Innovation meets Cannabis with Nohtal Partansky

Welcome back Budz!  I am your host, Ry Russell and today I am excited to introduce you to the CEO of Sorting Robotics, Nohtal Partansky.  As an Aerospace Engineer, he shares his experience working at NASA and what led him and his business partners to venture out on their own to create their own robotics company and their journey into the Cannabis space. Their new technology helps create infused products with more efficacy and efficiency than ever before. Nohtal and his team are on a mission to reduce the repetitive tasks that are slowing down innovation within the cannabis industry. Tune in and join our conversation. 



Guest – Nohtal Partansky CEO, Sorting Robotics
https://www.sortingrobotics.com/


Host: Ry Russell
BUDZ EMPORIUM
WeedBudz RadioSupport the show

Transcript:

Hey, budz, it’s your best bud Ry here.

And I’m excited to talk to you all today because

as some of you may remember, back in the pandemic

when everything was a little chaotic, I started working on

a number of different podcast shows, and one of

those shows was called IOT Idols Innovators to Watch.

And I got to explore the world of

innovation through automation and kind of what these

different engineers and innovators were kind of bringing

to make life better and make life easier.

And that was extremely fascinating.

And as time goes on in the cannabis industry and

you see manufacturers coming online more and more

and more unique products, I started to kind of look and ask,

where is automation coming into the cannabis industry?

When is it coming?

And lo and behold, it is always easy to

find on LinkedIn and the little universe we’ve created

here because our good friend Mike Mejer from Green

Lane Communication introduced us to our next guest.

So I’m really excited to talk about this with

somebody that knows a thing or two about it.

So Nohtal

It’s so great for you to join us on WeedBudz Radio.

Thank you very much, Ry.

Yeah, I’m interested to be a part

of the series of innovators and automation.

Yeah, it’s so exciting.

And obviously two passions of mine are

cannabis and technology, and you are kind

of where cannabis and technology collide.

And so for those that don’t know, it’s fascinating to

think that your career has kind of been all over

the place and a very entrepreneurial journey, if you will,

but not necessarily a traditional entrepreneurs journey.

I was wondering if you don’t mind sharing

a little bit about your journey into kind

of what brought us here today. Yeah, sure. No worries.

I guess I don’t know what

a traditional entrepreneur’s journey might be.

I’ve talked to a few of them.

They’re kind of always all over the place, right?

But my background is in aerospace engineering, so

I have a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.

I worked at NASA JPL, the

NASA Research Center in Los Angeles.

And I actually worked on a project

that is currently on the surface of

Mars producing oxygen, and it’s called Moxie.

So I was the lead mechanical engineer

on the heart of that instrument.

And then also I did a lot of work

on the overall architecture, and that was awesome.

But as you might assume, NASA is kind of a

heavily bureaucratic sort of environment, and it moves very slow,

and it can be kind of frustrating sometimes.

And so me and my co founder that was also working

at NASA at the time, we wanted to kind of strike

it out on our own and then build this robotics company.

So we picked up our third co founder,

who was doing his PhD in computer vision,

and we said, all right, let’s build robots.

And the first robot we made was

actually a robot that sorted Magic the

Gathering cards or Pokemon cards, trading cards.

And that was pretty cool.

It was super valuable to the industry that it

was in that industry was just very small.

So it sorted the cards.

Yeah, actually you’d put in a thousand cards and

we started with Magic the Gathering and then

eventually went to Pokemon and Yugioh.

But you would put in a thousand cards.

There’d be a camera that went over the cards.

It would scan them, cross reference them to an

online database of over a hundred thousand unique cards,

accurately identify what it was, what set it was, what variable,

kind of promo, small detail card.

And then it would take those thousand cards and

it would do whatever type of sorting you wanted.

So did you want to get all

the expensive cards out of that pile? It could do that.

Did you want to sort them by alphabet? It could do that.

Did you want to sort it by edition, set, rarity?

It could do that.

And then after it sorted, it would upload

that database to the online store of these

sellers and basically eliminate 80% of the labor

that these people who sold online would do.

It was really cool.

It was like probably one

of our most sophisticated robots.

And yes, that was kind of

the first thing we started with.

So what did you do after that?

So after that we then got into

a startup accelerator called Y Combinator.

Kind of a fancy sort of venture arm

with a business development program behind it.

If you don’t mind, Nohtal

why is that specific program so valuable?

Because those that are listening might

not necessarily know kind of what’s

all entailed with something like that. Yeah.

So Y Combinator is commonly referred to as the

Harvard of Silicon Valley because it was the first

startup accelerator kind of like built that model.

And that model is basically they give you a

bunch of money to invest and then they kind

of help you develop your business model.

And a bunch of the biggest companies in the world

have gone through it like Airbnb, Dropbox, DoorDash, Instacart, kind

of these companies that are very common now.

They started with like three guys in

this business development program.

That’s amazing and it’s hard to get into.

So congratulations. Super hard.

Yeah, I think the acceptance rate is

less than 1% or something like that.

Yeah, so we got into that and we said, okay,

we want to use this network of all these founders

and these investors to find a bigger market.

And so after kind of scouring the different industries of

what’s a good place to put our efforts behind, we

found that cannabis just really didn’t have a lot of

automation and it was very manual and very labor intensive

and a lot of these big companies weren’t even looking

at it or even trying to service the industry because

of its federal status.

So living in the gray is where startups kind of thrive.

And we said, okay, cool, we have a positive

disposition towards the plant, and we like robots, so

this sounds like a good path forward.

And so then, boom, that’s what got us into cannabis.

And that was kind of the

small journey into the cannabis ecosystem.

And then we’ve been doing a

bunch of weird stuff since then.

So before we talk about the cannabis and the weird stuff,

can you tell me a little bit about what is it

like being cannabis positive in a very federal environment?

You mean like when I was working at NASA? Yeah.

I didn’t smoke any weed when I worked at NASA.

Yeah, I was pretty low key because they can do

drug testing and stuff like that, and you also don’t

want to be caught with your pants down.

So I would say me and my kind

of engineering friends while we’re there, kind of

took a sabbatical from cannabis during that time.

Sure. You clearly had experimented with it

prior to your experience with NASA.

So leaving, because I was kind of trying to

wrap my mind around how does a systems engineer

at NASA get in the cannabis space?

Yeah, I mean, it was like kind of those steps, right?

It was like moving from NASA to doing robots

for small industry and then small industry to big

industry in cannabis is a bunch of kind of

non sequiturs to get to where we are.

And you said as soon as we kicked off

that there’s not necessarily one true standard entrepreneurial journey,

if you will, because my background is very media

heavy and very marketing focused and consumer experience and

found my way into the cannabis industry, bringing all

of those skills together.

And again, those steps don’t necessarily make sense looking at

them individually one by one, but it’s really easy to

kind of see how we got here when you look

at it in the rear view mirror.

And so I’m fascinated, when you looked at the cannabis

space, did you have an idea of where you thought

we needed help in terms of automation, or was that

a journey in a process in and of itself?

Yeah, that was also a bit of a

journey because I didn’t actually know anything about

the cannabis industry when I first started.

I mean, I knew I liked weed.

That was kind of where it began, right.

And when we got into the industry, we

kind of had to experiment quite a bit

to understand really where the pain points were.

And a big part of that was helping set

up a co packing facility in Oakland and actually

running that and participating in that process of running

a plant touching facility that would co pack with

some bay area clients and also act as like

R and D for this highly controlled substance.

And that process is really what taught me

and our team exactly what’s needed in the

space because we started building for cannabis manufacturers,

and then we were kind of participating in

the knowledge gathering of this cannabis manufacturer.

Right.

And so we kind of became

the customer to know the customer.

And then that’s where all these

problems started becoming very apparent.

Like, when you’re actually in the operations and you’re in the

day to day, you’re like, oh, wow, this is crap.

Wow, that doesn’t make any sense.

Is there any solution for this? No. Okay.

Let me talk to my customers

or other people in the industry. Do they know? No. Okay.

Well, there’s like, no answers to this.

Very surprising, because this industry is huge, and it’s getting

bigger and bigger, but there’s like, these huge gaps, and

that really served as, like, a good launching point for

our current products that we launched now and the product

roadmap that we have moving forward.

That’s amazing because I think of the cultivator specifically

and the processors and manufacturers, there’s a lot of

opportunity for automation when you look at it on

the surface and having really kind of my origin

of my career being manufacturing, I’ve seen incredible equipment

automate some of the most mundane tasks.

And one of the things that I really love

the most doing research for this episode was on

your LinkedIn page, you wrote, I want a world

where all repetitive labor tasks are done autonomously.

Then people can find or can utilize their

efforts on helping others and being creative.

And I thought that was really powerful because there’s

an argument so often, well, if you just automate

all of this stuff, what about my labor?

What about my staff?

I don’t want them to go anywhere.

So I get what you’re saying, but what do

you say to the argument of, well, some of

this equipment could automate thirty, forty jobs?

That LinkedIn post is kind of like

an overarching ethos of mine, right.

But when it comes to practicality of the automation,

especially in the cannabis industry, and how it’s kind

of hyper fragmented in these different states, if you

talk actually with these manufacturers, they’re not firing their

people when they buy equipment.

They’re just actually using them

for higher value add tasks.

Because really the problem that these people are

having is not that they want to automate

jobs and then fire all their staff. No.

It’s that they can’t even find

enough people to do the jobs.

That’s the big problem.

It’s not having the workforce of the labor

because people don’t want to do these jobs.

Extremely hard to hire.

I mean, I even ran into that issue

myself with the co packing facility up north.

It was very hard to hire for some of these kind

of simple tasks because people don’t want to do it.

Right?

There’s a very few amount of people that

want to sit down and pack prerolls all

day or pack concentrate jars all day.

It’s extremely tedious.

It’s super boring.

And when you do find them.

You actually can’t have them do that all day.

You have to vary the tasks throughout the

day because otherwise they get super slow.

They get really grumpy because those jobs suck.

People will do them because they need to, but

it’s the responsibility of the employer to make it

not a nightmare for the employees to do it.

And as you know, the industry in the United

States is moving more towards a knowledge worker basis.

I think it makes a lot of sense to automate

those jobs that the manufacturers are having difficulty filling.

It’s not that they want to fire a bunch of people.

They can’t even hire the people they need.

So that’s kind of where that

comes from in a practical sense.

I appreciate that argument very much because the more and

more I talk to cultivators, you’re right, they need fifty

trimmers, but there’s only twenty five that are hireable, and their

capacity is now limited to man hours.

Where to your point, it’s, well, maybe those twenty five

trimmers that they do have could be out generating

revenue rather than sitting at a desk trimming weed.

I guess that when you put it that way.

That seems to make a lot of sense on paper.

