“When we build this [position in the cannabis industry], we're building it for the future, you know, we're building it for the long haul, and we're taking a bold position on what we think the future will hold.” - Matthew Cohen
Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Matthew Cohen, CEO of purejuana to talk about the journey to pioneering the spirits category in the industry, introducing a new need in the market, and how he kept the pure cannabis culture alive through innovation.
[00:01 – 05:34] Introducing purejuana and Changing the Cannabis Game
[05:35 – 16:46] Facing Raids and Pioneering the Spirits Category
[16:47 – 30:19] Challenges of Entering the Category and Proper Positioning
[30:20 – 39:28] Educating the Customers the Cannabis Experience Pathline
[39:29 – 51:44] Mindful Marketing Towards Clarity for Clients
[51:45 – 54:45] Food for Thought: How do you innovate while keeping the culture pure?
Matthew Cohen co-founded Lively Spirits, a psychotropic spirits company leveraging nature's bounty of plants and fungi to craft euphoric beverages in 2020, and currently helms the Company as its Chief Executive Officer. A serial cannabis entrepreneur with nearly three decades rooted in the industry, Cohen got his start advocating for medical cannabis use among patients in the late 1990s, as California’s medical marijuana program was in its infancy. In 2009, Cohen founded Northstone Organics, a farm-direct entity that became the first licensed cannabis producer in the state of California until it was abruptly raided and shut down by the DEA in 2011. As California’s regulatory framework continued to emerge, Cohen went on to lead a number of successful cannabis ventures, including the Emerald Growers Association, a not-for-profit association of medical cannabis cultivators, business owners, and patients advocating for public policies that foster a more sustainable medical cannabis industry. He also helped lead Harborside Health Center, and he founded TRiQ, an industrial solutions provider focused on growing, processing and manufacturing cannabis with innovative technology, which included Cohen’s own invention, the Vulcann50 industrial drying machine. Cohen’s series of disruptive innovations is predated by a history of activism and patient care. Cohen was named one of the 100 most influential People in the Cannabis Industry by Cannabis Business Executive and has been featured in the New York Times, This American Life, Slate, The Week, Rolling Stone, and Frontline.
Connect with Matthew
Visit https://www.purejuana.com/ and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @purejuanaofficial
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
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Matthew Cohen 0:00
So when we build this, we're building it for the future. You know, we're building it for the long haul. And we're taking a bold position on what we think the future will hold behold, it's very similar to like, kind of like I say this all the time, but like, Henry Ford has a quote. If I'd listened to my customers, I'd built them a faster horse. And I think a lot of cannabis products are doing that right now. Not willing to push the envelope and be bold and think about what people could want, if they knew it was possible. And so we're all in.
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 1:07
Hello and welcome back to the to be blind podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer and I'm so glad you're here with me for another episode of the podcast. Today's topic spans the intersection of cannabis and alcohol based spirits controversial to some who are you cannabis and alcohol are separate entities which at a scientific level, yes, they do perform differently in our bodies and certainly one can argue have different long term effects from overconsumption. However, there is a clear market of alcohol consumers who if given the chance to enjoy cannabis session, numbly, perhaps would elect to have cannabis as their vice or drink of choice. Now we've certainly had cannabis drink beverages on the show like the wildly popular can. But today's guest is approaching the cannabis consumption conversation with the intent of reshaping the way we enjoy and experience cannabis through dry spirits. The company is called pure Juana and my guest is CEO of lively spirits. The parent company of pure Juana lively spirits is psychrotrophic spirits company leveraging nature's bounty of plants and fungi to craft euphoric beverages. So I mentioned pure Juana is a dry spirit, dry meaning the product is a dry powder and also dry, meaning alcohol free. It's actually a really remarkable product, I've had the chance to get my hands on some and try it for myself. And first and foremost, it is a beautifully designed brand, from the packaging to the look and feel to the tone of voice. Yes, this brand has its own voice. definitely encourage you to engage and interact with them on social media so you can get a feel for what I'm explaining. But you know, nonetheless, I wouldn't expect anything less from a California cannabis brand. I definitely think that market encourages, and rewards branding. I think the consumers are seeking out brands we all are really I love branding too, even though I'm based in Texas. But very clearly this is a brand and brought to market with consideration for changing the conversation. From the actual product itself to the way the brand speaks to their consumer through curated recipes and gauging content featuring top mixologist, who are working with the product to very engaging in person experiential events to again the packaging of the product, which is packed full of educational information to help the consumer enjoy the product in the comfort of their own home. Pure Juan has also strain specific and made from premium sun grown cannabis and it's turned into a THC powder crafted from live flower which Matt gets into a little bit more in detail in the actual episode. But it's a really fascinating outcome for the product because you can literally smell the powder and both smell and taste and it smells just like but like it smells like you're smelling the flower which is accredited to the live flower that they use for the powder. So I was especially excited to sit down with Matt because first and foremost, I was really you know, captivated by the brand that Matt was building. And so it was a pleasure to sit down with him and pick his brain about pure Juana, but also because of the disruptive nature of the product itself. I think the way we consume cannabis is obviously changing and being able to highlight these different strains and capture their essence and flavor profile that transcends into a powder that can be mixed and enjoyed by sipping is a new experience for cannabis consumers that I'm really excited to see hit the market. Aside from pure Juana Matt has quite the extensive cannabis history from founding at northstone Organics in 2009 and becoming the first licensed cannabis producer and this of California, to establishing and leading the Emerald Growers Association, a nonprofit association for medical cannabis cultivators, business owners, and patients advocating for public policies that foster a more sustainable medical cannabis industry to helping lead harborside Health Center which went on to become the world's largest retailer of medical cannabis. So there was a lot to unpack there. I feel like Matt is going to do a much better job of sharing his story, and I'm so grateful to have him on the podcast today. So without further ado, let's just welcome Matt to the show.
