Home Audio Transcription Cultivating Change In Cannabis (Podcast Transcript)

Cultivating Change In Cannabis (Podcast Transcript)

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Editors’ Note: This is the transcript version of the podcast we posted last Wednesday. Please note that due to time and audio constraints, transcription may not be perfect. We encourage you to listen to the podcast embedded below, if you need any clarification. Enjoy!

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Rena Sherbill: Hi, again, everybody. Welcome back to the show, happy 4/20. I hope everybody is celebrating in a positive, happy, healthy way. The plant that we all love to talk about, the investment that we sometimes hate to talk about. But today we celebrate, I feel like more than anything, the plant, the cannabis plant. Why we’re all invested in these stocks in the first place, is because the power of the plant has life changing, generation changing world changing possibilities. And I think the reason we’re invested is because we all see that opportunity. And a way of celebrating how powerful cannabis can be is also understanding how far we still need to go.

And I think that’s a really important part of 4/20, not just about celebrating the plant and how it makes us feel and what it brings to the world, which is really important, but also how we can keep evolving as an industry, as a business, as leaders, as community members in this cannabis community that we’re a part of, in this investing community that were a part of, how do we invest in businesses doing it the right way? How do we consume things in the right way from the right product and grown within the right environment?

To that end, I’m super happy to welcome my guest today, Reginald Stanfield, who is the CEO, Founder and Head Horticulturalist at JustinCredible Cultivation, which is the first non-equity black owned cannabis cultivation in Massachusetts. Their tagline is plant before profit.

And Reginald talks to us today about being an entrepreneur, the two different industries within the cannabis industry, the challenges of being a minority owner and getting access to that capital and why the cannabis industry is unique in that regard in terms of access and opportunity and the regulatory picture and the legislative picture, as we get more stops and starts in that regard. How that affects the smaller business owners, and how that affects the products that we buy.

A really fantastic, inspiring, important, frustrating conversation with Reginald. I was really happy to talk to him. I hope you’re just as happy to hear the conversation. Happy 4/20 everybody.

Reginald welcome to The Cannabis Investing Podcast. It’s great to have you on the show, especially on our 4/20 themed episode.

Reginald Stanfield: Definitely. Well, thank you for having me. I’m really excited that its coming out on 4/20, one of the best holidays for the industry.

RS: Absolutely, absolutely. I’d like to get started on asking people where they came from and how they got to the Cannabis industry. So could you share with us your story of getting to the industry and how you started JustinCredible?

RS: Definitely well, so I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. I would say my background in cultivation had to start when I was a little kid. Both sides of my family are from farming and cultivation families in North Carolina. So having them literally 10 miles apart and doing peas, watermelon, corn, things like that. I was always around plants growing up.

Tobacco was one of the other plants I was around growing up. So seeing that people farm and you can make stuff coming out of the ground and then you can pull it off the vine and eat it at any assessable time is a big influence on my life. And the reason why getting into cultivation wasn’t so hard for me. I graduated from HBCU in Maryland called Bowie State University, 2013 was my finance degree. And I thought I was going to go off get my CPA, and become an accountant for this medium sized company in DC, black-owned, everything I love what I was doing, but then I started another company. During that time period, it was kind of like a side job called master of mixology, private event bartending and I kind of fell in love with being the owner and your entrepreneurship even though I’ve had done entrepreneurial things in my past life.

Just like a lot of entrepreneurs before me, sold the candy, did the cutting of the lawns, had like 10-12 grass that I could have some of my friends cutting for me. I didn’t really, I didn’t understand. In my generation at that point in time what I was doing there wasn’t a big entrepreneurial wave or wasn’t even entrepreneurial courses offered at any colleges that I knew about at that time.

So when I went to college, I went down the track that everybody does, find you a profession that you can enjoy and you feel you can be successful at, and that was accounting. That didn’t work out, once I started a company, I fell in love with that. I no longer wanted to work for another person. I quit that job at 21, the day before I was offered the CFO position, or formally offered it, I was informally offered it, but I quit the day before I was formally offered it, at 22 years old. And I decided to do my private event bartending company by myself.

Our first year was amazing. We did like $75,000, with two people, going around bartending. And that’s a lot of money for just two people doing private event, bartending people houses and weddings. And then I started doing business plans for people who saw my success in my bartending company. And I was like, you know, hey, I really love doing business plans. I did everything for my company. Here’s all the stuff I did, here’s my pitch decks, and everything. So instead of giving my stuff away, I started to do it for other people who wanted to do entrepreneurship, or wanted to do business, but really didn’t understand the business side of it.

And that kind of sparked the idea where I started a company called Modern Monopoly Management. And I wanted to do it differently. I wanted to start a company with three of my friends from my same background, from my same cultural beliefs. And I wanted to basically do it evenly. And have one of us be the entrepreneur that teached the others and grow together and not make this really more so about money.

And that set off an eight year adventure where we did multiple businesses. We help support us, we help support and bring up a couple of businesses. We started about four of them on our own. We did audio, visual, wedding photography, videography. We did a bunch of — we even had a hand in a cupcake business early on in their lifestyle, alcohol company too. We had a lot of success. And we kind of –we weren’t really settled with just making money.

So once the cannabis industry came online, and the bartending industry got to be hit in Texas from a hurricane, we saw a shift in opportunity. And it happened that I had just got into about three, four years earlier, got into cultivating guerilla style, going to different places, shares, backyards, helping people set up grows, getting experience about how to grow. I started growing myself, personally in guerrilla styles with multiple plants, different styles from deep water culture, soil, rock well although all the different styles. And then once Massachusetts came online, I started doing my research, that being 2016.

