To Be Blunt: The Podcast for Cannabis Marketers

072 Cannabis Careers, Copywriting, and Using Your Voice to Make Change with Author Andrew Ward

October 18, 2021 Shayda Torabi Season 2 Episode 72
To Be Blunt: The Podcast for Cannabis Marketers
072 Cannabis Careers, Copywriting, and Using Your Voice to Make Change with Author Andrew Ward
Show Notes Transcript

“You have companies talking about social equity and needing to create restorative justice, things like that, the real question is, how many of them are actually going to put it into action afterwards?” - Andrew Ward

Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Andrew Ward, cannabis author, writer, and freelancer, to talk about the different aspects of recognizing opportunities in the cannabis sphere, embracing and utilizing the diversity of it, delving into the realities of political impact, and the significance of small communities in giving an impact to the advocacy through intentionality. 


[00:01 – 04:40] Shayda shares the upcoming exciting conferences

[04:41– 11:38] Andrew’s Story on Cannabis Writing for Publications and Branding

[11:39 – 20:37] Recognizing Opportunities and Diversities in the Cannabis Industry

[20:38 – 29:16] Politics and Processes on Legalization and Licenses

[29:17 – 44:44] Utilizing the Media: Giving Voices to the Victims of the War on Drugs

[44:45 – 59:11] Recognizing Parameters to Demystify Marketing Plans

[59:12 – 01:02:31] Food for Thought: How do you share your advocacy with intentionality?


Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer, boasting over 500 original bylines and two published books. The author of Cannabis Jobs (2019) and The Art of Marijuana Etiquette (2021), Andrew regularly writes for High Times, Insider and Benzinga, as well as cannabis brands. He's now launching a new podcast, Canna Say Something, and other media endeavors in a bid to branch out.

Connect with Andrew 

Visit and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @thecannawriter


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


Key Quotes:

“You know brands that have been acquired over the years do a lot of the companies that thought they were going to make it as the top media brands have kind of crumbled really quickly underneath of it, could it be gone the next year or they're now struggling to come back. So it's kind of a weird varying market in a lot of ways but there are definitely opportunities.” - Andrew Ward

“There's so many companies and I think that people need to realize that there's so many different pathways into the industry.” - Andrew Ward

“I'm like, yeah, that's [legalization] just not how things work. It's about politics. And it's about the process. And sometimes, that has a much bigger undertaking to get things to move, maybe in a direction that you want it to move.” -  Shayda Torabi

“We always think about the big scene and how we can make a big impact. But making a big impact happens on a small level.” - Andrew Ward 


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Andrew Ward  0:00  
While the focus should be on federal, I think on you know, whether it be you know how you want to make change in any level, not just cannabis legalization, but like, it happens on the local level. A lot of activity happens on the local level, we always think about the big scene and how we can make the big impact. But making the big impact happens on the small level, you know, thinking about your community, like you said, and extrapolating out is the best way to go from there. We all want to rock it to the top and think about, you know, how we can get Joe Biden to sign off on cannabis and stuff, but it's like, you know, what he didn't know not to, you know, keep banging the drum on prison reform. But look at that, you know, we're not seeing people getting released all the time from federal which things but you're seeing more and more cities embracing it, you're seeing more towns and states embracing it, you know, the pore pressure and the education that you put into your community. I think that's how you expedite the change.

Announcer  0:56  
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  1:19  
Hello and welcome back to another episode of The To be blunt podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer and I'm really excited to be joining you another day for another episode on the podcast. I'm on cloud nine yesterday I just celebrated my birthday so it was a wonderful time getting to connect and see my friends and family. Also side note I went on a little bit of a tolerance break. No reason in particular other than I am a heavy consumer and just thought that it would be a good you know time to kind of give myself a break. I ended up taking about two weeks off but it's been so nice getting to enjoy THC and honestly getting my body ready for THC. Because tomorrow I am flying out to Las Vegas to be a part of mjbizcon and MJ unpacked so if anybody's listening this in anticipation of the conferences going on this week, definitely encourage you to connect with me on LinkedIn. Shoot me a DM on Instagram reach out to me, I really am looking forward to meeting so many of you in person on one hand looking really forward to meeting a lot of my guests in person because I started this podcast in the middle of the pandemic so virtually so I've been doing zoom recordings with everybody. And on the other hand just really excited to connect with the industry at large This is my first time going to mjbizcon so you know friendly PSA I love to meet I'd love to connect, snap a picture with you let's, you know connect and get to meet each other and do what we do IRL. Now kind of leading into that is going to be today's episode. I'm super fortunate to be connected to Andrew ward. He is a cannabis author. He's a cannabis writer, he's a cannabis freelancer. And his career has taken him into a lot of really interesting opportunities and conversations in the cannabis industry. A lot that we're going to highlight in today's episode. But really Andrew is just a great steward of the plant. He covers everything from writing books on things like literally, he authored a book called cannabis jobs. So figuring out and navigating the career opportunities in the industry to transitioning to also writing articles for High Times covering the subject is most effective, that's the title of his column. And it features different people who are affected by the war on drugs and are dealing with navigating these you know, repercussions of getting arrested and getting processed into the system for a plant that is obviously becoming more and more commercialized and legalized by the minute. So Andrew definitely has this breadth of knowledge breadth of topics that he covers. And that's really the foundation for our conversation today. It was really insightful, really informative, really impactful. I do think that the media has obviously a really critical role to play and how we actually communicate not only to the industry not only to each other, but obviously to the consumer to that like front public facing market who's responsible for law reformation who's responsible for voting cannabis into legality in certain capacities, who's our peers, our you know, family members, our neighbors, just anybody who's like generally one of those people who maybe isn't a cannabis consumer, but they're curious about cannabis. Or maybe they're like cannabis isn't for me, but I'm kind of curious what's happening in terms of the cannabis movement. So again, lots to really unpack in this episode. And I just thank Andrew for sharing all his insight with you guys on the show today. So without further ado, let's welcome Andrew Ward to the To be blunt podcast.

