the producer. I watch a lot of documentaries and I know story structure and I know cinematography and everything else and I think Brad, and I man I'm just reading the reviews online from the audience and some from the critique world. 70% from the New York Times and everything and News Weekly and Film Journal were all really positive. Yeah Hollywood Reporter and LA Times smashed us but that's to be accepted that's just the way, you can't win them all. But when you look at the audience reviews it's like Brad's vision connected perfectly with what we were trying to do and with what I think the audience wanted to see.

Matthew: Yeah, and I should take a pause here and say that the way this is edited or made I'm not sure what you guys did here but I'm used to this long pauses or things in documentaries. This is just going and going and going and going and you get one great tip and then you get another and then it circles back to an earlier point and it's just there is the sense of moving. There is no slowness about it. it really keeps the attention so that was incredible. How did you do that?

Adam: Matt I'm so glad you noticed that because even though you say you don't know that's a skill that that's new. That's something in the new age and it's Brad's style and actually I know some other really big directors that copied that in their last films because like you said docs have this thing where they hang on things for a long time.

Matthew: Yes.

Adam: It's like a long drawn out thing and Brad is the new generation that grew up on YouTube where it's quick cut short videos, quick points don't linger there too long. So it's really cool that actually you noticed because that was something that Brad was really like literary as soon as there is nothing to the moment, there is no more emotion that can be added, no more education, no more hanging on. Actually because I come with this generation when I watch other docs and like they are winning all these awards and I go and I'm like, "Whoa! Can I move this scene along? Like could have cut it." and I hate doing that as a filmmaker because I hate it when people do that to us because when you have your point of view whenever you get nods like that from filmmaker to filmmaker, it's a style thing. There is no longer something to make the film better just your style would do it one way my style would do it a different way. You have to be very cognoscente of that when people, other filmmakers are like, "What do you think?" and do notes.

A lot of times when I do notes, I'll just say, "Listen I would have done things differently but that's my style. As far as your film and what you are trying to do I think it's great? Don't adjust that. But it's interesting to see that you and I'm just reading all the stuff online and it's really resonating with the audience, which is what we hoped because we made this film the audience demanded it so we made it for them. We didn't make it for us and we didn't make it for anything other than them. So even if the critics were smashing us although it as really tough on Brad because he had never been ousted that bad before because The Union kind of went under the radar so we didn't have the big critics looking at it. That's why I look at kind of differently and Brad is like, "Dude the guy from Variety just smashed me and ripped my name like four times," and I'm like, "Dude its Variety who cares. It's huge.

Not many docs even get a review on Variety so just got in there." But here is what was pretty nasty because he was deliberately trying to get people not to watch the film you could tell. That's the interesting thing and we talk about this in The Culture High where people are defending their egos and defending their badge of identity so the facts wont penetrate on them because they are so stuck in their team versus the other team that you can throw all the information in the world and they are not going to move just because then it makes them challenge who they are as a person.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: So you can see even in some of our reviews that it's like they are totally targeting the issue and not targeting the film. In fact, I won't say who, but one of the negative reviews actually opened up saying, "This film is only for stoners and people of that mind," and I was like, really? I was like we involved Richard Branson; we're getting invited to Parliament to screen it. It is far more than just something for stoners. But you clearly put yourself on one side of the argument and then you are branding people into a certain category, which is what we are trying to get past and look beyond that. The Culture High really steps further the marijuana and talks much more about human culture and why we get caught up in this argument. So it's fascinating to see everything you talk about in the film is even apparent in some of the reviews we've got.

Matthew: No you mentioned Parliament; was there some members of parliament that watched The Union as well?

Adam: Yeah, we were. The Union got invited to parliament hill in Canada, which is our congress building. I thought it was a prank at first. I got an email and they were like, "We'd like you to screen your film first hand and there is MPs," and I was like get out of here. I called them I'm like, "Is this real?" and they are like, "Yeah, yeah would you come?" and I was like, "Yeah, this is like the parliament hill in Odawa?" they are like, "Yap, yap." And I'm like, "So would be like a building down the road or?' and they are like, "No, we want you to come." And I was like, "Hell yeah." so yeah, we had a full screening, it was 35 people; there was two senators, several MPs from all different parties; there was the liberals, the conservative, and a whole bunch of junior members that came through. It was amazing to see this.

When I was talking to kind of our host I said, "Why made you guys invite us?" and he said, "Honestly we've received so many dumb letters about your movie that finally we were just like let's just bring here. We've received because the way we think ..." and he made an interesting point that, "Handwritten letters are still very important to your local congressman or politicians because they equate each handwritten letter, not a signed petition but something you write about a pint. They think that about 500 other people agree with your letter you are just the only one that's taken the time to write it." and they received hundreds of letters about the same subject they equate that into thousands.

Matthew: Interesting.

Adam: So that's why they finally brought me out there and now they are looking to bring a second role. We are actually looking. There is talks about getting Justin Trudeau to attend because he's seen union and he is looking at a decriminalized or legalization model for Canada so it would be interesting to see if someone that's potentially the new wanting to be the prime minister of Canada would be attending my movie. We'll do the screening in Odawa on November 26.

Matthew: That's incredible. That's incredible.

Adam: Yeah.

Matthew: Shaping the national debate there. That's great.

Adam: It's opening minds, I mean, that's ultimately when we finish the film is what our goals was because people say, "Oh, if you are an activist." I'm like, "I'm not an activist I'm a filmmaker." "But you make these films." I'm like, "Yeah and a great filmmaker goes for truth. That's what we do." So you can say I'm on one side or the other but the other side has been presented so long for Canada and the drug war that now you are just hearing them on the side. That's what we will say is like, "Look don't take everything we say verbatim. We are filmmakers; we could have made a mistake. But if our film gets you after either one that you are watching, you go start doing your own research and come to your own informed conclusion, that's a great film. We've won at that point. That's all that matters because if a film resonates with you so much like you even said in conversation you guys end up talking about it, makes you want to do more research, makes you want to look things up, that's what a great film does it inspires you to go learn more.

A shitty film is like the ones that you forget you've even watched. "Have you seen that movie?" "Oh yeah I've watched this one." That's a bad movie. You want it to be other way around and we know we've accomplished that with The Union because it's become this little film that nobody should have seen that's been viewed well over 10 million times if you add up all our views in all the various different platforms. Now it appears that The Culture High is right on that next step. I mean we've only been released for five days and already there is porn sites all over which there is good and bad with that, I'm hoping all of it people that porned it they did like it. I think people often with the movie industry think like, "Oh you guys made a movie, so you are making it like you did it so I don't need to pay for your shit." But that is not the case especially for documentaries. We have not did it or done it. We are struggling all the time like any other person out there, like there is months where it's like, "Do we have enough for groceries this month? Do we have enough to pay our bills?"

Matthew: Sure.

Adam: That's why we took kind of like a hybrid model because we couldn't do just a Louis CK model. We wanted to but we had to get presales to get into production. So like I mentioned earlier on top of Kickstarter I had my stepfather put in another 150,000 into this film and we had presales from those four films, we have presales from super channel, we had our tax credit all those things that you get a gap financing from the bank. So the total budget was around 650.

Matthew: Okay.

Adam: Right and people are like, "What did you spend that on?" Well traveling, when Richard Branson is going to give you a free 45 minutes, you have to just be there on the day and usually they give you three days' notice, "Oh I'm ready this Friday at this time so be here." So it's like fly the whole crew, all your equipment, hotels and then I'm paying my guys because this isn't a hobby for us. Brad Steven my director and the other producer if they are not paid, they've got to work on reality shows and stuff so a regular production. Then you've got your payroll. Anyway not to get you bored with that.

So we couldn't do the hybrid, we did a hybrid release we wanted to do like a Louis CK thing and just say, "Here it is $5 everyone in the world is going to have it boom!" So filmmakers if you are not on Netflix and you are not in certain markets then you don't exist and when we go to try to do something else if we weren't on those platforms people don't even care that you made a film. You're like, "Oh, It's been viewed in the internet 100 million times." They'll be like, "I don't care. Is it on Netflix, did you go through proper distribution channels?" Like you are shunned in the industry.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: So we wanted to do a hybrid so we presold it before phase four they bought the first film, jumped onboard, and bought the second film right away. So then we thought like well we don't want the rest of the world to wait so then Vimeo approached us with their new VOD platform at Sundance and we were like, "Listen with your following and because this is a film of purpose this is what you guys need to do." And we agreed and we actually disagreed with our sales agent. He wanted to do a traditional release that would have held it up to where Europe and stuff wouldn't have been able to see it for probably another year and we said no way. We said we want to go to Vimeo and we sealed it. For the first couple of days, we had it just download only and now we've made it available for rent so essentially for $5 you can rent the film. For a price of a cup of coffee or hamburger you can support filmmakers that put four years of their lives and 150,000 of their parents retirement money, you can support them. I think that's a fair price for the content we put together.

Matthew: Yeah and then also you can watch it right on your phone very easily without any plugins or anything like that which is very convenient.

Adam: It's got one although it's supposed to be, there has been a few messages out of the couple thousands but not many. They've had struggles. Now I'm not a great guru of that but they are able to transfer and they can put it right on their Apple TV or Hoku or which is in there?

Matthew: Roku.

Adam: Roku. They can put it all in that as well so you can watch it on your TV as well as your mobile devices. But just this way it's available and there is 65 countries that have purchased it already. I mean we've had the Philippines, Israel, you name it, I look on their, I'm like, wow Norway, Philippines, Malaysia this is awesome. Even if it's a couple of sales, you would have never gotten anything there before so we are really hoping and we really went against the industry. The industry was saying "Absolutely not. You guys have made an incredible film, we are going to do a traditional release, we are going to go here in Europe, we are going to do this, we are going to do that." and we were like, "No we think it's better to go this way so the whole world can have it at the same time." So on October 17 just a few days ago, the Vimeo on demand made it so that if you are in the UK and you want to watch the film, it's there.

Matthew: That's great. That is great. Things are changing really fast. When you talk about Louis CK, just for the people that don't know, he is a standup comedian that released one of his specials or I think $5 and kind of disrupted the industry with that because it was just no comedy central, no HBO, just on a website, boom! Download it; watch it and a lot of other entertainers and filmmakers are kind of following that model. I welcome that because it seems why not disintermediate where we can? I mean there is still opportunity for other channels but I like the direct channel myself.

Adam: That's the thing it's like because I've written I take my time to connect with the audience like, "Why didn't you just do Louis CK?" I was like, "Two big differences; one Louis CK is super famous and he has incredible following. He is arguably probably the comedian that is at most at the top of his game right now for standup comedy I would say. He is probably at the top. Then the second thing is, is that to go shoot an hour special I'm not taking anything away with like writing and everything else but actual physical production is much easier than going and shooting a documentary that took us two years by travelling all over the world as far as cost.

And he's got other jobs where if he puts it out there and it doesn't work he's got his writing job, he is on TV, endorsement. For us if we put it out there and it doesn't work the risk is all on us, we don't pay our bills, we are in trouble. So we wanted to do a hybrid of that and that's why like I said that's why we liked the Vimeo thing where it's like men we can still offer something like to our fans plus we had presales in place. We had certain distributors and buyers so when you do that they own certain rights to your film so you can't just say, "Well I'm going to do this." they are like, "No, no I pre-bought it a year and a half ago so you can't do that."

Matthew: Okay.

Adam: So just giving people a heads-up because I love the model of Louis CK and it's really interesting for filmmakers like especially if you are in the spot. Because me and the director Brett Harvey keep talking about like if we could find a way to do real Hindi film like for $100,000 or something and then just totally say, "Hey guys we are putting it out here for you guys pay $5." It's kind of that model now where it's tough for anybody else to say that it should be much more. Like Joe Rogan talked about this on this podcast too because he did an online special like that and he was just like, "You can't charge more than $5 because he is like even Joe respects Louis CK to the fucking nine" and he was like, "Louis CK is a man and if he is charging $5, you have to have a real big ego to think you can charge more than him for an hour special."

Matthew: Right.

Adam: So Joe is like that is kind of shaped the industry standard that's what it did. It's $5 for an hour special.

Matthew: Now switching gears back to The Culture High film, is there any moments where you are in a screening and the audience reaction surprised you?

Adam: I get that all the time. Brad added a lot of humor to the film that you notice so much more when there is an audience. So there are certain parts where I thought, "That's kind of humorous," but when you see an audience and everybody is laughing you are like, "Wow! This is a documentary and we are making them laugh like a comedy." Then also there is parts I love, I guess it's not surprised but I love to see is when the story of Jason and his son Jayden comes on and I start seeing people. I look and I see the guys trying not to cry because they don't want to be like, "No, I did not come to a documentary so that I can cry." So they are trying to rub their eye on their shoulder and kind of look tough. The girls are just there letting it go. So I love it. It's my favorite part.

I actually usually stand up and I get back in the audience and I love to see like that's the part for me as a filmmaker that you are just, it's like I can't do anything else. When you see your film affecting an audience like that, affecting emotions, possibly affecting future change how do you go back to your paycheck that just says, "Here is numbers on a piece of paper. You did it." It's just never as fulfilling as that. Those parts I love. Then the one part that actually that has really surprised me is the opening scene with the archival footage of the raid. I didn't realize how many people found that really emotional. There's been a lot of people actually cry from that because they are such animal lovers when they show the dog getting shot. Spoiler alerts for people listening here, there is a lot of them.

Matthew: My wife cried during that section with Jayden, maybe we talk a lot about this subject of seizures and CBD and so forth on this show but maybe you can give a little background on what that part of the film is about with Jayden and his dad.

Adam: Yeah, well that is I mean right now and you've heard the National Epilepsy Board come out and say this is some strong evidence. I mean there's parents that are going from their kid seizuring three to 500 times a day. They take an organic non-psychoactive cannabis oil, which is usually high in CBD low NTHC, really tough to get right now because of a lot of snake oil out there because it's not regulated and controlled. But people go their children go from that many seizures a day down to one to two a week or sometimes a month. Then parents are like, "I don't care if I am breaking the law you are going to have to come in with an army to get me to stop giving something to my child that's giving him his life back."

Matthew: Right.

Adam: Right, and at that point, I'm even at a thing where even you still get amazed there saying, "Oh, pseudoscience" Like, "Listen I have children, if my children from having that many seizures to living a good life, I don't care if there is even a placebo effect benefit and you are not going to tell me. I don't care if it's regulated." That's where actually in Colona when we did a screening; we donated a majority of our ticket sales to this young girl Kayla that suffers from the same thing. She is only a year and a half and her father was former RCNP and he was totally against and thought, "Oh this legalization and medical cannabis is all bullshit. It's just people who want to smoke weed." Until it happened to his own granddaughter and now he's come out saying, "I was wrong and I now understand why people have been fighting so hard and why this point is important to them."

As you saw in the film in the culture, I loved the way Brad did it where then he showed some of these key arguments that the other politicians have said right. After that powerful section where you have Barbara Bush and then you have Mitt Romney and these people saying, "Isn't there things of importance you want to ask?" I will give the broadcaster a credit in that because she tries then she is like, "This is important to some people." And he is like, "Shouldn't we be thinking about things like the economy, like the Iran situation. We have tremendous things but you want to talk about pot? Sure, sure I think it should be." And it's funny because some of our critics go, "That's out of context."

And it gets completely in context. You see where you think this is a stupid issue because cannabis isn't in your life, you are like, "Your argument is stupid I don't really care. I'm not into this kind of movie." Until it happens to a family member and given the ending of a film, he is like, "You believe it until it happens to your daughter, your sister, your brother or somebody you care about." Then you go, oh wow now I get it. But do you?"