And by 2018, I saw a path for me to enter. And I basically came up with a business plan around a mindset, and a thought process. And we named it JustinCredible, JustinCredible Cultivation, which was the theme around my business partner and myself was that everything we do is just incredible, not — and it’s like a mindset. So people ask us all the time, who is Justin?

And Justin, it’s kind of like if you watch the show, The Walking Dead is like Negan. Like it’s a mindset everybody, at JCC is Justin and Justin is that energy you tap into that we had to tap into to get this company open and to be an entrepreneur, be somebody who was strong and independent on your own, who doesn’t settle for anything but maximum effort. That’s what it means to be Justin. So, we created a company JustinCredible. And now we are growing weed in Massachusetts.

RS: Yeah, that’s awesome. That pull of starting something on your own? Was that something you always had? Or was it something that you were raised with?

RS-JC: I definitely wasn’t raised with it. My dad’s a military veteran, my mom worked for the SESI Beer [ph] has for like, almost 25 years, grandparents. I think the only entrepreneur that I knew of growing up was my grandfather. And when you’re young, and in the area, I grew up in, the understanding is either two things, you go to job, you go get a job, or you go to the military, or you go do something that leads you into the wrong path.

So for me having an understanding that I could create something and then be my own, that was something that was different. I basically just took a while, I was growing from it. I didn’t get any — I didn’t have any lessons over this. And I really wasn’t even told what entrepreneurship was until I say I almost graduated college.

RS: And how different is it, getting into a different industry and then getting into the cannabis industry? How different is the cannabis industry from the other industries that you have experience in?

RS-JC: Oh, it’s completely different. It’s night and day. This industry really isn’t — it’s not like most industries. Most industries want your first year or two. I mean, honestly, your first five to ten years, you may not even be noticed. You won’t have an article wrote about you; you won’t have any really expectation for you to return your investor money within the first five years.

And if so, it will be more so incremental returns where you’re getting back. That’s why people and if you look in your other business book, any other business management, they will say a company in its first three to five years, it doesn’t even breakeven, is barely even generating revenue to pay the bills in the first three to five years. A lot of time that that company is gaining a lot of debt. And then it starts to recycle.

So investors usually don’t get paid back until after the first five years. So cannabis, you’re expected to get your return on investment within the first two years. You’re expected to go from — you’re expected to go from open to making millions and millions of dollars within your first year. So it’s completely different. You have to have funding, before you even start, you have to have a lot of times real estate, you have to have operational, you have to know a lot of us CEOs that are in charge of these cannabis companies, especially minority ones, we have to do everything in our company. And that’s just different.

And I honestly do feel like there’s a difference between — there’s two different cannabis industries. There’s the minority in the cannabis industry to be frank. And then there’s the non-minority cannabis industry. So I get, since I’m the chance of being the CEO in the industry, I get to go to a lot of these conferences, and I get to talk and hear about people’s journeys. And there’s a notable, notable difference between minority-owned black-owned compared to majority-owned white-owned cannabis companies. And that’s usually not what you see in any other industry.

RS: And can you share with us why people in the cannabis industry are expecting a payout after two years? Can you explain to us more about that?

RS-JC: I mean, because when you make your — it’s the hardest thing ever to do. And I had a crazy argument with my investor. And there people tell you a lot of times we’re here as an entrepreneur to under promise and over deliver. And I’m like that sounds really great until you start having to raise capital based upon that under promising.

So when you have nothing, I would say because — the answer to your question is high risk. And then the numbers you make they have — they’re automatically compared to what’s already happening. So for instance, if I want to start a car detailing business, in order for you, as an investor to know about a car detailing business you would have to go out and talk to other car detailing businesses, or you have to do some type of census search that would give you roundabout idea about how much a car service building, these charges are making. You got to do a Google search.

You won’t have a whole Rolodex of information saying that this company made $10 million last year, they made this much on flower, they made this much on edibles. You won’t have they there’s not a market rate that is 100% locked into your product, like I’m in cultivation. So my flower has a high low medium automatically like then. And then there’s the square footage. So when you’re also asking for a lot of money, and cultivation is something that is completely different than manufacturing and retail, because you’re asking for a lot of money upfront.

And there’s no promises to give back that money because of testing. And just the industry is so young. So they’re expecting, if what you’re talking about, and you’re able to make these numbers, they’re expecting you to have this high value product no matter what, because the numbers should be at a return on their money.

And a lot of times, it’s impossible to make a plan, and then get funding in that method. I know, it’s really hard to put a tone to but I think that’s a big struggle is trying to make numbers that can be replicated, but also you can raise money out of as well.

RS: Which I imagine gets more challenging when you’re talking about a regulatory picture that is ever changing.

RS-JC: Yeah, 100% you can — and then that also changes the price for a pound, also changes –we have COVID now that has fast tracked everything and has made things very volatile. Before COVID we didn’t have as many licenses, now after COVID, seven or eight licenses have popped online within the last couple of months, so last year.

RS: Around health guidelines.

RS-JC: Well, not even health guidelines, a lot of the states are used to or are going to use COVID to basically build out their economy. And they won’t — hold on one second. Hey, you guys not going to make any noise. Don’t make any noise. They won’t put that out as a reason why they’re doing it. But it is night and day. There’s no reason why New York and my opinion before COVID was doing the wall, one of the longest drawn-out processes of getting people on line, and then as soon as COVID hit after it settle down, boom New Yorker was online, and New Mexico is also online now, Texas and Arkansas are talking about common law. Arizona goes.

