On this episode of the To Be Blunt Podcast, Shayda Torabi and Anthony Dutcher discuss what’s it’s like to work through and around the unknowns of Cannabis in the medical industry, getting Physicians and Pharma to take Cannabis seriously and the value of moving, thought-provoking and high-quality content as an art form
[00:01 – 08:57] Introducing Anthony Dutcher and Diving into Veriheal
[08:57 – 33:27] How Veriheal is Navigating the Newness of the Cannabis Medical Market
[33:28 – 00:00] Connecting Consumers, Physicians, Pharma and Cannabis
[46:45 – 51:34] Veriheal Creating Relevant, High-Quality Content
[51:35 – 54:32] How Do You Navigate What You Can and Can’t Say?
Anthony Dutcher is a Digital Marketing expert from Denver, Colorado who finds purpose in helping startups, freelancers, and corporations build synergy throughout their digital efforts. Dutcher has successfully coordinated marketing campaigns for over a hundred projects across major industries including healthcare, cannabis, technology, blockchain, and media. In the year 2017 alone he helped market on behalf of public offerings totaling over $100 million in raised capital. His finest work shines in the success of Veriheal Inc. of which he has been Marketing Director for 3.5 years.
Art and human culture are a source of inspiration for Dutcher, as he believes marketing is an art of its own. He finds balance through nature and leverages it to develop ingenuity within his campaigns. When Dutcher is not working he is either studying to improve himself, enjoying the sight of the Rocky Mountains, or spending time with his loved ones.
Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn
Visit www.veriheal.com and connect with Veriheal on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn @veriheal
Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She's currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, a female-run education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Shayda is the host of a podcast for cannabis marketers called To Be Blunt, where she interviews top cannabis brands on their most successful marketing initiatives. When Shayda's not building her cannabiz in Texas, you can find her on the road exploring the best hikes and spots for vegan ice cream. Follow Shayda at @theshaydatorabi
“If you can reach that point where you understand that your branding initiatives have worked, and you found the channel, and you can have that lever, you're 10 steps ahead of everyone.” - Anthony Dutcher
“If we can change one life with any piece of content, if we can change one person's opinion, one person's treatment option, we're doing good, and we're happy about it.” - Anthony Dutcher
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Anthony Dutcher 0:00
Let's say Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we can analyze scrubbing the personally identifiable information of all these people and say, you know, hey, dispensary all these people want concentrates and your zip code or all they want to feel this wellness goal, we have that capability and we're ready to deploy it when the time is right. It also comes down to an ethics question. This is a data conversation, you know, how do we use this wisely to improve the industry and push it up and you know, not just push it into tobacco and alcohol where you know, so many players are trying to do it? So we protect our data and other moat we're building you know, we have to be careful of how we use this but that is a possibility and that there's a huge possibility to improve the industry and people's needs there. You know, if a dispensary in a zip code is not just what people are coming in, they want this product, they want to feel this like okay, we can analyze this academically, professionally to a very high standard and really zone in and push things up. I think there's a lot of possibilities here.
You're listening to two B one B podcast for cannabis marketers, where your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here's your host Shayda Torabi.
Shayda Torabi 1:28
Welcome back to another episode of the TV bump podcast. My name is Shayda. And today's guest is Anthony doescher. He is the director of marketing for a very he'll now very he'll is a really interesting company in the cannabis space. They are a healthcare technology brand. That is essentially a platform for doctors to keep track of interested patients. And for patients who are looking specifically for cannabis doctors to find each other, their platform helps you apply for your medical marijuana card, it connects you to available doctors in your area. And they also take it a step further and provide a ton I mean, a ton of education. And that was primarily what we focused on, I definitely dove into kind of understanding the breadth of very heel and how they navigate their platform. I think medical marijuana is obviously really interesting, just because the plant is super controversial. And now that it's transitioning into, you know, into being medicine, how do you navigate as these different states are going legal, because it's not federally legal, it's kind of a state by state basis. And if y'all been listening to the podcast, then you know that every state kind of rolls out their own medical program in a different way. And so keeping track of all those different nuances, trying to wrap your head around these new markets, these emerging markets around these new consumers who are trying to get connected to doctors who are able to write them medical marijuana prescriptions, it's obviously very fascinating. And we can learn a lot from Anthony, he is a really smart kind of on his toes, marketers just from talking to him. He's very sharp in that regard. And again, just kind of reflecting on all the different types of content they're creating, I encourage you to go check out their social media, check out their website, it just is a wealth of knowledge. And so for me, we're I'm always trying to kind of balance or come at it from a marketing perspective, especially when you're dealing with medical, y'all know, or maybe you don't know this, but cannabis from a medical perspective is super murky. there's not as much research as we would like, I think that's an area that very he'll as Anthony will address is really, you know, important for them as a brand because they want to see more research being done so they can leverage it. But there's so many things that I know affect every aspect of any brand who's trying to navigate cannabis, when it comes down to what you can and can't say on your product labels on your website, on your social media, you can't make certain health claims you can't make certain you know, explicit relief or benefits etc. And so just being able to kind of sit down have this conversation with Anthony where he's able to kind of walk us through and give us a little peek behind the scenes of how very he'll addresses that and navigates that I think is really, really invaluable. So, without further ado, we're gonna let Anthony introduce himself and we will dive right in.
