Civilized.Life CEO Derek Riedle talks about Civilized the lifestyle brand. They are working on the social aspects of cannabis to change the perception from the negative to making it part of a healthy, informed and successful part of people’s lifestyle. “Cannabis information for Grown-ups” is how Derek describes Civilized. The products, attitudes and politics are all changing surrounding marijuana, and the Civilized brand looks to speak to inform and educate as well as entertain. The Civilized home can be found here: CIVILIZED
James West: Derek, you’re the publisher and the CEO of Civilized.life, which is a brand new –
Derek Riedle: Well, we’re actually three years old; we began publishing in September of 2015, so we’ve really been at the forefront of the cannabis media industry for almost three years now. We speak to 2.2 million North Americans who choose cannabis as a healthy part of a balanced lifestyle.
James West: Wow. I can say I count myself among them.
Derek Riedle: Me too.
James West: All right! Where are you based?
Derek Riedle: We have an office in Venice, in West Los Angeles, California. But we’re a Canadian company. Our home office, we’re proud to say, is in St. John, New Brunswick, on Canada’s east coast.
James West: One foot in the east, one foot in the south, one foot in the west, one foot in the north.
Derek Riedle: Yes. Bicoastal and bicultural, because they’re completely the opposite from one another.
James West: That borders on titillating for other reasons, but, so tell me: what is the theme, what is the coverage, what is it that you’re looking to explore thematically as a magazine? Is it lifestyle?
Derek Riedle: Well, look: people have been living in the cannabis closet for years and years, and now governments are giving people the legal ability to enjoy cannabis, but we’re really looking on the social license. For far too long, cannabis culture has really been confined to the stereotypes: you know, if you consume cannabis, you’re a stoner, you’re a slacker, when in reality we know the picture is much broader than that. But these people have been in the cannabis closet.
So we treat cannabis, we always have treated cannabis, like it’s a post-prohibition substance to talk about. From Day One, we’ve approached it that way. So we consider it cannabis information for grownups.
James West: Sure. So what do you do in Venice that you do differently in New Brunswick?
Derek Riedle: [laughs] Well, I wear my shorts in January, but I don’t wear my shorts in January in New Brunswick. Look, both of those communities play a vital role to what we do. The mindset in New Brunswick, Canada, is inexplicably different from that in Los Angeles, and that kind of keeps us honest, because our readers are everywhere. They’re in big cities, they’re in small cities, they’re in the Midwest, in the fly-over states. So the thing that I value the most about the two locations that we live and work in is that it keeps us grounded with those communities, and it keeps us connected to the different facets of cannabis culture.
James West: Sure. Is there a difference between the culture in cannabis in the southwestern United States versus northeastern Canada and all points in between? Or is it more or less uniform?
Derek Riedle: No, it’s radically different, not just in those two locations, but, you know, state to state and sometimes county by county in certain states. California has had recreational cannabis since 1996, medical cannabis since 1996. But it really masks a rec market. It’s pretty easy to get a medical recommendation.
James West: Right.
Derek Riedle: So it’s very evolved. The products, the attitudes… before Prop 64 passed in California and cannabis became legal last January, we used to say you could smell cannabis from time to time in California. Now it’s what California smells like. So it’s much more advanced.
James West: Sure. Okay, so what are the effects, besides the obvious, that cannabis has had on culture generally, and particularly on you?
Derek Riedle: Look, for me, my personally cannabis story, I did my field trials when I was in college, kind of left it alone and went to work in the advertising world, which is a real drinking culture. You always go for a beer, let’s get a drink after work; it’s certainly, even though we had some creative arts, it wasn’t a full-on cannabis-friendly environment.
Fast-forward in my mid-thirties, my wife Terri and I had a couple of small kids at that point, and you know, I’m from New Brunswick. Friday night and Saturday night means a couple of beers with the boys.
James West: Sure.
Derek Riedle: And with family and friends. And in my mid-thirties, that became a little too hard. Couple of beers on Friday and Saturday night, we had it awful hard to be up and be present with my children on Saturday and Sunday mornings. So it was a fellow father friend of mine who said “why don’t you try cannabis instead?” And gradually, I’m somebody who now, I’m a weekend warrior on cannabis, and I really rarely drink. I don’t like hangovers, and I certainly don’t like empty calories and sugar.
James West: Cool. What does the human resource infrastructure look like at Civilized? What do you have, writers, photographers, videographers?
Derek Riedle: Yes, yes, yes, Yes.
James West: Do you have people who go out and test the product in the field? Where do you draw the line? What don’t you do, what don’t you cover?
Derek Riedle: Look, we’ve got our whole suite of administrative people and editorial leadership comes out of Los Angeles, but a lot of the written product comes out of New Brunswick. We use freelancers from across North America. So we have 20 in total right now, and I believe there was 20 new job postings that went up earlier today.
James West: Oh really?
Derek Riedle: So we’re –
James West: I might have to look that up.
Derek Riedle: I don’t know if we could afford you.
James West: [laughs] That’s a good attitude. Thanks very much, Derek.
Derek Riedle: Thank you.
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