6 Months ago I started the CHA Cannabis Stock Club, because I realized I had enough understanding of the who's who and what's what in the cannabis and hemp industry to discuss what was happening and make some real serious money on these stocks.
I knew that with Canada and it's 30 million plus residents about to legalize cannabis for all adults over 19, combined with the fact that Canada allows it's growers to ship cannabis all over the world, it was time to start investing in these companies.
In addition I realized that with 8 U.S. states legalizing cannabis that ancillary companies would have a shot to really grow as well as the knowledge that the CBD hemp oil industry was scheduled to grow into the billion dollar territory over the next 2-3 years that there was a precipice occurring of mass revenue cresting RIGHT ABOUT....NOW!
We are at a point in the cannabis industry in which the industry is past the beginning, if anyone is telling you the industry is in it's beginning stages, they are not pulsed in with what is happening. For example, this week the MJBizCon is happening in Las Vegas, mammoth 650+ trade show that has been turning away exhibitors for months is going down and probably by next year this show will carry 1000 exhibitors and 20000 attendees. Give you an idea how large that is, the fitness industry's top trade show FitExpo carries similar statistics! Oh yeah and by the way...cannabis isn't even federally legal yet!
So understand this folks, we are soundly in the FOURTH inning of the cannabis industry and if you ain't in it by now, you are officially playing catch up in a major way.
The past couple weeks cannabis and hemp companies that've saw major gains have been
Isodiol Ticker ISOL
Canopy Growth Corp Ticker TWMJF
Aurora Cannabis Ticker ACBFF
Cronos Ticker PRMCF
InMed Pharmaceuticals Ticker IMLFF
American Cannabis Company Ticker AMMJ
Get caught up with what's happening in the market, our latest cannabis stock meeting is up now!
Somewhere between the three in ten Americans that have at least one tattoo and the one in eight that consume cannabis on a daily basis lies an overlap of people who partake in both ancient rituals. Whether or not tattoo and/or marijuana enthusiasts consider themselves a part of tattoo or cannabis culture, know that such culture exists, or self-identify themselves as belonging to one or both of these cultures is irrelevant. For a certain number of Americans, there is cross-section of these cultures and with that overlap it makes sense to take a broad view of some of the commonalities shared between them, flesh out the threads that tie them together and present them for examination. If nothing else, we dive deeper into the inquiry around ancient ritualistic practices and our own anthropology.
A Labor of Love
Tattooing in America was heavily stigmatized throughout the last 100 years, with many eras of prohibition and stigmatization against the art. Long time tattoo artist and activist Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand claims that due to the high income potential and nature of the work tax collecting on artists is challenging and this has lead to several myths and stigmas laid on the industry over the years. Daring artists who believe in the practice, didn’t stop tattooing during prohibition times, they just moved into the shadows and fought in the courts to create the industry we have today.
America’s “War on Drugs,” a war against it’s own people was started to end cannabis cultivation in the 1980’s as the Government sought to control all drug production in the United States with Draconian laws and the introduction of mandatory minimum sentencing. As with tattooing, the prohibition didn’t stop the profession, merely moved it into the shadows, and today we see a trend developing with eight states plus Washington D.C. allowing the cultivation of the plant. The main issue being around taxation and regulation and once Uncle Sam is satisfied that it can collect, the safety protocols in place for society, much like tattooing, we will see this industry explode much like tattooing has over the last thirty years.
Despite oppression the trade of tattoo artistry, cannabis cultivation, processing, and sale fought through the jaws of the state, these industries and trades have been earned and not given. Those, like Shanghai Kate, Sailor Jerry, Paul Booth, and many more fought so that today practitioners of their craft can operate free of punitive government intervention. Sadly, the modern tattoo artist and cannabis business owner, largely pays little homage to the history of those who sacrificed to lay this foundation. In the cannabis industry, very few cannabis business give to associations or non-profits who advocate for the underserved despite the millions flowing through these states. In tattooing very little homage is paid to the activists who fought for the industry to exist. History, is quickly becoming a mystery.
The stigmas that shroud those within the tattoo and cannabis culture can be truly impactful to the individual’s ability to thrive in society. From pre-employment “urine analysis” to having to wear band-aid cover-ups or long sleeve shirts; the hoops that members of these cultures have to jump through in order to fit in at certain positions are well documented and discriminatory. From awkward meetings with an ultra conservative parent of a new love interest to a judge pulling up a Google image of a mother smoking a joint at legalization rally to justify awarding custody rights to jobless, lazy, and disengaged father, the stigmas loom large when discussing the impact of ink and medicine on the real world of these subcultures.