Anthony Dutcher 4:28
My name is Anthony Dutcher. I'm a digital marketing expert here in Denver, Colorado. I've had a fruitful experience with marketing the last five years since graduating from James Madison University out of Harrisonburg, Virginia. I also met the love of my life there who I'm engaged to currently and marrying this September. So we're super excited about that. We live in the Washington DC area together for five years before attracting here to Denver, Colorado just pre pandemic. But out of college I got a BBA so I got just a general marketing degree in management. really got my feet wet met an excellent network. I always say the network I amassed college is way more valuable than some other raw skills I learned there. But granted, you know, I still got my bearings with, you know, all things accounting, marketing, management, working in teams and, you know, but the network i rasped, there really is a lifelong asset of mine I'd consider. So yeah, in college, I was helping brands grow their social media, just, you know, Twitter was all the rage, and it still is, but you know, it was really on the cusp, back then of you know, how can we market on this? How can a band you know, get more visibility, more views on their music, and just things like that, just really scrapping wherever I could to find an opening, working for free for years, and just, you know, like trying to build things. And lo and behold, I eventually with a current partner of mine at the time, Matt, Sam, and Josh, the founders of very Hill, I mean, we just kind of noodled on things for a while, you know, these were some really innate hustlers, and to incredible African American entrepreneurs out of the DC area, just really trying to find their lanes working in corporate America, and you know, so they had some ideas in cannabis, and we would float them around. And eventually it spawned very Hill, just out of the huge need for people to get quick and easy access to medical doctors, I could hear them out, I could understand the current prescriptions are taking how cannabis might affect it, but really, just to get them approved for the medical programs, because you know, the process is where a lot of weight to take on as someone you know, you're busy, you know, in your own work life with kids, you just don't have the time for this. And so we just were like, Alright, we're gonna streamline this entire process. And so they brought me on as the first employee in 2017, very humbled to, you know, just get handed a plate of autonomy, like, hey, make this work, you know, we have more bootstrap, we don't have much budget, but like, let's go out there and get it. So luckily, with just a few years of experience with social media, and SEO and getting the degree and just having this network that I got to college, you know, I started to connect with people to learn for myself. So we invested heavily our time rather into SEO, you know, how do we create just really elegant content that Google accepts? How do we create an organic backlink strategies that could bolster our page authority to start ranking us in front of some of these other, you know, listing services, and at that time, it was really only like weed maps and leafly, you had to be on them if you're gonna get the leads, but we were like, We don't want to use them as our lifeline forever. We want to, you know, get our own leads rolling. So yeah, and it just blossomed, you know, and up through 2020, we had grown pretty substantially, but from pre pandemic March, let's say, March of last year to March of this year, our business has more than quadrupled. So things just accelerated, you know, we were going on a good path. But basically, our five year projected growth happened in a matter of months. So we were like, oh, like, what we were doing was, you know, working, we were on the right path. And it's just really humbling to be able to now serve hundreds of 1000s of patients across the country, going from a few states here to state saying, oh, like, this is very cool thinking work like our model that we basically built, which is telehealth. And to give you more background on the actual platform itself, very well is an EMR for doctors, it's just a place for them to put their information about their patients, but then also a patient intake form for them to fill out, you know, so the doctor can come to the consultation, completely prepared to consult with that patient about their needs to get them approved quickly. And then we're also you know, a telemedicine platform and a scheduler. So it links up right with the doctor's calendar. And doctors have free reign over their calendar to schedule to see patients when they want to. And then we're a giant media arm here just putting out as much content as physically possible, educating people on the way holding their hands more 50% in customer service team just constantly on the phone, on chats, on email. So things are just absolutely blown up way beyond proportion of what we ever imagined just in 2017. You know, we were just starting by our bootstraps and and here we are this day, like with this real behemoth that can really change the game.
Shayda Torabi 8:57
That is such a powerful story. I think you said so many things that resonate with me personally, I mean, I think relating just like one of the first points of just talking about your network. I think part of this podcast I really like to set up for my listeners is obviously telling stories of brands, but also part of that is telling the stories of the individuals kind of behind the brands who are helping activate these brands and building these businesses and trying to paint a picture of you know, how you got here, I think is really important because so many people come to me and they're, you know, I want to make change, or I want to be involved in the industry or I want to you know, launch this thing or have this idea for something and they don't really understand how to get from here to there. And I'm really big believer that it's not that there's one path to the top, but trying to learn from everybody's stories and then like pull out what resonates with you as an individual that is in your wheelhouse within this something that you're passionate about, and then kind of leaning in from there but I want to specifically kind of touch on because your company is specific to the medical marijuana industry. kind of help us understand Because I come from Texas, you know, before we kicked off, we were just lightly talking about the very immature medical market that Texas has, I think, yes, in the last couple years, but especially in the last year, you started seeing more states added medical marijuana, they've gone even full recreation. And so what is that landscape like when you say you launched in 2017, to now operating in 2021, experiencing all this growth? Obviously, there's a lot of sentiment around marijuana in general, but specifically from a medical perspective and the kind of counterpoint to reflect on that, too. It's really challenging for us to talk about the medical benefits of cannabis. So you have all these people who are really excited because their states are passing these cannabis laws. They're obviously having a challenge trying to figure out where's the right doctor? What are these conditions? But also, how do you navigate that as this market is literally new and emerging, and especially given that y'all are so new in the industry yourselves?
