To Be Blunt: The Professional Cannabis Business Podcast

084 Baking Up The Future of Cannabis Tech and Adoption with Shanel Lindsay of Ardent

January 24, 2022 Shayda Torabi Season 3 Episode 84
To Be Blunt: The Professional Cannabis Business Podcast
084 Baking Up The Future of Cannabis Tech and Adoption with Shanel Lindsay of Ardent
Show Notes Transcript

“At the end of the day, cannabis businesses are just like any other businesses, right? They need all of the services and support that anyone needs. And obviously, our lane is in helping with consumption.” - Shanel Lindsay

Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Shanel Lindsay, founder and president of Ardent Life, Inc., to discuss the bright future of cannabis made possible by technology, how her profession as a lawyer got her involved in legalization, the importance of homegrowing and testing, and empowering our customers through presenting the science.

[00:01 – 04:46] Cannabis-infused home-baked goodies

[04:47– 10:06] Shanel shares her mission in the Cannabis World

[10:07 – 21:55] Framework in Massachusetts in Home Growing and Productization

[21:56 – 32:50] Breaking Down the Decarboxylation Process

[32:51 – 51:36] Biotech, Hardware, and Data Points as Springboards

[51:37 – 55:01] Food for Thought: How do you go empower the consumer through data?

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Shanel Lindsay is an attorney, activist, and entrepreneur.  Founder and President of Ardent Life, Inc., a Boston-based biotech and consumer device company focused on improving the science and medicine of cannabis, Shanel is the creator of Nova Precision Decarboxylator, which regulates medical cannabis dosing, and the new Ardent FX, an all-in-one cooking, infusion and baking device. She has grown a global brand in Ardent Life and has received multiple patents for her inventions. A graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania, Shanel was an author of and spokesperson for the Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative (aka Question 4) and twice appointed to the Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board. She is also co-founder of Equitable Opportunities NOW! (EON), a non-profit that has successfully fought for equitable cannabis policies that benefit Black and Brown residents and communities disproportionately harmed by prohibition, as well as mentoring minority business owners entering the industry.

Connect with Shanel 

Visit https://ardentcannabis.com/ and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @ardentllc

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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 Quote:

“When you're not allowing people to test at home, like wait, just terrible policy, right? And you're also like, you're keeping patients in the dark, but it also benefits corporate operators…it's really important, like, never to suppress the data.” - Shanel Lindsay

 

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Shanel Lindsay  0:00  
We really see art in our technology, our hardware and our consumables like our kits as a springboard for people, you know, I kind of like to think about it as eating out and going to a restaurant, right? The dispensaries like eating out, like cool. Everybody loves to eat out, but people should know how to cook their own food and it really does open their mind to wow I can incorporate this into a salad or my pasta and I actually like don't have to make a different thing. I can just incorporate this into my food or my medicine and for us we have had a focus on food to begin because it really is a low hanging fruit right? Everybody knows and understands edibles. But for us, the real future lies in the health and wellness side of the space

Announcer  0:55  
your list listening to to be blunt, be 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 a new episode of The to be blown podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer, y'all. I'm over the moon about today's guests. I've been a fan girl for so long of just her as a female founder in the industry, as well as her products and I finally got my hands on one of her devices last year. If you've been following my personal Instagram at the Shayda Torabi then you saw that I started to dabble in infusing my own oils with cannabis at home and turning those infusions into home baked goodies, which stay tuned because I'm going to be baking with it more and excited what concoctions I can come up with now that I have cannabis coconut oil to bake with. So today I have the pleasure of sitting down with founder and CEO of ardent Chanel Lindsey Chanel is building a machine. Yes physically in the sense that her main products the f x and the Nova are table top cannabis kitchens. They've also been called the Easy Bake ardent, so like think Easy Bake oven but for cannabis, but also digitally in the amount of education and user generated content she's accumulated and produced over the years since she launched the company back in 2016. As a lawyer and entrepreneur Chanel's story is truly inspiring from how she got introduced into the cannabis industry to what influence she's been able to have on helping shape the cannabis laws in her home state of Massachusetts who, by the way, also legalized recreational cannabis in 2016. Her business is fascinating, not just for how it empowers patients and consumers with high tech to decarb their cannabis to prep it for infusions, but for the way in which she's approached building her brand. In this episode, we talk about the opportunity that building an ancillary business and cannabis has afforded Chanel and how that has enabled her to go forward and marketing and advertising her products. But we also talk about the roadblocks she's faced with growing a company in the cannabis industry. For example, this one also really hit home for me, when you look at a lot of Arden's content, you'll notice Chanel is in a lot of it. Yes, she is the founder and who knows her brand is better than her. But also sometimes when you can't find or afford help, you gotta roll up your sleeves and do it because it just has to get done. This was a truly motivating conversation and very encouraging to to hear how Chanel approaches the development of her products, and the insight that she is bringing to the market in terms of data education and ownership of what we're putting into our bodies, especially for the consumers and patients who use cannabis as their medicine. Of course, yes, it is still a fun way to enjoy and consume cannabis in the comfort of your own home and being able to add it into more everyday elements rather than just always eating a sugary gummy. So with that said, let's get right to the episode. Please join me by lining one up and let's welcome Chanel to the show.