Another point that you made

is just that repetitive task. Right?

The boredom sets in.

Agitation can kind of set in.

And when I first started my career, I worked at

a medical manufacturing facility for diagnostic kits and eight hours

putting pipettes into a kit or putting cotton swabs into

a kit or filling vials, and it’s just it was

the same thing all day, day in and day out.

And eventually there was a really big shift to kind

of cross train and get people, and it made the

nights go by so much faster when you’re learning something

new and you’re applying yourself in different ways.

So I like just that example there because even in the

retail side, you could be cutting flyers or labeling, and it

just becomes so tedious that you kind of have to shake

it up in order to get the maximum output because there’s

no point in labeling when you’re just doing one at a

time versus when you’re kind of going at it. Right.

And you’ve got a flow going.

So that makes a lot of sense, and the

more that I think are there’s so many applications.

So I know you have a machine right now

to help with infused blunts and prerolls, correct?

Yeah, that’s called our Jiko robot.

Okay, so tell me a little bit about that.

Yeah, so that’s an idea that we got

from participating in that co packing facility directly.

A customer came to us, said, hey, we want to

do some infused payrolls, kind of in the fuzzy style,

and this is back in 2020, and when infused prerolls

in California were kind of just becoming a little bit

trendy, they were still very small part of the market,

and they asked us to do this job.

They gave us all this kief.

They gave us all this distillate.

They gave us stuff to make the prerolls.

We made the prerolls. It’s easy.

Then when we did the infusion

part, we were painting them.

We followed these SOPs that they gave us

but it ended up being extremely messy, both

in interaction with the customer because we ended

up using too much kief and running out.

And then the distillate was super messy and

kind of literally all over the place and

it just wasn’t a good process.

And, I mean, we did try to do a very

good job of it, but the spillage rates and all

that kind of methodology just didn’t really make sense.

And so since that labor was so high and that

spillage was so high, I kind of went back on

the robotic side and said, let’s just make a method

of infusing that is not just kind of cosmetic.

It looks cool, but actually

is functionally a better product.

And in a manufacturing kind of

gross margin sense is less spillage.

So you save on your material input costs.

And in some of these markets, it’s extremely expensive

and less labor, which in every market is expensive.

And that’s another thing that people

just don’t want to do, right?

People don’t want to sit there and paint

prerolls with distillate and then roll them in

kief. Yeah, it’s not a great thing.

It’s not a great job.

And so that’s when we made the Jiko and

basically just injects prerolls and blunts with concentrate, making

a column of concentrate down the center and turns

it from just like a regular preroll and kind

of into like a little dirty dab rig where you

have this cherry on the end vaporizing all this

concentrate, kind of smooths out the smoke.

You get that full terpene profile when you do

things like live raws and injections, and then you

can start mixing and matching and making designer joints,

which is not something you can do these days.

Can you do more solid type concentrates as well

as the distillates and batters are going to be

a little bit more runny, whereas the sugars and

the rocks and sauce are going to have a

little bit more of those solid factors to them.

Does that machine allow for both or does it

have to be more kind of the liquid side?

So it has to be able to become a liquid.

What happens after it’s a liquid kind

of changes depending on what it is.

So if you’re using a distillate after you

inject it, it’s still going to be basically

a liquid, just like a hard liquid.

However, if you’re using a batter or maybe

like a non pen stable rosin, after you

inject it, it turns into like a crystal.

So you can do these injections and when it cools

down, it cools down into like a crystalline structure.

And that’s what is really bad.

If you put it in a vape

cart because then it can’t burn.

But if you put it inside of a joint, it’s perfect.

Right?

It’s kind of like you’re getting that little dab.

So, yeah, I mean, it has to melt down.

You can’t, like, put in just kief, right?

You can’t inject kief because that’s like

a solid granular type of thing.

But we’ve seen people do like, hash rosin where that

is kind of this oily, mushy sort of dough, and

then you melt it down so it becomes runny.

And then you can inject it

into the joints or the blunts.

And then when it cools down, it goes back into

that same form that kind of like gooey dough form.

Very cool.

And that will dose based off of weight, I assume.

So doses by viscosity and time.

So we’re basically doing like a time based

dosage because the range of materials is so

large, kind of this constant pressure pushing, it

decreases the chance for you to accidentally create

cavitation in the system by pulling a vacuum.

And if you pull a vacuum, sometimes your batters or

your shatters or your sugars that you’ve melted down.

So we do sugars and stuff. You just have to melt it down

so there’s no more crystals left.

But if you do that and then you pull a

vacuum on it, it can sometimes actually create bubbles.

It actually causes it to decarboxylate.

And so this way we actually just provide a

constant pressure and just push it through the system.

That’s very cool.

So when you are doing this and

you’re working in this facility and you’re

seeing the opportunities, was there any regulatory

issues that come up when you’re manufacturing

equipment to manufacture these schedule 1 drugs?

Well, I mean, we don’t have any of the

schedule 1 drugs in our robotics facility because we’re

not licensed and that’s I don’t really want to

get rated or something like that.

We just have hemp and like Delta-8,

which is legal, and hemp is super legal.

So we have that documentation on staff ready to go.

But on the plant touching side, we would

deploy our machines to that co packing facility

to really run a real life scenario.

Because infusing hemp with Delta-8 is

very different than infusing THC joints with

like a rosin or like, a batter

because that material consistency is different.

The way it affects and response

to heat is super different.

It’s just just like so different.

So when we were doing kind of the final phase of

testing that last six months, it was in the field.

Interesting.

So I know, like in Maine, for example, the regulators

cannot seem to figure out once you infuse a

preroll, do you measure it as a flower product?

Do you measure it as a concentrate product?

So I was curious how that is working

in some of the markets that you’ve seen,

because obviously it becomes a manufactured product.

But I’m just trying to forward think here because

Maine doesn’t have this yet because they don’t know

how to tax it or how to regulate it.

So have you heard about that in other markets

where you haven’t been able to infuse products?

And do you have an idea of kind of why?

There’s some places where the infusion

of products is highly regulated or

segmentated from different operators.

So I know in Oklahoma, like a farm can’t

infuse, you need specifically like a processing license.

And then when it comes to how you’re going

to quantify the joint in California and in Michigan,

they quantify all of them as infused, as joints.

They’re just joints with more THC

or whatever inside of them.

And I know that right now, on the possible ballot

or a ballot like decision tree on how to tax

things in New York, they’re actually trying to connect the

taxes to the THC percentage, which I think would be

insane and make no sense whatsoever in terms of regulations

of infused products and just things in general.

They’re kind of all over the place.

And it’s honestly extremely confusing where they

even get these ideas from.

I’m confused just thinking about that.

How do you tax on the percent?

Like, would alcohol be taxed on the percentage? Right.

No, because then effectively you

deincentivize a variability of products, right?

Yeah.

And it’d be very different because everyone in

every state is like chasing THC percentage.

Like, can we make a preroll that’s 50% THC?

It’s like, yeah, you could.

I’m not sure if it would be good, but you could, right?

And people are kind of buying off that

notion because everyone is still getting educated on

the market on what matters in a preroll

or what matters in a cannabis product.

And yes, if they did that, that

would kind of fuck it up.

I think it wouldn’t make any sense.

We have Budz Emporium our adult

use store here in Maine.

We have a kief infused preroll that is

37 and a half percent, and that’s the

highest product we have thus far anyway.

But again, looking at when these types of

products come to market, I think that they’re

just going to be a huge opportunity here.

Speaking of huge opportunity, one I would like

to ask is this machine and this equipment,

is this something that’s readily available for cultivators

and processors to buy right now, or is

this within your facility right now?

The Jiko unit?

Oh, no, it’s ready to buy all over the country.

So we’ve sold ones everywhere.

We sold a few in Canada.

We sold to Michigan,

Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, Massachusetts.

Where else?

Maryland.

Yeah.

Now we’re basically focusing on a lot of

those emerging markets, like New York, Ohio, these

kind of places that are starting to come

online and getting their feet wet.

And they want to start with automated systems because

they kind of see what everyone else started with

when they had an army of people and they’re

like, yeah, I don’t really want to do that.

Let’s take some lessons, learn from the other states.

Yeah, like I said, I can’t wait until we have it here.

So we’ll have to get one of your

units to Maine at some point, I hope.

Yeah, definitely.

My last question for you.

You saw the opportunity in the

cannabis space for this unit.

I’m curious, would your peripheral kind

of seen some other areas?

Because I think of trimming

right? And just preroll packing.

There’s already equipment there, but there’s not,

at least to my knowledge, nothing like

true scale full automation yet.

But that’s just kind of what my

simple mind sees as low hanging fruit.

Do you have any kind of other thoughts of just

ways that this industry can automate and become more efficient?

Yeah, I mean, one thing that we built and just

launched recently is a kind of vape filling machine, which

isn’t special so much as there are other machines around.

What I think we have taken the approach as is

to kind of build a platform that was from the

ground up specifically made for cannabis and very different from

what other people are kind of doing where they find

something from another industry and they kind of jerry rigged it

to make it work with cannabis stuff.

And so when you start with the cannabis plan

in mind and that sort of material handling issue,

you then can very easily kind of mix and

match that design to do other things.

Like that vape cartridge filling machine will

also be able to do gummies.

And if it’s doing gummies, it will also

be able to do maybe drinkables as well.

And so we’re kind of going through this experimentation

process of where have the current technologies that have

been applied to the space fall short.

And that’s kind of where we see it

in like vape cartridge, gummies, edibles situation.

And I think that’s where we’re going to be

focusing a lot of our effort on next. It’s amazing.

I can’t wait to continue to follow your journey

and the products that you all have coming out.

So for those that are interested right now in getting in

touch with you or getting some of your equipment or following

you, what’s the best way to stay in touch?

I think the best way to stay in touch is

follow me on LinkedIn and you can hit me up

on LinkedIn or just, I guess send me a message.

nohtal@sorting roboticscom. That’s my email.

I check it every day.

So if you want to reach out, just drop me a line.

Perfect.

Well, thank you so much.

We’re so grateful that you made the time

to join us today on WeedBudz Radio.

Thank you for having me.

And of course, we’re so grateful to all of you

for joining us on today’s episode of WeedBudz Radio.

Be sure to head over to

weedbudzradio.com check out those show notes.

We’ll have links to all the

websites you can connect further.

And of course we are excited to

see you in the next episode. So stay tuned.

Don’t Let it Smoke You with Tarris Batiste

Hello Budz!  Welcome to another episode of Weed Budz Radio.  I am your host, Ry Russell, and today I am joined by Tarris Batiste, Author of  “Don’t Let it Smoke You”.  As a community of advocates, we often focus on the benefits of Cannabis and removing the negative stigma associated with the industry.  Today we discuss the importance of responsible use and the potential hazards of not educating yourself.  Tarris shares his personal journey and how he found balance, respect, and appreciation for the plant.