Unknown Speaker 5:35
My name is Matthew Cohen. I'm the CEO of lively spirits makers of pure Juana brand dry spirit. It's a cannabis powder that powers cocktails would be live essence of the plant. Very interesting products. So my journey, I guess the first time I consumed cannabis, it just clicked for me. I mean, I, you know, I fell in love with the blank, you know, the first time I consumed probably, I was 15 years old or so became an activist in college, the University of Colorado produced a newsletter called the enforcer, which was a drug war newsletter educating students on campus about the travesties of the drug war. In my own newsletter read about Jeff Jones and the Oakland Buyers Club and the civil injunction from the Clinton administration. What was happening with Dennis perone. And prop 215 in California was like, wow, you know, it looks like it's illegal. And if there's dispensaries, which at the time there was like two or three, then there must be grows and it must be legal. So we dropped I dropped out of college and my first attorney was Robert ratio, who is the co author of Proposition 215. And the Supreme Court Attorney for the Oakland Buyers Club and race vegans solace ratio vegans all this case as well, the two big Supreme Court cases. And I was actually john doe. I'm number one in the Rachel Gonzalez case. I was Angel ratios caregiver. So I got started as an activist back in college in 96. And then in 98, dropped out and moved to California and formed a corporation. I started growing cannabis for the dispensaries and paying taxes and operating with the what we believe was the intent of the voters. At the time there was zero regulations. So it was the Wild West. And I came up as a grower dispensary operator, co founder of the mo Growers Association, which is now the California Growers Association. So plugged into the Bay Area communities in the north, the Humboldt, Mendocino communities. I helped pioneer the 9.31 law, which is the first regulatory scheme for any cannabis cultivator and state of California, and then founded northstone Organics, which was the first licensed cultivator in the state of California. And we delivered to your door in the Bay Area, nine Bay Area counties and in Los Angeles, county, Farm, direct organics and grown flour and then got raided by the federal government, even though the sheriff's department had sold me zip ties and interviewed with international media with me, I was friends with the sheriff. The federal government didn't like that too much. They kind of made us a poster child. And I kind of feel like that was the tipping point in the industry, quite frankly, there wasn't a lot of raids that ever happened after that. And it was certainly a what we call a smash and grab they came in with the dump truck and this chainsaws and all the DEA agents with you know, night vision and it was I mean, you can look it up if there's a front I gave my hard drive my security system to frontline pbs and they did an expose a on it. There was a lot of media back then. Anyway, my wife and I came through all that and I got into the service side of the business developed technologies, first industrial scale cannabis dryer technology through a company called trike. And then I ended up becoming somewhat of a free agent and met a group that had a nutraceutical company, they were trying to get into the cannabis space. And I was their cannabis guy, right. And I was helping them apply some of the technologies they had to the cannabis space. And lo and behold, we had some water soluble technology. And we also had some unique ambient temperature drying technologies. So I was the one at the company that said, Hey, you know, we can actually make a live powder that has the essence of the plant. And that's a remarkable thing because as a grower, my value sets always been about the pure expression of the plant and delivering the best experience of that cultivars to the consumer, whether it be flower extract, or what have you. And I knew that cannabis beverage if it could actually behave like alcohol would be the holy grail of cannabis products. When I stumbled upon it at this new gig as a consultant I was like guys, you have no idea how valuable this is. And this was three or four years ago before you know the photos of the world. And before lagunitas high hops and Canada even showed up yet. And we were trying to position ourselves as a ver Tosa or a source you know to being an ingredient brand and originally if you're one of the supposed to be the ingredient brand, but then I ended up taking over the company with my partner Harper steel. And we decided that the ingredient business was a tough business and that we wanted to be a consumer packaged goods and that this product was so amazing in making cocktails with that we would pioneer the spirits category of cannabis adult beverage. Because we had all these sensors out there, right? We had all the kind of sugary edible products from kind of cannabis beverage 1.0. But the seltzers had showed up. And there wasn't really anything else we're starting to see kind of the alcohol lized wines, and we're starting to see more beer like products. But we thought, hey, spirits, cocktails, this is a huge opportunity. And if we can bring a true botanical essence, to a cocktail with unique taste, smell and experience, that that was a worthy endeavor. It's a big mountain to climb because you got to get people to recognize that cannabis can be consumed in a cocktail form factor, that powder is a better form factor than liquid for this product. Because we don't have a built in preservative with alcohol. Alcohol is a preservative. So being in a powder is the way to preserve all the volatiles. And then we wanted to pioneer this category, we called it a dry spirit. So we took all that technology and focus the company and did a DBA called lively spirits. And that's the way we've been operating. We've launched Tawana into the market in May. It's available and three different strengths, and five different strains. Currently, it comes in a powder form factor or a stick pack. And we'll have other form factors coming out as well soon.
Shayda Torabi 11:25
I really appreciate it you diving into your story, you've been at the forefront of a lot of the movement. It sounds like from the cannabis industry going legal. It sounds like and so it's definitely swirling a lot of questions. In my mind. I'm trying to pick the best one to ask you as a follow up. But I think for me, where I'm really curious to kind of hear from your perspective is, as you are one developing this particular product, I know that there's some sentiment around, you know, the narrative, and from a branding and marketing perspective around the narrative of relating cannabis to alcohol. Some people are really turned off by that association. It sounds like you're obviously very much leaning into it. I don't think there's a right or wrong approach because I do think that there's obviously you know, people who like to drink people who don't like to drink and people who like to consume cannabis and don't like to consume cannabis, people who want to consume a lot of cannabis who want to consume a little bit of cannabis. And especially like that mesh of worlds in between, like you highlighted some of these other canned beverages, cannabis seltzers as a deviation kind of from an edible perspective, but just kind of you know, from your experience being in the industry and being a true, you know, cannabis cultivator yourself, What has that been like, kind of pushing up against that narrative in that conversation of kind of incorporating cannabis into the cocktail conversation?
