Cannabis Magazine Fri, 10 Nov 2017 00:19:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cannabis Magazine 32 32 Defending Your CannaBusiness Data Within the Cloud Fri, 10 Nov 2017 00:18:32 +0000 As the cannabis industry continues to expand its reach worldwide, its fledgling companies will look to both cut costs while seeking out scalable, flexible solutions for their IT needs. They enter into the age of cloud computing, where services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform offer unparallelled storage and processing…

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As the cannabis industry continues to expand its reach worldwide, its fledgling companies will look to both cut costs while seeking out scalable, flexible solutions for their IT needs. They enter into the age of cloud computing, where services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform offer unparallelled storage and processing power to any and all comers. One can’t argue with the increased efficiencies these services offer: users forego the costs of hosting dedicated technology and pay only for the server space they use. And as their business expands, so can their onboarding of digital resources. What’s not to love?


The devil in the accompanying details lies in security. Too often, business owners mistake “being in the cloud” for an adequate security strategy. Cautionary tales abound of public cloud cyberattacks and data exposures that rival the enterprise hacks of Equifax and Home Depot. In 2012, a cyberattack directed against Dropbox yielded the email addresses and passwords of 68 million users. Online security services routinely find sensitive customer data on AWS cloud servers exposed due to poor configuration, such as Verizon’s exposure of 14 million customer accounts or Patient Home Monitoring’s exposure of 150,000 patient records, just to name a few. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to such breaches; they face lost productivity, lengthy (and expensive) remediation phases and reduced good faith within their markets as consequences for their misfortune.


We at GeekTek embrace the opportunities and efficiencies afforded by cloud technologies. But with these advantages come significant risks, similar to the issues we discussed in Part One. So whether you’re beginning your move towards a public, private or hybrid cloud solution or wish to bolster your existing security profile, you’re strongly recommended to implement these security protocols.


  • Protect your local network and endpoints: Cybercriminals can enter into your cloud on multiple fronts. They certainly won’t ignore your employees and their devices, especially if you do. Therefore, endpoint encryption of sensitive data on each employee’s device is critical. In addition, all of your employees should recognize common phishing/spearfishing attacks. The Anthem hack, which hemorrhaged 78.8 million user accounts, stemmed from a single employee clicking on a malicious link. Once a single point on your network is compromised, your cloud is next.


  • Secure your cloud infrastructure: While public cloud services such as AWS provide some basic security, you need to have an active firewall with IPS (intrusion prevention system) and IDS (intrusion detection system), even in the cloud. All devices in your local network should be behind this firewall. All outward-facing machines should be placed in a DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).


  • Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication, which requires a separate, one-time code in addition to one’s password, is offered by Google and Facebook for their personal user accounts and is standard in many cloud services. We strongly advise enabling this, and using a third party 2FA solution as necessary to fill the gaps. Your business must implement this to prevent the most obvious attacks from succeeding.


  • Then, use single sign-on: In addition, single sign on authentication, which enables access to all applications with one coupled username/password pair, rather than several, simplifies the process of access control. One only has to revoke privileges of one account, rather than several, to cut off a rogue or compromised user in your network.


  • Use whitelists of approved cloud apps: IT professionals currently struggle with the proliferation of “shadow IT,” which include cloud-based applications not thoroughly vetted by an IT department. Not every app one can procure on the Android or Apple App Store is benign. Whitelisting approved apps, and holding your team to it, can save countless headaches down the road.


  • Use VPNs when accessing the cloud: Transmitting data from one endpoint on your network to any cloud, be it public or private, must utilize a virtual private network connection. This encryption shields your data in transit, where the threat of interception by an interloper is high. In addition…


  • Data must be encrypted at rest: Even if one’s data is sent through a secure VPN, it means little if one’s cloud is hacked and one’s data is available in its raw, easily interpreted form. This made the job of the Equifax hackers even easier once they gained access to the credit bureau’s system. Don’t let their mistake be yours.


  • Utilize Mobile Device Management (MDM) on all mobile devices: Nowadays, work is portable. It can be done at your office, or it can be done at the local Starbucks. But what if your employee loses his/her laptop, or it gets stolen? MDM tracks all mobile devices on the network. One can pinpoint it geograpically or, if need be, wipe all data from the device remotely. Especially for cannabis verticals like delivery and distribution, this solution should be standardized for all participating businesses.


The cannabis industry is not unique in its data security needs, but it is uniquely vulnerable to the legal and social fallouts that emerge from a data breach. Eventually, once your data grows, you will need to manage your IT full time – or find some dedicated company, such as my company, that can. But if you plan to manage the cloud yourself at this early stage in your company, understand that even public clouds such as AWS or Google don’t defend themselves. You will need to go above and beyond by learning and implementing the basics of digital security to keep your data safe.




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Six Important Steps Cannabis Companies Can Take Right Now to Protect On-Premises Network Tue, 31 Oct 2017 02:12:43 +0000 Natural disasters such as the ongoing Northern California wildfires as well as the ongoing uncertainties surrounding federal drug law enforcement indicate an industry waging defensive battles on many fronts. Indeed, these struggles should not be ignored, as they pose existential threats to the livelihoods of many. But they are not the only threats this industry…

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Natural disasters such as the ongoing Northern California wildfires as well as the ongoing uncertainties surrounding federal drug law enforcement indicate an industry waging defensive battles on many fronts. Indeed, these struggles should not be ignored, as they pose existential threats to the livelihoods of many. But they are not the only threats this industry faces. Amongst the captains of global industries, a deeper, more insidious challenge has arisen: cybercrime. Rogue nations such as North Korea have trained a sprawling network of hackers to virtually rob banks and funnel the proceeds back into their impoverished economies. Hacks against powerful corporations and institutions like Equifax, Yahoo, Sonic and the SEC show the increasing sophistication and reach of digital intruders. And Cisco recently warned in its 2017 Midyear Cybersecurity Report that botnet architects (the utilization of hacked machines to swarm upon unsuspecting websites and servers) have the capacity to shut down the internet itself.


The cannabis industry has not evaded the attention of these cybercriminals. Several well-publicized attacks this year have shown the increasing interest hackers are directing towards the data and intellectual property cannabis entrepreneurs are amassing. As your business grows and scales, you will need to keep constant watch upon your IT infrastructure to prevent against such attacks. In short, it will need management, especially as businesses begin using cloud services more frequently. To fill that need, managed security service providers such as my company, GeekTek, have arisen to provide a robust set of security services, protocols and day-to-day management.


However, if you decide to forego these services, we recommend the following steps as the bare minimum to protect your data. However, do not underestimate the effectiveness of these measures. Many of this era’s most catastrophic digital intrusions occurred because of a simple careless error which exposed the personal information of millions. For instance, Equifax failed to update a key web application software module with the appropriate patch, unwittingly giving hostile intruders access to the identities of over 145 million consumers. Proper data security does not require extensive training to implement, but it does require business people to adopt important protocols. Everyone locks his/her doors before s/he leaves the house. If you’re storing your own proprietary/customer data in your own data center (Part Two of this series will focus on alternative, non-MSSP based protections businesses can take in the cloud), ensure that you’re performing these crucial tasks to keep your own equivalent entry points sealed shut to the wrong people.


  • Turn off direct Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access to your server: many businesses, including our own, use RDP, and for good reason. It allows seamless access to workstations from anywhere in the world. However, it also exposes a port to any potential troublemaker if your employees access RDP through an unsecured internet connection. So for now, shut it off.


  • Enable VPN on your firewall, use that, then use RDP: If you do not use strong encryption to connect to your endpoints, hackers can not only intercept your data, but gain access to your network. RDP sessions occur within an encrypted channel, but VPN adds a crucial layer of security that restricts the connection. You can use RDP safely afterwards.


  • Close all open ports on your firewall: For the reasons stated above, open ports invite data breaches, ransomware, viruses and many other network maladies. Of course, they cannot stop employees from clicking on a link in a phishing email. However, due to cases such as the the $1 billion robbery of the Bangledeshi central bank system, where there was NO firewall, the primacy of a well-configured firewall – nay, its very existence – should not be discounted outright.


  • Create backups: In the worst case scenario that your data is irretrievably corrupted or encrypted – say, by the devastating WannaCry virus – you’ll need good backups to restore your system to its original state. These backups should occur at regular intervals and copies should be stored in a secure cloud location. Appriver also recommends a dry-run installation of a backup after a simulated cyberattack. This exercise provides a good time estimate for your system’s recovery. Backblaze offers a reliable and inexpensive service for backup storage, but it matters little which one you choose. Just make sure you have one.


  • Install Ransomfree on your systems: This free ransomware software application is a good first step towards ransomware attack prevention. It provides adequate coverage from the worst ransomware programs. And best of all, it’s free.


  • Enable two-factor authentication for your email accounts: From Google to Facebook, every major online presence has enabled two-factor authentication for its individual users. Those signing into their accounts will also receive either a code texted to their phone or a notification on a security app such as Duo that enables access to one’s account. Many users choose easily hackable passwords and use them across platforms – which they shouldn’t. Two-factor provides another line of defense should they inevitably get hacked. But even if they use unique passwords, two-factor will prevent even more sophisticated hackers from using their user accounts to enter your network.


Most likely, hackers will not explicitly target your business, but they will if you make it easy for them. Cannabis entrepreneurs, particularly those who are learning business skills as they go, may be tempted to treat classic IT security as an afterthought. However, they tend to change their minds once they see their own home address and tax information posted on the Dark Web. By following the steps above, you’ll manage to avoid the most obvious and most common oversights which can lead to a full-on data panic for your employees and clients.


Keep an eye out to see Part 2 of this CyberSecurity intel provided by GeekTek CEO, Eric Schlissel!