That's what's changing things now and that's what we talk about in the film and what I think what's really changed drug policy from when we did The Union is access to information through Smartphones and sharing has quadrupled. Now you can do it like a bazillion times from when we did The Union. So now information, personal stories like this of children that are having dramatic results can be shared around the world with this person's iPhone. You can put it there show the results and boom! It's real-time they are filming it in good quality, it goes on the internet and it can get attention and you can share it in ways that you couldn't before. Politicians can be called on their bullshit like they couldn't before too. I bring this up in a lot of interviews when in a clip we are having a trailer and it's in The Union we have Ron Reagan, he's doing a press conference, he is like, "This new information and I'm disappointed that the media hasn't shown it more than they already have. That they believe marijuana can be the most dangerous drug that is in use in our society today."

When Ron Reagan said that on that platform, you thought even if you had personal experience with it you are like, "Maybe I didn't do it or maybe he's got some information I don't know about. Holy shit! He is running for president. He became [SP] shit." But nowadays when somebody starts arguing like you would Google pot med and be like, "What study are you referring to because I'm going to look right now so I can get the information for myself. Because I understand pot gets pretty hawky and it's based on money more than it is about serving the people so why don't you tell me what study you are referring to. Oh you don't have it off the top of your head because you are bullshitting? Got you." You couldn't do that before. You can do that to them now which really makes it interesting which is why we added that internet section into the film because that's where you are seeing in our opinion why drug policy has changed so much more in the last five years than it has in the last 40.

Matthew: It's unbelievable the contrast. These news actors seem to be regurgitating the same talking points over and over and over again and then when you have someone like Richard Branson come in and you can tell he's thought about this and he also is a person that kind of bridges several generations. He appeals to a younger generation all the way up to my grandmother and he can speak in a way that's like, "Wow this is so much more real than the news actor big network just regurgitating points from their teleprompter."

Adam: The whole thing of the way music needs to change. I love how Joe Rogan brings up in his podcast all the time. Think about some the very premise of how music's presented, it's fake and bullshit.

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: You've got people pretending they're not reading from a teleprompter when they are. You've got advertisers that pay for your airtime, so you have to adhere to them. You're putting on makeup as a fucking guy right, to try to look good to appeal to some idea, which they think the news should be told. The whole thing is bullshit. You are wearing a suit, you're doing all these worth, I'm sure most of them would rather show up in T-shirt and jeans and have no makeup. But this is the whole design that we're in it's just bullshit and then even the way they got to do their voice they like, "Tonight at seven we have some major issues coming across." Instead you say like, "Tonight at seven, there are major issues or some crime in fact we're going to bring it to you at seven." Right? The whole thing is bullshit and the whole way it's presented is bullshit from one step to the other and then when you really understand how the advertising dollars work around it, you see Russell Brunt is coming on bigger games just right now saying like look, enough is enough, the news always spreads bullshit.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: And like we bring up in the Culture High is that Houston is just people defending their egos or defending their badge of identity. So even though they know what they are saying is bullshit, they're hired by this company, it's the people they play baseball with and the team sports thing and that is their badge of identity. They're not going to step outside of that and really kill themselves from their immediate team. We're on Blue Team or Red Team like if I step in the middle, then I'm no longer on red team.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: That's what we try to show in the Culture High in which you're trying to see again with the internet and shows like yours and podcast and videos like, that's shifting. People are now getting shift to that right, and that's why I think podcast and stuff are so popular now because you can now hear, like somebody for two hours and someone can bullshit for 10 minutes. So I do regular mainstream media interviews still because you have to view them and there can be a lot of bullshit in there. You only up there for a couple of minutes right. Very easy to just kind of tore the line and say the generic things and you know what kind of questions they're going to ask and the talking points but when we do a live podcast or do something like that for an hour or two hours, it's really tough to pretend to be someone you're not. If you're on there for long enough keep looking to get a sense of who you are.

Matthew: That's true.

Adam: And it's funny because actually that's where talking with some of these people I know they do podcast they say some guests are like no way. My guess not coming on there for an hour and a half and I was like why, because then you actually get a sense of who he really is or she is.

Matthew: Yes. The long format is totally different. It really is so much more comes out, it's amazing.

Adam: And you've gone in there relaxed, kind of situation where just someone can be themselves and they can talk as they want and it's the way the future for me. And you are going to always have radio and news for the most part because they're localized right, and that's where a lot of them now are realizing because they're losing so they just focus on that. They just stay localized so they can stay relevant in their local community but this new age I mean I'm a podcast fanatic and that's why literally when someone says, hey I'll just podcast to the young guys. Try to explain to me why I should do the show and I joke I'm like you had me at podcast, I mean, I love that platform I'm down.

Matthew: Yes.

Adam: You don't have to tell me what you did and who you interviewed. I want to help you, I like what you're doing and I've been there to and in create of hustle, I just, I hope you do well. I want to see you do well; you want to take time with me, awesome. I'm flattered that you want to these flats for a while.

Matthew: So you did a great job of highlighting the evolution of police from kind of this protective layer into really it seems like soldiers now, there's no other way to say it with the equipment and so forth. Do you feel like that's accelerating, getting more militant or do you think it's waning in a little bit now that the spotlight is being put on this police forces and for example on Ferguson, we got a good look of these in actions. Do you feel that it's accelerating or slowing down?

Adam: That was the part for me that shocked me the most. Of what we learnt going into this one is talking to the ex-cops and how they saw it breakdown. Like from when they started their careers, Neil Franklin is now a member of law enforcement against prohibition he's like, "I personally experienced it. When I started as a beat cop [SP], I grow in communities and kids wanted to see my handcuffs, they wanted to ask me what the job was like, it was like we were part of the community. By the end my career, nobody wanted to talk to us like even if we wanted to help a lady cross the road, she's like don't touch me pig, you're going to rat on my friend or whatever."

They connected and this is why they became members of law enforcement against prohibition, almost directly to the drug issue. Because you had seen family members, friends or neighbors or relatives get nailed for non-violent offences where cops are trying to get their string of arrest because they get paid by arrests and the easiest way to get is simple possession. If you have it on you, got you! That's all the evidence I need, possessing boom I get my quote up for so many arrests per month. So what that did is not only just to breakdown the community or breakdown the trust with the cops but what the cops told us when we're interviewing them, these ex undercover cops said, in order to prevent crime, we have to be in with the community and get information from them.

That's how we can prevent a violent thing from happening. But when the community no longer wants to talk to you because you keep squeezing on their relatives, family members and friends for minor drug charges to just try to get the bigger drug dealer, well now we can't prevent crime. So when we can't prevent crime, the only crimes you want to go after are the ones we can solve which is easy one, which is just simple possession or minor trafficking.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: While the big drug dealers rarely got caught because they have the money to defend themselves and the court system is one with money. You're a multi-million dollar drug dealer, you win, right? If those police made one fucking mistake in your arrest, you'll have the lawyer that you're paying half a million dollars for, he will find it and he will get you off. So the cops are even discouraged like, why go after those guys. Let's go after simple possession and minor trafficking. We can nail the guy while he has it on him, got him! Don't have to do anymore, we get our quote up and that was a part he was like, wow I'm listening to this and that's why murder conviction rate. We talk about this in the film, back in like the '80s was actually like really high, I mean like 85%, 85% of the time there was a murder, there's was a meaning that they arrested somebody charged for that murder.

Now that it's got to 60% despite having crazy advancements in technology with GPS tracking and cellphones and DNAs and forensics and everything else and the cops say that it's almost directly because the community looks it as us and them. They don't want to help cops anymore. The whole thing when the DEA analyst have interviewed Sean Dunagan talked about this when we interviewed him that his dad was a beat cop to and stayed in New York when went to work he put on sports coat, he put on his vest and his gun and his badge in jeans and boots. But he leads you look like a civilian other than when you have a hidden gun and his badge, like walking in streets and he'd work the community, he's like now cops are always wearing like military gear and don't even seem welcoming to go talk to them.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: It's so crazy to think and this is the part that gets me because I'm not a real activist. Like I said I'm a filmmaker but this is the part that really pisses me off and why everyone should be upset with this issue is that, cops do not have a financial incentive to go out after murders and rapists, okay.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: I'll say that again, they do not have a financial incentive to go out after murders and rapists. To the most heinous crimes that you can possibly do, you know what they do have a financial incentive to go for, drug dealers. You know why, because they get proceeds of crime, they get seizures of assets. So literally me as a father, if my daughter gets raped, I want that clarity number one. It's not the precinct clarity number one because if they vouch the guy that did it, they don't get seizures of assets, they don't get proceeds of crime, they don't get to congress and ask for more money.

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: They don't have incentive to go after them. Yes you're going to get good cops like anywhere else that are like, this is disgusting, I want to help but the precinct itself does not have a financial incentive to make that arrest because it's one arrest. If they spend three years working on that one arrest, like we say in the film, they even go out to the street massacres and 15 arrests.

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: So they don't measure by this one is a drug dealer he's worth this much, this one's a rapist he's worth this much, they'll always the same when they go to congress they're just numbers on a page. So that part is the most broken part to me, works like wow so precinct literally say we putting 80% of our time just go after drug dealers and proceeds of crime. All other crimes get 20% of our effort. That's bullshit!

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: That's the way it is. And this is why there are so many ex-cops, there now part of law enforcement against prohibition because they've seen it. They've seen families let down. They've seen that this is not working and they've seen that the way if you want to stop that big drug dealer that's a violent criminal, the only way to do that is to take wave as profit margin and the only way to dry them up, is to regulate and control the product, then he's no longer needed and he goes down.

Matthew: Yeah. That kind of does tales with the private prisons. Could you talk a little bit about that because that was alarming to hear the details about the private prisons and the private profit motive?

Adam: Well that's it. I mean James puts a bet where he just like, he just shakes his head and you're junked either from the young Turks which is an awesome online news site where they can be honest. And he just says, we've lost a handle how ridiculous some of the things we do in our society. He's like we're going to give people a profit motive to put people in prison. I wonder what's going to happen, oh the United States starts incarcerating their public more than any other nation in the world, weird. And with the easiest conviction that we just went through in the interview, simple possession.

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: You've got it on you and stop, oh I think I smell something or oh you look suspicious, stop frisk boom got it, done. Possession charged. And then I don't know if your listeners or any of you guys have been through the justice system, I have for a few things and the justice system, and we say this in the film to, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler, there's clearly one law for the rich and powerful and one law for everybody else when it comes to the drug law. The drug law is clearly demonstrate that because we have celebrities they got caught with all kind of drugs everything from heroin, crack and it's a big joke, ha-ha he's in rehab again. And how come you can still travel to other countries?

How come you can still do all this stuff that other people lose when they give you exact same thing. If you're an average American citizen and you get charged with simple possession, you lose your right to education, you lose your funding grand that you can get, you no longer travel to other countries, you have a federal offense that'll prevent you from getting a job.

So it really fucks you far more than the drug itself. And that's the part that is really starting to sink in with people, people were like, oh yeah great, like we need people harming themselves with something else and I was like yeah. But harming them with a criminal conviction taking their right to education and preventing them from travelling so that you and I as taxpayers have to pay for them to go through the justice system? That's far worse. I'd rather someone just smoke weed; I don't care even if he does cocaine in this house, really? I don't. You're harming yourself, if harm is the issue because that's what people are concerned about they sold it very well.

If harm it's a legitimate issue why we should make something illegal or legal, then the North American diet should be made illegal tomorrow because it puts far more people into the medical system than all illegal drugs do, all! If you combine all the illegal drugs every year and the deaths from them, it's below 30,000. The deaths from the United States alone, poor diet and physical inactivity are well over 150,000 every year. So its harm is the thing, the number it's just not there. But that's not the truth, that's the thing that we're trying to show is that isn't it. That's what you can sell it on, it's a great platform. We need to protect the children, the children, what about the children? We always go back to the children.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: Right well if you want to protect the children you need to educate them, you need to put faith cards in place and regulate and control the product so that somebody doesn't sell your 10-year-old weed if you have the money to buy it. That's what you need to put in place and then it's not around shady characters that are going to introduce some two other dangerous things and put them into other bad situations.

Matthew: So true.

Adam: And then if you again if that's the thing it's like I've had my family go through addiction, I've had one of my best friend go through addiction and people are like, "Wow! You've experienced, so like don't you think?" And I was like yeah and you know what would have been the worst thing for my family members and my friends, is criminalizing then when they were trying to battle their addiction. Both of them are lucky they never got caught, right.

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: Because we also came from pretty well of families that could help us go to rehab and get us on track but I couldn't imagine that their struggle was hard enough. I couldn't imagine how that is from someone that is coming from a poor economic situation and how they're trying to get their life back on track even if they wake up in the morning and they like, "That's it. I'm going to be sober and get my life back on track and I'm going to do this." But they have criminal record and they go to job after job after job after job and they're like, "Do you have a record?" "Yes I do." "Next." "Do you have a record?" "Yes I do." "Next." "Do you have a record?" "Yes I do." Can I get hired? Well of course every one of those is like getting rejected by the girl that you fell in love with.

It's just more depressing, more depressing, more depressing and then the whole reason someone was usually addicted to a substance anyway it's their trying to self-medicate and the addict is trying to find an outside double means source to him. Connect with the world better or try to solve his problems through some kind of self-medication and then he gets rewarded trying to get his life back on track by getting rejected. He gets depressed he goes right down the rabbit hole and then if he has a criminal record, and you're going through the justice system, you don't have money to defend yourself, good luck. You're fucked. You're never going to get out of that situation.

Matthew: Now it is really that stacked against a lot of people when they get into that.

Adam: No. And this is the thing with people like what I don't care they shouldn't have made those mistakes, wrong because you know whose paying for them to go through the justice system? You.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: The taxpayer, right? So you want them to get like I do, I want them to get a second chance to get their life back on track, be contributors to society, pay their taxes. But when they can't get a job because they've got community damages for the same thing that our President, the current President, the current Prime Minister, pretty much everybody has done. But they didn't come from the White Family. To give them moral guidance, to help them off their feet when they made a mistake. They came from a shitty environment, they didn't have the money to help them in the justice system or given that right career goals to move forward and their life should be over because of that?

I disagree. I've made lots of mistakes. I would be one of those people. I've made mistakes, not drug charge, but I've had some other incidences where I've been through the justice system and luckily I had a very loving and supporting family that helped me, I could pay the legal bills you could get off because I was right, I wasn't doing anything really that wrong but the courts don't care, you have to provide evidence, they cost you a large money. You have to in gage a lawyer and if you don't have that, you fucked!

Matthew: Yeah. One of the facts that jumped out in the documentary was that the US has 25% of the world's prisoners.

Adam: And 25% of the world's population.

Matthew: Yes. That is a shocking statistic as you know, we're indoctrinated with land of the free and all these things growing up and it's like that cold hard fact suggests something else?

Adam: Well. And then to add to that is five the prisons where even when crime goes down in certain areas, the state has to pay for them to maintain an 80 to 90% occupancy rate. Even if the police go do their job and they reduce crime, the prison has to stay in a certain occupancy rate. So where did they get those numbers from? Easy arrest, simple possession. Got you, you're in prison. They're not getting the white collared crimes like the made-offs and stuff that are ripping off 1000 of people, those take forever. Like that guy was in a 6-year court process for one arrest.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: Way to much work for a cop and to be honest, most cops like in last year like really in an accounting major you don't even really know to get a guy like that.

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: I'm not dissing the cops, white-collar crimes; we mention it in the film. HSBC was caught laundering billions of dollars for the Mexican cartels, red-handed. Nobody was jailed. They got fined and they got slapped on the wrist, that's it. What is the difference in them, as we say in the film we use a harsh other side, a mother of four gets caught selling $31 of marijuana and she gets 10 years. Like where is the justification of that? If you're laundering billions of dollars for the Cartel, you know that's blood money and you have deaths on your hands and a lot of them but no problem, it's a fine. He probably just wrote the check as soon as they walked out of the courtroom. So yeah, no problem that's it. It's like paying interest, here you go.