So all these states are going to use that tax revenue to bail them out from the stimulus checks or whatever things they have more annoying to basically a lot of people, a lot of businesses shutting down and things like, that they’re going to use a tax money to subsidize a lot of that stuff. And that is speeding up the industry. One state popping up next to your state lowers the price for power in your state, lowers, I mean, a lot of the recreational industry is fed by people coming across state lines to buy legal cannabis.

So now once you have Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, coming online, Maine coming online now, all three of our areas, although our price goes down. So you have to — those things are going to be stuff that you will see start take notice in the industry in the next couple of years.

RS: And then do you feel like there are supply chain issues around that as well?

RS-JC: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard for us to get jars, it’s hard for us to get regular supplies. Even if you want to expand and build out, getting regular construction materials are going through the roof now. So that does and if you’re already in a state that costs a lot of money per square foot to build, now you’re adding to that because you have supply chain issues.

RS: So talk to us about the difference between the minority-owned business part of the cannabis industry and the non-minority owned part of the business. How would you describe the difference?

RS-JC: Yeah, I mean, it’s — not trying to harp on it or passing the blame anywhere. But there is an underlining difference between when I have sat down and have a conversation with white and white entrepreneurs and black entrepreneurs, there’s a vast difference. There’s a company that started with me. They weren’t vape carts, and they started the difference between our capital raise and their capital raised is just fundamentally different.

They had the same amount of experience doing what we do, we both for cultivation, we had the same amount of experience. And for vape carts, they had the same amount of experience. The numbers were different. We have a better opportunity where we are the only black cultivators viewed, they were not going to be only vape carts doing this at all.

So we had a upper hand in investment, but the difference is we had — we barely raised any capital, or had access to raise that capital where they started their entire business off fully funded and had access to capital. And that’s just where we’re beating down the inequality in our nation and trying to get more equity in our nation. And that’s just something being a black kid in a middle-class environment, going into a HBCU doesn’t give me the type of channels that is open to my counterpart.

So we’re — me and four of my partners lived in an RV on a side of a mountain for two and a half years. They were in house, they were on salary, we weren’t on. We didn’t have any money to be made. All of our money went towards our building. They were fully funded. We started off with $700,000, and basically had to work 22 hours a day. I had to be the CEO, CFO and run the grow on top of that. So not alone, did I had to get the license, maintain the license, I’d also then sell the product, grow the product, help churn the product.

I had to do everything myself, and then I still had to give up a lot of my company to even get that little bit of funding. So in order for us to bridge these gaps and change the equity, we don’t have — we have to have the capital, and they’re not being readily available or given to people who have the ability to make sustainable businesses.

And that’s why a lot of times when I talk, I don’t talk for social equity, because I’m not a proponent of giving somebody money because of where they’re from, or where they at. I do believe that people — for instance, me, I’ve been in operations for two years. This is my second operations, I want to license, operate it, I put out our product in the market. I should have all the state funding and everything backing me up to expand.

My entire Board is Black, my C suite is minority-owned, I have most of my women — most of the executives are women in my company. So I am not — and I moved people here to make that happen. And not even — I didn’t even make excuses like we moved people from other states and put our resumes like my head hunter coach is a African American male from Minnesota, after trying for six months to find one in Massachusetts. We had to move. We’re moving him over and giving him equity in our company to keep that revenue representation alive in the industry.

So why do I have to be a resident of Massachusetts? Why do I have to live two years in the impact zone to in order to qualify for social equity in order to qualify for a loan? That doesn’t make any sense? Where you have a thriving brand. Obviously, you guys want to talk to me, people want to talk to me, you have a thriving company, why?

Why are the state, why isn’t the state wanting to put all these resources behind me so that I don’t have to now keep giving away more and more equity in order to just live in order to survive. And that’s where it’s just a big difference. I mean the capital, the access to capital and the levels of barriers of entry. There’s just — one is just there’s just so imbalanced. I mean, so that’s — it gives them a head start. It gives them a better facility to start off with. They don’t have to worry about piecemealing their lives piecemealing their environments.

They can start off with a fully sustainable cultivation, so that not they can grow a product that is now able to compete in the market. And I don’t think what people like me are looking for is a handout, but we’re looking for the same opportunities. And that’s the big difference.

RS: And would you say that is the lack of parity in the industry, from what I hear you saying, and from my understanding, is there’s this systemic racism, that contributes to inequality and lack of equal opportunity. And then this baseline of systemic racism becomes just on a practical level, the same people that are lending each other money and giving each other opportunities to grow and scale their business.

Those same opportunities simply aren’t present for a huge swath of people, and that creates…

RS-JC: Continuous cycle.

RS: Right, a continuous cycle. And there’s obviously a way for the people that are benefiting from that, to change it or tweak it, but obviously, it’s this self-fulfilling successful cycle. Hard to get people off of that. Would you say there’s other reasons for this? Or would you describe that as basically how you see it?

RS-JC: I mean, I don’t think a lot of my colleagues that are similar to me would, they will be as bold as to say that, but I do — I mean, I do agree there, if you look in a lot of these other industries, minorities flourish. You get, I mean, like you, you don’t need affirmative action to get a bunch of black lawyers. And you have — you don’t need affirmative action to get a bunch of black doctors, you have them, because schools started giving out scholarships.

They started saying, like, hey you had a great GPA, you was top of your class, you’ve been these programs. I’m going to choose you to come into my school. And now we were starting to see a lot of the Harvards, a lot of Yales, Browns, Cornells, a lot of them do that. A lot of, or you see the inverse happening with the United States government giving HBCUs a lot of money.

Even my school, Bowie State, it is many day from when I attended, and I’m talking about 90 day [ph] I think they built over 10 buildings since I graduated, and that’s nine years ago. And before that they may have built two, and who know before I came there, so you’re seeing where, when you start putting money into right places trying to help that systemic racism and racism, it works.