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Featured Cannapreneur | Jessica Versteeg | CEO of Paragon Coin Sat, 28 Oct 2017 03:05:15 +0000 Featured Cannapreneur  Jessica Versteeg CEO + Co-Founder of Paragon Coin Location: San Francisco, CA Website: You know how the cannabis industry is touted for having a solid amount of great female leaders?  Jessica Versteeg is one of them.  When we first sat down with her earlier this year she was leading AuBox and now…

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Featured Cannapreneur

 Jessica Versteeg

CEO + Co-Founder of Paragon Coin
Location: San Francisco, CA

You know how the cannabis industry is touted for having a solid amount of great female leaders?  Jessica Versteeg is one of them.  When we first sat down with her earlier this year she was leading AuBox and now has begun a new and incredibly interesting venture with a group of powerful partners and advisors, Paragon Coin.  Cryptocurrency is booming, cannabis is booming, and Jessica and her team have combined the two. When we first heard about Paragon’s pre-sale of its cryptocurrency (PRG) we had to sit down with Jessica again and get an update.  


Here’s what this beautifully intelligent canna business leader had to say….

Jessica Versteeg Paragon Coin interview with Cannabis Magazine
Jessica Versteeg | Co-Founder + CEO of Paragon Coin

CM:    I know you told me like a month ago about Paragon Coin so I wanted to touch base with you and hear about what you are up to now.  We did the feature on about you and AuBox and now you have this cryptocurrency company blossoming. I wanted to hear more about it. I want to know about the vision, like what overall, vision is and your goals for the company. 

First, are you still doing AuBox?

Jessica:       We actually put AuBox on pause, because of all of these problems that I saw in AuBox, like trusting lab results and patient identification, renting office space, all of these things … Yes, I could kind of tackle them if I just kept AuBox in San Francisco but everyone is saying “Come to L.A.!” and Florida, bring it everywhere and although we could actually expand I’m terrified to break the law so I don’t want to expand to L.A. if my hands physically can’t be touching each box and checking each box and knowing that delivery people are literally delivering each box to the door.

  If I can’t be in control like that of a marijuana company I’m just way too scared to grow. In order for me to grow, I asked my husband, Igor, I said “help me create a blockchain so that I could start validating and verifying all of these transactions first and then we can talk about growing”. He’s like, “Okay, no worries!” We ultimately decided to put AuBox on pause to build Paragon, and this turned into something much bigger.

CM:       So your husband … Was he already in like crypto-currency?

Jessica:    Oh yeah, well we both have been for a long time. We both have been into crypto for a very long time, it’s just nothing that anyone ever cared to talk to me about, I guess?

CM:         Right.  It’s definitely not something we have talked about with you before since so much narrative surrounding you thus far has been about your experience with the NFL and cannabis.

Jessica:    Exactly, so just wasn’t mentioned in the conversation, but yeah we’ve been in it for a while and also blockchain has been a huge passion of ours for so long. And he’s been in IT since he was 16 so …

CM:        Oh that’s awesome!  So now you are following this interest.

Jessica:   IT has actually been in my family … My mom and dad were IT in the Air Force, my mom went off to the Gulf War doing IT, dad worked at the Pentagon, my sister is a computer science engineer, now my husband. It’s kind of been in my life forever, it just kind of now became obvious, I guess, to everyone else.

CM:          Oh, cool!

Jessica:    Yeah, you know at dinner we talk about everything from “Do you want to go party in Ibiza or do you want to go to Burning Man?” And then the next conversation is “What do you think blockchain can solve with this?”

Jessica Versteeg of Paragon Coin interview with Cannabis Magazine

CM:       That’s awesome.

Jessica:  Those are the topics of our dinner table talk and it’s just a normal thing in our lives.

CM:       So when did you guys first start building out Paragon?

Jessica:    Well calling it Paragon was not that long ago, but building out for AU, when I just thought I was building it for myself for AuBox, we were just internally, Igor and I, calling it AU blockchain. That’s been going on for like 8 months now.

And then 4 or 5 months ago, once it started to get built for me, I realized wow, this is much bigger than just for me, and I could share it with the whole cannabis community. So to avoid people getting it confused with AuBox or thinking it’s the same thing we decided “Alright, if we’re going to open it for the public let’s call it something else” so we called it Paragon. And we actually literally put AuBox on pause just so that way there’s no confusion for people.

CM:     One thing I found really interesting when I was looking at your Paragon Coin website was this whole like, co-working space concept.

Jessica:   Yeah.

CM:        Could you tell me more about that?

Jessica:   Yeah, I’m glad you liked that.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the problems I was having was renting office space, because in San Francisco, one, everything is ridiculously expensive, talk about bubbles! So once you find real estate, you’re going to have to pay a pretty penny and on top of that you have to find it in a green zone which is basically where a liquor license would be but for cannabis, it can’t be around a school zone and all this stuff.

So once you find that, then the landlord accepts you there and they need you to prove that even though you’re a startup you can pay a year’s rent so that they don’t go under, so once you’ve proved that then usually you’re okay, but we have to disclose that we are a cannabis company. Even though we’re not a dispensary with people coming in every 30 minutes buying products, it is basically just an office for us to work from, you still have to say that you’re a cannabis company and once you say that, forget it! Nobody wants you there, they’re like “the government’s going to take our whole building if you do anything wrong!” And they’re right, it actually could happen if I was some really big bad drug dealer.  Plus, I mean everyone thinks we’re Russian and Mafia, so …

San Francisco based company Paragon Coin

CM:      Oh no!  So discrimination based on being a cannabis company in finding office space was a big issue.

Jessica:   Yes!  And because of that it can be a hard hill to climb.  But they are right, if we were doing something wrong the federal government could come and seize their entire building, so I understand their fears but that’s why they don’t rent to any cannabis startups.

CM:       Right.

Jessica:  To rent there you have to pay an enormously large payment every month and you might as well own something by then. And it’s still, you have to pay it in cash which is just stressful, imagine if you’re paying ten grand a month for your rent!  Actually it’s usually more than that for cannabis spaces, but you’re having to bring in that much cash your landlord every month, eventually you become a target and it’s dangerous.

CM:       I can imagine!  So, the co-working element of Paragon was to mitigate some of those common issues with ancillary cannabis startups finding space in big cities?

Jessica:  Basically, once we decided to put AuBox on hold and make Paragon for everyone, I said “Well, we’re doing this, let’s just try to solve some of the other problems.” One of those other problems was this real estate issue, so I said let’s raise money for a co-working space.

CM:      Tell me a bit more about that.  What does a cannabis based co-working space concept look like to you?

Jessica:  People can’t sell weed out of our space, not as a company, but it is a co-working space, like WeWork. I look up to WeWork a lot, I love what they’ve done for the co-working space community, they’ve made it cool, hip, affordable, and you get to work in an environment filled with like-minded people.

CM:    Yeah, it’s great.  Our company was working out of a co-working space for a while.  We loved the vibe.

Jessica:  We won’t be as big as WeWork, because they obviously cater to everyone and they’re huge, they bring in millions of dollars, but we will cater to the cannabis community. Let’s say you and I wanted to meet up for a cup of tea at our co-working space and you wanted to check out the flowers from my new grow. And you were like, “We just want to see how many tricombs on it or talk about the oils you can get from it.” At least we can do this in a normal co-working space that the person next to us isn’t going to smell this weed and be like, “I’m really uncomfortable,” and have the manager now kick us out.

CM:       Right.  So, an office space where cannabis can’t be sold but the presence of it in a business sense will be more openly accepted?

Jessica:   We’ll be in a community with like-minded people, maybe you’ll find other people that you want to work with, maybe you’ll find an engineer who can do something amazing for your company, I don’t know. Different things like that. So you’re now working in a space that feels safe, and you’re not going to be judged or kicked out because you have weed. And in terms of the cash, one, we’re going to be really affordable, but two, you don’t have to pay in cash, we actually don’t even accept it, you can only pay in Paragon (PRG) tokens, our crypto, Paragon.

CM:   Okay cool.  That’s where the disconnect was for me a little bit.  I was wondering how the crypto and blockchain tied in with the co-working space.   The co-working space that is actually tied in to and powered by the cryptocurrency. 


Exactly, a cannabis business co-working space powered by Paragon Coin

So if you want to rent an office space, you just pay in Paragon (PRG) tokens. We’ll also have an in-house lab, and an in-house cannabis lawyer. So you’ll pay lab fees in Paragon (PRG) tokens, you’ll pay your lawyer fees in Paragon (PRG) tokens, and from the cafes if you want to get coffee, tea, donuts, whatever, you’ll pay in Paragon (PRG) tokens.

And then, depending on how much money we raise, we would like to build like, a little conference space, so if you are a Paragon (PRG) token holder and you are where our facilities are, you can just attend these conferences. It will be small in the beginning but it’s just creating this community.

CM:     When I was looking at the timeline it looks like you’ll have voting for where the first space should be, right? Will it be in California? Or are you open to other states?

Jessica:   We’re open to other countries even! It’s basically up to people with PRG token, I mean look, if it was up to me and I had all the money in the world and I could just build it where I want, I’d build in San Francisco, cause I already live here.


As much as it’d be easy for me to say, “Let’s build in California and San Francisco because I live here,” this token and this blockchain is for the community. Meaning that the community should decide where it’s at.


CM:     We have some good friends who do operations consulting for cannabis businesses like dispensaries. I’m really interested to know what it’ll look like on the operations side. Like if it integrates with different point-of-sale systems and if you’ve tried any out yet?

Jessica:   We do have people that are already accepting Paragon (PRG) tokens. It just hasn’t been activated yet because we’re still only in our pre-sell [Note: The pre-sell has now concluded]. But we do have people like, if you look up Growers International, they sell things like soil, lighting, whatever you need in a cultivation facility.   It’s basically like a farmer’s dream for cannabis growing. Like Amazon, but for cannabis growers. So they accept Bitcoin right now, and they will also be accepting Paragon (PRG) tokens. So if you have Paragon (PRG) and you are a grower and you just want to buy soil, you can buy soil from them. Also, there is a law firm out of Michigan, that will be accepting Paragon (PRG) tokens.

