Welcome to another episode of WeedBudz Radio, with your host Ry Russell. On this show we love taking individuals from every aspect of cannabis, From THC, to CBD, to Delta-8 and so on. For this episode we have invited John Friess, the Co-founder & President of Metolius Hemp Company. John’s passion for what cannabis can do and how it can heal others led him to where he is now, creating innovative products contains CBD as replacements for those who use nicotine & tobacco. From cannagars, to pre-rolls, and even dip! The goal of Metolius is to help those who can not quit by themselves, and to replace their current habit with a much healthier one. Join us and learn about John’s journey and how his journey ended up with him helping others. Tune in!
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Welcome back to another episode of WeedBudz Radio.
I’m really excited to share our next guest with you.
We have John Friess, the co founder
and president of Metolius Hemp Company.
John, did I pronounce that right? Right. Yeah.
So John, I always ask people because I definitely
like most people, didn’t have this kind of normal
trajectory of using cannabis in high school and college
and then making my way into the industry.
It was a little unorthodox.
And so I’m always fascinated to hear how our
guests get into the cannabis and hemp space.
So I’m wondering, was this something that you just
had an idea one day that you are going
to partake in or was this something that you’ve
been involved with for a while?
Yeah, so I was researching CBD for our son
who’s on the autism spectrum disorder and also started
utilizing CBD for myself initially before his mother and
I approved the option for him to utilize it.
So starting with CBD tincture and started to see
the applications results for him, specifically in regards to
mood, behavior, sleep, and that was just tincture.
And about 3 years after that, I got a call from
my cousin who said we’re going to start growing hemp.
This is in 2017 and decided to move
out to central Oregon, join the farming company
and the rest is sort of history.
Were you living in Oregon at the
time or did you have to move? Yeah.
We were living in Portland, Oregon.
Moved to Bend, Oregon.
The company farmed for 3 seasons, went
from 1 farm to 4 to 7.
I know that’s not 7.
And we owned outright a couple of farms essentially.
And then the rest we coowned.
But what we saw was that
unfortunately, like almost all forms of
farming, the industry rapidly got commoditized.
Farmers were taking the brunt of the weight and the flower
that we were producing CBD flower at the time was being
put into consumer products that we thought were relatively subpar, way
too expensive and were essentially trying to find a niche or
a place to fit in the market.
And we thought there was something much, much bigger
here, which is that cannabis should be the direct
replacement for tobacco in all of its forms.
That’s fascinating because I’ve heard, and please tell me
more, but I’ve learned a little bit that the
tobacco industry is getting heavily regulated now.
I mean, it’s been regulated, but
heavily regulated where even menthol cigarettes
are being banned in some areas.
Are you seeing that as well?
Yeah, I mean, you’ve been seeing
massive taxation on everything from tobacco
based products to vaporizer based products.
And yes, you are seeing a ban on menthol cigarettes, which
has a series of issues attached to it as well.
But in the end, I think what they’re finding is
that to me okay, how should I say this?
The addictive nature of tobacco specifically because of
all the additives because of all the elements
that they place into cigarettes and things like
blunts and or cigars and or chewing tobacco.
Gives you a sense of how much
that behavior is wrote for people.
They can’t quit or they’re not prepared to quit.
And it’s sort of that adage of cigarettes
and beer before diapers is what they say
at many of the convenience stores.
And it’s a truism and it’s tough.
We think there is a way in which to get
people to still have that habit, if you will.
But we want to make a healthier habit.
They still have that vice, but we have a healthy vice.
So our belief is, and we’ve studied behavior modification
as much as we possibly can, and we’ve learned
a lot about it over the years, and the
truth of the matter is there are 3 primary
elements that come with any form of addiction.
Obviously, there’s the physiological effect, whether
it’s alcohol, nicotine, what have you.
2 is the social element.
Am I out with people? Am I interacting?
Am I taking a break?
And the third is a sense
of ownership on something that’s yours.
And even if that thing is unhealthy, and even
if you know it’s perhaps the least healthy thing
you can possibly do, I would put smoking a
cigarette or smoking cigarettes in that category.
If you can replace those 3 things, if
you can give someone a physiological effect, it’s
as good or better if you can allow
them to remain in those social situations.