Guest – Tarris Batiste – Author
Purchase Book: Don’t Let it Smoke You



Host: Ry Russell
BUDZ EMPORIUM
WeedBudz RadioSupport the show

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey, budz.

Welcome back to another episode of WeedBudz Radio.

Of course, I’m still your host

Ry Russell

And today I want to talk

a little differently about cannabis.

Not negatively, not positively, just differently, because

I would consider myself an advocate.

I would consider most of you

tuning into this show an advocate.

And I think we sometimes get lost in our advocacy.

I think we like to downplay some of

the negative components that can come with cannabis.

And we love to cheer and celebrate all of

the amazing things that cannabis does for people’s lives.

But there’s a spectrum, just like there is with

everything, and there’s this wide gap in the middle.

And I think it’s unfair for us advocates

to look past some of the negative things

that can happen with cannabis in people’s lives.

And I think it’s obviously ignorant for those that

just see the negatives to not educate themselves and

inform themselves on some of the positives.

So in my journeys of looking for people that might be

able to speak on both sides of this, I was super

blessed to get connected with Tarris Batiste on LinkedIn, and he

is the author of Don’t Let It Smoke You.

And I want him today to share his journey

and what his personal opinions are about cannabis, how

it can be an effective use for athletes and

for individuals all over the world, but how it

can also kind of take control negatively.

And so, joining us today, Tarris, thank you so much.

Yeah, for sure.

Thank you for having me on.

I’m happy to be here, happy to chat about with you.

I love your passion.

I love your passion around cannabis and your

understanding around the pros and the cons.

Happy to be here and happy to get in to talk to you.

Well, we connected very quick.

I remember you sent me a message and

I said, I want to talk to you.

If you’re not going to give me twenty minutes of

cannabis is the best thing in the world, I want

to have a real conversation, and it’s real.

And so I would love for you to share

with the audience a little bit about your journey.

How did you and I connect, kind

of where did you come from?

And then let’s talk about the book.

Yeah, so how me and you connected was via LinkedIn.

Just doing my outreach about the book.

The book came out a year ago.

I was been doing tons of outreach. Right?

Trying to market, trying to get it to as

many hands that makes sense, that’s aligned with it.

So that’s how we connected kind of before then.

A little bit of background.

I’m from Georgia, from a small

town in Georgia called Cartersville.

I live in Seattle now. That’s my new home.

It’s been in my home for like, three years.

Learning about the cannabis industry, where

it’s going all different topical,

CBD, CBDA, CBDG.

Actually, I love that shit, man. I’m going to be honest.

But I learned about that right now.

But also what got us on the

call is I wanted to do both.

I wanted to be able to use and not let it control me.

And you sound like you kind of had the same thing.

Had the same similarities going on.

Not personally, but as you kind of grew up with it.

And that’s what got us on the call, man.

I’m happy to talk to it, for sure.

So when did cannabis first start

playing a role in your life?

Yeah, so like, everyone I don’t want to

say everyone, but I started off smoking. Right?

Back then we didn’t have the cool CBD

bongs and all that stuff like that. Right?

I started off smoking and I

started off around 8th grade.

Ry, but it didn’t continuously happen until, I would

say, junior year in high school is when I

really started to learn how to roll up by

myself, didn’t need my friends, and started to kind

of get into that act over and over again. Interesting.

And was it something that you were using because

obviously you were an athlete, so was it something

that you are using for pain management or were

you using it because it was cool?

You know, neither at that

time, to be completely honest.

I was using it because I enjoyed

it and the shit was fun.

It got us around hot chicks in high school.

It got us around each other and we kind of all

stood around and kind of stayed to this little bubble.

So I enjoyed that. Didn’t notice.

It was going to be a cool thing.

Although it kind of was kind of edgy

and kind of arcane, little mysterious when we

were younger, but yeah, for sure.

How about college?

Obviously as an athlete, you’ve got

to be drug tested, right?

So how do you use and consume in college?

So that’s when I caught onto the pain management part. Right?

I played safety in college.

I understood after using so much, you start

to get to certain cadence for you, right?

You start to understand when you

use in the mornings and nights.

So that’s why I understood

pain management around practices.

Two a days, three a days.

I actually went to rehab my sophomore

going in my junior year in college. Ry, I’m serious.

I was using all the time,

and everybody on the team knew.

I didn’t hide it.

My eyes were always red.

I would always smell it on my fingertips. Right?

And the coach tried to look out for me around

my junior year in college, I tried to figure out

that pain management, and I tried to figure out myself,

and I was just going through it.

And that’s what got me to rehab and that’s

what got me to write the book, for sure.

That’s incredible.

Thank you so much for sharing that.

I think it’s similar to a lot of stories out there.

I think a lot of people can kind of get into

a system in their mind that it’s fun, it’s healthy, look

all around, look at all the great things it does, and

then we forget that it can smoke us, too. Absolutely.

Tell me about an average day.

So you’re in college, you’re working out in

the morning, you’re practicing two or three times

a day, you’ve got games, you’ve got school.

I mean, how much are you smoking?

Yeah, and I was smoking blunts, too.

I’ll get to your question, but I actually

listened to a guy that you were speaking

with on your radio, John Friess.

He was talking about tobacco and the

chemicals and what it does to you.

So that’s why I mentioned I was smoking a bunch, too.

But to get to your question, so an

average day in college will look like this.

I worked out in the mornings, like

all athletes at any school, right?

But I would smoke before I go workout, right?

So that’s the first thing.

If the workout was 6:00 AM, I

would wake up at 5:00 AM.

If the workout was at 9:00, I would wake up at 7:00.

Right?

So I would alter my day around that.

But in the short, I would smoke really much after

everything I did, after I ate, before I ate, it

kind of became like my go to thing.

I would say like five, six times a

day, at least two blunts a day.

Yeah, for sure. And that’s a lot.

So you were scheduling around your smoking sessions?

Absolutely.

And as I got older, I started to use it as a reward.

Ry, you know what I mean? Okay.

I got my homework done, practice pretty good, everybody’s

cool, me and my girlfriend on a good page.

Okay, let’s smoke. You know what I mean?

So I started to do that too, for sure. Yeah.

That’s powerful because, I don’t know, I wouldn’t say all

of us, but I would assume just about all of

us has done that, has used anything, whether it’s candy

or sugar or soda or cannabis, that we reward ourselves.

Right?

We reward ourselves for that shitty task

list that’s going to take all day.

And we don’t want to do it, but we’re going to do it.

Because as soon as it’s done,

we’re going to get this sweet release.

You already know.

Yeah, I totally get it.

But I’m curious because obviously I shared with

you for me what some of the consequences

were of not intentionally and deliberately understanding what

I’m consuming and how I’m consuming and just

allowing it to smoke me as well.

But I’m curious what some

of those consequences were for you?

Ask that question in a simpler way, will you?

Yeah, absolutely.

What were some of the

negative ramifications of smoking weed?

Yes. Number one, my family started

to notice me distancing myself.

Thanksgiving, family functions, if I wasn’t high, probably

not coming. Number two in my relationship life.

Whether I was hanging out with friends, going to a bar,

or whether I was going out to eat with my girlfriend

in college at that time, I had to before and they

were like, damn, we got to wait on you.

The women were like, what are you doing?

We don’t smoke. Why are you taking?

And it started to get in the way and

they started to mention that to me and I

started to look outside myself and say, damn.

So those were a couple two.

That really stuck out to me.

And after that, I would say

the last thing really, my money.

At that time, all my money was going to it. Right?

I think that happens often around the world, but when

you’re young, all my money was going to it.

And I wouldn’t even buy in big batches either, Ry.

I was buying small grams each

day, just wasting my money.

So those are three points that really stood out to

me and I had to make a change really quick. For sure.

That’s powerful.

As a retailer of an adult use

establishment in Maine, I’m not conflicted.

People ask me all of the time if I’m conflicted.

I am not conflicted.

I have no problem investing in my community.

And I’ve had customers where I’ve said, hey, maybe you

should see if this can last you the weekend.

Not that I don’t want to see you.

Come see me tomorrow.

We’ll have a cup of coffee.

I love the social aspect of my

job, but I’m also very serious.

I stupid love my community and I

am going to look out for them.

And I don’t like the other drugs in my community.

I don’t like people using anything unsafely.

We talked about it before.

If it was up to me to rewrite the law,

it’d be twenty five before you could smoke or drink.

Like, it wouldn’t even be.

It’d be booze, too, I think.

Until your brain is formed.

I really don’t want to see a lot

of chemicals in it unless it’s needed.

I’ve never been conflicted and as I mentioned, I’ve had

people I say, just try to get through the weekend

and then we’ll hook it up again on Monday.

Well, jeez Ry, why are you cutting me off?

I said, I’m never going to cut you off.

That’s not what I’m doing. Yeah.

As your friend, I’m just telling you what I know.

Price wise, this is getting expensive.

And of course I need to feed my family

and feed my employees family, but again, not at

the expense of your wellbeing, because you come to

me and I sell you joy, for sure.

That makes me happy every day,

but I want total happiness.

I don’t want you to go home and

be like, well, now I can’t buy coffee

tomorrow because I just paid Ry at Budz Emporium.

I just don’t like that. Right. Well said, too.

And I think that’s where we kind of connected.

That’s a humanitative part of you.

And that’s why I’m happy that we

got guys like you in those shoes. For sure.

I appreciate that.

For those listening that maybe are relating

really strongly right now, what do you

have for some words of encouragement?

And how did you pull yourself out of that

system, out of that funk that you are in? Yup.

So for the words of encouragement,

I would say it’s okay to drift.

I’m going to get to that.

It’s okay to drift.

And then how I pulled myself out of it.

So I talk about it in the book, literally step

by step, and don’t let it smoke you, but I’ll

give it to you in a little bullet point fashion.

So first, I acknowledged my issue.

I was blown enough to say, hey, I do this.

I went to rehab for it in college.

The coaches know, although I didn’t pass rehab.

I just gave it up, by the way.

But my mom knows, everybody knows.

So that’s the first thing. Acknowledge it. Wear it with pride.

Who cares? Especially now.

That’s the first thing.

Just stand in it.

It helps you a lot.

Second, I would say start to understand your

internal and external goals, who you’re hanging around,

why you use, why you use, right? Why you use?

Is it used because you’re bored playing a video game?

Is it because you’re with this group of people?

Or is it because you like to use it

to go to the studio and make music?

It’s different for everyone, right?

So those are the two points I would say

that’s what helped me cut back.

Just being very open to it and

really just not being dependent around it.

I don’t like to say addiction, I don’t like

to say habits, just not being dependent to it.