Matthew: And not only that, you can't find that HSBC story anywhere near the news as other big stories. It almost seems like it was buried.

Adam: Yeah. You have to really look, right? That's what's the great thing about docs and things like these. I know a couple of screenings people are like I'm quitting my HSBC account today. I'd no idea they did that, I'm done. It's cool I didn't even think about other people like in the audience were like you think that it hurt some I'm like listen, they're a giant company but I know as one of my best prime as a branch manager of a bank and they hate every account they will lose. So, hey if you own a couple of 100 accounts quit because of our movie, we bankrupt them but it might make them not shake my hand if they met me in person.

Matthew: Sure. Now turning back the clock to the Union, all your friends that were or still are in the industry like electricians or the realtors all the different people they are part of that network, is that still as liquidize as it used to be as legal...

Adam: Now and that's kind of the interesting thing where people always said, oh do you legalize own work? Almost all the guys I know that were breaking the law, they just went and got their federal licenses through Canada now. So now there's a legal option I'll just do it legally. Sure prices came down but a lot of people rather not risk going to jail like 10% lasts or 20 or whatever, I don't know the numbers but almost all of them, the only ones that didn't were the ones that already had a federal offence and they can't get their medical licenses.

Matthew: Okay.

Adam: I would say now I mean because there's so many people getting into the medical business probably not as liquidize but I know some guys who did then and still do it now because now a lot of them supply for the medical outlets and for the pharmaceuticals. The venture capitalization getting into the legit side of it, so there's opportunity there, right? To get into just a new market so it's still is very liquidize in BC there's no doubt. Matthew: Good. And I know that your father died and you inherited a nightclub, could you tell us a little bit about how that were like and how it changed your perception of alcohol safe, cannabis unsafe?

Adam: Alcohol is not safe.

Matthew: Hey, can you tell us how a little bit about how that was like and how that changed your perception of alcohol safe, cannabis unsafe?

Adam: Alcohol is not safe. In a night club there's no more destructive force than alcohol. In the all the people I know they are addicts it's that and alcohol it's the one that you can see somebody that they can be the coolest guy sober and then seriously get drank it's like they want to fight their best friends, they are just absolute retards, there's nothing worse than alcohol. I see in my family it's caused lots of problems, there's no more destructive drug on the planet and I used to sell it and it was okay and they advertise it as cool, sexy and awesome. Right, that's what everybody should do. That was kind of I had that epiphany. We didn't really talk about it in The Union but it was something I just had where people would totally look at these growers, it's like, they are grower with a scumbag.

I was like yeah but then I'm a night club owner and I sell you shit and people puke and get in a fight and they are like I'm going to fucking degenerate a business and I make profit of you getting wasted and hurting yourself to, what's the difference? And then of course night clubs, a lot of them not just mine but all over the world, really carter to drug dealers because drug dealers have disposable income and when you are in a cash business, who's your favorite client? The one that has trouble getting his money into banks and his much more willing to spend it than the guy that has troubles. Even someone who makes a million dollars legitimately a year, with tax with everything else, they are much more, they know how hard it is to earn that dollar so it's tougher. Even an average grower, even if he's only making a 150 grand a year he gets his big cash payout and it's tough to get all that money in the bank.

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: So what do they do? They like to come to the nightclub and spend a lot of money. So we would treat them with more respect because we're like, "Oh, hey yeah. Use the VIP table, here's your bottle service, here's all these." And that's where I start looking at my soul like, "How am I any better?" Frank I'm going to point the fingers to you, he's drug dealer. I'm a drug dealer and I love your money and if I really have an issue with anybody selling any kind of drug whether it's cannabis, cocaine or whatever, then if you know they are selling it, you should reject their money when it comes to your business but nobody does.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: Somebody goes to Georgia or Oman who wants to buy a $20,000 suit, so I go ahead and say, Oh how are you going to pay? Cash. No problem, we'll take your cash. Or you want to buy a new car? I know guys who worked through the car dealership where I grew up that they got $50,000 in cereal boxes. One of my buddy's was an account processor; he'd get it and would just like, "Oh my God, what do I do with this?" And then they're like, "Put it here there's a form, do this and we'll slowly put into the bank account." Totally knowing where the money is coming from but that's the thing is. Okay if you have such issue with this industry, don't accept the money but every business does. So I think every business it's just as guilty. If they are going to point a finger and say that they're bad, then they should deny that business from their work but they don't.

Matthew: That's a good point. Can you tell us a little bit about TAG and how people could organize a screening?

Adam: Yeah. TAG is still going on now and I'm glad you brought that up because people think to think because now with the film is out on Vimeo, that oh what's the point of TAG? But TAG, TAG is a platform where if you or anybody in the United States, and sadly it's only in the United States for now. Once they organize the satirical screening, you log on like Facebook it's free not an intricate as Facebook to put I think an email and a password and a full name and maybe not even that. And then they will give you, you put in your zip code and then they'll give you a list of feeders that TAG works with and then you can pick a feeder.

You pick a backup feeder and you pick a date that works for you, how to organize a feeder to do all the heavy lifting and then they'll come back to you and say okay, in order for the screening to happen, you need to sell 70 tickets. You sell 70 tickets and you just bought the Culture High to your home theater for you and your local community to watch. The best part is if you don't hit the ticket threshold, no problem, nobody gets charged and the screening simply doesn't happen, it's that easy, like Kickstarter, it's all or nothing but it's the but, if you do make it happen, which means it's about 70 tickets. Which if you think about it, that's five of your friends selling five or 10 of your friends selling five tickets each and your pretty much there.

Matthew: Right.

Adam: You've got a local screening and you've got the best platform to see this movie because this movie was shot cinematically for the big screen, it plays best in there. We spend 21,000 on our sound so that's 5.1 Dolby digital sounds. It's 5.1 surround, it's made to theater and watching with your local community it's really the best way to experience it and to reward you for doing that and putting that together, you 5% of the ticket sales. And on top of that if you want to you can add a fundraiser function, where people can pay an extra dollar or two for every ticket and how to raise money for your local charity, maybe drug policy or awareness group or whatever on top of the event. So, anyone can do it, literally like I've had friends that hosted and in 24 hours they'd sold it out.

Well it's a great platform and even though it's already out on Vimeo, it doesn't matter because films like ours don't get a large, you don't get this giant commercial budget to be on your TV and all this places for advertisement. So, a lot of people you are going to invite won't know that's already out, right, so when you do the screening and they go after, "Man, where can I get this film?" I loved or maybe they didn't like it but they're like where can we find out more, and you're like actually it's available right now. So you doing a screening in your local community it's like kind of like the commercial for your local community that's it's coming out. And it gives you great opportunity that if you want to bring awareness to this issue, watching it in a full theater with your community is the best way for it to make an impact.

Matthew: I agree, that's such a cool; I'm pretty new to TAG that's sounds like a great tool.

Adam: I'm just waiting for it to go worldwide because it's so good, I love it, it doesn't cost to view anything and it gives them the opportunity, 5% is not a lot but the part that's cool about it for me is like I said earlier in this interview. Watching the film with an audience and seeing them being moved or react to it is so inspiring; it's what keeps us battling through despite how hard this industry is. And if you can get to be the filmmaker for a day where you get to host it and you get to say like, "Hey, I'm the young guy, I'm just out of high school, I'm in high school I organized this and made it happen." That's pretty cool.

Nowadays where there's a film maker you into and you can reach out and touch him in offense, you can say I want this work to come to my local theatre and you reach out, pull it, make it happen and it happens right, and then you get rewarded with 5% and you can call it your event. You can call it 'Stoner Jesus, Jesus Possessed' right, and you can make it whatever you want, it's your event for the night, it's not about us. It's your event so you can go up and thank the community and everything, it's awesome.

I love that people get that opportunity and that's why I'm in Houston but Buddy Robert put one together, he sold it out in 12 hours, he has a really cool broadcasting community down here, it's awesome to see him like so excited. You just met with a theater, they got into this beautiful brand new theater in Houston, they sold it out twice, they had to put it into a bigger venue and he so excited because its podcast presents and he gets to be the host and a film maker for a day, it's awesome. And it is like I said I can't stress enough it is the best way to see the film because if you want people to really as you've seen it, this film because it captures so quick, because we're hitting in so much information. If you distracted and you check your twitter and you look away and then you look back, you'll miss the section then later on you're like I don't get it and the film whatever you thought it was, this film is not a film where you can miss 10 minutes.

Matthew: Yeah.

Adam: They really throw things off and the only way now it is because people seem to be so all over the place to really get their attention, is in the theater. You're going to have to shut that damn phone off for a little bit right, and actually pay attention and when they go through the ride of the film with the theater, it will have way bigger impact than just trying to send them the DVD or get them to watch a link.

Matthew: Good points. And the lighting is amazing; you really did a good job on that.

Adam: We stepped up. We wanted to make sure that and that's the funny thing if you can tell some of our, and like I said, overall the critics have been great but the few of the negative critics, the one thing they can't knock us on, it's the quality of the film. That was even the LA Times said, he's like hey that Brett Harvey has his lighting and cinematography down! Looks amazing but then he went on to say some other negative shit. He couldn't knock us there right, he's like our cinematography and everything else was really good, so we did what we could.

Matthew: As we close, how can people follow you Adam?

Adam: Please go to my twitter, which is just @adamscoreG like a goal with a big G, a-d-a-m-s-c-o-r-e-G, you can go to The Culture High and follow that on twitter or you can Google either the Union of business behind getting high or The Culture High, they're both on Facebook. I'm really interactive with all of them, as you know you reach out connect your twitter and we connected I'm pretty, it's getting tougher these days, but I'm pretty respondent so if you want to reach out to me, I'm there.

Matthew: Awesome. Thanks so much Adam. We really appreciate this and again the film is The Culture High.

Adam: No problem. Thanks for having me on.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us review on iTunes, every five star review helps us to bring the best guest to you. Learn more at One of 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 Have a suggestion for an awesome guest at Email us We'd love to hear from you.

MJ Freeway – Managing your Cannabis Business from Seed to Sale

MJ Freeway Interview

Interview with Amy Poinsett (CEO) and Jessica Billingsley (COO) of MJ Freeway. MJ Freeway provides hosted software solutions for Cannabis cultivators, dispensary owners, and marijuana infused products companies.

Compliance, operations, and marketing is a huge part of running a successful business in the cannabis industry. Learn how to create an operations plan that will successfully manage all aspects of your business.

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.

What is it like to be in the dead center of the cannabis industry creating the software that literally runs the operations or cultivators, dispensaries, and infused product companies? We're going to find out the answer to that question today in our interview with MJ Freeway executives. We are very fortunate to have on the show today Amy Poinsett who is the CEO of MJ Freeway and Jessica Billingsley, the COO of MJ Freeway. Welcome, Amy and Jessica.

Amy: Thank you so much. We're delighted to be here.

Matthew: Great.

Jessica: Thanks for having us.

Matthew: Can you give us a little background on yourselves and how you got started in the cannabis software business?

Jessica: Sure. This is Jessica speaking. I guess back in 2009 Amy and I had, each had businesses in kind of the techie geek space already. I had an IT company and she had a web development firm and although we didn't work directly with each other we shared a lot of friendly clients in common that used both of our services. I had invested in one of the first dispensaries in Boulder, Colorado and as the owner that owned an IT company was tasked with choosing, picking out, putting in software for the business.

Matthew: Okay.

Jessica: To run the business and there really wasn't anything super appropriate that worked to use and Amy and I were meeting on well how can we get involved, what can we do. I was sharing my investments and we were talking about how we could get involved more at the stuff that we knew how to do, the geeky stuff. Right?

Matthew: Yeah.

Jessica: And so she said, "Well, I've kind of been thinking about this transaction system," and I said, "Well, I think they really, what they really need to start with is a point of sale system." She very famously said, "Well, point of sale. How hard could that be? Let's do that."

Matthew: Sure. Wow.

Jessica: So, four and a half years later. Well, three products later. We have three products now.

Matthew: Wow. For people that don't know what MF Freeway does exactly, I mean obviously point of sale, but can you summarize? I know there's three parts to the suite but just kind of give a high level overview of the MJ Freeway package.

Amy: Absolutely. We're a business software platform and we were built from the ground up specifically for the cannabis industry and we've got two main things that we do that always, that have guided us through the years and through our future development. The first is our tag line. Track every gram. So we provide really robust inventory tracking from seed to sale, so plant tracking all the way through to the point of sale of a finished product and we also do compliance. We really believe that regulation is the way forward to bring marijuana to the country and want to help with that in any way that we can. The main way that we see being able to contribute to that effort is by providing software that meets state of federal compliance requirements for tracking marijuana and making it really easy for our clients to use that to stay in compliance and meet their reporting requirements.

Matthew: Yeah. Compliance is a huge issue. Have they rolled out penalties for being out of compliance? I mean you could straight up lose your license in some places but is there big monetary penalties for not being in compliance as well? I guess I'm talking about in Colorado but elsewhere as well.

Amy: Absolutely. Every state that's putting forward a regulated model includes in their rules a whole section on the various penalties, which might range from a relatively small financial penalty if maybe their signage is not up to requirements to much more significant penalties including, as you said, losing their license and the very large both time and monetary investment that with it and even in some cases looking at criminal charges. We don't like to hear about that too much in the regulated cannabis industry but unfortunately there have been a couple examples of bad actors and the regulatory agencies have had a structure in place where they were able to crack down on that and really support a legitimate regulated model, which is of course what we want.

Matthew: Okay. Can you tell listeners what hosted software means? I mean I'm sure most know but there still might be some people out there wondering what hosted software means and what the benefits of hosted software is.

Jessica: Sure, sure. So essentially hosted software means you're getting rid of having to maintain all of your own hardware. So it means that you are essentially paying a fraction of the cost of maintaining your own hardware to have much better, much more secure hardware in a off-site location. So the main benefits are better security, better performance, the ability to respond quickly to any change in regulations. This hardware is hosted in a facility that's monitored to the absolute nth degree biometric scans for, and only certain people with access and just a level of security that nobody can do in their own store when somebody can just bust the windows.

Matthew: It makes a lot of sense and having come from the IT world myself too and knowing about servers fail and there's security patches and all this maintenance and upgrades and there's so many things that just need to done and this outsourcing that to professionals is a huge, huge benefit in my mind. I think about Tim, not Tim Cook, the gentleman from Intuit. I can't remember. His name eludes me. Scott, Scott I think his name is. The gentleman that started Intuit and how he got so far ahead was he actually sat down and watched how people used his software, Quickbooks. How they installed it. how they used it and then just made it easier and easier. When I was asking people about MJ Freeway and people were volunteering information about you they were talking about how you got feedback from people that are actually in the industry.

Can you tell us a little bit about that? Because that's so important because I feel like so many software companies create software, then try to jam it down their clients throats instead of finding out what the needs are, understanding those intimately, and then building a solution around that.

Amy: Absolutely. We really feel like that's one of our big competitive advantages. Because we did build MJ Freeway from the ground up just for the cannabis industry, we were able to put in place certain things that are only relevant if you're looking at a product like this. So for example, obviously this is an agricultural product it changes over time, maybe dehydrates, maybe becomes shake in the jar, things like that and our inventory tracking algorithms, which are patent pending, take into account the nature of cannabis and how it changes over time whereas a regular point of sale system for a t-shirt shop or something like that doesn't have to worry about like a sleeve of the t-shirt falling off over a period of time.

Matthew: Right.

Amy: Those kind of inventory adjustments just aren't relevant for most of the rest of the world so it's something that we were able to put into MJ Freeway based on feedback from clients and on observing actual operations as you've described.