For members of both the tattoo and cannabis culture's, someone who uses cannabis daily and is covered in tattoos can be heavily stigmatized and discriminated against despite the fact their tattoos and cannabis consumption may provide them with joy, may honor their spiritual beliefs, help improve their mental and emotional well-being and does no harm to the outside world.
The Social Science Journal looked at tattoo behavior and bias. Some of the findings are pretty obvious: For instance, if you're surrounded by friends or family members who have tattoos, you are more likely to think getting tattoos are no big deal. But researchers also found that the more tattoos a person had the more they felt on the receiving end of stigmatization. And the more stigmatized a tattooed person feels, the more likely they are to cover them up or have them removed.
America’s political establishment has spent decades delegitimizing these two ancient traditional rituals in media, politics, and business despite legitimate applications for medical, spiritual, and recreational use making a mockery of critically important and popular tenets of human life.
The way members of these communities can best fight these stigmas is by rising above them, joining together in unity, and educating society on how wonderful, safe, and useful these practices are. This is where history becomes so important. By learning how tattooing and cannabis was used in ancient times and how that is now being modernized and advanced with modern technology in the present, we can hope to tell the story of the potential of these industries in modern times.
Perhaps we can start to help people think about how tattoos join people in unity around a cause or bind them to a community or how the cultivation of cannabis can bring people back into a daily commune with the natural world by reconnecting man with plants. The potential of these possibilities and how they can impact our society in a positive way are limitless.
Entrenched in Spirituality
Religious tattoos are one of the most common types of tattoos. Bible passages, pictures of Jesus, and Holy Cross are found on almost street in America. However the spiritual use of tattoos dates back hundreds of years into ancient times as tribal nations used tattoos as rights of passage into adulthood, as a part of burial rights, and sometimes it was believed the soul could not pass into the heavens without tattoo markings. Today there are many indigenous cultures that still depend on tattoos as part of their sacred traditions, but that number is shrinking due to the adaptation of Western civilization into even the darkest corners of the Earth.
In modern times, we still see the regular use of henna tattoos amongst Arab cultures, a tradition dating back to antiquity. Historically, henna was used in the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia parts of Southeast Asia, Carthage, parts of North Africa and the Horn of Africa. Henna is different from standard tattoo industry pigment in that it is temporary and limited in color selection due to the type of ink used. Henna is a derived from a plant from the same name, although in antiquity henna was originally made from the feces of the dromedary, or one-humped camel, which inhabits the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Henna, when used spiritually is used by women during marriage rituals in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Algeria, Morocco, and India.
Cannabis is classified by botanists as an “entheogen” is a consciousness altering chemical substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context that may synthesize or obtained from a natural species. Other known entheogens are peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, iboga, and salvia divinorum. There are many more.
Ritualistic use of cannabis as a sacrament has had prominent use in ancient times, as it’s Hebrew name, kaneh-bosm was one of the ingredients for the Holy Anointing Oil, integral to the anointing of priesthood in as written in the Old Testament. Etymologist Sula Benet is credited for the translation of the formerly mysterious ingredient which in ancient Hebrew “kaneh” means “reed” or “hemp” and “bosm” means “aromatic.” In the present, spiritual use of cannabis is best known by use from the Rastafarians, who were believed to have learned of cannabis’ spiritual use from the Sadu’s of India, intense worshipers of the Hindu God Shiva who fashioned cannabis as the most high herb. In America today, use of cannabis as a sacrament is making somewhat of a comeback in certain Christian circles, with churches forming in Rhode Island, Georgia, Indiana, and Colorado all claiming their sacred right to use cannabis in their spiritual practice.
Legitimate Medical Use
The history of tattoos and cannabis cultures goes back thousands of years, in fact Pazyrk people of Siberia were found to possess burning cannabis and covered in tattoos. The famed “Ötzi the Iceman” a nickname given to the well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived around 3,300 BCE has fascinated scientists for years, due to the vibrant presentation of his 61 well preserved tattoos, most notable for the belief that the tattoos were used as pain treatments similar to acupressure or acupuncture. Over 80% of Ötzi’s tattoos were overlapping with Chinese acupuncture points. The mummy, found in 1991, is now located with his belongings (most raided over the years) displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy.