So that’s kind of my couple of little nuggets there.

I hope that helps somebody, for sure.

You sound like you want to unpack some stuff. Go ahead.

Ask away.

I do.

So I guess my first question is, do you use now? Do you use today?

Absolutely.

Still today.

Incredible. So what was mentally the biggest?

Because I think when we talked,

for me, it was just intention.

It was Mark, if I’m going to do something, I’m

writing it down, then I’m consuming it and I’m just

going to be aware because it was so easy. Right?

Especially if you own a store. Right?

It’s so easy to find pre rolls.

No, it’d be like being extremely

obese and running a buffet. Right?

Like you’ve got to be intentional

about what it is that you’re doing.

And for me, I have employees to support

and families to support and a community to

love and a business to thrive.

I’ve got to be very aware of what I’m doing.

That’s a journey, right?

Kind of wellness all in general is a journey.

I was curious if you were able to kind of

come out of your battle and your struggle and now

say, wow, that relationship with cannabis is very different.

Absolutely.

Completely different.

Now, you don’t necessarily get over it.

You just learn how to live and deal with it.

You’re not going to say, you know what, I’m done with

cannabis, because it does help you in some point, right?

Depending on who you are, it helps

you in some way recreational or medically.

Maybe you don’t know yourself, too.

I truly believe in that.

But you asked me, you said, do I still use today? I do.

I know when it’s an asset to me.

I like to say the power of when, the power of

when they use for you and for me is different.

In mornings, nights, et cetera, and then how

you use micro dosing, et cetera, it’s different.

So I know how to use for myself, I don’t know how

to use with a group of my friends, but for myself.

So it’s different.

And that’s what I kind of hang my head on, for sure.

Incredible.

It is a journey, and I think often consumers, I

see it here, they come in and they ask a

question and they want that answer, and they get frustrated

with my answer, it’s a journey and I’m willing

to go on it with you.

And some of them are just like, well, no, I want to

know how many milligrams and what’s going to be the bet?

And I don’t have that answer.

I don’t know.

And frankly, if anybody does know that

answer, I’d be a little cautious.

Yeah, I’m glad you said that, Ry.

It’s growing with us hand in hand. Literally.

More cannabinoids are coming out by the day as we grow.

It’s growing with people hand in hand.

So I think we’re all kind of in a journey

and experiment and trying to figure out what works best.

For all we know, there’s a compound in

this plant that’s more psychoactive than THC.

It’s the universe inside this plant, and

we’re just starting to explore it. Absolutely.

I’m excited.

So I don’t want nobody to think that I don’t use.

I just understand how to use, use healthy and

use how I want to use, for sure.

And for those listening at home that might want

to get some tips on how to use healthier

or may just kind of need that empathetic story

of wow, somebody else gets it.

Like, there is a low point to this.

When done incorrectly, how do

they stay connected with you?

How do they find the book?

Yes, you can find the book on Amazon.

Just type in Don’t Let It Smoke You

and type in Tarris Batiste.

You can go to cleverchief.org to get the book there too.

It gives you a little bit more information

about what I have coming up, et cetera.

If you want to kind of go back

and forth, play a little verbal tennis, right,

go to dontletitsmokeyou@gmail.com. I’ll respond faster there.

But that’s how we can kind of stay connected.

Follow me on Instagram.

I’ll follow back.

I’m really here to connect. I’m really here to learn.

I’m open to it.

But I’m also here to kind of help nudge

and say, hey, just do what you do.

Just don’t let this stuff control you. For sure.

Love it.

Well, thank you so much for joining us today.

It really means a lot to me. Thank you.

Thank you for your time.

Ry, hopefully we can get some books in Maine

with you, so we get that going for sure.

And I want to know how it goes in

Maine in some ways that you kind of utilize

Don’t Let it Smoke You

So that’d be cool to know.

Absolutely. We’re excited to have the books here on the

shelf here at Budz Emporium in Medway, Maine.

Thank you, Tarris, for allowing me

to put that plug in there.

So, of course, as all of you know, all

of the links to connect with Tarris and grab

the book, Don’t Let It Smoke You

Those will be right on our show notes.

So weedbudzradio.com and then in those

show notes, we’ll have those links.

You can go purchase the book.

And of course, we are grateful for you joining

us for another episode of WeedBudz Radio.

And we’ll see you in the next one.

BUDZ UPDATE: Office of Cannabis Policy Town Hall in Bangor

https://www.wabi.tv/video/2022/08/25/office-cannabis-policy-discusses-industry-issues-bangor-town-hall/https://www.wabi.tv/video/2022/08/25/office-cannabis-policy-discusses-industry-issues-bangor-town-hall/

https://www.wabi.tv/video/2022/08/25/office-cannabis-policy-discusses-industry-issues-bangor-town-hall/

Last night some of the Budz from Budz Emporium went to Bangor to take part in the town hall discussion sponsored by the Office of Cannabis Policy. Many topics were discussed and the budz brought up some urgent matters. For example, a few weeks back customers and patients were stopped by boarder patrol checkpoint between the exits on i95 Howland and Lincoln. Boarder Patrol was reminding individuals that cannabis is still federally illegal and therefore subject to confiscation. Although the individuals were let go freely their product and medicine was still taken. This is a concern for businesses within the 100 mile radius that boarder patrol covers around international lines. For a small business like Budz Emporium, should boarder patrol seize a car load of product or seize the store either scenario is something that would cripple a small family business like ours. Ultimately, the conclusion was that federal authority wins and should they decide to pull a vehicle over legally transporting cannabis the federal authorities will confiscate the product. Another team member brought up the concerns in regards to product testing and the lack thereof in the medical market. The office of cannabis policy also is concerned about this and needs the legislature to move on the subject. They also mentioned the presence of organized crime that is a significant concern within the medical market. All in all there was good conversation between stakeholders and the office of cannabis policy. I think one of the key takeaways for stakeholders is that OCP looks at themselves as compliance not law enforcement and those are two different roles with two different responsibilities. It is important to use our resources within the office to continue to move the industry forward and keep the public healths interests as our primary responsibility. Be sure to check back for more Maine Cannabis Policy Updates.

Friday August 26th, BUDZ EMPORIUM TO HOST EVENT WITH LEUNE, CLDZ, and NOVA FARMS!

On Friday August 26th, 2022 from 10am until 7pm Budz Emporium Recreational Dispensary in Medway, Maine will be holding their first ever in-store event. Joining Budz Emporium for this event will be the brands Leune, who provides delicious terpene infused pre-rolls and vaporizer products along with CLDZ, making an incredible juice shot with rapid results, and lastly we are proud to have our partners at Nova Farms joining us for this event. We are excited to see everyone and have some swag to give out from your favorite Budz along with our partners. We have some incredible deals to share with you as well. All Leune products will be up to 25% off for this one day only. CLDZ Juice shots will also be more than 25% off and will be only $5 a juice shot for this special day. Lastly, with the help from our friends at Nova, you may remember our partnership created the first recreational $99 Ounce, and for this one day only we will beat that and you can pick up an ounce of Nova Farms Grease Monkey for only $85 an ounce. You read that right! Mark your calendars for Friday August 26th, 2022 at Budz Emporium. Offers are while supplies last so be sure to get here early.

Gary Cohen and Cova Software delivers the best POS and Payment Solutions for Cannabis Retailers

Ry Russell and Gary Cohen on WeedBudz Radio

Hello Budz!  I’m excited to have a returning guest; Gary Cohen, CEO of Cova Software.  As a business owner, I have met with and researched several software platforms for my own business as we opened an adult use dispensary this year.  Cova software was the perfect solution for us and I invite you to join us to hear from Gary himself.  From first-class service to high-performance software, Gary and his team are continuously evolving to support retailers in providing a best-in-class customer experience and staying ahead of regulations and laws within the Cannabis industry.


Gary Cohen – CEO

Cova Software


Host: Ry Russell
BUDZ EMPORIUM
WeedBudz RadioSupport the show

Hey, budz.

Welcome back for another incredible

episode of WeedBuzz Radio.

And of course, I’m your host, Ry.

And joining me today is a guest that we’ve

had on before and one that I’m really excited

to to share with you all today.

Because as you know, we have been on

a journey in our own cannabis retail world

of Budz Emporium here in Medway, Maine.

And when you’re opening a retail store, there’s

a lot you need to think about.

And just so much going on, so much chaos.

And one of the biggest things that you need to figure out

is what are you going to use for your POS system?

And we have spoken about different companies.

We’ve spoken to Gary before, and we’ve

learned a little bit about Cova.

And so when we were getting open, we called Gary,

and Gary introduced us to his team at Cova Software.

And they took incredible care of us.

They taught us how to use this

entire system in a very tight timeline.

We were kind of under the gun.

We were just moving slow and then moved fast.

And Gary’s team was there the entire step of the way.

Even when we were delayed, they were still there

and they were still ready to help us.

And we get the system in, and it’s perfect.

And we have ATMs in, and that’s helping

us with our business and our tourists .

And then the ATMs go away

because their banks say no more.

We saw where it’s located.

So we got a debit card system, and the fees are insane.

And when you’re already paying incredible

taxes, you cannot afford incredible fees.

So what do I do in a panic, I think?

Well, who has solutions to these things?

Well, of course, our next guest, Gary

Cohen, CEO of Cova Software, always has

solutions to these types of things.

So, Gary, welcome back to WeedBudz. Thanks, Ry.

It’s great to be here.

It’s incredible to think that our journey started prior

to the pandemic and you’re one of

our first episodes of our rebranded WeedBudz radio show.

We met at MJ Bizcon, and we stayed in

touch ever since we’ve seen you in Portland, Maine.

We purchase and we invest in your

product, and we love it so much.

And it’s just been a wild ride,

and it hasn’t been that long.

Well, in marijuana years, 3 years is

like 30 in any other industry.

So time flies fast, especially in a

super high growth space like we’re in.

Speaking of super high growth, I remember a story that

you shared with us at Bizcon about your

first trade show, if you will, and kind

of where your market share was and how it grew.

And as far as I know, Cova is now

the number 1 POS software in North America.

I mean, such a lion share of the US.

And the Canadian market.

Yeah, we are.

Well, I think that your experience with us and

just so that the people listening know I love

Ry and I want to support him, but we

didn’t do anything special or different for him.

So when he reached out and said, hey, I need

to get going with something for my dispensary that I’m

finally going to get to open, I hate to say

it, but you didn’t get any special treatment.

You got like, what everyone gets so everybody

can get the Ry Russell treatment from Cova.

That’s right.

That Ry Russell treatment is a top shelf experience.

But I think that’s our secret sauce.

So I think what we did really astutely or well at

the very beginning was we were new to the industry.

Everyone was dealing.

For the most part, everyone is new to the industry.

