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
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.


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.


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,

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
WeedBudz Radio

Support the show


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?


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.


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.


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,

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, 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.

100th Episode – Can Legal Weed Win? Joined by Economists Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner.

Ry Russell with Economists Daniel Sumner and Robin Goldstein, Authors of Can Legal Weed Win?

Find Can Legal Weed Win?

Welcome to our 100th episode of WeedBudz Radio!  I am your host, Ry Russell and I invite you to join this compelling discussion today of the economics of owning a business in the cannabis industry.  There are many factors that can hinder growth and success in this competitive market so we ask the question – can legal weed win?  

To answer that very question, we have the authors of the book “Can Legal Weed Win?  The Blunt Reality of Cannabis Economics”, Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner.  

Robin Goldstein is an economist and author of The Wine Trials, the controversial exposé of wine snobbery that became the world’s best-selling guide to cheap wine. He is Director of the Cannabis Economics Group in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. He has an AB from Harvard University, a JD from Yale Law School, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Bordeaux.

Daniel Sumner is Frank H. Buck, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. He grew up on a California fruit farm, served on the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, and was Assistant Secretary of Economics at the US Department of Agriculture before joining the UC Davis faculty. He has a BS from Cal Poly and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.


Host: Ry Russell
WeedBudz RadioSupport the show

Transcript from this Episode:

Hello, buds.

Welcome back to another episode of WeedBudz Radio.

I’m your host, Ry, and as most of you

know, I opened a cannabis dispensary in northern Maine.

And as exciting and amazing and fun and

challenging as that is, you really need to

look at the economics of getting into the

cannabis industry and the economies of your business.

And that’s something that we’re going back

and forth with all of the time.

And as most of you have heard throughout my

grumblings that taxes are one of the things that

really hinder us as a business from being able

to scale, being able to employ more people.

And it’s a constant challenge of, is this worth it?

Are we crazy?

Some might say maybe a little bit of both.

But it’s always time to go to the experts.

Why hypothesize and sit here and fester

on things that I know nothing about?

It makes more sense for me to talk to individuals that

wrote the book on whether or not legal weed can win.

And so joining us today, we have

the incredible authors of Can Legal Weed Win? The

Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics.

And so I’m really excited to have

both Robin and Daniel join us.

Thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you very much.

So you two gentlemen obviously have an extensive

knowledge not just about cannabis economics and cannabis

business, but about economics in general.

I know that’s a topic that you both have

studied and teach upon and share your knowledge upon.

So I guess my very first question

to you gentlemen is, am I crazy?

Am I bonkers for getting into the

cannabis industry the way that I have?

Well, let me say something to begin with, and

that is, you know your local market, you know

your local competition, and Robin and I may give

you some background, but the most important thing is

what’s going on right where you are.

And we could say, boy, it’s really

tough, and here’s some examples where it

seems to be working more than others.

But you’ll know your local situation, if you’ve

got 13 other guys that are undercutting you

on price, we could say, gee, the market’ s

booming, and you could say, I’m getting screwed.

You see what I’m saying?

So we can have some insights about the

bigger picture, but, you know your local stuff.

Speaking of the bigger picture, would you consider

legal weed to be winning right now?

Would you say that it’s failing?

What is your perspective on how weed

is measuring up from an economic standpoint?

Well, we don’t think it’s winning

right now, that’s for sure.

It’s, of course, a different situation in every state, and

some states are doing a lot better than others.

So one of the things we do in the book

is we compare states that have been doing comparatively well

with ones that haven’t and look for some of the

reasons why, and we say, well, we mean the state.

It’s a viable legal market.

Legal weed is able to beat illegal weed.

That’s sort of a success for legal weed.

And it’s been really hard in states

like California, where we come from, for

legal weed to compete with illegal weed.

And the biggest reason is price.

Illegal weed is much cheaper to produce and sell

because they don’t have to pay all the taxes

and go through the regulations and follow all the

rules, including a lot of rules that you have

to follow in any legal business.

Not just weed, but a lot of specialized cannabis rules

that only cannabis companies have to follow has made it

more costly and more difficult for them to compete with

the illegal guys that have been around for a while.

So the states that have done best are the

ones where they’ve been able to bring prices down

and be more competitive, where legal weeds able to

be more competitive with the illegal stuff.

And there are neighborhoods where, for

one reason other, your customers don’t

really care about price that much.

Not very many, but some.

And you’re in some town where everybody really

wants to be legal in every way.

Even though they could have weed, it’s

legal for them to have it.

They want to deal with

local legal businesses, that’s great.

But not everywhere is like that.

So if I was thinking about the distribution,

it goes from really struggling to hanging on.

And the, boy, I’m just printing money here, at least as

far as there are people that have made those claims.

There may be a consultant that’s doing very well and

a lawyer who’s doing very well, but it’s tougher to

find somebody who’s actually in the cultivation business.

And it’s also easy for people in business.

And I do a lot of food economics.

And you talk to a farmer and he says,

oh yeah, that guy who’s just one step up

the chain from me, he’s making all the money.

And then you talk to the guy in the

marketing, the distribution business, the middleman, and he says,

yeah, the retailers make money, the farmers make money.

God, I can’t make a go of it.

And then you get to the retailer and he says, the

prices are so high, those guys are charging me so much.

Plus I have my rent and the labor, and who

knows where you can get a worker these days?

You see what I’m saying?

And I really do think it

goes from struggling to hang on.

But the big thing about weed is

that the illegal market is there everywhere.

The competition from the illegal guy is always there.

And that’s the point Robin was making.

That’s the challenge about price.

We’re talking about legal markets and illegal

markets and legal pricing and illegal pricing.

And I think something that is confusing

and misleading is the term legalization.

And when I think of my operations here in

the beautiful state of Maine, it’s a legal operation.

And I struggle to see where

federal legalization will make things better.

Everybody, I think touts that federal legalization

is going to make everything exponentially better.

But the feds are making a lot of money off of

me right now, and they do control some of the kind

of merchant services, if you will, systems of all of this.

And so it’s hard for me to see,

well, what’s the federal incentive to legalization?

So can you help demystify what legalization is?

But why ultimately, does the term

legalization become so misleading to people?

This is music to our ears, because that’s one

of our themes, and I’ll let Robin elaborate.

One of the first things we do in

the book is say this word legalization.

We’re using it, but it can be really misleading.

Yeah, and it can just mean a lot of different things.

For example, when a state passes a ballot question or

a bill that says weed is legalized, it can take

years between getting from that point to getting to the

point where you actually have stores open, because states take

years sometimes to drop regulations and so forth.

Vermont, 4 and a half years after they

passed a law legalizing recreational weed, they still

don’t have a single recreational store open.

Oklahoma, on the other hand, managed to do that in a day

with what Vermont took 4 and a half years to do.

But that was medical legalization.

So you have medical and then that’s basically a

market that’s limited to state residents with doctors permissions

and that’s sort of a lot more states are

set up that way than the recreational.

But when we talk about recreational legalization, Dan and

I, from an economic point of view, of course

you care whether the stores are open and they’re

doing business and there’s a market.

So we consider full recreational legalization to only start at

the moment when stores are actually open and you can

walk into a store and buy weed legally.

And there’s about 14 states that are

now at that stage with recreational.

I’m curious, in Maine, we’ve been looking at a

lot of data on prices and also on

the number of dispensaries in each or retailers

in each state and the density of retail.

One thing we noticed about Maine is that you guys

have a lot of stores for your population, and you

also have the prices on the lower side of

the spectrum of what we’ve been looking at.

So I’m curious, why do you think that is?

What’s the market like in Maine?

I take responsibility for the lower prices.

No, but our store does take a lot of pride in that.

For example, Budz Emporium, specifically, we have a

guarantee that we are the cheapest recreational store

in the state of Maine, and sometimes that

means selling our vendored wholesale products for less

than that vendor’s own retail establishments.

And we’ve kind of made that guarantee

because we know that price is the

primary driver of consumer behavior right now.

And within that, there’s different parameters around

selection, but it really is price.

We were the first store to offer

a $99 ounce in the rec market.

That was lower than many ounces in the medical market.

And frankly, it can be cheaper than

what you get from Bob next door.

And that really boomed our business.

And that was something that took a lot

of work, a lot of creativity, a lot

of partnerships from many different sides.

But that single handedly took the average cost of an ounce

in our store from about $200 down to about $125.

That’s a significant jump in 30 days.

And you are seeing a jump like that in the

state of Maine where, for example, when we open the

store, I think the average price per gram to the

consumer was right around $15, $14 and some odd cents.

And if I’m not mistaken, the latest reports are showing

about, $10.50, $10.75 I think, per gram right now to the consumer.

And we’re below that here at my store in particular.

But we built our business off value.

I used to operate a drive in movie theater, and

the only way that I saved that was creating the

value of kind of reducing that barrier of the ticket

price and increasing the value on food.

Everybody brought in sandwiches.

Nobody was buying food at the drive in.

And we kind of changed that model around where

you wanted the food at the drive in.

It was good and it was good value.

And so I try to take those principles

and bring them over here to my operation.

But it is in the state of Maine, you

have 3,500 to 4,000 medical shops which are untested,

and then you have about 100 or so retailers

in the adult use market right now.

And that’s definitely going to grow.

But there’s a lot more hurdles

in the adult use recreational market.

The med market is a piece of paper front and back,

and you can open a store within probably 72 hours.

The adult use side is a grind and a grueling

process that I think will get easier over time.

But the barrier to that’s very low

as well at $2,500 per license.

So I think if not the lowest in the country, one

of and so the barriers to entry are very low.

And that’s where I think branding comes into play

and value and all of that here in Maine.

But the economies here are very different.

And when we see tourists from Pennsylvania, New

York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, they cannot even believe

what the price per pre-roll or per 8th

is here in the state of Maine.

And they want it.

The thing that in my opinion, and you two are

economists, but I think even having a market like Maine

is going to drive the prices lower in Massachusetts and

Vermont and kind of trickle down because those tourists are

going to start demanding it from their retailers, which, to

your point, Daniel, that works backwards.

The retailers will then put that pressure on

the middle man, the middle man backwards.

So it is a very unique segment of the industry.

We are in Maine.

Are you allowed to deliver Ry or is

it strictly storefront because that limits your scale.

Of course.

It does very much, though.

And currently the adult use market

is not allowed to offer delivery.

That should be coming online hopefully

August, September, October of 2022.

And when that does, I think

that’ll help retailers out a lot.

However, that doesn’t come without its own challenges

and own infrastructure and all of that.

And I’m lucky.

I’m in the north Maine woods.

I’m the only adult use store really for an hour

south and probably an hour and a half north.

And so I’ve got a nice piece of territory where

you go to Portland, you’ve got 70 stores stacked on

each other, loyalty is zero, and it’s very price conscious.


Connecting back to the point you asked, the question

you asked earlier about federal legalization, I think you’re

really smart to care a lot about price.

And Maine is going to do comparatively well compared to

some other states around Maine when federal legalization comes in,

because you’re going to all of a sudden be competing

with stuff from all over the place.

Now, you’re also going to face competition from Wyoming

or Montana or Oklahoma, places that might be able

to make it even cheaper because they have lower

costs of land and labor and things like that.

But the thing that I think people we say a

lot in the book, the thing that people miss about

legalization, they think it’s just going to help everyone.

And actually competition will help

some people and hurt others.

You’re ahead of the game by caring about price,

by thinking about price, by figuring out how you

can price not just competitively, but at the bottom

of the price spectrum in your area.

And that’s the skill set and the advantages that

will be needed in the future with competition.

As a retailer, what we say about

federal legalization is first, do no harm.

In fact, my motto has been let cannabis be kale.

We don’t need a bunch of regulations from the Feds.

The states have been handling that pretty

well, and local governments and everybody else.

And in fact, this idea of federalism,

this idea that different states do things

differently, okay, that’s the way it goes.

But the last thing we need is to layer on a

set of federal taxes and federal regulations on top of that.

And what Robin is talking about is the

beauty you go back to the U.S. Constitution.

The beauty of the U.S. Constitution is

it made a free trade agreement.