Unknown Speaker  4:47  
My name is Chanel Lindsay, I am from Boston. I really think of myself as an attorney and an advocate and an innovator. You know, that's really what I am striving to be in the space and I started my cannabis His journey now over 20 plus years ago, when I was just an early cannabis consumer and then had my son early as a young mom and really started looking into the science behind cannabis because I got an ovarian cyst, and I was looking to avoid pharmaceuticals and treat myself and be this like, young, healthy, active, you know, person who was also able to just can take control of their health. And so that really started my cannabis journey that were more serious look at cannabis and understanding, hey, how could I make things easier for other people starting with myself. And so along that journey, making all these cannabis products and understanding how amazing it was for my own health, I was also becoming a lawyer at that same time, and practicing law, and also really starting to see the hypocrisy of people using cannabis and getting in trouble everything from going to jail to actually just being seen as that person who's doing drugs and using cannabis and irresponsible, right. And so that was always something that was either a casual annoyance, or something I was like getting arrested for once I started, you know, growing my own medicine. So that really was real formative. And when it came to kind of what I thought my mission was in the cannabis world, and I really got an amazing opportunity. Once Massachusetts legalized for medical purposes, laboratory opened up, and I started testing my own medicine and seeing that there were some really huge gaps in the ability for things in your kitchen to be able to make this very specific medicine. And that's really what led to developing artists, you know, once I honed in on the time and temperature for this activation, or decarb, or really the fundamental process for making any cannabis product, I realized, wow, people that were coming into this marketplace now or coming into the industry thinking, hey, I want to use this product, they're gonna have a really hard time making accurate products, they're going to have a really hard time even understanding where to start. And so I thought that, hey, if I have this passion, and now this technology, right, like a product that actually helps streamline all of these processes for people and make it really simple, I think this is something that you know, come and change the game. And so I brought ardent to market and at the same time, we started fighting for legalization here in Massachusetts. And you know, we're successful in 2016. And so I've been really involved with that. I was appointed to the advisory board and serve two terms there, as we were pushing for, you know, equity legislation, and just really my whole world is cannabis now, but I wouldn't have it any other way. It's an amazing industry and movement to be a part of.

Shayda Torabi  7:39  
Absolutely no. And your story's very empowering to obviously, you know, we all have different journeys and paths that bring us into, you know, cannabis and cannabis consumption, and especially being a female who is kind of looking at it from a health perspective, you know, how can I use this plant to take care of myself and also kind of fight up against the stigma of what like you were saying a cannabis consumer had typically maybe been perceived by and just the transformation of that journey of kind of going through your personal experience to how you've been able to make a product that is really it, pardon my French fucking cool. I mean, I've had my fair share of, you know, making cannabis butters and trying to decarb and like, I remember my friend's mom's kitchen, and she came home one day, she's like, Why does it smell like weed in here, and we're like, Oh, my God, you know, we're teenagers in high school, and we're like, are so sorry, but it's not as easy of a process. And so to be able to take this plant this flower, that people are mostly familiar with smoking, and be able to make it into a accessible consumer device that is also really driven by the technology is really magical. And so I definitely want to get into more of the science behind art. And because I now have my own art and FX and have gotten a chance to play with it up close and see a little bit of the specifics. I think that you've infused into your product that have made it be so impactful for the end consumer, but you mentioned your involvement with the cannabis community in the state of Massachusetts. And part of what I like to do on the podcast is get a pulse for different markets and different communities. And I personally don't know a ton about the Massachusetts cannabis community. I mean, you mentioned some dates around when it was medical versus when it was recreation adult use. But I'm really curious if you can just kind of frame for us a little bit. What is cannabis like in Massachusetts? I mean, can you it sounds like home grow. But I don't know what that kind of application is like in terms of testing. I was just talking to a friend in Colorado, he is home growing, which in Colorado, you can home grow, but he says unless you have a particular license, you can't actually even go test your products with a testing company. And so, to me, what I've observed again, with the podcast is every market is obviously different. And sometimes it's for the better of the community in the plan and sometimes it's for the detriment and so I'm just curious to kind of you know, get up pulse on what is Massachusetts cannabis like for you and the people in your state who are turning to cannabis as medicine? Yeah, absolutely.

