48North Cannabis Corp (CVE:NRTH) (OTCMKTS:NCNNF) CEO Alison Gordon discusses their facility’s progress and differentiating plant genetics sourced from a Netherlands-based phyto-pharmaceutical company. The first female CEO of a Canadian cannabis corporation also provides her opinion and expertise on North American cannabis culture, the movement from flowers to consumer based goods, the cannabis preferences of the Millennial generation, and how Federal legalization will effect the black market.
James West: My guest right now on this next segment is Alison Gordon is here. She’s the CEO of 48North Cannabis Company!
Alison Gordon: Thank you!
James West: Thank you for coming today [laughter], Alison. It’s been what, two weeks since we’ve seen you?
Alison Gordon: I don’t know. Too long, too long.
James West: Yeah, what’s new in the world of 48North Cannabis?
Alison Gordon: Lots is new. We were actually just out at the facility on Monday, and we are growing some amazing plants out there. It’s really exciting, actually. I told you last time that we had brought in genetics from the Netherlands, and those were being phenotyped. So going into the Mother room and seeing these amazing plants, I’m really excited for us to have some different genetics than everyone else out there.
James West: Yeah.
Alison Gordon: So that’s super exciting. Always great to see it.
James West: So what kind of genetics have you got, exactly?
Alison Gordon: Well, we’ve got 17 cultivars that we’ve brought in from seed from the Netherlands, so it’s a lot of different stuff. I won’t sit here and –
James West: Do they have names?
Alison Gordon: You want me to start naming all of them?
James West: Well, names are the coolest part about the different strains.
Alison Gordon: So there’s the Green Crack.
James West: You’ve got Green Crack? We were just talking to Justin in California, he’s got Green Crack!
Alison Gordon: We’ve got the Girl Scout Cookies…
James West: You’ve got the Girl Scout Cookies?
Alison Gordon: We do.
James West: That’s my favourite.
Alison Gordon: We have DNA Kosher Kush – although, probably not DNA’s Kosher Kush, but that is their strain, so we have the kosher kush, which is exciting, and a whole bunch more of really great stuff. Some high CBD, we’re just like, growing like mad.
James West: Okay, this brings me to, like, a tangential question that doesn’t have anything to do with anything really, but…
Alison Gordon: Yes?
James West: I read in, I think it was a, oh, I can’t remember, it was one of the online cannabis publications had suggested, somebody wrote an article saying all this that you hear about, you know, sativa being more light and poppy as a buzz and indica being more heavy and physical is all complete, utter bullshit.
Alison Gordon: Right.
James West: It’s not true, they can be anything; one can be the other, and they can share characteristics. And it’s like, for me, I’ve always noticed that when I want to be functional, I smoke a sativa, and if I don’t care about being functional and I’m looking to just relax in the most profound way, indica better serves that purpose.
Alison Gordon: I love coming on this show because I feel like a Doctor of Marijuana and of Cannabis, and I often wonder, do the other CEOs – like, are you like, “Bruce Linton, do you find that the indica is?” But I do actually know this stuff, because I am part of the cannabis culture and I am a cannabis user, and I will say that I think in any plant-based medicine, people will react differently.
So it is the case that from all the qualitative reporting, people find sativa makes you less sleepy, less heavy, but of course, any individual could have a different reaction to a sativa or an indica. But it is the case, I mean, through reporting; but that’s the exciting thing about where we are now in Canada, and as the US sort of evolves is, we’re actually going to have research and data that will back up all of that we know. And really I think what would be interesting, and next time I come back I’ll bring this with me, we use a group called Strainprint, they’re awesome. And they are tracking what people are using, how they feel, how it’s helping with stuff. So they’re accumulating a ton of data on that. So let’s take a look and find out if it’s the case, but yes, most people do report that a sativa doesn’t make them feel as tired or heavy, and the indica is more of that, like, you know, traditional stoner thing.
James West: Yeah. So the –
Alison Gordon: And sativas, by the way, are very – are more rare, in terms, at least I find in the LP system in Canada, you’re not finding as many pure sativas.