So let’s just accept that.

So imagine the federal government did

one thing and one thing only.

It just took cannabis off this schedule

of prohibited substances or illegal substances.

The list of severe drugs, all you

did was cross that one line out.

Taxes would change, banking rules would change.

All of those things are just tied to

the fact that the raw material that you

buy is on this list of illegal stuff.

Therefore, you don’t get to deduct it

from your taxes as a retailer.

And the federally registered banks don’t want to deal

with you or they find it awkward because you’re

dealing with a substance that’s on that list.

Now, there may be some other places where somebody

has to cross something out, but what we’ve seen

about the federal regulations, no matter who they’re sponsored

by, even the one that was released yesterday or

today, it goes on for pages.

And Robin and I say, how about a postcard?

You don’t really have to do a lot here, and

maybe later you want to say, okay, we’re going to

add cannabis cultivation to some USDA program or something.

But as long as you don’t prohibit

it, it’s there for lots of things.

And so that’s what we’d say for you, and

particularly you, Ry, and I would say your customers

and the customers in Maine that want to take

advantage of access to Washington state or maybe eastern

Massachusetts, where they have some particular cultivars of ours

that are tasty or somebody likes, fine.

But it doesn’t tie you when you go buy a banana, you’re

not stuck to buying a banana that was grown in Maine.

And when you grow an avocado, yeah, same thing.

You buy that avocado, it can be grown in Mexico.

It could be grown down the

street from here in California.

Same with strawberries, et cetera, et cetera.

You go buy strawberries in January, you don’t

say, God, it’s coming from some guy with

a hot house under glass doing all kinds

of electricity to grow a damn strawberry.

Whereas in cannabis, it has to be.

And so this free trade, particularly in the raw material, I

think is a boon for your kind of business, and it

may not be a boon for the cultivators of Maine that

you could see some growers saying, wait a second, I don’t

want to have to compete with Colorado.

That makes a lot of sense.

That sounds so hopeful.

So I want to go back there for a second.

But first you said something about legalization, and then

the feds will put taxes on top of that.

But my argument is, where are they

going to put taxes on top of? What?

What could they possibly put taxes on top of?

Because we’ve got our sales tax, and then we pay our

income tax monthly or quarterly, and they’re getting a nice chunk

of change on that, upwards of past 30% of our revenue,

and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Now, there’s a lot of if you’ve got big money,

you can put a holdings company in between it and

a property management company in between it and stack and

layer and all kinds of other things, but just straight

up, pound for pound, what would it look like if

there was true federal legalization?

Well, here’s the problem.

Over the years, I lived in North Carolina for

a while, and I studied tobacco economics, and I

moved to California and started studying wine economics.

And so I can tell you there’s

a federal excise tax on wine.

So if you go to your local grocery store and buy

a box or buy a bottle, it’s got a bunch of

federal taxes later right into it, right off the bat.

Excise tax.

Same with a pack of cigarettes.

Lots of federal taxes, then state taxes, then if you’re

in a city that puts local taxes on top.

So just because there’s state and local taxes

and regulations doesn’t mean the feds can’t put

some more taxes on the product itself.

We know they tax your business, your income

taxes, and other things on your business.

But this is product taxes.

Our argument is it’s not needed.

We got plenty of taxes already.

And particularly, and this is really crucial

for everybody to understand the health of

the industry because we’ve got this illegal

business that is running parallel now.

Maybe not in Maine, maybe nobody

grows illegal cannabis in Maine, right?

Yeah, I wish.

The feds aren’t going to tax illegal cannabis anymore

than they do now, and they’re not going to

stop it any more than they do now.

And at least in most jurisdictions when you legalize

it, the agency that’s in charge of monitoring legal

cannabis in Colorado, the Colorado agency that does that,

they don’t go after illegal cannabis.

They don’t even know how because they have a long

list of growers and retailers and wholesalers and testing firms,

and they say, here’s a bunch of regulations you have

to follow, and it’s their job to make sure that

the legal industry follows the law, okay?

That’s their job.

There’s this whole illegal industry that’s doing its

thing undercutting your prices and everybody else’s.

And that’s the big challenge

that Robin was emphasizing.

Robin, I just told him that he was giving me a glimpse

of hope and then right there all the way, oh no, you

signed up to be on their radar and on their list.

So I guess I have a question for

both of you gentlemen before we end today.

Where’s the hope?

I think there’s plenty of hope because people over time

see what works and doesn’t and learn from successes and

failures of others. I think we think that the most

hope is when people are willing to look at other

states and see what’s worked and what hasn’t.

Be brutally honest about what’s failed.

One of the mistakes regulators have made, as you see

more and more states opening up, and it’s like the

default is they just go copy the regulations.

They’re writing off the regulations, they just copy the

system from California or from Colorado, and you’re like,

well, why would you copy some regulations?

Why would you copy a system of a state that

where legal weed is not doing comparatively well against illegal?

But if they looked at what’s going on in Oklahoma

with the medical system there, they’re not at recreational yet,

and they see how much that industry is thriving and

they’ll be probably competitive in an interstate market, then you

want to set up more like that.

So we’re hopeful in the sense that over time, maybe

it will take a century or maybe 10 years, but

I think over time, people learn from their mistakes.

He’s the optimist, the real wild card, the real

question mark is what you’ve been getting out, which

is what form federal legalization will take.

Legal weed could, as Dan said, if

it’s just descheduled, that could really help

legally win in a lot of places.

If they add another layer of

taxation, then it’s anyone’s guess.

It could be a step backward

before we’re able to step forward.

Where your case is interesting a lot

of places, California is one of them.

Washington State is another.

There are several where when adult

use was introduced, medical died because

they had essentially the same rules.

Most people in California got both licenses

when they were both available same.

It wasn’t easy.

Neither license was easy.

They got both licenses, and then the customer

said, well, unless they were under the age

of 21 or had some, there was no

particular reason to get a medical card anymore.

Whereas what I found fascinating about what you said

was that if I declare and you always said

medical in quotes, you always said that.

And it’s interesting that I look at you as a retailer

and said, well, why don’t you go to the medical route?

You could access a lot of customers.

You could have stores side by

side, one medical, one adult use.

But in most places, there was just no reason for

medical once you had adult use up and running.

And it’s fascinating.

So there’s a case where Maine did something

quite different than the rest of the country.

We like to strive to say that we’ve seen

the future and we’re trying to reverse engineer it.

And it’s looking at state by state that has

come before us and trying to learn from their

mistakes, trying to innovate on where they left off.

And I think as long as we stay creative

and innovative and ultimately focused on the customer’s value

first, I’ve yet to see a business model truly

fail where the customer was ultimately the happiest.

And that’s something that we just

kind of strive for here.

And I think that’s ultimately how the industry wins.

Being an industry, that’s not just cool, but

it really, truly is part of the community.

And that’s easy for me to say in my tri

town area of 10,000 individuals, but also because of that,

it’s much easier for that community to know how hard

we work to live up to that.

It’s much harder at scale to show

the customer that same level of love.

And that’s really what we’re trying to

dial in before we replicate, is how

do we replicate true community value?

Because that’s what we did at

the drive in, and it succeeded.

And I think that is ultimately not only

the way cannabis will succeed, but in my

mind, that’s the way it should.

I think the people of the cannabis industry, hopefully

most of them, feel the same way that we’re

sharing love with the world when we put this

in a safe, legal fashion and bringing it.

And I think often that’s why the accidental air

quotes come out when I refer to medical.

It’s because they should be the ones

putting in the level of care.

The level of continuing education.

And the level of seriousness that we

emphasize with our teams because they’re medical.

They should hold themselves accountable.

And they should ultimately be testing their own product

if there’s no legal reason to do so.

We very much we were licensed to answer your

question, Daniel, why didn’t we were licensed as medical?

And when I learned that medical was not required

to test, we bowed out and decided that that

was not the values we stood for, ultimately not

where we wanted to be in the marketplace.

We felt that, yes, we’re entrepreneurs and

not necessarily looking for a boss, but

we are looking to be held accountable.

And testing doesn’t just hold us accountable, it

holds the cultivators and the processors accountable.

And ultimately, I think that just

makes a safer product for everybody.

So that’s ultimately why we decided

to do the recreational side.

That’s interesting.

Testing is an important one.

It’s one of the things that differentiates if you

ask what differentiates the legal from the illegal product

and experience, and you talk about both and the

testing is like the main substantive difference.

No one can necessarily from smoking weed, from

smoking in particular, where you can’t necessarily know

whether the person who grew it or packaged

it had a state license or not.

But the certification of testing

means something to some people.

Some people aren’t willing to pay more for it, but

some are, and it matters to a lot of people.

And so that’s one differentiator.

But I think you bring up a really important point

about the customer experience and the service element of it.

Most illegal weed is delivery.

And there’s something special about

this in-person’s storefront experience.

And I think some of the early storefronts that

would open, having to follow so many rules kind

of came off as kind of cold.

It was like an Apple Store pharmacy kind of thing.

And you didn’t really have it wasn’t like

such a nice experience that you’d pay a

little extra to have that experience.

But certainly that’s low hanging fruit for people that’s

a big part of the experience is buying it

and getting guidance on what to choose.

And this is a new industry where a lot of

people, especially people who are just starting to explore it

and haven’t been like long time consumers of weed in

the past, they just don’t know anything about what to

buy or what’s the differences between products.

And I think you’re delivering a

lot of value by doing that.

And I think that’s important for people around the country

to keep in mind as they figure out how to

navigate the legalization and compete successfully with illegal.

Thank you.

I really appreciate that.

We definitely strive to do our best.

It’s a humble family shop up here in the north

Maine woods and we’re loving every minute of it.

And honestly, I just want to thank you both so much for

taking the time to riff with me today on all of this.

It’s just overwhelming sometimes when you’re up here and you’re

in your own head and you’re looking at the future

and you’re looking at the past to predict.

And it’s nice to have minds that do that on

a daily basis, help kind of deweed that for us.

So thank you so much.

And gentlemen, how does our buds

at home find your book?

Amazon. Can Legal Weed Win? The

Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics. Amazing.

Well, thank you both.

Tell your local library too.

Tell your local bookshop, et cetera.

We’re going to have to get a couple of copies

for our library here in Millinocket, so it’ll be fun.

And I think the community is always looking

for more ways to educate themselves on cannabis.

And I think one of the things I love most

about this is the community is part of this rally.

They are a part of the success of

the store and they feel that way.

They’re always looking for products.

So awesome.

And obviously, we are always grateful for all

of you that are tuned in and continue

to tune into WeedBudz year after year.

It has been incredible to

produce these shows for you.

So be sure to head over to and check out those show notes.

We’ll have a link for you so

you can go purchase the book directly.

Take you easily right there.

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

Ask Us Anything!

From Brews to Budz with Chirag and Kevin of St. Johns Brewers and Cool Out Delta8

Chirag Vyas and Kevin Chipman partnered to create the brewery, St. Johns Brewers. These beverage industry experts have decided to take their talents into the world of Cannabis. They are introducing a line of Delta 8 or D8 seltzers. D8 is a compound derived from the hemp plant and therefore falls under hemp regulations versus cannabis or marijuana depending on the state that you’re in. The creative minds behind join us today to educate us on what exactly Delta 8 is and to share the origin story behind their brand.

Chirag Vyas and Kevin Chipman

Ry Russell
WeedBudz RadioSupport the show

Transcript from the Episode:

Hey friends.

Welcome back to another episode of Weed Budz Radio and

I’m your host Ry

And today joining me is some

new buds that I’m excited to share with all of

you that are working on some incredible projects and have

already worked on some amazing projects, so you’re going to

love the conversation that we have today.

And today joining us we have Chirag and Kevin from St.

John Brewers and gentlemen, thank

you so much for joining.

Hi, good afternoon. Good to meet you.

Good to be with you.

Yes, thanks for having us. Absolutely.

So first I want to hear where you’re

located and how you two got connected. Chirag

do you want to take this one first this time? Sure.


Jim and I have been friends since college.

We went to school up in the

University of Vermont back in the 90s.

