I was scrolling on my LinkedIn one morning, with coffee in hand and came across an interesting commentary. This caught my eye because it had to do with an advocate for medical cannabis and the debate I began to read about online became rather heated. This exemplified some of the stigmas our industry faces today and led me to having a very interesting conversation with Michael Mayes, cannabis licensing consultant and CEO of Quantum 9.
Michael how did you get into the cannabis industry?
I started as an investor in 2009 when cannabis investments were incredibly risky and taboo. Who knew the industry would grow to $6.7B in the United States last year? I went heavy, swung for the fences with a cannabis manufacturing company in Denver and I got lucky. I got in on Apple before Apple made computers. I turned a relatively small investment at the time, $300,000 into a multistate venture including Colorado, Michigan, and Maryland. I took that experience and started Quantum 9 an international cannabis consulting firm.
How did you get involved with working in Germany?
Our consulting practice took off in 2013, and we started recruiting experts in the cannabis industry like Ed Rosenthal Guru of Ganja and Dr. Stephen Goldner formulator of liquid methadone. We began working with state governments to help guide medical cannabis law that favored patient access and patient care. We wrote the Medical Cannabis Kentucky Pediatric bill for Senator Perry Clark. The German Ministry heard we were the “go-to” firm to help understand the repercussion of decisions. For example, we helped them determine that handheld impaired driving breathalyzers were inaccurate. We provided Colorado Department of Transportation data to help the government make an informed decision on the matter. The Germany law is interesting, not only is medical cannabis dispensed in pharmacies but require public insurers to cover the costs like other pharmaceutical prescriptions. Getting free medical cannabis from a pharmacy will destroy the black market.
Tell me about some of the work you do for the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS)?
I have been a member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society for the last four years. The society has an annual conference in which I am headed to this week. This year the annual conference is in Montreal. I will attend with one of our lead cannabis consultants Ed Rosenthal. We confer with the world’s leading cannabinoid researchers to ensure our consulting practice has leading edge information on the most recent cannabis research. The society is a meeting of minds and helps academics and business owners like Quantum 9 to meet and collaborate.
One of the most studied cannabinoids is CBD or Cannabidiol. This therapeutic cannabinoid doesn’t elicit the psychoactive feeling typically associated with cannabis. This lack of psychoactive feeling makes it the go-to medication for pediatric patients. In most conservative states, it’s hard to get medical marijuana through state legislation. An approach gaining popularity is an initial step for states to implement CBD laws like the pediatric bill we wrote in Kentucky. This allows the state to grow cannabis without psychoactive cannabis being available. Although this decreases the risk from using cannabis for recreational purposes, it also takes many possible medical abilities away from patients, many THC products work for many illnesses and conditions like chronic pain or sleeping disorders.
Michael how are things going in the States with legalization? I noticed you have a great t shirt promoting your latest ideas, specifically “Fuck Jeff Sessions” can you tell me what’s going on there?
Many Canadians might not know that the US Attorney General is trying to shut down the medical cannabis industry. His strong views on marijuana could result in the industry taking steps backward. He has openly criticized the industry with this type of rhetoric:
"I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”
To create awareness, we have created a shirt, as shown below, that mirrors many medical cannabis supporters’ viewpoints on Jeff Sessions. The shirt is quite edgy, and I have been meeting with critics on both sides. The goal is to raise awareness, and hopefully, our efforts will lead to his resignation or him being fired. We purchased the domain www.firejeffsessions.com - 10% of the proceeds will go towards our lobbying efforts against him. For those who support us in our cause, please visit the site and purchase a tee shirt which is our symbol against injustice.
It sounds like there is a lot going on in the states. How many more states do you think will be legal by 2018? Or any future trends that you see?
Currently, there are 28 states that have medical marijuana laws and eight fully recreational states. I think some of the states that have medical programs already will implement or legalize recreational use soon. For example, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont could be next given the proximity to Massachusetts. The trends that are taking off are cannabis branded products, for example, my dispensaries in Michigan and Maryland are under the www.greenwave.co brand. We are now licensing that brand to operators in newer medical cannabis states. Our branded products will start to appear all over Michigan and Maryland this year and potentially more states later this year. It just depends if a business owner sees the value in a franchise type model verse starting from scratch.
Thanks for your time. I love the shirts and will definitely order one. Anything else you have coming up in the near future?
I just accepted the Bronze Stevie Award for Entrepreneur of the Year. The black-tie gala was thrown at the Marriott in Times Square in downtown New York City. I should be on the cover of CV Magazine towards the end of the year so keep a look out for that. A huge focus of ours is the www.firejeffsessions.com initiative; we are starting to put a lot of time and effort behind it.
Well congratulations on the Bronze Stevie for Entrepreneur of the Year and we will see you around the industry!