As the cannabis legalization movement expands and grows into new states, and with federal reform looking to break into the industry soon there are many opportunities to launch a new business. It is easy to only think of the cannabis industry as cultivators who grow the plant, the manufacturers, and the dispensaries, however the cannabis industry reaches out to so much more. From accounting, to supply chain, technology and even legal the cannabis industry is growing and expanding its needs daily. Join Ezra Eickmeyer as he shares with us his knowledge on the cannabis industry and how you can get into it before the big boom.
Harry Brelsford 0:08
Hey 420 MSP Harry here with Ezra. Hey, great to see you again and congratulations for making the marijuana venture magazine Cannatech corner list of most visible can attack influencers. So you’ve earned it my friend. All right, here, there we go. Well, for the audience, what What’s your story? You’ve been in the industry for some time, let’s let’s let’s take it from the beginning.
Ezra Eickmeyer 0:35
Oh, gosh, the beginning. While we have to go back to 2010, you know, as a Washington, business contract lobbyist, and I got interested in the cannabis space. Now, I’ve honestly with very little knowledge about how legitimate medical uses across a whole wide spread of different medical conditions. So I helped put together the first real, you know, trade association for the industry, this is pre 502. And everybody was, you know, the medical dispensaries and started doing clinical work for the industry worked on normalizing the business existence for the operators, and then, you know, manage help manage the transition into 502, which was an absolute nightmare, most of us thought it was very hard to implement initiative and we were actually against it, believe it or not, pro legalization, not so psyched about 502. Here we are, all these years later, still sorting out the details of that initiative. So we were right to be concerned. But then I decided to get into the industry. And, you know, I’ve always had two hats one as a political strategist and operative, and the other is business strategist and operative. So I started a production facility. You know, we we don’t have our own brand and a shelf, but we sell just bulk weed to artisan and they put it in their brand, and it’s really cool. We grow like the Dutch berry strain that everybody loves, which is really fantastic strain. And then, you know, I over the years, you know, I I got the hemp bill through to start allowing the hemp industry to get going in Washington, which should have been done in the initiative, but wasn’t unfortunately. Then over time, he became a strategist, consultant for other interests, and then hemp in Canada space. And here we are, all these years later, still trying to sort out how to make 502 work more functionally, here in our state. But now also, you know, looking forward to what’s going to happen to our industry when we face interstate commerce. Once the feds legalized cannabis, it’s going to be a very big challenge for everybody. So you’re now working on, you know, any of my clients and companies I’m working with getting everybody prepared for the massive transition, first in the hopes of survival. And then second, second, planning to thrive and grow and become national operators.
Harry Brelsford 3:10
Yeah, absolutely. And I met you through one of your clients in the the tech space and enjoyed working with you. And again, it was a no brainer to put you on the, the list. So you know, hopefully, the gold plaque will be arriving in the mail soon to put on the wall behind your back. All right. Hey, x a couple. me here. There we go. A couple questions. I think I’m tracking with you, you know, I know the five oh, x like 501. And what’s a 502? Is that in that same world of not for profit? And what other side series?