And if in the end, you have the
ability to allow them to own something that
again, is ritualistic for them, that’s a vice.
But make it healthy.
All of a sudden you’re sitting on what
could be the largest opportunity we’ve ever seen
in the cannabis industry, which, again, is to
reduce or replace tobacco with cannabis.
Specifically non psychoactive CBD, CBG
and all the derivative cannabinoids.
Now, how did you come up with that recipe, if you will?
Were you looking for a tobacco replacement or
did you kind of stumble across this idea?
Candidly we stumbled across it.
We had been rolling what we consider
to be premium and enhanced prerolls.
So these were not just CBD cigarette alternatives.
They had cannabinoid content 5 to 7 times
that of a hemp cigarette you might find
at a dispensary or at a convenience store.
And what we found as well is that we
were mixing 2 types of flower, CBD and CBG.
And most people didn’t know what CBG was.
Many still don’t.
It’s just another cannabinoid.
They call it the stem cell cannabinoid.
But it has 2 primary properties
in regards to its efficacy.
One, it can actually help clean up
the CB1 and CB2 receptors. And two,
So if you have a high level of anything
in your system that’s cannabinoid based, it can help
sort of flush the system, if you will.
And then two, it can help increase the
bioavailability and the uptake of other cannabinoids.
And so we have been mixing CBD and
CBG and our pre rolls as a flower.
And then we decided we would coat them
with distillate tea free distillate, and then we
would enhance them with CBD isolate and CBD.
Kief by adding all 5 of those
byproducts into one preroll, people started saying
to us, I chew, I smoke cigarettes.
I have less cravings when I smoke this, too.
I am finding this to be a replacement.
And then the epiphany moment was last November when
one of our customers called and said, I’d like to an am
quitting cigars completely by smoking your cannagars
And so this is what he was ordering.
This is our 5 gram cannagar.
It is 5 grams of CBD, CBG flower
organic palm leaf, organic corn husk filter.
And inside is 5 grams of CBD, CBG flower
And then the outside is distillate.
Kief and isolate.
This product in particular was what he
wanted to utilize to quit smoking cigars.
He was smoking 2 to 3 a day.
And I said, what if we just
sent you a certain amount monthly that
would replace all the cigars you’re smoking? So, great.
I’ll order 30 of these a month.
And so that started our canna clubs.
Within about 2 weeks, we had about 14, 15
people signed up, all of whom were generally
replacing cigars with our 2 forms of cannagars
We have a 3 and a 5 grammer
And then we started finding people replacing cigarettes
with our pre rolls, either our half gram
or our 1 gram pre rolls.
And that started this whole movement where we
just said, let’s just start talking to people
about whether or not they’re utilizing tobacco, and
if they are, they can ultimately replace all
of their tobacco use with our solutions. That’s amazing.
And I know that the tobacco industry
also has a number of other products.
There’s gums, there’s pouches, there’s chewing tobacco.
I don’t even know all of
the products that necessarily exist.
Do you find that there are potential alternatives
for those types of products as well?
Our internal vision is to reduce or
replace tobacco in all of its forms.
And our strategy is threefold.
Number one, it has to be the exact same form factor.
If you’re smoking a wide cigarette, a slim.
If you’re smoking a particular type of cigar, chewing
smokeless tobacco, we will match that form factor.
That’s number one, it’s critical.
Number two, we’ll match the price.
What are you spending now on tobacco based products?
We will match it so there’s no additional cost.
And three, we will make sure that in the end,
it’s delivered directly to your door, so you no longer
have to waste additional time away from life, work, family,
to go and receive or to retrieve tobacco based products.
We think those 3 elements make it way more
approachable and much more likely that you’ll be successful.
We understand that many of our customers
may never quit smoking completely, but we
say stop smoking, start toking.
I’ll give you this data point, which is pretty amazing.
The longest study ever done on cannabis
smoking is running about 21 years now.
And they looked at 4 types of people those who
never smoked anything in their lives, those that only smoke
cigarettes, those that smoke cigarettes in cannabis, and those that
only smoked cannabis after the 21 years.
What they’ve proven is that the people that have
the lowest propensity for lung disease, emphysema, and cancer
were the ones that smoke solely cannabis.
