#6- Insights & Outlooks: Fireside Chat with an L.A. Cannabis Business Influencer
Chris: [00:00:23] Hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Cannalaw Connections. Like the lovely nice lady said my name is Chris Hoo and I'm the founder of Evergreen Law. I'm an attorney a California bar attorney for over ten years and about two years ago I founded Evergreen Law, our speciality is testing labs and manufacturing and we just enjoy lots of education and networking and talking to people about the product that we love, Cannabis. Let me introduce you to one of our co-host today Veronica Steel. Veronica, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself as our operations manager?
Veronica: Yes, hello everyone and happy summer. We're going to have a special episode tonight. I'm here with our summer associate Sarah Firestone, and we actually met Sarah in Washington D.C. when we were lobbying with NCIA. So, you know, we obviously connected, and we have Cannalaw Connections here in Los Angeles so we're all about expaning the education system in the cannabis space, and we're also growing nationally. So, I'd like to welcome Sarah Firestone, thank you so much for being here tonight.
Sarah: Thank you so much for having me, it is my first time in L.A. and I am so happy to be here. My name is Sarah Firestone, I am a 3L at Penn state Law looking to get involved in the legal cannabis industry, legal being both technically legal and legal being the profession as well. We're here today with a very special guest, we're here with Sam Zartoshti.
Sam, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, tell us how you got involved in Cannabis and where you're at in the market right now.
Sam: Sure, well thanks Sarah and thank you Chris and Verionca for having me on the show tonight. And for me I do a couple of different things within the cannabis industry. Fulltime I'm working with a great company called Urban Industries and we do a few different things in California and Oregon and we're expanding into multiple states and that's what's really making, you know, my job exciting, what makes me enjoy what I'm doing there. But for the past two years I've also been working on a project with a few of my friends and that project essentially started with networking events and educational events. And what it kind of has morphed into is we're building and soon to be launching a recruiting platform that helps companies not only recruit and retain high quality candidates and employees but really do it in a compliant way. And that's really something that we're focusing on.
Sarah: And it's called Paragon, right?
Sam: Yes, it's called Paragon.
Sarah: Okay, so it helps to match employers and candidates in the industry.
What does the industry need more of, and what are you think there are too many of?
Sam: So, that's a funny question, I think what the industry really needs more of is people that aren't trying to get rich quick and I don't think that's necessarily what you were asking, but I think that's what we really hear from a lot of employers is that everyone they interview and talk to is expecting to get paid at least a hundred, hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. And they just think that everyone is making a ton of money in this industry. And what they don't realize is a lot of these companies they're not making a ton of money yet, you know? They're fighting to really stay alive, and they're fighting to really get to the point over the next couple of years where there is a lot of money and people will be getting paid great salaries. But I think the industry really needs people that are willing to put in the time before the money is there. And I think, you know, just as a society we like get rich quick things and that's what a lot of people think the cannabis industry is.
Sarah: Just with my recent involvement in the industry, you know, particularly through this summer experience with Evergreen I've learned that's what people say the most is everyone thinks it's this get rich quick scheme, but there's so much hard work and time and investment that goes in that people don't see and aren't nessitsarily seeing the results from immediately. So, it's interesting to hear you say that as well.
Veronica: Yes, the green rush, and I think that definitely goes hand in hand because the last blunt talks that we were at it was incredibly, you know, it was a phenomenon, it was really a crowded space where you could feel the collective energy and synergy between people that are very excited to learn and also see the sponsors and venders that were there. So, I just wanted to ask you, you know, you're involved with so many different companies and it sounds like you're really interested in bringing people together and elevating the industry on a professional pursued basis, but also just you know,
what is the technology moving forward, where does crypto takes place, where do you see your future in hosting events and being able to expand your network?
Sam: So, as far as the future with our events and expanding our network, I mean, you know that's something that we've actually internally, my partners and I have been discussing a lot. You know, we feel like the events are fun, and we feel like the events are a good time, but we've been really discussing and asking a few people that have been to the events on a regular basis what is the true value that we're getting from the events and what is the true value that different sponsors are getting and different attendees are getting other than it just being a fun place to go and you know get some food and meet some people. And I think moving forward we definitely want to be a little bit more focused with our events, we definitely want to focus on having speakers that are from companies that are actually hiring and that's something that initially that was our plan, you know, we started by doing a few resume workshops and a career fair. And what we realized with those that they didn't nessitsarily attract- For a lack of better words the professional side of job seekers, they attracted more of the lazy, oh it's a job fair it's free I can just come and walk around and drop my resume off. But you know we wanted to attract the people that, you know, they were the ones companies were looking for. And so that's why we started the events was to help highlight the different positions within the industry and help different hiring managers and CEOs and just employers get in front of the right type of candidates similar to how I think you met Nick on the phone at our event, you know, that's kind of like the purpose of the events was to connect people that are interested in getting in the industry with people that need help in the industry and-
Sam: -and giving them that safe place to do it. And so, that's really what we want to focus more on moving forward not nessitsarily any specific topics or any specific, you know, niches within the cannabis industry it's more just, you know, we want to focus on companies that are hiring.
