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Q1 Column Highlights

June 5, 2019

Cannabis Activism in the ‘90s by Debby Goldsberry

  • Cannabis activism in the ‘90s [was] a different time and place. Cops arrested people constantly. The Department of Justice targeted people who were in the dispensary industry, and it was a big darn mess.
  • At this point, people didn’t know about cannabis or hemp for medical use. Most people had no idea that marijuana is a fiber, or that you can use the seeds for food [and] parts of the plant for paper.
  • We have to remember that we’re on a mission to make a better planet. Hemp is a plant that can actually help end a lot of the woes that we’re facing right now. If we stop arresting people for marijuana and putting them in jail for long periods of time, maybe we can start to turn around all this mass incarceration and destruction of American family life.

Day Ones by David Hua

  • When a group of people came through the door that clearly didn’t have the money, the owner brought them in nonetheless […] That was my first introduction into what a truly compassionate program and dispensary looked like.
  • At the time, there was this sense that things were changing with Colorado. And a feeling of inevitability of legalization for California even though it was in Prop 215. My background in the startup technology space made me realize that they would place a lot of compliance requirements in this industry, making having the right tools a vital part of promoting this change.
  • My objective in business was to scratch our own itch by helping patients get cannabis, connecting them with a reliable local dispensary that we vouched for and believed in.

Legalizing Liberty by Neill Franklin

  • For years, people have treated drug addiction as a crime rather than as a health concern. We at the Law Enforcement Action Partnership believe that addiction is a public health issue above all else.
  • The difference may seem to be a simple matter of legal versus illegal. However, if you look back far enough, you will find that all drugs used to be legal.
  • We have traveled down an ugly road of prohibition and social control, leaving us with the need to legalize liberty again.

Maintaining a Culture of Advocacy Action Through Success by Betty Aldworth

  • While the cannabis industry is booming around the world, there are still people who suffer under remaining cannabis prohibition.
  • It is always easier to maintain the status quo than to change it, even with unprecedented momentum.
  • Politicians are compelled by what will get them reelected, which means the common person’s opinion holds incredible power. If an elected official never hears from their constituents about what issues matter to them, those issues will never see the light of day. Significant pressure is the most effective avenue in impacting a politician’s decision-making process.
  • I posit that cannabis companies are in a very unique position to help with this message, as they possess a direct line to those who are most likely to care about marijuana-related legislation.

The Moment I Realized I Was an Advocate for the Movement by Julianna Carella

  • Once upon a time we had to watch our backs, operate in secrecy, hide our money, and create aliases. Why? To operate. To exist. To supply. To advocate for patients, seniors, children, addicts, anxious animals, Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between.
  • We advocate for anyone who feels that the lies about cannabis and hemp should be exposed. We advocate for the laws that should already exist.
  • When you have nothing to lose, your frame of reference shifts to what good things are possible. You dive unreasonably into something so meaningful, that you forget the meaning of reason. You imagine making a difference, and somehow the idea of being locked up in federal prison for carrying 100 pounds of weed seems insignificant.

What’s Next by Steve Hawkins

  • How big of an impact can we really make, though, if the message is trapped inside an echo chamber? I propose that, right now, we must focus on building a more varied base of supporters and advocates.
  • I strongly believe that if we want people to care about our causes and concerns, we have to care about theirs.
  • We need to recognize that Marijuana Justice is not just about the economic issues. It’s not just about people’s right to have marijuana. It’s a racial justice issue, and an issue of criminal justice reform which is on the top of people’s minds.

Jaco by Don Fertman

  • That ego that comes along with being a creative person does a couple of things. It can help drive someone to great success, but when it gets combined with other substances […] it can actually take the ego and artificially bolster it while tearing it down at the same time.
  • Well, there are a couple of things about cannabis, and one of the thoughts is that it can actually help overcome other forms of addiction.
  • Separating that substance out and taking out the CBD, which provides more of a physical calming effect […] allows somebody – in the case of addiction – to help them feel okay while they’re going through withdrawals, and feel okay from a physical standpoint while they’re kicking something that is killing them. CBD, as far as I know, doesn’t kill people.