These joint years.
These are individuals are smoking at least about
a joint a day, if not more.
So they proved that you actually have a lower
likelihood of getting all of these conditions associated with
lung disease if you solely smoke cannabis.
That wasn’t a significant difference, but
there was a lower percentage.
Those that smoked only cigarettes versus those that never
smoked 21 times, 21 times off the charts, 21
times the likelihood of emphysema, lung disease, and cancer.
Those that smoked cigarettes and cannabis
dropped that by two thirds.
So what ends up happening is they’ve proven
that cannabis not only has 5 anticancer properties,
but in that particular study, which was thousands
of individuals that participated controlled study, they found
that you got about a twothirds lower likelihood
of having cancer, lung disease and emphysema by
just adding cannabis to your tobacco use.
Our goal is get off tobacco completely.
If you cannot, reducing it is dramatically better
than not reducing it, and we will support
you in whatever you want to do.
If you’re not ready to quit, we just
like you to consider taking a healthier hit.
Well, it sounds like you all really do the
research to back what it is that you’re doing.
And I’m interested because you all seem
so far ahead of the curve already.
And I’m curious, do you see yourself as that or do
you see yourself as having a lot more work to go?
I think we have a long way to go for sure
from a marketing and total impact that we want to have.
We would love to have millions of
people work with us if possible.
With that being stated, we do like to
attempt to launch products first, and we’ve been
able to do that thus far.
Each of our products were the first to market.
And so we’re always just going out in the marketplace,
seeing what exists and then saying, how can we replace
that with a product that, again, same form factor, same
price, and ultimately direct to your door.
When we launched the lip dips, for example, people
who got 3 flavors now cherry, mint, and orange.
But these are direct replacements
for Zen or smokeless tobacco.
So this comes with 15 pouches in it.
They’re almost identical to what a Zen
pouch looks like, feels like, acts like.
This, however, has 0 nicotine,
0 additives, 0 fillers.
This is 3 organic ingredients in total and
it delivers 100 mg of CBD per pouch.
And the most bizarre thing is dipping generally
is attributed to males, but about 45% of
the users of this product are female.
Now, you can put it in your lip in one
of the quadrants or whatever you sip, so you can
drop it into your tea or coffee, whatever you want.
The CBD will be distributed within the beverage.
But my point is, launching this is rapidly becoming
one of our best sellers, actually top two.
And all it is is an alternative that
is exactly what you wanted and needed.
And here’s the difference.
Nicotine, everyone knows what it does for you.
It definitely can immediately decrease
anxiety for many people.
It can give you a sense of euphoria and
not significant, but something of a body high.
CBD, though non psychoactive, does produce
a form of a high.
That high, though, is a sense of mental
clarity, decreased inflammation for many people, a greater
sense of I’m doing something good for myself.
And so the results, right, we can only make certain
claims, or very few claims, but once you give someone
exactly the same thing and it’s exponentially better.
To me, it’s no different than the company here in
Oregon that just launched an IPA based THC drink.
It is non alcoholic.
They have the right amount of THC in
it so that it gives you a similar
result physiologically to having a single beer.
But what they did is they put it into a
glass brown bottle and labeled it just like a beer.
All other forms of sales of these THC products
that were beverages were not selling as well as
they had hoped until they match the form factor.
You match the form factor, you give it
viable physiological results that are similar or even
better because you don’t wake up hungover.
Right, all of that.
It’s just the way the world we think
will go because that’s what people want.
I love that.
So that can also be essentially used
as a tea bag as well.
Yes, we’re going to probably launch this in a
couple of different forms, but yes, one of the
ways that we make this approachable and we’ve definitely
found that all of our products that are non
smokable are often the entry point for our customers.
So whether it’s a dip, whether it’s our sleep powder
that you take on a nightly basis, whether it’s our
Pain stick and pain roller, which many companies have, many
companies have, these allow you to start to bring CBD
into your life, or CBD and CBG as well as
other elements of the plant, but in a way that
doesn’t make you feel like you have to smoke.
But yes, this product in particular, you can just
drop it again in your lip or whatever you
sip and that gives people an option.
But what we do find is we go out
and we do events on a continual basis.