Veronica: Yeah, and we actually met Nick, an associate on the phone here tonight with us, he's going to be expanding to San Diego with Cannalaw connections. Right now, we have it on Hollywood Boulevard, but we're looking to, you know, move forward and see how many spaces and venues we can, you know, be able to share the wisdom that we've been learning on the ground and be able to really change people's lives with starting their own business and dream and making it happen.
Sam: That's awesome.
Sarah: And that's how you share the knowledge.
Chris: Absolutely. Absolutely, thank you, thanks Sam. So, Sam, going back to your Blunt Talks event I think you hold them monthly, I'm sure- They're very popular, we've all been to them, we all think it's a great event. And one of the common things, especially in California, especially in L.A. with this so called green rush is that these events have new people every time. Like lots of people want to enter the space. So, what kind of advice do you have for these new people? I'm sure people are always asking you what kind of advice can you give me?
What would you do different if you can go back and enter it all new again, what are the pitfalls you would avoid?
Sam: That's a great question. You know, I have kind of a unique story with getting into the industry. I grew up with my family around the industry, that kind of made me think, you know, oh it's not that cool, my uncles and different people I know are kind of involved in some way or another and I just wanted to do my own thing. Then when I went to college my fraternity brothers they were very involved in the industry and so I just kind of kept getting sucked back into it. For the people that are really outside of the industry looking to get in and they're unsure of how to get in and they're coming to these events to essentially network with the potential employer, or potential business partner, or you know, just people in the industry, I think my biggest advice is don't take anyone for granted, and don't judge a book by its cover because there's a lot of people that, you know, you might meet at first time and you might just essentially think, oh, this is a nice guy but he doesn't really have any value to me. And you might just never talk to him again, not ask for his contact info. And that's something I definitely regret doing, you know, when I started getting into more of the professional legitimate side of the cannabis industry, and I think it's funny I'm sure a lot of people they look at me and they see this young kid and I'm sure, you know, they judge me by my cover. And there's a lot of people I've met, or I've introduced myself to in the past and you know a year later I meet them again and they're like, "Oh, nice to meet you I've heard about what you're doing." And it's just funny because some people they just don't take you seriously because of how you look. So, on the other side of things while I don't think you should judge a book by it's cover, I think you should always dress professionally. You know, where nice clothes, dress you know, older than you are essentially and just, you know, make this industry look a little bit better.
Sarah: So, that kind of segues into my next question which is about diversity in the cannabis industry. And I know a lot of people are kind of looking ahead and almost dreading the day when like big pharma comes in and like swoops through the cannabis industry and wipes out all of these like mom and pops and diverse parts of the industry, and I wanted to ask you
How important is diversity to you in the industry and do you think that employers and businesses are doing a good job of encouraging it?
Sam: Yeah, so that's a great question. I think diversity should be very important, but to answer the second part of your question I don't think many employers are taking it seriously in this industry and that's a huge part of why we're creating the platform that we're creating to focus on bring more diverse employees and you know just professionals into the cannabis industry. And the sad thing is that it's not only sad that these companies are really discriminating a lot of dispensaries, a lot of brands, you know, they require you to submit two headshots. And that's usually above, you know, their job requirements. It's usually above resume and above, you know, anything that has to do with the job. And so that's not only sad because there's a lot of great people that are probably being overlooked for positions that they can thrive at, and they're not getting their chance just because of maybe the way they look, or the way their name sounds, or where they're from. But it's also sad because a lot of these companies don't realize that they're breaking the law and they're going to get into a lot of trouble in a few years when our industry is a little bit more stable and the department of labor feels like they can come and take our money because we're actually making it at that point. And you know, that's something I always tell people is, you know, there's cannabis regulations, but just like normal business we also have to follow all of the other regulations of all of the other departments and you know organizations that essentially govern how companies are run. And it's similar to the tech industry, if you look at the tech industry there's a lot of companies that over the past few years ever since the tech industry has become developed and established and these companies have a ton of money and they're not start-ups anymore essentially, I mean not all of them but most of these huge tech companies have either been sued or come into lawsuits and settled with the department of labor and that's kind of where we had our idea for paragon. And so yeah, we think it's a huge problem, people just aren't really taking it seriously right now unfortunately.