Unknown Speaker  10:07  
And it is so interesting to see like, the patchwork of different laws and how those are, you know, impacting folks and Massachusetts is one of the early legalization states. And so we definitely have some of those things that people look towards as like, you always have to have them to have a good situation. And then we also have some of that stuff. It's like, you know, we made our mistakes as well, too. So when you think about like the New England region, man, we have a very high usage rate for cannabis, even though the culture is much more underground versus like California or something like that. But there's always been a very strong like cannabis community in Massachusetts. And honestly, the strength of the community and advocacy within the community, I think really sets Massachusetts apart, we are one of the few states that has been able to really push back against some corporate interests that have tried to come and that were had some real success there, which is, you know, a great thing, you know, for our state. And when we were legalizing, we weren't able to look and see the problems that existed with the MediCal program, which were that it was very few actors and players in there was no kind of, you know, diversity or any focus on equity whatsoever. And the product offerings, we you know, we're not that great. So there always has been a very vibrant traditional market in Massachusetts, that's competing with the dispensaries, even though we have over 100 plus dispensaries open. Now, adult use dispensaries. So within these last four years, it I think has been a real struggle for folks, because it took a long time for dispensaries to open up, there was a lot of political, you know, foot dragging that occurred. And there's a really difficult process that you have to go through in Massachusetts to get a license. There's like a local process. And then there's a state process and that local process is a lot because Massachusetts is very Puritan, right? So there's a lot of people who are like, I like cannabis in general, but I definitely don't want it to be anywhere near me. So there's a lot of that really still to be overcome. And so for us, that means that there's access for folks, but there also isn't a ton of cultivation has come online yet. And so a lot of the product people feel like traditional stoners feel like the product is not up to snuff, you know, in a lot of cases. But the exciting thing is that there are a ton of businesses coming online this year. So I think that you're going to see the Massachusetts marketplace really transform in the next two years with a lot of West Coast brands trying to come in a lot of brands trying to distinguish themselves. Like there's not a lot of like every dispensary has, like 40 brands that they're putting out right now in Massachusetts, but there hasn't any been one that's like, stood out as a leader. So there's a lot of people vying for that. And again, a lot of folks trying to come into Massachusetts, because they see the opportunity here. So for people home grow, that was a really important thing to mention. Because as an advocate, I would say any legalization framework that doesn't have home grow is a failure, right? Because people cannot grow at home, they're still going to be getting in trouble for that like, and you never want to have a marketplace where people are not able to create their own grow their own food, right, that same thing. And for us, we actually saw that Colorado did that about the testing that wasn't allowing people to actually go and test. So we made sure to make that require them in Massachusetts that anybody can go and get their medicine tested. And so I think we did a good job in those areas, a lot to be desired in Massachusetts. But I think that it's going to be exciting in the years that come especially we have a lot of tourism that comes here as well. And I think people are looking for that good quality product to come on the market. I know I certainly.

Shayda Torabi  13:43  
Oh, of course, no, that's super helpful to frame it too. Because again, I just think you can be in the cannabis industry, let's use Colorado as an example. And be so isolated from what these other states and programs are doing. And I'm always the person who's like federal legalization has to have you know, some sort of consistency from these program perspectives. And so when you have using homebrew as an example where you can grow in Colorado, but when he texted me that I was like, You're kidding me. So you just kind of have to guess what the percentage of your flour is. And then guess if you want to smoke it or obviously turn it into edibles and kind of guess on what the math is. And the strength of that product isn't it just seems like such a miss for me. So it's cool to hear that Massachusetts has taken that into account. And obviously that plays really big into what your business is and kind of empowering that home grower. And so to transition into it a little bit. I did see where I met your team at MJ biz that you were also speaking and your title of your talk was on ancillary spaces. And so I'm really keen to get your perspective on what ancillary spaces means to you and how hard it has existed and maybe what some of the challenges have been. And maybe some of the I guess winds have been Being in an ancillary space versus maybe directly touching the plant.

Unknown Speaker  15:03  
Awesome. Yeah. And just one last point on that home grow piece. And because I think it's so important for people to understand, like, they have to advocate for home grow. And there are huge forces that are pushing back against that. And the Colorado example is a great example as well. Because when you're not allowing people to test at home, like wait, just terrible policy, right. And you're also like, you're keeping patients in the dark, but it also benefits corporate operators. Because in Massachusetts, one of the things we were able to show through the testing of people homegrown is how safe home grow can actually be. Because that's used as a policy point of, oh, people growing at home, they're going to have, you know, it's unsafe medicine and material. And people are using that in other states to make legislators say, Okay, no, only companies can grow. And so it's really important, like never to suppress the data, right. And I think that's something people, whatever the data point is, in cannabis, it's always so important to push for legislation that requires data collection as well, because you can push back on all of these different, you know, crazy theories about cannabis, you know, with that accurate information, so, thanks for the extra time on the soapbox there, because I think it's great points. Yeah. And, for me, you know, those are problems, like we're saying that are on the, you know, regulated side of the industry. So when we're talking about the cannabis industry, there's like, two men segments. One is the regulated or the license side. And then one is the ancillary side. So the license side obviously includes anything that's actually like touching the plant in and that's very state specific, a really difficult process to go through takes a ton of money. And you know, at the end of the day, there's a lot of risk going into the license side of the business. Because often, there's only like so many opportunities there, right. So many, like, pieces of real estate are so many licenses that are being granted in any particular town. And so for me, first starting out when I started Arden, back in 2016, the ancillary side, which is anything other than plan, touching, right, is was really the best option. And honestly, the only option, right, there wasn't an opportunity back then, in Massachusetts, to give you an example, for medical, you had to have $500,000 liquid in the bank to even apply and the application fee was $30,000 non refundable. So you know, obviously, that wasn't something that was in my wheelhouse at that point. And like I mentioned, I had a passion for, you know, bringing this product to market. So anything that is like a hardware or, you know, services as well would be considered the ancillary side. And I love the ancillary side of the space, there still, don't get me wrong, like it is very difficult. So you're still burdened with all the stigma of cannabis. credit card processors still are very, you know, don't want to work with you, you have to have special everything. And special means more expensive, right, like more expensive process. More expensive insurance, like you're just under your you know, unceremoniously dumped from every platform, you think that you would want to be on, right, and that social media and everything like that. But that being said, it still is something that you are able to have much more freedom in what you do, for example, Arden we sell all over the world. And so we're not restricted by any particular state, because we don't actually touch the plant. We don't actually sell THC or CBD, we just sell, you know, like some people say like the picks and shovels, right of gold rush. And so. And I think that, at the end of the day was a great business decision for us, because it really allowed us to grow the brand without having to all of these extra compliance issues. And we really, we have the same traditional things that you have for any product manufacturer, like safety marks and other things like that. But it very much is a traditional business. And I like to tell people that if they're trying to get into the cannabis industry, just having an extension of what they do now that is focused on the cannabis world is a good way to think of kind of like an ancillary business that might be easy for them to start or get into there. Because at the end of the day, cannabis businesses are just like any other businesses, right, they need all of the services and support that anyone needs. And obviously, our ln is in helping with consumption, right? And helping people take all of that amazing product, whether that's concentrate or flower or Keith and turn that into, you know, any product that they desire. So it really has been a great journey for us. And I do talk a lot about the ancillary side of things because I think sometimes people when they want to get into the cannabis industry, they think, Oh, I have to be a grower or I have to have a dispensary and it's like, honestly, that's like a small segment of the marketplace. You know, the ancillary business side is bigger than the license side. And so that's just something for folks to keep in mind. You know, if they're kind of thinking about Entering or thinking about the industry in general?