Unknown Speaker 12:46
Great point. Yeah, I think there's a lot of legacy cannabis consumers out there, they're like, we smoke it. That's what we do, you know. But my view of that is that the addressable market has only been approximately 25% address and you know, that's my swag number. I think there's a huge amount of people out there that don't want to smoke. There's a huge amount of people that are out there that have had bad experience with edibles, and then even the people that are the first movers in the seltzer space, those people, I'd be surprised they're when they're out there partying that they want to just drink seltzer after seltzer after seltzer. And it's a limited occasion. Right? So I think we need to broaden those occasions. And yeah, we made a really bold decision by calling it a cocktail. And I think that the reason we went that way is because that's what people understand. That's the nomenclature they understand. And quite frankly, it's active. This is not a mocktail, right, a mocktail is something that's not no active in it. Right? We actually have a sessionable psychotropic experience that's on par with a candidate with an alcohol experience. And we very much want to pull I think I was our first target market would be alcohol replacement, followed by a different form factor for cannabis consumption, a non smoking non edible kind of consumption possibility. And I think there's even a lot of people out there that are heavy cannabis users that are that I know them that are but there are customers that are like, hey, what a breath of fresh air that I don't have to smoke. Right. And I also don't have to be beholden to this edible Hi, this edible hi is always the same. Hi, is this 11 hydroxy Hi, we are Delta nine converts in your liver to 11 hydroxy It's heavy. It lasts a long time. Like this is an opportunity to ingest live cannabis without combustion. There's really no other way to do it.
Shayda Torabi 14:35
Yeah, I think you obviously both like your experience and just bringing your product to market have understood and i i agree with your you know, your stat there 25% of the, you know, market that we are aware of, right? It's even myself I've been consuming cannabis for you know, 10 plus 15 years and some change. And I'm getting to the age where I no longer want a smokeable experience as frequently as I perhaps enjoyed in my younger years, and I also am really excited by new micro dose products. And so I think there's like this combination of both new consumers who are entering the market who are maybe more familiar with something as associating to a cocktail or a beverage experience, versus I got to go, you know, buy this pre roll, or I gotta buy this flower, I gotta buy a grinder, I gotta, you know, break it apart and load it and smoke it. And so I think that I appreciated that answers because I've observed it myself, just from my own personal consumption of wow, you know, cannabis as a consumption is for sure evolving. And when you can marry that to understanding where the market is going and what consumers and new consumers really are looking for. I think that's obviously where you find some success. Now to kind of pick apart You said it sessionable cannabis, I've heard this word a lot, I would love to learn a little bit more from you what sessionable cannabis means. And kind of a follow up to that. I'm just, you know, doing some pre research, your brand uses a lot of the words around onset versus offset. And in relationship to alcohol. I think that there's a little bit of, you know, curiosity for me to try to understand, like, yes, if I eat an edible, it's kind of the joke around the world. We all know, if you eat the edible, like say Sayonara, because the roller coaster ride is just beginning like strap yourself in it can last you know, a couple hours, it can last a whole day. And so I think that there's some of that kind of, you know, sentiment built into edibles. But from what I had kind of heard and learned about pure Juana, it is operating more like alcohol, where you can have one beverage and it kind of you know, you feel the effects. And then maybe it fades a little bit. And that's why you can continue to compound. And so I just wanted to kind of understand from you, you know, what is that sessionable experience like? And how does that maybe through the technology, or just through the approach of how your product is put together? To kind of enter the market in this new category?
Unknown Speaker 17:01
Question. I want to address an earlier point to like, I'm a cannabis, lifelong cannabis consumer, there's, I can count the days probably, there's probably hasn't been 30 days in my life since I was 15, that I haven't consumed cannabis. And a heavy user weighed two. And also it was always a heavy alcohol drinker as well. So my normal night used to be a bottle of wine and like three grams of weed like that county, the lifestyle. You know, if I was really honest with myself, I didn't always want to be as high as I was getting, you know, and I and sometimes I found myself being really having a really heavy high to where I was like, less sociable, and so forth. And an alcohol, I just got to the point where I actually have a genetic predisposition to gout and alcohol is my trigger. So I had to give it up I couldn't walk for I got to a point where I was severely ill. So funny enough, you know, we've been built the first one of these were two years ago. And it's been two years since I've been drinking out. People have asked me to take a hit but like, I'm not out there seeking like, trying to find the dank like I used to, because I actually enjoy drinking it more than smoking it now I enjoy it. It's a better Hi, I think it's a better consumption modality actually can taste the string even more than smoking it or dabbing it. It's pretty interesting to your sessionable question, I that term came to me through a gentleman over over Boston beer company. So in our 1.0 version of this company, I was the biz dev guy and we were trying to sign you know, Boston beer company ABN Bev, we were trying to power all the big multinationals in Canada that was what we were after. But that's I heard that term from the head of innovation at Boston beer company and stole it right then and you know, session ability means you can drink as many as you want to drink to get to where you want to be and that the dose of the drink is such that you don't you're not one and done, right. And with alcohol. There's a predictable onset and offset and with consuming cannabis edibles there is not. And with the technology that we developed, we've got the active ingredient to behave similarly to alcohol. I told my marketing team I hate talking about onset and offset because there's so many other nano emulsion type companies out there that are you know, claim our under five minutes or word under 10 minutes and it's like bottom is it's like alcohol. You know, and I think that people some people feel their alcohol right after they take a sip. Some people feel it five minutes later, you know, I mean, I think everybody's got different biologies. biochemistries. But it's sessionable you know, most people when they consume this will drink two or three drinks. You know, they'll pick their dose if they're a entry level user, they're going to be like a 2.5 milligram which is similar to what they can which is at two Meg's or if they're more of a they've got some experience cannabis, you know, they're more five Meg's which is like, kind of wonder and some of you know lagunitas as products are at, and then we also have a stronger drink because hey, this is powering cocktails and there's cocktails like martinis out there, right. And, you know, we have a 10 milligram for that. But you know, I find, you know, instead of coming home and you know, drinking half a bottle of wine and smoke a couple joints, I will have a bug three to 510 milligrams, and cocktails across like five hours. You know, it's like, like my typical evening. And you know, if I'm on vacation in Hawaii by a pool, I mean, I could easily drink quite a few of these things, you know. And it's really fun when you get into that buzz place. But there's no hangover and slow calorie. It's good, clean, fun.