The Farm Bill by US Congressman Ro Khanna

  • Essentially, [the farm bill is] a handout to corporate agriculture that doesn’t do enough for local farms. It cuts critical support in nutritional assistance for families who need it most. So while I think this provision is a step in the right direction, legislation needs to address these social justice issues.
  • We need to recognize that Marijuana Justice is not just about the economic issues. It’s not just about people’s right to have marijuana. It’s a racial justice issue, and an issue of criminal justice reform.
  • This is an important issue, on the level of Medicare for all and net neutrality. It has support from the vast majority of public opinion and crosses the political spectrum.

Opportunity Knocking by Jeannette Horton

  • While there are lots of open doors to make big money, unfortunately it is not an equal playing field. We’re seeing the same stacking of the deck with the already connected, monied, and powerful. That is, the people who are benefiting in the cannabis industry are those who have always benefitted. Indeed, the rich get richer – not just a turn of phrase, but a statistical fact.
  • With the right legislation, investments, and collaborations, we have the opportunity to make the cannabis industry substantially diverse and equitable.
  • Diversity does not mean reaching a quota; rather, that there is a pathway for all people to enter the industry and become successful.
  • Those that take diversity of thought seriously will succeed more than ones that don’t.

Perception is Reality by Dr. Sharon Sznitman & Dr. Nehama Lewis

  • The newspapers seem to have picked up on this new angle of cannabis and really focused on the medical side, because it’s new and it’s newsworthy, and because there is a lot of movement in that area.
  • What we found is that [news stories are] very focused on medical benefits and the positive effects. They rarely felt negative, as opposed to what we would see prior to roughly the last 10 years.
  • From a science point of view, while people may read information, stories are more likely to persuade people than information.

The ‘80s by Ethan Nadelmann

  • All of the liberal views around marijuana in the late ‘70s were pushed to the side and almost eradicated. There was a major generational shift in the late ‘80s [as] drug war rhetoric had gone crazy.
  • There was no middle ground at the time. It was either war on drugs, or more radical people in academia and politics calling for legalization of all drugs.
  • We need to look at the way the Europeans are dealing with drugs, much more from a public health perspective. We need to question the fundamentals about why we need prohibition, certainly with marijuana and possibly with other drugs.

Europe, View from a Helicopter by Tjalling Erkelens

  • Medicinal cannabis in Europe is regulated as a true pharmaceutical product, however not as a true (registered) medicine.
  • Canada separated cannabis from the true pharmaceutical route by establishing access through the ACMP Regulation. This made it easy for Prime Minister Trudeau to allow medicinal cannabis products for recreational use as well. However, this will not happen in Europe.
  • The European approach is meant to protect the real patients by providing them with appropriate access to cannabis and derived products that are produced according to rules and regulations.
  • Companies that want to be part of that European scene will have to comply with the European regulators.

How Easy It Is to Make Money in Cannabis by The Paxhia

  • One might think that it’s just so easy to make money in the cannabis industry these days. But we think it’s a heck of a lot easier to lose money, because there’s a lot of pressure from investment banks, the media, etc.
  • This is actually a very interesting time for cannabis as a unique industry for investment opportunities. This is something we have waited for and building towards for years – in that cannabis can be a counter-cyclical economic growth engine relative to global economies.
  • A pretty consistent piece of advice we’ve been saying for years is: “Don’t rush.” Take your time and try to figure out where you want to invest.

Hemp 101 by Rick Trojan

  • The US Department of Agriculture is now the approving jurisdiction over the hemp, just like it is over corn and wheat. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also now in a governance position on hemp.
  • It’s an extremely hardy crop with over 50,000 uses, and it’s just a matter of getting it back into our system. It’s been with humanity for thousands of years, except for the last 80 or so.
  • Key economic players in the 1900s decided that this crop was a threat to their growing industrial economy. Because this was during the Industrial Revolution, this meant petrochemicals, chemicals, fiber, textiles, and oil. They all demonized it, campaigned against it in the 1920s and ‘30s, and then made cannabis illegal in 1937.
  • Now the next goal for us and the bus is to go out, educate people, and provide them with the correct information to really demystify the plant.

