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In early June Amazon made a twofold announcement concerning cannabis.  First they are no longer going to test or have any concern about marijuana, in terms of their employees, and they want to be part of lobbying and pushing for federal legalization.  This move by one of the U.S’s largest employers is a major will for cannabis reform.  We are joined by Paul Seaborn who chats with us about this win for the Cannabis Industry and what we could see in the future. 

Video Transcription:

Harry Brelsford   Hey 420MSP yet again, we are back with Dr.  Seaborn as we just go deeper, faster and further into the exploding cannabis sector. They caught me How you doing today? Doing great here? Good. Good. So paint the landscape. Let’s do bits and bytes. what’s what’s going on? Start with Amazon, what’s going on out there in the real world?


Paul Seaborn Yeah, this is something that that your listeners and viewers could have missed. But Amazon made a really interesting announcement, beginning of June, two sides to it. One was they’re no longer going to test or have any concern about marijuana, in terms of their employees. And then on the other side, that they are not only going to tolerate that from employees, but they want to be part of lobbying and pushing for federal legalization. So I think both those those actions are really interesting. The first one are in terms of employees, I think, is probably more acknowledgement of necessity, you know, we’re in a pretty tight labor market, their workforce needs to be continually refreshed with new people coming in. And I think it was becoming a real obstacle that if you’re not going to consider someone for employment is us not, we’re not talking about cannabis on the job necessarily, because this is a drug that stays in your system for a while. So you know, if you can’t consume cannabis legally in your state in the last three weeks, in parts of the country, you’re going to really limit your workforce and lose it. I’m really great potential employees. So that one I see is kind of a practical conclusion, but yet a really powerful example for other companies to look at. And, you know, they can certainly then point to Amazon and say, Hey, if Amazon is decided this, you know, we’re gonna follow the same path. The second part, well, you know, they could have stopped there, but they they’ve made a public statement around supporting federal legalization. And I think that’s going to be, you know, in the in the history of how federal legalization finally got going, it will be a notable thing, because there have been a lot of reluctant national companies that they don’t want to be the first and then you know, you’re regulated industries, like your national banks are probably not in a great position to be those vocal leaders either. Now, they’re going to kind of leave that to someone else. So Amazon today is one of our biggest employers, they’re national, they, they really touch a lot of everyday Americans and so to have them come out and you know, maybe you wait to see a Walmart or a Target or whoever the other national voices might be, but it could be the start of something that puts politicians That at more comfort that we’re not going to be painted as some sort of radicals to make this change federally, when not only have all the states started to move that way, but even our national companies or CEOs, chambers of commerce are all lined up on the same side.

Harry Brelsford Yeah. And the question I have, or the thought I have is, you know, I had the good fortune of being in Montreal of the day Canada went legal nationally, is a coincidence. But it’s pretty jealous. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. And did a podcast or two out on the street. But it’s my understanding. You’re Canadian, but it’s my understanding, they have mail order delivery of cannabis at the federally legal level and in Canada’s, so you’ve confirmed that? Do you think that’s what Amazon’s headed towards is prime delivery?

Paul Seaborn Yeah, so I think that’s round two. So it’s not completely at a neutral observation. Yeah, I see a huge opportunity for Amazon. They’re a logistics company in terms of getting products to your storefront, or door door front, I should say, they’re also huge web hosting company, right with Amazon Web Services. And at some point, if we do move into online, cannabis sales, somebody’s going to have a really high traffic website. And they’re going to need to be hosted by someone. And maybe they’re hosted by Amazon, and they can participate in both sides of the market. But, But to your point about Canada, Canada actually started only with mail order for their medical system. And so the idea was that it really wasn’t as invasive to the community, if you had a medical card, through your doctor, you would mail go to the website order, and it would come through Canada Post, which is the equivalent of USPS. And that really got the ball rolling. And it’s only more recently, they’ve had legal storefront. So I think it’s hard to see where that possibility of delivery really caused a lot of issues, you know, there you need age verification, you want to make sure that it gets to the right hands. But that’s true of all the other things that we send through the mail today, you know, wine of the month, or ordering a case from Napa and having it shipped to your home, or a case of jack daniels or whatever, right? We figured that out for every other product, whether it’s prescription drugs, or, you know, expensive, you know, automobile parts, or whatever. And so I don’t see that really being difficult to overcome once we finally get to federal legalization. And so yeah, it makes sense that Amazon would have an interest in that market.