Matthew: Yeah. That's great. There has been tremendous positive feedback so you're doing something right. Let's dig into the weeds a little bit. Let's say I own a dispensary or I just applied for a license, I'm an applicant. I win one of the Florida licenses. That's apropos because they have a ballot measure coming up. What are the things I need to do once I win that license and how could MJ Freeway help me do that?

Amy: Well, first I would say before you apply you should get in touch with us and get some of our application support materials.

Matthew: Huh, gotcha.

Amy: We've assembled over the years obviously a tremendous amount of intellectual property and experience around inventory tracking of cannabis and we provide that in a few different formats to people who are applying their licenses, applying for licenses. That ranges from a free document that we put together for every new state where we go through the proposed regulations and respond point by point on how we meet every requirement related to tracking cannabis and then goes all the way up to very detailed plans that can be used in the development of the business plan for the operation. For example, an inventory control plan or transportation plan. Things like that that we've prepared to help people through that process that can be quite arduous to put together an application.

Matthew: Yes.

Amy: So we want to provide insight where we can. Then I guess after winning the license my advice would be to get started early with training, setup, configuration of all your systems, not just MJ Freeway. I would say that the most successful new businesses we've observed are the ones that have really planned ahead rather than waiting until the last minute. You know maybe they're focused on their construction build-out in the early days and then all of a sudden they're a week out from opening and realize that they haven't put in place MJ Freeway and maybe the security system and maybe their payroll system and then they're really trying to scramble at the last minute to get a bunch of stuff done and I think planning ahead and getting started with things early lets you be more thoughtful in your setup and configuration and training.

Matthew: How long does it take to get set up for, let's say, a dispensary owner with MJ Freeway software? I mean what's the roadmap to onboarding?

Amy: We provide support to all our clients through our support team, which is a fantastic group of people, and we provide through them remote training for all clients as well as an extensive knowledge base with a lot of recorded demos and training sessions in video format that give people background both of the software as a whole and on various specific features. We also offer scheduled training lab classes on a regular basis. We encourage our clients to take advantage of those. To come get classroom style training on MJ Freeway.

Matthew: Okay.

Amy: Then as far as the software itself, it really ranges. People have gotten set up and configured and ready to go live within a 24-hour period in some cases. Other people, especially new operations, want to take a little bit more time to think about how their standard operating procedures should best be developed and they'll take a little bit more time but we can be accommodating to whatever the time frame is that the client is looking for.

Matthew: Okay. And digging into the weeds again, let's say I have, I'm the owner of a infused products company. I make chocolate that is infused with THC. How do you, how does MJ Freeway help track dosages because I keep on hearing stories about people coming to Colorado, eating a whole candy bar, having an issue, and top of mind for me is dosage, there's not clear dosages. I mean 10 mg is a serving. Most people know that but when you look at a candy bar most people are thinking, "Oh, I can eat a whole candy bar." So that has me thinking in terms of dosages a lot and how can you help a infused product company, with MJ Freeway, keep track of those critical dosage levels in their products?

Jessica: Sure. Our mix tracker product is the product that's used for tracking manufacturing and processing. In that product we track quantities of inventory as well as the conversion or preparation process whether that involves cooking or not regarding how much inventory is used to create any number of candies. So dosage can be determined by the amount of concentrate used to create any number of products, edible or otherwise and during the infusion process or the cooking process MJ Freeway will notify if the default amount defined up in the inventory creation doesn't match the actual amount being used based on the amount of concentrate versus the number of candies being used. So mistakes such as too much concentrate used in a batch can be seen really easily by checking inventory levels to make sure that what was entered in the software equals what was physically mixed.

Matthew: Huh, that makes sense.

Jessica: And there's a certain amount of the process that is somewhat out of the software's control and that involves mainly making sure that things are very, very well mixed.

Matthew: Sure. I mean there's technology is just one piece. You need the people, the process, and the technology all working together, a three-legged stool. That makes sense.

Jessica: Certainly.

Amy: But our reporting can go a long way toward helping.

Matthew: Sure. Now as far as MJ Freeway being mobile friendly, can users use tablets and phones as well?

Jessica: We are totally mobile friendly. Since we're a web-based app we work great on any internet enabled device. We actually have a mobile theme specifically designed to ensure that we work well on phones and tablets and our clients use mobile devices at the sales stations in their stores, at the grow, for delivery drivers, or for taking inventory.

Matthew: Okay. And I know that there's mobile scanners you use. Correct? For barcodes and things like that.

Jessica: Yes. We have sourced and tested a couple different pieces of mobile friendly hardware that connect via Bluetooth and so connect really nicely to mobile devices to make sure that they work nicely and can be used with a mobile device and our software as well.

Matthew: Okay. Now I'm kind of going to ask this question jokingly but maybe half serious, too. It's so hard to get the United States to move over to the metric system. We're still using these measurements from medieval times or something but, horsepower and so forth, but do you think since cannabis is largely measured in grams that that might be the catalyst that pushes us to the metric system?

Jessica: Not likely.

Amy: I don't think so.

Matthew: Okay. No I know most people are familiar with HIPA, the government protocol to keep the patients' information secure and private but, and it sounds like MJ Freeway is HIPA compliant but most people don't know what PCI is and PCI compliance. Can you tell us a little bit about what this is and why that's important?

Jessica: Sure. So HIPA protects patients' personally identifiable information and PCI protects sensitive payment information, so your credit card or your bank info, something like that. What MJ Freeway does is we actually connect securely to the gateway that actually processes the credit card payment.

Matthew: Mm-hmm.

Jessica: So that's how we enable PCI compliance. We make sure that when you're payment information is processed and sent through the internet that it's sent through completely secure channels to where it ultimately gets processed. We don't actually store any credit cards or payment information in our system.

Matthew: Okay. Now as more and more dispensaries roll out and, I mean there will always be strains and customer service that kind of makes certain dispensaries stand out and customers and patients want to go there. I know that MJ Freeway has some marketing modules like text messaging and emailing. Can you kind of tell us how some of your clients that use that really well use that to make sure that that their clients are loyal because you know, at some point there's a supply, there's going to be more supply and demand will level out so dispensaries are going to have to do things and be unique and have better customer service and really a good marketing plan to ensure that they get their share of the market. So if you could share how you see clients successfully using the text messaging and the email marketing that would be great.

Amy: Yeah. Absolutely. Our text and email marketing engine gives our clients the ability to send text and email communications to their customers who've opted in. Those can be automated so those might be things where a message goes out on the customers' birthday or a certain number of days after their last visit to the dispensary. They can also be outreach to the customers to encourage them to respond in the case of a specific promotion. So, for example, you might advertise at a show or in a local paper and say text code 1234 to this number to receive a discount and then they'll receive a coupon code discount in return. That lets our clients really do some very proactive outreach to their patients and customers but it also gives them, it ties in with our reporting as all our marketing tools do to give them really clear insight into the ROI of their various advertising and marketing efforts.

Matthew: Great. Now we touched a little bit about, on education about getting new users up to speed. Let's say I have a brand new bud tender that was starting today at my dispensary and I know you have a knowledge base and some videos and stuff but as a business owner of a dispensary what would I practically need to do? Say this person's of average technical competence. Do I start with some video modules and to say, "Watch these as many times as you want until you're comfortable." What would you suggest?

Amy: You know I think the recorded demos are a great place to start and the knowledge base information. Our support team is also always there to answer any questions or help get people up to speed. As I mentioned earlier, we're getting great response from our training lab classes on classroom style training so that people get some exposure to a full experience of the software, not necessarily maybe just the one or two things that seem critical to learn on day one. We give them a full grounding in aspects of the software they need for their job.

Matthew: Yeah. In person is always great if that's possible. Now I know MJ Freeway really has an international focus and I think your software is in at least two or three languages. Is that right?

Jessica: We're very excited about that. Yes. We're available in English, French, and Spanish currently.

Matthew: That's great. Now I saw on your website that you recently had a trip to Spain and there's, being here in Colorado my focus tends to be on Colorado and somewhat in Washington too. Can you just paint a picture of what it looks like in Spain? Like what legalization looks like and I know there's clubs and things but just for the audience, how is it different? What did you like about it? What didn't you like about it? Just any detail is great.

Jessica: Well, what was really interesting and what I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that I did not know until I was there in person was that it's not actually a medical program. It's just an adult use -

Matthew: Huh.

Jessica: program.

Matthew: Okay.

Jessica: So, uh, who knew? It's not even medical.

Matthew: Okay.

Jessica: So what's interesting is that they don't have regulation, not at the national level and not at the state or region level. Spain has a few different state regions that have their own governing bodies as well and they don't have any regulation at that level. They've had some cities pass some regulations here and there and it really varies from region to region, city to city and so in that respect it's a lot like California, that there a lot of operations are operating under somewhat gray guidelines for what's legal and what's not legal in which area and at what given month so that makes it a little bit challenging for the clubs. But I did find the clubs to be really interesting and I think we really enjoyed the trip and thought that it was, we're excited to be more involved with that market as it progresses.

But the clubs have dispensaries located within the club but then they are actually a club in the traditional sense of they usually have some kind of a hangout area and they usually have some kind of a bar that serves coffees and alcoholic drinks as well as just sodas and what have you. So it was definitely, you know the whole focus was on kind of adult, legal, recreational, social, club use.

Matthew: Was your sense that less of the total population as a percentage partakes in cannabis or more? I mean it's a hard thing to quantify I know but I mean, just trying to understand how large a part of the culture it is in Spain.

Jessica: I think it is very much a large part of the culture but what I found interesting was that at a number of clubs that we visited the owners, operators, or even some of the people in the club were cannabis refugees you could call them.

Matthew: Okay.

Jessica: So a number of them were people from other European countries or states that had moved to Spain so that they could use cannabis openly.

Matthew: That's interesting. It's kind of like Amsterdam in that way, it sounds like.

Jessica: A little bit. A little bit.

Matthew: Okay. What do you think the cannabis industry is going to look like in five years? What's going to change? It seems like there's so much change every day but what do you see?

Amy: Well, I mean it's exciting times. We're approaching half the country, half the states in the country that have some kind of marijuana legalization in some form or another whether medical or adult use or CBD only that's on the books and that's really becoming, it's becoming a watershed moment I think in the changing landscape. We've got two states, of course, with adult use measure up this fall. It will be really interesting to see what happens with that in a couple of weeks.

Matthew: Yeah.

Amy: And certainly we've got our fingers crossed for positive direction there. I think that it's the million dollar question. Isn't it? Of when the Federal Government will de-list or take some other action and I think people are going to be watching really closely over the next five years to see when that happens. It certainly feels closer than ever before, at least to me.

Matthew: Yeah. I mean that's the true, big, the break when the wall comes down is when it's taken off the Schedule I list of prohibited drugs. I mean is that what you think in your mind? That's when everything would change pretty quickly?

Jessica: We think so.

Matthew: Well, as we close is there any information you'd like to share with listeners how they can find out more about MJ Freeway?

Amy: Absolutely. Check out our website, We've got all kinds of resources there. We're actually launching a new website in just a few weeks that's going to have even more great information about cannabis laws across the country and other resources like that. We're also on Twitter and Facebook at mjfreeway and our phone number is 888-932-6537 and we'd sure love to hear from anybody who has any questions. We'd be happy to help.

Matthew: Well, thanks so much, Amy and Jessica. We really appreciate you taking the time for the interview today.

Amy: Thank you. It was great to be here.

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 Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on Email us at We'd love to hear from you.

State-by-State Update on Cannabis Legalization and What You Need to Know Now

state-by-state marijuana legalization update

Diane Czarkowski from ThinkCanna.Com gives us a state-by-state update on where we are in the legalization process. Diane reviews how key elections in November may allow medical and adult use in several states. Diane also reviews the common mistakes applicants make when applying for a license.

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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 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.

And now for a brief on the state of cannabis legalizations. Since the pace of legalization is always changing, I thought I'd bring out an expert to help us understand where we are at this moment in time. I'd like to welcome Diane Czarkowski with CANNA Advisors on the show.

She is going to give us some background on what's going on with legalization, kind of state by state. Especially as we have ballots coming up here in November that promise some significant changes. Welcome, Diane.

Diane: Thanks for having me, Matt.

Matthew: Sure. How many states are there where medical marijuana is legal right now?

Diane: Right now there are 23 states that have some form of medical marijuana laws in place.

Matthew: Okay.

Diane: There actually might be a few more, but they're so restrictive in what conditions are recognized by the state that even the larger drug policy organizations like the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance don't even really recognize those states because they just feel that they're way too restricted to be able to count them.

Matthew: Right. So I think this is something a lot of people don't understand, is that there are states where medical marijuana is legal but because the bureaucracies and policies are so inept and unorganized that patients actually can't get medical marijuana. So that's an important thing to consider as we talk about the number of states where things are legal. Not every place is Colorado that's legalized. It's much different, state by state. Which ones do you think...?

Diane: Every state is so different in how they put together their form of decriminalization laws and regulatory structures and even the conditions that they recognize. It varies drastically from state to state.

One state could pass a medical marijuana law that might even restrict the actual flower from being used. It might only have the ability to have like a CBD-enriched oil. But if you go to another state it might be just limited to people with cancer and glaucoma or some severe conditions that don't address the broad spectrum of patients that could really benefit from it.

Matthew: Great points. What states are on the horizon for both legalization of medical marijuana and then adults use? Formally called recreational use?

Diane: Right. The ballots this November, we're seeing a lot of focus on Florida for medical marijuana. They did pass some legislations earlier to allow for five cultivation licenses, but I think that was an effort by some politicians to get a CBD-only type of law into place to see if they could appease the public vote, and then hopefully not pass this much broader and much more comprehensive medical marijuana law that comes out in November.

Then we also have Oregon and Alaska both going for adult use legislation. Then on the horizon beyond that, there are other states that are looking for either much more broad and all encompassing medical marijuana policies, and then also adult use legislation. So, Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Montana, Rhode Island.

It's really becoming more and more popular to see some type of legislation going into place. We just hope that it doesn't all go down the road of being CBD-focused, which might restrict the availability of the medicine to patients as well as other cannabinoids that are very beneficial to patients that wouldn't be allowed to be produced.

Matthew: Great points. Now, Nevada seems to be a state that kind of sticks out because, at least in the early goings here, it seems like the politicians really want to get on board the legalization bandwagon, and in a significant way. Could you tell us a little bit about how you think Nevada is going about it differently than other states?

Diane: We're very excited about the Nevada regulations and what's coming out of that state. I think maybe because they've already embraced the other sins, if you will, that they're a little bit more open to a regulated market.

And one of the things that we really like about Nevada is that they will have a reciprocity component to it, where they will allow medical marijuana patients that have proper ID to be able to purchase cannabis when they're in their state. They won't have the ability to have delivery services like residents will, but they will have the ability to be able to obtain cannabis while they are in the state which is huge for Nevada because, you know, they have such a huge visitor profile.

Matthew: Yeah. Millions of tourists.

Diane: That's one thing that we really like about Nevada. Another thing that we like is that they're already getting a lot of leverage to put forth an adult use ballot on, I think, 2016 is when they hope to put that on the ballot.

Matthew: I think Nevada excites me the most because, as you said, they've kind of embraced other sins but in this case, cannabis use might be called a virtue so we won't include it in the sin category, but I think you're right.

Diane: Definitely not.

Matthew: I think they have the right attitude, it seems like. At least from my cursory glance.

Diane: They have a good attitude. Exactly. And they also realize that, like other states are coming to realize, that they could really benefit from taxing it and certainly they're getting tremendous amounts of fees for licensing the businesses there, and they can benefit from the sales.

