“I have to say it's remarkable that I can refer to myself as a cannabis professor, which I think is one of the coolest job titles ever.”
— Rob Mejia
This episode's guest is Rob Mejia, author of The Essential Cannabis Book: A Field Guide for the Curious, and adjunct professor at Stockton University, teaching a class in how to get internship in the cannabis industry has proven popular. Rob has a lot going on: We discuss job prospects in the industry; how to talk with people about cannabis; Rob's current cannabis culinary interests (CBD-infused condiments); his work with graphic artists in the cannabis space, and more.
Kannaboomers (00:00): It's Tom. Welcome back to the Kannaboomers Podcast. This week we have Rob Mejia back. Originally we had Rob on the show last year when we were talking about his book, The Essential Cannabis Book. Interesting foreshadowing on that title now that cannabis has been seen as essential during this pandemic. We'll talk about that and we're also talking about Rob's new position as an adjunct professor at Stockton University in New Jersey where he's now teaching a class on how to get an internship in the cannabis industry. He's coaching his students on how to have conversations with people who might not be receptive to cannabis. He's telling them how to build a network and he's also giving webinars at Georgetown. Actually, Rob has his finger in many pies. He has a line of CBD-infused condiments that he's bringing to market. He's representing graphic artists who specialize in cannabis and he's blogging elsewhere. So he's a guy who doesn't sit still. It's kind of amazing and we're glad to have him back. Enjoy the show and I want to remind you to sign up for our weekly newsletter, 5 Boom Friday so you'll always know who the next guest is and other tidbits and leave us a review at Apple podcast or Stitcher or wherever you listen. And thanks again to Danny and Milwaukee for making a sound good.
Kannaboomers (01:08): This is Let's Talk About Weed, the Kannaboomers Podcast, CBD, microdosing and all things related to medical cannabis for baby boomers from San Diego. Here's your host, Thomas J. It's Tom. We're welcoming back to the podcast. Rob Mejia. Hey Rob, how are you?
Rob Mejia (01:25): I'm doing well. Tom, how are you?
Kannaboomers (01:26): Pretty good. Hanging in there during the early part of the pandemic, I guess who knows how long this will go, but how are you doing with social isolation?
Rob Mejia (01:35): Well, I suppose like everyone, it's a challenge on a daily basis and there are things you just have to kind of muscle through sometimes and there's definitely waves of panic, concern, hopefulness. It just goes up and down on a day to day basis sometimes I don't know what's going to come.
Kannaboomers (01:53): I saw a chart the other day about the use of unprecedented and it's at unprecedented levels.
Rob Mejia (02:01): You're speaking about cannabis?
Kannaboomers (02:03): We got you back on because you're doing something new. You are teaching cannabis to students.
Rob Mejia (02:08): I am, I have to say it's remarkable that I can refer to myself as a cannabis professor, which I think is one of the coolest job titles ever.
Kannaboomers (02:15): That's amazing. So where are you teaching?
Rob Mejia (02:18): I am teaching at Stockton University, which is in Southern New Jersey. It's relatively close to Atlantic City and it is a four-year state school. We do have graduate programs. It is a research institution and it's a great place to teach. There is such a remarkable community and spirit there and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
Kannaboomers (02:38): Boy, that sounds ideal. Given the circumstances, did you have a chance to be in the classroom or are you, have you been all virtual to this point?
Rob Mejia (02:46): Well, the class started back in January and it was actually set up as what they call a hybrid course. And so with a hybrid course you do meet in person, but then you do a lot of the work online. So that actually was turned out to be, I had no idea that having to plan out online activities would be so important. When it came to March. So my basic schedule was I would drive down there on Mondays. On Monday we would have a class lasting roughly an hour and a half and then during the week they had assignments that they would have to complete. And then we would go over those again. On Monday we would do in class quizzes, we would do a little segment called 'This Week in Cannabis,' which was actually a lot of fun to keep the students up to date on what is happening in the cannabis world, both domestically, internationally, what's happening in New Jersey, what's happening in the job market. So those are all the things we kind of covered. So I had the opportunity to meet with the students about seven or eight times and then the schools closed and we went totally online. And so now I am becoming a Zoom master.