Andrew Ward  4:58  
Well, thanks for having me. My name is Andrew Ward, a lot of people might know me better as the camera writer, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram. I've been in cannabis now, about four and a half, five years I kind of lose track of when I got officially back in there, but it was my second attempt at freelance writing Previous to that about few years before I think route 2013, I did my first attempt, where I worked in electronic dance music where I got started from a job off of Craigslist, which is a very spun screwy adventure that allowed me to get into this world. And between those two stints in the freelancing, I worked for AOL where I got to cut a little bit more of my teeth with the journalism side of things that I would have switched over to working in startups for a little bit. I worked for a branding online reputation management company called brand yourself. And then I moved over to another tech company for a little bit heading up there content. Collectively, I took all that stuff around right around the turn of 2017 kind of knew that that second startup that I was at, wasn't really going to pan out. We were kind of really splitting on our vision really quickly. They're new, the wheels were going to be coming off. It came off a little bit sooner than I expected pretty much right as the year started, they sent me on my way. And I was kind of figuring out I knew I wanted to go freelance, but I didn't know where I wanted to go and freelance Josie I'd spent probably about three months at that point, trying to figure out what I really wanted to do. And I heard some advice through an interview. I was watching I think it was just like the Foo Fighters Dave Grohl was on and I'm not even a huge fan of them. No, no shade dome is you know, kind of indifferent. But I was like, I was just sitting there I was packing a bowl. And he kind of reiterated some advice I definitely heard before but just kind of stuck me in that moment was you'll find something that you love and find someone that will pay you to do it. And I was you know, late about write about the light the bowl, and I was like looking around, I was like, Well, I haven't thought about getting into weed writing yet. And you know, I went by 2017. We were I don't know how many states probably like seven or so I think at that point, maybe a little more. And I was like, yeah, let's give it a shot. And for the next two years, most people thought I was saying I wanted to be a drug dealer bucket like covert about it. If they knew me at all that would you know, they would have realized how dumb that idea was. But no. So I incrementally tried to convince people that I was writing in cannabis. And it started out with 10% of my workload. And then I became 25% my workload then I 50, and ebbs and flows. Or sometimes I went back and forth, and probably about year three and a half in was when I got into the full time writing for cannabis, I was able to support myself covering for publications today, right for High Times insider benzinga. few other ones. And I also do brand writing and marketing on the side, that time around, I also got offered to write my first book, which is right over there and the recording. It's called cannabis jobs, kind of self explanatory. I got to interview a ton of people, thanks to my networking cannabis and have like a really rapid fire pace, don't write a book in six weeks, but I got to write it. I'm covering 15 different industries, now people can get started in it. And that was really a great eye opening experience for me. And then that led to the next year I wrote a book called The Art of marijuana etiquette, which is that greenish one in the background there. And that one, you know is just a little bit more of a lighthearted, but still looking to the cannabis industry and its community and you know, the rules and etiquette behind it. And yeah, that's where it led to today. And now I'm kind of at the next step where I'm working on some podcasting, potentially looking into getting into newsletters, nothing that's new, but trying to put my own spin on it. And you'll kind of see where that leads me into my next steps and kind of creating the Canada writer, I am Andrew Ward slash brand that's out there.

Shayda Torabi  8:24  
I love it. I think that is such a cool story. Obviously everybody comes from a different aspect of their own journey, whether they come from a state that is legal, or there may be in a state like me where cannabis isn't quite fully adopted and like set up, you know, and the terms of how other states might be. But I do think that it's really great to hear, again, how people are navigating the industry. And so it's really neat that you were able to tie your passion for writing and also the kind of pathway of how you kind of transition that slowly into cannabis to then ultimately being able to write a book on cannabis jobs and so to kind of kick things off there. You know, being a freelancer in the industry is definitely a pathway I think there's a lot of opportunities to work freelance in the cannabis industry. But also there's you know, so many other types of jobs, I think their traditional way that people think of Oh, I want to be in cannabis is maybe to make their own brand, right, especially when we're talking about licensing and things like that. I know here in Texas again, so many people want to create something that is unique that is theirs that they can own. But I don't think that we fully really discuss or dive into all the other supporting I don't necessary supporting roles either but like ancillary or supporting jobs and careers that are really helping sustain and bolster maybe the brands that exist in the industry. So and we can kind of kick off there just from both what you are going through yourself being a freelancer overlaid with your experience as a writer in general, just talking to so many different people in the industry to ultimately you know, what you learn from putting your book together in terms of kind of what is the landscape of working in cannabis look like today,

Unknown Speaker  10:06  
I would say it's gotten a lot, it obviously has gotten a lot better, there's been the influx of brands, the influx of opportunity comes with it from the writing side. And then with the media side, it kind of ebbs and flows, you know, brands have been acquired over the years do a lot of the companies that thought they were going to make it as the top media brands have kind of crumbled really quickly underneath of it, you know, once they thought we're gonna make it one year, could it be gone the next year, or they're now struggling to come back. So it's kind of a weird, varying market and a lot of ways, but there are definitely opportunities. I don't know if I would have been able to take that route that I did, had I entered at a different time. But it really was just the opportunity in those, you know, all that converging spots, were all there at the right time. And when talking to the companies, I think you're 100% right, you know, on the writing side, I find a lot of opportunities, because there's so many companies and I think that people need to realize that there's so many different pathways into the industry, like you said, the ancillary market is bigger than the flower touching market at this point. And it's going to get that way as consolidation happens in the market. So you know, if you are so focused on the plant touching side, unless you really have the expertise or inroads or something like that, it might not be the best pathway. I was just interviewing someone for an article that I'm writing. And in the New York marketplace where I'm at, and people are saying they want to get into the dispensary business. And it's like, first of all, you don't have capital, and you've never worked at a dispensary before. And it's like, you know, I mean, you might want to consider the ancillary space, there's not a problem working in cannabis and not actually directly touching the plant. So yeah, I don't know, I would say that, you know that there's a lot of opportunity out there in the marketplace, as a writer as well as just someone who's trying to enter from any real space, you just got to, you know, understand the marketplace. Know that some might, there might be someplace where there's opportunity a little bit more than the others, obviously, but the legal status, but then, you know, other regulations and things in market there too. But there's a lot of opportunity. And I think I hope I answered that I might have answered.

Shayda Torabi  11:57  
No, you did. And I think it's really key to kind of point out again, because like I think was like my whole like podcast, my platform is is like to be blunt, right? And I never want to Candy coat or make someone feel like you know, there's infinite amount of opportunity, although there is the reality is not everybody is going to be successful in their endeavors. And so I think you answered it perfectly in the sense of like, yeah, the industry is really ebbing and flowing in the sense that you might have a really great brand idea, and you might go create that brand. But then the laws change legislative legislation shifts, and then maybe your brand gets acquired, maybe that's a possibility. Or maybe it just like dies down again, I think in Texas, we launched our brand three years ago really like right before federal hemp legalization, and right before Texas legalized hemp, but in the time that we launched as one of the first brick and mortar brands to kind of prior to COVID, there was such an influx in people who were like, Oh, I want to get into the CBD industry, I want to open up a CBD brand. And then COVID happened. And then obviously, you know, it was really hard on a lot of people, but you saw that directly, you know, impacting the hemp CBD market here and I'm sure it happened, you know, kind of nationally as well. But my just like, you know, direct preview is here in Austin, you're seeing, Oh, those businesses aren't in business anymore. So it does come down to like, you know, kind of how do you want to be in the industry, it's something that I really stress to people. So I'm glad that we're having this conversation right now because I never want people to think that they can't be in the industry, but you also touched on plant touching versus ancillary. And I think that that's also a really important conversation to be had because the moment you touch the plant, so whether you're growing and cultivating or your manufacturing and processing, or your retail selling, you're distributing those are you touching the plant, and depending on where you're living, that might be more or less a part of it. So obviously if your state's vertically integrated, you especially have to have more touching the plant opportunities versus if you're in a state where it's like, Hey, I'm just a retail seller, you know, I I buy from this brand and I don't actually you know, touch it or grow it or whatever, but it's like but your retail selling it. Those open up, you know, unfortunately lines for regulation. And I think until we have stability in the industry, those are just things I think people should be really aware of. And so being able to find career opportunities, where it's like, Hey, you really want to be in cannabis. Like I made friends with this guy at this conference I was speaking at and he's an accountant. And he like loves cannabis and married the two ideas so he's now like, you know, this, the green leaf CPA and it's like, hey, hell yeah, we need more people like you and oh, by the way, you don't touch the plant so you have less risk than other people. So