Veronica: Yeah, so you obviously have your ear to the ground on a lot of issues going on in this space, and you know, our profession and a lot of what we do on a daily basis is reviewing the regulations, and you mentioned that. So, I just wanted to ask you, I mean, what are you hearing from people, you know, what is the ground setbacks that people are experience with the regulations and is there anything that you'd like to comment on because we all have the opportunity and less than forty days to submit our comments to the bureau. And our law firm is actually creating a live document following this episode where you can submit your comments and you know we can all stand together. So, I just wanted to ask you right here and now I mean, you know, you're collaborating with a lot of different players in the industry, so
is there anything that you'd like to say about the regulations?
Sam: So, first of all thank you for making that live document for suggestions. I think that will be very helpful for the people that can't make it to these events and they have good thoughts that they want to be heard. As far as what I've seen, I have a pretty unique position in the industry. I help host some events and I get to hear a lot of different people speak, and I get to hear a lot of different people's perspectives from different sides of the industry, but I've also been working for the past couple of months for a, you know, state licence distribution and manufacturing company. And so, I've been able to see kind of first hand a lot of the problems. And it's really hard for me to say, you know, what I want to be fixed because there's certain things that I think would make business easier in this industry, but I'm not sure if they would make, you know, the industry better as a whole. So, for example there's something with, you know, like child proof packaging on flower, and on topicals, and sure on one side on the business side I think that's ridiculous. I think why do you need child proof packaging on a topical? On a lotion? On something that doesn't get you high? But on the other side, you know, what I heard a few people- A few officials say is that we need child proof everything and we need all the labels and warning on everything because you know what happens if someone eats a whole tub of, you know, some cannabis topical and then there's one ingredient, it might not even be cannabis, but there's an ingredient in the topical that they react with and they get sick and now that person's parents are suing the cannabis industry for something that, you know. So, that's why they need all the labels, they need all of these crazy requirements on packaging. So, I see both sides and that's where it's very hard for me to say what I want changed. Another thing with distribution is, you know, there was supposed to be the whole alcohol model where there's manufactures and cultivators and there's distributors and there's retailers. And the distributors were supposed to be the only ones that could really transport product. And what happened was is because in L.A. they required the original L.A. dispensaries to do was to have on-site cultivation and to grow their own medicine. They couldn't you know, just change that and say, "Oh, you can't grow your own medicine anymore even though you've been in this building and you followed all the rules." So, they created a micro business license and that's something that I understand why somewhere in L.A. that kind of needed to happen for these business, but it's making it really unfair for distributors who will go pick up a distribution, start distributing the product, and then the L.A. dispensaries will call that product manufacture cultivator directly and undercut us because they're the dispensaries, they're the retailer. And so, it's a really challenging situation, but you know, where that's hard for business I understand why I logically they had to do it because they couldn't tell all these dispensaries in L.A. "Hey, find a new facility and you can't grow in your facility like you've been doing for your patients over the past, you know couple of years." So, there's a few things like that that I think, you know, I have personal opinions on, but I understand why they're happening. And that's where it's really tricky if that makes sense. Like lab testing is the last thing I'll talk about-
Veronica: Yeah, there's a lot of standards.
Sam: -everyone's complaining about lab testing, and everyone is complaining about, especially for edibles you have to have the dosing so precise, I always butcher this word but the-
Sam: Yeah, homogeneity, or yeah, that test.
Sarah: Homogeneity, yes.
Sarah: Has to be homogenous.
Sam: Exactly, exactly. And that's a test that I mean in Colorado I think it's they have to have a ten to fifteen percent variation and California it's ten percent, which is I mean it's a lot harder to do than what people were doing before where they were not close. And that's something we've seen first hand as a distribution company. Now it sucks for the businesses that they spend all this money and they then can't sell their product, they can't do anything with it and it's just a waste. And I think a lot of people are going to go out of business because of that. But then on the kind of logical moral side like I want to know what I'm getting and what I'm buying is what it says it is. So...