There are a lot of people that are already accepting it which just means that once our token is finalized, then they can start taking our coins. But since we’re just in the pre-sell [Note: The pre-sell has concluded], no one can use the token yet, that physically doesn’t accept them yet, but there are people who plan on it.

CM:    Will the consumers be transacting much with Paragon (PRG) or is it more of a business-to-business useful currency?  Like can

Jessica:     Yeah, it’s business to business. You cannot buy the actual cannabis products with our coin because that’s federally illegal. Just like you can’t buy weed with a credit card, or PayPal or Venmo. You can’t buy it with Crypto. The only thing right now in the U.S. that you can buy it with is cash. So yeah, it’s just business to business in terms of if you’re a dispensary and you need to pay the delivery guy, if you are a farmer and you need to pay your trimmer, if you are the company that’s creating candy bars and you need to pay your lab fees or your rent. It’s all business to business.

Paragon coin a business to business cryptocurrency

CM:    What about Paragon that I haven’t asked are you most excited about and want people to know most about?

Jessica:  The blockchain technology itself I’m super excited about that. Because that’s basically how it all started. I just started building it for myself and everyone starts out as something self-serving. I just wanted to make my life easier with 80 bucks and it turned into this accidentally.

But I think that’s the most exciting part for me because it’s helping this community shine that kind of has to be underground, it has to be frowned upon. It lets the cannabis industry shine because it illuminates that, yes, we are a smart group of people. And we use blockchain to verify everything. You can see every lab result, how much THC was in this, if the mildew test is positive or not, is it organic. And it’s stepping us up to a whole new level once everyone can see where this place came from, how it was grown, where it was transported at some other plants, all lab results.

That just brings us on a whole new level. To be honest, bigger than big pharma. They do not disclose every little detail. Sure, on the back of Tylenol, they might say what’s in it, but where did it come from and who touched the product every step of the way?

CM:   Then one question, that I’m sure is super obvious and has been asked before, but has anyone asked you why not just use Bitcoin?

Jessica:     Yeah. They don’t have the same blockchain in terms of storing data points.  I mean, if you use a Bitcoin to pay for rent, sure. But their blockchain side, where are you going to write in this information? If you’re a grower, what do you have to plug in? There’s no … You can’t just plug in something that doesn’t exist. So we’re actually building this blockchain.

CM:        So the magic is in the blockchain?

Jessica:   Yeah, the magic is in the blockchain. Yeah, because everyone keeps saying, “Why not just use Bitcoin to buy weed?” Sure, go ahead. On the dark web, you can buy weed with Bitcoin. But, that’s federally illegal, so we don’t even facilitate that,and  sure you can use Bitcoin for those things, but it’s just not the same blockchain.  It’s not the same record keeping on the back end basically.

CM:     So that means that where Paragon (PRG) is really strong is beyond being able to pay for business to business services and is beyond just being cannabis business friendly, and it’s more about data tracking and information tracking.

Jessica:    Exactly. And it’s kind of like if you imagine an Excel spreadsheet mixed with Wikipedia. It’s this huge database. There are two verification signatures required, so that means the lab said, “Yes, we tested this,” and they send the results, then the vendor said, “Yes, they sent my product there and these are the results that got back.”  It’s on this immutable ledger that no one can forge and no one can change.

 If you change it, it’s documented what it was before and what you changed it to. And it has your name on it if you changed it. So if you went in there and said, “All of my stuff is tested … The lab said it all tested, half of it had mold in it,” and then I paid you and said, “Don’t tell anyone it has mold,” well now you changed it to 100% clean, well, it’s going to be seen. Everyone can see you. First you said mold, and now you said no. Why? 

           It creates transparency and accountability.

Paragon Coin interview with Cannabis Magazine


Jessica:   It’s a pretty amazing technology. Everyone is starting to use this because if you even think of something off topic from ours, like real estate in Kenya. Their government is just going up to people’s door and saying, “Hey, I know you have this document that says it’s your land, but in this closed book behind those closed doors behind that closed building that you can’t access, says it’s actually ours. So you need to move out.” And they’re literally, right now, in today’s times, taking land away from people.

But with blockchain, that title of the land could be documented and secured for everyone can see, “It is my land.” And they’ll fight the government and say, “You can’t take this land from her.”

I think the future will be everything is going to be on a blockchain.

If you look up coffee, you’re going to be able to see where it was grown, how much rainfall happened on that crop, or everything and everything. Clothing, you’ll be able to see what kind of dye was used, where it came from, maybe even if they polluted any rivers. Like Forever21 and Zara and all those companies are going to struggle.

CM:    I love that.  This industry is working more and more toward transparency, product safety and solid supply chain tracking every day and it sounds like your blockchain is really aiming to contribute to that movement.

Jessica:  Yeah. And I know a lot of companies don’t want this because, yes, people want cheap stuff and they don’t want to know how it’s made. Having all of the information available will hopefully cause people to think twice and they can actually see, “Wow, there’s a place that’s polluted now because of the ink and dye that they used on my shirt. And now there’s a little girl with cancer because that’s the only water she has to drink or even shower with.” People are going to start thinking twice and I think that’s going to change a lot for a lot of people in a lot of communities.

Or even in the cannabis space, there’s a lot of old-school growers. Half of them want everything organic and they want to prove to you, yeah, they’ve been here since the beginning of time. And then half of them have just decided to grow into these big crops and spread the heck out of it with pesticides and chemicals that you don’t even know what the strains natural characteristics are anymore. And they don’t want people to know that. Creating a blockchain like we have with Paragon is some scary water to tread because we’re giving information to people and a lot of big businesses that are trying to scale without being held responsible for their actions don’t like that.

CM:        It’s like a social movement also.

Jessica:   It is. I mean if you think back to when electric cars were trying to come out with these electric batteries, remember what the oil industry was doing?

CM:         Freaking the fu*& out.

Jessica:   Well, it’s kind of happening here too.

CM:          Yeah, you’re messing with like a serious industry.

Jessica:    Yeah. Well, we’re also messing with big pharma.

So big pharma, they’re not necessarily old school, but like the big growers that don’t want to disclose information. Even people who are just simple suppliers that don’t wanna say half their product had mold in it. You’re messing with a lot of people, but I think it’s fair because there’s products going in people’s bodies and people should know what they’re taking. Some people won’t care. Look, there’s plenty of people that eat a bag of Doritos every day and they’re like, “Fuck it. I don’t care. I know it’s bad for me. I’m going to eat it.” Some people … I still eat Lucky Charms all the time as candy. I know it’s bad. But at least I know what it is. I think people shouldn’t be afraid of it because like I said, not everyone is going to care. But for those that do, you’re opening up a big door.

CM:         Awesome. Well, thank you for talking to me. I really look forward to seeing this all progress. And really look forward to seeing how it progresses over time to reach the retail and consumer end of cannabis.

Jessica:   We have like two dispensaries we talked with. But we just haven’t had time to really dive into that part yet. Because with dispensaries, you gotta take time to let them know how blockchain actually works and how the Crypto works because they’re so confused like, “If you can’t buy weed with it, why do we need you?” But you’ll have to teach them like, “Yes, you can now pay your drivers and your delivery people. You can pay employees. You can store all this information. You can make all of your suppliers put all of their information on the blockchain.”

‘Cause I know a lot of dispensaries spend numerous hours and lots of money retesting products. This would just save them a ton of money and a ton of time if their suppliers already had that information on the blockchain and the lab has already verified it.

That’s all that they need to do is just look at that and then they can trust it. Because right now, yeah sure, this chocolate bar might say that they have the lab results and this is their test results, but they are not always true. They can be fabricated. They can be old. But if it’s on the blockchain, then you can see the exact time, what lab it was, what all the results were. So you have to take time to explain that to them so we haven’t had that time.

CM:       Thank you for taking time out of your booming schedule to talk for a bit. 

Jessica:  Absolutely!  It’s my pleasure. Let’s talk again soon.

CM:         We definitely will.  Thank you,  Jessica.

Jessica Versteeg Co-Founder and CEO of Paragon Coin interview with Cannabis Magazine


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Cannapreneur Camille McCutcheon | MJIC | Rolling Paper Depot Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:00:59 +0000 Featured Cannapreneur Camille McCutcheon | Co-Founder | Rolling Paper Depot Feature: Camille McCutcheon Company: MJIC, Inc. Location: Scottsdale, AZ Website: |   Being a part of this rapidly progressive industry is amazing.  Being a part of it and watching it grow, watching history happen right before your very eyes is another thing.  I…

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Featured Cannapreneur

Camille McCutcheon | Co-Founder | Rolling Paper Depot

Camille McCutcheon
MJIC, Inc.
Scottsdale, AZ
Website: |


Being a part of this rapidly progressive industry is amazing.  Being a part of it and watching it grow, watching history happen right before your very eyes is another thing.  I had a chance to interview one of the cannabis industry movers, someone who has been involved in this industry for quite some time.  She has co-founded several companies, had her hands in all different kinds of areas during these start-ups and finally through all of that has found her one true passion in the cannabis world.  She is an cannapreneur that radiates energy and excitement!  Her dedication in this field is refreshing and being able to interview her about the path that led her here and where she thinks all of this is going has been an uplifting experience.  So here she is, Mrs. Camille McCutcheon.

CM: Thank you so much for allowing me to take up some of your time to chat with us about your experience in this industry and as an entrepreneur. Do you mind if we start with a little background information? Where are you from, what did you go to school for?

Camille: I have a background completely unrelated to this business. I’m a west coast girl, I went to school for life sciences for three years but ended up dropping out to start my life. School made me feel like I had to delay my life. I love to work, so I joined my boyfriend, now husband, in starting an E-Commerce website and the rest is history.

CM: I am sure many can relate to that! Where are you currently living?

Camille: Scottsdale, AZ.

CM: Seeing as you are in the Cannabis industry, when was it first introduced into your life and what role did it initially play for you?