Anthony Dutcher 10:57
That's an amazing question. And there's a ton to unpack here. But we can start from the origin story. You know, we started in DC and Maryland, but our office was in Virginia. So Virginia is program still way in its infancy, it's MediCal program, low THC, no flour, things like that. They may have just passed and they did go recreational here in the last few months, which is great for them. But kind of piggybacking off that origin story, we knew it we're like, this is our home state, like we got to do this, we got to be ready to like, okay, we're gonna make really good content, we're going to put it out, we're going to build our newsletter, we're going to build this audience. And lo and behold, like, two, three years it it's still in the same state, but we're still ready, we're ready for the state to deploy. We're seeing a small amount of patients by no means a target market for us. But you know, just having a foot in the door when they flip the switch. And the dispensary is open with real not to downgrade their program currently, but with better accessibility, better quality products, higher end THC counting sessions, that nature, we're ready. And that's one of the standards for us to enter the market, full bore and spending marketing dollars. And a part of that is you know, if you're by your bootstraps, like you can't just go out and spend a six figure radio budget or you can't buy the TV ad which if you're like you can get maybe somehow and and things of that nature, so really being prepared. So with Texas, we're investing in the content, we're keeping people in the loop. Hey, here's what just happened. We have the waitlist ready. But to give you another kind of origin story, I think it was 2018. And I'm pretty sure it was 2018 when Oklahoma went mad just out of nowhere, Oklahoma was like, here's this massive program with like, kind of laws, but we were just gonna give everyone a license to open a dispensary. We're going to let telemedicine be okay, so patients don't have to be seen in person. And that's like, we were like, go, we were like, Okay, what do we do. And this is actually when we started advertising on the radio. And lo and behold, we found that this was just an amazing land for brand new application. So traditionally, we would want to focus on you know, as a medical card provider, kind of a handshake and concierge service for that we would focus on those keywords medical marijuana card. Okay, we got to get to the top here, what do we need to do, we need to write really good content. So Google like, because, you know, sees us as the authoritative site for the search. I mean, if you understand SEO, you want to try and get some organic backlinks where you can, maybe a press release in Oklahoma, things of that nature to stirred up what we learned there is there's a cap, there's only so many people that are gonna go and search for this every month, you know, maybe they're scared, maybe people just don't use Google. So let's say 1000 people are that would put our maximum market cap at 1000 people a month that are searching for sure. We're like, Okay, this is cool. But we have to amplify our brand tenfold we want to grow. You know, there's so many patients, Oklahoma is hundreds of 1000s 1000 times 12 is not hundreds of 1000s. That's the opportunities way beyond that. Sure. Like, okay, where can we mark that we can't run Google display ads, you can't run search ads for other queries. We can't run Facebook ads, we're so limited. And this marketing agency for radio approached us. And I'm a big, big believer in partnering with agencies that share your vision with you, if you can find them, you build a moat around them, and you protect yourselves with them. You You put yourselves in a bucket together and you go and fight for the same cause. And we found that with our radio advertiser who we now advertising 30 markets with but it started there in Oklahoma, I think Pennsylvania as well. And this is now a multi six figure radio spin nationally. And it started with like 2000 bucks, maybe. But what we found was that the brand amplification people in Oklahoma specifically as our first target test market, we're looking for very well more than they were to get their medical marijuana card on Google. So we effectively we're bigger than the Google market or if you understand what I'm saying there. And then we're like, Okay, this branding thing works. We're like, we're totally against it. We were like, you couldn't track it before. We were like, you can't track radio. You can't track these branding campaigns. You can't track billboards, unless you use a specific coupon. But then you're like, you know, we don't want to downgrade our brand. We don't just want to publicly display coupon. So we're like, we don't want to do that. You don't see Apple displaying, you know, $99 off ever, you know, ever you know, maybe it's a free He be added on. So the moral of the story is we just really, really picked up on this brand amplification thing. And it's become a lever, the day Texas hits, that it's one of our target markets that we can identify your Damn straight San Antonio, Houston, Austin are all getting our radio ads, like it's plug and play. We're ready with SEO, we're ready to be there on the search where we have the waitlist ready for the people that need certain products and have identified that to be notified. But if you can reach that point where you understand that your branding initiatives have worked, and you found the channel, and you can have that leather, you're 10 steps ahead of everyone.
Shayda Torabi 15:34
Yeah, I love that you brought up radio, nobody so far on this podcast has really brought up radio. And I think it's an interesting conversation to highlight because it is somewhat open space. Right? I think when you look at other types of mediums out there, there's obviously implications. There's challenges you mentioned, Facebook ads, you know, being digital is a really big roadblock for a lot of businesses, aside from obviously, the investment of money, your investment of time ads getting kicked back this, that and the other verses radio seems to be very friendly and open to cannabis. But I do think that it also for you know, most people it comes down to like, what is their target customer? Right, you know, who are you trying to speak to? I think another thread that I also try to highlight with the podcast is, if you are a national brand, obviously doing things kind of at a higher level scale makes more sense where you're trying to do something digital, or you're trying to do this multi state kind of radio approach or getting on, you know, bigger media opportunities, whether it's written publication or digital publications. But then if you're a local brand, maybe you want to take a little bit more of a local approach, you want to get involved in your local community or smaller publications that are more specific to your geographical location. And so it's not that again, the path that y'all took is the right path for everyone. It's just that was a path that you saw was really impactful for you as you're trying to go navigate all these states that were hitting, you know, legalization from a medical perspective. And so can you also frame for us a little bit? What is medical marijuana look like in America today? How many states are operating? I don't know if you have any stats not to put you on the spot. But just curious from all the opportunities that y'all exist as a brand. What do you see in terms of medical marijuana? You know, how many people are leveraging it? What are some of the, I think there's like high level conditions to that people are very familiar with, but knowing that y'all reflect a lot of different patients in the industry. And without being a medical professional yourself, right. It's always like a delicate conversation to be like people are using cannabis for this, that and the other. But I'm curious just to get a feel for how y'all view medical marijuana in America today?