Ezra Eickmeyer 3:47
Sorry, the 502 that we talked about? That was the number of the initiative, that pal. Okay. I 502. So when we talk about the 502 i 502 system, you know, we’re always referring to the licensed, you know, legalized cannabis industry in Washington state that was set in motion by the initiative. 502. So now, you know, so you’d like to talk about tech, not politics, right. So I’ll, I’ll start moving away from the, you know, the politics. So, you know, what I do is I analyze for weaknesses and for opportunities and, and, you know, one of the, the huge issues with this industry is our tech, you know, our software options that we have all up and down from the seed to sale. It’s a bunch of siloed disjointed, in many cases, poorly inadequately built software programs that have a hard time, even sometimes talking to each other. And, you know, the end results for especially retailers is, you know, you have to increase your staff time. So you just have more costs, more frustration, and everything else. So you know, one of the things As I’m looking at business wise in the cannabis space, and you know, that I’m that I’ve jumped into, and, you know, what we met over is the software development for, for the, and that’s where, you know, the purple fog company comes in, you know, we’re raising money for that right now. Very, very, very bright, very, very bright minds, we might have mapping out exactly, you know how to fix the software issue for this industry. So, you know, just watch a year from now, it’s going to come out of nowhere and, and really help you get this industry to the next level. Because it’s time it’s really time for, for this industry, if I dare say, to grow up to evolve to, you know, next generation cannabis industry. As soon as the feds legalize, we’re going to have a normalized business existence, that means you have to live up to normalize business rules and expectations, and, and efficiencies. And we can’t have so many individuals specialized programs out there for this industry, when we’re when we’re working to scale up the bigger companies that we’re going to be competing with, or even, you know, evolving into, are not going to be playing ball like that, they’re going to be operating at a whole different level of software,
Harry Brelsford 6:20
what and they are by analogy, and I’ve shared with you my past life, you know, infrastructure, Microsoft vendors. So this right here is small business server came out in 97, retired in 2014. But Ezra what it was, is the maturity went through the SMB space is this was really a platform, we didn’t use the word platform back then. But it was the operating system within the functionality of you know, storage, security, email, even faxing. And so I concur, what what you’re kind of seeing, and again, by analogy is pre 1997, it was all these things he even had to buy way back when a spell checker for, for your word processor, you actually had to pay for that. And then it just got mature and became a platform. And that’s still where we’re at today with Office 365. The other observation I have from the other side of the aisle, is today, tomorrow. And certainly when we become federal legal that we’re really going to have to have a conversation about cyber security in the cannabis space, you know, from protecting PII, as well as the revenue data and so on. I don’t know any thoughts on that, but it’s, it’s coming, it’s coming to a cannabis supply chain near you soon that the bad guys?
Ezra Eickmeyer 7:46
Well, so I’m probably the furthest thing person you ever talked to from a cybersecurity experts, I barely know how to use my little Webroot program on computer. And sometimes it expires, and I forget about it. But you know, the cybersecurity is, it’s gotta be really, you know, it can’t be a standalone thought, you know, I’m really good at visualizing processes and systems. And, you know, if your security is here, and all of your systems are over here, and a sudden integrated part of the design, it seems like you’re setting yourself up for for just being inadequate, so great your system, your system, I operate well. But you know, if people can so easily hack into your system or cause you issues, then you know, what, like, when everything’s under under attack, even the federal government gets hacked. Heck, even sometimes the military is get hacked. So we have to assume that any core integral, you know, software that we’re using for the function of, of our companies that you know, we’ve got, we’ve got to make sure it’s protected, we have to make sure our systems are protected, you know, a cannabis company, especially in this stage of development can hardly afford to have one of these ransomware you know, attacks happen. And if $50 million, the US our own store, you know, we can’t afford that stuff. So, you know, it’s, it seems like we like in the software world, we have to be building the cybersecurity deeper into the programs. And also then have, you know, your, your web root and whatever other programs out there, I know very little about but, but there’s also the IP, you know, you know, what, if you can get in and see their, their, their systems and their thought processes, you can literally rip them off. So that, you know, it’s not just hackers in a basement having fun to try to make, you know, $100,000 on a ransomware. It’s also corporate espionage. And the bigger the, you know, when we move into an interstate commerce scenario, and we’re dealing with national markets here. You know, the level of competition and the sophistication and size of the businesses and the consolidation. That’s going to be happening. is going to be pretty intense, and the competition will be fierce. And, you know, to be honest with you, it hasn’t really been publicized. But there’s already been hacking happening within the industry, just within Washington of companies trying to spy on each other. And, you know, and instances that I where where I’ve picked up on this, you know, they were really wasting their time, like, this was just people who are off on a paranoid bent. But it just goes to show that, you know, once people are, are clamoring to compete for shelf space in this industry, and there are there are more operators than there is market, you know, you know, the, the, the, the impetus, the the, you know, the, the the reasoning, the the inspiration to get a little dirty for some operators who have, you know, less than admirable moral campuses is going to be pretty high, it’s going to happen, it’s just aren’t, you know,
Harry Brelsford 10:57
it is it is, you know, some and again, over my, the other job I have in infrastructure, but you know, even yourself and I know, you know, track it by day, but you would know the word solar wind, so you would now know the word Cassia. In the popular news with some cyber hacks, and I’m with you, an Exxon Valdez incident is coming to the cannabis sector, you know, I just, I don’t know when, where, what it will look like, I hope God forbid, it’s anything with the mold, mildew is quality control and health. I’m not, you know, I hope it’s not that, but yeah, the bad guys know where the money is.