It turns out that tattooing is one of the oldest arthritis medicines in the world. In addition to the physical pain management benefits of tattooing there are the obvious chemical responses, for starters: You’re going to have a rush of adrenaline, because someone is coming at you with a needle. And you’re going to release endorphins – your body’s chemical response to pain – which can make you sort of high. Getting tattooed can become a trade for people with mental or emotional pain, for a short time they can trade that for physical pain and perhaps be left with something personal and permanent to give them some internal relief.
Cosmetic tattooing is one example of how people often receive mental or emotional relief, physical scars from abuse, fires, or other traumatic skin conditions or injuries can leave people with something beautiful in its place that helps the memory of something terrible in the past fade faster. Another way that we people deal with emotional distress with tattoos is memorial tattoos, a fashionable way to mourn a loss of someone close or a family member. Recently there has been a trend with women who've lost their natural breast due to cancer, replacing them with tattoos. In some cases the women have reported drastic improvements in self-confidence in just being able to see themselves restored physically in the mirror.
“Ötzi the Iceman” was also found to have “medical marijuana” in his possession. Found in a stash of shamanic herbs, cannabis resin was tested to be present. In modern times, we know that cannabis is a powerful pain reliever and has medical potential to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic that has ripped America apart. With the mummy’s tattoo’s believed to be pain relieving, it makes sense that “Ötzi” would have some medicine to help with pain.
The uses of medical cannabis are well documented at this point, from reduction of seizures, pain management, as an anti-inflammatory, sleep aid, and more. An entire multi-billion dollar industry has formed around a plant species and its myriad of uses. Despite the thousands of testimonials from patients, push back from most of the world exists on an open tax and regulated system that allows patients to grow and sell their own medicine. In this regard, the fight wages on to legalize cannabis for medical use and we can look to the success tattoo activists have had in lobbying for their industry to break through and have hope.
The most common applications for cannabis and tattooing in America are recreational use. People get tattoos and use cannabis, simply because they want to. In the book, “Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of Body Art” author Michael Atkinson proclaims that it is human nature to want to alter our bodies that “our hunger for altering our corporeal only frustrated by the limits imposed by our imaginations, financial resources, products at our disposal, and scientific-medical technologies.”
The use of drugs is also human nature according to Dr. Andrew Weil in the book “The Botany of Desire” by author Michael Pollan. "In every culture and in every age of history, an enormous amount of human energy has gone into the production, distribution and consumption of psychoactive plants."
Prohibitionist laws that withhold people from doing things which come natural to our species and hold us accountable punitively as a crime is an inhumane to govern. It places unreasonable expectation on people to operate outside of our ancient history and needs to be examined and reformed. Our society is supposed to be advanced in intelligence, but the fact we have ever allowed our government to withhold us natural behaviors that are not proven to be cost society anymore than other behaviors like eating unhealthy/unnatural foods and sugars along with alcohol and tobacco consumption is not only troubling but a discriminatory that must change if we are to be a fair and balanced society.
There are costs involved with ritualistic practices used recreationally for the tattoo enthusiast and cannabis enthusiast. There could be negative impacts on their life, the way are perceived, or possibly some health impacts. The use of unsanitary needles in tattooing could lead to infection or possibly allergies related to certain pigments or even bacteria in the pigment. Cannabis users can slow their brain function and lead to weight gain due to the appetite stimulation effects of THC. These are some of the things to be considered and aware of when considering making recreational use of these practices. The more you get tattooed and consume cannabis, the more the user exposes themselves to these risks. These risks are well documented and perhaps the courage and willingness to deal with these potential issues, is the final element that binds these cultures together.
Fortunately, tattooing has already broken through and laid a foundation in America for how other stigmatized, natural human pleasures and practices can become a mainstream lifestyle. Now cannabis is following in that path. Eventually, other psychedelic entheogens and plant medicines such as psilocybin, ayahuasca, and peyote will follow.
We’ve seen with both industries a great strategy is to develop strong public relations, advocacy, and activism in states that allow ballot initiatives or voter referendums. Then work with policy writers to develop a strategy around the taxation and regulation of the industry, and finally to hire lobbyists to help convince state representatives to push the legislation through the state houses. Ultimately, once enough states (at least half) have agreed to make a legitimate taxed and regulated industry, enough evidence exists to lobby to the Federal Government to make legalization the law of the land.