Kannaboomers (03:51): I bet. Well, I'm glad you got to meet them. I mean certainly in person you can read body language and intuitively know if a student gets it or if you need to drill a little deeper. I'm sure there's, there's challenges to online teaching. I bet
Rob Mejia (04:04): There definitely are. You can't read the room as easily. And of course there's all kinds of different circumstances. Some students keep their camera on, some keep their camera off, some mute themselves, some don't. And so it really is kind of hard to see where they are. Although we do have an open little chat forum that we keep going during the class. And I can always tell if things are going well because I'll see a bunch of chatter about either questions they have or someone will contribute something to somebody else's response. Or somebody will just say something so funny and clever that we actually do have some fun. And you can tell at that point, I think via the comments as to how engaged they are.
Kannaboomers (04:45): And unlike some mandatory courses, this is a course that I'm, I imagine people are very motivated and excited about.
Rob Mejia (04:53): They are, although I should back up a minute and say that this is part of a cannabis minor. And so Stockton University was the very first university to actually put a minor in cannabis studies in place and they did it in such an intelligent way. I've seen other schools that have a cannabis education now there's roughly about 20 something schools that have jumped in. But the thing that's unique about Stockton is that their minor in cannabis studies actually enhances any major you have. And so I have students who are majoring in journalism, English, science, marketing, sustainable studies, you name it, and their focus really is on that major. But then the nice part is the minor, which is comprised of five different courses, including one internship, either onsite somewhere or remote, that really adds a nice flavor and enhances their major. So if you, so if you're a good writer and you're an English major for example, maybe you work on content, maybe you work on updating website content. There are just so many opportunities and having that that taps into what your major is and your presumably your major passion. That really makes sense.
Kannaboomers (06:03): Yeah, that's a really interesting way to structure it. It's not straight chemistry or straight law or anything, but I get what you're saying. I mean you could major in chemistry and then have this minor and be well positioned when you get out if you want it to go into the industry.
Rob Mejia (06:17): That's exactly right. And we actually have a lab on campus and so I do have a chemistry major and for the last couple of years she has been involved in lab work and she's been testing potency of different CBD products. So she's getting actual real hands on knowledge of lab protocol and safety and being able to use all the equipment and reporting. And that puts her in such good shape that I know she's going to have about five different job offers as soon as this semester is over.
Kannaboomers (06:46): So is your class kind of Cannabis 101, do you get into the science of it or the business or is it a kind of an overarching intro?
Rob Mejia (06:55): My class is actually called Preparation for Cannabis Internship and so, and so basically what I do, I'm definitely very involved in trying to help them get jobs. So we do some of the nitty gritty of how to write a pitch letter, what to say in an email pitch to someone, let's shape up your resume, let's do some interview practice. We also talk about small business practices, but the bulk of the class actually is introducing students to jobs that they don't think are out there. So I think most students when they walk into class, they think, well I can, I can work in a cultivation operation. I can work in a processing slash lab or I can work in a dispensary. And so part of my goal and part of what I do is I take individual weeks and we do go over those three major parts of the employment market. But then we also look at things like hospitality. We look to support things like a delivery, installation of security cameras. We look at international opportunities. So, really my goal is to have them walk in with an idea of what they might want to do and when they walk out, maybe that's affirmed or maybe they've decided, I really learned a lot about hospitality and I now want to learn how to cook with cannabis, for example. And I've had a couple of students that do that, so I really want to open them up to the idea that there are so many facets to the cannabis industry and where you should go is somewhere where you're passionate about it somewhere where it works with your major. And that there definitely will be opportunities there. We also build up a community in the classroom where that really is our network. So I said the first day, look around and these are people who are going to be your bosses, your co employees, the networks that will help you get your first job. And so we really do do a lot of work with teams and to really build up kind of a cannabis community within our classroom.
Kannaboomers (08:49): Boy, what a great opportunity for your students to have sort of that vocational footing while learning about the industry. And I know there's a lot of interest in this. Among my downloads, I looked at my analytics and I had Andrew Ward, author of Cannabis Jobs on a couple of months ago and that's got a lot of downloads. It's in the top three. So you're in the hot spot. I mean there's a lot of interest right now.