When I think about everyone opening a dispensary, we’ve

got a lot of people who have no retail

background almost, I’d say 90% have no cannabis background.

And then you add that full compliance element into

it, where you got to do it right and

get connected up and report properly, do the taxes

properly and all that stuff, and it’s complicated.

And we set a mission to simplify that

complexity and hold your hand during the process.

So not just teach you how to use the software, but

try to educate you on, here’s what you’re getting into.

Here are the pitfalls, here’s how you can navigate through

those things, and if we could be that value added

service, not just the software, but a partner to help

you through this, that was our mission.

And when people ask, how did Cova

go on such a fast trajectory?

Because we were of the bigger POS companies, we’re the last

ones in, but we went to the top pretty fast.

And it was those 2 things, compliance and education.

There’s our secret sauce and that’s free for everybody.

But the execution is really where it lies.

Well, and I think the execution side really

comes about because of our DNA.

We spun out of a big, huge POS company.

So the know how I guess one of my

proudest moments is we got this client in Canada

that was an existing chain that had 20 dispensaries

in Ontario and didn’t go with Cova originally.

Decided they wanted to go with us,

but could we launch all 20 of their

stores by the end of the month?

So we’ll sign the thing, but in the next

25 days, can we cut over 20 stores?

And we did 20 stores perfectly.

Well, what’s behind all that is, I hate

to say it, it’s the non sexy.

Do you have processes?

Do you have people trained internally who know how to

do this stuff in scale, do it at an enterprise

level as fast, and all the parts necessary have been

figured out and everyone can get on the same page.

So that’s how you execute through experience,

document what works, what doesn’t work.

Cova has been incredibly nimble since

day 1 in self analyzing.

What are we doing now that’s not working

or that’s not the best way, and not

being stuck in, that’s the other good thing.

We’re new. The industry is new.

So instead of saying, well, that’s how we’ve

always done it, there is no always.

So the way we’re doing it isn’t

that good or it’s not that effective.

Change it, modify it, test it, does it work better?

There’s the story of execution.

Well, when I think about

that Ry Russell treatment that I got,

I felt like I was just obsessed with, just

everybody just took such good care of you.

Well, you know what’s underneath that?

Not to cut you off, but one of those things that

happened was we started looking at every dispensary or set

of dispensaries or chain of dispensaries as a project.

And I’m not a process guy, but there’s a

whole discipline in the world called project management.

And there’s a proper way to manage a project.

Whether you’re building a house or

remodeling kitchen or building a road

or designing software, it’s a project.

And there’s a way to define what

you’re trying to do, assign people responsibilities,

go through a set of steps.

And when you think about you being obsessed on,

that’s the project, right, your store was a project,

and there’s all kinds of people who got assigned

to your project and they are obsessed on it.

That’s their thing.

And they know what they’re supposed to do

relative to your timeline, store size, way that

you want to operate the store.

So anyhow, I’m giving you all the secret sauce.

But it is, but it’s not as,

it’s not like we’re geniuses.

These are just taking the things that work that

are generally accepted ways of the optimal way to

do business or do a piece of business and

applying it to our industry, which is brand new.

And guess what?

Most of the other players in our

industry, they’re not on that page yet.

They will be someday.

But we kind of came into this

going, well, there’s project management discipline.

How are we going to put that in?

And I’ve always been obsessed with the

consumer because that’s ultimately what my side

of the supply chain is focused on.

However, I was really inspired by the level

of service and care from your team.

And I mean, just to your point, they were

foreshadowing where I was and helping me be prepared

for something that I did not even know that

I needed to be prepared for.

And that is something that we really try to

tailor that experience for our guests as well.

Maybe a 5% of concentrate is stupid.

We don’t know our customers.

This customer only smokes flower.

And that’s what I felt like with your team as they

really got to know me and kind of tailored that experience.

And maybe I didn’t take some

of the generally accepted best practices.

I was like, I don’t want to do it that way.

And your team be like, okay, well, how do you want

to do it and how can we make it fit?

So it’s streamlined within the way you will execute.

So it was just incredible.

And obviously as we got going and we learned

more, it was the right fit for us.

But one of the questions that came up for us

was, you hear about metric and seed to sale tracking

and you’re worried about compliance and all of this stuff,

and there’s so many point of sale systems out there

that it was hard to kind of tell, like, do

I need seed to sale software?

Do I need retail POS software.

Can you help kind of break that down for other

people that might have kind of been on that journey?

Like I was, what’s the difference and

what does a retailer really need?

That’s a great question.

What you just asked has become

a marketing induced complexity in terminology.

So when I started Cova, seed to

sale and traceability were a synonymous concept.

It was when you plant a seed gets big enough, how

are we going to track that seed as it becomes a

plant all the way through the supply chain to when the

chain of custody gets handed over to the end user, the

customer, and it’s a chain of custody thing.

This whole concept of traceability and seed

to sale is because A, states like your

state that went medicinal, it’s a medicine.

So can we implement some of the

process and thinking around tracking medicine?

What happens if a medicine is tainted or bad or we got

to go catch it, get it out of the supply chain, or

get it out of the hands of the person who bought it?

Kind of like tainted Tylenol.

And when you think about a box of Tylenol and

it’s got the lot number, expiration date, it’s got all

kinds of stuff stamped into that bottle that’s so that

if something’s bad we know exactly which batch to go

find, get off the shelves and protect people.

So that’s traceability.

Now the second benefit to traceability is

you’ve got something that’s federally legal.

So from the state perspective, to be able

to say to the federal government, hey, we’re

watching this marijuana seed from when it’s planted all

the way through the supply chain, we’re going

to track it so that it doesn’t divert.

That’s a big concept is diversion so that the

legal cannabis doesn’t divert out of the supply chain,

gets sold out, the back door, stolen, or inbound

diversion, we’re going to get illegal or unlicensed product

or untested product into the supply chain.

So we’re going to put

in this whole traceability system.

And that way if I go into a store and

I go, this product is not licensed, or this product

was never tested, I can trace it all back and

go, I know what’s Kosher and not in the store.

Well, where everything got confusing is when people,

some of my competitors, started saying we sell

seed to sale software because originally seed to

sale was the state traceability systems, which was

either bio tracker, metric, and then for a

brief period, leaf Data Systems was in it,

but those were traceability and traceability receipts of

sale and it was a state implemented system.

But then they switched it over to vertical software.

And instead of calling their product vertically integrated

software, meaning it’s software that can help you

manage and track your grow or your MIP,

your manufacturing operation or your retail.

And you have a vertically integrated business that does

all of those aspects of the supply chain.

And our software is vertically integrated to

connect internally on our side, the software

side with all those pieces.

And they started calling it seed to sale.

And that’s what made everything confusing.

The truth is, there’s grow management software, there’s

manufacturing software where you’re taking raw products and

you’re turning them into some sort of other

product and then there’s retail software.

Now, I’ll say this one thing, it’s very

rare in any industry that someone does all

of the pieces of the supply chain well.

Usually, if you’re a farmer, there’s great agricultural software

to help me understand what goes into my crop and

my product and the mechanics of that, that are tracking

yields, what are we putting in and what are we

getting out and what’s working and what’s not.

That’s grow management

software, manufacturing software,

it’s like whether you’re a coke plant or a

cookie bakery or you’re making razor blades, manufacturing

is a process and you’re measuring and managing the

process and there’s great software for that.

And then lastly, there’s retail software

that’s all about running a store.

It’s very rare that any company does all of that great.

Lastly, in our industry, because of metric or because

of state traceability systems, it doesn’t matter whether you

have a software that can do all three of

those things at every stage of the product’s life,

it has to be reported to the state through

that state traceability system.

So there’s no states where I can bypass that.

And within my software, I can make it

transfer it to my store, and I’m done.

And I can keep everything within my software platform

and it’ll see and talk to each other.

Because the validation step that’s got to happen

in every state is, here’s the plant that

I planted, here’s how big it got.

Now I’ve harvested, I got to tell the

state what I’ve harvested, then I got to

tell the state where is it going?

Even if it’s going to my own store,

I can’t just move it in my software.

I have to go to the state.

The state transfers it to the

next place in the supply chain.

And I think that the misnomer about

one software can do it all.

It doesn’t work that way and the

benefit you get is minimal, if anything.

One last thing, and I know I’m throwing arrows at some

of my competitors but I’m going to throw them anyway.

And that is when I ask people what’s the best advantage you

get out of seed to sale software, as they call it?

The number 1 answer is single sign on.

I just have 1 login password,

I don’t have to remember 3.

Well, in the grand scheme of things, I know that’s

a convenient thing but I don’t know if that justifies

the hundreds or thousands of dollars a month.

But anyhow so my recommendation is always go out,

look at the best in breed for if you

got to grow, there’s amazing growth management.

That is software that is easy

and sophisticated to use as Cova.

Same for manufacturing and then that’s

what we do in the retail.

And similarly on the payment side, there are

many competitors and there are many advertised claims,

if you will, and it gets murky.

Some offer part of a fee and some

of that fee goes the retailer and that

kind of incentivizes them to go there.

Some just have exorbitant fees on the consumer, no fees

on the retailer and then there’s others where there’s fees

on everybody and it just gets so confusing.

And I think we reviewed probably 4, 5

There aren’t too, too many.

But there are a handful of payment

solutions out there because as I mentioned.

Our ATMs just no longer became an option for us and

we had to act quick and we got a system in

and it was working but then it was declining all of

our Canadian customers and for us that’s a big market for

us right here on the Canadian border.

And so that was a surprise and we kind

of got through that and moved through that hurdle.

And then I started seeing the daily fees I was

paying and I was like, man, I’m already paying all

of these other taxes and I’m already paying these fees.

Yes, it’s cheaper than the ATMs for the consumer

but it’s not necessarily a better all around product.

And then talking to Nick and I’m asking some

of your team, there’s got to be a solution.

A day later I get an email there’s Cova pay and

I’m all excited and I met with your team and I

don’t know if I was the first person to reply, but

I’d say as soon as that you’re one of the first.

Yeah, I was right on that email and same thing.

Your entire team is knowledgeable.

They explained it to me, how it’s going to

impact my consumer, which is the number 1.

Number 2 was the fees and number 3

was, can my simpleton brain make it work?

If it matches that criteria, then we’re pretty solid.

And it did.

It was a better product for the consumer,

it’s way more cost effective for us and

the lines of communication are there.

I know that when I provide feedback, it goes up.

It goes all the way up until it

gets to you if it needs to.

But your team is so educated that I’m sure

most of the time it doesn’t even need to.

And so I think within 72 hours, we

had a plan, like an execution plan together

of how we’re going to pull this off.

And so that alone stands out.

But I’d love for you to just kind of give

a brief synopsis, if you will, of what Cova pay

is and what the advantages are for retailers.