Being a cannabis and hemp activist is very different then being a "mj" activist or a "hemp" activist. Often times I feel alone and isolated. Not only am I fighting (through education) gross ignorance amongst the masses, but within the movement I fight to reframe thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and ideas embedded into the consciousness of those who fight beside me. For "mj" advocates and activists, they buckle at the word "marijuana" either not knowing that word was designed to distinguish cannabis as a hardcore drug, no different then morphine or heroin or not caring "because that's what everyone calls it." Even the so-called champions of the "mj" legalization movement Keith Stroup of NORML and Ethan Nadelmann of Drug Policy Alliance rarely, if ever refer to cannabis as it's scientific name, but moreover as it's demonic label.
The conversation about rebranding cannabis is not a new one, but it has to be mentioned as a starting point when we talk about the reboot of cannabis activism in 2017. So why does cannabis activism even need a reboot in 2017 when things seem to be swimming along just fine? I dont think I need to remind anyone that some form of cannabis legalization is available in almost every state in the US. I might need to remind a few, however that Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico legalized medical cannabis without a vote. In addition, for the first time in modern history we have a President, in Donald Trump who has been undeniably outspoken about legalizing medical cannabis! Sadly the media, instead of rejoicing in this well-known fact that this country has a President who is in favor of legalization medically and willing to allow the states to write their own ticket on adult use legalization, they are diverting the facts to scare our community.
It's time to go beyond legalization in our activism and in our message as advocates to the world and begin to educate on some of the finer points. Now that we have a Commander in Kief willing to let this industry happen, we need to focus on talking about the less dicussed aspects of the cannabis industry. Make no mistake about it the legalization debate must continue until we have won, however the wind is at our backs with this President folks. We have the momentum of public opinion, and more states are talking legalizing adult use, specifically Rhode Island, Conneticut, New Jersey, and even New York has entered the conversation. The "rookie" advocates and activists who are jumping into this more and more each day don't have the experience to know what the minutae is that we need to fight for, let them post up all the rudimentary information on legalization, chopping away recklessly, while us veterans target specific goals in legislation.
Picture a giant tree representing prohibition so large that millions of people had to band together to cut it down so cannabis be free. Back in 1937 when cannabis was made illegal with the "marihuana tax act" there was only a small group lead by Fiorello LaGuardia cutting away at that tree. Over time that group grew and grew to thousands cutting away at that tree. That tree currently has so many chopping away at it everyday that we don't need to convince people to chop anymore, they are joining willingly. Now we need people to work on how we can dispose of the remnants of prohibition socially and legislatively.
On June 28-29 Puerto Rico made history with the first, large scale business conference MedCann.Biz. Enthusiasm was as high as any as I've seen at any business summit. The show's organizers have a strong reputation for high quality consulting and business intelligence in Puerto Rico and it was on full display as a fine-looking well educated crowd poured into the Ritz-Carlton in San Juan.
The speakers were a combination of the paid corporate sponsors, local key political figures on the regulatory side as well as medical professionals, with myself, Chris Hudalla of ProVerde Labs, and Dr. Sue Sisley the only Americans brought in to educate based on our experience. I had the honor to give three medical presentations which we appropriately titled "Cannabinoids 101: Medical Efficacy" (part 1 and part 2) and a presentation geared toward "global" approach regulators in Puerto Rico keyed in on in the regulations which we titled "Medical Cannabis Tourism: The Game Changer".
In my first presentation, I delivered a powerful message about the distinctions between medical and recreational cannabis emphasizing the importance of compassionate care and the development of more sophisticated medicine and to "go beyond THC". I wanted to test the experience and knowledge of the audience so I asked how many had heard of Rick Simpson Oil, which is easily found by anyone who has done any rudimentary research on medical cannabis, in a packed room of 400-500 potential investors, barely 5 hands were raised.
Was I surprised? Not one bit. One of the phenomenon's of the "medical cannabis movement" has been how legalization is occurring all over the United States and beyond, without the people lobbying for it. Frankly, it is clear that medical cannabis legalization is happening for reasons that go beyond helping the people as we've seen in many US states a complete lack of interest from the segment of the population that needs it most.
The potential investors are fundamentally devoid of all knowledge on medical cannabis and yet they are ready, willing, and able to toss millions haphazardly into an industry they have no knowledge about. This is truly a phenomenon in my mind. Another phenomenon which Dr. Sisley concurred with me when asked, was the participation and willingness of the medical community to get involved. On my last visit to Puerto Rico, I met with the CEO's of several of the hospitals and most of them were ready to get involved with medical cannabis, which would make Puerto Rico only the second nation after Israel to allow the consumption on cannabis in a hospital.