Shayda Torabi  20:03  
Yes, no, I'm right there with you. I think about that more and more as I navigate to the industry for my own corner of you know, Austin, Texas and just getting to talk to amazing guests like yourself where they really put it into perspective. It's not that if your passion is full on growing cultivation, like we get a lot of people in Texas they're like, no when Texas legalizes like, we're going to grow and I get asked a lot. Are you going to open a marijuana dispensary? Are you going to transition your CBD dispensary into a marijuana dispensary? And I'm a realist, unfortunately, and I'm like, I don't even know what licensing looks like. I mean, you talked about what medical was in Massachusetts, Texas's MediCal program is very limited. Very, I mean, we have two operating licenses. And it's the same, you got to have so much money liquid, the license is non refundable. So fingers crossed, you get it you don't, you got to be prepared to lose that money. And so the reality of playing in the legal cannabis market looks a little different, you know, and I don't want to deter people from wanting to be a part of touching the plant or growing or anything like that. But just you know, to paint that picture for the reality of the industry is still figuring itself out. And so, yeah, I think ancillary is such a hot topic, and one that doesn't get enough air time. And knowing that was really a big emphasis that you like to speak on. And obviously built your business around is just so remarkable. And, and so cool to hear that you've been able to take your brand, global worldwide and bring the power of decarboxylated cannabis to the masses. And so I want to kind of dive into what is decarboxylation I understand it to the extent of you know, how it kind of needs to work so that you can actually activate the plant. But, you know, what is that from your terms? And why does art do it better, perhaps, then other ways that people could you know, decarboxylase, and then infuse their products?

Unknown Speaker  21:56  
Yeah, absolutely. And decarb is such an important topic. And I think that it's people not understanding that it's even a thing has led to a lot of the misinformation like around cannabis. And I think part of the biggest misinformation is like you need a lot of weed in order to make cannabis products. And at the end of the day, it's not true, you can actually make really potent products with just a tiny bit of material. But it comes down to actually making sure that you're preparing that material the right way. So when we're talking about decarboxylation, it's understanding that like, all cannabis, right is like asleep, right? When you have it, right, that, you know, it's the THC, the CBD that you're looking for, it's like in this dormant form, it's wrapped up in this, you know, extra molecule, this acid molecule that's making it unable to have an effect on you, right? And so like, if you just took like a ton of Bud and just put it into, you know, food or something like that, you wouldn't feel the effects from that, because that cannabis is like, you know, totally sleeping, right. And so, this decarboxylation, it's kind of like waking it up. It's like taking this blanket off of cannabis, right. And it's saying, like, Okay, you're ready to go and be bioavailable. And the challenge is, you know, this is done through a heating process. But when you're in so when you think about cannabis, like when people are using it, right, there's always heat involved, they're either smoking it, or they're putting it in the oven, or they're doing that. And that process, actually, people didn't realize it, but that is actually performing some kind of decarboxylation. It's not, you know, really accurate. Sometimes it's like burning off the THC, because it's very sensitive, this process of waking cannabis up, like, if you're ripping the blanket off too fast, like, you just gonna throw it out in the bed, right, or you're not going to fully wake it up, and you're not going to be getting most of the potency out of it. And so really, what our product does is, it is this lab grade using multiple sensors to get it to the perfect temperature for that full activation without any of that loss and making sure that you're getting every single little piece there. And what we found during the lab testing is that like using something like the oven, or the toaster oven is gonna waste about 40% of the available. So it's like very significant that this process is very, very particular. And so that this whole inability to get the right dosing is really based on this idea that you have to have, like, literally lab grade, you know, equipment to be able to activate this. And so that was the real aha moment with artists to think like, wow, if we can replicate these settings in the laboratory, in a device at home, that's really simple for people. We're cutting out the all of that loss for folks. And so our average person uses about 50% of the cannabis that they use to use when they're making products and so, and that the cost savings in addition to that, just the comfort and knowing that you're doing it right every time and discretion with, you know, the lack of smell. That is, you know, those are the main kind of reasons, you know, people are turning to us as a solution. So, at the end of the day, this decarboxylation process, you can't like see it happening, but it is the basis of making any cannabis product and making that affordably. And so that is where we started off really with the novo, which was the first device to come to market, a little tabletop device, two sensors, and really focused on just teaching people about that decarb and showing the testing results. Because before we came into the space, there was this, the myth out there was that you could only get to 70% decarboxylation. And after 70%, you were just destroying THC as fast as you were converting it and waking it up. And that was just what everybody believes. So everybody was just fine with losing 30% every time and we were able to show like, No, we can get to over 97% decarboxylation. And so like, to me, that's like pretty perfect at that point. And that's the difference between, you know, getting 70 milligrams, or you know, getting over 100 milligrams out of any gram. And so that's a big difference for people because cannabis is not cheap, you know, whether you're growing it on your own, you know, and want to share it with boats, or whether you're like paying big dispensary prices, you know. And so that is really the focus there. And it's a really, it's a scientific sounding word, but it's a very simple process and concept of you need to do this right, or anything else that you're doing in your process with cannabis really won't make sense and people don't understand and realize that you can actually DICOM and then just take a little piece of Bud and just eat it right there. Like it's actually activated on the plant. You don't have to go in and fuse like If fusion and decarb have gotten very conflated over the years because what they're two very different processes. And so part of what Arden does is give the education to people of actually how can I cut down my process time, you know, maybe I can decarb and I just throw a little nugs right into a capsule and then I have everything that I need you know, and I don't have to eat a butter or eat an oil and but some people love that right? Or how can I make lotions or how can I make suppositories really were here to show people and a lot of people are just afraid. They're like I have this cannabis it's really expensive. I don't want to waste this but when we're able to show them okay, just take half a gram just take point two and activate it because that right there's you know, if you're talking about something with you know, 20% THC, you just move the decimal point once you add a zero to the end, and that is how many milligrams per gram you could have from that. And I think that really blows people's mind they look and they're like, oh my god, I could have 200 milligrams for every one gram that I have, think about how many edibles I can make think about how much I spend at a dispensary to get, you know 1000 milligrams, right and so that is, I think the most exciting part of it just changing people's minds about how they see the process of making cannabis products.