What We Should Fix in 2019 by Debby Goldsberry

  • Cannabis is going corporate, something we never saw coming way back when. What does that mean for us in 2019? Well, it means that all of a sudden large corporations are trying to stake a flag in the cannabis industry.
  • We’re at an advantage because social responsibility itself is on the rise; small businesses are standing up to stake their claim and learning to compete with big business.
  • The challenge here is to make sure big businesses come in socially responsible and in a way that small businesses can compete.
  • If we advocates do our part and if consumers make sure that they do a little research to figure out where the money flows, big business is going to have to come along with us.

2019 by Steve Hawkins

  • We cannot get complacent and think that we’ve convinced all rational people on cannabis.
  • We could see some hiccups like that which could derail us. And the only way we can avoid that is to make sure that we’re having a fact-based discussion which includes the many reasons we are where we are.
  • And that’s the part where we need to finish the vision that moves beyond just an understanding of the war on drugs and marijuana possession from that angle, to a fuller embrace and understanding that this plant is not harmful.
  • Recognizing and teaching this is an important remaining part of the education that needs to happen now.

CBD Science Circa 2011 by Paige Figi

  • The drug war was the reason why all those decades went by with almost zero information.
  • CBD-rich product was less than five percent of cannabis inventory in legal states like Colorado and California – and testing wasn’t regulated.
  • I see the billboards claiming CBD as a cure-all for everything. It cures baldness, it cures headaches. It cures everything, and everyone is selling it. I think that is harmful because no one’s ever said it’s a cure for anything. We do need more science.

How Retail Informs the Industry by Adam Bierman

  • Limited retail licenses are the one thing that remains across the board if you remove Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. And those limited licenses are even more scarce based on the extreme nature of the zoning requirements around cannabis retail.
  • Because of the nature of these “privileged licenses”, traditional retail competes in a free market environment, while we do not.
  • The lack of commerce across state lines for all the retail shops is the challenge and it’s the opportunity for us.

Militarization vs. Community Relations by Neill Franklin

  • A change in uniform changes behavior. Police uniform before the War on Drugs kicked off in the ‘80s and ‘90s was a stark change from today.
  • What we’re seeing now is the military attitudes of our police officers and how they go about interacting with the people they are supposedly serving in the communities.
  • You have to develop and create an attitude of service and a heart of service.
  • If the citizens don’t trust the police or feel comfortable, if the police are standoffish, again, military style attitude, then you’re not going to get that vital information that you need. You’ll never, ever be effective in reducing and solving violent crime within that community.

An Alternative Narrative in Context by Betty Aldworth

  • The only way to really refute people’s positive experiences with legal cannabis is by activating a fear response. Since legalization, all of the evidence we have seen has assuaged many of those fears.
  • Over the course of the eighty years of cannabis prohibition, every other substance or consumer product with which we interact in our lives has undergone more or less rigorous set of testing and evaluation […] We do not have that kind of scientific rigor around cannabis. Not because we don’t want it, but because it has been and continues to be blocked by the US authorities.
  • The money that’s pouring in will contribute to a faster pace of research to benefit everyone, including those people for whom cannabis is not a positive answer.

Cannabis and Health Freedom by Julianna Carella

  • We now live in a world where pharmaceutical drugs with questionable efficacy and troublesome side effects are mandated by doctors, schools, and institutions while the cannabis plant remains a Schedule 1 narcotic in the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).
  • If we really had health freedom, we would not be in the process of unwinding the damage done by the prohibition of cannabis, and the lack of research that resulted from this.
  • The words Health and Freedom go together indeed – by necessity.
  • Without the hard work of activists who are busy protecting our freedoms, we may be asking ourselves for many more years to come, “When will we have the freedom to choose our path to health?”