James West: Right.
Alison Gordon: And so the question of the person who wrote this piece, you know, did someone say this was a sativa and it was more of a hybrid? Like, where did they come up with this – are they scientists?
James West: Right, well, that’s just it. There are a lot of people throwing around scientific information who –
Alison Gordon: Like myself.
James West: Well, I mean, it’s interesting. I mean, as we develop an understanding, we all move forward into more understanding of cannabis and its effects at a personal health level, at a metaphysical level, collectively as a society…but the interesting thing that I’m observing everywhere I go is, everybody has their own version of what cannabis is and how it evolved.
Alison Gordon: For sure. Because it’s interesting, like, there are people that I really respect and are friends, like Mark Richardson or Hillary Black, who’ve been working with the plant and patients for, you know, 25, 30 years, but it wasn’t as though people were recording data and names. Like, everything was underground. So you can have those conversations, and I do, because I believe truly to run a cannabis company, I believe for me, I couldn’t run a company that I don’t understand the product myself or understand what – how people engage with it. So in that same way, I wouldn’t set out to try and, you know, make a car if I know nothing about cars.
So for me, I have these conversations. So all of this information is out there, it’s just not been reported – hasn’t been typically reported. So it’s exciting as the world is completely changing and we’re alive for this, to see that people are actually going to keep track of it.
James West: I know. One of the things that I see or keep hearing from different CEOs is that now you’re going to be able to actually sort of clinically measure the effects of different dosages and different strains on yourself and arrive at a, you know, a sort of perfect combination for your own personal sort of composition.
Alison Gordon: Yeah, I think we talked about this last time, that I’ve seen all sorts of technology where, you know, the vape is connected to your phone and you can sort of set it at exactly the dose you want, and then you can record how you felt, so you can adjust it and you can keep working with it till you get where you want to get to. So I mean, I’d love to see how that’s all going to play out, because really – and we’ve discussed this before, as well – when you’re buying cannabis or certain strains and using it, if someone else grew it, there would be different, or it’s grown under different conditions, it would all be different. So I’m very curious to see how it’s going to be as precise as people think it will. But again, I’m not a science person. I think at the molecular level you could do that, but I guess with flower it would be hard to get it so precise.
James West: Yeah, so I just spent a week in California in Los Angeles and then in Oakland and San Francisco. We went and visited the MedMen store, and among the many goodies I bought there was, I bought chocolate-covered blueberries.
Alison Gordon: The Terra…
James West: Yeah, they were two and a half grams of THC.
Alison Gordon: They were one of the originals in California back when we were actually running that dispensary, that was one of the first brands that kind of came out there.
James West: So just for clarity’s sake, Alison owned…
Alison Gordon: I worked for the company, not owned.
James West: Oh, you worked for the company, not owned, I’m sorry, the Santa Monica location of MedMen that we were just at last week.
Alison Gordon: In West Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard.
James West: That’s right. And that’s the one we visited, and that’s where I bought substantially all of my goodies. The other location we went and visited was Jetty Extracts, and they gave us, like, care packages to go because we were there with all these cameras shooting –
Alison Gordon: It’s a different world in California, right?
James West: It is so – like, I’ve never received a care package of all the site visits I’ve done in Canada, because obviously, CEOs are not going to risk their license just to give me a care package. And we’ve never really asked for one. We always jokingly do, but I don’t think they’ve ever taken us seriously.
So you never know. So I’m looking forward to October 17th!
Alison Gordon: Yeah, I don’t know about care packages then. But yeah, California is just, to see it evolve – so that dispensary we purchased in 2014. This is not only prior to California going rec, but prior to them even changing some of the regulations around you being able to not be a not-for-profit. So you still had to be a not-for-profit; this store had been shut down for sort of tax reasons, and it was really one of four legally permitted in all of Los Angeles, because West Hollywood was the only municipality within sort of the greater Los Angeles area that had given out permits.