Shayda Torabi  28:02  
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.com and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks and let's go back to the show. Absolutely, no, I mean personally speaking, I think it's so interesting as cannabis continues to go mainstream. And as these laws start to standardize and flush themselves out. I mean, in a perfect world. I mean, you mentioned it earlier you know, why not allow us to home grow. I mean, to me that's what I ultimately hope when we see federal legalization is the ability to bring this plant into our homes, our gardens to be able to be up close and personal with it. And for my own journey. You know, I've been a cannabis consumer for the last 15 years just this weekend, my fiance and I were like you know what, maybe you should stop smoking as much because maybe smoking isn't the most healthy thing for you. And I'm kind of having this realization like, you know, I don't really consider myself a smoker but yeah, I smoke cannabis regularly. And that kind of being the more comfortable I think association to it. And then the alternative really is, well I just got to go buy other people's edibles because I don't really know how to do this whole process myself and then from having a dispensary here in Texas. I hear a lot from customers. You know, you have sugar free wines, Is there things that don't have as many ingredients or the size of the gummy or why is that always the output of the form factor? So it's not to, you know, dismantle the industry and say edibles and gummies and candies and whatever people are doing or like screw smoking, I still see these products as having merit, convenience, whatever the case may be. But wow, to be in a driver's seat of your own health and wellness, and be able to have tools like Arden that can help empower that process for me to take a gram of cannabis and to be able to decarb it. Yes, I didn't even know that you could just like once it's activated like that just kind of eat the bud I think I'd be a little fearful of like, how much did I eat? You know? So that's where the testing comes in of, you know, what is the actual percentage of maybe the home grow versus if you're buying the bud at the dispensary. But I think what you've created is a tool first and foremost. But beyond that, it's really empowering this conversation for us as humans to have a more personal relationship with this plant that we're able to bring into our homes and be creative with and play around with and experience cannabis in new and interesting kind of ways. And so I've just had a really great time getting to personally play with my own art and device. And as I'm going through, like I said, this personal evolution, I'm like making barters with my fiance, like, Okay, well I'm I will stop smoking, but I'm not gonna stop consuming cannabis. And he's like, You don't have to like make more butters make more, you know, oils doesn't always have to be sweet. It can be savory. And I think that's been a really fun place for me to exist to kind of continue to explore cannabis, but in a new way as I could do evolve as a human. But I wanted to pick something that you had on the Ardennes website, you mentioned that Arden is a Boston based biotech and medical cannabis device company with pioneering technologies that drastically improve administration and effectiveness. I'm just really curious, you know, what classifies you as a biotech company. And then to further kind of go into which we talked a little bit about, but improving the administration and effectiveness of cannabis, because I can imagine, you know, like, based on what we're talking about, more people are actually taking this experience that I'm sharing with my own personal journey. And like, I want to do that too. I want to have a device in my house, I maybe can't go to the dispensary all the time, or maybe my state allows me to home grow or in Texas, you technically can't home grow hemp, but you can buy hemp, and maybe that's a step in the direction to where you can empower yourself to make your own CBD edibles. And I know that the FX has distinctions between decarbing thc versus CBD. So if you can kind of, you know, maybe going from biotech classification to administrating and effectiveness of you know, the products that are being decarbed infused through your device.