Unknown Speaker  14:41  
that's exactly what I got into my space for because I saw there was a need for it. You know, we were transitioning from a you know, as time when there wasn't a lot of marketing. There wasn't a lot of branding. And there also really wasn't a lot of great quality cannabis journalists outside of, you know, a small handful. So you know, you got to find what the need is. I think that's just like with any business, you know, you got to find the And then put together the best quality result for that need. And yeah, shout out to the people making cannabis accountants because that is a very needed thing, especially without actual banking if you need or needed that much more. So like, yeah, you go go where you're needed, you know, find your love, of course, you know, don't force yourself into a spot where you're not going to be able to, you know, deliver on that expertise, or you're not going to enjoy the work but you know, be there is opportunity, just gotta sit back and think about it. And sometimes it takes longer than three months, I got lucky on my opportunity, but I was already good in around the corner with knowing that it was going to be writing so you're starting from scratch or is knowing it's cannabis and might take you a little bit longer, but you know, throw some stuff against the wall, hash out some ideas, talk to some trusted advisors, don't tell your ideas to every single person, but you know, Tom, tell them that you're trusted folks. And you know, see, see where it comes, it will happen. And you know, of course lightsome joins every once a while, it always helps with the ideation process.

Shayda Torabi  15:55  
I know I always joke like, thank God, I work in cannabis, because I'm so stressed all the time. And I'm like, Oh, well, this is kind of, you know, my problem and my solution. So I guess, you know, it could be worse, but it's

Unknown Speaker  16:08  
at least you got a cycle. It's a cycle that you know, you're aware of, and it's largely beneficial one, yeah, for

Shayda Torabi  16:14  
sure. I guess to parlay that a little bit, you know, just from, you know, observing and quickly kind of going through. I didn't read every article that you've ever written in the industry, but you cover some you cover like such a wide spectrum of stuff. I mean, from like, does cannabis make you you know, a better golfer to, you know, wanting to understand Mexico's cannabis market, what investors and entrepreneurs need to know. And so kind of, from your perspective, covering all these different topics, I'm curious, just kind of like to kick off this whole kind of discussion in terms of your presence as the camera writer and getting to be a voice on behalf of, you know, the many voices in the industry, kind of what is the most, I guess, shocking, or kind of like eye opening article that you've gotten a chance to write and kind of walk us through maybe why that was, so maybe something that you didn't know was happening in the industry or something that you learned? Because there's just so much information out there that I think it's you sit in a really cool position to be, you know, absorbing all of this and digesting it.

Unknown Speaker  17:16  
Yeah, thank you. I'm thanks for noticing the diversity to it. I think that is kind of one of my life's mottos that I've lived by for a long time to learn something about everything and everything about something. And I've not learned everything about anything just yet. But cannabis is incrementally getting married, it will take several decades before I even come close to that. But yeah, I that's kind of what my writing has always been, I like to view myself as a generalist instead of a specialist or an expert, and that can bite you in the ass. A lot of times, too, don't get me wrong, so you got to be comfortable with doing it, it comes with a good deal of imposter syndrome, at least for me, like when I was about to sit on the podcast here, I'm like crap, if we start talking about real marketing nuance, so like, I was listening to your past episodes, like, I'm not going to be up to snuff on this. So you know, like, there is a there is something to be said about being a generalist against a specialist, but if you're comfortable with it, it is the way to go. And that's kind of where mine is, you know, I like writing to kind of newcomer mindset, but also what can appeal to, you know, an expert level too. And, you know, sometimes it will vary, but a lot of times I like to have an overlap in the article. So to your point about what has kind of been the most surprising. And I the thing I would love to actually say is I actually can't really say because it's technically off the record from top level folks that meet with like, the presidents and the lawmakers and stuff. And it's like, that's the stuff for me, like, without revealing the details of it, I will say like, you find out like the thoughts about some lawmakers and you know, like, near orbit presidential people and things like that, and you're like, wow, they felt that way. And like, wow, that was they were the one who kind of was either in the way or that or was kind of trying to push that forward. You know, I want to give details without giving details basically, without what I would do is there was a very big top level government person that was for the release of more cannabis prisoners during one of the rounds of the Trump administration's like near the end of the Trump administration. And you know, that didn't happen because there was pushback from other members there you know, that's basically all I can say I think but you know, on that and you know, now it's kind of your what you're hearing now what's going on in the Biden administration and unfortunately, it's very much what I think the public is thinking about what the Biden administration where, you know, he's just kind of stuck in his ways on the cannabis views and you know, in a way I feel like him and Trump are either equal on a level or almost kind of slightly I don't know if they're an F minus and an F to me on their on the rank sheet so I feel like that's the most surprising even though it's not always the most surprising thing I think it's just hearing the details like Wow, that is that's what that person's doing or that would that person is like, sometimes I've I've kind of predicted it and sometimes like wow, all right, you're just not willing to go on the record because you're afraid that we'll lose your election or you have money tied up to it and you see the dirtiness and politics to it and the game that everything is and why cannabis is illegal, even though it should have been several several Decades ago, we're never prohibited at all.

Shayda Torabi  20:02  
No, I really appreciate that answer. And obviously I know you have you know, certain things that you can't share just to protect privacy and things like that with confidentiality but I think the sentiment of what you said is something that I just want to kind of like replay for the listeners to really understand there is so much happening in this industry that obviously in your position as someone who is reporting on it, I'm going to take the liberties of pushing it into like your media outlet, right? Like you are a voice of the media, you are helping contribute to the conversation. It's almost like and this is no shade to you, but it's almost like this is part of the problem, right? It's like what people are writing about or what they're not writing about what they're saying or what they're not saying is ultimately the news and information that we as an industry are kind of going off of because we don't know the full story all the time. And so it is really just I don't want to say like disheartening but it's just like the reality of it right like you said it politics i think when you really start to understand how politics really work and I can only speak from kind of my involvement in the Texas cannabis kind of process but you know when I was just a cannabis consumer of course I wanted legalization I'm like all the why is this taking so long? Like why hasn't this happened yet? Like oh, it should be so easy like Can't you just voted into legality and then the older I get the more I get into the actual business side of the industry. Again, I don't have the same purview as you but I talked to enough people that I'm like, yeah, that's just not how things work. It's about politics and it's about process and sometimes that has a much bigger undertaking to get things to move maybe in a direction that you want it to move and so it's kind of getting back to again kind of like you know, understanding what is the narrative and what is actually out in the public for people to be able to digest to make some sort of understanding you know, points from and then what is the reality of like, I don't know people just can't really predict or project where the cannabis industry is going but I feel like I always have to break hearts My poor customers they come in and they're like, Oh, you know, we got a new president are they gonna legalize weed then like that's not how this works like I'm so sorry but you've been lied to your whole life and so yeah, it's