Camille: I started out in e-commerce in the tobacco industry 10 years ago. The conversation was just barely beginning about how cannabis should be legal; and it was just starting to become legalized as medicine then, but I never really thought much of it. Then this online smoke shop opportunity fell into my lap (Rolling Paper Depot). And over time, we just realized that this thing was going to be huge!

CM: I know the cannabis industry is still working on developing its identity. How did you decide to enter the cannabis industry? What led you here?

Camille: It was a fluke. If you had asked me 10 years ago what I’d be doing now, I couldn’t have given you the right answer even if you waved a million dollars in my face. I got here by a series of very fortunate events, diligently putting one foot in front of the other every single day. That website that I dropped out of school for was selling cigars online. When we realized we made this business successful, we knew we were good operators. Having sold our cigar website, the timing was great to get involved with Rolling Paper Depot.

CM: That’s awesome! I feel like that is generally how it happens right? One day you just wake up, realize what you are supposed to be doing and then all there is that is left is to just do it. I understand you have played a major role in a few companies.  Can you go into any detail about them, the founders, what led you to start them, and where you found the time to do so?

Camille: I have to start by saying all of these companies were start ups. Very little capital put into them initially. I think my role could be defined as co-founder but at one point I was wearing all the hats. Answering emails, phone calls, filling orders, all of these come simultaneously when you’re living the start up life. As time goes on, you hire people to help with the things you aren’t as good at and over time you find your niche, and mine was digital marketing.

CM: Being a co-founder to several start ups, I would like to point out that you are also a woman in the cannabis industry (which is an amazing venture) but the majority of it is male driven. Do you feel that being a woman in this industry that is still forming its identity has faced you with many obstacles? Has being a woman helped or hindered you in any way?

Camille: I don’t think about it very often because I have so many great partners, colleagues, and friends in the industry that it doesn’t really come into play. 99% of the time it isn’t an issue because we’re all competent and here to help each other. It’s never hurt me in this industry. I have a very close relationship with my business partner/husband so we can often use our differences to our advantage.

CM: That’s great! Just what I love to hear! So, you currently are working at MJIC, what is your specific role there?

Camille: A few years ago, I remember very clearly being aware that I was at a crossroads in my professional role. When you live the start-up life, you kind of get used to wearing a lot of hats. Then, if you’re lucky, your company might get to the point where you can start to specialize. That’s where we were, so I had to make a conscious decision whether I was going to focus on operations or marketing. And I figured marketing was kind of a lot more fun by default, so I told my partner that’s what I was going to do. Now, my daily activities revolve around the digital marketing for MJIC’s sales channels in ancillary cannabis. We don’t touch the plant, but we get to play with all the fun toys that do!

CM: That is so amazing to be able to come to that point in your life where you are choosing what you get to do and its something you truly love being a part of. Where do you hope to be in lets say 3-5 years? Do you have a dream job within the cannabis industry or is your dream job what you currently do?

Camille: I love my job. I get to work at the intersection of 3 huge, fast-moving industries: cannabis, social media, and e-commerce. And my team is like my family. What could be better!?

I think in 3-5 years, I’d like to be seeding and advising the next generation of startup entrepreneurs. Kids like I was, in their 20s who all they have is a goal and work ethic.

CM: Do you have plans on founding any more companies?

Camille: I actually love to work. I think it’s in my DNA. I’m sure I’ll get into something if the right mission crosses my path.

CM: As this industry is rapidly changing are there any events that you enjoy attending that keep you up to date on the business and culture of it all?

Camille: I subscribe to several email and news publications that I check multiple times a day for the latest industry news and progress on legalization. This keeps me aware of the current state of the industry and gives me insight on what our audience is seeing and going through. I attend a number of trade shows that are fun because you get to meet people you’ve bought from or worked with in the past. I like to curate the selection of products we carry to things I know our consumers would enjoy. It’s great seeing the newest innovations coming out of the industry. Every day there’s some new way to enhance the consumer experience and it’s inspiring seeing the passion people have for the products.

CM: Oh, for sure! The things people are doing are incredible and it is fun to see all the new ideas and products. From a regulatory standpoint, do you foresee all 50 states finding a way to adapt to the industry in one way or another?

Camille: Definitely. I’ve seen the momentum build over the last 7 years or so. And it’s not only happening in the US. It’s starting to happen everywhere! It’s so cool to watch history happening right in front of us!

CM: Where do you see the cannabis industry playing in on a global scale?

Camille: There’s a number of countries starting to explore the benefits that cannabis can have for medical or recreational purposes. If the US is a micro example of what will happen when legalization begins, that the momentum will keep building and it will only get bigger.

CM: There are so many ways that this industry could go as far as culture, social influence and public perception. How do you think the industry will develop in terms of those aspects?  How would the industry develop in your ideal world?

Camille: We’re already starting to see a relaxed public opinion on cannabis use. I think that will continue in order to further the conversation and research. . .

We’re at an interesting time right now because the industry is at a cross roads and anyone who knows this industry knows what culture has surrounded cannabis in the past. Then you have the professionals who want to make it more professional and open up to everyone, we’re seeing those two clash right now and it will be interesting to see what happens over time.

There will always be an air of counterculture. Alcohol industries have begun playing off of the prohibition days and I think over time we will see the same in the cannabis industry.
In my ideal world we would see the professional cannabis industry and the counterculture blend. It should become more convenient for people to access these products. I would love to see the industry progress in terms of business practice but to keep that rebellious spirit.

CM: Seeing as you are in marketing, how important do you think the internet and social media will be in the shaping of this industry as it moves forward? What are some of the boundaries now with online services and cannabis?

Camille: Just like the rebel spirit the cannabis industry has, the internet shares that quality. As long as we keep the internet free, they go hand in hand. In the future if we keep things open source and unsecured, the public will be able to access more information about cannabis and it will have the opportunity to promote responsible and productive use.

Banking is the biggest barrier. Credit card processing. Age verification is hard to ensure in practice and that’s a huge roadblock. Regulation and technology can help to solve this but it is a matter of time. The other boundary is that you can get practically anything delivered nowadays almost instantly, and that hasn’t happened in our space yet. This is something we work every single day to bring to market.

CM: A little play off of that last question, how do you think tech’s role in the cannabis industry will develop? What services do you think may be provided through websites or apps as the industry progresses?

Camille: On demand services and freedom of information is at our fingertips and I think this will only progress. That same technology is going to bring cannabis even closer within reach.

CM: Well I can’t thank you enough for all your amazing insight! It has been a pleasure hearing what you have to say and how you go to where you are now! I have one last question for you. Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs, investors or people just looking to get their foot into the cannabis industry?


Just do it! If you see a problem you can solve or a need that you can fill, figure out what you need to do to get it done. Then just take at least one step every day to make it happen.  Be brave; you can be scared, but be brave. Be creative and relentless.

And make sure you choose the right partner. Partners will either drive you nuts or keep you from going nuts. Having the right partner should feel like you complement each other’s strength and weaknesses and like you could be friends even after this mission is over.

Adopt a growth mindset and an attitude of “progress, not perfection”. It’ll make the bumps in the road easier to handle and more useful toward achieving your goal.

Oh my god, I could go on!


Rolling Paper Depot

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From eCommerce Pioneer to Cannabis Industry Maven | Stormy Simon Wed, 11 Oct 2017 05:47:24 +0000 Stormy Simon is best known for her role as President at, going from temp to President over a 15 year stay with the online retailer, but she’s made a move to cannabis.  She was part of building eCommerce before eCommerce really existed and though she is rather modest when talking about her achievements with…

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Stormy Simon is best known for her role as President at, going from temp to President over a 15 year stay with the online retailer, but she’s made a move to cannabis.  She was part of building eCommerce before eCommerce really existed and though she is rather modest when talking about her achievements with Overstock, that’s a big deal.  Stormy has now set her sights set on the cannabis industry and Cannabis Magazine wanted to catch up with her to see what she has in mind for this ever growing and changing industry.  It is undeniable that mind like hers with her skill set and experience could make for some powerful moves in this space. 


Here’s what Stormy had to say…

CM:      Stormy, thank you so much for taking time to sit down with us.  I   know you are just now getting in to cannabis but because of your previous success in Overstock we wanted to touch base with you in your beginning stages to see where you may be heading in this industry.  I have a feeling you’ll be a woman to watch in cannabis as time goes on.

Stormy:      Well right now mile wide and steep, right? Everything’s so new, so it’s been really exciting. It was a year ago yesterday that was my last day as President of Overstock, so it’s awesome to have this interview today and see that full-cycle happen. I woke up yesterday and went, “Wow. My life is completely different and I am so happy.” It wasn’t unhappy before, by the way.

CM:     Right. But it’s a change that feels good?

Stormy:     Yes. Now focusing on the cannabis industry, I’ve really been lucky to    meet some of the women that can lead this industry in amazing ways of passion for their family or just a belief in the medicine. I’m learning and joining the conversation and kind of seeing where I can best fit in.

I joined the board of CannaKids, which is based out of Los Angeles and focuses on exploring the use of cannabis in pediatric illnesses.  The founder is awesome and what they are doing for kids is powerful.  


CM:   Wow!  So you are really hitting the ground running!  How did your interest in cannabis start get lit?


Stormy:  I’m in the state of Utah and as I entered the cannabis scene, I went to Denver, worked with two medicinal dispensaries. Really had this master’s degree in just short of six months… Coming from Utah, we don’t have a lot of exposure to what was actually happening in Colorado, it’s so advanced.

During my time in Denver I was exposed to this amazing group of entrepreneurs that are so vibrant in the ways they think and how they’re moving the industry forward.  That experience got me really focused on bringing cannabis to my own backyard and coming in 2018 will be the vote for medicinal marijuana to pass in the state of Utah.


CM:   Utah could really use a voice like yours.  How have you been getting involved with the movement there specifically?


Stormy:  I looked around and there was this group called URMC, Utah Residents for Medical Cannabis that had just a young girl, she’s 20 years old, she’s absolutely amazing, Gabriel Saunders, and she had started this Facebook page and a special movement within the state of Utah, so I reached out to her to offer her any support and have since then had an executive advisory role. And as they form a board, will take a board seat.