Most encouraging about the conference were the quality of the attendees and there bright eyes, hopeful optimism, but over two days I saw many dreams fade as they were to quickly catch on that this program would be for big players only. By the end of the second day, every one had more then enough education to figure out whether they had the financial means to own a cannabis licensed business or whether they would have to invest their resources into an ancillary business to support the development of the industry.
For me, I continue to be bewildered by the lack of research on cannabis the general publi and for this, I am often criticized by my peers as a pessimist. I can't manage to wrap my head around how people can be so enthusiastic about investing money into something they know so little about. It confounds me, why investors wait until the last minute to educate themselves about something that supposedly interests them so much? It's not like medical cannabis is a new concept, cannabis is a $6 billion a year industry, why are people waiting until the last minute to sniff around and see what's going on? I continue to be fascinated how people can know so little about cannabis, be so enthusiastic for a brief moment in time, and on a whim be willing to throw so much money into something just because everyone else is doing it. There must be a social experiment here-somewhere.
ABOVE: The patient enrollment percentage of the failed medical cannabis programs (LEFT) and successful medical cannabis programs. (RIGHT) One critical factor separates the two, programs on the right invite small business registered caregivers to grow and sell cannabis to patients. Programs on the left restrict cultivation and sales to licensed businesses only, leaving out the local small farmers.
What also is of tremendous interest is how regulators continue to overlook the critical facts of successful and failed medical cannabis programs. All of the successful ones allow families to become registered caregivers who are permitted to grow medical cannabis and compete with licensed cannabis businesses. It generates more tax revenue, fuels innovation, and pushes the licensees to develop more sophisticated medical products. All of the failed medical cannabis programs restrict all business opportunity to the license holders, leaving out the families to provide medicine for themselves. In Puerto Rico, they have chosen to the path of the losers like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Minnesota, and more who have done a terrible job providing medicine to those in need for the sake of oligopoly-based systems that protect the license holders citing the same old tired excuses such as, "we want more sophisticated medicine and a clean and pure product for patients."
These excuses are an embarrassment the Hippocratic oath in my opinion, the primary function of healthcare is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity the best quality of life available. When a medicine can be created at home that has the potential to mitigate symptoms of hundreds of conditions and potentially cure or reduce the suffering of terminal diseases, it is absolutely unacceptable to restrict people from access and the people know it and this will be the Achilles heal of every medical cannabis program that puts the interests of monopolistic minds ahead of the general pubic needing access to cannabis.
The conference was a phenomenal production and the opportunities to take medical cannabis global through medical tourism a potential game-changer, but something doesn't sit right with me when sick people from other countries with the wealth to afford to travel to get access to medicine that will undoubtedly be too expensive for the common citizen of Puerto Rico. But this is what happens when the general public doesn't take an interest in activism, we get the laws our public officials are forced to write, beholden to the corporate interests who put them in power. Can we blame them? I don't think so.
There comes a time when regular people need to be accountable for their lack of participation in the political process. There comes a time when the TV must be turned off, the music is over, and the drugs and alcohol are closed in the pantry only to be replaced by community organizing to get what they need from their political leaders. Sadly, that time has yet to come anywhere I have been in the Western world, but I will continue to work to educate people on the vital importance to the well being of people all over the globe.
At the CHA, we do this because we love helping others and we are fascinated by the rabbit hole of scientific information this plant offers us, the wonderment of the medical and industrial applications that can make us a better world and we execute our businesses, not with a thought of making money, but how we can help others through cannabis. I made my message very clear, if you are in medical cannabis to make money, go find another industry, but if you are here to help people get well and have the financial resources to heal people, money will be the consequence of those actions.
2015 was a mammoth year for the cannabis industry. Many new names and organizations came front and center in the industry with industry leading technologies, brands, and ideas. The results of the hard work and energy of these cannapreneurs was on full display at two events in particular, the Cannabis Business Awards which took place at Cassleman's Bar and Grill on December 10th, 2015.