Anthony Dutcher 17:44
Yeah, this is a really great question. And I'm going to kind of approach it in, I guess, three parts of where it's at, where it's going, and what we've done. So where it's at, while we're in 29 of the I think 34 or 35 Medical states, and it's kind of changing pretty sporadically. states are saying, Yeah, we're medical, and then like, you have like Mississippi and I think South Dakota, like revoking the bill that people voted on. And it's like, Okay, well, is this right, is this allowed? So that's a whole nother conversation. And I don't want to dive too much into the politics of it. But that has prevented huge steps. Like, we see that we're like, oh, we're ready, like we're gonna get some doctors and scientists in the states like, now. It's like, Okay, so that's a huge barrier. But in terms of medical, where it's going, and this is a kind of an elephant in the room, when we do talk with other partners and potential evaluators, maybe they're always say, what happens when it goes back? What happens to the medical market, it goes fully wreck, and there's full accessibility. My answer is a couple parts. But the state of California today still has more than 2 million medical marijuana card holders and they've been wrecked for however long, the state of Colorado still has over 85,000 active medical marijuana cardholders. So there's something there. But one of the co founders are very old Josh green. Oh, he says that recreational legalization legitimizes us legitimizes that we can look at this as a Medical Medium, and it amplifies us tenfold. It opens up the doors for marketing, we can help people that need this as a Medical Medium get the access they need. Because right now, the med and rec is a little blurred. And if we can much more clearly separate them and get people to access they need for medical when it's recognized as not a schedule one drug at least. There's that and sorry, if I danced around your initial question, but what we did recently, and I think last month, this was put out just ahead of for 20. No may it was put out in May for Mental Health Awareness Month, but we did a study of our data and how it changed through COVID because we're a patient intake form and this EMR which is just kind of an arbitrary electronic medical record, which is where a doctor's notes are held really what they're taking on people but then also the intake that the people fill out prior to the consultation in that regard, kind of like surveys and things of that nature. We're asking people, how do you want to What products are you interested in? What is your experience with cannabis or CBD are already suffering from. So we d anonymize all the data, scrub all the PII personally identifiable information so we can analyze the data and ultimately release it as a report. Because for the latter, this is going to get into academia and what we're trying to do there, but we analyze what changed with how people want to use cannabis and the end effect they wanted to feel after using cannabis through COVID. So normally, it was pain relief or stress relief, you know, anxiety related, but through COVID, what changes the most, the change of effect was people just wanted to feel happy. And then we leave it there as an answer, as I just wanted to feel happy. And it was like dramatic. So like pain relief, like maintained level stress, I guess it kind of could be relative to stress and anxiety. But people were answering happy and bliss, like there's a bunch of options, and it was traumatic. So you know, what you have you with Black Lives Matters movements, just people being killed on the streets, and then COVID all this pandemic was so much to unpack. And so what we notice there that is that we could use this kind of reporting at the academic level at the federal level to help legitimize cannabis, and these people's needs even more. So that's where we see ourselves going with medical, you know, we want to be able to hand this over to an insurance company, when you know, the time come in and say, You need to be paying for people's stuff like this lines up exactly with what they're using their other prescriptions for. So we have access to this data. And how we use it is, you know, another similar to our media partners, we're building a moat around us, we can't just go out and release this data at some level, you know, this is a very valuable item we're sitting on, and how we use it is an ethics question as well. So that's where we see it going, how can we leverage the existing data, which traditionally in the industry is very, very small, very, very, very small. So you know, you look at FDA past products, you look at, you know, prescriptions and things, and the testing period is expansive. You know, we saw it here with vaccines of, you know, Operation work speed, you know, that was a huge process shrunk down into a matter of months. So that's what we want to do with cannabis. And with this access to data that we have, how do we share with you know, these higher up programs to really accelerate things and get this accepted as a true Medical Medium on all levels? on all levels? No matter you know, recreational or not, how do we get people's cannabis paid for by insurance? How do we get their doctor's appointments paid for by insurance? How do we get them, you know, they call in their copay, like it should be. It's right there. This is the same doctor that sees people for chronic pain and for other things. It's the same doctor, they just believe in the you know, alternative power of cannabis. And you know, it's shifting that is maybe a misnomer, but it's not going to be an alternative forever. It's going to be a primary, it is a primary for many. So so that's what we're kind of doing. And I hope that answers your questions a little bit, I guess around that, that's what we're really working on is academia is going to be a big center focus for this and then getting the state funding to be able to use our data for the better good. We've kind of brought the pickaxes and we're mining for gold, but you know, we just don't have anyone to sell it to yet or for better expression.
Shayda Torabi 22:55
No, I think that's a very admirable goal. It's obviously a very lofty goal, just considering how cannabis has trended kind of in America. I mean, again, from Texas, we don't really have a very robust MediCal program. I'm trying to be very polite about it as well, because I don't want to offend anybody. But obviously Texas has a long way to go in terms of having more accessibility when it comes to doctors, dispensaries, dispensary's THC limits conditions and things like that. But it is something to kind of remark upon as well as you look at medical versus recreation, as well as the relationship from consumer to doctor. There's obviously a lot of research that is lacking. And so I just released an episode a couple weeks ago that is with the woman from you might be familiar with the organization, leaf 411. They're based in Denver. They're a nonprofit, they are a nurse run cannabis hotline, it's completely free to consumers. I love that conversation. Because I think as a retailer, as someone who's selling cannabis in a legal sense, right? hemp is federally legal. So customers come to me, they asked me medical questions, and I'm not a doctor, and I don't always feel the best equipped to answer them. Not necessarily because or I should say, not necessarily not exclusively, because we don't know the full extent of what cannabis can actually be applied to. Because I'm not a doctor. I don't know what the conflicts perhaps might be with their particular condition against current medications that they're on. Also just the conversation they're having with their medical professionals. I mean, especially also in a state like Texas, where it's so new, those doctors like you highlighted, for the most part, you're seeing regular doctors, it's not that people all have said I'm a cannabis doctor. It's like no, you're a neurologist who now supports you know, and believes in cannabis. You're seeing this kind of line be blurred, but it's still there of how do I have a conversation with my doctor like I went to go see my ob gyn a couple of weeks ago. was a first time visit. So she's a new doctor for me. And I was trying to lay the foundation for her that I use cannabis without offending her, but also trying to, you know, connect the dots for her. And I'm someone who is a heavy user, I'm very educated, I'm comfortable having the conversation. She was not educated on cannabis. And so she did not want to have that conversation. And so I just makes me reflect, wow, if I'm somebody who's trying to navigate this conversation, not even from a medical perspective, for medical marijuana just for me, I'm a consumer of CBD, which is a federally legal cannabinoid. And my doctor doesn't understand what this cannabinoid is. She's concerned, there's not proper research, we don't really know how it's going to be applied. It just adds more complexity to navigating that conversation. And so I see where y'all exist, especially with the heavy focus on content creation. I imagine you're not just educating the consumers, you're also educating the medical professional. So kind of maybe let's dive into that conversation. How do you get doctors in your network to use your platform? Are they doctors that are already interested in cannabis? Or are they kind of doctors you have to go? I'm imagining, I mean, again, I have no professional experience in the medical world, but I'm imagining, you know, you're a medical sales rep, and you're going to go have dinner, and you're going to have 20 doctors in the city that you're trying to go launch it and you're trying to convince them, Hey, this is the power of cannabis. This is what this plant can do. Obviously, you talked on leveraging the data that you're collecting to turn into some more academic type research, but we're still lacking a lot of research. So how do you close that gap of obviously consumers want it obviously states are legalizing, but there's not as many doctors I'm finding as there are patients sometimes. And so how do you convince the medical professional world that you're legitimate and they should be a part of your platform?