Regulations by David Hua

  • We now have a supply chain that is very structured, but also pretty fragmented. We have the grower, we have the distributors, manufacturers, lab companies, and retailers.
  • The biggest group that suffers is probably medical cannabis patients.
  • In my mind, the path forward is to open up the state at a local level and get as many people licensed as possible. Next, encourage the illicit market to come over by showing that it’s more economically viable. Three, lower the taxes so that consumers are encouraged to buy from the legal market. Four, let’s try to leverage the supply chain so people can specialize in what they’re good at.

Felix by Don Fertman

  • Felix was one of those folks that heard something. I think the great producers – George Martin, people like them – they hear something, and they’re able to bring it out.
  • And so if you look at the evolution of the Cream sound, it’s like the evolution of recovery, where we expand outward and we open ourselves to light and the sunshine.
  • The addiction is physical, but it’s also emotional, and we have to treat both if somebody is going to find recovery.

Local Culture by Mike Gorenstein

  • When you enter a new market, it’s always important to make sure that you’ve got the most comprehensive information possible. You need partners you can trust.
  • When bringing in a new group, planting a flag, or building something out, it’s important to think about everything flowing together.
  • We can’t assume that the way things work in Canada or in the US were the way things work in Germany for cannabis.

Running a Successful Dispensary with Purpose by Debby Goldsberry

  • We’ve been on a mission to legalize cannabis, for more than just creating a good livelihood for ourselves, but for making the planet a better place.
  • Obviously, this is an industry that’s in flux. We are identifying the consumers and product lines that will take us from where we are to where we’re going.
  • You have to ingrain social responsibility into everything you’re doing, especially the marketing campaign. This is what actually matters to consumers shopping at dispensaries. They’re aware that something else is happening with their money.
  • Manufacturers and cultivators are separated from retail. And that connection is essential, I think, to the feedback loop.

Philosophy by Kris Krane

  • If we get the capitalist part right in the cannabis industry, it’s going to really help advance our activist goals.
  • We need to demonstrate that cannabis can be cultivated, produced, and distributed in a professional way. A way that is socially conscious and in which communities can be proud.
  • This industry as a whole – it is advocacy, it is an act of civil disobedience, and it the biggest thing that is going to bring about the end to prohibition.

Cannabinoids by Professor Hinanit Koltai

  • Despite our recognition of the high importance of phytocannabinoids, the most pronounced breakthrough in cannabinoids research is perhaps the discovery of endocannabinoids.
  • The endocannabinoid system is involved in many of our physiological functions, like the maintenance of the body homeostatic balance and stress-recovery. They are involved in the activity and protection of the nervous system, in the function of the immune system and even have cytotoxic activity against tumor cells.
  • The ability of phytocannabinoids to affect this important endocrine system by binding to its receptors thus explains phytocannabinoids immense effect on the body, and positions them as important therapeutic substances.

The ‘90s by Ethan Nadelmann

  • At that point we still were not thinking politically. It was really about getting ideas out, about trying to change some thinking around needle exchange and methadone maintenance, and medical marijuana. But it was still about changing attitudes and sometimes policies without actually changing laws.
  • Obviously that breakthrough in 1996, on medical marijuana – legalizing medical marijuana – that basically was the first shot across the bow. It was the first time that the nation’s drug policy reform movement demonstrated that we could play ball in the big leagues of American politics.
  • It meant that in ‘96 we won – not just the medical marijuana initiative with California, but also a treatment instead of incarceration initiative in Arizona. Thereby showing that it was not just about marijuana, but that this was about a broader drug policy reform effort.