Well, I don’t know if this is

a good story or a bad story.

Since we launched.

Which will be 5 years in November.

I’ve literally gotten 3 calls a week.

Every single week from some payment

provider wanting to partner with Cova.

Because when you’re connected to the POS.

It’s the holy grail.

And it’s whether it’s a fully integrated

solution or it’s a standalone solution.

One way or another.

Payment and POS in other industries was like

an inflection in technology and customer experience.

Everything kind of gelled when

payments and POS got married.

So everyone was contacting us.

And honestly, our board and the company we

spun out with is so skittish about risk.

They don’t want anything bad to happen to Cova,

and they don’t want anything bad, and we don’t

want anything bad to happen to our customers.

So as a result, we were incredibly

slow in getting an integrated payment solution.

And we were incredibly slow at even

getting a non integrated payment solution.

And a non integrated payment solution.

Like when you go to a restaurant or Jiffy

Lube or something and they say, it’s going to

be $114, how are you going to pay?

I’m going to pay with a credit card.

You give them your credit card, they type

in $114 in a separate little payment terminal,

and then they swipe your card.

Well, if it’s that kind of experience, if

they have to type in the amount from

the purchase of the purchase, it’s not integrated.

They call it a swivel chair because you’re

doing this system and you do that, you

come back to the system and finish it.

So it took us over 2 years

to get US a vetted payment solution.

That was a swivel chair.

And the reason that we were so slow and

there were other companies in our space that have

been doing payments for years and years, but to

find one that was relatively safe, they had send

certification, which is an element of banking.

Accreditation is very rare.

And you go, well, Gary, how did

you have like hundreds call you?

Well, because they’re not legit for cannabis.

So the US

banking system will not bank the cannabis industry

because Visa and Mastercard are federal banks.

And if it’s federally illegal, they won’t touch it.

So then all these other guys are just masking who

the customer is. I could tell you the funniest.

Like, I’ve got 100 stories of a

guy going, wait, just talk to me

because we figured it out.

We know because of the Spanish Falkland Island

Act of 1435, you can actually run payments

through the Falklands on this international treaty.

That is totally legit.

I’m just looking at them like, that’s the

biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve ever heard.

This is the definition of money laundering. Yes.

That’s all this is.

Then you get the next guy who’s

saying, no, we figured it out.

We convert the payment to crypto.

We process the crypto through London.

They turn it back into cash.

It gets back into your bank

account in 7 to 10 days.

That’s money laundry.

You’ve diverted money into another form to pull it

back into usable currency, and you can’t do it.

So then you ask, Well, Gary, why don’t you just do it?

All your competitors are doing it.

And then dispensaries, guys come to you, Ry

and go, hey, we’ll do your payment processing.

They probably hit you up a couple of times a

week because you’re a bridge.

Every day.

You’re an new retailer.

And how are we going to do it?

How are you going to get away with it?

Oh, we’ve got it figured out.

They all say the same thing.

Well, we wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.

And I can tell you, it cost us opportunity, because if

someone else is going to do it, some other POS company

is going to do it, and it’s what we want.

So we were just cautious.

So when we finally found people that, oh, wait,

where I was going was, what’s, the cost?

So what’s the big deal?

Are you going to go to jail?

No, nobody’s going to go to jail

if you use Jim’s credit card processing.

But what’s going to happen is in the

time it takes to clear your funds.

So if your dispensary does 50 transactions a day, and

let’s say half of them are on debit or credit,

and so 25 transactions at an average of $70.

So that comes out to, let’s say it’s couple thousand

dollars a day over the course of a week, that’s

$14,000 that your money is somewhere in processing.

Well, once they find out that you’re dispensary and in

the layers of credit card processing, someone discovers it to

pull the plug, you don’t get the $14,000.

You’ll never see cash on us.

Well, in most dispensaries, like, it would crush

anyone who has budgeted and planned on that

money and the money goes away, then the

next guy that you switch to happens again.

And the lifespan before the plug gets pulled is

usually about 2 and a half to 3 months.

So if 4 times a year you’re losing $14,000

to $15,000, what is $60,000 a year significant?

Probably so.

That’s why we didn’t do it.

Well, let’s go to Cova Pay.

So what Cova Pay

is, it’s debit.

It’s not credit, but we’ve got a provider that is

legally sanctioned to do debit only, long track record.

So we found a partner that it’s safe, like it’s

safe for us, which means it’s safe for our clients.

And we’ve done the work to integrate it.

And the big difference so, you know, when you

think about the customer experience swiping, like entering the

amount swiping versus your total is $114.

We will take debit or cash and they go, debit. Sure.

Give me your card.

Swipe it done.

It’s not that much time.

The difference is in reconciliation.

So at the end of the day, we sold

$1000. $700 of it was cash, $300 was debit.

And in the POS in Cova, as you

process it, you hit cash or debit.

So we know what it should have been.

But then when you pull the tape off of your

credit card or debit card readers, it says $250.

So now we got to find which one

of the sales adds up to the $50.

What if it was a $30 and a $20?

Somehow some manager every night got to figure out

how to reconcile the money in an integrated solution.

The fact that it got swiped, it’s debit, so no one has

to go, which button do I push to try to keep account?

So that’s a long way of saying it’s good from that.

The way you manage your store every day, it’s

even better in your records and reporting because now

at the end of the month, I can pull

a report and it tells me exactly what my

cash sales were, debit sales, if there’s any problems.

All the records are all associated payment type

with what was sold, I think, the most.

Now, here’s one last thing.

Everyone always, how did Cova get so big

and we didn’t have a payment solution?

Well, one of the things in a

market like Maine is you’ve educated

the market to show up with cash.

Or if you don’t have cash, we have an ATM.

So 90% of dispensaries haven’t, have or had an ATM.

The ATMs are actually going away at

a faster and faster rate now.

But you could go over there and

get cash, get out of line.

We’ll hold your sale, go get some money out.

But we’ve trained people.

This is how it works.

Now, tourists don’t know.

That’s who pulls out a credit card.

It’s all I got.

But the percentage of Americans that have a debit card

is something like in the 80 percentile, and the ones

with a credit card are in the 60 percentile.

So more people have debit than they have credit.

And the average per transaction is

almost 15% to 20% higher

when I can just keep adding things to the basket

and I don’t have to worry I only took $60 out

of the ATM, I’m not going to go back, pay

another fee and take another $30 to get more.

So they just keep adding to the basket. We’ve had so many

times where people are like, oh man, I only have $40.

Do you take card?

And we’ll say, well, we take a debit card.

Can I grab that, that and that?

Exactly. So it’s good for everybody, it’s

good for the customer, it’s good for you.

And the whole Cova Pay thing, I think what you’ll

wind up seeing strategically is, as it grows and gains

more and more adoption,

it’ll offset all kinds of other fees.

So subscription fees, CRM and loyalty.

E-commerce, that’s the other thing.

We’ll be adding a US e-commerce component.

So you can just pay on,

you could pay online.

That’s kind of cool too.

That’s amazing.

So one of the things that we’re preparing for, Gary, and

I know Brooke would be mad if I didn’t ask you,

is that as we continue to grow our retail business, the

state of Maine is looking at delivery for adult use.

And it’s something that we’re looking at very closely.

And I’m just curious.

Obviously you have a lot

of wisdom about different markets.

I was wondering if you had any insights on how

does delivery impact a retail business and will these solutions

be able to be integrated once delivery is available?

The answer is yes, they all will be.

Cova is partnered now with delivery software.

So we have a really great

partner in a company called Webjoin.

And to answer your question, at a bigger

level, as a market matures, delivery will become

more and more of a thing.

And the reason is, at the early stages

of a market, customers don’t know the form

factors that they can consume cannabis.

They don’t know which types they want.

Like, am I a Sativa guy?

Am I hybrid?

They don’t know all that stuff.

And that education that you do in the store is

not only vital to them, but it helps build that

trust and it helps build your store, all of that.

It’s necessary and it’s vital to both sides.

So a retail store at the start of a

cannabis market is one of the greatest things and

necessary things to get the industry off the ground.

But over time, people figure out, this is

what I like. I’m a this kind of guy.

Here’s how I like to consume it.

I don’t really need help anymore.

I know what I want.

Well, the next phase is order online, pick up in store.

So I don’t really need hand holding. I’m just going.

Can I go online?

Can I order it? Can I call you?

Can you set it aside.

I’ll come in, and then the next step is delivery.

I don’t need to even go to the store.

Now you’re providing that convenience factor,

I think delivery, again, in our

industry, it’s a patchwork of states.

No 2 states are alike.

The regs are different in every single state.

And the delivery regs are even more

convoluted because of their hyperness to security,

to when you think about

that seed to sale.

Well, what’s going on between the

retail store and the end point?

Should we be tracking it?

Where is the marijuana?

Like, that was the whole point of traceability.

Where’s the pot at all times?

Well, is the pot driving by a junior high, stopping?

It’s kind of scary.

So some states want to know, like, does

your software set a route, and then does

your software have GPS tracking to make sure

they followed the route they didn’t deviate?

Does your software say they deviated

and they actually went to the strip

bar that they shouldn’t have gone to?

Chances are the guy’s selling a bunch out of the back of

the delivery car and then he went back on his route.

Every state is different of how

much do we want to watch?

Every state is different about what

type of vehicle can be used.

Can it be a private vehicle?

Does it have to be a certain type of vehicle where,

like, in Missouri, the driver cannot be able to access the

storage of the cannabis, which needs to be in a locked

in a locked box or a safe in the vehicle, but

he can’t get to it from the driver’s seat.

He’s got to get out, go around.

So it’s almost a van or some sort of delivery vehicle.

Then you’ve got the issue of insurance.

Who’s going to insure it?

How much do we have to insure it for?

It adds all kinds of overhead.

The worst state, Missouri, when they wrote

up the original delivery guidelines, they had

2 cars for every delivery.

They had a car with the

cannabis and a security car following.

And you talk about, like, the

dumbest thing you’ve ever heard.

And the good news was, enough voices

jumped in and went, nobody does that.

You can’t do that.

It just kills the whole and they were

trying to deliver medicine to people who couldn’t

come and get their medicine, right.

So the intent was there.

The execution on a realistic basis was just ridiculous.

So delivery, in my opinion, delivery will be part of the

industry in every state in the next 2, 3 years.

And it makes sense.

It’s a win-win for everybody.

The thing is, if your state over regulates

it, you need to charge $20 on top

of whatever you’re doing for a delivery fee.

And now you’re pricing it out for people who

don’t have a car, can’t get to the store,

so there’s nuances to it, but it’s coming.

Amazing.

Well, Gary, I’m so excited to get to

connect with you again and catch up.

I feel like we do this once a year, so

we’re going to need to do it more often.