Chris: Absolutely and that's why we're here, right? We're here to make the industry professional and safer and reliable and not a job frankly no longer in the illicit market, no longer upregulation and no longer untested. So, I mean we all remember making edibles at home, and we didn't have homogenate test, but we knew they weren't homogenous, right? You just knew to like you know-
Sam: Russian roulette.
Chris: Right, right. One brownie tasted this way, and another brownie tasted this way, same batch. So, homogenizing test are good. So, Sam, since you've been in the industry for awhile now you've seen a lot of changes, you've seen in other states how the industry grew and changed and evolved. So, based on your experience what you've seen in other states how do you think the industry is going to evolve? The recreational industry is going to evolve here in California?
And where do you think the medical cannabis market is going to go?
Sam: So, that's a great question. Before I get into that question I might ask you to repeat it. But you mentioned other states and one thing I think is important to understand is that, you know, in California right now everyone is complaining about the price of lab testing on the manufacturing and cultivation side. And everyone on the consumer side is complaining about the cost of buying lab tested products. But if you go to somewhere like Washington, and this may be incorrect I don't have one-hundred percent validation that this is true, but what multiple people told me when I was in Washington is that the recreational market doesn't require any testing. And so, there's twenty-dollar rates, and twenty-five-dollar rates after taxes. There's companies that they sell two-dollar grams up in Washington, but it's not clean, it's not medicine, it's not really beneficial for you to consume whatsoever. And so that's something that I think is-
Veronica: Like marijuana moonshine.
Sam: Yeah, and so I think that's very important.
Veronica: I think that it definitely goes along with culture, and different standards that areas have. I mean in California is going to be a leader because it's definitely a commercialized enterprise where people, you know, glorify it. Growing up on the east coast I always connected cannabis in California, whereas Washington I connected to, you know, [inaudible 00:21:01] and wineries. So, there's definitely a different level of sophistications that people prefer with their cannabis, and it will be interesting to see how Vegas turns out, you know, their lounges there.
Veronica: But we wanted to ask you, you know,
How is hosting the California Cannabis Awards? I mean, that was a monumental moment. Chris and I were there in the audience and we saw you on stage, so that was definitely, you know, a really shining moment for you. What did you feel like that night?
Sam: I felt really proud, and I felt excited, and I felt most of all honored that I was one of the two, you know, people that were chosen to host the event. And you know, it was really exciting to see the event come to fruition and it started off as an idea with the two founders of Web Joint, and they were the company that hosted the award show and put the money behind it to actually make it happen. And it started off with just two younger guys, they had an idea and to me I thought yeah, this sounds cool, but I don't really know if it's going to happen, but they really made it happen. And what the goal was that they made happen was to create an event that really legitimize the industry as far as they wanted to have something that people on the outside looked into and thought wow, this is, you know, a legitimate professional industry it's not just a bunch of stoners. And I think to me the coolest thing was the red carpet they had that was, you know, right outside on the main little square on the plaza and there was a few restaurants that were, you know, right next to the red carpet and when I walked down for, you know, ten, fifteen minutes I was just looking over at the restaurants and you didn't really see people staring, you didn't really see people snickering, it was kind of just a normal thing that there was these huge California Cannabis Awards banners everywhere and there was a red carpet with people that, you know, although they weren't suppose to a lot of them were consuming cannabis. And it was just really cool to see it was normal, and it was accepted. And we did the event at the same venue that the SPs have been hosted at. We did the event at the same venue that a lot of big, you know, musicians and performers perform at. And it was just a normal night.
Veronica: I thought it was a beautiful night.
Sam: Oh, it was beautiful, but you know it was-
Chris: It was great, it was wonderful.
Veronica: It was really incredible, definitely memorable for me for sure. My first cannabis awards. [Chuckle]
Sam: So, I agree, and I wasn't putting it down by saying it was just a normal night-
Veronica: No, you gave it the-
Sam: -but that was their goal was to make that the start of like normalizing the industry, not the start, but a step in normalizing the industry, you know?
Chris: Well, that was the first year it was supposed to be an annual event, right?
If you could add one thing to it next year having hosted it and been a part of it and seeing it come to life, what would you add for next year's California Cannabis Awards?
Sam: What would I add? So, I mean-
Sarah: Or what would you change?
Veronica: Free joints for the audience.
Veronica: Actually, I read online that they wanted to put a joint under every chair, but the venue wouldn't allow it.