APAC by Tjalling Erkelens

  • Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines. True examples of countries in the Asia-Pacific region that still carry severe punishments on trade and possession of small amounts of cannabis.
  • But now that the Western world is opening up to the fact that cannabis has therapeutic benefits and science and business are getting into the lead. We see now see all of a sudden activities arise in the region.
  • Eight years ago, Japanese pharmaceutical companies started looking into the subject, however regulators weren’t up to speed at that time. Now, regulators are gauging the global activities and looking to Australia and The Netherlands for examples.
  • Asia will be different from the rest of the world. I don’t expect them to legalize for recreational purposes or even provide easy medical access over the next 50 years, at least.

Medical Refugees by Paige Figi

  • People had to decide: do I break the law, cross state lines and bring it back home? Do I leave my state and move there? Do I wait and hopefully it becomes legal in my state? A lot of those people waited and their kids passed away. They didn’t have time to wait, so this isn’t that dramatic to say it was a very difficult decision.
  • Say they lived in Georgia, to pass a law in a conservative state like that, or Florida. They needed to hear a success story in another state. They needed to see what was going on, so a lot of the legislators would come out to Colorado and take a look before they passed a bill in their state and made it law, made it legal.
  • There’s absolutely an influx of folks coming from other states, from other countries to Colorado to find solutions. Especially the people who are using THC products. CBD and hemp, with the passage of this farm bill, are now shipping out of state.
  • It pushed for legislators to listen, whether they wanted to or not. Now, it’s the popular thing to do; to get onboard. Like we were saying, it’s important for the people running for office to have a strong stance on this. To promise to actually do something. Now, they see it’s working, we’re doing more research, and it’s critical that they get involved.

Founder by Ben Larson

  • Being laser-focused is good; you hear the term all the time. But if you’re too laser-focused for too long, you might go down the wrong path. You might not be listening to market demands or customer needs, and thus losing the path to your greater vision. While you’re outpacing your most immediate competitor, tomorrow might run right past you.
  • The job of the founder is to constantly juggle too many, and decide which ones fall and which ones remain in flight. There are an infinite number of things that you can be doing. Everything that you do can potentially add to the possibilities of your company. But the job is constantly categorizing what is the most critical and what achieves.
  • That’s the dichotomy of being a founder. You are expected to achieve at a very high pace, yet you’re also expected to remain balanced with self-care and health. Achieving that is merely becoming comfortable with the high pace, and finding healthy ways of managing it.

Balance by Tim Cullen

  • An entrepreneurial challenge is finding that balance, and initially it’s not there. It’s very easy to let the business side consume what time there is in the day, and the other sides suffer from that.
  • Community time could be you on your treadmill being a better person in the morning for the rest of the world, or it could be taking the time to meet a friend for lunch. It could be returning a phone call to someone who you haven’t connected with for a while. It could be volunteering. It could be joining an organization. It could be meeting your friends out for a drink. It could be anything.
  • I feel like cannabis represents more than an industry. It is a movement and it is a community of people who have worked together under oppression and unfair laws, and fighting for social justice and looking for the legalization of a plant, and through that common struggle, community is a term that I hear frequently used in the industry. It is all the other people that are out there. It’s everyone working towards a common goal for the betterment of society, and that is what the cannabis movement has always been about.

Background by Carlos Curbelo

  • Our federal policies constituted a great injustice, and were just completely incoherent. The country had decidedly moved in one direction over the last decade to 15 years. But our laws got stuck in the past.
  • There are risks. We need to have strong laws and regulations to keep this substance out of the hands of minors. And we need to make sure that everyone else is using it responsibly. But that has nothing to do with the way our laws are designed these days.
  • The point is that institutions should be allowed to do research and the American people should be allowed to know the facts about cannabis, what its potential benefits are, and what the potential risks are. That information in turn can be very useful to federal lawmakers in reforming and redesigning our laws so that they further the interests of the American people and allow this industry to develop and grow responsibly.