Matthew: True. Now I know there's a lot of interest right now as legalization sweeps the country, where people are saying, "You know, maybe I want to throw my hat in the ring and I want to apply for a license." It's way more complicated than that, that I've come to find out.

It takes a lot of capital and paperwork and all these different things that most people don't consider. Can you just give us a brief summary of what you think people don't consider but should if they're wanting to invest in either a dispensary or a cultivation license, and what that all entails?

Diane: Well, it really varies so much from state to state, but one thing that we see that has pretty much proven true as each new state rolls out their medical marijuana programs for businesses, many of the states don't even have a business structure. They just kind of do the decriminalization for the patients. But then they don't give the patient a legal way to access their medicine. They still have to purchase from the illicit market.

And in states where they are putting together a business structure what people don't understand is this is like a giant government RFP. And it takes months and months and months of preparation, working with people, like ourselves, who are familiar with this industry and how other states have rolled out their specific procedures of planning.

It takes a lot of capital. Sometimes you have to show that you have over a year's worth of operational capital on hand to make sure that your business exists after they award you these coveted licenses.

And then building your team so that you have a lot of subject matter experts on your team, not just the "master grower." That's usually the first person that people think of to hire, but someone who's good with security, someone who really knows security, or someone who really understands logistics and facility design and things like that. And it really takes time for you to build the right team that a government regulator is going to look at and say, "They're going to be able to carry out things the way we want them to, and they're going to make us look good." They definitely don't want to choose a licensee that isn't going to carry out the regulations as they see them.

Matthew: Right. And it seems like the trend is even more so in this direction, because states have kind of learned from other states on doing things differently than was done in the past. Can you talk a little bit about how Illinois... they kind of did a private licensing application process. Did they do that because they had learned the lessons of other states that did a public license application process and all the fallout? Can you tell us a little bit about that, how Illinois did things a little differently?

Diane: Well, I'm not sure what you between public and private. I know that...

Matthew: I thought, like, Massachusetts, didn't they do it where it was open to the public, the application process? And then Illinois, it's private. So you can't really see all the people who applied. Is that accurate?

Diane: Oh, you're right. In those terms, yes, after the people submitted their applications, Massachusetts did post the name of the business organization and also the main point of contact, which I actually thought was odd. I think most places don't publish that kind of thing.

I think it's given Massachusetts a lot of heartburn because that whole rollout is falling apart because the licensees that they did award licenses to have been further scrutinized because of all this public access that they've given, and the program still hasn't rolled out, and it's been nearly a year since they awarded the initial licenses.

Illinois, contrary to Massachusetts, they have not published the names of the applicants. I'm fairly certain that they will post the licensees when they're awarded, but I'm not certain how much information they will actually disclose to the public.

Matthew: Great. Great information. Thanks so much, Diane. Well, we hope to have you on again soon, because everything is changing so quickly and we need updates. If listeners want to reach out to you, what's the best way to contact CANNA Advisors?

Diane: The best way to contact CANNA Advisors is to go to our website. It's T-H-I-N-K, or you can call us at 720-708-3154.

Matthew: Thanks, Diane.

Diane: Thanks, Matt. Thanks for having me.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at

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

Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on Email us at We'd love to hear from you.

Alan Brochstein – Marijuana Stocks, The Pitfalls & Opportunities

alan brochstein

Alan Brochstein founder of 420 Investor tells you how to understand the universe of cannabis stocks. Alan shows us how to navigate away from 90% of marijuana stocks you don’t want. He also highlights his favorites stocks and how to get started investing.

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Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Each week I'll take you behind the scenes interview of the insiders that are shipping 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. Today we're going to hear the story of Alan Brochstein in his business 420 Investor. Allen is going to educate us on how to sidestep the pitfalls that most marijuana investors fall into. We'll also learn how to navigate the turbulent waters in the marijuana height machine to find a few perils that most investors will never find.

Matthew: Welcome, Alan.

Alan: Hey, Matt. Thanks for having me.

Matthew: Great. Well, thanks for being on the show. Can you give our listeners a little bit of background about yourself and how you got started in the investment world and particularly in cannabis?

Alan: Sure. I've been in the investment industry since graduating college in 1986. I've spent the first 14 years or so in bonds, spent half that time in New York city, came back to my hometown in Houston where I reside now. I worked in equities until 2007. I've been a portfolio manager and analyst in principle at a firm that manage about half a billion dollars investing in mid cap growth. So very fortunate to have been able to transition away from bonds and into stocks much more of my alley. In 2007 I went off on my own. I started providing independent research to several different hedge funds and institutional money managers. I stumbled upon the cannabis market in early 2013 and was totally fascinated. I'm a lifelong libertarian so I believed in cannabis legalization just purely for the simple reason that it should be legal, keep the government out of the bedroom-type argument.

What I didn't know was about the medicinal benefit, but before I go there, as a professional analyst, I looked at this market and was just blown away. The companies were shoddy, evaluations were off the charts. I happen to find this right after the Colorado and Washington elections and things were kind of crazy but I spent the next six months or so really diving into the sector, learning about the medicinal benefits and when Sanjay Gupta, the Chief Medical correspondent in CNN, did this 180 in August of 2013, it really captured my attention and made me kind of commit myself to spending more time. I launched a service 420 Investor which has grown to be one of the largest online communities on the internet right now focused on the cannabis space. I went full time in March of this year, so that's how I spend all my time right now.

Matthew: Okay, and to really talk about cannabis stocks, we really need to educate listeners about what the OTC market is. Can you tell us a little bit about what OTC means and is there any particular gotchas or bigger buyer beware signs that investors should consider when investing in OTC stocks?

Alan: Yeah, this is a great way to start the conversation. This is how actually I start, when we get new subscribers it's the first thing I make sure people see. OTC is over the counter, maybe not everybody is familiar with that term but penny stocks, that's what the vast, vast majority of the sector is. In fact, I tracked over 200 companies, I don't follow them all closely, but I'd say 98% of them are penny stocks. This is very important because the level of disclosure is not nearly as high. A lot of them do file with the SEC, but even in those circumstances these stocks are highly speculative. They need to continue to access capital or they won't be able to stay in business. That's what the investors need to be aware of, these are very speculative. I can't say that loudly enough. This is not my background. My background was in more traditional stocks - SMP, 500 stocks, Russell 2000, small cap stocks, which obviously are risky as well. The risks with OTC stocks or penny stocks are exponentially higher in the market in general.

Matthew: Sure. Has the SEC gotten involved lately kind of putting some of these companies in time out? I forget what the actual term is for that but...

Alan: Yeah, they have. Suspension is the word. This has been one of the interesting things. For your listeners that aren't familiar, just to back up a little bit, after the Colorado and Washington voted to legalize in November of 2012, there were just a handful of, "marijuana stocks." None of them actually had much to do with marijuana but they were perceived to be placed. Kind of like what were going through with the Ebola right now. Nobody really knows these companies necessarily but if they think they might be on to something it gets the speculative juices flowing for traders and maybe even investors. The SEC is interesting. They work hand-in-hand with the FINRA, which is a self-regulatory organization that oversees the market and supposed to protect the investors. FINRA came out in August of 2013 after that massive rally following the Colorado-Washington elections in late 2012 in which the market had doubled basically, early in the year and then sold off, it was actually down year-to-date, and FINRA comes out and they waived their standard warning. They've been doing these things at least since 2001 since 911, because there's one thing constant about penny stocks, the scammers are always there.

It's always like right now it's going to be Ebola but most recently it was marijuana, 3D printing might have been one, anthrax was one back in 2001. FINRA is always coming up with something to, and rightfully, to warn investors about, and marijuana's turn came up. I think their timing was really poor. The market actually pretty much bottomed right about the same time as FINRA warned that first time in August of 2013. And then as the year began 2014, the stocks in general went up seven-fold. Hard to believe, I've never seen anything like it in my life. So when that happened FINRA... I sure say to myself, "We really better warn them now." And they put out another warning, and I, 100%, support what they were doing even though their timing wasn't so great the first time, but it didn't matter after their warning... well, they weren't up seven-fold yet as they were climbing, but it didn't matter, after that warning stocks kept climbing.

It wasn't until the SEC came in, it was early March, and the first time they suspended the company, I'll explain that in just a minute, but it wasn't really one that people followed too much and same with the second one. I believe it was the third one which was about March 25th, if I recall, was a really solid company in a kind of... that happened right after the market had peaked. And then the fourth one was one of the... I'll say it again, it was one of my favorite companies. Nobody that I'm aware of can fully explain what happened, but that company was called Grow Life, or it still is called Grow Life, simple PHOT, and that really set the tone.

In over the next few months the SEC suspended a bunch of companies. Most of them probably deserved to be suspended. I'd still say that the two that I just mentioned, one of them was a very technical thing, it had nothing to do with the company and then Grow Life very unclear why that happened. So a suspension doesn't sound like the worst thing in the world. What it entails is two weeks of not being able to trade. The problem is when you come back, you go to what's called the gray market, which is basically purgatory. Very few stocks emerged from the gray market.

Remember earlier in this conversation, your prior question, you asked about the OTC and the risks and all that. Well, the gray market is worse even than the penny stocks, the pink sheets and the other OTC levels because the liquidity dries up. You can't get a quotation, you have to trade old school. You got to call up your broker, give him a phone order, there's no electronic trading, there's no money market makers making bids and offers so it gets very difficult to trade. And as I said when I answered your question, these companies required capital. So it's very difficult for company trading on the gray sheets to get people to lend them money or to buy their stock through private market.

So long story short, the SEC... there were some people... I might have been one of them, I'm not going to say, who thought that they were trying to cool the market, it make sense that they were quite frankly. I think that there are a lot of bad actors in the space. The SEC ended up suspending, I think, 14 if I'm not mistaken, it's been so long I kind of haven't been focused on them recently. The last one was a obscure company based in Canada but incorporated in Nevada, and then before that some really bad companies, that everybody knew that were bad, that goes back to June 6. So truly been awhile since this has been a hot issue but it certainly one of the big issues of the year and one of the reasons why the market finally broke after going up seven-fold.

Matthew: So you kind of the antithesis of the pump-and-dump shops in Wall Street, so for people who aren't familiar this is how it works, I think and correct me if I'm wrong, is that these pump-and-dump shops get everybody all excited over these penny stocks that maybe they bought at a super low price, and then once everybody's nice and excited as very frothy they dump it. And if you bought those stocks you're left holding the bag and they're generally not good stocks.

Alan: That's very accurate.

Matthew: Okay.

Alan: Yeah, my business model is very different. My full source of income is... well, okay, I'm a blogger in Seeking Alpha, I've been blogging there for almost eight years. That's a small part of my income, very, very small now, The vast, vast, vast majority of my income is exclusively from my subscribers. I don't invest in any of these stocks. Sometimes I get some criticism for that like... because I understand the point. People say they like the chef to eat his own cooking. I do get that point but I've really tried to structure myself, my business I should say, to be as transparent and conflict-free as possible. Like you said I'm the opposite of a pump-and-dump. I have no vested interest in any company, I don't get paid by any company. I don't get paid if their stock goes up or goes down. I only get paid if my subscribers continue to subscribe.

Matthew: Sure that makes sense, good motivation there. Switching gears to GW Pharma which has been on the news recently, can you tell us a little bit about that company and also a little bit about synthetics in general?

Alan: Sure. GW Pharma stands out, as I mentioned, almost all the companies in the cannabis space are penny stocks, but GW Pharma is not a penny stock. They trade on the NASDAQ. Their primary listing is in the U.K. The company's been added since 1998 and it has been public since 2001. They did something very smart, I'll tell you more about the company in a second, but just so your listeners understand, they listed on the NASDAQ in May of 2013. It was without fanfare quite frankly. The stock didn't do anything for months but then it took off. That NASDAQ IPO it was... they actually sold shares in IPO and I believe it was a little bit under $9. It peaked earlier this year at 111.46 on July 1st, and today it traded below 60, it's the lowest it's traded for quite some time. To answer your question, GW Pharma is 100% focused on cannabinoids science. They work with the plant, not synthetic, which we'll talk about in a second. Their lead drug is Sativex, that was their first drug approved on, I believe, 27 different markets but the main market would be the United States and they're in clinical trials here.

Two different indications the first one it's going for is against cancer pain and the second one would be for treating one of the side effects of multiple sclerosis called spasticity. That's what they got the approval for in those other countries, but advance cancer pain they decided would be an easier approval in the United States. Of course, to get approval in the United States they have one issue that has to be resolved which would be right now, cannabis is Schedule One, which means the government thinks it provides no medicinal value whatsoever. So that has to be resolved. Their main drug is called Epidiolex and this is a game-changer.

I like the story a lot before and I'm not going to mention any other things but they also have candidates for schizophrenia, ulcerative colitis - I don't want to miss some big one - glioma which is a brain cancer, and I think there's one other one that they're working on but the main one is the drug they call Epidiolex which is for rare childhood epilepsy. That's a very large market and it's not treated very well. The drugs are highly toxic, terrible side effects, and these children... that's a very easy identified target market. I mean, these kids need help, they're having these uncontrolled seizures, so very, very poor quality of life as it happens. Epidiolex actually has little to no THC in it. It's mainly cannabidiol which kind of gets to your next question.

Before I talk about cannabidiol and synthetic, I just want to say that GW Pharma is a great company, it's a biotech. One of the things I look for in a biotech would be, you want to make sure they're not a one-trick pony. While the company is a hundred percent focused on cannabis, they have multiple drug development programs, lots of intellectual property, like I said, they've been active since 1998, clearly a great company. But who knows what the value is? If Epidiolex succeeds, the value is a lot higher. If it fails I don't if the rest of the pipeline will justify the current valuation which is sixty or so dollars, works out to be about 1.2 billion, a little bit over $1.2 billion.

So very interesting and one last point before I go to the synthetics, is they have partnerships with leading pharmaceutical companies around the world for Sativex. I mean, so very interesting story. Now I think what's been going on with the stock recently, I've been talking about this for quite some time but there's a risk that the FDA will not approve their drug or the DOLE approves an alternative. One of the alternatives would be synthetic cannabidiol or CBD. That's the primary ingredient that's in Epidiolex. So synthetic just means it's manufactured and it's not coming from cannabises, it's chemically-derived.

There are no clinical trials even underway yet, but there's a company that was able to get what's called orphan designation from the FDA. Even though GW is ahead in the lab there's always a chance that this company INSY, I-N-S-Y, is able to leapfrog them and there's always this underlying risk because, let's face it, the FDA would much rather approve a synthetic drug that's standardized, the same vile would always be the same no matter what, and not have to reschedule even if [inaudible 17:39:00]. This is definitely a risk. I think that may be weighing on the company, it's been a real momentum stock and it's hard to tell what's going on. It could just be, just in general, market softness and the fact that stocks had such a run up and people are now locking on one-year long-term capital gains on the stocks as well.

Alan: That makes sense. What stocks are you most excited about, your maybe top two or three that you're sure.

Matthew: Sure. Well, I have to tell you so the market has given up almost 100% of the year-to-date gains. The low last year I've an index, my partners and I have an index that we monitor just to put things into context, that index began at 100 at the end of 2012, 12/31/12. It traded as high as I think 240 last February 2013, bottomed at about 70, ended the year at 159, had a little run up at the end of the year. So right now it's in the 170, so we're still up a little bit year-to-date. I just want to... I like to lay that out because first of all, things are very volatile.

Second of all, the ups and downs we're kind of in a down cycle right now but it's hard to tell. Like I said it bottomed at 70 last year. We bought it from 10/10 it was a high this year to about 175 or so as we're speaking right now. So I do like GW. I think that's one of my favorite names. There are no companies in the world like it. Now that doesn't mean we're going to make money with it. I like it at lower prices as well, but now with the pull back, almost at 50% pull from the peak, I think it's interesting again. We spent a lot of time talking about that but that would be one of the ones that I find most interesting.