Rob Mejia (09:12): There is actually, what's interesting is I do have a bunch of guest speakers that come in and Andrew Ward was one of my guest speakers. I actually use his book in my class along with the book that I wrote, The Essential Cannabis Book. And so I had Andrew come in and talk to the students. And one thing that they particularly liked was that Andrew had a good list of sources that you can tap into to keep up to date on what's happening in the cannabis industry. So he had a couple of people who were very good with blogs and policy. For example, he had people who talked about medical, we had people who talked about research. He listed a couple of cannabis publications. So it was sort of nice, at the end of the class, students had a list of about six, seven, eight really good resources to look at if they want to keep up to date and knowledgeable about what's happening in the cannabis industry. And in addition to, I'm sorry, you got an addition to Andrew. I've also had local business people come in who are starting dispensaries. I had a cannabis journalist come in. I had an ex Giants football player come in Amani Toomer, who's on, who's on board for one of the local dispensaries here. So we've really had the opportunity to have people come in who are working in the industry and who need employees.
Kannaboomers (10:26): And that forward-looking aspect too because it is moving fast and it's changing fast. You know, I had a recent guest, Andrea Holmes who's an organic chemist, and she was saying, you know, almost every day she is finding new science. What's a cannabinoid? Is there a good definition because they keep finding new ones as we come out of this pandemic. You know the interesting thing, it's essential knowledge. Cannabis has been recognized as essential. That would have been unheard of two years ago. And for it to have come so far so fast is amazing. And so your students are going to be very well positioned.
Rob Mejia (10:59): They will. And the other other thing that's sort of strange is New Jersey has taken much longer to move their cannabis program forward than I thought, but it's actually kind of benefiting the students because right now we only have, and we're, we're a state that has a population of 9 million right now we have nine dispensaries that are open. That's it. But we do have 18 licenses that have been granted. And so right now as we speak, there are a number of big companies that are pouring their cement slabs for their cultivation operations. They're setting up their labs. They are setting up their dispensaries and all of them are going to need employees. And so what's strange is if you took the total number of jobs in cannabis in New Jersey right now, that is going to double or triple or even quadruple within the next about 18 months. So weirdly, the students that are getting out now with such a challenging economy, if they go into cannabis in New Jersey, it's probably the best job you could find other than maybe healthcare might be close. But yeah, cannabis is really starting to move here in New Jersey. We're also voting on adult use in November and it's expected to pass. The polls have favorability ratings of anywhere from 61 to about 64% depending on which poll you look at. And if we vote that in, that means there's going to be more and more opportunity.
Kannaboomers (12:19): Right? And we seem to talk about this every show, right? There were a hundred years of propaganda where we were told things that were just untrue. And as that rolls back and we take back the narrative, there's going to be a lot of growth in this industry as people realize that this is not the devil's lettuce. It's, it's a substance you can use every day. You don't have to get high if you don't want to. There's all kinds of benefits to it that are coming to light day by day.
Rob Mejia (12:44): Exactly. We actually covered stigma in our very first class and I told them, I said a couple of things. If you're in cannabis, first of all you're in the compliance business because anybody who works in cannabis knows how many rules, regulations and policies there are and how they might change day to day. So you, you're in compliance, in the compliance business. And then the second thing is you're an advocate. If you want to work in the business, you have a responsibility even within your family, your community within your school, depending on how far you want to take it. But to try to stand up for what cannabis is and to try to fight some of the stigma. And so we actually go through kind of a way to engage people to talk about cannabis. So there's, there's a kind of a five-step process that I give the students and I've been happy to hear that they've actually tried it with some of their relatives and other people to pretty good success.
Kannaboomers (13:37): That's a great piece of the curriculum. So do you mind sharing those?