Unknown Speaker  22:11  
it's just hard I mean, it's the good and the bad about democracy. You know, I think shout out to one of my favorite political minds in cannabis Justin struck all the I forget his title I'm sorry Justin had normal he's like the head honcho for talking to all the political figures terrible way to describe him but Justin's great and we've had many conversations about politics and you know just the system in general and you know, I think the thing that a lot of people because we don't get taught civics anymore and you know is taught that the democracy is meant to be a very slow deliberate process where this back and forth goes on my I think the problem for me really lies in on I will address the media part about it too but I think politics is the overarching problem to it all is that you know, I don't know I feel like a two party system probably isn't the best way to actually call yourself a democracy because instead of that incremental process and back and forth where it's supposed to be you know fact checking and sending it back being like hey, this parameter could be dangerous to this community or something like that. Let's go back and revise the bill. It's you know, one side feels this way one side feels this way and they're bound by money so then they're just creating this endless tit for tat so nothing actually gets done and I think that creates a lot of the problem and you know, that's Yeah, that's just a huge problem to at all but then when it comes to my side of it on the media Yeah, we don't know the full story we can't really report on the full story but also at the same time I feel like sometimes we'll get told one thing from one source and it's an off the record and yes, sometimes they will come to fruition but also sometimes their total bullshit or they're talking out of their ass because they're either got a motive or they just maybe might just be a well intentioned but misinformed on it or making a guess that they're saving as a fat so it's really a lot of you know, just it's an interesting conversation because I feel like most of the people I speak to are well intentioned in the space but you know, it's an evolving market and the politics of it are you know, just that much more because we're not legal or we're semi legal and the stories that we get told and things like that I don't get too much juicy details off the record like most of the stuff I get told do end up making in articles but everyone's Well yeah, like with the governmental focus stuff here it's like well yeah, that's why we're not legal and you know, I don't know I not to get too political but I wouldn't maybe a third or fourth option maybe would help kind of expedite the process or at least make people have to satisfy the public a little bit more because what 91% of us want to see medical at this point at least

Shayda Torabi  24:36  
Yeah, definitely I can relate and agree to that and I think it's just a little bit of swallowing the pill of you know, this is how it is but then not just like settling with it. It's like if we really truly want change, I do believe change can happen and I think that it is happening in our lifetime. And it does take people I think in all these different respective you know, aspects of the industry, right? Like it takes people like yourself who are hearing these stories. And being able to write them in a way that is touching the public that allows them to be informed, to be educated to be inspired, as well as you know, people who are choosing to maybe pursue growing and cultivating in a state where it's not quite legal or like here in Texas where we're kind of on the frontier where we can grow hemp, but we can't quite legally grow marijuana. And so it's like, we need those people to kind of, you know, push the boundaries, I think, to move things forward. But kind of going back to what I was saying about your role, you are obviously in an interesting position, because you do sit in a situation where you are helping inform both of the industry with your articles and your content, as well as I feel, what do we call them? You know, just kind of like the the general people. I mean, you talk about generalists, right? And so I mean, you write for some pretty big non cannabis publications as well. And so I have to, you know, acknowledge I'm sure your articles are being seen by many people, beyond people just in the industry. And so kind of, from your experience, with everything that you've written so far, is there an article or two or something that comes to mind in terms of what you feel has been the most impactful for kind of maybe helping educate or helping communicate on just like the power and the opportunity of cannabis?

Unknown Speaker  26:13  
Oh, yeah, absolutely. It's, it's not one article. It's an ongoing series I've been doing with high times for probably about a year now it's called most effected, where I just profile individual per article that has either been infected by the drug war, it was in prison for it, or is currently in prison for it. And basically just profile their story, talk to them, talk to their family members, try to gather as much information as I can, and try to, you know, paint the picture of how a non violent cannabis offender ended up in jail for 25 4060 life sentences, you know, a lot of them end up in Texas, you know, in the southern areas where the cannabis prohibition is going on, but it's also happening across the country, you know, people are getting taken in that what I would say is, you know, I always tell people, like, if you're coming to a choice between buying one of my books, listen to my podcast, or just reading those high times articles for free, like, go read the most effective articles, there's a lot of people that are still in jail, and like, you know, we need to sign the petitions, but we need to do a whole lot more. And that's Yeah, I think there's a lot of things I've written about, but that's the one that's made me proudest by far.

Shayda Torabi  27:11  
Oh, absolutely, I can imagine the impact and just being able to give a voice to some of these people. Because, again, not to get political, but obviously a little political. You know, we live in such an interesting time where cannabis is being commercialized, it's being legalized, to the extent where it's productized, you're hearing companies like Amazon, you know, change their opinion on drug testing, you're seeing and hearing all these major brands Pay Pal, I've heard, you know, apple, these people have stocks, they have interest in this industry. But yet, we still have such a twisted crooked system, when it comes to how people are being treated and how the law is impacting the lives of people. And like that is still going on. And so yes, I know, there's organizations like last prisoner project that exists to kind of help bring that to light and more in the forefront as kind of the product decision and commercialization is going on in parallel. But from a writing perspective, again, to really be somebody who is helping kind of give a voice to these people to contrast, I think, kind of what's going on. And so kind of on that tangent, I'm curious for you to maybe highlight some of the sentiment because to me, are these people frustrated, angry that they're dealing with these repercussions while this industry is basically profiting off of their loss? Or, you know, I had a guy on the podcast, Michael Malcolm from Chicago, he openly shared his testimony, kind of, in his interview with me, he's in the Chicago market. He had a marijuana criminal background and part of Illinois social equity program is to say, hey, if you had a criminal offense related to cannabis, we're going to actually, I don't use the word award, but almost like, you know, give you that opportunity. Yeah, preferential status. And so I know there's a little bit of some of that, you know, change happening to help that impact, but it's obviously not a tit for tat, it's not equal. A lot of these people have lost many years, a lot of money. I'm just like, having to deal with the legal system. And, and yeah, someone in Texas who is very much confronted with our state's laws about this plant, it's like, it could really happen to anybody. Right? And so I'm just curious from talking to these people firsthand, kind of what kind of comes to mind.