Another company that I like is called the mCig, they're based in Bellevue, Washington. They started off doing a $10 vape pen. For a traditional marijuana consumers, the vape pen is a head scratcher because it's like, "What's the point?" but there's actually the whole trend towards vaping in general has a lot of support behind it, health reasons one of them. Another just being it's less wasteful. If you buy cannabis and you smoke it, you're burning a lot that you're not using. So it's a lot more efficient to vape. mCig started off as a $10 vape pen, very simple almost a disposable if you think about it.

Since then they've done a lot and I'm not going to go in all the details but they have a separate subsidiary called Vitasic. They've raised the price but the $5 disposable vitamin-enriched vape pens, they have nothing to do with cannibis. There's actually a lot of signs out there that smoking on a vape pen, or smoking's not the right word, inhaling on a vape pen can help you quit smoking, with no nicotine neither. So that's one of the interesting place, plus people think they're cool, I don't know, I'm 50 years old, it's not cool to me but I see the Leo's out there using them so it's obviously cool.

Matthew: Right, right. Yeah, the movie star, right?

Alan: Yeah, exactly, but then the third thing that they have they bought a tabletop. They didn't pay very much for it either but they bought a tabletop, vaporizer and so the whole trend towards vaporization, I'd say the negative is it's a little bit commoditized. But I like mCig for a lot of reasons. On the product front I feel like they have the low-end covered very well. Nobody has been as successful as them at penetrating the low-end, creating a brand with the mCig. And then they also have the high-end covered and I think that overtime they'll continue to fill in their products. Second of all, the company is debt-free, very unheard of among these penny stocks. The guy, the CEO, the guy behind it has shown himself to be very shareholder friendly.

Now the knock against the company continues to be it's expensive. At the current price of about twenty cents per share, which is way down from the peak at 90 or so since, it still has the way I calculate it, about a hundred million market cap. This is a huge multiple to the revenue. So that's kind of the... I don't think it's unique in the space unfortunately. Most of these companies... most companies on the OTC for that matter, valuations usually quite challenging to say the least. I'd like to think this company can grow into this valuation but I'd say that's the biggest risk. I throw out one more and that is, I want to talk more about the topic of Canadian medical marijuana but...

Matthew: Sure.

Alan: ... there are now five publicly traded companies there. The one that I like the best is called Bedrocan. Bedrocan has been the monopoly supplier. I need to be careful, it's called Bedrocan cannibis. They're affiliate, I guess it's the right way to say it, Bedrocan NV which does own a stake and has a supply agreement, is also transferring IP, things like that. They are the monopoly provider in the Netherlands. The company has been around for quite some time. They know how to grow cannabis, they know how to deal with government antitheism. We can talk more about Canada later but the point I want to make about Bedrocan is their strategy, I think, is brilliant but it kind of looks... I guess the short-term investors they don't quite understand it and that is they started off in this Canadian legal system importing. They are importing so that their profits aren't going to be very high at first because they have to pay to import it.

At any rate, there's only 13 licensed producers in Canada so far. Five of them are publicly trading and Bedrocan has among the highest in terms of patients and reported revenue. But things are just getting started in Canada. Long story short, I think the valuation on Bedrocan is the best among the Canadian license producers and I think of all the companies I've looked at that's the easiest one for me to get my hands around the valuation. Depending on how you look at it, but fully diluted, assuming all the warrants that are right now above the current price were to get exercisers 90 million shares, Canadian stock trading at 66, so that's 16 million Canadian market cap in the United States, obviously a little bit lower than that because 88 and a half percent right now about so...

Matthew: Is there a ticker symbol for that you could share?

Alan: Yeah, so in Canada, that's were trades are very liquidly, it's B-E-D. There's a convenience ticker in the United States B-N-R-D-F. It's not actually a listed ticker.

Matthew: And for mCig, is there a ticker M-C-I-G or...?

Alan: That's correct.

Matthew: Okay, very good. Where do you see institutions coming into play? I mean, generally they have a fiduciary relationship with the pensioners and they might view OTC stocks as too risky. Is that accurate?

Alan: Oh, yeah. The institutions are nowhere to be found in the United States. I spoke at the socionomics conference in April, it was in Atlanta, that's where their headquartered, and the very thoughtful group mainly high network individuals and institutions were in attending tonight. I addressed this topic and I can tell you I got excited not because I thought that they were about to buy these stocks, that's for sure they're not. But the fact that they're interested. So, Matt, you raised the right point. They're not going to buy OTC stocks right now. They're not going to pay these crazy valuations but they're very interested. I think that they would invest before cannabis becomes legal in the United States that's kind of a question.

So where are the institutional investors who do want to play in the market? Well, they're certainly in GW Pharma, that's very heavily institutionally owned. That's one of the things I like about the Canadian market. Canadian medical marijuana is federally legal there. Tweed was the first company, there's some others, TWD on the TSX Venture. I mentioned that there's five companies now that are trading publicly in Canada. Tweed was the first, they all trade on a TSX Venture. The regulatory requirements there are much higher than our penny stock markets. They don't have the primary listings there but the kind of junior listings are well above the pink sheets in the United States for instance.

And institutions in Canada are definitely investing. I don't have really strong evidence of major positions by companies, institutional investors in the United States, but I've identified several institutions that do have holdings in these Canadian license producers.

Matthew: Sure, makes sense. Let's talk a little bit about Warren Buffett, the most famous investor in history maybe, arguably. He talks about how when he's evaluating companies or stocks, he looks for durable competitive advantage or he often calls it a moat, and that is a barrier to entry for competitors to come in and steal the profit margin by just duplicating what this company or that company is doing. You could see it with one of his favorite investments - Coca Cola, and they have a trade secret in their formula and their brand. He also recently bought Heinz ketchup, which their trade secret or their formula. So they have these durable competitive advantages. What companies out there in the cannabis space do you see that have a true durable competitive advantage or at least the beginning as one?

Alan: It's funny you mentioned Warren Buffett because there was something going around the internet, it's true actually, not everything on the internet is true. Warren Buffett-owned company actually is a cannabis play. It's neither we're talking about. I doubt Warren Buffett even knows about this but...

Matthew: Is this Cubic? Cubic...

Alan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah you got it. I don't know if that triggered your question or not, that's not. That does not have a moat in it. It's interesting because I'm actually... one of the companies... one of my patent portfolios they... I don't know if I should say that, but let's say their product would work with the Warren Buffett companies' product. This company that I'm talking about sells, no moat around this, Matt, but they sell reconditioned cargo containers. They're retrofitted to service like miniature growth facilities, self-contained growth facilities. And that the Warren Buffett company Cubic or whatever it is,, basically makes scaffolding that goes around it so that you can stack these things. But to answer your question, this is obviously important. Investors on the space need to understand it's federally illegal right now, okay, federally illegal.

So what this means is there is not going to be a Coca Cola or a Heinz right now. In general, the market is going to be fragmented. It's going to be populated by smaller companies that operate regionally for the most part. When it comes to brands, there are several that are attempting to be a national brand, none of them are in a public market yet. I think that investors will like that and you could get some sort of moat but the moat is probably not going to be a secret ingredient, quite frankly. It'll just going to be in the brand. There are some things that take place in the industry. Again, for the most part, these are not in publicly traded companies, but there's certain types of software that enable regulatory compliance. You can imagine that being... if you built the best mouse trap and becoming industry standard, that would give you a thing, but then again that's not in a public domain right now.

There are companies with proprietary growth technology, some of those are in the public space but I don't think they're proof enough and I don't want anyone to share this symbol. I think that's everybody's goal. We have a huge industry right now that already exists. It's not like this is a brand new industry. Size of markets in the many, many billions, low-end I hear 60 billion, high-end 150 billion. The growth opportunity is what happens is this illegal industry transitions to legal. And I think big picture one of the things investors need to be aware of is you need to have regulatory compliance. And so I mentioned already the software that helps you do that when it obviously be important. Quality of product has never really been... or cost of production, neither of those things have ever really been the key determinants to success in the marijuana space. It's really avoiding getting caught for the most part. So you've had... your suppliers haven't needed to focus on lowering their cost of production so much.

Any sort of process that can improve quality, lower cost of production, this has the potential to create that moat that you're talking about, I don't really see it. Now, if I really answer your question the best I can, I would will tell you that GW Pharma has as close to a moat as you can. It's very interesting, they have a huge patent portfolio. We can't patent a cannabis, you can't even patent strains but they have some patents on technology around it. I think that, on top of the huge investment that they've made in R&D over the last... what is it now, 17 years, 16 years, that in an essence creates a moat. There'll be a lot of companies, I'd like to say, were the next GW Pharma and I would say, "Yeah, right. No." So I would say that's one. And then what else makes a moat? A moat can be created by the government, quite frankly. If you hear it in the... well, all across the country.

I know we have deregulated power now, but the utilities, they are protected by the government in the same way in certain states, at least for now, licenses are being limited. Now, there are no public company ways to take advantage of this but if you're private investor you might consider trying to get a license in Massachusetts, it could be very lucrative. They're limiting the number of licensees. Now, Canada, which I think is one of the most interesting opportunities for cannabis investors right now, has an unlimited number of producers theoretically. So far 13 have been approved, it's been a long time since they've made a new approval. In fact, they took one away. There were 14 now there's 13. On the one hand, the moat is not there because the government theoretically has unlimited number of licenses available, but on the other hand, the barriers to entry are so big. Even if you get that license to actually successfully offering that system is going to be huge. So I think overtime the Canadian market may fall into that type of moot type of opportunity.

Matthew: That makes sense. Now talking a little bit about Schedule One, and that's a great point to keep on emphasizing this, cannabis is still federally illegal which is a huge impetus to a lot of the stocks in the industry moving forward till that gets changed. We've got some big elections coming up here in November. Oregon, Washington DC, Florida has a medical marijuana on the ballot. I mean, obviously there's a trend in play here. Does the trend have enough momentum you think to get a change at the federal level from moving cannabis from Schedule One to something else less severe?

Alan: So this election season is interesting, it's a midterm election and not the four-year national election. You mentioned all of them. On the legalization front, I think DC is the least interesting to me because if they're not talking about a ROPE program there. They're really... it's what I would call extended decriminalization. I'm for decriminalization but what you really want to see is legal production as well as legal consumption. That's the case in Alaska and Oregon. And I would just point Alaska is a small country and it's not contiguous, so probably not as relevant. But Oregon is contiguous to California. We already have Washington and Oregon, you look on the map you see Colorado. All things point to California. That is the hugest market in the country. I do think that that election in Oregon could be pretty interesting.

On the other side of the country, Florida at the Burroughs High, they need 60% of the voters to pass, but if they do so, they'll have medical marijuana creating the first program in the South. The South is not known for being progressive so I'm really rooting for this. I think it's a game changer for the national perspective, let's call it. I'm here in Texas by the way, your listeners may not know that, we're thought to be one of the least likely to get medical marijuana but I'm kind of encouraged. I'm aware of what's going on here on the ground. I think a victory by the voters in Florida would help here in Texas where the voters have no say, it's really the legislature but that's a different story. But all this doesn't really change the big picture which is, like you said, cannabis remains federally illegal and that's not necessarily a bad thing for investors, by the way.

It allows opportunity for the next several years until federal legality is established. My own estimate, and it's consistent with many others in the industry, would be that, maybe at the end of the next President's election it could happen. That's... you know, we're talking about 2020 basically, 2019 maybe. But I'm not so sure that it will. Government has been fighting a losing battle for a long time. It's not like when you get the majority the states of medical marijuana, the states are going to have some sort of States Right issue and make it federally national, that's not the way it's going to work. The stigma needs to be eroded and proof of success needs to be shown. I think Colorado has been a great example on the legal front. Washington the switch just turned in July so it's really too early to tell, but hopefully that one works out as well as Colorado or close. To answer your question, I don't think that the tide is turned yet.

Matthew: Okay. Looking out at the landscape of cannabis executives out there and all the different companies, are there any that stand out, that really have the Midas touch or seem to be able to execute in the way that others can't?

Alan: Yeah, you know that's a funny question because one of the things about the OTC, it's not the A-Team or even the B-Team typically. You got a temper that responds with the bars of very low. I've been doing this now for almost two years and two people have really stood out to me. The first I kind of talked about him earlier, I'll name him by name now but the CEO of mCig, his name is Paul Rosenberg. He has done a very good job, I think, of being shareholder friendly. Like I said, the company has no debt which is rare for the OTC space in general, and certainly for the marijuana stocks it inhabited. Second, he has shown a lack of willingness. Lack of willingness? I'm not saying that right. He has shown a resolved, that's the way I want to say it. A resolved not to dilute his shareholders. Since day one there's not a single share beyond what was outstanding that day.

So this is a great start. He's kept it simple, he's kept his messages very focused, he's done a good job of updating shareholders. Yes, he has his surprises but they're usually positive not negative. He's done some interesting deals and he's been willing to dilute himself. So rather than charge the shareholders for that vapolution acquisition that I mentioned, the tabletop vaporizer, he just used his own shares. I think that's a smart strategy because, let's face it, as I said earlier, the stock's expensive. So how do you create value? You take your expensive stock and you turn it in to something that can produce value overtime. That's kind of his philosophy, and the good thing for shareholders is he's been willing to do that out of his own pocket at least for now.

The second person that's really impressing me is a guy by the name of Derek Peterson, he's a CEO of a company called Terra Tech, T-R-T-C. I talked to a lot of people in the industry and Derek's name is always highly regarded. I asked people for feedback on him, I've introduced him to people, deals sometimes follow these introductions, I always get positive feedback. He has unique experience, he has kind of a Wall Street type of background, but also cannabis, he's separate from Terra Tech. He is one of the principals in the Bloom dispensary in Oakland, California. What I look for in these companies are executives who understand Wall Street and common modern business practices, let's call it, and also people who have some roots in the cannabis space. He seems to offer a lot of balance there. So those are two that have stood out for me.

Matthew: That's great. I'd love to get them on the show some time. You speak really highly of them.

Alan: You won't get Paul Rosenberg, he's very averse to publicity. Derek, on the other hand, has been featured all sorts of places. I can set that up for you probably pretty easily.

Matthew: Oh, great.

Alan: Two polar opposites when it comes to media.

Matthew: Okay. Now a technical question, there's a lot of listeners that won't be familiar with what technical analysis is. Can you give a little background on what that is and if you use it, how you use it?

Alan: Sure. I think one of my philosophies in life is... well, I think you can borrow from a lot of different things, there's no single path. There are people in the investment industry that can tell you everything about a company. They can tell you the birthday of the CEO, what date all the filings have come up the last year, whatever. But they know the company like at the back of their hand, but they couldn't tell you the stock price if their life depended on it. Then you have other people... and that by the way is a fundamental analyst. They're paid to look at the company and do research on the facts about the company and their operations and their valuation too.

Then on the other side you have technical analysis, that's basically looking at charts and volume and prices things like this, sentiment indicators, whatever the tools are, but if you were to ask the successful ones there what they do, and then you said, "Well, what does this company actually do?" They would like, "I don't know, I don't care." So these are two kind of extremes. I think in the middle strategy that uses both fundamental and technical analysis overtime is going to serve people well. So I think in the OTC space, which is where the vast majority of these marijuana stocks are, technicals are very important. You have a lot of volatility, so that's a tool that I find helpful. Now these are just tools. They're not magic eight balls that work. Magic eight ball doesn't work obviously but...

Matthew: It does for me.

Alan: Yeah, I tried to use both of them actually and I do think... you get these people say, "No, fundamental analysis is the only way." Or, "Technical analysis tastes great less filling." I don't think so and I think on the OTC space specially it's very important to pay attention to technicals. There's a lot of shenanigans going in, these things can be faded out with technicals in my view.