So we had purchased this dispensary – I don’t even want to say for what price, because it could make you cry thinking what it’s valued at now – but the vision was a bit early, because for investors, it was like, what? It’s a not-for-profit, and how does that work? It was like, no, no, no, no: California is 49 percent of the North American cannabis market. This is one of four legally permitted.
James West: California is 49 percent of the North American cannabis market.
Alison Gordon: Yes, yes.
James West: Wow. Now, are you saying that on the consumption side, on the demand side?
Alison Gordon: Yeah, like from an economic standpoint: the selling, the buying, you know, all of that. It makes up 49 percent of the market.
James West: Wow, so a pretty important market, then.
Alison Gordon: It’s a hugely important market, and that store in particular, like, that experience for me was fundamental to what I’m doing at 48North, because when we first bought it, it was 4,000 square feet, as you saw; it’s huge. And everything in there was made by the bud tenders when we first purchased it. So I think I told you this last time: lemon squares just wrapped in cellophane with a sticker. And then I was like, okay, this is, you know, whatever. Then very quickly sort of the Terra blueberries and Kiva and Venice Beach Cookie Company, this stuff started to come in, and it was packaged, and it was branded, and it was like, okay: this is a consumer packaged goods industry. You know, the sales wound up going from something like 30 percent of sales being extracted products to upwards of 50 percent being the edibles, the vapes, the topicals, the pet stuff. And so that’s where, very early, because this was like, 2014, 2015, I was like, this is all going to be about branding and packaging and products. In Canada, everyone thought I was mental, because it was still medical, it was still just flower and the limited extract, and no marketing and branding. So now I sort of smile as everyone’s like, “We’re a CPG company!” Which is great, because it is a packaged goods industry.
James West: Sure. Sure.
Alison Gordon: Yeah, I mean, you have to supply the OCS and everything must be very, you know –
James West: Has to look good. Has to look pro.
Alison Gordon: Packaged stuff. Well, I don’t know if it will – you know, it will look professional. I don’t know how beautiful it will all look.
James West: Well, that’s interesting. So the Jetty Extracts place, and all of the extracts, so, you know, it’s interesting, because I’m really following this idea that everything’s going to extracts and edibles and away from just premium dried flower.
Alison Gordon: Yeah.
James West: Which, okay, that’s probably true, because smoking has other issues associated with it. You know, it makes your throat hurt, it makes you cough like crazy.
Alison Gordon: And young people, you know, in North America, I think – I don’t know the statistics, but aren’t cigarette smokers, so it isn’t that okay, natural in sync to go towards smoking, and the ease of use of a disposable vape, and it’s discreet…like, I think all of that sort of convenience for Millennials is big.
James West: Yeah. The one thing that I’ve noticed, however, is that they’re able to deconstruct cannabis into its constituent parts, but then when they reconstitute it, I have yet to encounter any vape product that comes anywhere near a properly distilled sort of, like, we used to call it Green Crack. We used to call it honey oil, which is essentially when you take all of the trichomes that have stuck to you while you’re trimming –
Alison Gordon: Right, like a Kief.
James West: And you dissolve it in alcohol, let the alcohol evaporate slowly and at room temperature. You end up with a whole oil, an oil that contains all of the terpenes that the flower expressed –
Alison Gordon: Yeah, everything, right.
James West: And so the flavour experience of that is one of the aspects that I am watching disappear in this whole evolution and going, ‘Noooooooo!’ And it’s like, is that going to keep happening? Or is somebody going to go wait a sec, you can have these, you know, cannabinoids as ingredients if you deconstruct them and reconstruct them. But there’s always going to be a market – I think there is going to become a market – for a real connoisseur-level whole oil.
Alison Gordon: I hope so. I mean, like yourself, I really hope so. Sometimes I think about the fact that we all eat apples that don’t really taste like apples, right, and nobody really talks about it and you just buy those apples and you don’t even give a second thought to the fact, like, well, when I was a kid these tasted like apples, not genetically modified things that can sit nicely on a shelf. But we don’t talk about it, and we still buy the apples.
But yeah, I hope that –
James West: I don’t buy the apples.