Harry Brelsford Yeah. What else is news? You had a couple of other thoughts What’s going on?

Paul Seaborn Yeah, so Harry  I worked on a dispute in Nevada a couple years ago over the licensing process there. And so I’ve continued to follow that state. And I think I mentioned this to you before, it really struck me how much the gambling industry, the casino industry affects the cannabis industry in that particular state, right, very different than Colorado or elsewhere. And a little news item that caught my attention was Las Vegas moving towards social consumption lounges, that was something that casinos were really opposed to. And if you think about why they’re federally regulated, they can’t participate in their state industry in any way. And they would rather people come to their facility then go somewhere else. And so the longer there were no social consumption lounges. I think the the thought initially was that, you know, that’s fine for us. But life is moving on, it’s been years now we’re not getting federal changes coming down the pipe. And so I think there’s just a lot of pressure to offer something to people who can buy it legally, they come there as a tourist, they have it in their hands, but they’re not supposed to consume it in their hotel room, they can’t take it down to the slot machines, or to the blackjack table, you know, they’re not supposed to be on the sidewalk. Here, you’re kind of setting tourists up for a bad situation or disappointment. And so there looks like Vegas as a city is going to move that direction. And I think, again, that’ll be one more step towards normalizing social consumption, it’s going to have all the restrictions of age verification is probably not going to be visible from the street front. There’ll be all sorts of restrictions on what else they can be serving their alcohol and cannabis separate. But it’s a real tough one to crack Colorado has really struggled to figure out a good model for social consumption, even though they’ve been legal since 2014. And here we are in 2021, seven years later, so you know if anyone’s gonna figure it out, I think Vegas will will be an interesting testbed. And, you know, someday when federal legalization happens, I don’t have to be a real, you know, crystal ball prognosticator to predict, you know, suddenly all that is going to move right back to the strip, and you’ll have all those options right there, you know, in the Belasco or Venetian or wherever and that’s probably the endgame of all this. This is kind of like a temporary let’s go to the social consumption lounge until we can actually do what we want to do where we do everything else.

Harry Brelsford No, it’s it’s a really good conversation. I’ve thought about myself when you know when the industry my tech industry had a lot of Vegas events are coming back but but I thought about this and the you’re right it was like so you can go to the dispensary and purchase the goods. But then there were very few places you could consume the goods, right? hotel rooms are non smoking as a simple example. So you’d see, you’d see, you know, people in sort of dark nooks and crannies, you know, the parking garage corner. You know, it’s it’s all that high school, it’s all that.

Paul Seaborn Yeah, and if you think of a Colorado is also a state that has a lot of tourists, before cannabis is legalized, and then got a few more after cannabis was legalized, most of our ski resorts are on national forest land. So it’s very clear, from a legal point of view, you shouldn’t be consuming a federally legal product on the chairlift or anywhere else. And the hotels there also don’t want any sort of, you know, odors and things. And so yeah, we’ve been in that same Limbo, you know, we were bringing the tours into Colorado when I was living there, but they also were struggling as to where to consume. And so it’s just the growing pains of a new industry, but there’s opportunity there for the people who figure it out and get to the right location. You know, certain cities like Oakland and others have tried to figure out a model, but it’s slow going. And you know, people are cautious. And I think, you know, the the pressure on Nevada, having been legal for now a number of years, and yet not offering that option just kind of got too high. And so they’ve decided to start moving.

Harry Brelsford   There we go. And I know, to end on that topic, my former home state, the state of Alaska, which I tried to get up to once or twice a year, but they on one of my visits, and that is two years ago. They were going down a pathway to have these consumption lounges. I’ve not tracked the issue since but they were headed there. Think of a nice little coffee shop.

Paul Seaborn Right? And yeah, there was there is talk of cannabis tourism market for Canada as well. Right. We’re already legalized in Canada as a country. But I would say two things that really held that back one was, it’s taken a while to get the availability of product and the right forms and all the the parts of the country. And then COVID came along and just kind of put everything on hold as well. So I feel like post COVID you know, people are gonna be pretty excited to get out and start traveling. And again, you know, we have now more states that are legal, more countries like Canada that are legal, like this just naturally going to be demand for cannabis tourism. Yeah, it’s not going to be the be all and end. All right. It’s sort of a niche market for most people. But But yeah, I think there’s still lots of opportunity there. And no one’s really figured that out to the full extent yet.