It's become pretty clear that the even years such as 2014 and 2016 will be dominated with political headlines as the ballot initiatives and voter referendums take place then. The odd years, as 2015 was, will often be dominated by business news. In 2015 we didn't see the flood of legalization we did in 2014, in fact, the industry took step back in Ohio (although many will argue it was a step forward in denying a monopolistic market.) What we did see are some very significant developments such as:
The CHA rolled out of 2015 in style with our "Open for Business" which saw Senator Diane Savino, Dr. Julie Netherland, and Mr. Hanan Kolko of MSEK visit us for an amazing event on December 2nd also with the Cannabis and Hemp Association media coverage on the High Times Business Summit which got promoted all over the country!
Below are some photos from the High Times Business Summit and the official video from High Times Magazine!
High Times has established itself as the premier platform for business-to-consumer shows in the cannabis history. Over the last few years the Cannabis Cup events have increasingly leaked in more business-to-business type of features to ride along with the emergence of more legalized markets. The HTBS however was the first true business-to-business trade show in the company's long and successful history.
The first time I heard about the HTBS the ticket prices started at around $400 for a general admission ticket, however on Black Friday they sent out a promotion for $200. It seemed like a great deal, but I noticed days later the price remained at $200 which indicated to me that attendance was going to be very low for the event. I was right in my thinking. If I had to estimate, I'd say no more than 200-250 people attended the event and the exhibition floor was in a rather large room making the Summit seem empty as you walked it. I felt bad for the vendors, many of whom came from California, a long trip for such a paltry turnout. I'm guessing this explains why High Times events are typically focused in the West Coast and Colorado. The East Coast is quite simply still not ready for events of this scale unless major promotion is involved. It made me really appreciate the New York City trade shows by the International Cannabis Association which had strong attendance and the Washington D.C. show from ComfyTree which brought in a strong 900 people or more into a small Holiday Inn in the district.
For the small amount of attendees who reported the quality of the event itself was well done. High Times had strong seminar sessions which included panels with industry mainstays and a keynote speech from none other than Mr. Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center. Some of the other noteworthy speakers were Rhory Ghould, Danny Danko, Adam Dunn, Keith Stroup, Charlo Greene, Natalie and Ata Gonzalez, Nic Easley, and Charles Oster. The hero of our drug war Ethan Nadelmann was also a keynote speaker, polished and continued to drop the hammer on legalization.
This was the conference you wanted to be at if you wanted to make connections to some of the most influential in the industry because they were not being bombarded with fan boys, they were mostly all accessible. I am a big fan of shows where the attendance bombs, but the speakers are awesome, because you can actually get in a full conversation and perhaps even make a few deals happen. The CHA certainly did the most of that. I came to the conference with the intent on finding a chapter leader for the D.C. market, a venue, and some local speakers to get the branch kicked off. I wanted to meet potential sponsors for our NYC chapter and meet some really great thought leaders to speak at our NYC events. I interviewed a few companies and was excited by some of the things I was hearing in the market.
Steve DeAngelo kicked off the HTBS with a passionate battle cry of a speech. The type of speech you give an army tasting victory. His body language strong, his cadence fierce. He was happy to be in the Nation's capital, his home turf and knowing cannabis was legal. Here he was decades after he began as a cannabis activist with his work finally achieved. He spoke about so many important topics from recreational marijuana being a ridiculous concept due to the vital importance it plays in modulating the endocannabinoid system. He really wanted to hammer home the idea that cannabinoids are medical and that people need to act responsibly when using cannabis and specifically business people need to operate responsibly. He read a small passage from his new book "The Cannabis Manifesto" which I think is a silly title for such a small book of only about 150 pages. When I hear about a manifesto I was expecting a hardcover, with at least 400 pages, when it was a little guy, great for airplane trip. The passage he read was very impressive however and I am looking forward to getting my copy. I think he was wise to keep the book affordable in order to get his information into the hands of as many people as possible.
One of the most interesting conversations took place with Charlo Greene. She is a very engaging and intelligent businesswoman who has a story that all entrepreneurs should hear. She believes that the first thing a cannabis business entrepreneur should do is promote the fact that they partake in cannabis openly and regularly. She said the next step is get active. Her plans are to take her movement around the country and help other states get legalized just like she did in Alaska. She emphasized the lack of understanding from public officials on cannabis and in states without voter initiatives need to ask their elected representatives for meetings and help them get educated on cannabis. Not just how it works and does, but also to explain the needs of the industry. She really stressed that cannabis policy advocates need to emphasize that jail time should never be a concession in any legislation. I have long been a fan of hers, being a big believer in diversity myself and at present she is the first black woman I know that lead her state's legalization movement. She has courage that you rarely find, so I had to ask her why she believes minorities have not been more active in the industry. She said there is a lot of fear both real and subliminal of black men and women of being arrested or harassed by belief which limits their grassroots activism. Charlo has big plans for her activism and would like to have a major influence and national rally in four years that pushes for Federal legalization. She thinks BIG! She is very charismatic and I don't doubt her. To date she is still the only actively operating cannabis club in Alaska because she is the only one with the courage to operate, despite the law allowing it. She was charged with four misdemeanors and four felonies for her club and speaks confidently the charges will get dropped.