Sam: Yeah, we couldn't have any cannabis at the event, any consumption. I mean, people definitely snuck it in and got away with it.
Veronica: Yes, you have to have your event license moving forward.
Sam: Yeah, exactly. Although the problem with them is they didn't want it at their venue so that's the problem. But they ended up not caring that everyone was smoking, so that was cool. The one thing I think I'd change is I'd want to have some like political people speaking and people that actually, you know, we could get behind because we had a room full of business owners and entrepreneurs and professionals within the cannabis industry, and they all had, you know, they all had money. Like everyone that was there, I mean, not a lot of money, but they have money and if everyone put ten dollars behind a cause, that would have been something that could have been really special, and I think would have put us in a position to really more so legalize what we were doing. And I know the guys at Web Joint they tried to put something together and they had some ideas and I know Alice the other host she had some ideas, but it's just hard to put together any event, let alone a huge award show. And getting together, you know, some kind of fundraiser just is little bit challenging. But that's really the one thing I'd want to add is just being able to not only get our names out there and market ourselves and our companies which was, you know, why I think they hosted the event, but really to give back and, you know, help because we have everyone in one room and that's not something that happens often.
Sarah: Further the cause together.
Veronica: Yeah, and you mentioned such an incredible point is you know just ten dollars towards someone's idea goes a long way once you really build on that. And you really need to vote with your dollar, and that's what someone said at your crypto currency event, crypto and currency cannabis. So, I know that you're involved in that space and I think that's such an interesting tangent to go off on how it can really- You know, invest into the cannabis space and really build projects that have everyone's, you know, best interest in mind like social equity projects, and you know future. So,
Can you tell us a little bit about putting on that crypto event and how you became the host?
Sam: Sure, so it's actually a funny story. About a year and a half ago my former roommate and I we created a meet-up group called Los Angeles Cannabis Tech Meet-up. And we wanted to start throwing events. He wanted to throw more technology specific events, and I wanted to throw- You know, hiring and recruiting focused events. And it's actually a funny story, I know this is not what you asked, I'll get into what you asked, but before we got into anything around crypto at all we did like I said a few career workshops at a job fair and then the first Blunt Talk we did actually wasn't either it was neither me nor my partner's event. It was a woman who she had a recruiting firm that was outside of the cannabis industry. And she wanted to just throw one event in the cannabis industry. And so, she found us, she asked us for help and we helped her put it together. We really liked it, she didn't like it- Well, she liked it, but it just wasn't what she wanted to focus on. And we essentially took that event from her and continued to run with it. And about a few months ago how the crypto event came up was my partner he- Not my partner he's my old roommate actually he just started traveling the world and going to a lot of different crypto currency events and he got really excited about it. He's been involved in cannabis for awhile and he just asked me to come host it because he knew that I was from L.A. and I had some connections, but really, he's the one- And his name is [Simian Schnapper 0:28:46] he's a really good guy, someone I'd love to introduce you guys to, he's helped open a few dispensaries-
Veronica: Oh yes, we've met him.
Sam: Oh, you've met him? Yeah.
Veronica: Yeah, he was right at the check-in, yeah, he was the hostess with the most-ess.
Sam: Of course, exactly, exactly. He's a great guy and that was kind of why I was able to go speak at that just because I've helped him in the past and he's just been all over the world and he has like a house in California and New York and in Chicago and he's just always all over the place. So, he choose me, and I accepted. So, that's kind of how that happened.
Veronica: Yes, people definitely look at you as someone that, you know, is going to take a strong presence and run the show and be able to, you know, handle the large crowds. Like we saw Blunt Talks and the crypto event, but what is something that you definitely see yourself doing in the future? I mean, where do you see yourself heading down the road? I mean, I know you're, you know, really serious about developing a network of professional connections that people can rely on and I think that's a really important part of, you know, growing the industry and making sure that it advances in a professional way that we're all talking about tonight. But
What are some things that you really want to move forward with on personal and interest level?