Unknown Speaker  32:51  
Yeah, absolutely. And I think you hit the nail on the head, we really see Arden and our technology, our hardware and our consumables, like our kits as a springboard for people, you know, I kind of like to think about it as eating out and going to a restaurant, right, the dispensaries like eating out, like cool, everybody loves to eat out, but people should know how to cook their own food. And it really does open their minds to wow, I can incorporate this into a salad or my pasta and I actually like don't have to make a different thing. I can just incorporate this into my food or my medicine. And for us, we have had to focus on food to begin because it really is a low hanging fruit, right? Everybody knows and understands edibles. But for us, the real future lies in the health and wellness side of the space. And so when it comes to biotech, you know, anything that is related to people creating formulations in order to use to improve their health or to use on their bodies, really is defined as biotech. And so us having a hardware that does this chemical process of activating THC and CBD for people to make customized formulations. A lot of people what they're doing is they're activating different cannabinoids in different strains and then blending them together, whether that's in capsules, whether that is sublingually, that was a big push for us to come onto the marketplace, sublingual under the tongue administration. So a lot of people aren't aware that this is a fantastic route of delivery that avoids any of the issues that come with edibles, right, which is long onset time, you know, some people take edible and it's like five hours later and it's hitting them you know, or it never hits them at all. You know, there's a lot of, you know, dependent on that first pass metabolism. So we actually have developed several different therapies and solution for under the tongue administration. So people activate their cannabis, put it in our sublingual wraps, place it underneath their tongue, and it has the excipients that help it absorb. We're actually fundraising right now to bring those to market. So a lot of what you've seen from Arden has been, you know, really the basics at this point. What is it You know what is decarb? What is infusion? Here are some kits that help you to make all of these edibles that you're usually seeing. The next level for us is really, you know, sublingual, suppositories really getting into this preventative and wellness space, because, again, with the lifecycle of the cannabis consumer, it really does often start that way of kind of smoking. And using cannabis, as you know, all of its wonderful, you know, social properties and, you know, helping you know, people focus and just get a grip on life, and then really starts to move into, okay, how can I use this to treat issues? How can I use this as a preventative, you know, all the way into seniors getting into cannabis, and really being able to treat some, like, really serious issues, right. And so that is our goal is to like really be able to have those solutions for people at every level of that. And absolutely, when it comes down to improving administration and effectiveness, just the fact of the D carb and you getting all of it rather than only 40 or 60% of it. You know, our whole purpose is to make this administration of cannabis more effective for people, right, for people to be able to say, never have to say, Well, I tried it, but it really didn't work for me. But the reason what they don't realize is because there was no active THC or CBD right, like, so you at least need to start at the place where you're using a therapy that you understand what's in it. And even for people who are growing at home, and don't have access to testing, usually cannabis, and this is a great resource. Massachusetts, if you look up MCR labs, they're fantastic. They're the lab first lab that opened up in Massachusetts that we were doing our original research with, and they test tons and tons of dispensary weed and mass homegrown. And all, almost all of the tests are public. So you can go in and take a look. But they also will show you that almost all cannabis is somewhere between, you know, 9% and about 20%. And so people can know, if they're going at home, it's likely that there's around, you know, 90 milligrams to about 200 milligrams. And yes, that's a big range, but at least allows people to kind of hone in and say, Okay, let me try and test this out. So, again, those pieces are so important. And you know, when we're talking even about homegrown advocacy at the, at the beginning of legislation is so important, not just what people can do, but what the industry is going to look like, right. And a great example is home grow. When you have home grow, there are lots of ancillary businesses that pop up around helping people to grow at home, whether that's education or services coming in doing that. And so you can see, you can either have a small cannabis industry, we're only a few players can be involved, or you can have policies that free the plant a bit more, and you have so many different opportunities for everybody who's interested to get involved in cannabis and be a part of the movement in the industry.

Shayda Torabi  37:55  
I want to be a part of that community, whatever that one is, that's the one I want. So I'm right there with you. I think it's so important to free the plant and to also put that education back on the consumer, right. And so it's super great. That's where your businesses existed, because I think a lot of people talk about education. And maybe it's not to their detriment, but you know, they hope to talk about education. But I think there's so much misinformation in the cannabis industry. That's where I think true data can really help empower that conversation. So I'm glad you mentioned that resource with that lab, even if it's just you know, a line in the sand to kind of help frame that person. I'm talking to you listeners, you know, maybe you're familiar with cannabis through the dispensary model, you're used to buying it from someone else, but you've never actually played with the plant, which is I think where I've come in, I've definitely dabbled, as you know, like a teenager of like I said, making brownies in my friend's house. And we didn't know what we were doing. And we certainly you know, didn't know how much we were consuming versus now being a little bit more knowledgeable not only in my position in the industry where I can kind of create these different counterpoints, but to also then have technology through devices, like what you're bringing to market where it can help be more of a guidepost of okay, well, if you have these numbers, you can plug it in here and then you can dilute it into this. And if I'm being a little more transparently honest, when I was baking, I was baking a pie for Thanksgiving using the infusion. I misread the ingredients wrong and it asked for a third cup and I put in three quarters of a cup of oil so it was super overdose per serving size. But it was kind of like you're explaining it was a good experience for me to go through to play around with to start to create more familiarity and comfortability with. Yeah, being in control of cannabis and being in control of how I use cannabis. So now being able to explore these different cannabinoids and so kind of on the topic of education because I know it's such a big pillar for your company. You're very active with your blog, you're very active with YouTube. And so why do you think those channels have been so critical in your marketing efforts at ardent?