Another great interview I had was with Vote Hemp Government Relations Professional Ben Droz. Mr. Droz is a fun and engaging personality in the hemp movement. He works on Capital Hill to help pass legislation. Ben gave some tips on lobbying to me and really made it sound simple. He emphasized the importance of sharing knowledge of hemp with parties that are highly conservative and doing as best a job as possible to separate hemp from marijuana. His reasoning actually made good sense. He said that when you are talking to highly conservative groups they need to be educated on certain things as simple as what differentiates hemp from marijuana and that these conservative groups won't put their money behind any psychoactive substances. He said that we don't need to win the votes and funds from marijuana groups, we already have their support, but it's the support like agriculture in the Midwest who stand to benefit most from hemp that we need to win over. Ben was the first hemp lobbyist on the Hill, but more are cropping up as this becomes accepted. He emphasized that he started flying solo, just getting to know the public officials involved and the key to lobbying is having relationships with their constituents so you can contact them based on their behalf. Trying to get meetings with public officials without that leverage could be challenging, especially when they may have constituents with conflicting issues. He didn't make lobbying sound complicated, just tenacious and strategic.
Shanita Perry is an IT and software professional from the District who has leveraged into the industry since May and represented four clients in the Maryland dispensary licensing process to the tune of sixteen total applications. She had some great information on Maryland's medical cannabis program which included that while reciprocity will not be available, Maryland has a potential for medical cannabis tourism. The program works fluid enough that chronic pain exists and that recommendations will be available to out-of-staters by Doctors within the state. There will be no in-home cultivation unfortunately, at least in the beginning, but at least the Mid-Atlantic will have an program that is within a day's drive from New York or some of the southern states that can be a haven for travelers to get their medical marijuana. It would appear that Maryland is poised to be a strong destination for emergency access and could do very well if managed and promoted correctly. Shanita is still waiting on the results of her clients' applications and interesting one of them is a Police lieutenant approaching retirement in Baltimore. Shanita claims that the lieutenant is making cannabis industry her next life phase and has not been busting people for possession of cannabis for the last 5 years.
I think that High Times Business Summit has great potential, but they need to spend more time promoting it and make it a bigger deal. The production was well done and interesting. I hope that next year they hold this again and it would be nice to see more attendees come out. More than a few booths had been assigned to vendors who no-showed and attendance had to be low. That said, when I talked to the vendors that were there, they like me, came across with the same feeling, that the networking was excellent. HTBS put a lot of heavy hitters in the same place and I feel that those who couldn't make it, missed an opportunity to have some very engaging conversations with the movers and shakers in the cannabis business. Then again, I drove a have 3.5 hours from New York to get here. There were people who travelled across country. If I were them, I'm not sure if I'd have felt the same.
As far legalization in D.C. and how that is going, it's clear no one has yet figured out how to leverage the laws to build a thriving enterprise. People are overjoyed at the right to cultivate, but the pop-up events, such as $75 edible parties for example have been a disappointment. Last year when I came to ComfyTree, Corey Jack spoke, a consultant from Colorado and taught people how to set up collectives in a packed seminar. It seems the collectives have started, but have not taken off the way they have in California. It seems people are still figuring out what to do here. Perhaps they should ask Charlo Greene. She did a heck of a job exploiting the loop holes in Alaska to launch her cannabis club. It takes courage and balls to be a maverick in cannabis, something that seems to be sorely lacking in the Nation's capital at this point.
Medical Tourism Industry and Medical Marijuana Converge at the World Medical Tourism Congress Hosted by the Medical Tourism Association! (medicaltourismassociation.com)
This past September I had the esteemed pleasure to be a panelist at the Medical Tourism Association's annual conference the "World Medical Tourism Congress". Thousands of medical, travel, and health professionals were on hand to learn more and network in the field of medical tourism. This past January I contacted the MTA to find out if they had interest in a panel to learn about the participatory action research I was conducting regarding the synergy of medical and scientific international cannabis law, the business of cannabis, and medical tourism. It was no surprise to me that after explaining the results of my research that I worked in conjunction with the MTA to create a stellar panel.