They’re doing a social movement. They’re putting on the rallies and they’re reaching out to residents and when the time comes to get signatures on a petition, they’ll be doing that as well, in working with the Utah Patient Coalition, who is really running the campaign.

 The second thing I’m doing in Utah, which I think is really exciting, is I am working with an organization called My Story ll INC with a mission to go out and collect the stories from Utah patients, and maybe even those who have moved from the state in order to get the medicine that they need.


CM:    That’s great!  Getting real patient stories out there is always incredibly helpful in educating nay-sayers.  Like, once you see how cannabis is truly impacting lives in a positive way, it’s hard to argue against its medicinal benefit.

Stormy:  Exactly.  Getting some of their stories out into the public and print and social media and start sharing among Utahans the power of this plant. A statistic that I find pretty disturbing is that in Utah, six people per week die from opiates. So that’s over 300 people a year, and I think that the education on that are stories of triumph. We don’t know how many people medical marijuana can save from opiate death. We don’t know.

But, if it’s one, I think it’s probably worth it. So getting the stories out from the patients, their parents, is a big passion of mine and that’s what we’re going to start.


CM:    It looks like thus far you have really taken a role on an educational level and as an activist in a way, moving forward to further cannabis legalization in Utah. I’m guessing that were the votes to go through, that you would want to be part of maybe having a dispensary or cultivation in Utah to be part of getting quality medicine to the patients?


Stormy:   One thing I learned at the cultivation and dispensary in Denver is that it is a tough business when the rules and the regulations are changing all the time. In my short time working at one in Colorado, they’d roll something out that affects your whole production line, which is the right thing to roll out, but it still affects, as a business, your production line and it costs you money to integrate all these new policies and changes and labeling and packaging.

So, yeah, it’s nice to have states go before us, and if it worked out well and the bill is written to where having a cultivation and/or dispensary would work for me, I absolutely would consider it. We have to wait for those laws to be in order to see …  I’ve seen the beginnings of the regulations and it’s at a really good starting point.


Utah Cannabis Legalization

CM:   Is there any other aspect of cannabis that you’re more interested in getting into?


Stormy:   It’s such a broad industry. When I jumped in, I thought, “I really just want to grow and do the dispensary.” As the horizon broadened, I started meeting all these people in these very different industries, from media, to brand creation, to product, digital … it’s beyond … the lighting, the soil … it’s just explosive.

Six months in, I said, “I just need to be an observer and a learner, educate, and really pay attention to what states are doing.” It’s hard to say what I don’t know right now because I’m certain that there’s a ton that I don’t know and where I’ll exactly land.

I definitely have the skills to go in, help him with a little brand building and some digital presence, and take their brands to a level that they can be ready for as we get federally regulated. I see bringing that talent to the industry in some form.


CM:   You led in a really notable and powerful way.  Do you see yourself having that level of impact in the cannabis industry given your experience in building Overstock?


Stormy:    You know, I hope so. One thing about Overstock was, we were pioneers. You know, creating eCommerce before eCommerce existed. I view cannabis the same way, but it’s much more complex because their special local level of business … With cannabis, you really have to think five years ahead. Like right now this may be something that’s happening, but you know, is it worth it in terms of investment for five years from now?


That’s why taking your time is crucial. At least it is for me, for my personality. But, I hope that I will be able to bring a similar kind of leadership to cannabis.


I do have a passion for the plant and I do believe in its properties and there’s the civil right piece to it. But, educating myself more and more on those medicinal properties, and meeting people who have had the success stories, and the scientists that have devoted their lives to it, it changes the game. It makes it much more passionate, passion driven, than eCommerce was, even though it was exciting and pioneering. So, my hope is that I can bring some of what I know, that I can bring an experience that’s not agriculture but that is valuable.

There’s a digital aspect of the experience that everybody needs.

Some of these businesses are just going to get huge and I would love to be one of the leaders, but honestly if I helped 50 companies and they become the leader, I would call that just as rewarding. You know?


CM:   Well we are certainly excited to see where this industry takes you and where you take it!  Thank you for taking time to give us some insight on where you’re at right now.  We look forward to checking in again in the future as you continue to learn and lead.


Stormy:  Absolutely.  It’s all very exciting.  Thank you.  Yes, let’s ouch base again           soon.  This industry is filled with opportunities.

Stormy Simon enters cannabis



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Canna Vet Extraordinaire | Dr. Sarah Brandon | Eloquent on Pets and Cannabis Tue, 12 Sep 2017 21:17:54 +0000 Featured Canna Vet Extraordinaire: Sarah Brandon, DVM Feature: Dr. Sarah Brandon Specialty: Eloquent on Pets and Cannabis Location: Washington Website: (Contains very helpful/useful information.) We are all watching this booming industry grow.  Cannabis has become a number one topic as new and innovative products are helping people (and animals) all over the globe.  The publicity…

The post Canna Vet Extraordinaire | Dr. Sarah Brandon | Eloquent on Pets and Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Magazine.

Featured Canna Vet Extraordinaire:

Sarah Brandon, DVM

Feature: Dr. Sarah Brandon
Specialty: Eloquent on Pets and Cannabis
Location: Washington (Contains very helpful/useful information.)

We are all watching this booming industry grow.  Cannabis has become a number one topic as new and innovative products are helping people (and animals) all over the globe.  The publicity on new products is at an all time high and while we all know people and cannabis go hand in hand we are starting to see cannabis and more of our furry loved ones working together just as much (paw in paw).  The amount of pet products I have seen sneaking their way onto shelves is incredible and so exciting!  I was so enthralled with the idea of pets and cannabis that I found a woman right in the mix of it all, Dr. Sarah Brandon.  She was kind enough to elaborate on some topics we felt were important for the public to know about when getting your fluffy children on a diet involving cannabis.

CM:  I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to answer some questions and chat about pets and cannabis!  I have been so excited to do a piece on pets because I think the information is so important but people just don’t know enough about it.  After much research I definitely found the right person for the job!  Dr. Brandon, you have so much passion and  knowledge to share with our readers but before we get too into it, can we start by diving into your backstory? (Where are you from? What did you go to school for?)

Sarah Brandon, DVM Cannabis Magazine feature interview

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  How far back shall I go? I have a Veterinary Medical Degree from OSU (Oklahoma State University) 2002 with equine surgical lean and did a private internship in Washington.  Equine practice did not work out and I found myself in feline medicine and surgery where I remained for 12 years.  During veterinary school through current, my husband and CSO, Dr. Greg Copas, and I administered cannabis to dogs and cats. Greg used cannabis for joint pain (many sports injuries, allergies to prescription therapies) and we decided to administer it to our personal pets.  As we had been in the veterinary field for some time, we knew how to manage marijuana toxicities and kept logs of all responses.  Once we move to Washington, we were able to begin testing plant matter administered and titrate our dosing.  Eventually we had consistent dosing and safety information and started branching out to friends’ pets, patients, fosters … if you knew us and had pets or were a furry friend in the home, cannabis was on the menu!  As our database grew, we decided to start selling the product – adding to said database.  At this time, we have over 6000 patients encompassing all ages, sex, conditions, responses, doses, etc.  It’s a living database we draw from for product development, patient consultations and pet parent and veterinarian education.

Sarah Brandon, DVM Cannabis Magazine feature interview

CM:  Wow, you have quite the background and 6000 patients, that is amazing!  It is so great to hear how you got to this place in life, definitely a lot of work but it sounds so fulfilling!  So you started introducing cannabis to animals but when was cannabis first introduced into your life and what role did it initially play for you?

Dr. Sarah Brandon: Well, I first used cannabis recreationally at 19.  Medically, I started using it in my mid-20s (anxiety) and was more than pleased.  Later, as we learned more about the ECS (endocannabinoid system), I would find certain strains which helped insomnia without leaving me exhausted the next day.

The big input it played in my life? Less is more!

I was and still am fascinated that it doesn’t take much for medical benefits to be seen.

CM:  I can definitely agree with you there!  So with your background of many veterinary studies I can see you already had a love for animals.  What was it that initially sparked your interest in the industry and pushed you to start your research of animals and cannabis together?

Dr. Sarah Brandon:

We realized the cannabis plant fulfilled our medical oaths — harm none and help when you can.

We researched cannabis prohibition and discovered the truth had nothing to do with DARE and other such nonsensical organizations.  Cannabis was used in veterinary medicine with great success until prohibition and we felt it was the right time to back up old history with new science.  The new science was even better than we expected and patients responded quite favorably.  Perhaps the best thing was no one needed to use one therapy over another; cannabis compliments other treatments while improving quality of life.  How could we NOT make this available to pet parents and help educate them and our colleagues?

Sarah Brandon, DVM Cannabis Magazine feature interview

CM:  So true, people have been taught their whole lives by these organizations that cannabis is just bad for you, plain and simple.  Getting these scientific facts and knowledge out there is so important for peoples understanding and acceleration.  Let’s dive right into the middle; talk to me about Cannabis and pet health issues…it is definitely a trending topic and I would love to hear about what we don’t know and what we need to know in this growing field!

Sarah Brandon, DVM Cannabis Magazine feature interview Bunnies!

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  This is a complex topic and one best addressed via education.  The ECS, endocannabinoid system (cannabis receptor system) is highly sensitive and adaptogenic.  Its sole purpose is to listen to the body’s stress signals (chemicals put off by distressed cells) and take action in the form of up-regulation (making and activating more cannabis receptors in specific locations) to return the body to a healthier homeostasis.  These distress signals occur all the time in our bodies and the ECS is listening to every one.  For example, if I’m tossing the ball for Gnarls (one of our Belgian Malinois) and he ends up getting a scratch on his nose retrieving it from underneath the brambles, his ECS kicks into gear.  Cells all along the scratch are now injured and sending out distress chemicals.  The ECS hears the call and works to return things to normal, including reducing pain and inflammation and helping the immune system fight infection.  When we administer external cannabis, we are simply providing the ECS with more compounds so it can do its job more efficiently and effectively.