But they don’t do it in the cannabis industry. They want to create these guidelines. And then the real thing is — the real thing is, so it’s so much of a regulated market, that what you’re asking for is the same exact reason why they’re having a battle with the SATs, and the school system. You have a mindset or a test that is made up for a certain particular person, a certain type of thinking person.

So when you have a cannabis industry that is made up, and the regulations have such complexities, that only certain people can understand them that you’re only going to get a certain type of person to go into that industry. And that so happen to be a more professional corporate person, meaning a majority ethnic person, whereas there are plenty of us that are flourishing in the industries.

But the one common thing is our stories are all the same. Why, when you go to look at me, for example [indiscernible] who is a MSO, who’s in Oregon, in Minnesota, who grew up in Chicago, in Texas, you can go look at Will, William Perry, who is a cultivator in Oregon, and he grew up in New York, and his story different. Jesse Horton, like all of our stories are the same.

Why do we all have to sleep on somebody’s couch or sleep in our shop or live in an RV or give away a lot of our company or do all these things to jump over the shoes, but then you go look at our counterparts and they’re getting money from this — I mean, they’re getting loads of money. They’re getting loans, they’re getting programs like that doesn’t make any sense.

So how do we fix that, and we get rid of the system that has created those opportunities. If I had a huge conversation on LinkedIn, that if the government really wants to help out the minorities, then get rid of this, all these regulations around the recreational market, create a medical industry and say this medical industry is for people and you don’t have to have a car, but this is for people who want their cannabis tested. And you know exactly what’s in it.

And then everybody who wants to get that goes into I’m a vegan, and I eat a lot of raw foods. I don’t go to Food Lion or the Giants or the supermarkets and complain about them not having the type of food I want, cold pressed juices. I just go to Whole Foods, right? So if I want to pay more for my food, I drive a little bit further for my food. But if I want to make the conscious life choice to eat better food, organic food, pesticides free food, I go to a business that gives me that.

There should be an industry just like that for cannabis. Cannabis is not a drug, is not this plutonium that needs to be highly regulated, that needs to be grown and tested and have inspectors pop up. It doesn’t need to do that. We’re not getting rid of the gray market. Most people still buy the cannabis, really smoke every single day in the illicit market anyway because the dispensaries are overpriced.

So if you really want a fair market, you can just deregulate it, make it not a drug and then allow people who are growing in their homes, or growing it illegally or illicitly now to compete, because I guarantee you if we can start shipping some of these cannabis from these illegal grows in California and basements and stuff like this, the Curaleafs, the Trulieve and LivWell, and Crescos, all of those can’t compete. Because their product is not up to par because of the regulations.

And then they’re just honestly they don’t — they’re not the culture. They’re not pushing cannabis. So the people who are pushing it, the people who started all these strands that are loved in the industry, they’re starting from somebody’s basement. You don’t mean like, they’re the cookies and all of that? Where did it start from a guy in his apartment? So why can I only grow things or come from a registered business? It doesn’t make any sense.

And I mean, you’re creating an industry that my people are having an amazing hard time entering to and then you’re saying you’re going to give it back to the minorities or help benefit the minorities. But here we are, with the legal market starting in 2014, here we are eight years later, and the cannabis industry has only 2% minority, black-owned. And that’s crazy.

RS: I want to keep talking about this. But I also just want to pick up a point that you mentioned, the more regulation the worse the product, can you explain more about that?

RS-JC: Yeah, because you have to, like for instance, in Massachusetts. We have something called our anaerobic bacteria [ph], which means that anything that’s a bacteria, that is grown, and can be — after 10,000 of them can make you fail. And 10,000 is a very, very low number.

So for anybody watching this, your food is tested to the millions. Our cannabis is tested to the billions. So you can even — not the 10 million, not 100, but to the billion. So now that you have all this over regulation, it takes all this stuff for me to grow it, I have to put it — I can’t use any of the things that I would naturally use. I can’t do any bacteria spraying on my buds, which I mean, if we all went to science class, plants need bacteria to grow.

And now you’re basically telling me that I have to isolate all my bacteria, and I have to clean my room every day. It’s just not a natural environment. Like a lot of us don’t even use a pest. Like we don’t use beneficial pests, that fly in poop because you’ll fail a test with a poop going around bud, or they poop on your bud? Where — I mean, that’s what cannabis is. It’s a plant.

I mean, you don’t — you’re not mad if your strawberries come with a worm. I mean, like, it happens, like, hey I mean, so by having all this barrier for testing, you now reduce things that I would normally do and efficiently do to grow this crop. And I’ve to put all these on, I wouldn’t say unnatural, but they’re unnatural, I have to put all these negative, all this UV and all I mean, all these extra things that I want to get into to make the grow environment sterilized every second, so that I don’t fail the test.

RS: No, I was just going to say do you feel like that’s why a lot of people from like, the legacy market, the people that have been a part of the cannabis culture for many years have been complaining about like the cannabis that’s coming out now is just like, not what they want to be. Yeah.

RS-JC: Oh, yeah. I mean, before — one of my first ever conversations was with somebody who worked for MSO. And they sat me down, and I tell him, I’ve been growing in the shed in front of my building, trying to get used to Massachusetts, like I send myself a test and I pass all the tests. And he looked at me and he laughed, and he said that’s all great. And so you get inside and you have 1,000 plus plants. And he said you’re going to have to do things to pass tests, and you have to dry your cannabis harder and faster than you ever would. So they’re –* any grower will tell you the most important steps are in the drying and the curing the product.