So we were friends from freshman year.

We became roommates with a bunch of other guys in

the dorm and then we just drank good beer from

Vermont at that time and kept in touch after college.

So we both graduated from University of

Vermont and then went out separate ways.

I worked as a scientist for NASA and the space

program out in California for a couple of years and

Kevin was a physical therapist major and he went down

to Boston and worked in the hospital there as well.

So we were both kind of on our career

paths in the early 2000s and kind

of decided that we want to change in life.

Kevin went down to the state to visit a friend

of ours that we knew from college down in the

Virgin Islands and checked it out and he came back

and I said I was interested in moving the Caribbean

and we just thought we’d take a year off and

go down to the Caribbean for a year and then

we’ll get back into career jobs in the future.

We kind of took a leap on life at early

20s and went down to the Caribbean with no

plans, no plan to brew or anything, just to check

it out, bartender, have a good time and then maybe

come back or travel a little more.

So it’s kind of how we got started

and it’s a beautiful place down here.

We fell in love sight on scene and yeah, it was great.

We got some jobs originally just bussing and then

hosting at some restaurants, moved up to bartending.

Everything was great.

But we did realize that we missed beer that we

were drinking up in the States down here it was

just all the light lagers, Caribbean lagers, mainstream domestic beers

that were here and we really wanted some different colored

flavored beers and so just ingenuity kind of struck us

and we bought homebrew kits online and it was a

bit more of a challenge back then.

We’re talking 2001, 2002 so the

internet isn’t what it is right now.

So having to go to the local library with some dial

up for 30 minutes each and do this online research.

But we got them and that was our start and our

lead into craft beer as far as the brewing aspect.

And that was how we got into beverage the very early

stages and really caught the bug as far as brewing.

The first batches I think were pretty typical of

what you experienced, that decent, not teetering on good.

But then we just wanted to really make some good beers

and so we really got into it reading everything that we

could and just really caught that craft beer buzz.

And then finally it kind of got to

the point where we were going to stay

here and start a business within beer.

We had a couple of good recipes that we had

or go back to the States and pursue our careers.

And in particular we were brewing

with mangoes that grew on St.

John and we were talking how people enjoyed

it and we’re like, yeah, let’s give this

a go with this tropical mango beer.

And that was our foray into St. John brewers and

the beer that started us off in this direction.

That sounds delicious because my favorite beers and

my favorite flower and smoke is anything a

little bit citrusy, a little bit tangy.

So that sounds absolutely incredible to me

and I can’t wait to try that.

So I’m curious, two brewmasters, if you

will, where do you go from there?

You establish this great business, what’s next?

What’s on the horizon?

Yeah, so we’ve been brewing beer, like Kevin said, since

the early 2000s, and we started a brewing

company and we brewed different styles of beer.

We also introduced the soda lines, we’ve

done root beers and ginger beer flavors.

This is all packaged products as well as

draft and sold throughout the markets and the

bars and restaurants and throughout the islands.

And so we’ve just expanded our line over the years

and recently got into a hard seltzer that we make

we think better than the ones that are out there.

It’s called Love City.

And it’s available only in the Virgin Islands.

So Celtic was sort of our foray into a

different style of beverage versus the traditional beers like

the IPAs and the brown ales and all the

unique pale ales that we could do.

So we wanted to transition to a little bit

more of the cannabis space where we could bring

cannabis to beverages and the idea of a good

craft beer and a good craft cannabis beverage.

And so the last two years we really been

working on finding great water soluble ingredients to

use in a flavored seltzer that our flavors that

we come up with and put the two together

to make a really quality product that’s entry into

the hemp space and into the cannabis space.

That is so fascinating. Kevin.

Yeah, I was just going to add that it has been great.

All the research that we did

with creating Love City our hard seltzer.

It just really did blend in

well into infusing in Delta-8.

And we have just different flavor profiles that

we have that we’re super excited about.

Our brand’s, Cool Out is our Delta-8 infused seltzer

and we’re leading with a citrus flavor same thing.

I guess we can let you know how we

do our research is that it’s one thing if

we like it, but do other people like it?

So we spend a lot of time bench topping

out our different flavors and then giving it out

to our staff at first and then going more

into our larger audience and customers.

And citrus has got a lot of great reviews and it drinks just like a fresh, clean seltzer.

Our Delta-8 ingredient is wonderful.

We really did a lot of vetting for

suppliers for our Delta-8, and it is

just one of the cleanest ones out there.

Tastes great over ice, straight out of the can.

And we went in a little

bit lighter with the Delta-8.

As far as 10 milligrams, I feel everyone either

has had that experience or knows that someone had

experience of having edibles and having too much because

of that hour wait that takes place and having

it be just too much.

So we went with 10 milligrams.

That still gets you a nice little heavy buzz.

But we also want this to be something

that you can drink more than one of.

We’re beer guys.

We want you to be able to be social with these beverages and

be able to hang out, be in the mix at a party.

Maybe alcohol is not for you and this is just

one of those really good alternatives that can help you

relax and you’re fitting in with the party.

Or if you want to replace out that glass

of wine at the end of a work day

or that beer, this is another great option.

Zero calories.

We’re not sugar guys.

We don’t like sweeteners either.

And so we’ve just developed a flavor profile that is

clean, has a lot of robust flavor to it, but

doesn’t have a lot of added features to it.

So our tagline is Cool out. Feel good.

And there’s just a lot of different aspects about

this beverage that can help you feel good.

And a lot of that is what it doesn’t have

in it, which are the sugar, carbs, all that stuff.

So as an individual, that’s often in those social environments that

you were mentioning, I do not drink alcohol, but I love

beer, and so I’ll have a craft beer maybe three or

four times a year, but really only one, because I don’t

really like the way that I feel.

And so I’ve been waiting for that beautiful

kind of craft beer that has more of

the THC components to it than alcohol.

Obviously, I know that with fermentation

you’re going to get some alcohol.

But is there a way to make a good beer with

THC in it versus what we have right now, which seems

to be a lot of juices and sodas and seltzers?

It can be done.

It’s a little more technical.

You have to de alkalize your product

because you can’t have the two together

and sort of a consumer safety perspective.

But you could brew beer, try to get a

no out or low out down there and then

add in your ingredients and then that’s been done.

Particularly in west, we’ve seen a couple of

brands do that and I think that’s part

of where we’re at with flavor.

And we’ve been at this almost 20 years where

complexity of flavor versus simplicity of flavor and not

everyone is an IPA craft beer drinker, even though

it is the most popular style of craft beer.

We sell a lot of our IPAs but that leaves

out a big part of the segment of the population.

We like seltzers and you can see the craziness out there

just because it appeals to a lot more of an audience

that just does not overwhelmed with flavor and taste.

However, we do encourage that we want

to have taste in our beverages.

So that’s our benefit.

Our positive experience is having good flavoring

and good formulation of your product.

We think seltzer is just a great way, but yeah,

it’s been done for sure the beer side of things

and this is a good intro for us.

We feel the tip of the iceberg sort of

thing with Delta-8 and getting into beverage.

So this is our starting point.

As Chirag mentioned, Delta was just fresh with us

as far as one of the latest projects that

we are working on and so it did just

fit nicely into what we are going to do

next, which was experimenting with cannabis water soluble technology.

That leads me you had mentioned something about Chirag,

the kind of craze around seltzer right now.

And I’m curious is that a fad?

Is that a trend that’s here to stay?

If it is here to stay, what’s after that?

There’s a lot of opinions on that at the moment.

I mean, we’ve seen a pretty big skyrocketing

with the big national brands from a small

brewery perspective on an island in the Caribbean.

We’ve done great with our sales

to date and it’s growing.

So I personally don’t think seltzers

are going away by any stretch.

Craft breweries, particularly breweries in general, got into

the business because it was a way to

make a light kind of alcoholic seltzer beverage

versus the traditional beer under the regulations of

breweries versus liquor distilleries.

So there was a bit of that movement going on.

But in terms of a fad, it’s possible just

because they typically the big macro bands tend to

overdo it and it kind of turns people off.

Seltzers have been around forever I think

it’s been over 100 years of seltzer.

It’s clean, it’s refreshing, it’s not for everyone.

Some people want sweeteners and things like that.

But if you have a good

clean shelter, it’s very drinkable.

So I think you’ll be around for a while.

And I’m curious because I realized that

we haven’t really necessarily explained it to

those that have tuned in.

But if you don’t mind kind of breaking down what

the difference is between Delta-8 and Delta-9.

I think that’s something that we really

haven’t talked about on the show.

So Delta-9 would be the THC drive from marijuana.

And it’s just kind of that technical chemical structure

that is where a carbon is double bonded.

So it’s on the 9th carbon in the

molecule, Delta-8 derived from hemp, which the

federal government deemed legal in 2018 Farm Bill.

And that is, again, just where that double bond is.

So it’s a chemical difference.

And then it’s where they’re derived from within the

cannabis family, one being from marijuana, Delta-9, the

other being from hemp based Delta-8. Interesting.

And so I guess the question that I’ve been

asked a lot, I don’t have an answer to.

Is Delta-8 naturally derived or is

that something that’s synthetically formed. Delta is

present in cannabis and in hemp.

In smaller dose or percentages, it can

be derived from the hemp and then

basically converted up into Delta-9.

It’s not synthesized per se from basic chemistry.

It’s derived from the CBD and the cannabinoids

of the hemp and the hemp extract.

When I kind of think of CBD extraction or

THC extraction, if you’re looking at extracting something like

Delta-8, are you able to get the same

kind of return per plant, per hemp stock that

you would THC from a marijuana stock?

Is it a smaller number?

Do you have to kind of use more quantity to get there?

It’s not something that we’ve ever really explored.

That’s a pretty technical question, I feel.

And I’m sure it’s different based on farms

and strains and the style of what’s grown.

We rely on the expertise of the

companies that we’re getting our product from.

We feel that our expertise comes in the

beverage side, using that water soluble technology and

just getting the best beverage that we can

for the hemp that we’re using.

But I’m not sure about that kind of pound for pound.

What is the yield or how that part actually works out.

Now, if I say for myself, more of an experienced Delta-9

consumer, and let’s say beside me I have an inexperienced

Delta-9 consumer, could you kind of explain to us the

effects of Delta-8 on the mind and body?


As cannabis users, we’ve experienced Delta-8

Delta-9 and other cannabinoid CBD. Of course.

And so Delta-8 is referred to as sort of

a milder buzz that doesn’t say that you don’t feel

anything or it’s light, but it tends to be milder

than a cannabis THC Delta-9 high.

However, it is a cumulative

effect, a compounding effect.

If you have a couple more Delta-8s, you

will start to feel a very strong buzz.

So it’s not as if it stays mellow the whole time.

It’s just sort of the onset

and the feeling isn’t as high.

And also the less, if any, anxiety and some of

that kind of panicky that comes with it increased.

You don’t get some of that, or

at least we haven’t heard of that.

Very calming effects in many ways, but not

overwhelming and stretch and everybody’s a little bit

different too with how they get affected.

So I think that’s just where there is some plates

where you start to know your dose and then get

comfortable with it as well, which is very important.

And that’s why we like the beverage space

compared to edibles and smokeables is that you

can kind of pace yourself as you’re drinking

it, and especially the 12 ounce can versus

a shot, because the shots a bit intimidating.

But with a 12 ounce can, you’re drinking

it like you would drink any other alcoholic

beverage where you’re pacing yourself and if you

want to slow down, you can slow down.

And because the onsets within 15 to 20 minutes

due to ingestion liquid form, you feel it sooner.

So you can kind of really do it yourself out and

not feel like you’re going to have to wait an hour

and all of a sudden you’re glued to the couch.

So you kind of get that baseline much sooner

and then you can effectively make a decision on

how much more you would like to consume or

at what pace you would like to consume. Correct.

I would say that the onset is faster

than edible if we’re comparing the two.

And then also the on ramp.

I feel that sometimes when I’ve had edibles, it

hits you all of a sudden everything at once,

where with this as you’re drinking it over 15, 20

minutes and enjoying the flavor and then getting the

experience, there’s more of a gentle kind of ease

into the high compared to just that thump that

you sometimes get with other deliverables.