On the cellular level, we understand a lot about how the ECS functions, and many are starting to realize this system prefers everything in balance. Cannabis receptors work off of negative feedback systems, which is a lot like our HVAC systems.  Instead of hot and cold, the ECS receptors use THC and CBD to incite chemical reactions which result in improved cellular health.  Over time, that improvement can lead to better quality of life for our furry and feathered friends.  Because the ECS is designed to use both CBD and THC, we often see the best results when both are used together.  However, dogs and cats prefer to not get high, thus using CBD:THC ratios; 2:1 is recommended.

Now, let’s add in another important part of the equation: terpenes.  These compounds are what give plants their odors and make up the chemical structures of essential oils.  When combined with CBD and THC, the ECS can now activate receptors in unique ways, furthering health benefits.  This process is referred to as the entourage effect and allows for lowered dosages of all compounds for better results and few adverse effects.

This sounds all well and good but how does the pet parent know how much cannabis to administer to their pet? Right now, we lack double blinded studies which answer this question.  However, it has been my experience using cannabis in dogs and cats for the past two decades that dosages as low as 0.1-1 mg/kg CBD:THC 2:1-7:1 are sufficient for most pets.  When using CBD only products, one may have to go as high as 2.5 mg/kg and it is generally best to avoid anything >10 mg/kg due to how CBD affects receptors in large quantities.  In non-medical terms, this translates to, “use pet-specific products unless directed by your veterinarian.”  A half-grain of rice is not a dose and can result in significant sedation and GI upset.

CM:  This is perfect, exactly what people need to be hearing and thank you for breaking it down so that it is easily understandable.  I think a definite pullback from people curious about the topic is that they truly do not understand how and what it is doing in their system.  But hey, that’s why I have you answering questions;  What do you feel are some common misconceptions involving pets and cannabis?

Sarah Brandon, DVM Cannabis Magazine feature interview

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  ‘THC is toxic …’ well, yes it is, but so is CBD and at lower doses than THC.  At low doses both compounds are highly beneficial.  At moderate dosages or when the ratios are unbalanced, mild to moderate adverse effects are seen, and at high doses, significant issues are observed.  I’ll reiterate less is more.

‘It’s best to bypass the liver…’ 99% of the time, the answer is a resounding NO.  We want the liver to metabolize these compounds.  Each time the liver gets a crack at them (up to 3 times in most cases), the compounds on the other end (called metabolites) are slightly different than the parent compound and exert a different type of benefit.  For example, one metabolite of THC is water-soluble and current research indicates it may reduce inflammation in kidney tissue, and at levels low enough the test subjects (rodents) did not act high.  In addition, liver metabolism provides a more consistent distribution, onset of action and duration of action.  When that metabolic process is bypassed, we see a short onset of action (minutes rather than an hour), inconsistent distribution (hits the bloodstream quickly and is taken up in amounts where cannabis receptors are in largest quantities — which does have potential benefits for certain conditions), and shorter duration of action (2-6 hr as compared to 8-12 hr for fully metabolized compounds).

‘It’s okay to blow smoke in/around your pet’s face if they are ill and need cannabis…’ Nope.  Not okay, ever.

Presuming we’re talking about legal cannabis here, I do not see harm in lighting up while your pet is in the room … provided your pet is able to freely walk away anytime.  How would you like it if your best friend, who smokes regularly, decided to blow a ton of smoke in your face despite your protests?  Your dog or cat doesn’t understand what it feels like to get high from THC or have a disconnected feeling from CBD (yes, CBD heavy marijuana can make you feel a little off, though not high).  That lack of understanding leads to anxiety as they try to process why they are unbalanced, vision and hearing are distorted, or they simply don’t feel ‘right.’

‘Only activated CBD is good for pets…’ Not true for anyone, human, dog, cat, etc..  The natural, acid forms of cannabinoids are quite beneficial on their own, as well as part of the entourage effect.  The acid forms are often harder to extract from the plant and it can be difficult to find CBD, but that doesn’t mean it won’t help or isn’t as good as decarboxylated CBD.

CM:  Well, there you have it!  Thank you so much for clearing some of those up, all of this is so interesting, I really cannot wait to share it!  I do want to touch on products, as the time goes on we are starting to see a lot of products popping up for pets relating to cannabis.  Is there something people should be looking for or can you give us any tips on choosing products for our pets?

Sarah Brandon, DVM Cannabis Magazine feature interview

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  Always ask for a COA – 3rd party test results proving a company’s claims are true.  The supplement industry is mostly unregulated and companies are not required to test products for anything.  There are some organizations, like NASC, which help companies maintain strict standards, including testing and claims.  Call and speak to the company.  Get a feel for who works there and how they comport themselves.  If it feels hinky, move on.  There are many good companies out there who are happy to help you and your pet, but beware the charlatans just trying to make a buck.

CM:  What do you say to people who are skeptical of moving in this direction with their pets?

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  My first question is why?  Answers range from lack of education, to fear of legal action, to concerns over lack of double blinded studies. The first two responses are easy to address … simply provide education about the ECS and acknowledge that we are still learning about this great plant (it’s not a miracle cure to anything), and help people understand where the legal state of cannabis is at this time — it’s going to continue to change for several years. The last response is trickier as it is a very true statement.  However, we over-emphasize double blinded studies in this country, particularly when there is an overwhelming amount of well-run studies in other countries and thousands of years of historical use (aka case studies or anecdotal evidence).  I’m not saying we don’t need double blinded, FDA-based studies — we most assuredly do — but it is silly to ignore numbers like this … Google Scholar search for “cannabis” gives ~32,000 articles, while “phenobarbital” provides ~16,500.  It is silly to ignore the fact we used cannabis in veterinary medicine with good success prior to prohibition and that it is common practice in many countries to graze cattle and goats in fields where wild cannabis grows.  Those cattle and goats are comparatively healthier than herds within the same region not grazed in such pastures.  The point is, we need to broaden our horizons and globalize our perspective when it comes to cannabis use.

CM:  I couldn’t agree more!  What obstacles do you feel you run into with this industry starting to progress so rapidly?

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  Education.  It’s hard to steer pet parents and veterinarians in the right direction when the internet makes ALL information readily available.  Furthermore, when we have a grass-roots movement, things tend to get very large in a very short time frame and it’s hard to keep up.  Normally, medical professionals are the ones to educate their clients about new therapies.  In the case of medical cannabis, it’s the opposite.  The movement is growing so fast, universities and postgraduate educational conferences are scrambling to provide accurate material.

This is compounded by hesitancy regarding legal affairs, and those companies out to make a buck > providing quality products.

Cannabis Magazine

CM:  With everything growing so quickly what do you feel the future looks like for pets and cannabis?  Where are you hoping to see it go in the next few years?

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  Really good!  Despite the challenges, it’s clear cannabis has a place in veterinary medicine.  We don’t often come across ‘new’ therapies which have very few adverse effects and address a wide array of health concerns.  I see better regulation for the industry, which helps pet parents feel more secure in their choice of cannabis for their pet.  I also think we will see a number of species-specific double blinded studies on specific conditions.  We lack quantitative data backing up case study reports and I think having them will greatly enrich the field.  In short, cannabis therapy in veterinary medicine is here to stay!

CM:  Well I think I can speak for most when I say I’m glad to hear it!  On another note, I definitely want to touch on the fact that you are a woman in this mostly male driven industry.  As a woman, and a doctor how do you feel this has helped or hindered you?

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  Interesting question and one I’ve not been asked before 🙂  I don’t know that it has helped or harmed, mostly because of personal attitude.  I just don’t care what sex a person is as long as they comport themselves in a respectful manner and do their best to provide accurate information while helping out our fellow people (people to me encompasses all creatures, two or four-legged, feathered or furred, scaled or spiny).  The double standard set by our forefathers is fast falling away.  Women demand more in the workplace and as they take on the same roles as men traditionally have, they carry a different perspective with them.  The same perspective appears well-rooted in Millennials and younger and I think a more cooperative future is at hand for businessmen and women.

Sarah Brandon, DVM Cannabis Magazine feature interview Puppy!

CM:  I definitely do to!  I cannot thank you enough for sharing all of your insightful information!  We all want the best for our pets, as they are our children and mean the world to anyone with them.  I truly believe you will be helping so many people especially the ones who are curious and just haven’t gotten their feet wet yet (including my mother)!  Is there anything else you can think of that we didn’t cover?

Dr. Sarah Brandon:  Oof!  I think you covered it all.  Let me know if you need anything else!



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Featured Cannapreneur | Bryan Gerber | Co-Founder of Hemper Sun, 10 Sep 2017 20:56:55 +0000 Featured Cannapreneur | Bryan Gerber | Co-Founder of Hemper Website: Socialize: [Twitter: @hemperbox  | Facebook: /hemperco]   Bryan Gerber has always been a visionary, and when he and his friends/Hemper Co-Founders, Ravjot Bhasin (RJ) and Henry Kochnar, graduated in 2015, they put one of their dreams in motion: Hemper. The group of three worked tirelessly…

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Featured Cannapreneur | Bryan Gerber | Co-Founder of Hemper
Socialize: [Twitter: @hemperbox  | Facebook: /hemperco]


Bryan Gerber has always been a visionary, and when he and his friends/Hemper Co-Founders, Ravjot Bhasin (RJ) and Henry Kochnar, graduated in 2015, they put one of their dreams in motion: Hemper. The group of three worked tirelessly from January to May to make their dream a reality. By June they were processing their first shipment of Hemper boxes. Today, they have blossomed into the innovative company we have all come to know and love.

They’ve come a long way, but they’re only getting started. I had the chance to catch up with Bryan and talk about how he and his two business partners were able to pave their own way and make some major waves in the cannabis space.

Here’s what he had to say…

CM: Hi Bryan! Thank you so much for interviewing with Cannabis Magazine today! We’re all familiar with Hemper, but when we heard about your story we knew we had to share it with our readers!