Unknown Speaker  40:08  
Yeah, because like you mentioned, there aren't a lot of people that actually have a vested interest in educating the consumer, right? Company wise, you have a lot of amazing people who want to teach on cannabis. But if you don't have the data points to back it up, that can be difficult. And it can kind of be, there's a lot of people that had great intentions in the past that perpetuated things that were not accurate, right. And the only way that we can make sure that people understand is actually presenting the science. But you can imagine there are a lot of brands or dispensaries or folks that really want the consumer to be more in the dark, because it just helps them sell product. And so I think that we're already we're in a unique position, because we're all about, you know what I mean, we're pretty agnostic. Like wherever you're getting it, whether it's Home Depot, or dispensary, or whatever, we just want you to have the information. And then again, you can make the decision on how you want to approach it afterwards. Right. And so that education piece, and being able to broadcast for folks, like recipes and other things has been really important, because one of the things that I realized is like, as familiar as any individual person is with cannabis. And as obvious as things may seem to a new consumer, it's all static, right. And you're also getting a lot of conflicting information too. So it can get overwhelming really quickly. So for us, you know, having the outlets and consistently making content and I have the best content team, they just you know, are we're all cannabis connoisseurs, and we all love and very much use the plant like daily. And I think that's really important too. Because being able to come from a place of authenticity of really know what we're talking about here. And being able to bring these concepts of you don't have to infuse, right, you can just take the bud and mix it with a little something or put it right into your food and being able to actually demonstrate that because as much as we say it when people actually see it in the form of a video, or a video and then a blog that comes with it. And just keeping, it could be that one thing that a person is having a struggle with, but until they actually see it, you know, if people haven't seen the effects and know about it looks kind of like a thermos, right? Like when you look at it, you might not be able to immediately see all the amazing things that it can do. So for us, it's really important to kind of deconstruct from the product, the end product, and then show people how to back into that. And the same thing with our kits. So we have the hardware, which is the FX and the Nova. And then we have all these different accessories and we call them consumable. So these are our kits, like we have a truffle kit. And we have an apple pie kit and things that just make it really simple for people. So they don't have to worry, right and walk them through the process. So they realize, oh, wow, it really is only two steps. You know, because there's so much fear and doing it wrong, that I think sometimes people can get a little bit overly concerned and or not overly concerned, they just cannot believe it's that easy. You know, we have a lot of people and they're like, Oh, I did it. And I can't believe it was just like, you know, pressing that one button. And so as much as we can show them that this is something within their reach. I think that's really the goal of you know, broadcasting, but Hey, YouTube takes down our videos sometimes, right and other there are other challenges there. So it's really so important to like have your own web assets in cannabis, I would say like having a website making sure that you have an email list, because these are things that no one can ever take away. And that has been really like our email list, I would say is our main form of communication with folks. Because it really does allow us to say everything that we want to say and then people can you know, come back to it when they feel like it. So yeah, it's been really interesting, you know, what is the best way to broadcast all of this information to folks. And you know, those platforms in addition to we have a Facebook Owners Group, so it's an owner's group, a group, just for our owners on Facebook, where the community comes together and shares all of their ideas and recipes and things like that, because as you mentioned, cannabis is so personal, you know, how somebody uses it at any given point in their life, right changes so drastically and dramatically. And I'm, you know, having that community space for people to have all those conversations has been awesome for us.

Shayda Torabi  44:27  
This is such great insights because again, kind of reflecting on you're talking about being an ancillary business but still having hurdles I think when it comes to being on these social media platforms, you know, it's not exclusive to those of us who touched the plant versus not it really is just kind of like par for the course I'm so glad you mentioned owned content, your website, your email list. I came from platforms and technology before I got into the cannabis industry and specifically worked for a WordPress company. So I came from open source and I'm like, your website is your Most important real estate like yes, beyond these platforms, but you want to at the end of the day own that content, I think that you've really expressed and kind of shared through your journey of like, obviously building the beautiful brand that you've built, but the challenges of ancillary or sometimes not so far off on the challenges of directly touching the plant. And so it's just, you know, good tips, good insight, kind of transitioning into a little bit, you know, using social media, and all this content is so important, because I mean, again, using myself as a personal example, I like to think I'm tech savvy, I like to think I know some things about cannabis. And when I was unboxing, my art and I was like, Okay, well, let me go to YouTube. Let me watch what other people are doing, how are they interacting with the device. And then, of course, stumbled upon your main channel, which was a lot of videos of you, you're very involved in a lot of your own content. And I think, as a business owner herself, who's in a lot of her own content, sometimes it's kind of, you know, for us, I didn't have other people who could be in the content, I was like, it has to be me, it was just kinda like a means to an end. But some people can observe that it's a brand decision to put yourself in that position. So I just thought it was cool to kind of learn from you directly as the founder be like, okay, Chanel is walking me through how to switch between, you know, the CBD setting versus the THC setting, okay, I got to make sure that I'm on the right setting before I put this cannabis in here. And I just think that it's it to me, as a marketer, I always try to explain to people you don't have to over create, like low hanging fruit is the best place to start. And so if you can just explain to people, this is a device, this is decarboxylated. This is you know, the ratio. And this is how to do the math, like I watched your videos like, over and still stumbled personally, because I was not a math baby, I was very much a marketing creative person in college. And so I'm still like, well, how strong is this? And what does it say, but the videos were really helpful to help me just kind of get more comfortable that, you know, after you do it three, four times, maybe it is a little bit more like, Oh, I got this, I can do this. But I know that Instagram is also a huge platform for you and kind of on that subject of user generated content. I don't know if there's anything that you can kind of add or speak to because obviously, not everybody's business can benefit from user generated content. But I think that your business has a really good sweet spot where you as the owner, and your team can come and create content that's generated by artist, but you also have a significant amount of content that's created by influencers in the industry, just your customers who are tagging. And so I don't know if you can talk a little bit about what it's like to use user generated content, if there's any challenges with that, and kind of empowering people. I mean, you mentioned that Facebook group, I think that's so great as well, just to, hey, you're using our product, you're creating content, make sure you tag us, you know, make sure you use a hashtag and what that's been like for you guys.