Shayda Torabi 20:31
Yeah, I think that obviously, like with this new consumer coming into the market, and trying to understand and navigate around these different products, creating things that are both familiar, as well as helping kind of educate them through that journey are really critical, because there are new consumers, and they are looking for things to help replace their alcohol experience or to supplement it or just to even, you know, have an approach of what is like quality. I love that it's, you know, more on the health side, in terms of ingredients, I think I saw a quote to where you were highlighting, you know, obviously alcoholic beverages, there's full of so many different serums and different kinds of infusions. Not that you can't have that a part of the cocktail experience that you're creating with pure Juana. But it doesn't start off as like a sugary mix or this, you know, kind of concoction that you're pounding things on top of it's a very pure hence, obviously, I'm sure the name but pure approach to introducing that product into the consumer to be able to build upon
Unknown Speaker 21:30
Yeah, the bottom line was we wanted to bring the pure expression of the plant to the consumer. And we wanted to do it in the least adulterating way with it in a way that like, you know, me, as a consumer, I wouldn't want to drink this stuff all the time. Like I don't want to drink something loaded with preservatives all the time. I don't want to drink something literally sugar all the time, where propylene glycol or something, some of these ingredients. And some of these products are it's astounding, what's going on there. So we had to have everything had to be certified organic ingredients, the flour had to be grown under the sun was sun organic inputs, we can't call this product certified organic. But if it was federally legal, we would be USDA certified organic, this product would be that it's produced to that level, and everything's food grade, it was a really important piece for us.
Shayda Torabi 22:16
We'll talk to me a little bit too about that, I guess the structure of your products, you have three different strengths. You also just highlighted that it's flour that's been grown outside, the word fresh flash frozen has been used. Tell me what that does in terms of the product that you're putting on the shelf compared to products that are made with distillate and you know, kind of what is the benefit. And I guess
Unknown Speaker 22:42
for all the US consumer, for all the folks out there that are listening that don't know what distillate is distillate is a process that is super intensive, has heat temperatures over 400 degrees. I mean, there's, it's a process by which you take the dry, trim byproduct or be buds, sea buds, or just simply flour that can't be sold on the shelf, and you strip away and isolate the THC molecules as best as you can. Right. It's not an isolate, but it's a near Islip. That's why this looks like typically no more north of 90% pure THC, in the process of making this so that you literally destroy everything else. And the plant is super complex, highly volatile. I mean, the fact that you can smell it in the field means that those compounds are volatile, they're coming, you're smelling them, they're they're evaporating. So that's why products powered with distillate are always going to have the same experience, because it's just one chemical. But I don't know how familiar you are with the entourage effect. But you know, GW Pharmaceuticals is one of the you know, early cannabis, medical marijuana. pharmaceutical companies out there from the UK coined the phrase, the entourage effect, right. And what they were trying to say is like, Look, this product works better with all the chemicals in conjunction. And that's like, that was like an entry level statement, in my opinion, like, I don't think they were talking on the level we're talking. Because what what's happening with marijuana is that you literally have like 100 plus compounds from this unique cultivars that have been weaponized and are creating a psychotropic experience that you can actually really tell what a Blue Dream High is versus what an emoji high is. Right? I don't think that when GW pharmaceutical was saying that, that they were going to the level of that deep experiential kind of place, but we are going there we so that's why it's critical that the cultivars that we choose the clone has the genetic profile that we require. So controlling the genetics, this is the beginning of this whole process. And we had to vet these genetics first which was you know, we had more growers You know, a lot of us at the company are growers so we we knew a lot about we had a good guess you know, to start on what strains would work really well in this product cuz they not all do work well. I mean, if it does require certain types of systems For the tastes comes through and the effect comes through. Some of the things we found out is that some strains that that smoke well, are very, not very interesting in pure Juana. So anyway, it starts with the genetics and then it starts with farmers that know what they're doing, you know, farmers that are growing under the sun and living soils, organic soils. I know how to pick the plant when it's ripe. And then we back in our freezer trailers, freeze, all that whole plant. This is not you know, we're not taking the trim, you know, none of this material is dry. We're not taking the bee buds of the sea buds. This is the whole dank flower from farmers that affected the entire supply chain for harbourside many grown flour that was on that shelf is these farmers, these farmers now work for parowan. Then we haul off the material concentrate where there's zero adulteration in the process to adulterate all those compounds, those flavonoids, terpenes, and so forth, that are really volatile. And then we make a food grade emotion. It's not necessarily an emotional, there's a lot of buzzwords around nanoemulsions out there are we're trying love, right, you know what sells, you know, run into this and I go Yep, come on inside. Right. That's what we're after. So we don't think it's as straightforward as just making things small. But that's about as far as we like to talk about the tech. That's something we we want to get into it's trade secret. And I don't think it's all that interesting to the consumer. In the end. Anyway, I think the experience is more what's interesting. But then we take that emotion, and we dry on a proprietary drying machine that we invented and built ourselves. That takes all the water off without heat, without pressure without any sort of adulteration. And then we take these powders that we build, and we build the different strengths and strains in the stick packs, the stick packs can be sold as singles for under $3 per drink at the point of sale, or in boxes of 10 looks like a cigarette box with 10 drinks. And it's very portable, easy to go out on the town with or travel with. And again, drink prices depending on if you're buying a single or a box range from anywhere from $1.50 to $3 per drink. And if you look at us compared to the other products in the market, we have the best value by a long