So gentlemen, I got to ask, being in this space,

in the beverage space for so long, what are some

similarities that you’re finding between what you’ve been doing with

the brewery versus now introducing Delta-8 from, I guess

kind of a 360 view, right?

Like how are you engaging consumers?

What is regulatory look like?

Just what parts are extremely different, but what

parts are like, yeah, we got this.

This is our prior expertise coming in.

I mean, I would start with our expertise

being in the beer and alcohol business.

And we follow all the federal regulations,

everything from labeling rules and such.

So we understand regulations state

to state sales are limited.

You have to register in all 50 states.

So we’ve always been limited in our state

access that we have sold in multiple states.

And so we’ve learned all the regulations behind that.

And of course, the rules have

been changing with hemp and cannabis.

So knowing that we want to merge those two worlds together,

because in the craft beer business, we do have cannabis users

and THC users that would want to also be having in

the same social dynamic as a craft beer party.

So we wanted to merge those two worlds together.

And I think we’re able to do that a

little bit more now based on the current regulations

of how hemp is currently federally approved.

Yeah, and being cannabis users and wanting to bring cannabis

more into the American beverage culture, this has been a

really cool project for us to be working on and

then also bringing in the quality that is craft beer.

It’s something that we always pride ourselves on and that

we’re going to continue on with this new project and

everything else that we do within the hemp space.

We feel it’s very important.

We’re trying to do things the right way, the

best way that we can, best ingredients, all those

things that make a quality brand and a quality

experience for the customer as well. Amazing.

And gentlemen, before we wrap up today, I’m really

curious, what is the cannabis culture and I guess

regulatory viewpoint right now in the US.

Virgin Islands?

How is that kind of functioning right now?

What’s that ecosystem looks like?

Surprisingly not legal yet for cannabis recreation or medicinal,

but as the Caribbean island, as you know, cannabis

has been present for generations and as part of

the culture, and it is not recently not been

legally loosened on the laws there.

So it’s been okay, but there’s definitely not the

regulations in place to have open dispensary sales yet.

Enforcement is friendlier, but fines

are still in place. Correct. Awesome.

Gentlemen, I’m so grateful that you took

the time to meet with me today.

And I’m curious for all those that are tuned in, what’s

the best way to stay connected and to follow you all?

Best way is through our website or social media.

The website is and then our

handles are DrinkCool out as well.

So those are the best channels to follow up. Amazing.

Well, thank you both so much. Thank you.

Thanks for having us.

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

that have tuned in to another episode of Weebudz Radio.

Be sure to head over to our website

We’ll have links to connect with all

these fine gentlemen and their website so

you can check out their beverages.

And can you ship, gentlemen, can you ship

to all 50 states or most states?

Most states, yeah.

We’ve got a website you can go to check

it out at and we can ship to you. Awesome.

Well, definitely go check,

Those links will be in the show notes

and we’ll see you in the next episode.

Thank you so much.

Ask Us Anything!

“Secrets to Maximizing Success in the Cannabis Industry” with Ryan Douglas 

Welcome to another episode of WeedBudz Radio!  Today we have the pleasure of  speaking to returning guest; Ryan Douglas, Author of “Seed to Success”.  Ryan is here today to introduce his new book “Secrets to Maximizing Success in the Cannabis Industry”.  Join me in learning about propagation and other factors that affect cultivation and production in the cannabis industry.  

Ryan Douglas – Author & Cannabis Cultivation Expert
CLICK HERE and Get Your Copy NOW!

Host: Ry Russell
WeedBudz RadioSupport the show


Transcription from the episode below: This is a new Feature for us, please forgive any mistakes as we dial in our subtitles and transcriptions.

Welcome to another episode of Weed Buzz Radio.

I’m your host, Ry

And today, I’m really

excited because you might see a familiar face,

a guest we’ve had on before.

Ryan Douglas was on to talk

about his book From Seed to success.

And I’m guessing it was a success because we’re

here to talk about his next book, Secrets to

Maximizing Profits in the Cannabis Industry: Contemporary and

Pragmatic Tips for Improving Your Cultivation Business.

And that is something that, as a retailer, I

know I’m very curious about, because if the cultivators

can become m ore efficient and more pragmatic then our

prices go down and if our prices go down,

then you, the consumer, will hopefully be able to

pay a better price at the dispensary.

So we’re going to hit Ryan with some hard questions today,

but before we do that, I want to just ask you,

Ryan, for those that haven’t checked out, From Seed to success yet,

can you hit us with a quick kind of summary, if

you will, of what you got into in that book before

we talk about kind of the next step, if you will?

Yeah, of course.

And thanks for having me on again, Ry.

It’s a pleasure to be here. Awesome.

We appreciate it. Yeah.

So, about a year and a half

ago, I published From Seed to Success.

And essentially it’s a manual

for launching licensed cultivation startups.

And so that’s geared towards anybody from

any industry that’s interested in participating in

the cannabis industry through cultivation.

And so it’s essentially a manual, kind of a

step by step guide on how you go through

the most important parts of launching a cultivation business.

And so, having kind of covered the

basis of startups, what I wanted to

do was publish something on guaranteeing profitability.

How can companies really thrive and survive

now that they’ve launched their business?

And we’re kind of in an industry where there’s

plenty of challenges, you’ve got supply chain challenges, you’ve

got, in some places, increasing competition, increasing supply, and

the future is pretty much unknown.

So the question is, now that I have

a cultivation business, how can I guarantee that

it’s profitable for the near future?

And so what I wanted to do was

kind of create a more direct, more succinct

way of getting some information to readers.

Instead of writing a 285 page book,

this ebook is more like 30 pages.

And so I’ve just chosen a handful of topics that

seem to come up repeatedly when I speak to groups,

when I speak to cultivation business owners about the challenges

and concerns they have on a day to day basis.

So that’s why I chose to publish this new ebook.

I wouldn’t call it Spark Notes because there’s

so much value in there, but the way

that you describe it, it’s very succinct.

And for somebody like me who gets overwhelmed with big words

and lots of pages, it made a lot of sense.

And there was a lot of principles in

there that somebody who is not skilled in

cultivation like myself was able to see.

If there’s enough detail in there, you can

kind of see how one thing impacts another.

So I wanted to mention it is just

a perfect way to kind of get into

the weeds of things without being overwhelmed.

Yeah, and that’s the idea really.

Like I mentioned, there’s three or four points

that I cover in the book and they

come up repeatedly when I speak with clients.

So no point in trying to fluff

up a book to make it bigger.

Let’s just get right to the point.

And that was the goal.

I appreciate that.

And we talked a little bit prior to

the show and earlier that you kind of

helped push me when you launched From Seed to Success.

I was working on a book about my experience with the

Saco Drive in movie theater and it was something that was

kind of, I guess perking in my mind for a while.

But I was like, man, there’s all these amazing

authors in the cannabis space and I’m not going

to be a good cannabis author unless I practice.

And I really don’t have a lot of

expertise other than podcasting and studying the experts.

So I need to practice.

Got to get that muscle going.

And so I wrote a book called Relic

to Icon about saving the drive in.

But I’ll tell you it was a workout as we discussed,

like every 5, 000 words was like okay, well this is it.

And sometimes I felt like I was writing for

the sake of writing and I didn’t like that.

I like business books that are to the point.

And so it was kind of a hard balance between

what I’m being told it should be in length versus

what I think is value to the consumer.

And so this is just a great kind of add

on to From Seed to Success of kind of taking those

fundamentals of great, you’re here or you need to get

here and this is how you do it.

And now that you’re here, let’s talk about

how you dial some of that stuff in.

And that kind of leads me to my next question

because I love innovation and I love innovation specifically in

this space I’ve seen just where soil to, hydroponics to

some of the kind of I don’t know what they’re

called the aeroponics that I’ve seen. Yeah.

So there’s so many different things.

And so I’m curious just in the last year

or two, what some of the technology and innovation

that you’re finding interesting in the cultivation space?

Yeah, so what we want to look at is I

mean, I’m a big proponent for technological innovation and automation,

but when we’re talking about maintaining profitability, we don’t want

to automate just to say that we did.

The reason we do it is

to really increase our bottom line.

So we’re either producing more or we’re

increasing the quality of what we produce,

or we’re producing it for less.

And so when we look at new technology or new

automation, we want to make sure that it hits one

of those three items, because otherwise it might not be

an appropriate expenditure for some of these cultivation businesses.

And so that’s why in my new book, there’s

one chapter that covers new technology, and the goal

is really to present this technology that can help

growers reduce their cost of production.

And so, just briefly, I can mention a couple.

The first, even though it’s not new

technology, it’s becoming more and more popular

with cannabis growers, and for good reason.

And that’s tissue culture propagation.

So I can’t tell you how many times

I’ve walked through a cultivation facility that was

state of the art, but right away, they

had insect or disease problems on their crops.

And if you’re starting fresh, you’re starting new.

Really, in any industry, you shouldn’t

have problems for a while.

But there’s nothing worse than dropping ten or

$12 Million on a cultivation facility, staffing the

thing, and you start running it.

But you acquire essentially dirty genetics.

And even if the person has the best intentions

of providing you with really high quality genetics, unless

these are propagated inside of a lab and the

process of propagation is sterile, they can’t guarantee you

that what you’re receiving are completely clean starter plants.

And so what happens is essentially every

insect and disease infestation any grower has

ever encountered, nine times out of ten

comes from infected cuttings or infected plants.

And so

cannabis growers have always had to deal with insects.

But since more and more states and

countries are legalizing cannabis, you have more

greenhouse production, you have more outdoor production.

Not only do you have the traditional insects

and disease we need to battle with, you

have new diseases and insects that are jumping

from traditional crops to cannabis and hemp.

And so,

especially for greenhouse growers and indoor growers, outdoor growers,

a lot of that is up to mother nature.

We really don’t have much control at

all, but indoors and greenhouse we do.

And so what you have is more and

more growers turning to these tissue culture companies,

and what they’re doing is outsourcing propagation.

So for anyone listening, propagation is

essentially cloning or taking cuttings.

So traditionally, companies keep stock

plants from other plants.

Every so often, they take cuttings, they

root them, and now they have a

genetically identical plant to the mother plant.

So you can imagine if you took 100 cuttings,

now you can fill a grow room with a

hundred similar plants to that mother plant.

And that’s how we that’s how we

establish kind of a constant harvest schedule.

The risk is multiple.

One is that the longer a plant stays in production,

the more likely it is that it gets something.

And if we’re propagating plants that are

infected, inevitably this pathogen will show up

in production in the flowering space.

So you risk contaminating the crop, but

you also risk contaminating the entire facility.

But also, not every grow team

is excellent at rooting cuttings.

So whether you’re taking ten cuttings or

10,000 cuttings, generally we try to shoot

for 80% or more should root right.

So some just won’t root.

Some are going to die off, some will dry out.

So you determine what you need and

you take more cuttings than you need.

So if you have 20% die

back, you still hit your numbers.

But not every grower, not every cultivation

team is good at taking cuttings.

And the problem is in these production facilities

where you have a very tight production schedule,

if you are short, you basically have to

go into production with half empty rooms.

Or if we wait and take more cuttings

and wait until they root, now you’re looking

at production bottlenecks, which is just as bad.

So the reason people are going more and more

towards tissue culture and the reason more tissue culture

companies are starting to cater towards cannabis is one

these growers can outsource propagation entirely.

They don’t need to hold onto stock plants.

They don’t have to worry about propagating and taking

cuttings, and they can dedicate that space to flower

production, which is really where the money is that

when we talk about cannabis growing.

But probably the biggest reason is that these companies

will deliver hundreds or thousands of plantlets guaranteed disease

free to your doorstep on a set schedule.

So it takes some planning at the beginning of

the year, but, you know, every Monday at 10:00

in the morning, you can expect a FedEx delivery

or a truck to pull up to your facility.

And now you have rooted plantlets

that you immediately put into production.

And stuff happens during the course of a crop cycle,

but at least, you know, you’re starting 100% clean.