Unknown Speaker  47:56  
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, for us, from the beginning, you know, we have been a company that has struggled with raising capital, right? It's really hard in the cannabis industry, it's hard as woman, it's hard as a woman of color, all of those things, right. And so for us, it has been really a necessity to be scrappy from the beginning. And so that's why I'm in all the videos and doing that it really wasn't necessity. But at the end of the day, you know, we hear a lot of that feedback of that people enjoy that, you know, and so part of it is, you know, I think showing the passion and the brand to have that this is something that we use, and that we love, and like, this is why we're here, you know, creating this for folks. And from the beginning, we have always used not necessarily influencers, but folks that have come to us and said, I love this product, I want to help sell it for you, I want to explore and you know, this for my audience, that's what happened really early on. And so we're really lucky, because that kind of, you know, word of mouth, and just, you know, really like organic marketing from people that really love the product was a huge part of us being able to grow our community and for people to be able to testify, you know, to the fact that this was something that was, you know, really changing their lives there. And so, I think for us, you know, influencers and affiliates, it can be difficult, because, you know, it's sometimes like herding cats, right? Because people enter the space of, you know, brand promotion, and they're at like, different levels of it. Right. Some people have like, a finely tuned machine, and you know, it's easy to work with other folks. They're just trying to, like, up and coming. And for us, it's really important to encourage creators in the cannabis space. I think that you know, even with the affiliates, a lot of our affiliates are also business owners, right. And so we're supporting other small businesses. So for us, it I really enjoy, you know, sharing money with creators and sometimes much more than like paying for ad space, right? Because you feel like you're actually, you know, supporting folks that are and again, unless it's like a small advertising outlet, but you know, there are some of these huge media companies. They're definitely coming in. But they may not even understand the product as much as somebody who is a real cannabis connoisseur. And that's something unique about our product. It's not immediately obvious, right? So people that we work with really do have to have that understanding or desire and curiosity around cannabis science in order to even want to work with us, right. And so we've been really lucky, we have some amazing partners who really love the device and find their own interesting ways to use it. And I think that for us just about protecting people's privacy, in some ways, like in our private owners group, it is a private group, right. And so anything that's coming in that group, we're very careful, like, if we're including in an email or something like not to include the person's name or their face, because there may be things that people are saying in the privacy of that Facebook group that they wouldn't want broadcast, you know, on in public. And so I think it's just important for brands to just have communication with the people that are making the UGC and getting people's like permission. And honestly, people love to be featured, because it's helping to tell their story. And if we're asking them to feature them, it we know, it's something people have other questions about, and things like that. And so, I think, again, it's just about respecting the audience. And there's sometimes even content that people create that we want to turn into advertisements, and then we have a conversation with them and agree on a price. And again, it's just about respecting people's creative work and, and making sure that, you know, you're being you're amplifying, but also understanding that people, they're doing this for a business, you know, they're also you know, people in the industry that you need to work with and really respect.

Shayda Torabi  51:37  
Yeah, that's such great advice. I think it's so interesting how to navigate content creation, working with different, you know, individuals, businesses, ancillary versus non ancillary, and just kind of where everything kind of nets out, but it seems that through the challenges, you've come out successful, and just building a really great brand that's helping connect the consumers to a better personal relationship with cannabis, which is I think, what we all strive and aspire to be as business owners in the industry as well as cannabis connoisseurs ourselves. Like don't we all want to have a personal better relationship with this plant that we love and advocate for? So I really appreciate you coming on the podcast? Is there anything that we didn't cover that you want to leave our guests with? And just want to make space for you available?

Unknown Speaker  52:22  
Yes, get involved advocate, you know, it doesn't matter where the legalization, you know where it is in your state, there's still an opportunity to make a difference there. And so it can be a little boring sometimes, especially on the municipal side. But when cannabis is coming around to your world, especially if dispensaries are trying to come in, like going out and supporting them is so crucial. There's the no voices are so loud. And the support people just think, oh, yeah, cannabis is legal. That means the industry is going to pop up here and they don't realize that there's like, such significant backlash. Even in Massachusetts, six years later, you know, people are still really, you know, not down for cannabis to come. So if you are a cannabis supporter, know that your voice is very strong, and just use that voice to drown out the nose, and we'll be in a better place.

Shayda Torabi  53:19  
I was really impressed with Chanel's approach to art and to me, it starts with the technology, perfecting it, making it function properly. But from there, then how do you go empower the consumer, both with the device, but also additional tools to educate as well as what role we can play with our respective businesses to accumulate data to empower innovation in this industry? For the foreseeable future? We don't have consistency state to state and when it comes to products, and certainly when it comes to laws, so how can we as business owners dissect the opportunity in front of us to deliver something that's going to make the cannabis world that we live in that much more better. And for Chanel, it starts with empowering that end user with information to control how and what cannabis they are putting into and onto their bodies. I'm truly excited for the future of cannabis with Chanel's leadership helping guide from her role in the industry. And as always, thank you for keeping it blunt with me. I'll be back with another episode of The to be blunt podcast next Monday and encourage you in the meantime to keep championing cannabis in your community. Thanks y'all.

Announcer  54:34  
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda torabi.com/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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