shot. First of all, there isn't many other real live drinks out there. And when it comes to the cost per drink, we're far lower. The only products that are cheaper than us are there's a couple like 100 milligram distillate drinks that are being selling for cheap right now. And that high kind of highlights what's happening in the beverage market headset just did a great analysis of this. I mean, the sea is dividing. You have these super strong, heavy user drinks. They're using the motion Tex they're more rapid onset. They're powered by distillate and it's kind of a race to the bottom on price for these types of products. tonic and Uncle Arnie's you know they're out there serving that market and they're doing a great job. And then the the other side of the market, which is kind of what can really pioneered and kudos to them for Breaking Trail really for everybody, this micro dose market. And we just think that two milligrams isn't enough for a lot of the people out there. I think that they did the right thing to say, Hey, this is a dose that anybody can start with. But we think that the masses are probably going to find over time that you know after they get used to drinking cannabis, they're probably going to be in a little bit stronger than a two Meg drink. But we offered all we offer the two Meg's up to the 10 Meg's and I've there's like a very small percentage of people out there that need something stronger than a 10 meg drink. Usually what we find is that there's just a misinterpretation of like, Hey, I drank one thing and I'm not high all the way high. It's like that's you get drunk off of one drink of alcohol. You know, you need to get there. You need to drink your way there and 234 drinks. And when we get people to understand that even these super heavy user people that drink you know, consume like hundreds of milligrams a day of edibles, we found that Yeah, maybe you need to start off with a double 10 you know, a 20 meg drink and then back off into a 10 and another 10. And by then 40 Meg's later an hour and a half later, you're at Yeah, okay, I'm feeling really good now. And it's like, isn't that akin to if you were sitting around drinking margaritas? You know, you probably drink two or three over an hour and a half and get there. So we feel like we've we're covering at least 90% of the of the consumption potency areas for users.
Shayda Torabi 29:30
Hello, just want to take a quick moment to thank my sponsor and full disclosure, my company restart CBD, restart CBD is a brand that I built with my sister so we are family owned and a women owned we do operate a brick and mortar in Austin. So if you ever find yourself in Central Texas, we'd love for you to come say hi, but we also ship nationwide and we carry a wide range of CBD products. We really care about this plant. We really care about educating our customers, this show would not be possible without their support. So please go check us out at restart CBD calm and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks. And let's go back to the show. Yeah, you've a really thoughtful approach to productizing the product that you're bringing to market. I mean, everything you just highlighted is really resonating with me in terms of as a personal consumer myself, you know, trying to navigate both being familiar with cannabis, but also every product, different consumption methods, how it was extracted, what is the baseline for what is you know, the how the product is created, all those different variables that even to those of us who have been consuming for a while, it can still be very overwhelming. So I can't even you know, really imagine what a new consumer in the marketplace is trying to navigate and deal with. And so it's great to hear from you just obviously, the passion and the history behind, you're not just putting this product to market because it's you know, the trendy thing to do but also trying to create a path line for education for consumers to understand, these are different strengths you can play around with, these are different strains you can play around with, and trying to find a happy middle ground in between. And so you were quoted in a Forbes article that I thought was really interesting quote, you said, it's been difficult to limit our strains available, as there's so much to explore. But we can't make it there are too many choices. And so kind of my question to that is, you know, how did you kind of get to that point or that thought process, because I think for a lot of us who are especially my audience, you know, we're brand builders, we're business owners, we might be a singular brand, like an edible that we're bringing to market or in my case, I operate a dispensary type of, you know, scenario here in Texas. And so I have topicals, and edibles and oils and smokeable oils. And I think that editing is such a skill that most people don't really acknowledge. And so I just think that y'all have done it so beautifully. And I'm just curious, what has been the process to think through, you know, three different strengths and five different strains and like, why not six? Why not? 10? Like, why was five the perfect amount and just kind of getting, you know, your perspective on? How did you how did you get to that point to be so clean with your editing? Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 32:31
great question. And Thanks for the compliment. I mean, I think a lot of it's instinct, honestly, like when I think about the harbor side, one of the things you know, I teamed up with Steve DeAngelo, after the whetstone raid, and at that time, we were, you know, we were marching down Broadway and stuff and, you know, protests and you know, he was getting attacked by the, you know, the landlord letters, and we teamed up, we merged the northstone infrastructure in the harbor side, and the harbourside delivery got launched. And I kind of helped out Steve for a year after, after northstone imploded. And one of the things I did was contract the supply chain, you know, and I said, Look, you know, I've got all these relations in Mendocino County, you guys are buying the 100 babok in the door every day, and you guys can get buyers buy on spot market, and it just doesn't make sense. Let's contract the supply chain. You know, there's enough good growers out there that will grow your strings to your specifications. And in that process, I had to scrub the point of sale data they had because they hadn't really looked into and I was like, Look, I guarantee you there's like these scourer strains that have gravity. And I think you all know what they are. And I think this was years ago, 10, over 10 years ago. So nowadays, people know this, but there's pushes the Girl Scout cookies, the diesels, the chem dogs, the the jacks, the gdds kind of strains, right? You know, you have these macro categories. So it felt like there was a seven or eight of those. And when I was like walking on, you know, Safeway looking beer, I'm like, how many bugs is lagunitas have right now, you know, just kind of seems like there's this under 10 thing going on, right? So I think our instincts were to try to keep it simple, because with three strains, you get five strains, that's 15 