And that’s going to become more and more critical

as growers face newer diseases and newer insect infestations

that we don’t even have to worry about today.

So tissue culture, I think, is one of

the not necessarily a new advancement, but it’s

new for cannabis growers, at least.

And I’m sure the systems to which you preserve that is

only going to get better and improve over time as well.

You mean how these companies preserve their

genetics, how they hold on to them? Yes.

And in terms of, like you were saying, 80% in

terms of rooting on your own and such like that.

So I’m sure they must have systems in play, right, where you

can kind of get closer to maybe a 90 or 93%.


So even inside of a lab, everything isn’t perfect.

So naturally they’re going to duplicate more plants than

you need, so they can guarantee that they’re going

to deliver the numbers that you need.

But it’s also a long process if there’s one.

Well, it’s not really disadvantaged, but, I mean, taking

a cutting and rooting, it at home would take

about two weeks in a tissue culture lab.

The process can take 90 days, but that’s not a

big deal as long as you’re scheduling production accordingly.

But sorry, you had mentioned something about preservation,

which is what I thought you were getting

at, but I think I was wrong.

But this is really interesting regardless, please,

is that growers typically want to hold

on to a lot of different genetics.

Even if they’re only growing a few and selling

a few, they’ve got stuff that’s special to them,

stuff they want to breed within the future,

stuff that might be special to other people.

And so they end up holding onto

these plants that aren’t in production.

And inevitably what happens is they get

attacked by something, a disease or insect.

And so another benefit of tissue culture companies is they actually

can store genetics for you and they do it in a

form where it takes up hardly any space at all. Right?

They’re essentially freezing needs or getting them

as close to freezing as possible, and

they just halt the life cycle.

And it’s almost like a genetic library.

But in six months, if you decide that in nine

months you want to bring the bubble kush back into

production, you tell this tissue culture company they’ll take it

out of storage, they’ll start producing it and growing it.

And again, it’s guaranteed disease free.

You don’t have the hassle of it and all

you’re doing is giving these folks a date.

I need 1,000 bubble kush cuttings on September 1.

And if you’ve done that far enough

ahead of time and you’re working with

a competent propagator, it’s a done deal.

Can you transport that right now legally?

Is that different than like,

transporting clones across state lines?

So that’s an excellent point.

Some companies will not ship out of state.

So there are some large, very competent propagators that I

would love to refer to clients I work with.

But these folks will not ship outside of state.

Others will.

And they do that under the guise of hemp.

So they have a hemp license.

And if you think about it, it’s completely legal.

When you think about what is the definition of hemp,

it’s that less than 0.3% THC of dried weight.

And so a plantlet, even if this is like a 35%

THC flower, once it’s harvested, a plantlet, once it’s dried is

going to have almost a negligible amount of THC, if any.

So in theory it’s hemp.

If it’s tested in a lab, it’s hemp.

So these companies that do ship out of

state are doing it under a hemp license.

But like everything else

in cannabis, everything fluctuates.

It’s kind of a gray market.

So fortunately in more market yeah, if you

think Michigan, Colorado, California, within those states, there’s

propagators in Maine, they’re slowly coming online.

So we’ve got a few options

in Maine and Massachusetts as well.

And that’s going to happen over the

next few years across the US.

As states more and more states legalize, as those

markets mature, you’re going to see more tissue culture

companies pop up that service cannabis only because these

other companies that have been propagating agricultural crops for

decades, a lot of them won’t touch cannabis.

And you can understand why. Absolutely.

So one question I had was in terms of

the standard cloning process, is there a concern for

dilution of that kind of starter plant or that

mother plant, whatever that is referred to as?

Can that be kind of trimmed off of for eternity?

Is there an expiration to that?

I guess, again, as a retailer, I’m just so kind

of fascinated and ignorant, I suppose, to how that works.

So there’s opinions on both sides of the aisle.

And honestly, I’m not even sure where I

land on that because you have growers that

say you’ve got growers that have held onto

the same genetic material for years, sometimes decades.

And some people will say that there’s

something that’s called genetic drift, that the

more you propagate the plant, the more

drifts away from the original characteristics.

And you’ve got other folks that are taking

cuttings from the same plant for years, and

they say it’s the same, if not better.

So in my experience, I think the biggest risk

is that what you can have occasionally are mutations.

It’s not genetic drift, it’s just a sport

or a mutation, and that could create something

that’s genetically different from the mother plant.

But in my experience, and granted, I haven’t been growing

for 40 years, but I’ve been in cannabis for approaching

ten years, and so I haven’t seen it myself.

But the second I say that, there’ll be

ten other growers that will contest what I

say and say that absolutely, there’s a difference.

So, hot topic, but I can’t give

you a solid answer either way.

And before we wrap up, I probably

have another hot question for you.

But I’m curious because on the retail

side, I know systems like Metric, all

of our sales transactions goes into Metric.

We finalize those transfers from our

vendors, the cultivators, the processors that

comes to us, we receive them.

For us, Metrics a minimal hassle.

So can you help myself and some of

the other retailers maybe have a little empathy

on the cultivation side on what really goes

into the kind of track and trace program?

Because I hear it a lot, but when it’s

four buttons for us, it’s hard to empathize. Yeah.

So it can get tricky because as growers, we

need to track plant material from the get go,

even from the initial cutting of the stock plant.

And if there’s any problems or if any plants,

for whatever reason don’t make it, we need to

be very clear about removing those from inventory and

being specific about why those were removed from inventory.

So on the growing side, the better technology you

have, the easier your life is, which I guess

we could say about a lot of things.

But I’ve worked in facilities where we were using barcodes

and traditional barcode scanners, and those labels would get wet

after a couple of weeks with soil and irrigation, and

then it would be hard to read.

And sometimes standing inside these big

facilities, there’s so much equipment, the

WiFi signal isn’t that great.

So then the scanner isn’t reading, and you’re running

around the grow room trying to get a signal,

trying to read a barcode that isn’t clear in

the first place, and it’s a real headache.

But with RFID tags, life can be a lot easier.

Now, the infrastructure is a little bit more expensive,

but what it allows you to do essentially, is

instead of a barcode, it’s like a mini computer

chip inside of a tag on each plant.

And so you could literally walk into a grow

room with this handheld RFID scanner, do a scan

of the room, and within seconds, you’ve inventored literally

hundreds of plants if you’re within range.

Now, a step up from that

would actually be mounted stationary readers

throughout the greenhouse or production facility.

So you’re no longer scanning.

What happens is automatically, once these

plants move into or out of

a grow room, they’re automatically recorded.

Their movement is recorded.

Some facilities take it a step higher than that

and connect the RFID tag readers to their cameras.

So you could call up a certain idea of

a plant, and you could either visually or on

the computer, literally see it’s moving throughout the production

facility for the entire crop cycle.

And the goal here is one, to minimize labor.

So you’re not running around trying to get signal to

read bar codes, but you’re also complying with the state.

And that you know, where everything is at any moment.

And should you have an unannounced

audit, you can answer these folks’ questions.

You can tell what you have, where it

was, who moved it, all of that.

Do I want to know how much a system like that costs?

I don’t even know how much it cost.

No, I don’t have that number off the top of my head.

But I mean, this is technology in other

industries, so it’s not necessarily prohibitively expensive.

Perhaps given the size of the production

facility, it might be more of an

appropriate recommendation for others than maybe craft

growers that might not be so critical.

That makes sense.

So, Ryan, my last hot button question for

you, and this was a debate all morning,

so there’s a lot riding on this question.

So the question was, in regards to trimming, I

don’t want to work this with any bias.

So I’m trying to think of how the fight went down

and think of the most unbiased way to ask this.

In regards to trimming, is there a preference?

I guess it’s two parts.

Is there a preference to trimming when the

flower is cured or when the flower is fresh?

And if there is a preference, is there a

preference that is cost preferred to the cultivator versus

is there a preference on the consumer side?

So is there one way to do

it where the consumer is happier?

Is one way better because

the cultivator thinks it’s cheaper?

Or is there just a flat?

This is the best way to do it.

All the pressure is on you.

So in terms of quality, I think the best cannabis

flower is produced when you cut the plant and you

hang it dry and then you trim it by hand.

Or you mentioned curing, some people cut the

plant, they dry it, they cure it, and

then they do the final term by hand.

But regardless of which combination, in my experience and in

my opinion, because I’ve done it several ways, we dry

the plant first and then we trim it by hand.

Best quality is that way.

Now, not every cannabis production facility can afford that

because here’s the number we want to work with

one employee trims about a pound of dried cannabis

flower in an eight hour shift.

If you have a small outfit, that means you

and your buddies and maybe your mom for a

couple of days and you take care of it.

If you’re running a big facility, you need to either hire

the entire town or we need to automate the process.

So that doesn’t mean that if we can’t afford to

do it by hand, we’re just going to grow crap.

My recommendation is that we still dry the plant

first, and then we use an automated trim machine

that is built for handling dried cannabis flour.

Is there a difference between dry and cured?

Yeah, of course.

It’s essentially cured is a

more elongated period of drying.

What do we consider dry?

Oftentimes that’s determined by a lab.

It’s determined by the moisture

content inside of a flower.

And so that range is roughly nine to 13% moisture.

And so once your plant dries down to the point where it’s

9% to 13% moisture, you can package it and sell it.

If you smoke the flower, it

will burn easily in that stage.

Now, curing we could do that for a

few more weeks or a few more months.

And so it’s essentially you’re drawing it out a little

bit more, but it has more to do with the

change of the chemistry of the plant that happens.

Are you running for governor?

No, I don’t think I’d want that job.

That seems like a very diplomatic answer.

And if I was set it’s dried, it’s not

necessarily fresh, but it’s not necessarily cured.

Kind of in the middle. Right.

Think about curing almost as degradation,

but in a good way.

The flower degrades into slightly different chemical

structure, but it’s to our benefit.

It improves the flavor, the aroma.

Sometimes the color changes as well.

But you really reach a point where the

process should stop because it’s like anything.

If you hold on to it too long, it’s going to go bad.

So you really wouldn’t want to

cure anything longer than six months.

And as a grower, I don’t know if you had

some amazing flower, how you could just sit there and

look at it for six months without consuming it.

Yeah, that’s very true.

That would be a challenge.

Well, I will see if that answer suffices the debate

here with the team, but I greatly appreciate it, Ryan.

It is an incredible pleasure.

And now that your home base is not too far from

me, we’re going to have to grab lunch soon.

I can’t believe that the last time we talked was,

I think, right when the pandemic was really a thing.

That sounds right. Yeah.

So that’s just amazing to

kind of follow everybody’s journey.

So thank you so much for joining us today.

Oh, it’s my pleasure. Anytime. Awesome.

And thank you all for tuning in

with another episode of Weed Buzz radio.

We’ll catch you in the next show.

Budz Emporium Announces 710 Sales

For the weekend starting July 8th and ending July 10th Budz Emporium Recreational Dispensary in Medway, Maine has announced their weekend specials. The first offer is the 710 oils and concentrates. When you buy 1 cartridge or concentrate product you will receive 5% off your entire order. This includes all product within an order that also has a cartridge or concentrate product. That savings increases when you buy 2 or 3 concentrates. If you purchase 3 concentrates you will receive 15% off your entire order. If you only buy 3 carts you will receive 15% off however if you buy 3 carts and an ounce of flower the entire order will be 15% off. This is an incredible savings. On top of the 710 oil special being offered Budz Emporium just announced that they will have a super exclusive deal on quarter ounces of flower. From today though Sunday, July 10th, 2022 Quarter ounces of flower will range from $40 – $70. Always the best prices and the best value at Budz Emporium.

Intentional Living with Cannabis Research Scientist, Riley Kirk

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Weed Budz Radio!  I am your host, Ry Russell and today we have a special guest, Riley Kirk, Ph.D. Cannabis Research Scientist and Educator. 

Join our discussion of the importance of using intention to heal, nourish, and make lifestyle changes to promote healthy living.  Learn about Riley’s journey of educating individuals across the country about equipping themselves to make good choices about how and when to use traditional Pharma vs natural remedies such as cannabis and her desire to create supplements that are ethically harvested and safer for consumers.