Anthony Dutcher 26:52
Yeah. 100% so back, I'll get to that. But back to what you said earlier about you with your doctor like I've had I've had the doctor personally Tell me talking about my cannabis use. And you know, Amelie is goes marijuana induced psychosis and cycle well hold up, like, hold on, like where does that come from? Like I get it you learn that in right tiny piece of paragraph that it had in your textbook in grad school or to get your doctor like, sure. Like I know you go by the book and that's how you're supposed to cause the facts you know, way that's fair, but like, like, hold on, let's take your breath away. I mean, that conversation just immediately puts a bad taste in everyone's mouth is not the doctors mouth and yours. So like unpacking that is nobody deserves to be judged right there initially by us cannabis, you could be just as CBD cream for your knees or something could be athletes. But anyway, how do we collect doctors, but I will say that two weeks ago, I just did a career fair with the University of Maryland for their MS and medical cannabis science and therapeutics program, the first in the nation. So really like University of Maryland, huge city to really study this. And so we did a career fair and I got so many job applications from people that are among the first on the front line, really studying us and, and really knowing so I'd like to say we put our best foot forward, we do have a giant physician intake team. But I think like I say giant, but it's like eight people, but we're still inside a face. So it's huge for us. And you know, they're all over the globe, certainly here in Denver, some here in San Diego, and others even overseas, and they are kind of frontline of defense of you know, a doctor inquiries, it doesn't mean that they're gonna get on the platform, I feel like we have to see passion, that they want to help people with this, you know, we're not just going to bring someone on board, this one's to make money, recommending patients that wants to get on and off phone call and or see them in person and for five minutes, and then send them on their way. We need to see passion here and the desire to help people legally, we can't say treat. And legally, it's not even really a medical consultation, because you're recommending, so we have to dance the line there. And we have to be careful that we work with who knows what, you know, isn't a doctor's pass. So we have to do background checks. But at this point, there is a lot of inbound just because of the marketing we're doing and the brand lift we're getting with the radio initiatives and billboards and other mediums that some of the best and brightest are coming to us. And you know, saying like, hey, I've had my own practice, I've been recommending cannabis for five years in my state, I want to join yours like, and another part of it is where a tech platform we really are, we're not a medical clinic where a network of doctors uses our platform, at their own free reign. And you know, arguably, it's better than some of the filing cabinets, they're using it their own practice, you know, it's all housed in one place, you can do it all here, you can schedule your own and just see these specific patients when you want. So we're even seeing that some doctors have, you know, the patients that want to come in to get recommended. They're just saying go to bear Hill, we'll manage it there. We'll get through it there. So we've really created this lane of our own to be able to support them in the best way possible. But vetting yet is very important. We can't be working with their own doctors that you know are going to say that psychosis thing to the patient, you know, like yeah, sure, like if you think someone actually has schizophrenia in their in their medical history, and like once again, I'm just the marketing guy. I have no idea how the consultations go, but that is an element you know, like maybe someone you know, shouldn't be smoking the highest THC and should be going With a tincture for something else, so that's completely up to the doctor's discretion and their recommendation, we're just here to support and gather all the information they can to make a really good assessment, but also should include that cannabis at this stage because they're recommending it, they're not prescribing it like some states, I think you fill a prescription order. But it's kind of a misnomer in this stage, because, you know, it's not a scheduled one. So it can't be that full blown medical consultation. So when we have our, we have another service called personalized consultations, which are really just coaching normally is doctors but it's just a coaching session, you know, someone already has their car they're using, they want to take a little deeper dive. And you know, we've had neurologists, we have all kinds of people that are these coaches that understand the brains and understand anatomy really well. But then these are heavy hitters. These are our best and brightest, I think it was like five to 10 and they are 100% cannabis, you know, they know everything they've taken the endocannabinoid certifications, and all these other, you know, terpene ones. And beyond, like, you know, the green flowers or the media companies putting information out there, actually, you know, going in, and getting the medical journals that are looking into what is available. So I'd say our network is definitely at the forefront there. If there is any group that knows what they're talking about, it's our group of the doctors that use our platform. And that's something we look for when we bring on a new coach. So if you're going to be consulting on someone's, you know, very real, very holistic needs, you need to understand, you know, how the prescriptions can impact certain things and things of that nature. So that is a big element. But, of course, there's the other unknown of dosing or like, nobody really knows or like, Oh, yeah, but you know, use this of cherry diesel or some Durbin poison is like, well, I don't know what the farm and boulders is compared to, you know, green therapy down here in Denver, it's just it's so much, you're putting a lot of power in the user, it's a really, really, really invested time into figuring out what that doctor is recommending. So because they are you know, I do think there are other apps and stuff coming out here to help people identify that and you know, maybe devices to test things better. But I would say that our group through our vetting process is you know, the brightest in the country at that forefront and it puts us in a good position to be able to make recommend patients for living a better life.