We have 2 pretty significant events this week.
We just give out samples of deeds.
And so our whole approach to every event
is, would you like a free CBD sample?
And people come up, we say, we have
the world’s first fully organic lip dips.
This is 100 milligrams of CBD.
This is the equivalent of
3 to 4 tincture droppers.
And then we say we say this to
them, what are you paying for tincture?
And I’m like, oh, I bought a bottle.
It was $70. It was $50.
I once bought one for $120.
Great, we’ll sell you this for $15.
And this is going to be the equivalent
of up to 3 tincture bottles of CBD.
And then what ends up happening is, regardless, essentially of
age, gender, all of that, people just grab it and
they’re like, so just throw it right here?
And we’re like, yes, and just do it.
90 year old women, 55 year old
guys in wheelchair, it doesn’t matter.
They just find it highly approachable.
Now, what separates because there’s for those tuned in,
there’s all kinds of CBD products on the market.
What separates a premium product from just
a standard product off the shelf?
I think it’s akin to what you might
see with wineries and breweries or food.
First off, it’s got to be local or
start local and hopefully be manufactured local.
Two organic, if at all possible.
Three, handcrafted and artisan.
And then fourth, and finally, a level of
quality that you can see, taste, feel, you
know, it’s there, it’s hitting on the senses.
And that’s what we attempt to do.
So when we show someone our cannagar,
they’re like, oh, so you make blunts?
We’re like, no, we don’t make blunts.
We make the world’s first premium enhanced cannagar.
And then you show them this
and they’re like, what is that?
And you’re like, this is almost an 8th
of cannabis in a device that’s all organic,
including the filter, including the paper, including the
flower, including the keif and the isolate.
And this will smoke for 35 to 45 minutes.
This is probably the equivalent of about
10 to 15, depending on which CBD
preroll you might purchase at a store.
And people are just like, that
was an experience I’ve never had.
First off, our tagline is this for this
product, it tastes like grass, not ass.
In the end, we’re trying to convert people.
I think the number one reason that people
want a premium product in the past was
because they felt like it was somehow definitive
of where they were at in life, perhaps.
And now I think we’re seeing a movement,
especially, I think food sort of drove this.
People are like, I just want quality food.
I’m willing to spend a little
bit extra if it’s quality.
And that has obviously permeated so
many other industries, including cannabis.
So we only want to do premium and enhanced, and
we want to build a brand that not only provides
that, but provides it at an affordable cost.
That’s the key.
Some of our products are very expensive if they’re
one offs, but that’s why the clubs make so
much sense, is because if you commit to us
to try and reduce replace tobacco, we will commit
to you at the lowest possible price.
We’re totally vertically integrated,
direct to your door.
We do not have any middlemen.
And so, for us, we can send you something the
same cost as a lip pouch, like a zen.
We can send you something that is exactly the same
cost as your Marlboro, or something that’s the same cost
as your cigar or whatever cigars you choose.
And that’s really what makes it work.
John, one last question for you.
Because you’ve been building
such an incredible business.
I’m curious, what are some of
the roadblocks that you’ve had?
Because all businesses have something that they have
to overcome, and especially in this space.
So what is one of the biggest challenges you all
have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
Yeah, I’d say the primary hurdles in the
beginning were just associated with licensure and regulation,
which is great that it’s in place at
the level that it is, including in CBD
and on the non psychoactive side of cannabis.
So that was significant.
Everything from getting a manufacturing facility and getting
a lease, everything from getting licensure and approvals
make each and every one of our products,
testing every single 30 pound batch of flower,
testing every byproduct that goes into our products,
testing every finished product.
I don’t think the consumer quite as aware,
nor should they be, of what it takes
to get one of these products to you.
This is not like supplements where I
can just throw powder into a pill.
And if I’m in a particular state in the
United States, I can ship it to you and
claim that it can do all these wonderful things.
There are certain things we can and cannot say.
There is definitely a significant amount of testing
and regulation that is only growing with time.
And keeping up to speed with that,
I’d say, was the primary hurdle.
I’d say the secondary hurdle is no different than
any company in any industry in today’s world.
Marketing has become so significantly difficult and fragmented, it’s
as if you’re sitting in a meeting and saying,
how are we going to find our customers?