Bryan: Hey! Yeah, no problem – thanks for having me on!


CM: Of course! We like to give our readers an idea of how cannaprenuers like yourself get established in the industry. Can you start by telling us a bit about how you got your start?


Bryan: Basically, I was in my last semester of college, I was smoking a lot. My roommate and I were ordering boxes of raw rolling papers online. And all of a sudden my buddies would come over and be like, “Let me grab a pack of rolling papers and I’ll pay you $5.”

There was no store within a 10 block radius that sold Raw rolling papers, or any type of rolling papers besides Zig-Zags. So, my friends would come over, they would buy some packs. So I thought, okay. Everyone is giving me $5 for a pack of rolling papers that should cost $2 right? Something’s here. So then I started looking at Amazon and I was like okay, let’s put this on a subscription basis and then I realized they don’t really touch these products, yet. So I was like okay – opportunity.

RJ was subscribed to Birch Box at the time. We were sitting on his couch on New Years day, it was January 2015 and I was like, “Yo, let’s just do smoking accessories in a box like Birch Box.”

RJ doesn’t smoke, so he was like “Oh, I don’t think that will work.

Henry, who smokes, was like “Oh no, that’s genius. Let’s try that out.” And that’s kind of how it started.

CM: And that was when Hemper began?


Bryan: (Nods) I walked across the graduation stage May 18th. I went up to New York the very next day and we started shipping boxes June the 1st.

CM: That’s incredible!

Bryan: Right, exactly! It definitely took off a lot quicker than we thought.

CM: How did you get it to build up so quickly?

Bryan: Basically I was following our competitors’ followers on social media to gain visibility with people interested in similar products, and we got like 35 boxes out our first month. Then, about two months after we launched, we realized the advertising potential of this segment of YouTubers called ‘Weedtubers’. They go on YouTube and smoked weed, doing box reviews or whatever, and it was one of the only avenues you could get – basically this industry’s version of a billboard.

And the Weedtubers’ channels are age restricted so they can’t make advertising revenue the same way as other YouTubers can. So they often work with companies like us to make money. So we created this guest curation concept. We brought on this Weedtuber named Jane Dro who had about 20,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, and she came in and picked the items that we would send out in our August box.

We didn’t really have any printing capabilities at the time, so we got a stamp made, like a seal, and it said ‘Jane Dro Approved.’ And we stamped it on every single box lid. And we got close to 900 Hemper Box subscribers that month.

CM: 900 subscribers? That’s amazing! How many subscribers did you have before you launched the box for Jane Dro?


Bryan: About 150 subscribers.


CM: What an incredible take off! And you guys just kept going from there! Is that when it hit you that Hemper had the potential to become a major player in the cannabis space?


Bryan: So, I’ll tell you when it really hit. For the first 10 people who ordered the box, I would say, “Oh, we got an order today! And my roommate any my friends would be like, “Oh, who is it?” And I’d be like, “Oh, it was Ryan. Or, oh, it was Tommy” or whoever. But then after I stopped recognizing the names signing up for subscriptions is when I knew we had something going.

CM: (laughs) I know that feeling

Bryan: Right?

And that’s when we realized – it was like “Oh okay. This is hitting. We’re convincing people throughout the country or the world to buy our product.”

So then we started dealing with larger YouTubers and we started amassing a larger following, and then by the end of our first year of business I think we had around 2,000 subscribers.

CM:  Those are some seriously impressive numbers. Seeing that, what were you thinking? I’m sure it must have been mind-boggling to have launched a business venture just out of college and had immediate success like that.


Bryan: Yeah it was! We went from processing $1,000 to $50,000 in three months. And then we thought, if we can get weedtubers to sell $2,000 worth of our product, we can probably get celebrities to do millions!

So that’s when we started doing stuff with bigger celebrities. We’ve worked with influencers like  Ty Dolla $ign, Flosstradamus, Fetty Wap, Two Chains, and a bunch of other people at this point.

Essentially cannabis is a welcoming culture. You could be a musician, you could be a skateboarder, you could be a blogger. Everyone partakes, so everyone has a different perspective.

CM: Interesting! So by marketing to these types of influencers, you’ve managed to create a product that appeals to nearly every aspect of the cannabis community.


Bryan: Exactly!

They pick the items to show our subscribers how they smoke, it’s like you’re sitting on their couch, with them, with the track they just hit on the radio or whatever, and that’s what Hemper is about. It’s more about the lifestyle and the culture, instead of just about the box and the medium.

CM: Was that your intention from the start? Or did it develop as you got into the industry and started exploring the cannabis space?

Hemper Founder Interview with Cannabis Magazine

Bryan: We wanted to position ourselves as this mainstream, upscale, economy price-tag brand. With a much more universal mainstream look, we want to be the Supreme of the smoking accessories world.” We kind of wanted to be that company, where when you walk into a headshop or a dispensary you’re like “Oh, I have Hemper rolling papers. Okay, well their grinder must be awesome too.” You know?


CM: You wanted to be that universally recognizable brand.


Bryan: Yeah, exactly. We went with a brand that could be seen on a box, on a t-shirt – on a cereal box. It was more universal.


CM: That was a smart business move. It leaves you guys with plenty of moving room should you want to expand in the future. And I’m sure the added mass appeal has worked for you guys really well in addition to that.


Bryan: Right. So now we have about 7500 monthly subscribers and we’re doing a lot more collabs with bigger artists. We basically had to knock out every single middle man for ordering products in our supply chain because our business is more than a couple months old and the more middle men you have the more the cost is, right? So we’re now doing all of our own manufacturing. From plastic, silicone, glass, wood, ceramics, all direct to our own factories. So now we control the product, and we’re actually doing a lot of manufacturing and sourcing for other companies now.


CM: Nice, I like your ambition! Really smart business move on your part! Can you tell me a bit more about what your goals are going forward? What’s the next major milestone you’re looking to accomplish?

Bryan: Have you ever heard of Bravado before?

CM: Yes, I have! But do you mind explaining what it is for our readers?

Bryan: Of course not. Bravado does the manufacturing for all general celebrity merchandise. They do it for Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande – every big name you can imagine. So want to become that for smoking accessories. That’s our goal.

Wiz Kalifa and Snoop Dog have smoking accessories. Why don’t the other top 100 artists have anything at that level? So now we’re partnering with all these management companies and we’re going to be the ones manufacturing smoking accessory lines for these artists.

CM: That’s amazing! When are you launching?

Bryan: It’s all in the works right now. We have proposals out to several big names in the entertainment industry that we’re in the final stages of negotiation with. There will be a ton of exciting collabs to look out for in the coming months.

CM: Nice! We’ll definitely be on the lookout for that! So your artist curated boxes – can you explain that more to me? What’s the process for picking out box items?

Hemper Founder Interview with Cannabis Magazine

Bryan: So basically, the flagship box that they’re curating is our Glassentials box for $29.99 per month, and then they pick 8 to 10 smoking accessories. We brand out the box sleeves and all the items inside are co-branded. If they say they like raw rolling papers we put in raw rolling papers, if they say they want limited edition stuff we can do, you know, custom rolling papers. Stuff you can’t just walk down to your local headshop and get. We’re trying to create a potential aftermarket for this.

CM: Okay, so you’re working to create collector’s items too?

Bryan: Yes, exactly! And this is the first of its kind. So when we go up to a rapper or an influencer and we’re like, “You can have your own smoking accessories line.” They’re like, “Wow! That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard! My brand on a rolling tray? My brand on an ash tray!”

CM: It’s genius! And definitely a market with lots of untapped potential!

Bryan: Right.

And the thing is, it was kind of interesting because I was always techy. So I was always trying to come up with the next coolest app. And then RJ, he was my college roommate, and he was like dude stop doing tech. Let’s try product. And this is the first idea I came up with for product.

CM: Really? That’s pretty impressive. So what inspired this idea? Why was this your first idea?

Bryan: So it was out of personal necessity, right? And that’s where the best ideas come from. I personally needed someone to send me these products on a subscription basis and there was no one doing it.

CM: And it’s blossoming into a brilliant company! So you’re at 7,500 subscribers now?

Bryan: Yeah, and we just hit 2 years June 1st.

CM: That’s amazing – that’s solid. Congrats!

Bryan: Thanks, I appreciate it!

CM: Unfortunately we only have a few more minutes left, but is there anything else you’d like to share with us before you go?

Bryan: Expect us on the West Coast! We’re moving our DC team out to California.

CM: That’s so exciting! So the West Coast better watch out, huh?

Bryan: Haha yeah we’re coming for it!


CM: That’s awesome! I’m glad to hear that you guys are doing well – I’m excited to share your story with people. We’ll definitely watch out for you in the future. I can’t wait to see Hemper continue to do big things in the cannabis space. Thank you so much for your time today Bryan!


Bryan: Thanks for having me on!








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iRollie Launches CannaFriendly Phone Case Fri, 01 Sep 2017 07:17:24 +0000 iRollie Launches Revolutionary Phone Case/ Smoking Product in One; Student Entrepreneurs Clear The Way for New Line that Features Collaborations with Def Jam and Afroman The Boston startup, iRollie, launched their newest product, the OG2 Roll & Stash Phone Case, a wallet phone case with a detachable rolling tray & funnel, smell resistant tray lid…

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iRollie Launches Revolutionary Phone Case/ Smoking Product in One; Student Entrepreneurs Clear The Way for New Line that Features Collaborations with Def Jam and Afroman

The Boston startup, iRollie, launched their newest product, the OG2 Roll & Stash Phone Case, a wallet phone case with a detachable rolling tray & funnel, smell resistant tray lid for storage, grinder card & bottle opener, and prism grinding surface. The OG2 Roll and Stash Phone Case is your one stop shop for all your smoking needs, and the swiss army knife for anyone who rolls up.