I just appreciate the time we get together.

Well, me too.

Honestly, my time going to Maine was the greatest.

Like, I couldn’t be more of a Maine fan,

and I haven’t been there in a year.

Like, I got to get back.

Absolutely.

I will tell you right now, for Maine,

it is hot as it can get.

I think we’ve had a couple of

mid or low 90 degree days.

So I know for you, you’ve experienced that.

But up here in the northeast,

you don’t get that too often.

But another month or so and we’ll have to

bring you north of Portland to where we are

next time, the lakes and the mountains, Gary.

I can’t wait. Well, Ry

it’s great to see you.

It’s great to see you and it’s great to

see all of you tuned in to WeedBudz radio.

Be sure to head over to WeedBudzradio.com,

check out those show notes, links

to connect with Gary and Cova Pay.

And, of course, we’ll see you in the next episode.

Grit and Innovation in the Hemp Industry with Franny Tacy

Hello & welcome to today’s episode of Weed Budz Radio!  We welcome back our friend, Franny Tacy of Franny’s Farmacy.  From seed to retail, Franny has been a long-time leader in the industry of hemp and hemp production.

Join us today to hear from Franny on what gives her staying power in the industry and why so many businesses fail.  Franny also shares how she found new love and a new love for pasta which is now about to launch as a new product platform for the Franny’s Farmacy franchise.

Guest: Franny Tacy
Franny’s Farmacy



Host: Ry Russell
BUDZ EMPORIUM
WeedBudz Radio


Support the show

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey, budz.

Welcome back to another episode of WeedBudz Radio.

I’m really excited today because it has been 2

years and a week or so since we last

had had Franny Tacy on the show.

And as you all remember, Franny has an

incredible brand from seed to retail, just an

absolutely gorgeous product, and we got to see

some of it in our trip to Connecticut.

And those of you that follow us on Instagram saw how

amazing that visit was when we got to meet our friend

Mike and Griff and just had an incredible experience.

And now, as an operator of a retail

establishment in the cannabis industry, I need help.

And there’s only one person that I could

think of to go to for some help.

So joining us back on WeedBudz Radio is Franny.

Franny, thank you so much.

You know, I’m loving this.

I am loving this.

It is so much fun to reconnect.

It’s been incredible.

I can’t believe that the first time I saw you,

you were speaking virtually at a conference because the pandemic

had hit and we couldn’t do anything anymore.

And you just really brought it down.

And I’ve never seen anybody so

captivating in a virtual format.

And I was lucky enough to know your PR

partner, and we were able to connect and get

talking, and it’s just been a great relationship since

following your journey and vice versa, and just seeing

how the stores have grown from a couple of

company owned stores to some franchises to some other

exciting things that we’re going to talk about today.

So there’s a lot of glamour in what we do.

And I think often when people find out, Franny, that I

own an adult use cannabis establishment, that there’s some sort of

badge of honor there that I was unaware of.

And so I would just like to hear from you.

Is it truly glamorous being in this side of

the industry and being in this industry because you

make it look such. You are so sweet.

You see, I’m, like, absolutely cracking up.

There is a perception of that, and I think

it’s because neat like you, we’re digging and talking.

We’re like, oh, yeah, we’ve got a podcast to do.

I think part of the illusion that it’s

glamorous is because we’re living our passion.

I mean, I’m living my passion, and I live on a farm

that was the first farm in North Carolina to plant hemp.

This is passion.

I work for a plant.

I cannot not do what I do.

So I love what I do.

I mean, I do a lot of it

between manufacturing and distribution, we’re in 6 states,

expanding in 7 states, with CBD and hemp.

And now we’ve done applied for retail licenses

in recreational and Connecticut now really getting back

to people are seeing these new things that

I’m launching, which are the textiles and the

foods, and they’re like, girl, what’s up?

I work for a plant.

I work for a plant.

I cannot stop, but it’s not glamorous.

My home has like 4 pieces of furniture in it.

But granted, I have 14 different lodging options

on my farm that are fully furnished.

They all have toilet paper, soap, and

every type of dish you could want.

My own home I’m like I’m a visitor in sometimes,

so we may make it look a little glamorous.

I like to think that’s not the real thing.

No, if you’re grinding I mean, I live as simple of

a life that I can because objects just kind of get

in the way and they accumulate and they slow you down.

I have a nice roof over my head.

I sleep comfortably, but I pretty much sit on the

floor when I’m home because I’m not there often enough

to go to the retail store and buy a lawn chair.

Just not worth it to me.

Well, we laugh because I have lodging.

So in my house, who knows what could be in there?

But I always have the backup, extra refrigerators and beds, so

there’s no such thing as a sofa in my house.

There’s mattresses on the floor, which is

that’s where we’re going to sit. There you go.

If we sit.

And I have 2 air mattresses

here at the store, so we’ve got, like, the store and

then our little studio space and then the warehouse.

And there’s definitely been times, especially in the

winter, where it’s just not worth it to

go home after it’s been snowing all day.

And you’ll have to shovel to get in and

then you’ll have to shovel to get out.

It’s sometimes more worth it to just blow

up that air mattress and take a power

nap and get right back to work.

I mean, whether you’ve been in the business 15 years

or 5 years or 5 months, this changes every day.

And a good store is going to face lift their

store and re merchandise every day and every week.

Anyway, this business, you have to do all

that while learning new laws, while the laws

completely change the next week, and then they

might change back or change into something else.

And you always have to stay on top of it.

And so there’s not a lot of

free time when you’re doing it right.

I’ve definitely seen some people that make it

look very glamorous, but their retail shops don’t

seem to stay open too, too long.

So I think right now we’re all just kind of trying

to ride into the wave, maybe, and see what happens.

And there’s nobody that I know that’s ridden into

the wave faster or stronger than you have.

And so when we last talked, like I mentioned,

you had a couple of company owned stores.

I think you had just got

into your first franchise store.

So where are we now?

Because I’m seeing a lot

of growth in Franny’s Farmacy.

Well, and I appreciate the fact

that you said strong and fast.

I say strong and one foot in front of the other.

It doesn’t feel fast because it’s all always

done about long term and building the brand

and being built to last and growing a

business like a plant with strong roots.

So we got our 3

corporate stores rocking and rolling.

We figured out the system.

And while it’s doing that, it took 2 years and

hundreds of thousands of dollars to be able to franchise.

Because I was consulting for people, they

were like, how are you doing this?

It’s not banking as usual.

It’s not marketing, credit card processing, website.

Nothing is business as usual.

I have had 11 businesses before

this while working in pharmaceuticals.

So that’s what inspired me to do franchising.

And so we’ve got 4 dispensaries

in Georgia, all different franchise owners.

South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Connecticut

opening New York next.

So we just keep expanding all in

very strategic ways in states, in Connecticut.

I don’t know if I said that.

So giving people a path to success.

Because even when you give people a plan, we

send kids to school every day and we have

a plan how everybody’s going to succeed.

But we still have 30% of kids that don’t graduate

from high school and they can’t follow that plan.

So if you set somebody up as

an entrepreneur, that’s never been that before,

we’ve had 90% of businesses that have opened in

cannabis in the space we’re in, Ry, have closed.

They don’t make it.

They don’t make it.

And so that is part of what the inspiration is for me.

I feel like as I’m getting older, I’m

going to have a birthday next week.

I’ll be 53.

They say it happens to these women when they get older.

It’s like, what is my role now?

My kid has grown, he’s

self sufficient, all these things.

I was like, what is this?

This is my service.

My team is my family.

I can’t do this without them.

To see what has happened to make all these

and you’re talking about keeping up the laws.

We just had D-8 outlawed

in Virginia and in Connecticut.

And now how we have to pivot to be

in all these states and really doing business.

That’s part of the reason we stayed small.

There’s franchises out there that went and opened 600 stores

in 2 years and they’ve closed 80% of them.

Because it was about making money.

It wasn’t about cannabis.

I work for a plant.

The longevity and the story.

The industry needs me.

The community, our country, history needs us, Ry.

To be successful and keep telling the story.

Because I will be doing this in another 40

years or as long as I walk this planet.

I will be working this plant

in some way, shape or form.

So destigmatizing, educating while remaining profitable in business,

and making money while developing and offering a

service is the greatest gift that I could

do to wake up every day too.

Sometimes people like, how do you wake up?

I’m like, oh, I’ll wake up.

Oh, your body wakes you up.

Ever since we got the store going,

I don’t even have an alarm anymore.

I’m excited to get to the store.

And you mentioned running these businesses

profitably because that’s the biggest challenge.

It’s really easy to throw up a cannabis store and have

people come in and appreciate what you have to sell.

Running a profitable business in this space is the

hardest thing I have personally had to do.

And you know, I have run profitable

businesses in other industries multiple times.

And it’s not like this.

And the margins have never been this tight.

And the margin of error has never been this small.

So do you have any tips, be it executionally

that you’ve implemented that keeps your businesses profitable?

It is always, always keeping on top of it.

And the good thing about me is in

business is that I am so systems oriented.

System, system, system and accountability.

Accountability is the hardest thing because people love

to work in their silos so that they

can’t be scolded, reprimanded, reprimanded challenged.

We don’t do that.

We do not operate in that environment.

We cannot be successful in that environment

because the business is so dynamic.

It’s not like everything is now, to be

honest, between COVID, between recessions, between Ukraine, every

single person that is staying in business and

over 60% of businesses across the entire country

have turned over in the past 3 years.

You’ve got to be flexible, nimble, small and on point.

And it takes a team.

No individual person can do all these

things and no individual person is successful.

And that is what the cannabis

industry I call it hemp fever.

And the symptoms are egomaniac.

I’m going to get rich.

So there’s like a couple of indications, like I’m

going to do this, I’m going to do this.

No, don’t tell me what you’re going to do.

Tell me what you’ve done.

Yeah, okay.

Because people are selling everybody else

on what they’re going to do.

And that is why the industry has gotten a bad rap.

People said, oh, great, you can do it.

And everybody believes the white man is

the one to do it, right?

No, no, no, no, no.

They got hemp fever.

I have an ex husband that had hemp fever.

No, you build this with the right.

It’s new.

Any new industry is the toughest place to be.

That’s not your get rich in the new industry.

It’s when the new industry all of a sudden

hits the bell curve and everybody else caught on.

If you can make it through

there, it’s the toughest time.

And that’s where we are.

We still have not even begun to tap the market.

We’re less than 10% of

Americans that are cannabis consumers.

We have a whole world and market.

But we got to stay small and profitable and smart.

Because if you’re not profitable.

You’re not in business, and you’re not helping anybody.

You can’t help people by sacrificing yourself.

That’s the toughest thing here.

I’m not just opening a store in

some part of Maine for convenience sake.

I chose probably the hardest.