Unknown Speaker  29:34  
Yeah, you know, so a lot of it's a tough situation, because when you talk to the ones that have been released, or have already cleared all their legal hurdles, because even when they're released, they haven't always cleared all their legal hurdles. Once they're kind of out in the clear on it. You hear a few of them, they kind of speak a little bit more Frankly, I feel like about how frustrating that processes and how hurtful it is to you know, be basically in jail for something that you know or not Basically be in jail for something that is, you know, being legalized, like you said people making millions and billions of dollars off of and you know, continually seeing people getting arrested for it, you know, the reminder to people that aren't so familiar, the drug war is still going on, and we're still seeing people affected by it. So you know, there is a lot of frustration but the hard ones I always feel like are the ones that are in the system because they have to tread a lot lighter with what they can say any their phone calls are being recorded there. everything they do is being monitored, if they show any sort of sign that they're not contrite about these crimes, and often the crimes don't involve any sort of evidence. They're, you know, hearsay, they're conspiracy charges, they have to eat the charges and say they did it because they're not getting out if they don't do it. So when you talk to them, a lot of them kind of dance around it, they'll say, you know, it hurts but you know, I did it. So you know, bla bla bla bla bla, and, you know, maybe they do feel that way, but you know, I think it's someone who's in the community, you obviously yourself, too, it's like, you know, you hear someone said, it's like, you shouldn't be in jail for this, you know, you weren't, you know, murdering people, you weren't harming people. This is a non violent offense. Like, even if you were trafficking, sure, a fine or something, I don't know. But you know, like, You don't deserve a life sentence or, you know, if, because you didn't give up information quick enough, then you somehow moved up the ranks because everyone else got a plea deal. And now you're a kingpin status, you know, one just to highlight because in your backyard, I spoke to his article probably coming out in a few weeks. His name is Edwin rubis. He was addicted to drugs, he was addicted to alcohol. And he got into debt with some cannabis dealers that could lead to him trafficking. And he ended up getting pain, his dead son a year and a half later, he got arrested from this thing. And because people gave up information, he didn't have any he ended up with a kingpin status. And now he's serving 40 years on out in Alabama. And in the in the 23 years, he's been in prison. He's completed two apprenticeship programs. He's completed every anger management, every substance abuse program, like everything under the sun, he's gotten the letters of recommendation written from heads of the the, like, facility, everything like that. And still they're not budging on releasing him the Obama administration, I believe, hasn't I know, the Trump administration hasn't? And the Biden administration hasn't yet and that's just one of I believe, 40 or so 1000 people that are still being affected by it right now. It's, you know, yeah, it's just, it's to hear them, like not be able to even fully like voice their frustration, I hope these articles kind of hope will be a little bit to get it out there, or at least spark other people to get frustrated and do something about it.

Shayda Torabi  32:29  
Yeah, definitely. You know, obviously, it's heartbreaking to hear that this is happening, just knowing that there are a lot of people, you know, respectively, ourselves included. And so it's like, how do you wake up to that? And kind of what do you do with that information? How do you advocate it, I'm not saying, you know, everybody is maybe going to go start a nonprofit that's, you know, lobbying to help release these people from prison. But at the same time, I do think, to use this platform, as you know, some sort of inspiration to obviously use your articles as some sort of inspiration and awareness and education, right of just like, this is the industry. And this is kind of what we're dealing with. I'm curious, just from what you've shared so far, kind of maybe bringing it back full circle, you know, you're writing these articles. And then at the same time, you're also talking maybe to politicians, maybe to like people just involved in like that stream of you know, legalization, depending on if it's a state or a country kind of conversation. Do you see it almost come back, like people acknowledge like that you're talking to kind of in those high level positions, like yeah, obviously, there's something wrong with the system like, and also kind of asking you for some hopefulness. And maybe there is maybe there isn't, but like, do you see a day where we actually get to like rectifying this industry? And we actually get to like net positive? Or is it always just going to be kind of imbalanced in terms of how the industry moves forward?

Unknown Speaker  33:55  
I would say in almost every conversation you have companies talking about social equity and needing to create restorative justice thing like that, the real question is, how many of them are actually going to put it into action afterwards you know, and I think going back just a little bit to what you were saying you know, you don't have to start a nonprofit but you know, you can donate money you can donate time you can listen to stories of your company you got a whole lot more options than that so it's really it's everyone's talking about it how many people are using it just as a talking point and how many people are putting it into action? The good sign is there are definitely a good amount of companies that are doing it not everyone is practicing inclusivity inclusivity is still lacking from a lot of what my sources saying what the data data shows. It's getting better in sometimes it's better than most markets but you know, it's still not where cannabis would like to hit its ideals. So you're they're talking about doing it but really putting it in action is the next step. And yeah, you got it. That's where I think is really you got to recognize the brands that are doing that and what they're doing the ones that aren't doing it, ask them why they're not you know, they have a lot of these companies have a lot of money, they have a lot of influence. the very least they got a lot of followers on social media, you know, put it to use if the company is on I would be worried about that I haven't checked in in a little bit but there's a great tool called inclusive bass and the accounting or the accountability less from Ken occlusive a great advocacy group and check it out they have a datasheet of a lot of the activity that's been going on a lot of companies in the industry and that's a great starting point to kind of assess it but yeah it's you I would say there is optimism in that a lot of people are pushing for reform but really how much of that will get done really I think depends on how much pressure the industry puts on lawmakers and you know really lobbies for it and you know get some gets action through finances

Shayda Torabi  35:34  
yeah it's it's definitely a really tangled up Web unfortunately that I think it does require more attention it requires more involvement it requires people just to I think be aware of this is the you know, cannabis industry today you know, October 2021 and like it isn't perfect and not to accept it for its imperfections but to actively try to make it a better industry and I do want to kind of highlight to you know, I think while that is such a big topic that needs a lot of support and obviously just like attention to it, I think because I always try to give you know people options right? I think there's there's a lot of ways that people can be getting involved again, I think whether it comes down to the medical marijuana side of the conversation, just medical accessibility to cannabis, kind of bleeding into obviously just like accessibility in general, the mental aspect of cannabis I think that there's a lot of hills that we can all kind of you know, pick up our cross and kind of march forward towards and I think that's where I try to realize people always like you know, how do you make the most change and I'm like, for me, I try to make the most change in my backyard so I always look you know, how do I distill it distill it distill it down you know, maybe that's my customer base. How do I make that you know, the best environment the best space? How do I help educate people? Maybe it's my city. How do I you know, speak on behalf of Austin, Texas, how do I help austinites better see cannabis and bring this information to them. Texas right, you can start extrapolating it out. But again, I think the purpose of these conversations is one to bring awareness to it but to I think really to help encourage and inspire people to take action because I see too many people benefiting by sitting back and just kind of like being reactive like waiting for the laws to change or waiting for someone else to kind of do something instead of you know, putting their neck out there and I am when I was first getting involved in a business perspective in CBD here in Texas I actually went to I love the Texas normal they were one of the first kind of advocacy groups I started getting connected with and I remember going to one of the meetups and for us our brand is so education forward on a lot of aspects of cannabis but obviously like being in Texas there's a lot of stigma around the plant and so again for me is trying to help my community understand that this is not the devil's weed. If you want to get high you can but there's also other cannabinoids that you know make you feel good and take take the chill or give you the chill and take the pain away and things like that I remember speaking to this one gentleman I don't remember his name I don't even know who he is or really what's important if he's still around but he kind of was you know you better be careful girl you're gonna stick your neck out you're gonna get chopped and it's like I think there's too many people who kind of feel that in different levels right it's like why don't want to speak up Why don't want to say something Why don't want to go testify well I don't want to call my senator well I don't want to you know, talk to my neighbor because there still is this cloud of stigma but I do think that obviously it's the people who step forward and you know myself included ice work a corporate job there was they weren't drug testing Thank the Lord but there was no way I was going to come out and be like, I advocate for cannabis like and I meet customers who come into the store they're like, what's the receipt gonna say and don't call me or message me because my employer this that the other and like the fear is there? No, yeah, the stigma still exists, right? But realizing like it takes those of us maybe who are in those positions to maybe be the the torchbearers maybe be the writer, the voice, maybe be the person on social media, maybe be the neighbor who's just like, Hey, you know, that funky smell you smell in my backyard is actually the way that I get my medicine and I feel really good. You know, do you wanna have a conversation about it? I think that like starts opening up the conversation. So that's all my hope is with, you know, obviously, bringing these topics up is just to help shine a light on it and to make people feel like, you know, what's that, quote? Be the change you wish to see. Like, it's cheesy, but it's true.