Talent by Mike Gorenstein

  • The best talent for your enterprise versus the best talent on paper is not always the same. How people fit, how they work together is very underrated as a consideration.
  • This industry is so much about being nimble and hustling. It’s not an industry where you fit a square peg in a square hole. Therefore, you need all-around athletes.
  • When we’re interviewing, we look for someone that excels where they are, but is also adaptable. They need to be able to pivot to a new mindset and still take the learnings.
  • Furthermore, we try to pull from different industries and have people that can adapt when they hear how other industries have done it. Cannabis, it’s a new industry that touches so many others and we have to borrow best practices.

Cohorts by David Hua

  • I really do think cannabis is such an amazing vehicle to open up people’s perspectives, to help them heal, to give them a sense of themselves that they don’t necessarily get to see day to day. This allows them to reflect on themselves as a whole.
  • I think that a unified sense of purpose leverages our resources effectively to move the industry forward. We can get to a size that allows us to be formidable, and respect the momentum and direction that we’re all trying to get. Which is opening up cannabis for everyone across the world.
  • The original cannabis mindset maybe infuses itself into other traditional industries and not vice-versa. We don’t want to get swallowed up by other groups. We want to have a Cannabis Industry, full stop. An industry that’s doing it our way, our ethos, no baggage or stereotypes from other industries.
  • We’re not looking at one another as competitors, we really need to be looking at each other as allies to see bigger market forces ahead.

Approach by Kris Krane

  • There appears to be a tendency from some business folks to try to reinvent the wheel. As an industry, we need to be doing more to support the advocacy organizations that already exist. Without them, none of us would exist as an industry or as businesses.
  • When considering industry as a tool for advocacy and policy change, we need to be mindful of our business practices.
  • As new players enter the market and see this as a business opportunity, they should be brought around to advocacy by being exposed to how it advances their business goals.
  • The development of the industry and the ability of people to put capital to work in terms of product development is exposing people to cannabis in a way that wasn’t possible under prohibition.

1st in CO by Chuck Smith

  • Today, we look around and we see upwards of a mid to high 70 percent approval rating for some form of legal cannabis in the United States. We see country after country looking to build a legal program. But back just four or five years ago, there were more people that were detractors from the industry than proponents for it.
  • Of course, you don’t wake up on a Tuesday and start selling product on a Wednesday. You have to really anticipate and build the packaging, labeling, formulations, and perform testing. All of these things take a lot of time as you’re working with third party suppliers and people trying to build things from scratch.
  • That’s part of what creates the fiber and the foundation of really strong companies and teams. If you can stand up to that pressure and those constant changes, to the trials and tribulations that we’ve gone through in this industry, and you can do it with others, then there’s a bond formed both between companies as well as within your own.

Sustainability by Carlos Curbelo

  • There are a lot of ways that cannabis and marijuana are related to the climate. Obviously, it’s an agricultural product at the end of the day, and we’re seeing how changes in the climate are stressing farmers all over our country. We’re seeing more extreme weather and droughts. Obviously, warmer temperatures in parts of the country affect certain crops, and marijuana is no exception to this reality.
  • As we continue studying the effects of climate change and working toward mitigating it and adapting to the change that’s inevitable, certainly the marijuana industry is going to have to be considered. Perhaps some investments have to be made, because again, marijuana is really becoming a significant part of our economy.
  • Convincing people on the fence who are suspect of something requires one-on-one conversation. You need to speak to people in a way where the issue becomes relatable to them.

Industry Commerce by David Hua

  • Unfortunately, and fortunately, in a legalized environment you have different checkpoints that product needs to go through, to ensure quality, to ensure consistency, and collect taxes. And because of that, that what used to take days from farm to table, now can take up to eight weeks, if not longer.
  • You can see how many more steps there are now. Because of that, it’s so important to use technology, to work with really good partners, to help streamline a lot of these pieces, in order to get to as close as what we had before.
  • Unfortunately, because everyone’s in survival mode, the compassion part has really been taken over with more of a capitalistic slant. But as we get our bearings underneath us, now we have permit regulations as of January 16th, everyone can stabilize and advocate for change. Because this is going to be evolving. We have to continue to advocate for what’s right. Compassion’s a big piece.