Shayda Torabi 32:13
quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast restart CBD is a brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas, we operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store and you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart CBD calm again thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt, I hope you'll check them out or your CBD needs. Let's go back to the episode. It's interesting that you highlighted which I wasn't really aware of because I do think probably reflecting on it now I do think some states can actually fill a prescription or at least that's the word they're using like I believe Illinois they go as far as when your doctor prescribes for you they are fulfilling at a you know I'm using air quotes pharmacy but it's the dispensary and you can yeah your prescription around to other dispensaries but they have to fulfill it at kind of like your main dispensary. And so it just gets interesting kind of thought around. The variability is of obviously which we know when we're dealing with cannabis. Every state has different cannabis laws. Even every different municipality has different cannabis laws. And so you sit in an interesting intersection where you're trying to educate obviously the consumers to come in to want to be open minded to cannabis. You're trying to connect them to the medical professionals who are either already passionate about it in your system, or like you highlighted inbound getting new physicians and doctors who want to have that conversation. Do you also kind of touch on actually the dispensary aspect as well? Are there dispensaries that are a part of this chain because I can imagine again, every state is operating slightly differently knowing like in Texas, our medical program, you can't have flowers. I think you mentioned another state where flour is obviously not part of medical but in Colorado. flour is the same products you can buy, you know medical versus recreational so there's not really a differentiation. So you also touched on dosing. I'm just curious. I know when marijuana first became I'll just use Colorado since you live there and I'm most familiar with it. Like medical and recreation are very like side by side now and to get your medical card. It's not like you necessarily have to go to a different dispensary. I think when it first opened up there was a little bit more separation, of course, because it was like we're only medical versus now recreation, but kind of using Colorado as an example. What are you observing in terms of like completing that cycle for consumers? Is it Yeah, hey, here's the doctor and the doctor is going to prescribe this many milligrams and we think like do they actually get into prescribing brands because like in Texas, we only have three operating licensee medical marijuana providers and the products are very limited. So it's not like I can say You need to go smoke this strainer, oh, you need to go eat this particular edible. I imagine in Colorado it's a little bit more, there's a lot more products to choose from and a lot more options and things to go from.
Anthony Dutcher 35:10
There's many sides to this puzzle here. And this is not four sides, it's maybe 10 or 30. But I will say that well, going back earlier, Louisiana, you actually the doctor fills a prescription every time you go to the dispensary, so just extremely bottlenecked that hinders our ability to scale there and things of that nature. But you know, our doctors are boots on the ground, they're epic. So they're doing everything they can to get patients to access they need. here in Colorado, we still have tons of medical only dispensaries that service a smaller selection of patients that are loyal to them, because they have their products that fit their needs. And they have accessibility, but dependability you saw when Illinois went wreck, they sold out products, but who still add products, medical, this is people's medical needs, they have to be able to supply them. And granted over time, that's that's the big first way when things go wrong, you know, I doubt you would see that maybe for holidays and things of that nature. But medical, you know, is really down to reliability there as well as the excise taxes in most states that you don't have to pay as a medical card holder, I assume recreational programs will always bear the tax, you know, upwards of 20 30%. I think 32% is the most and you're Washington or Oregon, I could be wrong there. It's pretty significant. And you can bypass a lot of that with your medical card. And if you're using it as a Medical Medium, we always say get your card, you know you're going to the 50 cents a day I think it is maybe it says a hold your card will save you 1000s in terms of products if you're using a medical amount of it or you know, a sufficient amount of it or even just a small amount. So the discounts that are huge. You can normally possess more grow more in some states, I would say in a legal encounter. Hopefully no one has to deal with that. But you probably most times you are more protected and to have your card. Granted, it's not just on the car seat next to you, you know, you have to still be wise about these things like so yeah, the reason to have a card, if you're using medically is tenfold just the upfront fee to go out and get it. But like you said, Yeah, the line is definitely crossed. But like we've seen here in Colorado, you know, still at 5000 plus active medical patients for reason. They have their dispensary that they can rely on and go to day in and day out. Still 2 million active plus active patients in Colorado, we see a state like Pennsylvania like 350,000 plus where we have 1/6 of the market share in Pennsylvania, we've been able to facilitate one six approvals and help support doctors with one six of the patient approvals there. So which is just epic for us. And we have a state like Florida, I think rapidly approaching half a million, and I don't see those fizzling out if there's anything like you know, I think Colorado was over 100,000 and it's reduced. But people that lean on it for its medical needs. I don't see that going anywhere. But it really could be the same products. You're right, you know, like I think you know what Fox sells down here that's met only, you know, they might just be buying from choisy dispensary here that sells the same product. But you know, they know who their small medical client basis so that they can service them appropriately. And hopefully they are you know, hopefully they are we're a little bit on the outs and I will say to the ladder of your point. In a state like New York and Ohio. We have very stringent and not weed directly but they have stringent guidelines and protocols on separation of church and state between doctors and dispensaries. They don't want a doctor saying go to this dispensary. They don't want a dispensary saying go to this doctor. Good thing about us is we're not a doctor. We're not a medical clinic, we are a platform. So a dispensary can say go to bear Hill. And we can guide people. We have a dispensary finder on our site, just a listing service that we're scaling rapidly and our tech is evolving there. Good thing about a tech platform is we can tweak something in a week and we're startup we don't have a port to get things approved by we're like it's gonna help patients we're gonna go do it. So we can kind of guide people, we still have to be careful, we have to get things approved by legal which is a whole nother battle to Hey, we want to make this change on our site, can we send this email to this group of patients I just got approved in this area, we have that capability that is 11 ferryhill. And we are starting to explore other possibilities of you know, let's say Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we can analyze scrubbing the personally identifiable information of all these people who say, you know, hey, dispensary all these people want concentrates and use zip code, or all they want to feel this wellness goal, we have that capability and we're ready to deploy it when the time is right. It also comes down to an ethics question. This is a data conversation, you know, how do we use this wisely to improve the industry and push it up and you know, not just push it into tobacco and alcohol where you know, so many players are trying to do it. So we protect our data. And other mote we're building. You know, we have to be careful of how we use this but that is a possibility and that there's a huge possibility to improve the industry and people's needs there. You know if a dispensary in a zip code is not just what people are coming in, they want this product they want to feel this like okay, we can analyze this academically professionally to a very high standard and really zone in and push things up. I think there's a lot of possibilities here and like I said another non short answer possible, you know, you're just asking epic questions.
