1) What led you to this specific career path?
A deep and passionate love of the plant has been the starting point for everything I know about this industry. There is not a more versatile or medically useful plant in existence. It has transformed the lives of so many people. As with anything that you love, learning about it comes easy.
2) What’s the most interesting fact you’ve learned since working in this industry?
The most fascinating thing I’ve learned is not about cannabinoids or equipment. It’s the life lesson that everything is in a constant state of change. As it relates to this industry we are constantly being reminded of how fluid it is. Between new equipment and new processes, I am constantly surprised at how fast the industry is changing.
3) Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Back in 1999, the first time I tried to winterize BHO I didn’t understand anything about what I was doing. The process was told to me second hand, through a contact in California. I froze the BHO, put it on a piece of filter paper and poured cold alcohol over the top. I don’t know what I was thinking. No incorporation at all, just me, pouring ethanol over frozen BHO. Nothing happened and it took years before I revisited winterizing my product. A useful lesson was taught that day, though I didn’t learn it until years later. Always know where you are going, and how you are getting there.
4) What most excites you about your role in this industry? What most concerns you about the cannabis industry?
The answer is the same to both of these questions: it is the emergence of cannabinoids into the mainstream markets. Whether Hemp or High THC cannabinoids, the growth of the industry and the regulations it faces are super exciting and concerning. Every case of vape illness is preventable with simple regulation. Lawmakers sometimes act like they are creating a multi-billion dollar industry. We aren’t. We are simply taking it back from criminals. The recent vape crisis highlights the need to take control of production away from criminals and clandestine producers. The emergence of high standards and safety regulations will test the existing underground market. Past underground producers, like seeds, will either bloom into their potential or wither away. The best canna businesses will become good citizens and good caretakers of this amazing natural resource.
5) None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are and why are you grateful for that person?
When I was working and living in California I had an employee who was outstanding in every way. A devoted family man, and a great example of the good people we find along our way in this industry. We founded a company together. With his encouragement, I moved to Oregon with him and his family to expand our growing and extracting business. We worked hard and learned so much as we entered the emerging fully commercial adult-use market. That business was sold. But the lessons learned along the way were priceless. The experience was unforgettable.
6) If you could speak to yourself 5 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
I don’t know if I would want to. I highly value the lessons learned from my mistakes, particularly the mistakes of the last five years. I wouldn’t want to put any of that in jeopardy by lessening the impact and in some cases the pain. I wouldn’t tell myself anything. Strike that!, Me to myself eight years ago “Psst. Hey kid, Buy bitcoin at $10 and sell all at 15-20K!”
7) What resources have you found most helpful in educating yourself in this industry? Books, classes, people, Instagram accounts, anything!
The greatest resource in this industry is friends and clients. There are a few select websites like “future 4200” admin by Cathrine Sidman that I also recommend, but you must be careful about looking for answers from strangers. The internet is a place for answers. The problem is you get EVERY answer, not just the one you need. It is impossible to sift through the opinions on some sites.
8) What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting into this industry or someone who is just getting their foot in the door?
My advice is to educate yourself. If you have a dream to start on this adventure you are going to need to know where you are going. The cost of entry in a regulated FDA compliant world is rising fast. There are some very expensive mistakes that are both common and avoidable. Pay professionals for the best advice, and then take that advice.
9) What is the best way our readers can contact you if they have any questions?
Through the Vanguard website or contact me directly at email@example.com