Unknown Speaker  39:18  
No, it is. And you know, I think you mentioned a lot of good stuff in there. And it's really important, you know, while the focus should be on federal, I think on you know, whether it be you know, how you want to make change in any level, not just cannabis legalization, but like, it happens on the local level, a lot of activity happens on the local level, we always think about the big scene and how we can make the big impact but making the big impact happens on the small level, you know, thinking about your community, like you said, and extrapolating out is the best way to go from there. We all want to rock into the top and think about you know, how we can get Joe Biden to sign off on cannabis and stuff, but it's like, you know, what, didn't know not to, you know, keep banging the drum on prison reform. But look at that, you know, we're not seeing people getting released all the time from federal which stinks but you're seeing more and more cities embracing it. You're seeing more towns and cities And raising it you know, the poor pressure and the education that you put into your community I think that's how you expedite the change because you know we think about something like you know, LGBT marriage You know that was one of the ones from our generation that you know looked like it was never gonna happen and then all of a sudden every state started doing it and then eventually the Supreme Court was like Yeah, let's do it you know and the same thing with cannabis can be very well happening so you know the people in you know Texas especially the conservative states that are really pushing it that's the real key there so if you're looking to make a change jump to an info session you know, start sharing stuff on social media put your neck out if you can you know if you can't obviously you can't like you said the stigma is there and it's you know, you got to be selected for it but if you are in a position for it, do it you know, and if you can't be an ally you know, listen, you know, can people share the stories if you can donate money if you can, you know, just give your ideas there's a lot of ways to basically get involved and yeah, that local opportunity you really find out there's a lot of options to really make an impact in you know, in a way that will not only benefit people but I think in a way will give you a lot of altruistic joy throughout

Shayda Torabi  41:04  
it as well. Yes, no, I love the observations and I think it's just you know, pointing people in the right direction I find so often we exist in isolation unfortunately. And I reflect on this a lot just being in the industry in the city that I'm in and the time that I got into it it's like I'm doing this kind of by myself and now the industry is kind of ramped up a little bit more and you realize oh, there's peers but you know, another point to reflect on is you don't necessarily like if you don't see an organization like grant opportunity to create an organization like you don't have a local community group in your city that you like really are passionate about cannabis like go create it like there's so much happening on a mainstream level that obviously I'm sure you can attest to because you're covering a lot of it but it's again kind like one of those like sub level stories that are happening that are I think equally as important like you highlighted maybe it's not happening at a federal level but what truly is like being done kind of in the communities and in a state to state

Unknown Speaker  41:57  
yeah that was my kick for a while and I wish I could have kept it up but it was just hard to really find the stories and the sources at the rapid rate I was writing out at the time but I really thought the hyper local stories were the way to go though the local writers are always the best you know people can be in you know not to you know when we were talking actually about media earlier you know the uncertainties that some people have around it you know, you can have be dubious about a lot of mainstream news sources I don't think all of them are bad but you know some of them are definitely you know more traffic driven marketing the door not really cared about your truth or anything but like again go local look for the smaller sources they typically are you know pretty well ran pretty nonpartisan just reporting about their communities and getting into the facts and learning about them though state to state level news are so important for about a year and a half two years now I've been banging the drum that people need to be watching the Midwest states I think a lot of people don't pay attention my favorite state is your neighbor to the north Oklahoma that market is fucking insane and the best way possible like when I heard that I was like Oklahoma did that like they basically just took California's model it just said okay, we'll open it up a bit like that was cool and you know you're seeing you know, I think that is the most interesting market out there you know, I point people to Missouri there's a lot of interesting stuff going on there but then you know also the big players like Michigan is going to most likely be a top five Illinois could very well be a top five yeah you know those those local stories and starting out there I think there's so much cool stuff and you know, you keep your eye on the federal but really, you know, push for a lot on the state level, there's a lot of opportunity.

Shayda Torabi  43:31  
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 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. No, I love that I kind of want to dive in a little bit more to some of these state observations since you kind of brought it up. I I went to Oklahoma City for the first time last month and I just got invited to go back to Oklahoma City to speak at a women cannabis conference happening at the end of the month. So if any Oklahoma people are listening, maybe come out and see us there. But it's a very interesting market. And you know that compared to I don't know anything about you know, Missouri's market, I'd be curious kind of what your observations are in terms of maybe who's doing it right and maybe some things that we can learn from or some interesting things from some of these states as they're opening up their programs. What you Kind of written about and observed and what you can share.

Unknown Speaker  45:02  
Yeah, absolutely. I think you know, there is no one clear market or plan that's working right now I think, you know, I don't know my guess is we're gonna end up piecemealing it I think we're not gonna see an omnibus deal so I think we're gonna see incremental stuff I think we'll see banking and then you know the other stuff rolling in there until maybe we get something that fully passes I guess in an omnibus form at that point. So I think you're gonna see stuff being taken from each state I think Oklahoma is a great example if you don't like major brands like if you're worried about the multi state operators and you're worried about other companies taking you know too much of this pie that's supposed to be communal embrace Oklahoma's model, people are going to fail that anyone can sign up for a license essentially, but you know, some people will fail but a lot of companies will thrive and because of that the multi state operators won't touch Oklahoma and I think that's a really interesting fact to consider I was considering leaving my home state in New York just because cost of living and you know, other factors are getting there and the bill we just passed was probably the most progressive bill out there and you know, depending on the parameters that pass it could be one of the more business friendly ones that also you know, really checks a lot of boxes across the board Yeah, every year the state by state model is really proven to have a lot of different pros and cons to it. There's a lot of opportunities and for you know, examining the good and the bad and I think the real big takeaway from it is you know, some states might take a step back and some states might show a leap forward that other states won't be able to match up to right away but we're seeing incremental progress and learning from every single one of them you know, a lot of times that people used to laugh at the California or Colorado Oregon market for shortcomings you know, don't laugh at it because it's messing up a lot of people's businesses first of all but you know, you're just you know do like how you know you screwed up this and you know your big weed states and blah blah blah it's yeah you were the demo state you were putting out these you know these rules that you thought were going to be best foot forward or you at least hope that's the case and you're now you're seeing ones that are getting better and better from it so New York technically by a lot of people's consideration I think has the best bill now on the table hopefully in a year that won't be the case because three states you know, replicated it and made it better where you know, businesses are you know, getting great opportunity social equity is where it needs to be and you know, consumers aren't paying out the year for the product it's all going to get there and then hope Neil depending on when the federal bites on it we actually get it done it may be the 48th state to legalize where we just take their model because they took everything from the last 47