We have lots to discuss, join us!

Riley Kirk
 personal pages: @cannabichem on tiktok and instagram!
instagram @profoundnaturals & @smokenol
Host: Ry Russell
WeedBudz RadioSupport the show


Hey, budz.

Welcome back to another episode of WeedBudz radio.

And, of course, I’m your host Ry Russell, and I want

to talk to you all today about healthy cannabis living.

We often do not put a lot of intention

necessarily into the things that we consume or how

we consume them, and I know that I definitely

don’t, at least not as much as I should.

And so that’s why I’m really excited to

introduce our next guest to you, Riley Kirk. And Riley,

welcome to Weedbudz Radio.

Hey, thanks. I’m stoked to be here, and both of our

names are kind of Ry, which is fun. Yeah.

But yeah, I’m excited to talk about intention

because I live my whole life around intention. Amazing.

And Riley is joining us from New Hampshire and received

her doctorate from the University of Rhode Island and also

happens to be a Maine native like myself and grew

up not too far away from each other.

And Riley is a cannabis research scientist, and

she educates hundreds of thousands of individuals every

day across all of her platforms.

And so we’ll definitely have links to all

of her channels in our show notes.

So you’ll definitely want to continue to follow Riley.

Well, I want to jump in because we get into

the cannabis side of things in a little bit.

But, Riley, I saw on your Instagram, I saw you

making your own supplements, first of all, and that got

me completely intrigued, and why are you doing this?

And then I got to learn a little bit

more about your lifestyle, so I’d love for you

to kind of share that with everyone.

Yeah, I think it’s really cool that you’re interested

in learning about this, because usually when people are

talking to me, they’re just trying to get me

to feed them cannabis knowledge, and that’s great, but

it’s so much more than that.

It’s not just cannabis is going to

solve all of your problems in life.

It often includes some lifestyle changes and just

being aware of what’s going into your body.

So I kind of take this to an extreme.

I am fortunate that I have enough property that I

can grow most of my medicinal plants and supplements.

My husband and I are super passionate about harvesting

most of our meat through trapping, hunting, fishing.

We grow most of our vegetables,

and we also grow our medicine.

So part of the reason I started making my

own medicine, I’ll get into the other part, too.

But in graduate school, I was working with

the FDA on a project where they were

looking into supplements that have been adulterated, meaning

that there was something else other than what

was supposed to be in that product.

So sometimes this gets intense when there’s a toxic

plant that’s included into a, quote, medicinal plant.

So then they’d have to understand

how that happened, et cetera.

But a lot of these supplement companies, if you

were to just go to Walmart and buy a

ginkgo or ashwaganda supplement, they’re not harvested ethically.

They’re often like very young children harvesting all these

plants, and they’re kind of just shipping them over

for us to mass extract and then throw them

on the shelves in a capsule.

So I think one thing that I’m very passionate about

is knowing exactly what I’m putting into my body.

If I’m growing those supplements, I know what they

look like, I know what active compounds are in

them, and I know how to extract them.

And that is why I choose to do that.

And I think the other problem here is, if you’re

taking supplements that are in capsules or something like that,

that is taking away this component of intention.

Because as Americans, we’re living such busy, busy

lives that we want things to be

as quick and accessible as possible.

So if I read on the Internet that ashwagandha

is going to help me with my stress in

my extremely stressful life, I’m just going to run

downstairs and take a pill every morning that has

ashwagandha in it and then race off to work.

That’s not how traditional medicine works.

Traditional medicine is taking the

time to produce that medicine.

And as you’re making that medicine, whether you’re making

a tea out of leaves or roots or a

tincture, by extracting things in alcohol, you’re intentionally paying

attention to what you’re trying to heal.

And this sounds super, supper hippie, and I am definitely classified

as a hippie, but there has been evidence that this

helps by actually putting your brain towards the actual issue

and saying, I’m trying to be less stressed.

So for this next 20 minutes,

I’m going to prepare a medicine.

And as I’m preparing that medicine, I’m

going to think about why I’m stressed.

I’m going to think about how I can

help with that stress and all of that’s

kind of incorporated into this traditional medicinal approach

at relieving these different issues in their lives.

The same thing can be said for cannabis, too.

Cannabis is absolutely a medicinal plant,

and there are hundreds of different

reasons that people are using cannabis.

And you can use that in multiple ways.

You can just be absolutely stoned for

your entire life and absolutely obliterated.

You’d use tons and tons of THC, and for

some people, that is the medicinal component of it.

If you suffer from chronic pain, you probably do

need a lot of THC to get through your

days, and it’s going to be different for everyone.

But if you’re using it for mental health issues or

some other issues, using it in a lower dose and

really having to pay attention to why you’re using it.

Are there other lifestyle changes that you can

make that can also assist in that medicine?

Maybe cannabis brings your brain to a better spot,

but then when you’re in that better spot mentally,

you need to shift your thoughts and energy into

thinking about how you can improve your life.

Cannabis isn’t just like an instant switch to

change everything in your life to be better.

You still need to put through the effort to get there.

But I think cannabis can help you get there

for sure, but it is a multi step process.

You still do need to pay attention to

what is causing these problems in your life.

Is it just cannabis that you need to

help that are there other natural products?

Are their lifestyle changes?

Are there people in your life you need to get rid of?

I mean.

It’s incredibly complicated and of course it’s

going to be different for absolutely everyone.

But I think the more that we can be

vulnerable and take the time to pay attention to

our medicine and how it’s helping us.

I think the benefits of cannabis and other

natural products can be so, so much greater than

just taking it in a capsule form or

just like medicating without actually thinking about why

you’re medicating and what you’re trying to solve.

And that’s why I thought it was so critical

to talk to you about this because I feel

like a lot of individuals will bring one approach.

This is a medicinal product for this

reason, or someone else say, well, this

is a recreational product for this reason.

And really it’s part of a lifestyle

and it’s part of a regimen.

And I like that you really kind of hit home

that it’s not a cure all for these things.

And your body is this big machine

and it requires work and effort.

And I think when I was watching your video, like, what

hit me the most was like, man, that’s really cool.

I would love to make my own

supplements and probably learn more about the

supplements that I am taking in whole.

But the way that you just described the process being

so much more than just, oh, well, I want to

make my own supplements, there’s the intention and your mind

is processing all sorts of things during that time.

So it really is more than just

getting high or using cannabis for something.

It’s about the lifestyle.

And so I’m really glad, and I’m glad that our

followers are going to be able to follow you because

you have a lot of tips and tricks about that.

Yeah, I am a scientist, but I am also someone who

has used cannabis every day since I’ve been 14 years old.

Cannabis is a part of my life, a

part of the culture of my friends.

It’s part of what just shaped my life.

But a lot of that was using intentionally and if I

ever felt like it wasn’t intentional or if it was causing

any damage, that I would adjust my lifestyle from there.

And I think that’s the hardest part about educating

on cannabis is we’re not all the same.

We’re not all consuming the same way,

we’re not all consuming the same products.

We all have different tolerance, we all

have different past traumas, mental health issues.

I mean, there’s so many factors.

So often I’ll get these comments like, hey Riley,

how many hours before bed should I smoke?

And it’s like, I have no idea.

I have no idea what would be best for you.

You really do have to experiment and this is kind

of where intention comes again, if your intention is to

for writing things down, especially when you’re learning about cannabis

and what products work for you.

Writing things down, saying, okay, I took this dose

on this day, I was suffering from this.

And then kind of going from there and saying, well,

this worked really well, this didn’t work at all because

I cannot tell you what’s going to work with your

body and I don’t think anybody can.

We can help guide you to maybe

here’s the best extraction method for this.

That’s a way I can tell you what to do.

But telling you a dose and the time of day, etc.

It’s not really going to help everyone in the same way.

And that leads me to ask you, you have

this, I don’t want to say traditional academic background,

but there is a traditional aspect to your studies,

but there’s also the untraditional aspect of clearly you

do a lot of research that’s outside of what

you studied at university.

And I’m interested, how does modern medicine

and plant medicine and just kind of

that whole living, how do they coexist?

Yeah. And I will start by saying yes, I

absolutely have a traditional academic route for education,

but I don’t believe that that’s the way

that all of us need to be educated.

I think there’s many other routes just

from life experiences that we can learn

just as much valuable information.

But I think I kind of speak anti-pharma

often and I know for a lot of people

that might make them feel bad because they’re on

pharmaceutical medications, but I do think there is a

time and a place for pharmaceutical medications and I

think they have brought people a lot of benefits.

But that being said, if you want to take your medicine into

your own hands, it is going to be a lot of work.

It’s not going to be as simple as a

pharmaceutical medication where you just take a pill every

day and it will change essentially your brain chemistry.

I have a lot of friends now

that are trying different things, whether it’s

cannabis, whether it’s psilocybin containing mushrooms, whether

it’s other psychedelic compounds to help essentially

reset their brain architecture.

And this is really hard because not everybody in

your audience, not everybody in the world, really understands

the way that our neural networks work.

I mean, I don’t understand how they work because

they are so complex and they’re overlapping and we

don’t really understand why certain conditions happen.

So I think it is very safe if you’re

in a really bad spot to get on pharmaceutical

medications, to get yourself into a better spot.

And then when you’re in that better spot, really

think about what you’re putting into your body. Study.

I mean, if you just Google Lexapro and molecular

mechanism, it sounds really fancy, but there are articles

out there that are meant for patients, that are

meant for people who don’t know anything about drugs

or pharmacology to learn more.

And I know it’s going to be hard and

you’re going to have to look up some definitions

of certain things, but this is your brain.

It’s really, really important.

Like you are altering the chemistry of your

brain every time you take these pharmaceutical medications

and every time you take cannabis.

So, although it is a little bit more work,

I think that’s the best thing you can do

to become more aware of whether it’s pharmaceuticals or

cannabis, what it’s doing to your brain.

And then you can kind of learn over time,

even like a good cannabis strain to use.

If you say cannabis strains and ADHD, you

can find these different forums online that say,

hey, this strain worked for me for this.

And then this is where it

gets a little more complicated.

We know that different cannabis strains

are producing different active compounds.

So if you see that 40 people say that this

strain worked for ADHD, go look at that strain up

on Leafly and look at what’s in that strain.

Is it low THC?

Is it high THC?

Does it have CBD?

Does it not have CBD?

What’s the dominant terpene in that strain?

You can start to learn these different things.

So even if that product is not available to you,

try a similar product, see if it works for you.

Try it in a low dose first.

If that doesn’t work, try in a medium dose.

Try it in a high dose.

It’s such a game of just trial and error.

But if you find your perfect

product, it will change your life.

And then hopefully, you can slowly wane off

of the pharmaceuticals and you can be in

charge of your medicine, your brain.

But that’s not for everyone.

I mean, if you have really severe paranoid

schizophrenia, I would not be trying cannabis strains

just willy nilly and these different doses.

I would stay on my medication because that is the

safest way to live your life at that point.

Obviously talk to your doctor, get these opinions.

If your doctor wants to put you on a

bunch of different pharmaceuticals, maybe let them know that

you’re not really comfortable with that and can you

try some other stuff and then report back to

them with what works, depending on your doctor,

Sometimes they’re going to be really cool

with that, sometimes they’ll be uncomfortable with

that, but it’s definitely worth the conversation,

at least in my opinion.

It absolutely is.

I know it’s something that I’m

very engaged with my doctors on.

I have a book here from one of the doctors of

a clinic that I went to to kind of study my

brain because I was fascinated about it and I really do.

It’s so intimidating trying to kind of

figure out where to get information.

And it’s one of the questions our audience had

for you is what are some resources that people

can go to to kind of learn for themselves?

Because I’m always telling people to

document their journeys, document everything.

Obviously we also work in a dispensary and so we’re

always encouraging our guests to write down what time you

started your session and how much you had and we’ll

dial it in with you over time, but I can’t

make any promises on any of it today and so

it’s really going to have to be tailored to you.