Matthew: Now there's no derivatives for OTC stocks, is that correct?

Alan: That is correct.

Matthew: So if an investor wanted to buy a pall color or puture, engage in some sort of options strategy like a color butterfly, all these things don't exist for OTC market...

Alan: Correct. In our space, like on our site, actually I have a gentleman who works with me and one of the things he focuses on is sharing his ideas on GW Pharma options but that's not OTC.

Matthew: Okay.

Alan: And that's a very volatile stocks so selling... puts some calls can be a liquid strategy.

Matthew: Sure. Supposed there's a lister out there that wants to start, to put his or her toe in the water with marijuana stocks. I mean, my key takeaway today is that this is very risky and there's so many charlatans out there, it really takes somebody that's spending a lot of time on it like you to navigate this choppy waters and find the few that are worth looking at. That being said, someone that's maybe got some background with stocks and bonds and some real estates, where does marijuana stocks fit in to the portfolio?

Alan: Sure. There's a nice way and a not so nice way to describe it. Irked some of my subscribers by using a term, so I'm going to use the nice one first. Think of it as like venture capital. These are very speculative startup companies, development stage for the most part, not the cream-of-the-crop quite frankly, unfortunately. The marijuana industry is pretty big. Even the legal marijuana industry is gaining size, but most of the industry is not represented by this public companies. You can invest privately in companies, and I actually have a service that hopes with that, Comfort 20 Funders, but you know there's risk on investing privately, liquidity being the huge one.

But if you're looking into public market, think of it as like investing in a public venture capital type of endeavor. The Pejorda [SP] term I use is lottery ticket, and I don't mean it as badly as it sounds. But in a lot of ways that's what this market is. I mentioned there's over 200 names of report to be cannabis companies. I have a focus list much lower than that about 32 names, but even on that list I don't think a lot of those companies are going to make it. I always tell when people ask me, I say 90% of the companies aren't going to make it and a lot of those because they're just crooks quite frankly. So, yeah, I've hired private detectives to help me, that's usually not in the resources of individual investor so...

Matthew: I like it.

Alan: Yeah, so what do you do? So to answer your question, if you're going to participate in the industry, try to find a few companies that you actually think are legitimate. Like I said, I found maybe a dozen or so, that's the first. And second, realize that your chances of playing that are not great. We're very early. So what does that mean to you as an investor? Don't put all your eggs into this basket and diversify within the basket. Pretty common type of stuff, but these are very important lessons in this space because they're very volatile, and my favorite company, I told you one of my favorite is mCig, started the year at nine cents went to 90 cents and it's back to 20 cents. It's having a good year, it's up a hundred percent. But it's not having a good year for anybody that bought it after the year began, quite frankly. Even me I thought it looked okay and say it's 30 cents a couple of weeks ago and now it's a 20. So don't put all your eggs in the basket so that you can afford these draw downs because they happen.

Matthew: Sure, and when you do get a winner it sounds like it could be a hundred percent multiplication on the value so I mean...

Alan: Sometimes in two days. Thanks, Matt, because I wanted to make the point also, don't be an investor in the space. It's ironic because I call them service optimistically 420 Investors, maybe 420 Trader would've been better. It's just not a buy and hold market and I think people are kicking themselves for not selling after these big runs. I have these mono portfolios and sometimes the stock will go up a lot and I sell some. And people are like, "Why? Why are you doing that? You're crushing it. Why are you...? You're a rally killer." You just have to get interested with volatility. If you want to be able to buy one when it's getting crushed you've got to sell when it's going up and I guess that's the second piece I would say. Treat them like lottery tickets but cash them in when you win.

Matthew: Makes a lot of sense. Alan, as we close, can you let people know how they find you online?

Alan: Sure. So I love social media now. It was never my thing but what a great way to connect. I have several different ways. First of all, my website is the easiest to remember, it's And if you go there and you've never been there before you'll have to... well, I don't think you have to register but if you do register then you'll be able to go further into it. So, but I can be found on Facebook, it's And I have... I post things there very regularly. If you don't want to be a subscriber to community that's a good way to stay on top of big things that are going on because I do post there. I'm on Twitter, my handle there is @invest420. I'm also on LinkedIn, I run a group there called Cannabis Investors and Entrepreneurs. You can connect with me directly or go straight to that group. And, finally, each trading day, I publish something called I will email it to you if you register on my website, but if you just want to go to that website, it's free and you can get an update every single day.

Matthew: Great. Well, thanks so much again, Alan. This is a great interview. I really appreciate your time.

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Dr. Lester Grinspoon – Harvard Medical School, “We are Brainwashed about Cannabis”

Dr Lester Grinspoon

Dr. Lester Grinspoon is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has been featured in several marijuana documentaries including: The Union and The Culture High. Dr. Grinspoon talks about his personal friendship with Carl Sagan and how his son used cannabis to overcome nausea from Chemotherapy. Dr. Grinspoon believes we are brainwashed by the government to the think marijuana is harmful.

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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 involving 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.

How does a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School overcome tremendous cultural bias against marijuana to become one of the plant's most outspoken advocates? We're going to find out the answer to that question today in our discussion with Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Grinspoon is the author of two books, "Marihuana Reconsidered" and "Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine." We are very fortunate to have Dr. Grinspoon here today. Welcome, Dr. Grinspoon.

Dr. Grinspoon: Thank you. Delighted to be here.

Matthew: So glad to have you on the show. For people that aren't familiar with you, can you provide a little background on your career and how you got started as a cannabis advocate?

Dr. Grinspoon: Yes. In 1966, as I was at that time a young faculty member of the Harvard Medical School. I guess at that time I was an instructor, and I was very interested in opposing the Vietnam War. One of the people I met who shared that interest, this was a very early in and the growing interest in trying to stop that war, I met the man who was to become my closest friend, Carl Sagan.

Matthew: Wow, that's a great friend to have.

Dr. Grinspoon: Yeah, it was. We were very close. I was best man at his last two weddings. We shared an awful lot. And at first, the one issue that existed between us was marijuana. He smoked marijuana and I did not. Furthermore, as we met more of his friends and started to get together with them we discovered they all smoked marijuana and these were not unsophisticated people. I would say, "Hey, you shouldn't be doing that, Carl." His friends, to his friends, "It's a very harmful drug and you're harming yourself."

Matthew: Sure.

Dr. Grinspoon: Carl would say, he'd put a joint to his lips, take a puff and then say, "Lester, try it. It's perfectly safe." Well, I objected to that. Finally, in 1967, I asked myself what the basis for my objection was. Well, really it was what the government, the drug-free America wasn't around at that time. It was just the government. I went into the Countway Library, it's the library at Harvard Medical School, with the intention of writing a short paper, which would be accessible to young people in which I would provide the medical and scientific data which provided the basis for this prohibition. What happened was, and I had an epiphany, I very shortly discovered that I had been 180 degrees off course.

That I, like just about every other American, had been brainwashed into believing that this is a very dangerous drug. I came away from that first experience in the library with, to sum it up, the notion that the most harmful thing about marijuana was not any inherent psychopharmacological property of the drug but rather the way we, as a society, were dealing with it at that time. Mind you, this was '67. Arresting about 300,000 people per year, and as everybody knows it's grown to, over the last few years, an average of about 750,000 per year.

Matthew: Sure.

Dr. Grinspoon: In 2011, it almost reached 900,000.

Matthew: God.

Dr. Grinspoon: And, of course, now we've accumulated somewhere between 24 and 27 million people who have been arrested. Not to speak of the rest of us who have been criminalized by this absurd prohibition.

Matthew: Yeah.

Dr. Grinspoon: So that's how, that short paper was published as the lead article in the Scientific American.

Matthew: Okay.

Dr. Grinspoon: Let's see, November 1969. Now after that came out, there was a lot of people paid attention to that. Several book publishers came to my office and asked me to write a book. I had no intention of doing that. I was involved in other things but finally I agreed to do it with Harvard University Press. I did that for several reasons. One, I found learning about, if marijuana isn't addicting learning about it is. I found it fascinating. Everything from how I had been, like everybody else had been, so deceived about this for so long.

Matthew: How do you think they do deceive? How do you think people do get deceived and brainwashed, as you say, by this? What's the methodology? I mean, I have my own theories but I'd like to get your take on that.

Dr. Grinspoon: Well, the only authority at that time was the government and the government insisted that it was a very dangerous drug. Now that was codified in the 1977 Marijuana Tax Act, which did not prevent it from being used as a medicine at that time but it was so clumsy to use it and you had to pay a tax and so forth. Doctors, not just for that reason, I can go into other reasons why medicine just left marijuana in the dust and has allowed itself by this allopathic medicine, the kind of modern western medicine, the kind of medicine I practice and most people do. It just eschewed having anything to do with medical marijuana. As a consequence, doctors became increasingly ignorant. On the other hand, the government went further than the Marijuana Tax Act. There was the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Act of 1970, which put marijuana in Schedule I, the first of five Schedules, the first being the most limiting of all.

That is, the drugs in it were heroin, LSD, and marijuana. This prevented doctors from doing any research. You can't even do research on Schedule I drugs whereas, for example, cocaine and cytidines at that time were in Schedule II drugs, which are much more difficult than marijuana. All of the drugs, for example, you take any benzodiazepine, they are scheduled and one can get into real trouble with any one of them including becoming really addicted and so forth. The government kept raising the ante of this prohibition until it's become so severe that, as I say, we were arresting almost 800,000 people per year.

Now if you think of the cost of that prohibition and those arrests. When somebody is arrested from that, if they've got a rich daddy who can afford an expensive lawyer, these young kids they didn't go to jail but the people who did and of people who were caught pushing and selling it, many of them went to jail. For anybody who has an arrest record, that now a lot of these people from the '60s and '70s are adults but that arrest record still haunts them and compromises some aspects of their lives. It was a very serious problem.

Matthew: Sure.

Dr. Grinspoon: I put it as though it's in the past tense. As though the prohibition is completely undone but, in fact, I do think that the cat is out of the bag and it's never going to be put in. With 23 states now allowing medical marijuana to a greater or lesser extent and two states where the prohibition has been completely dismantled, I think it's fair to say that the prohibition is well on its way, that is the destruction of this prohibition is well on its way. It seems to me that we are now a bit of a culture looking desperately for a way of dealing with this new kid on the block. But marijuana is really here to stay. It's just a question of defining the rules by which it will be regulated.

Matthew: Sure. It's pervasive though, the medical community, there's still a lot of lingering misunderstanding about the plant. I was watching a video yesterday and this doctor said, "I never felt the need to prescribe my patients dope nor do I feel like that will help them in any way to smoke dope." He's kind of taking this strange view of it like it's still 20, 30 years ago.

Dr. Grinspoon: He doesn't know enough about it.

Matthew: Yeah.

Dr. Grinspoon: There was recent, small poll that you can't take it too seriously but it was interesting to me. It was taken at the Beth-Israel Hospital, which is one of the major Harvard teaching hospitals that were about 70 people have an appointment on that staff. A questionnaire was given to them and about 50% replied, "Well, I don't want to go into all the data on that." It was very interesting that only 7.2% would agree with, say, that I would document a letter that's required by a patient. In this state marijuana now has medical, is a medical marijuana state but it is not a market yet. Only 7.2% said they would sign. You've got to get a document for a letter. That's the only connection with what I call canabinopathic medicine...

Matthew: Sure.

Dr. Grinspoon: ... to allopathic medicine, the modern western medicine. The results also indicated that a vast majority of the citizens consider themselves quite ignorant about marijuana, which doesn't surprise anybody that hasn't been around for a lot of decades now.

Matthew: Sure.

Dr. Grinspoon: The way doctors get their drug education is through the pharmaceutical industry. When we go to medical school we learn all about the theory of pharmacology and we learn about a few drugs but mostly we collect the drugs that we use, information about the drugs that are used every day from the pharmaceutical companies, journals, advertisements, and as you read in the newspaper recently various ways in which the drug companies seduce some physicians to be virtual spokespersons for their products.

Matthew: Yes.

Dr. Grinspoon: It's not surprising, the ignorance of doctors where cannabis is concerned.

Matthew: Yeah.

Dr. Grinspoon: What is amazing is in the... somewhere down the line is going to be seen as a wonder drug just like penicillin was in the early 1940s. You will remember that 1941 we began the Second World War and knowing that most people who die in battle died from infections up until that time. We were going to enter this war with only one antibiotic, sulfonamide, and it wasn't a very good one at that. Two investigators took penicillin down from the shelves where it had been placed after it was discovered in 1928 to see if it had any medicinal uses. To make a long story short, in about five patients to whom were given this, were given penicillin, they had various kinds of gram positive infections. All were cured. This very rapidly, needless to say, was developed so that before long it was three things about penicillin were clear.

One, once it was produced on the Carnegie Scale it was very inexpensive. Two, it was remarkably non-toxic, and three, it was very versatile. It could cure many gram-positive infections. It could cure spirochetal infections, etc. When we look at cannabis now, the same three things hold true. One, once it's free of the prohibition tariff it will be remarkably inexpensive. It will certainly be less expensive than the pharmaceutical products it will replace. Two, it is also very non-toxic. Contrary to what we've all been mis-taught it's not a very harmful drug. It's a remarkably... it's a drug remarkably free of toxicity providing it's used intelligently. And then three, it is very versatile. I won't go into all the things that it's for. When I wrote the book "Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine" Mr. Bakalar and I had anecdotal data that allowed us to describe about a dozen or so symptoms or disorders for which it was useful. Now, if you look at the list of things for which it appears to be useful it's quite large.

Matthew: Yes.

Dr. Grinspoon: So it is a very versatile medicine and becomes more versatile as we learn more about CBD and I suspect some of the other cannabinoids besides are tetrahydrocannabinol.

Matthew: What do you feel? How do you feel about a pharmaceutical drug that's meant to replicate certain properties of the plant like Marinol? Where do you see that? How would you compare Marinol to actually consuming the plant directly?

Dr. Grinspoon: Well, that was a problem for me because I had heard when I was... just when I was starting my... just before I started the book I heard of a little pharmaceutical company called Uniden that was developing a synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol and they did. They synthesized THC. It's the same 21-carbon molecule as nature makes. But I was so excited about it I decided I should sell the stock I bought in them because I thought I would be praising it in this book. I did not want to have a conflict of interest. Well, as it turns out Marinol is not very good but now we know the reason. It is THC, but THC alone doesn't work nearly as well as a combination of CBD, THC, and there has to be terpenoids in it. I call that the ensemble effect. You have to have those three to get most medical, to soothe most medical problems that cannabis can touch.

I was going to say something else about that. What was your question?

Matthew: Do you think that the pharmaceutical companies are going to try to hijack this because it's--

Dr. Grinspoon: Yeah. Well, they can't hijack the whole plant. The plant can't be patented. Pharmaceutical companies make money on a patent, if they can get a patent. It's a 20-year and while it takes up to three years to do all the kinds of studies that are demanded by the FDA before it can come on the market, they then have about 17 years to exploit that. So, for example, when Prozac first got on the market it was sold at a pretty high price and made a huge amount of money until the patent went out. They make a huge still does make money but not at the same order. I believe that the pharmaceutical companies are looking for ways to simulate what cannabis can do and good luck to them. If they can and they can compete price-wise, terrific. I don't think they can do that, but what they might be able to do is, for example, marijuana leads to the munchies. Anybody who uses it knows that. Ordinary dish will seem as a culinary experience...

Matthew: That's right.

Dr. Grinspoon: ... when one is high. Now, if a pharmaceutical company could invent an inverse agonist to this munchies effect. In other words, one which would do just the opposite, make whatever you taste not very interesting, they might have the first really safe appetite suppressant. On that they could make a lot of money. I don't rule out the fact that the pharmaceutical companies as they explore, and they are desperately exploring now the various cannabinoids and combinations, they may come up with some things that are more useful. The things they have come up with now, for example, GW Pharmaceuticals, a British firm.