Alison Gordon: You don’t buy – oh, you’re organic, I forgot, I forgot, you’re organic.
James West: I’ve been so organic.
Alison Gordon: But I think for what you’re speaking to, in Canada, on the extraction side with the C02 or the ethanol, so you’re going to lose the terpenes through the methods that are allowed here. When you talked about, I don’t know if you did it or friends did it with the alcoholic – can you imagine trying to do that on a mass scale? That’s, you know, it’s not a mass produced –
James West: No. we used to do it on a Pyrex dish on my stove with, you know, after 15 plants.
Alison Gordon: It’s not as efficient as a massive C02 machine. So yeah, I think that we’re going to have to see – what I think will have to happen is, on the distribution and retail side, an acknowledgement that these things are something the consumer wants. Because right now, and I won’t highlight any particular province, but when you’re saying okay, we’re going to buy – we’re just talking about flower right now, but you know, the greenhouse at $2.50 a gram and sort of mid-quality indoor at $4.00 a gram and the top top at $5.00 a gram, well, you’re not really leaving room for a craft or cannabis – like, grow, or to be able to do these intricate things.
So in many ways it has to come from that end to allow us to be as, you know, licensed producers, to be able to invest the time and money and not sort of do what’s quickest and cheapest. But that’s not what seems to be on the horizon right now.
James West: Right. Which sort of brings me to a question for you, a bit of a convoluted one, but so, if at least a large part of the impetus for legalized recreational cannabis was to defeat the other illicit sources that funded criminal enterprises, for want of a better word, then wouldn’t you agree, then, that these limitations as to how we are able to create product and deliver it to the regulated market are going to be the make or break point at which the illicit enterprises continue or fail? Because if I can’t get the super-premium whole oil that I’ve grown up loving –
Alison Gordon: Then you’ll get it on the black market.
James West: I know where to get it.
Alison Gordon: You would never.
James West: No, I would never!
Alison Gordon: You know, I’m going to give you the diplomatic answer, which is, of course, if consumers have a choice, price would impact it and also choice of how they want to consume. If they can’t get it in the legal market and they’ve already been getting it in this robust black market, it’s logical to think they’ll go there. But, the diplomatic side, which, you know, is real, is that it’s not easy for the Federal government to legalize this entire, you know, cannabis world, really. I mean, I think we could be sitting there, if the Federal government had said no problem, October 17th make whatever you want, however you want, food, this, that and the other – you and I would be sitting here going, is it going to be safe? Who’s checking if the food is right? Like, nobody’s going to love that either. So, how do you start melding these departments together? I mean, at 48North, we’re very interested in the cosmetic and skin care side, because of our focus on the female market. And that’s such a huge thing in the US, you know, Vogue Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times all saying CBD is the next big skin care ingredient. And you can see that, it’s amazing, and so for us we’re trying to figure out, and we’re formulating, and that’s awesome, and coming up with very unique formulations on the skin care side. But we don’t yet understand when that will be in the Canadian market, what will that look like, how will that interact with other regulatory bodies that are, you know, currently part of the cosmetic world.
So you have to imagine that over at the Federal government and Health Canada, they’re like, trying to figure it all out. Just fingers crossed that we can get there.
James West: Right, right. As a CEO who interacts with Health Canada officials on a regular basis, do you get the sense from them that they are open to finding a way to broaden the product sort of profile of what’s available in Canada and what’s not, as soon as rationally expected to be possible?
Alison Gordon: Yes, I actually do. I mean, look: I’m on the board of the industry association, so we meet with the Office of Medical Cannabis, and in terms of that department, everybody is really also looking forward to expanding the program, but understandably, they have a huge monumental task there in terms of all the applicants that they’re still processing, all the expansion, all the inspectors, all the compliance…like, I can’t even begin to imagine. And yes, they’ve actually been amazing, and they really want to serve us and help as much as they can, but as you can imagine, they’re growing to meet the demand, but now you have, let’s say, 45 new government employees that are looking at massive applications and expansions and people who are trying to figure out what products they can create and things they can do.