And so I love the way that you speak on

that and obviously the way that we got connected was

a board member sent me one of your videos on

the Emerald Cup classification and dominant terpenes, and that has

at least so far, made the largest impact in my

cannabis selections and in kind of how I’ve dialed in

what’s best for this body, anyway.

Did you find that one of those

categories that you’ve previously kind of been drawn

towards in the past, like your favorite strains

all fit in one of those categories?

Yeah. So I’m a Sativa individual.

Yeah. Me too.

So anything with those citrus based terpenes is going

to just absolutely be the best thing for me.

And then after dinner, I can have a very

low dose of an Indica and that’s it.

I don’t need a 27, 28, 30% Indica to go to sleep.

That’s just my body.

However, maybe 4 years ago, it would have taken a

quarter at 30% THC because I lacked intention and I

lacked responsibility of how I was treating my body.

And so just really monitoring that kind of dialed

things back and dialed things in for what I

think is now a much healthier lifestyle.

Well, right. There’s always this debate about

is cannabis healthy to consume?

People ask me that all the time

and I’m like, what do you mean?

Is it healthy?

It helps a ton of people.

It helps millions of people live

their day to day lives.

So in that sense, yes, it is healthy, but there

are many people who use it to escape reality, too.

They can’t do anything unless

they’re feeling extremely high.

And I think that’s where you need to look back on your

intentions and say, is this really helping me, or is this kind

of a cloak to be able to interact with society?

And as you said, for a period of

time, you can use that much cannabis.

If it can get you through a bad

time, that is totally fine, I think.

But over time, you do need to revisit that and

say, okay, is there a more sustainable way that I

can use cannabis that benefits my life in more ways?

And I’m still very functional during the day.

I can still wake up on time, I can still

go to my job, I can still interact with society.

Those are the times you kind of have to revisit it.

But it’s super situational, and if you’re going

through a bad time, then embrace it and

it can help you through that bad time.

Absolutely. I know we’re running out of time for today, so I

want to get to some of the questions that some of

our team and some of our listeners had burning.

We’ll probably have to do a part

2 someday because there’s so many.

But first and foremost, one of the ones that

was asked that I thought really made a lot

of sense was, is it possible to create concentrates

that could be utilized at a lower temperature?

And what does high temperature concentrates

actually do to the body?

So thank you, Julia, for that question.

Yeah, so this is kind of what our team studies.

Not specifically concentrates, but we study how heat

affects the cannabinoid profile of your product.

So our whole thing is harvesting cannabinoids from

smoke and making that into a product.

So what we do know, at really high temperatures, some

of the active compounds in cannabis can kind of break

apart and they can form some harmful compounds.

I think probably the best known one

is Benzene, which is a carcinogen.

It can be bad for you for sure,

but at low temperature, low temperature dabbing is

absolutely possible, especially with the modern ways that

people are consuming, even something like the Puffco

Peak Pro, I think it’s called.

That I think is a great, great rig because you

can control the temperature so easily that you can

prevent some of those harmful compounds from being produced.

It will require slightly different production ways

of producing those compounds just to make

sure your products are going to essentially

vaporize at that temperature.

But that is possible, I always say.

Well, with dabbing, I like to prevent really

high temperatures because it is a concentrate.

So if there are harmful things being produced, it’s

going to be produced in a higher concentration.

We all know that when you take a

joint, you’re lighting that on fire too, right?

And that’s a really high temperature as well.

But the average concentration of these cannabinoids and flower

is a lot less than it is with concentrates

because the name suggests it’s a concentrate.

So I think a lot of people

again will ask, well, is smoking bad for you?

Is smoking good for you?

People have been smoking for thousands of

years, and we don’t have any rigorous

adverse effects from smoking either.

So again, if you like the effects of low or

high dabs of smoking or not smoking using in moderation,

I think is the best thing you can possibly do.

Smoking anything is going to cause

some harmful compounds being produced.

Dabbing anything is going to produce some compounds that

we probably don’t want to be inhaling either.

But I get so many questions like, smoking really hurts

my throat, but I want to keep doing it.

And I’m like, dude, if smoking really hurts

your throat, you need to stop doing it.

That’s your body telling you to stop doing that.

So with anything cannabis related, if

it hurts, don’t do it.

If you’re feeling like you’re coughing a lot or you’re

coughing up phlegm all the time or something like that,

that’s your body trying to get rid of things.

So listen to your body.

If your body is telling you not to do

something in one way or another, you should listen

to it and try to consume a different way

that’s more compatible with your body.

Because our bodies are sensitive, and if we’re going

to do the same thing every single day for

multiple times a day, we need to make sure

we’re not causing more damage than we are good.

And Riley, I don’t want you to

just do the soft plug there.

I know you’re studying a lot of this, and so

do you mind, can you kind of sneak us behind

the curtain, if you will, about kind of what your

work and what your companies are working on?

Yeah, so we have a patent pending

technology that we invented to capture the

active compounds from cannabis from the smoke.

So normally it’s extracted from the actual bud,

the flower, but we realized that people prefer

smoking, and there’s a reason people prefer smoking.

And we’ve been studying it and we

realized that the chemistry is different in

smoked cannabis versus not smoked cannabis.

So I think the best example of

this, just to help conceptualize it, is

THC, when exposed to high temperatures, partially

turns into CBN cannabinol, a different cannabinoid.

So this isn’t just happening with THC, though.

This is happening with pretty

much every compound in cannabis.

When it’s lit on fire or when it’s exposed

to high heat, it’s producing other, like we call

them, daughter compounds of the parent compounds

THC, it’s producing daughter compounds from

that compound because the high heat

has transformed it into different compounds.

And they’re not harmful for you, they’re

still cannabinoids, but they’re interacting with your

body in a slightly different way.

So that’s what we’re studying.

But we also now make products using this process.

So the process is the smoke and all process.

And we make hemp based products that we literally

take cannabis flower, put it in an oven, burn

it, collect those cannabinoids from our patent pending filter,

which makes an extract, and then we incorporate that

extract into topicals and tinctures right now.

So our tagline is we smoked it for you.

And it’s really cool though.

So it is like a CBD based product, but it

contains other minor and rare cannabinoids that are produced from

the smoking process that no other products contain.

So one of the most abundant ones is

CBT, but we have CBC, CBG, CBL.

There’s so many of these different compounds that no

other products have, and that’s why we think that

they’re working better for people compared to just CBD

isolate thrown in a cream and mixed together because

there’s only so much that one compound can do.

You kind of need that molecular diversity

because chronic conditions are really complex.

You need complex products to combat complex conditions.

That’s amazing.

And how can we find these products?

Are these products ready?

Can any of us go online and buy some?

Oh, they’re ready and they’ve been selling great.

You can find them at

And we also have an Instagram,

but also we do wholesale.

If any dispensaries, CBD shops, whoever is looking

to sell our products in your stores, we

would love to work with you.

I am the person who answers the wholesale

email, so if you want to talk to

me, then just email me through our wholesale.

Amazing. Well, you’ll probably have an email there soon.

If you want some of these products at Budz Emporium,

just let us know.

Well, Riley, we will be sure to add all of the

links in our show notes so everyone can connect with you.

What is the best channel for people to follow you on?

Yeah, definitely.

I post more on TikTok than any other channel and that’s

just because one, it’s really easy to make videos, which is

why I do it, because I’m kind of lazy, and then

it has the most viewership, you can reach, the most people.

And I kind of target people who are newer

to cannabis and natural products as my audience, but

I get deleted off of platforms all the time.

So my Instagram is also @cannabichem, that’s

the same name on my TikTok.

And then our company pages are Smoking all

and Profound Naturals and we’re on Instagram there.

Perfect. Well, we will have those.

Thank you so much for joining us and I

really do look forward to having you again.

Yeah, I’d love to be on again.

We can talk more about

the endocannabinoid system and everything

science and cannabis.

I love it.

And of course, we are so grateful to all of you

for tuning in to another episode of WeedBudz Radio.

We look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Budz Emporium Establishes Maine’s First Recreational Best Price Guarantee.


Yesterday, Ry Russell, Owner / Operator of Budz Emporium took to social media to share the following:

“We made a commitment to our community to provide the very best Budz for the very best value and we continue to honor that! We are now introducing our Best Budz/Best Value plan. Effective Immediately; should you find the EXACT same product carried at Budz Emporium Recreational Dispensary Medway, Maine at another Maine Adult-Use / Recreational retailer we will match it, period.

Our menu has been completely updated and much research was conducted to ensure that we offer the absolute best value there is.

We love serving this incredible community and we are all growing together!

Have an incredible 4th of July and we will see you soon! We are open our normal hours, everyday 10-7.

Sincerely, Ry”

Budz Emporium was the first Adult-Use store North of Bangor, Maine. A small family operated business in the Katahdin region. Now, they look to set the tone again. Ry stated that he felt this move although a bit bold also added a layer of accountability for the industry, in whole.

Ultimately this move could be seen as slightly risky with already razor thin margins and taxes that can exceed almost 40%, especially considering there are no deductions or protections for cannabis businesses. However, I see it as an important step for ensuring the best value for the community. Not just here in Katahdin, but across the State. If someone can afford to offer a product we carry for less than myself, then I best honor it. It is not the customers fault that I am not big enough to order large quantities or maybe there was something I missed when I was selecting product. Either way, I feel like it is important to guarantee to my customers that they will always receive the best value. For those that have followed me since my days at the Saco Drive-in I think its pretty clear that value and community are two of my most fundamental values.

Ry Russell

We asked Ry, if there was any fine print on the offer and he said, “No”, and recognizes it could be abused. He says that if he operates with integrity then he believes most of the public will as well. It is pretty easy to verify things like competing offers with todays technology. As long as it is a publicly offered price, Ry is committed to being that one stop shop for complete cannabis value.

Budz Emporium is now open 7 days a week from 10a-7pm. Offering 40+ strains and a great collection of vape products, concentrates, beverages, edibles and more! Budz Emporium was also the first store to offer the $99 ounce in partnership with Nova Farms, limited quantities available so visit soon or put yours on reserve by the calling 2077231634.

Contact us today!

Beware of Tourists with CJ Britton

Welcome to this episode of Weed Budz Radio!  I am Ry Russell and joining me today is Founder of  Juicebox Collective and my friend, CJ Britton. 

CJ recently wrote a compelling article, “Beware of Tourists” that inspired my thoughts about who they are and where they show up in everyone’s lives. Join us as we discuss how tourists are not just the ones we interact with in the traditional sense, but those that are part of our professional and personal lives.

Beware of Tourists Article by CJ:

Guest: CJ Britton

Host: Ry Russell
WeedBudz Radio

Support the show

Hey budz, welcome back to another

episode of WeedBudz Radio.

I’m your host Ry, and I’m here in

the studio in the North Maine woods.

And for those of you watching, you can

see the beautiful northern lights behind me and

here at the studio of Budz Emporium.

As you learned the last time we talked, we opened

an adult use store here in the North Maine woods

and we’re just having an incredible time here.

And I feel very blessed to be a part of this community.

And one of the things that makes

not just Budz Emporium special, but the

whole region special, really is the community.

The North Maine woods, Baxter State Park,

Katahdin woods and water.

There’s so much beauty up here.

And rafting, skydiving camping, hiking, mountain climbing,

you can do all of that here.

So I definitely encourage all of you, if you have

not taken a trip to Maine, specifically here in the

Katahdin region, I definitely encourage you to do so.

And of course, come see us at Budz Emporium.

But one of the things that I noticed in the last

couple of weeks, especially as we gear up to having more

tourists enter the business and enter the region, I’m looking for

ways to increase tourism to really share what we have here

in the Katahdin region with the world.

There’s just so much beauty up here and

so much that you can escape from. It really is.

There’s very little cell service in many of the areas

here, which just makes it amazing. When I think of

how do we increase tourism, and then I hear things

like Baxter State Park, having a cap on the number

of visitors that can go to the park every year,

I’m conflicted because I absolutely want to preserve the beauty.

I also want to see a region that

has been hit with extreme economic hardships to

build back and to build forward.

And we have to do that with a balance

of embracing tourism and welcoming tourism and educating.