But if now I have to draw my cannabis longer, of course, you’re not going to get a better product. I mean like cannabis is a level that we want it now or the connoisseur is wanting now, it’s like building a Ferrari by hand, you know what I mean or a hand stitched coat. So as soon as you change, one little small barrier — variation, you’re talking about you and then you’re talking about the quality drops dramatically.

So how do you substitute for that? You can’t. You have to give out what the market gives. And then a lot of times the market is driven by new unintelligent consumers so all they do is look for high TEC numbers and what they think is pretty flower.

So then that puts — it’s a huge like cycle that started with one snowball that started with one little small rock and it builds up down and now, and it’s something that you may not be able to see in the industry until five to ten years after we started.

RS: Do you feel like there’s any hope in terms of like being able to grow the way that we should?

RS-JC: I mean, I don’t know. I heard at one point I would bet on some things that would happen in the cannabis industry, but as of right now, in a political climate of America, like things are changing every two years, the way it seems. So, it’s really hard to keep up pace. Things could go federally legal in a year, and by making a federally illegal it could get into schools in another year. And then it could be putting out all these bags and it’s like, well, then what do you guys can also in three years.

We can only test for pesticides and have you met all. Those could be the — or not even heavy metals, pesticides, we may only test for pesticides. So that could be the truth like it could drop down in two years, but by three years, four years, but by then we have 50-40 states recreational and you can grow 12 plants in your house and almost every state there won’t — there won’t be a recreational market.

I don’t see cannabis being this highly sought after commodity that is controlled by Marlboro or like the cigarettes. I just don’t see it. Because the big difference is tobacco isn’t fun to grow. Tobacco isn’t fun to maintain. But cannabis is. Everybody who — even people who don’t know how to grow, you give them a plant, you give them a setup, they will turn into a grower and they will love it.

And if they get the hang of it, they can harvest two pounds every three months. And that’s enough for them to smoke and probably some of their friends. So now you get a neighborhood with 10 people are growing legally. And then everybody is growing like really great cannabis because you the lights are — the LED lights are putting out way more power using way less power.

The grow tents, there are a lot of knowledge out there on the internet. There are people like me spreading the gospel. I’ve NFT project that is teaching people how to grow by just buying our NFT’s called the Girl Guides club. So, there’s multiple avenues for somebody who knows nothing about cannabis, to in a year have a crop that is good enough for you to smoke and be better than what you get at dispensary. So I don’t honestly don’t know, man, this industry has been so volatile that anybody who is firmly standing on any future, I wouldn’t trust it, I wouldn’t order them to be honest.

RS: That’s really interesting. So you feel like the home grow is a way to kind of like take it back from, I guess the people that have co-opted the plan.

RS-JC: 100%, I mean, I grow 1,000% better at home than I do in my facility. I mean, I can grow — or I don’t have to worry about a lot of things that you have to worry about. You can just grow. You got plants at your house and you take care of — when you take care of your harvest, when you harvest there’s not a — you don’t have to make money from them. There’s not a point of like, oh, I have to harvest it, dry it, get it tested. I mean, there’s no, I got to get a metric tag.

I don’t want to do it. I just have the legal limit and DC at my friend’s house and we go. He watches it. I go over there. I look at him. And it’s no stress. I mean, like there’s, we grow fire better over there, mainly because it’s no stress. So if there’s multiple people like that, then you’re drawing down the cost, because then your neighbor weed man comes back. Yeah, I mean, — he doesn’t really, or just like the candy lady around the neighborhood back in the day, like she didn’t sell candy because she wanted to. I mean, because she needed to make money. She sold candy, because she loved the joy of the kids. So she would go out there.

And I had one of my neighbors who was so fun on cakes, she would sell certain things, but they will be so cheap, because she enjoyed doing it. And I mean we ended up finding out later that she lost her son in a car accident. And she — so that was her way of connecting with the kids in the neighborhood. So, I mean, that’s all she did.

So now think about it, if you have everybody that’s able to grow growing in a basement and they’re growing pounds of pounds of weed, and now they have 10 pounds of weed sitting in their basement. Here you have some, you go try this out. If you’ve ever been to a cannabis convention, home growers love giving away. They are giving it away their weed like here’s — they love this.

It is legal now, you have access to seeds, you have access to homes, you have access to grow materials, schools, you have all — when it becomes an industry around about the plant and not about making money, we’ll see how many people love this plant, there’s going to be a lot.

RS: So would you consider yourself an activist/entrepreneur? Because I mean, what you’re saying is like an entrepreneur would say. Well, I’m not going to encourage home grows because I want people buying my products even if I think that they’re inferior, whereas you’re talking about kind of a more holistic approach to like, what the plant can be and what it can achieve.

RS-JC: I hate calling myself an activist because I don’t. There’s great activists in the industry. There’s Laury Lucien from Massachusetts, Devin Alexander, they are out there changing laws and, doing things like that. So I don’t like to call myself an activist. If I am, I’m an activist for the plant if anything. I’m an activist for — I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur, I love cannabis.

I’m asthmatic and I — this is something that helps me with everything. I had a big battle with, I wouldn’t say [indiscernible] but I was on opioids for a hip injury. And I started having a lot of kid — liver issues to the point where they thought I was abusing alcohol, and I don’t drink often. So I stopped using and started using RSO oil full time, and now I barely even take opioids. Only take them when I work out and I do too much. So you’re talking about somebody who relies on a plan for their mental health or their physical health, to I mean, to just tend to party like, instead of drinking and getting too drunk, like I’d rather smoke. So I am an advocate for the flower. Cannabis have been in our lives for forever.

We don’t, we’re born with the endocannabinoid system. So there is no scientific placement on when cannabis came around yet, that they can pinpoint. So as long as I know, we’ve been here, at the same time as cannabis, and we’ve been using it in medicine and in food and things like that forever.