Sam: Sure, that's a great question. I think, you know, helping people find jobs in the industry that kind of came from a problem I had. I was looking for jobs in the industry, I didn't have a lot of success initially. Not sure of the exact reason, but I just didn't have the best success. And you know, I think helping people is where I want to start but moving forward what I want to do if all my dreams and wishes and you know everything came true was I'd want to have that side of you know our business, the recruiting side of the business taking care of itself. I'd love to do more events in different states and kind of travel and meet people. But you know, right now I just don't really have the money to do that. And then what I really ultimately want to do in the future which is like kind of like the really wild dream is I want to be able to prove myself within the cannabis industry and then I'm not sure if it would be some kind of venture capital firm or some kind of holdings company that's come in and doing MNA and just buying a lot of companies, but I'd love to be like a scout or someone is doing due diligence for cannabis like investors at some point. And not nessitsarily on the financial side, but just being able to look at the business model and the business, and the brand and the company and the people and being able to give my thoughts and my opinions on whether or not I think, you know, it's a good investment whether or not I'd invest into it. And maybe at some point I'll have enough money to where I can invest into other people's ideas because, you know, I love helping people find jobs and find careers. I always tell people, you know, if you have an idea go for it. And I think it's great to, you know, work at the job if you need to if you need to pay the bills, but there's so much that you can learn and so many things that you can do and I'm also someone who loves to inspire people to be entrepreneurs. And you know it's weird to me because I have a lot of friends and friends of friends and friends of my cousins and friends of my uncles and people that they contact me and ask me all these questions about business ideas and then you know they ask me to help with what they're doing and all I really want to do with help is just give them some advice and give some words, but I've seen a few that it's like dang, I don't have the time to help you and that's why I don't want to commit to something that I don't have the time for, but if I had enough money I'd give you some money because I think what you're doing is going to be really big. So, that's kind of my wild dream within the industry, but I'm still young so I think I could maybe get there.
Veronica: Well, you're living the dream already. Yeah, you've had a lot of endeavors.
Chris: Thank Sam for that vision of your dream. So, I think we all share a dream that's very common. Just getting back to why California is special because we've been talking about how California is special this whole time.
Chris: One of the things that I do thing the licensing is special is that California is the only state so far that allows vertical integration and individual licenses, you can choose.
Sam: That's true.
Chris: So, I hope that you all caught our last Cannalaw Connections episode it was with Tylor D'angelo and he is operations manager of the largest license dispensary in New Jersey. There you cannot get vertically integrated you have- I'm sorry, you have to be vertically integrated, so you have to do everything from cultivation to manufacturing to processing to labeling to retail having a dispensary. The only thing that's not included in the vertical integration is the testing labs. The testing labs go to the government.
Chris: Here in California you can either choose one of those, or you could do everything together except for testing labs, it has to be separate. Which one do you prefer Sam?
Which model do you prefer? Do you think that one is better?
Sam: So, that's a good question. I'm not really sure which one is better for the consumers, which one is better for the patients, and which one is better for just the people in general. For the businesses I think if you're in a state that has limited licenses which most of the vertical integrated states are, I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the them they have not as many licenses as California.
Chris: Correct, California at the state level did not limited the licenses. It's at the city level that they're limited.
Sam: Okay, sure, sure, but these other states like New Jersey for example from what I understand, I mean, I think it's up for- I mean, they're trying to make it recreational and that might change things, but from what I understand the medical bill that was passed there was very few licenses in New Jersey, I could be mistaken.
Chris: Six, for the entire state.
Sam: Wow, so something like that would be very ideal for a business owner, or for someone like me as an employee because I know if I was working for one of the six companies in the state it would be a lot easier for me to do whatever I needed to do and maybe I would have less competition. Now in California I'm not sure if this is what you're asking, but I kind of heard it so I'm going to answer it. I don't know which one is necessarily better, if you want to become vertically integrated and do it all, or if you just want to focus on one thing. But in my opinion the best possible thing that you can do is that if you're a cultivator, or a manufacturer you should try and have your distribution license, you should try and have a transportation license and you should really just focus on having a few accounts that you take care of, maybe one region, one area that you take care of. But I think California is way too big. I mean, it's the size of multiple states and the people that are trying to do it all by themselves in California are I think running into a lot of problems. So, I think pick a home town, pick your home turf and really take that over and own that whether that's San Diego, Orange County, L.A.
Do you think that's true of even like the big players like Med Men, or like the people who want to be like the Walmart of cannabis production? Cannabis retail?
Sam: No, now see with those people it's- I mean, have you ever seen the show Game of Thrones?
Sam: Yes? I'm a big fan of the show Game of Thrones and something that, you know, they always talk about and I kind of relate it to business is the person with the most gold usually wins the wars. Not always, I mean sometimes men are smart and women are smart, and people are just smart, but it's usually like the more money you have the better. So, for the normal person, I think it's be very focused and find partners that you can expand with, but for someone like Med Men or someone like Cookies, or have you ever heard of chain called Serra out of Oregon?