We have to educate these campers and hikers as they come

into the state about how to treat this space right.

We need to be educated when we go to

other cultures and other community spaces as well.

So this all got me thinking, and I was on

LinkedIn, and I’m very rarely on social media these days.

And while I’m having this debate in my mind

about tourism and locals and what does this all

mean and how do we increase one?

Do we need both?

I came across this article and

it was titled “Beware of Tourists”.

And it hit me because as a lot of you know,

I made my start in my career with a drive

in movie theater built on tourism, so “Beware of Tourists”.

And I started reading it, and then I realized

the article I’m reading is a good friend of

mine and a friend that you all might remember

that we went to Alabama to visit, and we

ended up working on a Delta-8 project together.

And some of you might remember the Rise and

Grind, which was my favorite product that we created.

A lot of that was in collaboration with my friend CJ,

who is joining us today, who I want to really share

this article with all of you and help, maybe you think

about what is a tourist in your life.

So, CJ, thank you so much for

joining me on WeedBudz Radio. Man, thanks for having me.

It’s good to be here.

I can’t believe that this is your first

appearance on WeedBudz Radio because we met so

many years ago through your brother.

That’s another podcast.

That’s another podcast.

And then just everything kind of continued to grow

between us and working on different projects and brainstorming,

number of different things late at night.

So it’s just been a pleasure to, one, get to

know you and an honor to be your friend.

And I’m really proud of you because

this piece in particular, it’s inspired and

it’s inspired conversations outside of this dynamic.

I’ve shared this article with other people, and then they’ll

tell me that they shared it with someone else.

So, I mean, this article is definitely kind

of grown into something, and it’s been relevant

for a lot of people’s lives.

So would you kind of tell us, what should

we be aware of and what is a tourist?

Yeah, absolutely, man.

So I’m pumped to be here.

We’ve known each other for I just did

the math in my head almost 3 years.

It was a pre-COVID friendship, which means

it’s a real friendship, my friend.

We need to get that as a tag

on LinkedIn, pre-COVID LinkedIn connection or something.

This article is inspiring because, similar to

you, I live in a destination.

So I live in the panhandle of Florida between

Panama City and Destin, which immediately most people think

of spring break on MTV and things like that.

The region I live in is called 30A.

And if you’re from the south, you know where it is.

It’s this little strip of 17-mile beach that’s curated.

It’s all been heavily designed in a certain way.

If you’ve seen The Truman Show, for all of you, that

was filmed in my area, and so it’s kind of like

a little Maybury on the beach, which is awesome.

But one of the interesting things about where

I live is two and a half million

people come down here every year.

14,000 people live here full time.

So similar to you.

It’s a huge amount of people coming

in to visit, and it’s wonderful. Right?

The entire area really revolves around

the tourist industry that comes from

Dallas, Nashville, and Atlanta primarily.

And what’s great about it is the energy is amazing.

I can go out tonight and it feels

like somebody’s birthday every time you go out.

Everywhere is packed.

People are happy.

They’ve been saving up all year to come here.

It’s not cheap.

And they’re spending a couple of

$100 on a meal and wine.

And so it’s just easy to get caught up in the energy.

But afterwards, all the excitement kind of fades away

and you wake up the next day and there’s

plastic everywhere and there’s a car in a ditch

and a golf cart crashed into another golf cart

because some dad couldn’t handle his alcohol.

And so it got me thinking a lot about

people who come here and enjoy the beauty, right?

We have to have tourists. We just do.

It’s part of who we are. And it’s awesome, right?

We all live in America.

We have beautiful landscape.

But there’s another thing to be said about locals,

and it got me thinking a lot about the

people that live here and really make it remarkable.

I’ve made this mistake in my businesses multiple times.

It’s a lesson I’m still learning.

You get caught up in the excitement of

people who see you for a very small

sliver of who you really are, right?

Coming to see the beach, go into a restaurant to

eat or drink, seeing you for who you are as

a hustler or a marketer or maybe one thing you

did, but they don’t really know you.

They don’t take the time.

They also don’t really respect kind of what it is

to be here locally and take consideration into that.

And I’ve made a lot of partnerships with

people that I would say are more tourists.

And as I was thinking through this article,

which has been really funny, to watch it

take its life on its own and how

much it’s resonated with people has been incredible.

But it’s a good practice to evaluate

the people you’re doing business with on.

Is this person just seeing me for

maybe one, two aspects of my life?

Are they just tourists kind of coming

through my life, enjoying this really specific

moment and then moving out?

Or is this someone who’s going to stay

and dig in with me and Ry?

First of all, you, my friend,

are local status in my life.

So glad to have you on board for that.

And it’s hard, right?

Like you live in Maine.

You have down months and it’s

quiet and places are closed. I live at the beach.

Do you know what happens here in February? Nothing.

It’s cold. We’re in the northern panhandle, so we do get

cold weather and you have to kind of hunker

down and weather the good and the bad.

It’s the same in business.

Like who are the people that are going to be

with you, that are going to weather the ups and

downs, not just peaks, not just the tourist season,

not just the time when it’s fun to go out.

There’s always something going on.

Who are the people that are going to sit here

in February when it’s 50 degrees and the wind is blowing

25 miles an hour off the beach and you can’t

do anything but sit inside and dig in with you?

And so the article really was inspired by

that and it’s been fun to share.

I don’t think it’s that original of a thought.

It’s been kind of encapsulated in different ways, but

I’m glad to hear it resonated with you and

hopefully it does with other people as well.

And I think it resonates in a lot of different facets.

It resonates in kind of that literal facet,

that which you and I came from, of

the natural beauty that surrounds us.

And I think we both quickly equated it to some

of the business dealings that we both have been a

part of and both have seen and witnessed and sometimes

I was giving the example a lot of times like

there’s shooting stars and there’s superstars.

And superstars are often the more kind of longevity in the

industry and they’re a little quieter where the shooting stars come

in very loud, maybe raise a fair amount of money and

then they’re gone in a year or two.

And there’s examples of that in personal lives where maybe

things are going really well in your life and you

have everything that you could ever imagine around you, friends

and relationships, and then maybe things are not so great

and that pool is much smaller.

Well, you learn really quickly like

who that inner circle is.

And I think that’s the most

important thing of all of it.

And so it really does relate whether it’s

business or friendships or just saving the beaches,

it’s something that we can all think about.

And so, CJ, I know with your business specifically, you

help companies in a number of different facets and so

define a little bit like what a tourist is, what

is an ideal customer look like for you and for

your team to work with, along with the types of

projects that you have been kind of crushing that.

Absolutely. And it’s great that you’re in the

cannabis space because you get this more

than anyone else, especially emerging industries, right?

A tourist very similar to a shooting star is

someone just trying to find a quick buck, right?

I saw it when I did some consulting in COVID.

I saw it when I’ve

worked with different cannabis businesses.

You can tell who’s really passionate about the

actual business and industry and who’s just there

to make a quick buck. And so, with me, with Juicebox,

I do consulting for a host of different businesses.

We really are a marketing agency.

We do a bunch of different things to help

small but growing businesses really become their best.

And you find out really quickly on a

first call if someone’s passionate, like a founder

is really passionate about something, right?

Because the startup space is full of people who

have a little extra cash and are like, I

found this niche thing, I’m going to do it.

And then you have people who

are almost borderline psychotic about it.

And I love those people because they

know it and they breathe it.

I think you and I have

had this exact conversation before.

I don’t work with a founder who doesn’t

try, believe or use their own product.

From if you’re developing a construction hardware and you’ve

never picked up a hammer in your life to

running a cannabis brand and you don’t enjoy cannabis,

it’s just, authenticity is so few and far between

nowadays and startups don’t understand that is the one

advantage they have over big businesses.

Big businesses are not authentic. They never will be.

And it’s okay, right?

Like, it’s like the tourists and the locals.

There’s a place for everyone.

Big businesses are going to do stuff and write

checks and we love our people, but at the

end of the day, they’re here to make money.

Small businesses are here to make a difference

because it’s you and me and maybe two

or three other people at most.

And so the idea is if you’re really in this

to make a difference, that’s beautiful and I hope you

achieve all your dreams if that’s one of those that

you want to grow into a big business and you

just get way larger than you can handle. Awesome.

We need both.

But I think the problem is there’s a lot of people

who lie to themselves and when you engage with them, you’re

the one that’s going to get burnt in it.

I want to be a small business.

I want to make a difference.

When really it’s just dollars in the back of your mind.

And what happens is in startup

world, you get beaten down.

You have to do things that

may not be in your wheelhouse.

You have to be a Swiss Army knife when really you

just want to be the knife or the fork or something.

You have to do all the things and you

get burned out and it just doesn’t last.

And so the only thing that keeps you going is

that ultimate belief and purpose and your ability to go,

I know what I’m doing, I know my why.

I’m going to make a difference

and I’m sticking with it.

And you should really ask yourself, would you do

it if you were doing it for free?

I think at this stage and you and

I both do work in other industries as

well, outside of our primary things, especially on

the media production side, is the money worth

the dynamic? Is always the question and something

that we’re always trying to figure out.

And luckily we now are in a position where

kind of what you’re saying, like, if I wouldn’t

necessarily be buds with you, it doesn’t mean that

you’re the wrong fit for maybe your own show

or your own site or what have you.

I will fail you because it’s not the right fit

and I won’t be able to see the whole vision.

And I think you and I kind of

got into that phase, right, where a lot

of people will just say, yes, there’s $1,000. Yes.

And then it comes with a laundry list of

things that comes with that at this point. Like, yes.

Obviously everybody should earn a keep

in whatever their keep is.

But it is fun to just watch some of

those dynamics over the last couple of years begin

to shift in that mindset, begin to shift because

if you wouldn’t do it for free,

the money is not necessarily going to make it fun.

It might make it easier to do, to accomplish, but

I think it’s a lot better, especially being up here

in the cultivation centers, I see people trimming that enjoy

trimming and enjoy being around the plant, right?

Like, I don’t I personally do not like trimming

and it wouldn’t be a fun activity for me.

You have to pay me to do it.

But there’s people where, like, it’s a

hobby, it’s very artistic, it’s very therapeutic.

So it’s awesome to be a part

and to continue to witness this develop.

So CJ, what’s next for you, man? What do you have

shakin’ and bakin’?

What are you looking for, man?

So I’ve been consulting with a couple of businesses.

I’m from Birmingham, Alabama originally, now living in

Florida, so thankfully I have some connections there.

And then obviously the world is small because of the

internet, so I have a few different clients I’m working

for in healthcare, cannabis actually as well, and CPG.

So beverages, snacks, things like that.

I really enjoy that space a lot.

And so doing some different consulting.

I have a couple of companies who are looking

to me to be like a fractional marketing director.

My big pitch is I’m always looking

for the why, not the how.

So spoiler alert to everybody listening if you need

a how, I just need social media management.

I just need design Fiverr.

Is your best friend. Never going to beat that rate.

But if you need someone to take your hows and really

build it into a why that’s going to make someone pause,

which is the hardest thing to do in the world nowadays,

is to make a potential customer go, hmm.. they might be onto

something, that might be something I want to try, then I’m

your guy and that’s what I really enjoy doing.

And so you have to kind of think exceptionally.

You can’t just think nuts and bolts, but that’s really

what I enjoy doing and there’s nothing that gets me

more amped and talking to a founder who gets high

on their own supply, to use a cannabis analogy.

I love working with people like that.

I love the energy of startup founders who are

just believing what they do are small business owners.

And I think that’s where I really can help people grow.

So that’s what I’ve been focusing on, enjoying

it and obviously getting out in the sun

with my family because it’s hot.

So if I’m one of those small business owners, and

I know that I madly need some proper assistance in

these categories, what’s the best way to contact you?

My LinkedIn. You can find me on there or

There’s an easy contact form, it will come straight

to my phone and I’ll respond very quickly.

Perfect. And of course we will have all of those

links in the show notes over at and we’ll

be sure to add a direct link to CJ’s article

so you can check that out over again

at, we’re so excited and so grateful to

have you tuning in with us today.

We’ll see you in the next episode.