Shayda Torabi 40:04
Now it's great. I just my brain is just bouncing for everything you're sharing. Because again, I always try to pride myself, you know, there's always more information to learn. There's always more education to be had. And despite being very steeped in the industry myself, I'm constantly learning new information. And that's kind of where this podcast has existed. It's like, how do I pass on all this information that exists in the world in the industry, so that we can grow together. And so I think you highlighted something that I want to kind of riff on a little bit. It is an interesting position where we're trying to convince society that this is medicine, but we're very cautious about Big Pharma getting involved. But also when you reflect on cannabis, obviously, knowing that there needs to be more research to be done, but really reality. Our biochemistry varies. But from a medical perspective, you want consistency. You know, I think a lot of conversations around medical too is they talk about full spectrum, obviously, but I just was listening to some educational piece and it was saying, you know, full spectrum really isn't consistent because it's whatever that plants full spectrum is. And we know cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes can vary culture of article to var even cultivator. And so you can have the same seed, but it's going to vary just depending on where it's grown and who's growing it. And so I just poses an interesting question for the industry. That is, how do you guarantee someone is going to have a medical relief with a particular product, they can't, but then it kind of pushes it into that pharmaceutical where you're wanting more consistency, or trying to isolate out cannabinoids, or even reflecting on states like Texas, where it's so structured, it's like, well, we're not going to let you sell smokeable is because smokeable is is too variable, we're going to just have the distillation, we're gonna just offer concentrates or edibles and things like that, where it is more based on the dose versus that full plant approach. And so just kind of abstractly standing back from it. It's like, holy shit, how do you even start to take a bite out of it? I mean, obviously, kudos to y'all for leaning into that conversation. But it is a little overwhelming. I think for all of us, not even just consumers trying to navigate, you know, hey, I have pain from an accident. And I want to use cannabis. But how do I even navigate it? Like how do the doctors even know, hey, this terpene is really good for what you're telling me that your pain is, and you should try this strain. And oh, hey, actually the state you live in, we can't sell you smokeable for medical, so you're reliant upon then just dosing in milligrams. And so I don't know if that is really a question so much. It's just a lot of word vomit. I don't know if you've anything you want to kind of add to that?
Anthony Dutcher 42:38
Yes. No, it's a great standpoint. And what we have to do now is a lot of journaling, we have to tell patients, you need to be taking notes, what do you feel like with this, but you know, that's one side of it. But also, I was connected with the group the other month, and it's been a while, so I've been out of the loop with them. And I can't even recall their name. But if you know, the candidate club, their founder Maha works very closely with us, she actually spearheaded the COVID report that we did and put in our website back in May, it was incredible to work with on that she really kicked ass on it. And, you know, everything from the stats, she organized the whole teams to analyze the data and all that of that nature. But I do believe she or introduced me to a group that is working on standardization here of grow and processing, there's going to be those standards, you know, I would even think of at the recreational level, and it is that dances, you know, we don't want to fall into the centralization of pharma and what they've done, or even, you know, you're interested in that regard. And the bad things that have happened in that industry, we all you know, Cannabis, bring out our pitchforks when that conversation comes. But we can learn from it, you know, we can grow and we want the best for this industry. And unfortunately, you have some major players that dance the line very freely, but no standardization that will happen. But at least once again, I'm in the marketing guy, you know, I have to see what is analyzed here and and how can I make this a store? How can I make this content for people to learn? How can I do that generally, but not a medical degree holder here and not much of a researcher. So I can't say that the checks and balances and the protocols that are going to be need to help here to advance things forward. But I know what's happening. I know there's innovators that are moving to cannabis or that have been in cannabis for 2030 years. But no, this is coming people are ready. There's just a big big, big wall that the government has built in our ability to what products we analyze schwag weed coming out of what is it Mississippi or Missouri that that they analyze? So that's gonna change the game because that stuff that they're analyzing the national analyze what is bad about cannabis, because they can't analyze what's good because of its federal schedule. You know, what is the standard of that cannabis that they're growing? It's there's no way it's level. Once we get some more progress illegally across the nation, we will start to see actually these checks and balances placed you know, we'll start to see those standards put in place. I think it's good for industry because you do see you know, you see the infrequent bleckley outbreak, you know, evali vape prices, you see these things And luckily, we were able to crack down on that I think pretty quickly and it was gone. I think romaine lettuce followed it up. And then you know, both of them were gone in and out. So I do think that, you know, we can learn a lot from pharma, you know, evolve from their mistakes, not go down the rabbit hole of just gross desire for money. And, you know, help was here.