Sarah: She sounds delightful.
Sam: So, Serra it's S-e-r-r-a, it's a little bit different spelling but they-
Sarah: I'll have to check it out.
Sam: Yeah, I met them about a year and a half ago and they have, you know, they have a lot of money. They all come from California, but they went up to Oregon a few years ago when it went recreational to kind of like prove out their whole concept and they have not only one chain of stores called Serra, but they have a second chain called Electric Lettuce and then they just bought out what was known as the best dispensary in Oregon called Pharma PDX. And Jeremy Plum was their founder and Jeremy, you know, he's probably one of the best growers. So, what that company did was they went up to Oregon and they built a all-star team. They have people that know how to operate an illegal market and do it in a really good way. And now I don't know when exactly, I've seen them sponsor one event in California, but from what they told me when I had a brief meeting with them they plan on expanding into California and really taking it over. And people like Med Men and some of these other chains I don't know if they are nessitsarily ready. You know, they have a lot of hype, and they have a lot of, you know, excitement and buzz around them, but from what I've heard they're not nessitsarily bringing in the numbers, and they're not nessitsarily doing the best job from a business perspective. Now I don’t know the details and I could be mistaken but I feel like the big guys they're trying to do too much at once. And again, I could be mistaken but that's just for Med Men for example I've heard that's kind of why they're going public because their investors stopped wanting to invest into them because they weren't making the money they said they were going to make. And they had really good investors that put in a lot of money initially. And the fact that it's like oh, now we have to, you know, go public and do it in kind of like the fastest way we could possibly do it because we need this money to keep ourselves alive. And again, I don't know if that's one-hundred percent fact, or truthful because that's just what I've heard and what I've seen online but yeah, I just think there's going to be some bigger people outside of California that no one even knows of in California that are going to come in and they're going to be the big guys. And I think people that are trying to start chains down here, especially right now, they're just running into a lot of problems.
Veronica: Yes, you have to be strategic, and you have to know an ultimate plan moving forward within you know five to ten years time at the very least. I mean, for the most part with any business model, but especially in the cannabis space you must be, you know, really staying close with trends and what other people are doing in other states because of course California is going to be a space that other people are going to want to come to. And you know, it sounds like they're in for the running and there's going to be a lot of competition, but these are trying times and you have to just make sure that you're compliant and making sure that you're speaking to attorneys and speaking to people that understand how to, you know, have your license so that you can keep it and move forward with your production and actually make some profits. So, you know, for the most part I think it's really important to have these conversations and evaluate the different companies that we see right now and see where they go in the future.
Sarah: And as someone who has come from the east coast and looking in on this west coast luxury that you guys have what I really see is, you know, kind of similar to your Game of Thrones metaphor like one state I think is going to really influence the way the rest of the U.S. takes on cannabis and takes on the industry and it's going to be what state are they going to look to. And that's what intrigues me is who is going to come out on top.
Sam: Well so my theory has always been- Not my theory, but something I've always thought is that cannabis in the U.S. is going to be federally legalized either with Donald Trump, or with the next president.
Sarah: You heard it here first.
Sam: Well no, I think a lot of people think that if you-
Veronica: That's the buzz, in a few years time at least, right?
Sam: Yeah, and I think a lot of people say Donald Trump will do it at least I'll say he'll do it because he's made all these threats against it, a lot of people sold their businesses off that were scared and all of Donald Trumps rich friends had the opportunity to come in and buy a lot of licences for pennies on the dollar, and now you can federally legalize it so that's one thing, but the second thing is if you look at Canada and Columbia, and even Switzerland, and a lot of other countries there's people that are going from the U.S. taking their skills, are taking them to other countries that are a lot cheaper and are building these facilities and they're not going to pay taxes in the U.S. and they're not going to really benefit our economy whatsoever. And they're creating products and exporting them. It's like from what I understand, and again, I could be incorrect, so Chris might know better than I do, or I don't know if this is something that you would even know but I've heard that Germany, you know, they've legalized it as a country, but they don't allow anyone to cultivate or manufactory any products within Germany, and they only allow imports. So, I don't know if that's one hundred percent factful, you can double check it, but I do have a few friends they have contracts supposedly that they've told me verbally, I haven't seen them, but they have contracts with Germany and they're going to be supplying them with products. And to me that's something that the U.S. is going to see that we're missing out on a lot of money. I mean, Canada there's a company called Tillray, they're going public if they haven't already gone public, but they're doing a lot of exporting. And I think, you know, it's just we're going to very quickly realize that this plant can do a lot more than we know as of now. I mean, there's hundreds of cannabinoids that haven't been isolated, haven't been extracted, and that's where the real medicine is going to come into play and those are the things that are really going to be shipped all around the world. And I think the U.S. it's a matter of time, and it's going to happen a lot sooner than people think.