As I walked the trade show floor with CHA training documents on cannabis the exhibitors were fascinated with the depth of knowledge that I was presenting. I had the opportunity to speak with professionals from all over the globe, sometimes through translators, and with the exception of very few, interest was very high despite an extreme lack of knowledge on the topic. I made it a point to promote the panel to everyone I spoke with the first day of the conference and to my surprise we had almost a full house of professionals interested in the panel. It was an honor to share the panel with a drug rehabilitation expert and cannabis testing laboratory owner and explain the topic of marijuana and hemp. To no surprise, everyone was blown away with the facts and data I was sharing. What I found the most exciting was the overall acceptance and desire to learn more. Most notable we had several PhD's connect with me after the panel to work on high level projects and the Director of Operations for a notable Native American tribe seek consulting for a full rollout to the nation.
Here is a recap of the key points that I brought forth to the audience (full medical tourism reports are below):
CHA September News Feature - FINALLY! The National Cancer Institute Admits What We've ALL Known for Years! Cannabis Kills Cancer.
On August 28th, 2015 the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) the official branch of the National Institute of Health dealing with cancer has published a PDQ for the public and health professionals. It is recommended that ALL readers of this blog read AND share the link provided throughout their social media so their friends and family are aware of the Government's admission of the agreed upon evidence of the NCI. It is well known that the Controlled Substance Act defines marijuana (cannabis) as a schedule 1 drug with no known medical use, while this admission from the National Cancer Institute, a Federally funded branch of the National Institute of Health completely flies in the face. Thus at face value it appears like Federal laws are conflicting. It is clear that our Nation is facing very complex legal quandaries by due to the staunch insistence to keep marijuana (cannabis) a schedule 1 drug, while receiving millions in IRS schedule 280E taxes over the years. It is clear that there is a misinterpretation or misunderstanding around the Controlled Substances Act that must be clarified by the Federal Government, Eric Holder or President Barak Obama. Thousands of American's are imprisoned for cannabis offenses under draconian mandatory minimum sentences laws without explanation by the IRS why they are allowing the receipt of funds on a Schedule 1 drug currently illegal under federal law. This topic highlights the September CHA newsletter, check it out below! Download a copy and share with your friends!
After 8 months of stringent market testing the CHA has finally approved the InnovativeCBD line of wellness products for distribution as our first CHA Approved product. CHA Approved products are those which have undergone at least 6 months of quality assurance testing, research, and data. Depending on the product, the CHA will set up custom market analysis involving case study and total customer satisfaction. The CHA will not approve any product or service that has not passed our quality assurance with flying colors.
The advantage of CHA Approved products are they have been tested and approved for distribution by our sister company Agricultural Evolution International (AEI). While not all CHA Approved products will be put into the portfolio by AEI, the vetting process and ultimately the CHA's rubber stamp of approval will give product manufacturer's a seal of confidence that their product has been tested, vetted, and approved with real people versus simply using the general public and their disposable income as a guinea pig.
In addition to the landmark deal executed by the CHA, AEI, and Innovative Extractions you may have heard that New York has officially named it's first five license holders. Surprisingly Fiorello Pharmaceuticals was left out, Terra Tech left out, Compassionate Care NY left out. So many of the highly publicized applicants were left out in the cold while NY made some very solid choices in our opinion. We had predicted that at least (2) of the five applicants would have deep connections to the state which proved to be true as Etain and Bloomfield won and both have deep roots into the inner workings of New York State. Perhaps the most concerning was our inability to find any minority owned businesses or executives in the teams, but there were many women involved in the company executive teams we found. With any luck next round we will some more diversity.
This month's August CHA Newsletter discusses more about the licensing, our events, and news. Check it out!
New York has been bashed throughout the media for it's approach to the Compassionate Care Act, the law stipulating the terms and conditions governing the New York State medical marijuana protocols. Regardless of our opinions of how the program will work, we have now been told that there were 43 total applicants, of which 5 will be selected. Essentially that is approximately 1/9 applicants will receive a license this first round.
Some of those vying for Medical Marijuana licenses are North Shore LIJ, Josh Stanley has a group, and Jason Cranford's group Compassionate Care NY