But yes, in terms of what you’re asking me, I don’t get the sense of ‘forget it’. Like, for a few years, I’ve been talking to them about this idea, exactly what you just said: patients to wipe out the black market, and patients also want a variety of options beyond just smoking and, you know, some of the tinctures. And they know that, but you know, there’s also regulation…it’s…
James West: Right. Is there a sense, do you get the sense that the Office of Medical Health –
Alison Gordon: Cannabis. OMC.
James West: Cannabis, is looking for more clinical data to be available before they license products like topical creams? Or –
Alison Gordon: I have not heard that.
James West: Okay.
Alison Gordon: They might, I guess, want to – I don’t know about topicals. I mean, I think probably there’s more investigation on the edible side, but I think topicals, again, it’s more, especially if it’s non-psychoactive, it would be less. It has to meet all the regulatory, which whatever that will be when that happens, but I don’t think the topical is as much, probably, a concern. I don’t – nobody has told me that.
I mean, it depends. Like if you’re talking about a patch that has an activated THC, or if you’re talking about a CBD cream that, you know, can help with your arthritis. And my hope, of course, is that CBD will be classified, ultimately, as a natural health product. That’s, you know –
James West: Right. It’s interesting to me that CBD, with no psychotropic effects, is nonetheless still not broadly available in Canada.
Alison Gordon: Legally.
James West: Legally, right, exactly. But you know, yet it’s just such a – it’s becoming such a well-known, at least at this stage, homeopathic remedy that I can’t believe it’s things like legislation that are holding up the advancement of our understanding of this.
Anyways, we’re going to have lots of opportunity to talk about that. Alison, we’re going to –
Alison Gordon: Do you use the CBD creams?
James West: I haven’t – nobody’s given me one yet.
Alison Gordon: I don’t have any.
James West: Oh you don’t have any? Come on, help a brother out here.
Alison Gordon: You were in California!
James West: No, you know what? I was so, like –
Alison Gordon: I mean, I don’t know if you have any pain or bruising or shoulder soreness, but there are some amazing products out there in California – legal, and you can try them when you’re there.
James West: Yeah. I mean, I was in ‘kid in a candy store’ mode when I was there, and believe me, topicals were not on my mind.
Alison Gordon: Was this your first time in California?
James West: No, but it was my first time in California since cannabis was so widely available.
Alison Gordon: Right. So like, okay, since legalization.
James West: Yeah.
Alison Gordon: So you must have been really, like, oh my gosh…
James West: Oh, yeah, no, I was like – especially since you’re going down there all like, yeah, I’m from Canada, the first G7 country to have Federal legislation. And then you walk into one of those stores and you’re just like – yeah. I’m from Canada, and it’s kind of embarrassing, like I mean, yes, we’ve got Federal legislation, but it’s laughable. The range of products that are going to be available, and the sort of, you know, provincial approach to things where, you know, the Nova Scotia Liquor Board announced that they were going to be the first province to allow cannabis and liquor products combined into one. And it’s like, oh, okay, we’re just going rogue nation here within the country.
Alison Gordon: It’s interesting.
James West: Isn’t it? And so, you know, and then you look at California where it’s just like, first make it, and then we’ll let you know if there’s a reason to make it illegal. But it’s like, basically the whole approach there is opposite. It’s like you go ahead and make whatever you want; if there’s a reason for us to outlaw it, we’ll do that after the fact. I mean, it’s not like you’ve got to submit everything to this government approval process and they decide that, okay, now you can sell it to people.
Alison Gordon: Right.
James West: Which is kind of crazy.
Alison Gordon: Yeah. They all have their challenges, for sure. I mean, California, it’s just this massive market. People have grown for generations, now you’re trying to say, okay, you need to be licensed, you have to do it this way, you can’t do it that way…like, I’ve always felt like California just scared me in terms of, how would they possibly get a handle on that. But it’s there. It’s exciting.
James West: Check out one of these other videos here or subscribe to our channel. Or better yet, visit our new website at midasletter.com. Thanks for watching.
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