Shayda Torabi  47:19  
now that's really good insight because it is interesting you know, I do get in a lot of conversations where people like oh well what do you think Texas is going to do? I'm like well we're kind of in a position where we're waiting we're sitting we're watching but just like referencing New York and kind of New Jersey compared you know to what it was Arizona just recently went medical to wreck it's just so interesting the timing of things though to like New York might have a better plan but their implementation the runway it seems like the program doesn't actually take effect until what 2023 maybe even 2024

Unknown Speaker  47:53  
no we're looking 2022 Oh, okay, I actually just wrote um, got an article for High Times December issue coming out on the New York legalizations actually just talked to a bunch of people about this this week they're looking at mid 2022 right now if all things go to plan

Shayda Torabi  48:07  
Okay, that's cool good to know everybody you heard it here first and then read it in high times in December I think you know that's a little bit of the industry right it's like there's not really a set this is how it needs to be done this is how it should be done this how it really could be done and it's a lot of the states then I think taking their their own interpretation of it and then like kind of implementing it so yeah, it's a Oklahoma's a

Unknown Speaker  48:31  
there's so many factors that go into it you know, like New York one of the big ones that is happened was the Cuomo resigned in the middle of it he eat by all accounts he passed the cannabis legislation as friendly of a bill as it was to try and soften the blow from the sexual harassment charges that ultimately took him out of office. Hoping that was going to be a diversion. We were like Cool, thanks for the bill Get the hell out. And then that led to hoko coming in and now there's concerned about it could take longer because you know, just from switching over from administration she actually has ramped it up and she actually made appointments the Cuomo administration ever did we're hitting the ground running a lot more now so that actually is expediting that runway where with Cuomo probably could have been a 2023 2024 sort of situation but the interesting ones to them like Arizona you know Arizona really set the new trend of going from approving adult use actually launching I think they did it in five months you know, they took their medical infrastructure and rolled it out you know, people were like oh yeah look at New Jersey look in New York It was no Arizona just set the bar for you guys so it really depends on so many factors you know, the hit the COVID had the you know, the deficit already that the state had you know, the sentiment of the people how overwhelmingly supportive Are they all that you know, what's the power structure what's the shakeout in the in the legislature You know, there's so many different factors with each one and yeah, I think that's what makes it interesting to see which states are being able to get it out and you know, actually do it right and see success from it. So yeah, it's, it's i would i would love to see federal, but as a writer, and someone who just love stories Seeing the state by state model, it kind of really checks a lot of the what ifs that you wouldn't have had it from a federal where it's just like, okay, we can't say that's guaranteed on the federal but good case studies in this this this state, this one goes here, you know, so it's all taken shape.

Shayda Torabi  50:13  
Yeah, I really enjoyed it just from a consumer perspective, obviously, with my industry hat on because I do a lot of you know, quote, unquote, like, discovery trips, where it's like, oh, I just got to go check out this market and just kind of see what's going on. But it is cool to kind of see, especially again, from my perspective, as a marketer with a brand emphasis, like I do love seeing these unique brands that have emerged in these different states and kind of what their parameters are, like, I love digging into the data now to knowing that that's kind of at our fingertips in terms of, well, what is the leading product in California versus the leading product in Washington State versus Colorado. And so I often talk a lot about that in the podcast, but just to kind of, like, generalize it for our discussion, you know, there's differences, there are different consumers in these different states. And so I do think, you know, kind of your observation and approach of the state by state is actually a good step for us in this moment in time because I think we're able to like aggregate and kind of build out these different customer bases that maybe when federal legalization happens, we still have some opportunity to keep some of the craft brands and some of the kind of like, you know, consumer centric aspects of the industry that I think that we probably both like know and love alive, versus it's like Amazon's moving in and Amazon's producing cannabis, and they're shipping it to your door in, you know, 48 hours or less, it's like, Yeah, but I really like these gummies that, you know, this brand makes in Arizona that I really want to keep getting, because they made the best tasting with the best dose with the best cannabinoid profile, whatever,

Unknown Speaker  51:44  
commodity they're actually a cannabis product. You know, I think that you know, we are going to see that mass marketing of it, it's already happening, and it's going to happen more pressure, we are definitely seeing that preservation of it. And I think we will, a lot of people are likening it to the alcohol on craft or the beer in the craft beer space, I should say, where, you know, a lot of the craft beer companies did end up getting bought by the big names, but there's a lot of them still maintain their integrity or tried to maintain it. And then there's the ones that really have stayed independent and are you know, sticking to their ethos. And I think the terroir laws that are starting to be passed in certain parts of the country like what has been happening in the Emerald triangle, really, you know, exemplifying and preserving the land that really made the top quality cannabis I think that is where we'll see a lot of that preserved and you know, it probably is going to end up becoming you know, a kind of soar higher end sort of space, unfortunately, but it will be preserved hopefully in time when the prices can be leveled out or become more accessible to everyone. But I think that's where we're seeing you know, that preservation of the cannabis culture and you know, there are large companies that still want to do that, too. So I think there'll be a midpoint or at least maybe someone one or two large companies holding on to those Ito's but yeah, get ready to see a lot of baby doses of cannabis and stuff. And I don't know and that's some weird shit I hopefully I'm not going to get involved in.

Shayda Torabi  53:01  
No, I mean, love it and hate it. But California's cannabis market has just pushed Push Push so far into this branding sphere, which again, I do genuinely love because I think it's so cool when you see these packaging, or these new products, like my friend just posted this like Granny Smith, apple, like beverage, and I'm like, that sounds fucking delicious. Like I'm used to, like, here's some, you know, like root beer canned, and we added some THC to it. And it's like, it's not sexy, right? And I think that there is something about the branding that I think California has set the stage for, but then it does kind of, you know, create dialogue for a well what's gonna happen when things open up? And are those brands going to be able to survive? Or are they going to get bought out? Are they going to be, you know, absorbed into some of these larger businesses? It's still, you know, I think the verdicts not out yet.