So why is it now that a group of people support it, and a group of people can vote on it? That is not okay. That’s where my biggest struggle is, is that I’ve been locked up for it. I have people that look just like me who were trying to feed their families, for selling a plant that are now still in jail.

And there’s people that don’t look like me who never — who don’t even care about this plant. Who wouldn’t — couldn’t even name the difference between Blue Dream and I don’t know — a Lemon Haze, which if you’re — if you’re a grower you’re a smoker, you can tell the difference, just playing — you don’t even need to be a cultivator. You can just tell it from being a smoker. And they are the ones benefiting from it. They’re the ones getting all the money, and they’re the ones controlling it. That’s not — this is not right. And then I don’t see how we’re still supporting the Curaleafs and the Crescos and those when we have other companies support.

And I’m wondering — I’ve worked closely with Curaleaf. That’s why I say them first, like, I work closely with them every day in OI [ph], and I appreciate the work that they do in our industry, but this industry should not be theirs and they shouldn’t be the number one cannabis company in the United States. This doesn’t make — it doesn’t make any sense.

RS: So how do we — how do we change it? How do you — and by the way can I call you a thoughtful entrepreneur, I think that might be better than activist/entrepreneur.

RS-JC: Thoughtful entrepreneur, I like that.

RS: I like it too. It seems fitting. So thoughtfully, how do we change it? How do we improve it like as consumers as entrepreneurs, as myself as podcast host, who I talk to investors like, how do we help change it? Or how do you think it should be changed? Like what — how do we see a path forward?

RS-JC: So I’ll do it from each level for consumers stop smoking minority-owned — I mean majority-owned cannabis. It’s just that simple. If you can’t get it, and if you’re in Massachusetts, if it’s not grown by me, is not minority-owned just want that out there. But you can go and support the minority owned storage. You go to support Major Bloom, you can go to support there’s Pure Oasis. You go to support all the — Elevate Cannabis you can go to those dispensaries only. You can go to support or — if there’s not one of those go to support the dispensaries that carry the product of the minority-owned which Major Bloom does a lot of projects for other places or look for their product.

If you don’t see the property then don’t buy from them, go back to the illicit market. I mean, I’m not telling anybody to break the rules, but you can technically buy but you can give cannabis in recreational market. So grow it yourself. I mean make it yourself like if you’re an eligible person grow some cannabis. Get you a Levo machine, that makes all the oils for you, that can get you doses on everything, that costs $300. You can buy from a dispensary. They sell it at the Boston Garden and Athol you can buy Levo machines, you go on Amazon and get one you can make your own edibles.

So don’t support the big guys. If you really want, don’t support the cookies. Cookies they’re not minority-owned. They are majority owned they don’t they go in, they don’t create their own cannabis, they buy from people like me and try to put in their bags. Don’t support those companies, from the consumers, from the podcasts people. Stop having those people on your shows like all I see is podcast people trying to get their shine from having the Curaleaf people representatives on their podcasts or having the Cresco people on their podcast, having the people who are highlighted, like I don’t know — I’m not going to name any name but a lot of the bigger black or minority owned companies that have already made it.

They just — they chase behind them, like some of the up and coming one like Will Perry out of Oregon who’s trying his best to expand. Once again, I’m bringing up Ulysses for Major Boom. There’s a lot of people — Stearman [ph] from Elevate. Support those people, Rebecca from CALYXEUM in Detroit, support those people who are fighting. There’s people like, like I said, Rebecca, who has community gardens around Detroit, who get actually have done more in the city of Detroit than any other nonprofit that has in the last few years, go support them. I mean, I’m not saying that Curaleaf is bad. I’ve stated my support for them 100%. But they’re not missing out on your dollars if you want to support minority people, because they are a $10 billion company.

So — and then from the investor, stop making minority companies jump through hoops to earn your capital. We — just because we are minority-owned, does not mean we do not know how to do business. A lot of us do know how to do business but the major — our major holdup is that we have to chase capital.

So, a lot of us are doing business with a handicap. We have to have a building that isn’t up to par. We have to — like I said stick in our RVs for two and a half years. I had to build my whole entire building from the foundation up myself. I had to do the architectural plan myself, I had to do so many things myself, because I couldn’t split my time up.

And I had to go to be the first black cultivator on the east coast. So I made it, but I had to make it at what cost. And if I had an investor who believes in the goals and believe that everything from the start, when I had nothing I would be — I would be probably in my next building already by now. And I would have already — I’ll have 100 people working for me, that has one of the most diverse areas and people learning. You get, what I mean, like, there’s people like me, that want to empower, not just alone, the lower level, but I want to meet people who can leave me, go run another company who can go run another grow.

And we need more of that representation. So there’s really no hard solid way to make this change, just like systematic racism isn’t a one solid way of affecting America. We have to make multiple changes in the area, but just by supporting minorities, not supporting majorities if you don’t have to. And if you do have to support the ones like Curaleaf that are out here doing a lot of deals with minority-owned companies. And investors just try to find people like me, like those names I named out that are ready to take over the industry, that are ready to go full speed and just need money.

RS: So within this because I hear you completely. And I also know that the world is an imperfect place as an understatement. So as we kind of struggle to evolve, how encouraged are you by what’s happening, like in terms of the legalization process? And in terms of how you see — you talked a little bit about the social equity components, like how are you thinking about that? And how encouraged or discouraged are you by the process?