Shayda Torabi 45:19
Yeah, you brought up standardization. And I think that it's just such a reflection for all of us in the industry to remind ourselves that while cannabis in cannabis terms has been around for many, many, many years, the industry itself, the legalization of it, I mean, you also highlighted it still being a schedule one drug, I just don't think people really fully realize that prohibits so much actual proper research that is factual and substantial. And it's not that there aren't other entities who are now able to do research because certain states have legalized or even with the legalization of hemp at a federal level, but we are just kind of touching, you know, the surface. And there's so much to unpack under the surface that I think yes, in time, we will for sure, see more fruits of this labor be brought to life and brought to market but right now, it's just a very interesting dance that we're having to kind of flip it I am I wanting to focus a little bit on Yes, content creation. I mean, y'all are a machine, your Instagram. It's not even just that you're producing, like content. Like I think that there's, as a marketer, like consistency, right? It's just hitting the drumbeat, you're like, Okay, if I can just put things out, put things out, but your content is really relevant. And I just wanted to highlight some of the things that I've kind of seen floating across your Instagram. You talk about, you know, do my eyes look, read the science behind why, you know, talking about different you know, status on how cannabis use different stats and fluctuate seasonally throughout the year. When you talk about psilocybin, magic mushrooms. You talk about Delta eight products, Lisa, hi, the green life granting a journey to green wellness. I mean, it's very lifestyle. It's also very FAQ the legality of different states like I see you have stuff talking about Texas update with our legalization status and things like that. I'm a content creator, I know what it takes to create content. But what from your perspective as like Head of Marketing drives all of this content? I want to understand, is this like multiple team members? Is this like FAQs from you know, patients, just things that you're seeing in the industry? Like how do you aggregate all these different touch points of content, and create content that speaks to those questions?
Anthony Dutcher 47:32
I do on my smartphone? No, I'm just kidding. It's a massive team. It really started with a vision. And you know, cliche, if I will. But uh, we knew what we wanted. We artists in our own regard music creators here amazing graphic designers, really elegant writers, eloquent writers that are just epic with their words. And how do we combine that? But how do we set our own standards of you know, we're not gonna put that out, that doesn't look too good. And we're very frank with each other. But it is a seven person marketing team here in Denver. And we have an editor in chief Lauren, who is in a phenomenal marketing, right? Yeah, she's our content director, or creative director, and she just crushes it. And her vision, you know, really sets the tone. I knew early on what we would want and what we needed that we wanted to do the art because every post is a piece of art as well, on top of what you said, like this is being drawn and like mocked up and we want that to have an impact. But the goal here is how do we d stigmatize on the way you go on our page? It's not just dank nugs we're not doing that at all. I mean, once in a while, you know, it has fun, it gets good engagement, but we're also shadow bands. So we have to get really fucking creative here. Like some of our stuff just doesn't Excel and then we're like this poses epic, why isn't it doing great? And you know, it's just unfortunate that we're stuck there, but it's not gonna stop us. You know, we're working on how do we scale this? How do we put out more posts and we did notice, you know, if we put out three to four Instagram posts a day which we are ready to do even like, what we're doing is very light compared to what we can do with this team we belt. It's that if we post more than twice a day, that's just engagement, just flubs for everything. So I go Okay, great. But you know, we're starting to dive into more short form videos with the coming of what Tick Tock is done for everything and everything getting stories, I think Pinterest released stories the other week, which is like, what the hell is this? What is this use? So really expanding on what we can do in the short form video game? But yeah, our goal here is to D stigmatize, you know, someone, a mom can come on this page with their kid and say, like, you know, like, let's talk about this or something like that, like, obviously, a very far fetched example there. But we just didn't want to, you know, looking at all of our competition and what they put out and maybe even non endemic brands, what they do with the brand, no one has really done this artist thing, combining art and the facts with unbiased kind of opinion. And obviously, we're biased towards cannabis, but we're unbiased and you know, other things we want to put out and you know, like we're putting out we're constantly collaborating with being a very diverse team and African American founded Sam and Josh both. We just did a piece on women of color in the cannabis industry. Very basically give shine light on this shit like, this is epic and why we should be signing you up. And you would not believe the amount of hate that comes through like, I'm not racist, but like you shouldn't that's like, okay, like what is happening here? So, so we're dodging those bullets all the time if people just coming at us, but it doesn't stop us, you know, we want to tackle the hard things you want to say what's not getting enough attention. And you know, if you don't like it, don't fucking comment that like that stuff that comes around is just atrocious. And the cannabis industry needs to do better. And people need to look at it better, you know. So that's just what we're trying to do. It's a big D stigmatized effort, we want your grandma to read our feed, and when something out of it if we can change one life with any piece of content, if we can change one person's opinion, one person's, you know, treatment option, or what they've learned, you know, our job is that like, we're just happy with, if one piece didn't change one person's life, you know, we're doing good, and we're happy about it. So we're not slowing down. Our blog really, though, is the pillar. It's stories. And our writers are epic, absolutely epic.
Shayda Torabi 51:00
I want to leave you with some food for thought, when it comes to medical marijuana. Blissett Lee, but especially when it comes to cannabis in general, it's really challenging to navigate what you can and can't say. And so I'm curious how you navigate what you can and can't say, Do you kind of look to your peers? Is it a aggregation of other brands on the market that you're kind of taking notes from? Do you work with a cannabis lawyer? are they helping advise you on what specifically your state is allowing? Or suggesting that you can say, Are you the person I kind of sit in that role, personally, if y'all can't tell already, where I'm trying to navigate and pull all this information together so that I can make sure that, you know, I'm setting my brain up for success. And so I think that is kind of the biggest takeaway for me is just to continue to navigate and, obviously search for the truth. But I think the truth is also really hidden just due to the nature of the industry. And so how do we navigate around that? I mean, there's no right or wrong answer. There's obviously not as much regulation as an industry as I would personally like to see, I definitely see anywhere from small brands to big brands abusing this and getting away with it. And to me, the ache ultimately resonates with how it impacts the consumer, you know, how people are using our products and how it's making them feel and what kind of relief it truly is giving them and then being able to attribute that in some sort of data driven scientific, factual way that then we can obviously use as marketing. So yeah, I just wanted to kind of put that out there. I'm curious what you guys think how you navigate this and encourage you to connect with me on social media to continue the dialogue at To be blunt pod, or at least Shayda Torabi on Instagram, you can find me on LinkedIn. Otherwise, thanks for tuning in to another episode. I'll be back next Monday with a brand new one. And if you're new here, thanks again for joining us. You can go back and listen to any of my past episodes. They're all great. Talk to you guys later. Bye. Love this
episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit be Shayda torabi.com slash to be blonde for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi
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