The OG2 Roll and Stash Phone Case holds rolling papers, a normal lighter, loose herbs/ tobacco, as well as hand rolled smokes. The standalone phone case can hold up to 3 cards. This product is launched via a self crowdfunding campaign on their website after having the campaign shut down on the INDIEGOGO platform a few days after the platform pre-approved their launch. This particular event brings to light the challenges cannabis companies still face regarding acquiring funding or public funding. Even though iRollie followed all the federal and state regulations, and were in compliance with INDIEGOGO guidelines the campaign got shut down without notice. Additionally, they had a  proving that the continued battle between local and federal governments continue to be a challenge and leaves businesses and entrepreneurs in this legal gray area.

iRollie Founders:

Entrepreneurs Joe Khoury, 22, & Luke Shepter, 22, have been working on iRollie for three years now. They create & curate products for the underserved & underrepresented active cannabis smokers. Joe & Luke have been good friends since 7 years old growing up in the same suburb of Boston, MA. Luke just received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Analytics from Boston College, and Joe received a Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship & Digital Marketing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

At 18 years old, while surfing & snowboarding, Joe & Luke noticed friends rolling joints on the back of their phone, and losing lots of cannabis in the process.

“There has to be an easier way” said Joe.

While an intern at MassChallenge, Joe taught himself CADD programming from youtube that enabled him to design & 3d print the first rolling tray phone case. They gave these to friends, and friends of friends were asking where to purchase the case. Thus, iRollie was born.


 iRollie was founded in December 2015. Joe and Luke began selling the original iRollie phone cases they manufactured using the total of their savings. As sophomores/ juniors in college, they hustled selling these products door to door and receiving early customer feedback. Soon, the products were on both campuses, and their digital presence began to grow. Following this growth, they partnered with DEF JAM RECORDS to create custom cases. Just as cash was running low, they were accepted into the Valley Venture Mentors Startup Accelerator program where iRollie placed 9th (out of over 200+ companies spanning all industries) and was awarded $10K in grants. They were able to purchase the inventory to grow, and partnered with Afroman; created custom Afroman cases, went on tour with him during their senior year finals’ week.

Additionally, the product went viral via a Greenleaf Magazine Instagram post on 1/1/2017 that was organically shared 32.5K+ times on FB and 17K+ retweets. They have been covered as a Spotlight Product by HIGH TIMES MAGAZINE and was included in their Cannabis Cup VIP Products Package. The product was featured in the HERB & received 1M+ organic views, as well as featured by Mass Roots app, and many more. All this visibility caused the website to crash from the traffic and they had to scramble to fix it, just goes to show the industry is growing strong despite the slow progress in federal and state level regarding the industry.

After the sale of 3,000+ units, 1000+ customer interviews, they brought on board Marshall Dean, 11+ year experience Industrial Engineer/ Product Designer, and Partnership with the perfect factory, they have developed the swiss army knife equivalent cannabis product …. AND it’s a phone case too.



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Dispensaries Stoked on Mobile Loyalty Programs Mon, 28 Aug 2017 15:45:39 +0000 As dispensaries are under increasing pressure to get customers thru their doors, they’re increasingly turning to mobile promotions to  drive foot traffic, build customer loyalty and increase lifetime value of their customers. SpringBig has sprung forth as a leader in the loyalty promotions business for dispensaries by providing a turnkey technology platform that is already…

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As dispensaries are under increasing pressure to get customers thru their doors, they’re increasingly turning to mobile promotions to  drive foot traffic, build customer loyalty and increase lifetime value of their customers. SpringBig has sprung forth as a leader in the loyalty promotions business for dispensaries by providing a turnkey technology platform that is already showing promise for its 110 (and growing quickly) customers

But, dispensaries weren’t always the focus of their business. In fact, they stumbled onto it quite accidentally, only after recognizing that some local dispensaries who were using the platform were among the heaviest users. Fast forward a year later and dispensaries are now their sole focus. And, it’s a pivot that’s starting to pay off nicely for SpringBig, who counts more than 100 dispensaries as customers.

No stranger to the loyalty promotions business, SpringBig was founded by Jeffrey Harris, who also founded, and serves as CEO of InteQ, a Chicago-based player in the customer loyalty space for large consumer brands and retailers like Reebok and Sony. According to Harris, the same kinds of promotions are having a big impact on marijuana dispensary sales.

“On average, the dispensaries are experiencing a 20% lift in sales when using SpringBig as a promotional channel,” explained Harris. “There is no doubt that the most effective way to reach these customers is thru their mobile phones.”

SpringBig is making their technology easily accessible to dispensary owners in several ways. First, all they require is a customer’s phone number (no personal identifying information is needed). Dispensaries also like the pay-for-use model, as no up-front investment is required. Dispensaries simply pay for each txt message they deliver. At pennies or less a message and nearly 100% open rate, it’s proving itself an extremely effective customer touch point. Harris points out that the average customer list for dispensaries is around 2,500, and growing quickly.

The Internet-based (SaaS) platform makes it very easy to upload and store a list, create, launch, and track a campaign. And they support three different types of loyalty campaigns:

Points – accrue points for every dollar spent
Visual Punch Card – buy 10 get one free
Visit Programs – rewarding customers for every visit to the store

SpringBig is starting to integrate directly with dispensary POS systems, providing greater visibility and insights into the promotions. The company is partnering with some of the larger retail systems to deliver even more closely integrated campaign management and tracking. By focusing on strategic partnerships, and investing in product integration, SpringBig believes its real growth is yet to come.

“We’re very partner friendly,” declared Harris. “We help dispensaries enhance customer retention, strengthen brand loyalty and drive incremental customer engagement. We let the partners do what they do best, and the exchange of data helps everyone be more effective,” added Harris.

Whether it be a points system, buy-ten-and-get-one-free punch cards, or repeat visit programs, SpringBig is building loyal customers one txt message at a time.

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Dronabinol vs. Cannabis: What’s the Difference? Fri, 25 Aug 2017 06:58:54 +0000 In 1985 MARINOL (known as dronabinol in its generic form) was released into the pharmaceutical market. It was approved for use in 1985 as a way to treat weight loss for AIDS patients and to treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients across the nation. However, something about this product stood out considerably compared to…

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In 1985 MARINOL (known as dronabinol in its generic form) was released into the pharmaceutical market. It was approved for use in 1985 as a way to treat weight loss for AIDS patients and to treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients across the nation. However, something about this product stood out considerably compared to other similar products on the market – this FDA approved product was composed of synthetic THC molecules.

What is Dronabinol?

Dronabinol is a synthetic form of cannabis used to treat cancer and AIDS patients. It was created by making a chemical equivalent of delta-9-THC. It is similar to THC in that it helps to relieve pain and promotes weight gain by increasing an individual’s appetite. However, there are several key differences between dronabinol and cannabis.

Side Effects

Most cannabis enthusiasts have encountered a ‘THC overdose’ at one time or another when they first began their  use of the plant. The most common experiences caused by an overindulgence of THC are the inability to sleep, rapid heartbeat, and paranoid thoughts. However, after a few hours these effects go away and people are able to resume their normal activities.

With dronabinol it’s a completely different story.

To start, swallowing a pill full of dronabinol is less effective than smoking a joint. But even though this method of ingestion is less effective, the side effects can be much more severe. The psychoactive side effects of dronabinol can be much more harsh and prolonged than that of the cannabis plant. It has been known to cause short term memory loss, weakness, heart palpitations, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and abnormal thinking as a common side effect. More severe side effects include eye problems, muscle pain, speech problems, ringing in the ears, low blood pressure, and incontinence.

The bottom line is that dronabinol only manages to capture a few of the benefits associated with the cannabis plant and causes a lot of issues that the majority of cannasuers will never have to worry about.


With dronabinol, patients only have one form of medication they can use to treat their condition. With cannabis, there are a multitude of different strains and product variations that a patient can choose from to treat their medical condition. Cannabis consumers have the option of choosing their THC to CBD ration with strains and products falling all along the spectrum. The array of cannabis products can be smoked, vaporized, eaten, rubbed, sprayed, and more.

Dosage Options

Patients prescribed dronabinol have the option of taking a 2.5 mg doses, 5 mg doses, and 10 mg doses.

Medical cannabis patients can choose any dosage that they’d like depending on what type of relief their condition requires, and what their personal tolerance level is. This is especially beneficial for patients who experience extreme and consistent pain from their conditions because they can tailor their dosage to fit their needs.


This is one of the biggest differences between patients prescribed dronabinol and patients who are able to use medical cannabis.

Dronabinol is extremely expensive. It is typically sold in a pack of 60 capsules that will last for approximately two months (typically one capsule is taken per day). The prices for MARINOL (the original form of dronabinol) are as follows:

A pack of 60 capsules with a 2.5 mg strength (150 mg total) are available for sale for about $690.00.

A pack of 60 capsules with a 5 mg strength (300 mg total) are available for sale for about $1,430.00.

A pack of 60 capsules with a 10 mg strength (600 mg total) are available for sale for about $2,620.00.


In contrast, you can walk into a dispensary and buy a pre-rolled joint with 1 g of cannabis for $10-$20. In case you’re curious about the math, the average dispensary pre-rolled joint has about 750 mg of cannabinoid. This is assuming that the strain in question has a THC concentration of 12%. However, thanks to research and technology done in the cannabis world many strains can now reach THC concentrations of 25% and above. These joints can last for days or weeks depending on a patient’s needs and do not come with the many negative side effects associated with dronabinol.

With numbers like this, it’s easy to understand why access to medical cannabis is an important topic for many cancer and AIDS patients. With medical cannabis, they are able to access more reliable treatment at a fraction of the cost and have the ability to tailor their treatment to their needs.

 Not to mention that having the real, natural plant is beyond better than anything synthetic.

When it comes down to it, medical cannabis offers far more benefits than its federally approved rival, dronabinol. And when medical cannabis has so many positive health benefits and is so affordable to the general population, the question Americans should be asking is ‘Why are we granted access to dronabinol at a federal level but not medical cannabis?’


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