RS-JC: I mean, optimistic point is that there’s more and more states are coming on, and it’s faster for minorities to get licensed. So that’s one thing I’m really optimistic about on the licensing process, as more and more people come online. It gets easier and easier and there’s more people like me that are willing to like give away our business plans or SOPs. So just by the fact that there’s more and more minority entrepreneurs being launched, that is going to help change them.

So in that aspect, I’m really optimistic and really hopeful that we’re going to come together and create the change that we need. When it comes for social equity in the state, I’m not optimistic at all. I don’t think there will be an influx of capital or influx of help coming to the fund minority-owned businesses. I don’t see it’d be easier and being legal for other people getting in, making them want to give us money.

And this is not a problem in the cannabis industry. Minorities have 10 times harder chances to get even home loans. So it’s like, I don’t see why in America, it would just change over, the next couple of years where we’ve been in a process of a systemic racism before our country’s inception. So I really don’t see — I don’t see that changing, I mean, I don’t see it changing, hasn’t changed in the last 50 years. We’re still talking about it now, where there’s a brand-new industry in Massachusetts. But there’s people incarcerated with nonviolent cannabis charges.

That I mean, in my mind there — if that wasn’t like the most obvious hey man, things are not going to change. Because that’s the stroke of a pen. Or that could have been a law. Like as soon as you saw the first drop of legal cannabis, anybody who is incarcerated without a what they call, a violent cannabis charge or violent charge in his locker for cannabis, it doesn’t matter if you’re — if you had 1,000 pounds, and you’re trying to sell to across everywhere, that shouldn’t matter.

I mean it shouldn’t matter. You should be let out of jail, if you did not sell to minors, and you did not do anything violent with cannabis. And having a weapon, a weapon charge is not a violent cannabis charge. So like, of course, there’s — those things haven’t changed. And it doesn’t make sense to me, seems to be why.

But we have a multi-billion-dollar industry right now that is only going to 98% white males. And that’s just is true. So how do we — where’s the change in 2022? Where’s the change? So I don’t see, I can be optimistic that America just wakes up and changes overnight, that the states just wake up and change overnight, when they could literally, they wanted to they can make a change and they’re not.

I don’t — I’m a very intelligent person. And so I understand how laws work. But just like COVID happened, and we started giving away money. And you started telling people you can’t leave your house as you started signing these mandates. And you started making people wear masks. You showed me how easy it is to change laws.

President Donald Trump showed me how easy it is to sign executive orders. Biden’s showed me how easy it is to come in here and give away protections to the Indians and Native Americans and certain people, certain gender groups and certain sexualities, LGBTQ plus community. We see how all these laws are signed into effect to protect them.

But they’re not signing any law that can least just a little bit benefit the minority owners and I mean minority people, black people to be in general. So until I started seeing America changes climbing towards black people, that I won’t be hopeful because I’m a black male in America. I’m not an Asian male, I’m not a Mexican male, I’m not Hispanic. I am in my opinion, I’m 100% African-American male. So I don’t see any change from our people. So why should I just think change should come from me because I’m in the cannabis industry.

RS: Yeah, I feel like taking a big long sigh. That is capital T truth. Yeah, it’s really mind blowing what’s happening and how frustrating it is like, how do you — are you encouraged by kind of the power that you have, that you can cultivate within yourself like as a strong person who’s trying to create change. Does that move you forward? Like what helps you kind of like keep pushing and growing JustinCredible and helping other people along your path?

RS-JC: I mean, because I’m — not to be too arrogant, but I’m an incredible individual like I’ve knew since I was 15 that I’m here to make a change. So even though I will say all that negative stuff I’m actively fighting against it is reason why I haven’t sold JustinCredible because to be honest with you, I can make money doing a lot of other things a lot easier.

Cannabis has been the hardest. She’s the hardest industry I’ve ever been in and I’ve done like say audio visual for huge stadiums, for the new Atlanta Falcons stadium that we just built in Atlanta. We did the TVs and speakers for them. So I’ve dealt with a lot more complexity or a lot hard work like body hard work, stand you know 7 am. And it hasn’t been this far morale this hard on my being, or my mental. So I would have been so. But I am representation I am a black man in cannabis and somebody Googles Reginald Stanfield or they Google the first black male in cannabis, I pop up.

So I am a part of that. I lean on those names I called early. I’ll lean on people like Will, like Stearman, like Jeno Jessi [ph] if I need help. I lean on people like Rebecca, if I need help. If I feel lost. I call Ulysses and those who are actively trying to, but I’m optimistic that my circle and my group will continue fighting and that we won’t fail. That’s 100% I know that.

I know, I won’t fail doing what I’m doing, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy road ahead. That doesn’t mean that it’s a road that isn’t discouraging, is very discouraging. Mental health is something that isn’t exuberated in our line of work. We don’t focus on it. We don’t tell entrepreneurs, especially in our community, like hey, you’re going through a lot. You get what I mean, like for me, a week vacation isn’t a vacation. So we have to depend on each other. So I’m very encouraged about my own personal will and the will of my colleagues in the industry.

And I do have no — I don’t think about the negative. So I probably wouldn’t even thought about all of those challenges today unless we talked about the podcast. So I am hopeful that I’m wrong. I’m hopeful that there’s investors out there that listen to this podcast, or listen to any podcast, and do want to make a change, because there’s businesses here that you guys can dump money into, these $2 million or $100 million funds that are going to, I don’t know where it’s going. You bring that fund to people like me and my organization, the blog, which has all the minority businesses in Massachusetts, you get entrepreneurs who can take that money and use it. You’ll get people who then become MSOs, because we have the understanding and the savvy to do those.

But we just need to focus. So I’m hoping that I’m wrong, and I’m hoping that there will be a major wave, and I’m optimistic in my bright goals, and all those things can help change anybody else who’s coming after me to get into this industry?