skews. It's hard to display that to get a dispensary to accept they need all of them. And then we just happen to pick strains, we decided that we thought we wanted uplifting social Hi. So we bet on set Eva at the beginning. And we went after the strains that we knew the growers were long want to grow that had awesome taste profiles, super Lemon Haze, right Blue Dream, famous strains, that name recognition that tasted well that growth farmers wanted to grow. That was kind of the sweet spot, we released the first three of those. And of course, the market was like, Where's the abacus and we scrambled to get the indexes to market and we just happen to land at five. And that's where we're at right now. And I think we're kind of looking at that going. This makes sense. But we need to release a new flavor like a flavor of the month, right every month a new limited strain. We have a real appetite for r&d, you know, and in the group. You know, we have this is not a bunch of lab coat people at this company. You know, we started off that path. Cannabis people in the company that wouldn't we're in the lab, and found that that was critical. You know, we needed people that had understood the but I think that we're aiming in that direction, it just feels like that's a good mix. I can tell you this, one of the ways we're indoctrinating people into the brand is bar takeovers make people realize that the only thing different about this and alcohol is it's just not alcohol. And it can still power a bar and you can still be social. It's not everybody sitting down playing video games, right and, and having the munchies. By the way, you don't get the munchies nearly as much on this product. So we're doing that we're doing these bar takeovers in LA. And it's occurred to us that, hey, maybe it makes sense for us to open our own bar. And if we had our own bar, I think just like a brewery, you'd have everything on tap, I'm based in Bend Oregon right now. And the shoots brewing is one of the biggest microbrews in the business. If you walk into Safeway, and you know LA, there's probably five to seven Deschutes brewing products. But you go down to the tap house down here, there's like 30 on tap. But I think that's kind of the direction we're gonna go as well as kind of just emulating craft beer and wine, I think that were much more like those products than any other product. The supply chain matters, the quality of the input matters, right? Same thing with with grapes and wine. So anyway, that's that's kind of how we landed at five and three, the potency side of things was some of the food first movers in the market like can really define that two Meg area. And then we had lagunitas was already out there at five Meg's and then we knew we're a cocktail. And that we needed we were going to we wanted to be able to hit the heavy users, we didn't want to just be going after the Canna curious market, we wanted to be able to convert people like me, right? People that have been around for a long time that are heavy users that no cannabis products, you know, I wanted to be able to turn to all my grower peers in Mendocino and stick their nose in the glass and go, that's super Lemon Haze. And they go Yeah, that's that is super eliminates. And to be able to curate that, those those unique experiences, I will tell you, if you drink on Blue Dream that evening, you will be a chatterbox. Even more so than if you were smoking on Blue Dream it the way this absorbs comes through and expresses the plants unique Hi, more so than smoking in my opinion. And if you go the other direction with a heavy indika with Ben emoji, again, you're not going to be chatter, chatter, you're going to be very, you know, it's not like cards type of thing, you know, and chill out. Whereas Blue Dream will get you up and want you to go out on the town, which now we're trying to curate the high, I think is where we're going. And you know, when you come to our events, we're trying to make cocktails that speak to the occasion, right, you got your Blue Dream Bloody Mary, brunch cocktails, and you got your venom, oh, gee, old fashion for later in the evening. And that's what we're trying to go with all this without creating too many skews. But also speaking to the occasions, I think if we were a big multinational beverage company, they would just pick one occasion, you know, and make a ready to drink skew for that. Right? Boston beer company made twisted tea, it's like it's for construction workers, you know, after work, you know, that's what it's for. It's got a specific target market with us. It's more, we kind of see your one or more as like a platform for strains in the cocktail occasion. And we're trying to build a cocktail community. That's what we're after right now.
Shayda Torabi 38:30
That's so cool. I appreciated you kind of giving a little bit of that, you know, psychology behind it really just is a testament to like easily your ingenuity and just being smart to acknowledge, which I think is something to highlight for the listeners, right? as a marketer, I always try to reflect, we don't have to recreate the wheel, like look at what other industries look at what other products are already in existence and already successful. And how can you add your own spin to that, obviously, you are creating and carving out a niche platform, not just so much a category. And I really believe that with the products that you're bringing to market. And it's really cool to hear from you too, just the influence of the different strains and also how the strains react differently through the way that you're bringing them to market versus just a traditional maybe smokeable experience or even just a traditional edible experience. And so kind of twist it a little bit I want to talk about and you highlighted, you know, your influence and your relationship to the bartending community. I love hearing that you want to open up your own bar potentially someday I know that that's something that oftentimes unfortunately still kind of relies on legalization, if consumption lounges and on premise consumption are appropriate and Okay, and things like that, but kind of that aside, want to pick apart, you know your brand a little bit more from how you bring it to market and how you educate the consumers. Another thing that I really appreciated and acknowledged about your brand is the brand voice and how you've developed that to help the consumer both understand what pure Juana is, but obviously also how to use it. And just the expression of the brand voice itself, I thought was so on par with the brand that you're building. And I think that we don't always often talk about the brand voice as well, I think people think of, you know, what's the brand going to look like? And what is it going to feel like, but like the words that people are reading and how you actually use that voice to educate consumers. And obviously cannabis requires a lot of education. So, you know, you mentioned partnering with different bartenders bars, I know that you're on Instagram, you have a YouTube channel, kind of walk us through some of those different marketing activities and how you leverage that to ultimately help educate your target consumer.