Unknown Speaker  53:49  
Yeah, it's the you know, there's gonna be there's gonna be consolidation, there's almost a guarantee there's going to be consolidation. But a lot of those brands that position themselves, well, they got a chance to beat in the msos, or potentially acquiring an MSO. I mean, the big one to look at is cookies, you know, cookies has essentially played their hand, right? Every time it seems like, you know, shout out to burner and that team, they're putting together a great product. You know, I think they're one of the few companies that really have gotten that branding, right? They've gotten their marketing, right, and they have that actually ethical background to it. They have the connection to the community to it. There's power in those sort of brands in terms of what's going to happen when it opens up. One thing if you'd like I've gotten a lot of insight from folks is they think that it's going to move to New York, you know, you're already seeing a lot of brands becoming New York centric, you know, there was a study that put out by cannabis cultivation company called seadoo in 2018. That's pretty heavily cited study nowadays, that New York was the heaviest cannabis consuming city in the world. I think they consider they consume 72 point 2 million tons of cannabis or something like that. And 2017 the second closest city was I think, three times less than what New York consumed and then la was the third and I think they've consumed maybe 36 times. So the basically the idea is, you know, New York, whether you like it or not the East Coast bias to it, I definitely don't want to toot my own horn from being here, but is the truth is the reason why I stay here to be honest with you, New York is going to be the hub of cannabis, in terms of sales, it's going to be the hub for I think, a lot of branding, you're gonna see a lot of creative drive coming out of it, that will obviously spread across the country, there's gonna be a lot of great players happening on the west coast and the south and everywhere, really, anywhere, anyone can be creative is going to do it. But just Newark has that centralization as well as that, you know, the commerce and the infrastructure of, you know, just the industry being here that a lot of it happens, and they end up catering to what's happening in New York and that innovation. So if you're ever kind of stuck on where to go for where it is kind of just see what's trending a year ahead in New York, which is easier said than done, because that's hard to do it in of itself. But like, if you can do that, then you probably will know where cannabis is going to be in the next year or two.

Shayda Torabi  55:51  
I love that tip. I had kind of heard that just from some of the gang conversations I've been privy to be a part of but um, yeah, watching it happen kind of in slow motion, which maybe from your perspective feels like fast motion, because you're like in the thick of it. And it's like it can't come soon enough. And everything's just kind of like moving. But yeah, it'll be really exciting to see once the market is fully open and just kind of the drive the creativity and the business that gets done in that state.

Unknown Speaker  56:16  
Yeah, I love being in New York because especially in New York City, because people like what his consumption is gonna look like I was like, well, I've been to like seven or eight of them already. Because the people that there's already you know, like, as long as the regulations don't block it, it's gonna look like this, there's gonna be options like this, there's gonna be all this sort of going on. The brands are you know, doing a lot of the great stuff. So yeah, I don't know, I there's definitely stuff to look across the country. But if you ever get stuck, centralize your focus in New York and build out from there.

Shayda Torabi  56:42  
Perfect. I love that well, to wrap things up, just because you obviously use a lot of sources to create the content that you write both in your articles and your book. I'm curious probably now in today's day and age, you're really well connected. So I'm sure a lot of it comes to you. But to kind of share with the audience and the listeners, someone who's looking for resources, how do they stay on top of this, like, who do you kind of look to to inform you on kind of the direction of what's happening in the industry,

Unknown Speaker  57:09  
I think there's a lot of ways to go and you should try to tap into all of them, because you otherwise can find yourself in kind of like a hollow sphere of similar sources and voices, when you're starting out writing, especially if you can get a publication attached to your name, start reaching out to every cannabis PR company and ask them to get added get added to their PR lists, you'll immediately start getting distribution for stuff, you will immediately regret it because you'll start getting pitch so many things that you don't need or apply to you or getting people to pitch a lot of stuff that doesn't work for you. But basically consider the more than pitching to you, the more they value your work and the more they will want to be working with you. So when you do need sources, you can reach out to them and just be like, hey, I need XYZ sort of stuff. And if they have the client, they will get it to you. Another big one is social media. I've kind of wavered on which one is the best for me for a long time Twitter actually was I thought it was giving me more connections to community as well as business leaders. I feel like in the last couple weeks and months, I've kind of actually shifted over to LinkedIn, I have a pretty good like I've like 2000 connections on LinkedIn, I think that's really benefited me, where I can send a blast out looking for sources and get a lot of great responses really quickly. So social media is really helpful. Tap into which networks are best for you. But also, you know, depending on your writing, be sure to tailor to you know, the business mind. Like if you're writing on the business side, focus more on LinkedIn, if you're focused more on the culture side, maybe Instagram, Twitter, tik tok, those sort of things that I would say just go into events, you know, like you said, showing up the stuff, if there aren't groups around, you reach out to groups, they can start making introductions, a lot of these groups are looking for publicity actively. So if you're hosting a good podcast, or you have a traffic that they'll want to get linked up with you and stay in the network. So I think hitting on those three problems would probably be your best bet. And then you start to pick up your own individual ways along the way, you know, me being in New York as I just feel like is my best one in the back pocket, you know, very easily and say, let's go grab coffee, bring someone else that you know, or whatever the case may be, or let's show up to an event. If you're not in a major city, you know, there's other options, I don't know, you just got to play to the strength of the local market, you know, really just kind of tap into that. And you know, hopefully if you're in a legalized space, it's a lot easier if you're in an illegal space, kind of like how I was up until recently and how Shayda is, you know, still fighting that good fight. You know, it might be a little bit tougher, but you can still find options or at least find a spot where you could roll a joint and talk to someone or something like that and that, you know, especially if they're in connected with people, then that kind of just sets off the whole cannabis network.

Shayda Torabi  59:30  
I appreciate you being on the show. Thank you so much for the conversation. Everybody go check out all of Andrews content, we will link it below.

Unknown Speaker  59:38  
Yes, absolutely. Thank you for having me. And I look forward to having you on my show one of these days.

Shayda Torabi  59:49  
I hope that Andrew inspire you like he inspired me. Again in this episode, we talked a lot about the role that the media plays and obviously helping construct the voice and the view of how cannabis is seen and perceived. And I just want to kind of leave you with that food for thought I want to impress upon you the role that you play. I don't think that just because people like Andrew who have the title of author or writer or myself who maybe hold the title of influencer or content creator, you know, are the only ones with a microphone. Obviously, I am on a microphone. But that's not the point, right? It's that any buddy in this industry who is communicating and helping shape the conversation, whether it's through one on one, whether it's through mediums, like writing for different local publications, or even writing for your own blog, or website or brand is just realizing the power of being able to tell these stories and the magnitude for which these stories again, help shape the industry for which we are existing in and so I just hope that you guys with every episode, but especially this one, you know, feel a call to do something to give back to tell a story maybe that you haven't been sharing, maybe it's a personal story. Maybe it's somebody in your community who you think is doing some remarkable work. That's definitely something that I don't really think a lot about. But obviously a lot of my actions do that by way of the podcast just through the content that I share the advocacy work that I do. It is intentional, but sometimes I think we can be more intentional, right? So this is a good wake up call for not only myself but for you guys as well to think of ways that you can be consciously giving back to that narrative to that story and ultimately helping re shape the cannabis conversation and whatever channels and communities that you are a part of. But that's all I got for this episode today. Like I said, it is Monday, October 18. And tomorrow kicks off mjbizcon and MJ unpacked. If you're going to be at the show, please reach out let's connect with love to me, you guys. That's the fun that I get to experience from putting on this podcast and making and meeting so many incredible friends and guests from all over different facets of the industry. But be safe if you're out in Vegas and just be safe in general no matter where you are. And remember that every Monday there is a brand new episode here on the To be blunt podcast. Share this one with a friend if you liked it. Talk to you guys later. Have a good one. Bye.

Announcer  1:02:22  
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda slash to be blind 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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