Veronica: Yes, definitely. I mean just with testing alone looking at different cannabinoids the niches are the riches, but that also has a lot to say with the way people are going after their spaces in this industry, you really have to become a specialized provider so that commercial enterprises do not take over the space. And that's something that we're really protective of and all of us here are going to be advocates for in the coming years. And that's why our law firm specializes in testing labs and manufactures because we really want to have the approach where we can become focused and centralized in that space, so we can help our clients in the best way possible.
Chris: Absolutely, thank you Veronica. Thank you, Sarah, and thank you Sam. Sam, I'll give you the mic to close us.
How can we help you? How can us as a cannabis law firm help you? How can we help the cannabis industry grow and mature? And how can we on a professional level do it as individuals support you in your role and your future endeavors?
Sam: Well, that is awesome. I don't think it's very often that, you know, people ask that in this industry. So, I really appreciate that. I think what you guys are doing with this podcast, and what you guys are doing with, you know, your events and what you guys are doing as a law firm with your different clients and just as individuals going to D.C. and lobbying, I think that's really the first thing I'm not going to ask for but I'm going to say thank you for and hope maybe just continue to do all of that stuff because that stuff that it helps me indirectly obviously and I think, you know, while I'm out doing my best to play my part I have a few different things going on and that's not nessitsarily my full-time job. So, I mean just keep doing what you guys are doing and just keep educating first of all. The second thing is if you guys come across anyone that is either looking to hire employees or looking to join the industry and really just work in the industry, or just get started in the network we'd love to help them. And other then that, I mean just you know keep being friends of mine because you guys are great people and I mean it's been awesome just knowing all of you and meeting Sarah and yeah. I mean, other then that yeah. What can I do for you guys? Thank you, guys, for having me, and I'm the one that should be asking you how I can return the favors, so thank you.
Chris: Thank you Sam, really appreciate that, the answers and the candidness. In terms of how you can help us you can just continue connecting and educating people helping the industry mature, supporting us in that way.
Sarah: And get us VIP passes to the Cannabis Awards next year. [Laugh]
Sam: I'll try, I'll try, they didn't even give me any this year. That was one of the issues was there's way too many people that wanted to come if they were VIPs but didn't- Yeah.
Sarah: We can get a picture on the red carpet at least.
Sam: Heck yeah, heck yeah of course, of course.
Veronica: Remember us when you're a star.
Sarah: Yes, he already is.
Veronica: Well, thank you so much for joining us tonight, it was a great conversation, really learned a lot about yourself and your future. And I'm definitely going to be looking out and seeing how we can support you, thank you.
Sam: Heck yeah, thank you all.
Veronica: Thank you.
Chris: So, that concludes another episode of Cannalaw Connections, I'm your co-host Chris Hoo.
Veronica: I'm Veronica Steel.
Sarah: And I'm Sarah Firestone, and we wanted to thank Sam again for joining us today. Sam, why don't you plug what you've got going on, we know you've got a lot coming up, you're involved in so much,
give us the sixty-second what's going on with Sam zarhoshty:
Sam: Cool, cool, cool. Well, I think you can learn a lot from my social media and the companies that I work with, or I'm affliated with their social media. So, my personal, my Instagram is Sam Baba and it's S-a-m-b-a-b-a. For the company that I work for Herban Industries it's H-e-r-b-a-n so it's like Herban, yeah. And for paragon it's @peopleofparagon and the website is also you can go to peopleofparagon.com or joinparagon.us and just a quick thing I'll say why we choose that name paragon means a person or thing with the highest quality of traits and we're trying to show through our blog the kind of paragon people within the paragon industry that's the cannabis industry and we're just trying to show that, you know, there's high quality people making things happen and we want to help more of those people get into the industry. So, that's where you can find us and yeah thank again for having me guys.
Sarah: Thank you.
Chris: Thank you Sam.
Veronica: Have a good night and follow us, please write a review, we're on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And please come to our monthly meet-up it's on Hollywood Boulevard and we'll also be having one in San Diego at the We Work and B Street location. Thank you so much, have a great night.