Unknown Speaker 40:43
Well, it started really with partnering with flask agency, Jamie McCall's, the head of flask agency, they're a booze marketing boutique booze marketing agency, I knew that I needed somebody from alcohol, that also was interested in cannabis, and we hit it off. And really, we just jived on the vision. And the words just started coming out of our mouths, you know, when we started gravitating to these certain words, and I'm a hyper sensitive to the word choices that we make. So I'm very involved with once on my social media people, I get pissed off, and I'm like, hey, this post that word why, you know, you know, we get into that stuff pretty deeply, because I want to make sure it's such a hard thing to communicate, it's such a disruptive product, we have to be crystal clear. And I think that the beginning, we were really smart to partner with famous mixologists around this product, because he said, and we have a great testimonial on our YouTube page from these mixologist and what they had to say. And if you see her marketing, since those dates, I mean, it very much follows suit, a lot of what they had to say about it, but we needed to get that you know, mixologist perspective, you know, this is the war trying to live in. And they so they really helped us kind of create that world, I think we've got a community of mixologist around us that are passionate about the product. Certainly a lot of cannabis people and seeing their passion about the product, booze marketing people that are on the team, they're passionate about the product. And I've allowed for an environment, a very collaborative environment around this, and live really given people the opportunity to have ownership in the brand, and let the brand form out of who we are as a company and who we interact with, as our partners and customers. And I think that's still happening right now. And I think the more we do these events, and so forth, the more that it's like you look around the room, and you go, yeah, this is the cocktail community like this is what's happening. And so we just more and more we pay attention to that. And we speak to who that crowd is. We try not to shove down anybody's throat like, what cannabis cocktail community should look like. And let's let it happen, and be there with it in partnership. So yeah, you know, I think that we're also partnering with cannabis mixologists was a real great way to like show people in that bar, all our videos were done in real bars with famous mixologists making really awesome cocktails. And I think that was a good decision for us to really take this position in the market, a lot of other brands that are doing drinkable stuff, you know, like a great example is with select just released as a product called squeeze. And it can power a drink. But they're not saying this is a cocktail enabling product. Right? They're basically saying, here's a new active that you can score it on anything, you know, you know, kind of thing. And I think we decided early on that we wanted to create the cannabis cocktail community and be a premium spirits brand, and not negotiate on that. I mean, you can certainly take marijuana and sprinkle it on your ice cream. It tastes awesome. That's not what we're telling people to do.
Shayda Torabi 43:53
I appreciate the kind of distinction that you've established, because I think that so many of us in the industry, obviously acknowledge that getting into cannabis, you're going to have a little bit of a target on your back. It's kind of like par for the course. But really pushing forward. And through some of these, I would say challenges necessarily, but just like, people weren't really having these conversations. I mean, you highlighted both what select is done, as well as some of these other brands, sometimes, you know, it's their choice as a brand to kind of dance on the line or dance around the line, it seems like your choice for your brand is really to kind of push that line forward and to be at the forefront of where that line is going.
Unknown Speaker 44:33
We want to be around. You know, I mean, I think that this is a, an a lot of ways, a culmination of my life's work. You know, I like this product, like everything that's in this product, you know, the experience I have as a grower with the strains with the consumers with the tech aspects of tech in the industry, you know, in my own personal as a consumer what I want. So when we build this, we're building it for the future, you know, we're building it for the long haul, and we're taking a bold position on what we think the future will hold behold, you know, it's very similar to like, kind of like, you know, I love that I say this all the time. But like, Henry Ford has a quote, If I'd listened to my customers, I'd built them a faster horse. Right. And I think a lot of cannabis products are doing that right now. You know, like, not willing to push the envelope into what, and be bold and think about what people could want, if they knew it was possible. So we're all in on that. And we're excited to make lots of different psychotropic products down the road here, we think there's an opportunity to power lots of different types of crazy cocktail occasions without alcohol. Or you know what, quite frankly, if you want to mix it with alcohol, that's your thing, too. It's just we're not that's not the company that we are in your own private world, you can do as you wish. But we're out there to try to grow this alternative cocktail community with lively.
Shayda Torabi 45:59
Yeah, I'm really excited for the disruption in the future that is unfolding for y'all. And really excited to try the product myself and be you know, able to feel the experience the expression that you're promoting with your brand. But also it sounds like obviously delivering with your brand. And I just think that's so exciting for both brands who are listening to this conversation to kind of dream. And I always try to highlight, you know, it's not that hearing these stories, you want to imitate someone, right? It's not that someone is going to have your exact background and thought process and like go to market with a competing product, but to really inspire people to kind of like what you were saying think beyond what is possible, think beyond the constraints that the industry is presenting to us and really be creative and help create a new dialogue for cannabis consumption. And so it is really exciting to get to sit down and hear from you just kind of what you've gone through, especially helping establish the industry, from your corner of the world, as well as what you're bringing to market through lively spirits. And so I'm really grateful that I was able to have this conversation with you. Is there anything final that you want to kind of, you know, leave the listeners with today?