Ezra Eickmeyer 11:40
Yep. I mean, just as is, without a very well developed medical side of all this, by medical, I mean, like, you know, cannabis is still not an integrated part, you know, practice of, you know, for, for mainstream medical practitioners, it’s not been widely adopted in mainstream medical practice, right, that happens, the medical side of the markets is gonna open up, in my opinion, probably going to be bigger than that, you know, recreational adults adult use that we have nowadays, with it within today’s you know, realm of what we’re looking at, for today’s users. And today’s you know, product availability, we’re probably going to level out once the whole country is legal, or at least as much of it is going to be, and the illicit market, you know, parts over to the licensed regulated stores, which is actually a long process. So for example, in Washington, we still have about 25% of the illicit market went into the stores. But we don’t, once that all works out, once that levels out, we’re probably looking at about a $60 billion a year retail market, just in the United one. And then you’re gonna start saying, you know, Costco, and the big retailers wanting to come in and get this on their shelves, they’re not gonna sit out on this market, you know, so we’re gonna challenges from corporate America from all these different directions. And we’re gonna have to be really on our game to not get steamrolled out of the picture by these big players coming in with all this money. And, you know, but the cool thing about this is, how often does the new industry present an opportunity to also build, you know, kind of a whole new suite of software that really is, you know, so there’s a whole business opportunity, just in the few if you will, picks and shovels and services sales, to the people who are actually touching the plant, that unto itself is is a huge industry, when we’re talking about a $60 billion industry just for one country, let alone then we start thinking about what what those markets are going to look like, globally, once the whole world catches on a you know, legalization fireless taking off across the world, we helped create the Global War on Drugs and now you know, that we’re backing off from it and dismantling that horrible horrible, you know, injustice of American history, the rest of the world is getting is starting to follow suit, you know, Mexico’s looking at legalization of, you know, the Supreme Court’s meds, you know, some Mexico’s made some movement, you know, all these other other countries Canada’s ahead of us. So it’s the new world that’s, that’s that’s presenting all these amazing you know, if business opportunities amongst other things and and, and so it’s, you know, just just trying to get in and get your hands on the plan at some point along the process. It’s not the only opportunity here, but I will say it is the riskiest part of the opportunity
Harry Brelsford 14:31
though that touching the flowers the risk Yes, sir. Being Nordstrom selling shoes to gold miners
Ezra Eickmeyer 14:39
know that the being the gold miner, so, you know, for us? You know, so many gold miners ended up broke, but the people who are selling them stuff because they’re buying, you know, using those suppliers whether they found gold or not. So, you know, I think just if I’m just looking at this from a business strategy perspective, you know, they’re just some amazing opportunities and that’s why You know honestly focused you know my my my business involvement and my partnerships away from the plants you know where I’m actually in house with a company like purple fog where I’ve become a partner and you know in house you know part of the strategy team I believe I believe firmly that that’s our you know, look at geez look at what just happened with weedmaps watch I mean the amount of cash that they got in this deal, the reverse merger they just did It’s incredible. And so but that shows you how the markets are looking at this as as well in terms of you know, the, the the service is part of the cannabis industry and how valuable that is. It is receiving a lot of investor attention right now and that should tell us a lot
Harry Brelsford 15:46
Yep. All right, my friend. Well, let’s bring him in for a landing again. Congratulations for making a better one adventure magazine. Cannatech corner list of most visible Canna tech influencers keep it safe out there?