RS: Amen Selah. Talk to us about what you have planned for JustinCredible, like what are your plans going forward, like in the next year or two, let’s say.

RS-JC: Okay, so I’m currently going through a big moment though since I’ll say about November of my past investors to get more support. Once all of that is clear, I will be expanding to a 150,000 square foot facility. I plan on becoming the biggest black cultivator in the United States. We have acres in New York, that we’re going to sign leases on and we’re working actively to get in New Jersey.

So for us, it’s just about expanding as fast as possible, but also keeping our plant before profit and our people before profit model intact. Our goal is to be the brand standing once all the dust is settled. So I’m not racing with the rest of the companies and trying to be the top tier. We’re just trying to be a great brand, that when people use smoke our flower, or smoke a vape card that was used with our flower, contained with another brand you know that you’re getting something that’s just incredible, like the name says.

RS: And do you feel like looking forward in the industry, do you feel like there you would partner up with somebody down the line? Do you feel like you want to grow as yourself and maybe you would bring in other people like bring in smaller companies under your umbrella? How do you see it kind of scaling?

RS-JC: Yeah, I mean, once everything works out the way I wanted to JustinCredible will go from me, and JustinCredible Cultivation to JustinCredible. And we’re planning on being a house of cultivators. And trying to be a like a Johnson & Johnson. You walk into the drugstore, and everything is owned by them.

So we want to take over cultivation, so that no matter what brands you know it’s JustinCredible and you see it everywhere in every store, across hopefully the world one day. And you know and I know that flower, I know where that story started from, I know where the money is going to, all the way down to you know that the executives are paid correctly. You know that the community committee impact is actually impacting the community.

And they’ll see it. People will see the work I’m able to do when I don’t have to survive anymore, and the people I’m able to grow with inside of my company because of our focus.

RS: Yeah. Well, I would like to say, I consider my — I call myself a cannabis connoisseur as well. I’m going to use that term. I like to label myself with that. But I’m not a fan of labels, but I like that one. But I will say one of the things that I’ve always loved about being a cannabis connoisseur, and I think kind of being attracted to the plant and feeling like part of that community has been, how it allows me to like look at the world a little bit differently than just like the regular way of looking at things, and to be inspired a little bit more. And I feel like talking to you is kind of another edition of that. It’s just like really inspiring to hear how inspired you are to create change.

And I think we can all use a little rubbing off of that. I think we — I hope we’re all driven to be a little bit better than we were previously. And I hope to be doing the part I know that it’s an imperfect process because I know I’m going to be talking to people that might not be doing it the best way and I know that that’s part of the investing community and that’s part of like something we all have to kind of manage and deal with.

But I celebrate and appreciate like the fight that you’re fighting and the perspective that you’re coming from. And I hope that we can all do more to kind of like support that. Is there anything else you want to like leave listeners with before we go or also, I’d love for you to share like where they can find JustinCredible products and that?

RS-JC: Definitely. So Instagram, we’re @justincredible_cultivation. Or if you want to find me personally, ForbesNext [ph], just like we would sign, N-E-X-T. We are in all of Curaleaf locations, we are at Western Front we will be at Mellow and we’re at Mellow location and Anvil, Major Blown, always, all the time.

The only thing I would leave just like you said that you’re going to still be working with those people. I’m not expecting you to change and just like cut off all those people. But I will say there is no change without recognition. So in order for us to make this change, people like me can’t be scared of speaking. And I’ve said things in his interview that some people may not be happy about or could heard something, but I have to speak out about truth.

And I think people like you give people like me the opportunity to come on this platform and say, hey, investors, you guys are investing your money wrong. Hey, purchasers, consumers you are consuming your cannabis wrong. Hey, I mean, I hate regulators, you are regulating your market incorrectly. And you’re not making the effect on the illicit market that you think you have. You’re actually not winning at all. You’re more so driving people to try your cannabis in the regulation market. And then go find it somewhere illicitly because it’s not what they’re coming to go get.

So just we need more talk, we need more people talking about it. And not just talking about your brand or your product. I don’t think I spent any of this conversation here talking about or maybe 1% talking about my product itself, it’s all about the market. So we need CEOs out there who believe and driving the industry forward. And if you believe that, then you have to stand on your beliefs and not worry about your company’s bottom line every time you speak.

RS: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, I think it’s so important to amplify the points of change that we all need to be aware of, I totally agree that without acknowledging that there’s no way to move forward.

And it’s a painful process. Growth is a painful process. But I think it’s necessarily the only way we evolve. Yeah, here’s hoping that next time we talk, I hope we talk next time and it’s a little bit better than it was today. So I guess that’s the best that we can hope for. And yeah, I appreciate the work that you’re doing. I feel like on behalf of the industry, but also like humanity, it’s inspiring to hear. So I appreciate you and kudos to you and thanks for coming on the show today.

RS-JC: Thank you. Definitely I can’t wait to see this come out. I’ll talk to you soon.

Thanks so much for listening to The Cannabis Investing Podcast. Subscribe or follow us on Seeking Alpha, Libsyn, Apple Podcast, Spotify or Stitcher and we’d really appreciate it if you left us a review on Apple Podcasts. It helps other investors find our show and makes us feel fantastic. If you have feedback or questions, we’d love to hear from you at rena+canpod@seekingalpha.com.

Nothing on this podcast should be taken as investment advice of any sort. I’m long Trulieve Khiron, IsraCann Biosciences, The Parent Company, Ayr Wellness, and the ETF, MSOS. Subscribe to us on Libsyn, Apple Podcast, Spotify or Stitcher. Thanks so much for listening and see you next time.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.



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