Everyone’s like, oh, we’re going to do events, we’re going
to do social, we’re going to do activation events, we’re
going to do paid placement, we’re going to get ambassadors
and influencers, we’re going to do the list goes on
and on and on and on.
And so I think that’s probably the most difficult
thing that we face, which I think is the
most difficult thing that every company faces, because the
best companies with the best products don’t always win.
They often don’t win the best marketed
products are the ones that win.
And that’s difficult to do when you’re not willing
to just spend cash as if it’s free.
And so I’d say those are probably
the two biggest hurdles we’ve faced.
I think what we’re attempting to do is just build
a brand that just reflects how our team lives and
how our customers live, which is we try to do
things that are valuable to individuals in society, but also
try to maintain some semblance of balance and have a
lifestyle that’s very active and chill.
Many of us on our team didn’t live that life, including
myself, for a number of years, and just come to the
point where you realize I can’t wake up every day and
work this hard on business, friendships, family, all of it, and
feel as though I don’t have any time to live in
a sense of just being in the world.
Our lives become so insanely packed with tasks and
activities that I just feel like most Americans at
least don’t take the time or are finding the
time to just sit back, relax, and sort of
think about where their lives are at and where
things are at and how they might change things.
So we’re trying to assist them in that
process with arguably one of the things that’s
maybe causing the most issues in their life.
If you are smoking 25 cigarettes a day and you’re
constantly having to go outside or leave social situations and
or are dealing with health issues and or your spouses
like, you smell all the time, I hate this habit.
What if you could change those things?
We literally have customers of ours now that
smoke our cannagars inside their homes and their
spouses are like, this is great.
I love the smell, not a problem.
And it’s just great that
you’re here interacting with us.
You’re not outside all of a sudden for an
hour and a half taking in a cigar.
Those things make a real difference with time.
But most importantly is how does it
impact your body and your mind?
And that’s the beautiful thing.
I know nicotine has its value, for sure.
And nicotine alone as a chemical
is not all that bad, but it’s all the things
that are around it that make it so terrible.
And so in the end, I think that’s
how we’re going to try to differentiate it’s.
Just constantly show people via content.
This is at least how we’re attempting to live life.
This is what we’re trying to create
as a company and a brand.
And let us help you.
Let us help you. No judgment.
Let’s go again.
Let’s reduce or replace everything
from tobacco, eventually pharmaceutical drugs.
We’re going to attempt to do some
things in regards to replacing alcohol.
We think it’s the most medicinally rich plant
on earth, and we think that’s been proven.
And we just want to make it accessible
to everybody in whatever form works for you. Amazing.
And for those that want to check out your products,
what is the best way for them to go to
your website and stay in contact with you? John?
Yeah, just go to metoliushemp.com
It’s metoliushemp.com or metolius.market
That’s our web presence there.
You can request a sample if you would like.
Just email us at rollwithus@metoliushemp
or fill out the contact form on the website.
We’ll send you a sample of a product,
any one of our products you’d like.
See if it works for you,
see if it’s advocacious for you.
And then, of course, if you want to take one
additional step, that’s not quite a high level of commitment.
Purchase some products.
We usually have great promos going on.
Try them for a couple of days, a
couple of weeks, couple of months, and then
if it works for you, join the club.
Our clubs are by far the biggest focus of the
company because they provide anywhere from 30% to 73% off
retail, depending on the club and what we can afford.
And just to be honest, we do such a
nominal markup, some people are like, wait, you only
do a 15 or 21% markup over costs.
We do that because we understand it’s
the only way this is going to work.
I cannot charge someone the equivalent of $2 for one of
our pouches when they can get a Zen for $0.40.
We have to match the price, and the only way
to do that is through vertical integration and direct consumer.
Well, John, thank you so much for sharing your company
and your team and your products with me today.
Of course. Thank you.
This has been awesome.
And nice work on hitting over 100 episodes.
That’s freaking huge.
I appreciate it and I’m so grateful for
all of you tuning in as well.
Be sure to head over to
our show notes on weedbudzradio.com.
We’ll have all of the links to connect with
John and the company and check out their products.
We’ll see you in the next episode.