Matthew: Yes.

Dr. Grinspoon: What they've done is provided liquid marijuana. It's THC and CBD. It's expensive and you have to take it, they say you take it, they say it's absorbed under the tongue. To the extent that some of it stays under the tongue and then is absorbed by the buccal mucosa, that effect will come on in about 15 to 20 minutes but most of it probably runs down into the esophagus and gets swallowed. If you've got to keep something under your tongue very long you find that it seeps out of there and you swallow it. Now, when it's swallowed it's like any other oral marijuana. The effects don't start for an hour and a half or two. On the other hand, the stuff that goes through the buccal membrane, because of the different circulatory route, it doesn't have to go through the liver and become 11-Hydroxy THC. It goes directly up to the brain and without modification and it is much faster but that's only...

With Sativex it's a bicameral effect. The other ones like Cesamet, the other ones like Marinol, the synthetic THC, in my experience with people who have tried both ones of these synthetics and smoked or ingested whole marijuana bud, every one of them agrees that the latter is a much more effective way. Now, there are people who use Marinol or Cesamet or Sativex, the British one I mentioned, but they do it because they're afraid of the illegality.

Matthew: Sure.

Dr. Grinspoon: They don't want to do anything that's illegal and so this is their choice. Once it becomes not illegal, I mean it's not illegal as far as the state is concerned in 23 states and that's going to increase in this country, but that's state law, federal law, it's still a dangerous drug, to quote the government, and it has no medical use. Once we get to the point where the feds have finally bowed out of this thing or enacted legislation which frees people of that, I think these synthetic drugs are not going to be very profitable for the manufacturers because they're just not as good as using cannabis either smoked or orally. Nowadays, as you know, there are many different ways of taking cannabis bud itself or its products so there is a choice of ways of ingestion.

Matthew: Sure. Now, can you tell us a little bit about your son, Danny, his diagnosis and how you integrated cannabis into his treatment plan?

Dr. Grinspoon: Well, it goes like this. In 1967, which happened to be, as I mentioned before, the year I went into the library to find the basis for this prohibition, my son in July of that year was diagnosed. He became sick, he was diagnosed as having acute lymphocytic leukemia. I asked my Professor of Oncology at the Harvard Medical School when I was a student, was Sidney Farber. I asked Sidney to take care of him, which he did. Danny, at least early in his treatment, was not too uncomfortable, but when he started to get the chemotherapeutics, which can cause nausea. Some of them it's a nausea that goes right down to the toes. That was a problem and he just hated it. One day, after Dr. Farber had left, had retired, his committee organized to find a replacement. Chose a man by the name of Emil Frei who became the head of oncology at the Children's Hospital and shortly after he arrived Betsy, my wife, and I were invited to a dinner party to meet him.

At the dinner party he had read "Marihuana Reconsidered" or at least the chapter on 19th century use of marijuana. I think he was interested in this. His patient Jimmy [inaudible 00:7:58]. I'll get to that. He asked me the question. He said, "Now, cancer chemotherapeutics can cause very bad nausea. Do you suppose this could be used in the treatment of that?" And I said, "Well, it was certainly used for nausea in the 19th century but, of course, cancer chemotherapeutics were not around at that time." The conversation was left at that point. On the way home, Betsy asked me, "Given what you said about that shouldn't we get..." Betsy and I did not smoke it at that. She said, "Shouldn't we get a small amount of marijuana for Danny to see if it will be useful for him in the same way it was useful for Jimmy?"

Oh, I neglected to mention that the reason Dr. Frei - to go back to that conversation at the dinner table. The reason he asked the question, Dr. Frei said was because in Houston, where he'd come from, he had a 17 year old boy who was putting a lot of struggle against taking cancer chemotherapeutics because of the nausea and vomiting which follows. He'd really make it difficult for them getting on the gurney to get the shots and so forth. One day, as Dr. Frei related, Jimmy just came in and hopped up on the gurney, he got his shot, and sort of saluted the people in the treatment team and said, "See you in two weeks." He was due for another one in two weeks. No bitching or complaining or anything. He came in the second time and had, again, just got up on the gurney no problem.

Afterwards, Dr. Frei asked him, "Jimmy, this is so different from the way you've treated previous injections. Can you help us understand that?" Jimmy said, "Sure. It's as simple as this. In the parking lot, I smoke just part of a joint." He had to explain to some of them what a joint was. "I do that 20 minutes before I come in." Dr. Frei, that's when he asked me, "Do you think this would have any... this 19th century experience would have any bearing on this?" That's when I said, "Well, it certainly might. I don't know cancer chemotherapeutics but it certainly is a great anti-nausea." So Betsy said, "Shouldn't we get that?" I said, "I don't like the sound of that." I say this, but it's true. I said, "No, we can't because it's illegal and, two, we don't want to offend the people at the Jimmy Fund building who have taken such great care of Danny." That was the end of the conversation.

Well, two weeks later, when I went into the... my office was right near the Children's Hospital and I could just walk over there and meet them in the treatment room. They came in, oh, when I came in they were already there waiting and whereas usually it was very... it was clear that something uncomfortable was coming up. You could read it on their faces. This day they were joking and seemed to be having a good time. Finally, I insisted on being let in on the joke. I was told Betsy had gone up to the high school, the Wellesley High School, and asked his friend Mark in the parking lot, right from the car when Mark there, if she could get him a small amount of marijuana.

She didn't say what for. Mark, once he got over his amazement that Mrs. Grinspoon would ask that, ran off and he was the one who provided Danny with a small amount of marijuana in a pipe. Danny had a few puffs of it in the parking lot, just like Jimmy had done in Houston. When he came in this time I could see he was much more relaxed and secondly, and most importantly, when he got off the table he said, "Hey, Mom. I know there's a Submarine sandwich on Brooklyn Avenue. Could we stop and get one on the way home?" When they got towards Wellesley where we lived he said, "No, no, no. I don't want to go to bed after that. I feel great. I want to go back to school." So she took him back up to the school.

From that time on, the next day I called the people who were on as head of his treatment team and told them I wasn't going to get in the way of his doing this in the future. I was told by the Chief there, "Don't, and have him smoke it in here. I want it in the treatment room. I want to see this for myself." I said, "What about the nurses?" He said, "Don't worry. I'll take care of that." Well, the same thing happened the second time and then he and I went up to see Dr. Frei in his office, he was the head of the department, to tell him that we thought there ought to be some research on this, some modern research. That led to the first paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, I think it was in 1975, on the use. The government wouldn't let it be used on children. It had to be adult men. But at any rate, it certainly worked and it was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which was the first time anything about its therapeutic use and all this had been published in a journal, a medical journal.

Matthew: What a story that is. So he continued to use, Danny continued to use the marijuana to treat the nausea ongoing and it wasn't a problem at all after that.

Dr. Grinspoon: It was no longer... he had many episodes of chemotherapy treatment. He lived for about another year and a half or so. He never, never again had that kind of problem. It was great for the family because we all... he used to seek to take him right home. He would be set up. There'd be a bucket on a towel on the floor and that's where he would be. It wasn't just that he vomited but afterwards the dry heaves and the whole thing would go on for about eight hours. It was a great relief to everybody in the family.

Matthew: That's so good to hear that. What do you think the most promising applications for marijuana are now? I mean, obviously nausea is a big one. Helping people eat who can't eat or don't have a hunger. What are some other applications you see on the horizon that get you excited?

Dr. Grinspoon: Well, there are so many it's hard to mention any one. We don't have the kind of data that we need to say it's clear, it's helpful in Parkinson's Disease, for example. Something I didn't even go into when I first wrote about it as a medicine. We don't know how many people [inaudible 00:36:20]. What about multiple sclerosis? Does it help all of them? Certainly. I've had contact with so many of the people it does help but it doesn't mean I can say, "Hey, marijuana is the best approach for multiple sclerosis." I think it is but we need the kinds of studies to tell how helpful. Now I say that on the one hand but on the other hand it's such a remarkably free drug in terms of toxicity that if it's you [inaudible 00:37:05] you have very little... I will say that many patients who, let's say, some of these patients, for example, the first one I saw with Tourette's Syndrome, which is a people have movements in other words that they can't control.

I didn't know anything about it until a man came up. I think he came from Ohio. He wanted to persuade me. He couldn't over the phone. He came into my office with a friend and he took out a joint and I could describe his symptom but it was very crippling for him. He couldn't, it would be hard for him to do much in life with the head shaking and stuff that he had to do. He lit up a joint and within 30 seconds to a minute he stopped doing that. Then I looked at other people and I have no question about it. There are so many and for many of them I will say the first time, for example, the first time an ulcerative colitis patient came to me for this and I said, "Well, I have no experience with this but it's a drug that isn't going to hurt you. You have to have someone teach you how to use it if you don't know yourself but you can try it and see if it works. If it does, terrific. If it doesn't, you've lost nothing. You won't be harmed by it at all."

Matthew: Sure.

Dr. Grinspoon: And sure enough now that's regularly thought of as a treatment for this as it is for other gastrointestinal diseases. It's hard to say what's the most... like Crohn's Disease, which is a disease of the small intestine. Inflammation and cramping and pain and it used to be solved surgically. A surgeon would go in and take a segment of the inflamed segment of the small intestine out because you have a lot of it, but that was pretty unpleasant and it would recur in another part of it. Well, now people will use cannabis, they start to get cramps and diarrhea or whatever those symptoms are. They start to use cannabis and they can go to work. If you look at the book "Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine" these are patients who are talking about their experience with it. It's pretty convincing but can I say, "This is the treatment." I think it's the best treatment but does it affect... is it useful for every patient who suffers from this?

The answer is we don't know. There are lots of people with Crohn's Disease out there and many more of them are discovering how useful it is, but their doctors should be saying to them, "Well, try it." You know?

Matthew: Right.

Dr. Grinspoon: "It's not going to hurt. I'm going to tell you how to use it or I'm going to insist that you get somebody who knows how to use it to help you to learn to use it and let's see." My bet is if you used it, it will help but it's not going to hurt you to try and prove that.

Matthew: We talk about the medicinal benefits of cannabis and the scientific objective benefits to nausea or maybe seizures but do you think there is a spiritual component to cannabis? Does it enhance your spiritual life?

Dr. Grinspoon: No question. You see, just to go back a bit. When I first was disabused of my notion that this was a harmful substance part of the reason I became interested in it is because it was such an interesting drug. Now, one of the... and now, years later, I believe there are three large somewhat conflated categories of cannabis use. The first one as a recreational drug. It's so far better than any other drug. I mean human creatures innately have a desire to alter consciousness, and I'm not going to go into that. It's a long story but there's no question about that. Alcohol is used recreationally. It provides an altered state of consciousness, in my view, with a lot of bad possibility side effects. Cannabis provides a different kind of altered state of consciousness and one which is pretty free of untoward consequences and there's no hangover in the morning and so forth.

The second category of usefulness is medicine and that's, we've been describing that. There's no question now. There's 23 states and a couple more are going to come on board this November and a couple more are going to get free of the prohibition of the other this November, I mean, election day. It's going to be a very big medicine. In fact, I've just written a paper on cannabinal with cannabinopathic medicine. A paper on where is it going to go because it's outside of allopathic medicine but what we won't get into that now. At any rate, there's medical use.

Then, thirdly, there is what I call the enhancement capacity of marijuana. Now, some of the things it enhances are sort of free completely. I mean, anybody who's taken, I've mentioned the munchies effect, and it really enhances the enjoyment of a meal. There's no question about it. It also... and another one that's sort of free, it comes with a [inaudible 00:44:13] for anybody who's gone to bed with a person he loves stoned knows what it does for the sexual experience. But the enhancement is something that it goes beyond that. Lots of people believe that it helps them in achieving states that they can't do as easily when they're not stoned. For example, a spiritual state. Listen to the St. John Passion without cannabis and listen to it with it. It's a different experience [inaudible [00:44:57].

People who are creative use it. Carl Sagan, who was very creative and very successfully creative in a number of directions, he found it very useful.

Matthew: Did you and Carl ever partake in cannabis together?

Dr. Grinspoon: Oh, many times.

Matthew: That had to be some interesting conversations. I mean, for everybody out there that watched Cosmos way back when and now the remade version of Cosmos that's out is just incredible. I know his family is involved in producing that. What were some of the things that you two talked about? Did you get into outer space or extraterrestrial?

Dr. Grinspoon: I could... we used to talk about some things. I couldn't possibly replicate the things we talked about. One thing about Carl was, people used to say, you don't hear it so much now. "People who use marijuana just don't work as hard."

Matthew: Yeah.

Dr. Grinspoon: Well, let me tell you. Carl Sagan was the hardest working man I've ever met. I mean, even in casual conversation if an idea or thought came or something he wants to spend more, he'd pull out an envelope from his pocket and write it down. When we got into the modern age he'd have a little tape recorder or write it down. He was always working, so to speak. But who knows how many topics we've talked about - many.

Matthew: I bet. Gosh, I'd like to be a fly on the wall for those. Well, as we close Dr. Grinspoon, is there any way you'd like for people to reach out to you or how can they read your books?

Dr. Grinspoon: Well, they can read my books if they can read because they're available. I think "Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine" is still available on Amazon. It was published in '93 but it still sells quite well.

Matthew: Yeah.

Dr. Grinspoon: "Marihuana Reconsidered" was republished by several companies, Bantam Books and a company in California whose name I can't remember at the moment, but the point is those books are available and if I were advising someone about "Marihuana Reconsidered" I'd say, "Skip the chemistry chapter. It's all old."

Matthew: Okay.

Dr. Grinspoon: But the history up to where it goes is accurate and the descriptions of its use for going from the members of the [inaudible 00:47:59] like Godiet [SP] and Volere [SP] and so forth, they are... these guys had extravagant imaginations and the combination of hashish and they're an interesting experience to read them. But I also provide essays by people, modern people like the essay "Mr. X." I asked Carl to write an essay for this book, for "Marihuana Reconsidered" and he did. It's "Mr. X". It's now up on my website marijuana-uses, which the website, which is one of my websites. The one that is devoted to the idea that marijuana is useful in more than... it's useful as an enhancer of various kinds of experiences. That book can be read and the website, the medical marijuana website for people who are interested in it as a medicine and getting some idea of what people who have used it have said. There are a lot of accounts on that or if they're more interested in the enhancement characteristics they might want to read

Matthew: Weren't you also in some documentaries as well?

Dr. Grinspoon: Yes. I've been included in a few. If they go to... what's it called? YouTube. There are a number of documentaries but the one that's just going to be screened in November "The Culture High."

Matthew: Sure, Adam Scorgie. That's a really... how about "The Union"? Were you in a vid for "The Union"?

Dr. Grinspoon: Yes. I was.

Matthew: Okay.

Dr. Grinspoon: I'm in the other one, the new one as well.

Matthew: "The Culture High." So "The Union" and "The Culture High." Okay.

Dr. Grinspoon: "The Culture High" I don't have as big a part in it but I frankly think it's probably about the best documentary on cannabis. My daughter-in-law who knows nothing about cannabis is going to see it because she wants to learn something about it. I think anybody would be rewarded by seeing that. There's some excellent people who are quite articulate who talk about it.

Matthew: Great. Great. I look forward to seeing that. I really liked "The Union" so I'll look forward to seeing "The Culture High" and hearing you in that.

Dr. Grinspoon: "The Union" was also, I thought, a superb film.

Matthew: Yeah. Well, thanks so much, Dr. Grinspoon. Really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us and help further our understanding of the plant. Thanks again.

Dr. Grinspoon: My pleasure.

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