I chose where my heart is.

It is a beautiful region with mountains and lakes.

There’s no people, there’s not a huge population.

It’s very conservative.

My grandparents were ministers in this

region, and there’s a whole community

of anti-cannabis individuals and people here.

I just had a lunch meeting, and one

of the people asked me what my grandparents

would have thought of me doing this.

And I’m so blessed I got to tell 3 of my

4 grandparents what I was doing before I got to do

it, and was blessed by them to do that.

Both of my grandparents that were ministers

more than gave me their blessing.

They both utilized the plant

for different things for themselves.

And so it’s so special.

I know your family plays a

big role in your business, too.

We’re like siblings for different parents because my

dad was an ordained deacon, and I have

a whole family of Episcopal ministers.

And my dad believed three things god, family, and farm.

That’s it.

And when he passed away in a tractor accident

two weeks before, I planted my first hemp crop.

But he was there that whole time supporting me.

Everybody’s like, oh, what’s Daddy going to say?

Oh, what’s Daddy, what’s the family going to say?

And what this plant has done for my family.

They call me the gateway in my family now.

They’re like, oh, you’re the gateway to all this

stuff that we hear about, but nobody conservative.

Nashville, Tennessee, so conservative.

And it’s a similar story, how much has helped them

and how proud they were that I could stand up.

I mean, it meant everything to have my

dad, your grandparents, to say, you believe in

this, and we believe in you.

Yeah, it is special.

And it’s funny because the town we’re in is called Medway,

and there’s a sign as soon as you get off the

highway that says Medway, the gateway to the Katahdin region.

And Katahdin is the largest mountain in Maine.

And so we are right here off the highway.

So we’re your gateway to cannabis too.

So it’s a perfect little ecosystem here, but it

is it’s such a fine line to draw because

I love this community so much, and I want

a business to succeed here without me.

I want businesses to succeed here, and

I want there to be pride here. It’s a milltown.

There used to be a lot

of pride, and we’re lacking that.

And I just want to see that come back.

And so for us, I want to just give everything away.

If it was up to me everything’s free

and it’s not possible to do that.

There’s no way for me to stay here and

be the engine for entrepreneurial development in this region

if I can’t keep my own businesses afloat.

And so it’s a fine line because you have

to stay profitable in order to compete long term.

And I think a lot of companies look at this like

the tech space of just acquire more users, acquire more users,

and then you’ll be able to sell that to a degree.

But that’s not just it.

You have to have the empathy.

You have to have the understanding and

the compassion for the plant and the

community in order to be successful.

That acquire new users is what

has put everybody out of business.

Because every cannabis business for the years

has been speculating and operating at a

20% loss is standard for everything.

So if you’re a million dollar

business, you’re going to lose $200,000.

That year was the standard.

Competing for the new users.

We’re going to go capture the market.

We’ll catch up on the back end.

This is a lot of like the millennial

thing that I love Millennials, but there’s a

lot of people like, we don’t like it.

They uber eat, they get, they order in their food,

they get a ride across town, all this stuff.

But that is what was a detriment to many businesses.

Instead of getting in and building a

business, they’re like, we’re going to overspend

over market to capture the users.

And it’s all smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors.

We’re so great, we’re so good.

No, you’re not.

You’re not running a good business, and that’s

why you’re going to be out of business.

And we have seen the biggest companies, the one

that had $50,000 boost at the Expo and all

the private parties and everything, where are they now?

Right?

Because I’ve been speaking at events across this

country since 2017, and in the first 2

years, I talked to 30,000 farmers.

Where are those people now? Good business.

And pay something else if the USDA I’m

celebrating my 10 year anniversary on the farm.

So it was long before hemp was legal, and when

I got my loan, it was a USDA loan.

And I’m a shepherdist, according to the USDA.

For Katahdin sheep.

Hold on Katahdin mountain.

Yes, it’s a hair sheep of neat sheep.

We have sheep on our farm, but no kidding.

That’s so cool.

Well, you need to get up here and visit anyway.

I would love to in the summer months, please.

Well, it’s 92 right now, so I feel like that’s

probably fairly accommodating to what you want, but not me.

That is way too hot for us.

So I want to ask you because I was

talking to a mutual friend of ours and he

shared a rumor with me that you’ve got some

really cool things going on with Franny’s Farmacy.

I don’t want to say in a traditional sense

because there’s nothing traditional but what we do, but

outside of the retail and the manufacturing space and

that you were exploring an opportunity in another market

but still under Franny’s Farmacy.

So do you have any truth to this rumor?

I heard that it might be a food truck of sorts.

So freaking cool. Yes.

So Franny’s is as we’ve been evolving.

It’s really the brand.

The first year I planned was for food and fiber.

Guess what?

I keep talking about business and going back.

There’s no business in that, right?

So we explore the medicinal

path, which made perfect sense.

I was in pharmaceuticals, but my love and my passion

and we keep coming back to this, is food.

And so we have Franny’s Pasta and Prana, which prana

is breath, pasta and prana is our new food truck.

But the story is, I got divorced, never swore off

every man ever on the face of the planet.

And it’s like, as soon as you

say you swear them off, they’re everywhere.

And I’m like, gosh.

But then fell in love with my best friend, who

is also my yoga teacher and a pasta man.

And as a gift of love to me, he put hemp and pasta.

He makes pasta, and he sells it

at the market, and he teaches yoga.

And I said, honey, I love you, but I don’t like pasta.

I’ll be sitting on that all day long and wearing

it on my thighs, and it doesn’t feel good.

And I’m very gluten and tolerant.

And he put hemp in there, and I

was like, how did you do this?

It’s like, well, I spent $20 on

1 pound of hemp, and we made this.

So the past year has been this introduction

of how do we put hemp into pasta?

What’s the nutritional information?

How do we scale up?

How do we manufacture it?

I’ve been running around to all these events.

Like, when we were at NOCO, we bring our

cooler bag with us and filled with hemp pasta.

And Dan Herre and all our other

buddies are eating this hemp pasta.

They said we need to go cook some at Marijuana Mansion.

We show up there for a party,

and everyone’s like, we love this. We want this.

And I was like, that is so cool. It’s coming.

I mean, a year, it takes so long

for people to do what we do.

And so sometimes it’s a lot of pressure

because people expect a lot from me.

They’re like, oh, Franny, you’re doing it should be

5 star, and why haven’t you done this, this, this?

And I was like, hey, this takes a

lot of courage to do what I’m doing.

And this is a passion project, and

it’s 1 foot in front of the other.

And just last week, we officially launched it.

Amazing.

Love Shine Play Festival, which is a yoga festival.

So they’re all into the health and nutrition and, like,

one little serving of pasta with hemp in it.

Hemp flour, the superfood high in omegas and

has 20 to 25 grams of protein.

It’s a superfood. The gnocchi has 25 grams of protein

because it has eggs and cheese in it.

But the regular cut pasta, 20

grams of protein, it is amazing.

We’ve already I had 2 people from the press

show up today to interview me about this pasta

They’re like, what’s going on?

Why have we never heard about it?

I said, because it doesn’t exist.

It doesn’t exist.

5 years ago, it was illegal

to even grow hemp for food.

And so I was the first person in the country

to do a Ted Talk on hemp in 2018.

Hemp is a crop.

What is hemp as a crop? I’m a farmer. I love to farm.

I love food and land.

The only crop that could feed

clothe, shelter and provide medicine.

Well, as a businesswoman, I had

to take the medicinal route.

As a businesswoman, building a brand, we need to

continue to let people know how amazing hemp is.

So by introducing the superfood and now

we have other things that are infused.

You can get CBD oil on it.

You can do this infusion it is opening.

People are floored.

Educated, smart.

People are like, what do you mean hemp for food?

We see it, but they think

edibles is the biggest division.

Right before this, we were having business talks.

What’s your top sellers?

What’s the market?

There’s now stores that are opening that are only edibles,

they don’t have bags, they don’t have anything.

Just edibles.

And so the community in our society, as

we’re educating and destigmatizing cannabis, they think that

all food has THC or CBD in it.

Right. Now, we get to distinguish. No, it’s super food.

So this, I don’t know if you can see it.

That’s a little picture.

We got a little Buddha sitting on

our food truck, and it’s awesome.

And there’s our menu.

It’s super simple.

It’s build your own pasta bowls.

You can get zucchini noodles, cut pasta or gnocchi.

You pick a sauce.

I was out tiptoeing through my farm granted

It was 5:30 in the morning.

I was exhausted.

Cutting basil to make pesto to serve the people.

And I had a religious experience with

my land and with the most important

thing we do, which is feed ourselves.

Everything we put in our mouth

is either medicine or poison.

And that is also this food.

So I’m so excited.

We’ve had restaurants.

We want to order cases.

I’m like, Whoa, dude, it’s frozen fresh.

That’s how we make it.

I don’t even know how to ship it there.

We’re not there.

We just start small.

That’s amazing.

What a cool product.

Yeah.

I’m going to ship you some, though.

So when this is over, you better send me your address.

I will.

You’ll be like, oh, Franny, in a month,

you’ll be like, we’re having you back on.

We’re going to talk about it. Yeah.

Franny’s restaurant is the next obvious choice.

So, I mean, there’s got to be

a food market and all that.

Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

It’s always so amazing. What’s that?

I said, we have lemon,

lavender cookies and tahini cookies.

People are freaking out.

We’re really building a foods division.

I’m going to send you sample pack and you’re going to

I can’t wait because when we were in Connecticut,

we tried a little bit of everything, tried the gummies.

It was funny, but it wasn’t funny.

Brooke threw her neck out that morning.

And so we’re going to meet Griff and the team.

And her neck, I felt so badly, like she

could not walk without truly her whole body clenching.

And so we got some of the lotion and it helped.

And we had a nice lunch

right there with the whole team.

We definitely tried the creams and definitely

could provide a great testimonial for that.

She absolutely loved it and felt great.

But it’s just so incredible.

And I love and we’ll definitely have to not wait

2 years before we have you on next time.

But in the meantime, what’s the best way

for everyone to follow you and stay connected?

So if you look at Franny’s Farmacy

F-A-R-M obviously pharmacy anywhere on

social media, our website, frannysfarmacy.com

But in this brand stuff, please

follow our farm, Franny’s Farm.

I used to have 18,000 people.

They cut that off on Instagram.

But that’s a beautiful place where you can

come and actually stay on our farm, enjoy

our hemp garden and Franny Tacy

myself, I also have a whole bunch

of stuff that’s really fun.

Amazing. And of course, we’ll add all of

those links to our show notes.

So if you head over to weedbudzradio.com, you’ll be

able to connect with Franny right from there.

And of course

Thank you so much for joining us.

And we’ll see you on the

next episode of WeedBudz Radio.