Unknown Speaker 47:08
Yeah, you know, in your go to market kind of question. You know, I do want to point out that, like, there's so much I think the media is in love with the beverage and the opportunity, you know, thank you, constellation brands for dropping $4 billion on canopy growth, right. But on the street on the ground, when you're talking to a buyer, or you're talking to a bud tender, you know, that's not really what they're into. There's a real headwind with what the legacy retail experiences with cannabis. And we've got a power through that. And Cannes has been great. I mean, kudos to those guys for Breaking Trail on that front. But I think it is, it's just a matter of time. I mean, it's just kind of like Henry Ford did. I mean, the first time he rolled out that Model T into the dirt street that was full of horses, I'm sure no, everybody didn't just jump off their horse and say, yeah, I'm into Model T's. Now. forget my horse. I think it took some time. It took some time to change people's perspectives. So that's why we focus our go to market strategy on events. You know, we get you got to get into the experience to get it to wrap your head around it. Because it's when you walk into a dispensary and you go, Hey, what do you got? That's new and interesting. It's a mouthful to get somebody to get abundant or explain the pure Juana and the cocktail occasion in live, it's a new live product, and you can actually, you know, curate your high and it's a but it's a powder. And it's Wow, it's a lot right for people to wrap their heads around. But I don't think that's a reason to not do it. It just means you got to be that much more thoughtful about how you start to build your target. You know, corral your target audience.
Shayda Torabi 48:43
Yeah, I guess on that maybe like a follow up that just kind of my question just popped into my head kind of thinking through, you paint a really interesting picture. Obviously with hemp, you can go direct to consumer but with marijuana you have to go through there is delivery now. So you can't be direct to consumer in that regard. But more so relying upon that dispensary experience. And so when you talk about events, you know, how is that structured for your consumers is are they public events that people buy tickets to go to? Is it purely for influencers who are helping influence that conversation to ultimately reach the consumer? Like I come from event marketing, so I am fully on board I subscribe to like events are super critical and helping tell that brand's story and journey but help me kind of filter through how that is applied from a cannabis perspective where you do have some constraints in terms of how you bring that product to market just in terms of legality.
Unknown Speaker 49:39
Yeah, we start with events. We also do DTC ourselves direct to consumer through our pure juana.com. You can buy the product at pure one.com we have fulfillment partner, our first fulfillment partner is in LA County, Northern Orange County fulfillment partner. So if you're in those areas, you can get it delivered right now. You can order it right now and get delivered. But first and foremost, it's about the events and those of Events right now are private, we are working with some of these event licenses, groups that have these event licenses to try to make public events where we can actually even belly up to the bar and sell a $10 cocktail. Right? I think that's the end game. But right now we're doing private events and when they're free, and the way I look at it is this is marketing. You know, this is a marketing budget. And when we get them there, we have an opportunity to indoctrinate them, we even have an opportunity to sign them up and build an account for them to order online later on and incentivize them to order even right then, and have it delivered to the house when they get home. So first, you know, creating that, and then using those assets on social media so people can see like, if you go to our Instagram page, you can see the bar takeover at the north end in Hollywood. It's a real bar with real bartenders pouring cannabis cocktails. And it's a packed house. And everybody's talking and it's not just, you know, people lounging on couches, on their phones, you know, it was a very upbeat social event, you can see the experience of the product in the event. So yeah, you know, free events moving from, you know, the LA concentric circle outwards, building the community watching new faces, show up at all the different events, and then leveraging referral campaigns as best as possible to kind of grow from that center point out, we're still targeting the dispensary channel. And I actually have a new sales leader who's really baller who's going to be going out after that we got a new distro we're picking up but I feel like First things first is you got to see that cocktail community, right, and then give them an opportunity to connect with you directly DTC, and then be everywhere and be seen.
Shayda Torabi 51:45
can't thank Matt enough for the information that he shared. And I think for me, the big takeaway, and the food for thought for y'all is really around the disruptive nature of the product that Matt is bringing to market. I think so much of what we think about cannabis is really confined to cannabis culture. Again, I talk about that a lot on the podcast, I definitely feel like I come from cannabis culture to the extent of, you know, that was my preference, that is still my preference. But with the productization with the maturation of the industry, it's definitely welcoming a lot more innovation, which I think is wine, helping attract a new type of consumer to the cannabis industry, perhaps someone who doesn't like to just smoke cannabis, especially someone who is maybe looking for something a little bit more controllable than your typical edibles. So we're looking at more micro dosing experiences, or in the case of pure Juana, you're sipping it so you're absorbing it kind of over the course of a drink versus just you know, eating the whole edible and having that digest and break down in your body. But I think for me, again, the big aha is really just kind of observing where the industry is going, and how we can continue to innovate and evolve with it, whether that comes down to the actual product itself, but also to how you communicate about consuming cannabis and what are some other industries that we can take some cues from as we continue to flesh out the cannabis industry itself. So I hope that this episode was informative for you as always, that is my deepest hope and desire is that these episodes are impactful they help you think more critically, they help you think bigger, they give you some inspiration, they help connect you to a thought or idea that can help you grow your business further faster. And so with that said, I thank you for tuning in thanks for your listenership. I really appreciate it. It means the world to me to know that my podcast is you know, something that someone is taking time out of their day to listen to it really does mean a lot that you are listening to these episodes. So thanks for tuning in to another episode. I will be back next Monday with a brand new one. Until then don't hesitate to reach out you can find me on social media at To be blunt pod or at the Shayda Torabi and I'd love to connect with you and hear what's working and perhaps also what's not working. So talk to you guys later. See y'all next week. Bye.
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