Harry Brelsford Yeah. Any final thoughts? Before we go? Did you have one or two other items? And then we’ll call it good?

Paul Seaborn Yeah, I think, again, my interest in the industry from day one has been on the regulatory side and how the laws and the rules and it continues to be a real interesting time we’ve got in Colorado, a proposal going to the governor’s desk to really tighten up the medical side of the industry, make it more restrictive for how a physician would approve someone to use medical cannabis, make it more restrictive for the 18 to 21 year old age group to have access and how much can they buy? And what’s the potency. And I think it’s creating some really good conversations there. But it’ll be in the details as to who is happy with the end result, whether it’s this particular bill that’s been sent to the governor or some sort of revised bill. So that’s kind of a more of a tightening when we’ve just talked about Nevada, loosening up on social consumption. The the more national regulatory issue is one that I had teed up for you, I think a couple sessions ago around this compound, delta eight, THC, something that you can derive from hemp from the whole farm, hemp bill side of the market, but it still has some, some psychoactive characteristics to it. So that kind of came out of nowhere, it was kind of in the wild west, not really fully regulated, the default reaction in a bunch of states has been let’s just ban it till we figure out what what it looks like. I think only California and a couple other states seem to be leaving it alone. But again, this is just another example where if someone had really built up business plan around delta to a THC, thinking they knew what the market could be, or should be, that’s kind of now been thrown in disarray, because certain states are saying, we don’t understand it, it seems kind of weird. It’s like half and half, we don’t really know what to do with it. So let’s just not allow it for the time being. It’s just one of those examples where when you when you’re at the bleeding edge, I guess of a new industry, right? You never know what’s gonna happen. And the federal government has been pretty silent so far, on all these issues. And again, the states are just having to figure it out. state by state, compound by compound and, you know, I would expect there’ll be more action in that particular space, it may actually help get some other things moving because clearly there’s demand and people are frustrated with what they have access to in these states, and they’re walking into something that’s relatively new and on proven. So there is some conversation of can we move something like a Delta eight THC product into regulated state market, so it’s tested, it’s sold through a trusted, licensed vendor as opposed to Joe’s convenience store or or Kim’s gas station. And so you know, it may actually lead to some positive developments for people but a lot of, you know, zigs and zags along the way, I guess.

Harry Brelsford Yeah, I’ll lend on. But both for yourself and the the listeners, double click down and for 420MSP in our video vault. And there’s a recent podcast I did with Chuck Main’s the head lobbyist for the hemp industry in the state of Texas. And while he didn’t enjoy the success he hoped to this last session just got done recently. But he felt good. I mean, it he felt good about the conversations, and part of it dealt with Delta. Right. There were legislative conversations in Texas about exactly that. couldn’t get anything across the finish line, but it will happen. It’ll happen in our lifetimes.

Paul Seaborn I guess the last thing I would say here is, you know, your listeners, they know from the it space and other spaces, right conferences and industry associations are always a key part of growing industries. It’s key product for someone new, getting into a space to kind of make connections, figure out how things work. the cannabis industry was no different. I would say we were kind of in a boom land I was there was a conference every week, there was a Yeah, a new Association popping up every month, and then COVID kit and that kind of put a lot of that stuff on hold. But it does seem like nature’s healing, and we’re getting closer to normal. And so mjbizcon as you know, looks like they’re gonna go ahead with the in person conference in Nevada in October. Yeah. daymond John’s, I think was announced as a keynote speaker from Shark Tank. And, you know, it’ll be something to look at, I think, you know, everyone’s gonna have to keep a close eye on the COVID situation and restrictions to figure out what what makes sense to me, both from the operators of these events, and also people who are thinking about an attending. But I think, you know, there’s there’s a lot to be gained from participating in those, especially when you are trying to figure out the lay of the land or where you want to participate. And so it is exciting to think that we might get back to some of that in person sometime soon.

Harry Brelsford  All right, we’ll talk to you next time. Thanks, Paul.

Paul Seaborn   Bye bye.