Rob Mejia (13:41): That's of a secret recipe, Tom. Actually, what I tell them is, first of all, you have to establish what the person knows about cannabis and you want to listen to them very carefully and take notes of what their hesitation might be or what their positives might be. So first of all, you have to find out where they are. And so a simple question is, 'What do you know about cannabis? What do you know about marijuana? What do you know about hemp?' And someone will tell you about that. Once they do, our first step is actually to go there and, and stop for a minute and say, 'You know, can I tell you a little bit about the history of cannabis? Did you know that hemp has been one of the most cultivated crops in our world that has been around with us for 10,000 years?' And in fact hemp was a very integral part of the founding of America. And you can talk about the Jamestown colonists having to plant 100 stalks of hemp and send those to Britain in a form of tax. And that the ships that came here had a lot of hemp products on them from food to the ropes to the sails and it just goes to the clothing. It goes on and on and no one's going to have a beef with him. I mean, if you have a problem with a fiber, your conversation is not going to go. Not going to go beyond that. So I actually have little, like a little flow and it's like if you can't even talk about him, you probably should move on at that point. And then the second point we go through is about how cannabis, and particularly CBD in particular that is not intoxicating, has been helpful with epilepsy. And certainly once you explain about how it helps to handle epileptic seizures, again there, there is no one who is going to fight against medicine, particularly for a child who needs that kind of relief and it's been so effective. And then again, when you go from there, often the next step is to find out if they know someone else who's been using cannabis for health. And you will find that unfortunately quite a big number of people know someone who used it for relief for cancer for example. And then also you might know someone who's used it for opioid reduction. So at that point you've gotten pretty far in the conversation and hopefully you're making some good headway.
Kannaboomers (15:43): Yeah, that's a good map to have a constructive conversation. And, and I love that that's part of your curriculum is to, I mean you don't have to be a raging evangelists, but just be able to have a conversation with somebody and hopefully get them to see that this is a legitimate medicine.
Rob Mejia (16:00): And if anyone wants to see that, we actually have an infographic on our website, which is OurCommunityHarvest.com and you go to the resources section and we actually have several infographics there, but there is one about how to talk about cannabis and that actually includes the little flow chart that I alluded to.
Kannaboomers (16:17): Oh cool. We'll get that into the show notes for sure. So people can find that. So you're out there on the cutting edge. I mean I don't know how many schools across the country have a cannabis minor yet? Do you know, is this a big trend?
Rob Mejia (16:28): It is a big trend. There are actually just a handful of schools that have a minor, but the minors in the cases that I know of, they are based on curriculum that is either geared towards horticulture or science. There is not a single other university that I know of in the U.S. That's offering the broad curriculum that Stockton does. There actually are a few schools that offer majors as well. Northern Michigan and Colorado State University in Pueblo, but those are both very science-based, which, which is great. If you're a chemistry, bio, et cetera major, but if you're not, that may not be the path you want to go in. And then there's also a very, very popular class taught at university of Connecticut and it is an introduction to cannabis horticulture. And at one point that class had 400 students in it. When it went, they were appearing in person. Now they've had to go online, they have about 70, they have another section they're going to add and they may add yet another section. So the growing class at university of Connecticut is quite popular.
Kannaboomers (17:30): Well, and the science of it is necessary and compelling, but not everybody's a scientist. There are marketing aspects, there's business, there's law, you mentioned compliance, even design packaging. I mean there's so many aspects to this.
Rob Mejia (17:44): Absolutely. Which is glad that, which is why I'm glad that Stockton took that very broad approach. I think it's smart.
Kannaboomers (17:50): So you're setting your students up so they can go out and get internships and then hoping that those internships turn into full time jobs. I guess
Rob Mejia (18:00): That's part of it. But I've also taken a direct route where I do have a number of seniors, we have six graduating seniors. And for each one of them I've actually connected them with local employment opportunities and have personally sent their resumes with a recommendation to the employer. So part of, and I know this probably is going above and beyond, but I feel like part of my obligation is to connect with the cannabis companies that are, that are around us and to connect the students with them. And I like building those relationships too. And we do have that internship program that I mentioned where companies actually sign on and hopefully over time we'll be filling a pipeline. Our program is relatively new, so we do have, again, just six graduating seniors now, but over time we'll continue to have more and more. And as companies have direct needs, my vision is that they'll be contacting us and say, Hey, I need somebody in marketing. Do you have someone I need somebody who's interested in growing? Do you have somebody there? And that will be able to have a nice pipeline. It will be able to fill those spots for them.
Kannaboomers (19:00): Especially right now when there's 30% unemployment, you know, people are definitely going to be mindful of their job prospects going forward. So it's great that you are so active in helping them step out that way.
Rob Mejia (19:15): Absolutely. I enjoy it and certainly the students see the benefit and it's good to see them make progress on how they're pitching themselves and how they're defining their interest in experience in the cannabis market. Really. How their kind of branding and marketing themselves.
Kannaboomers (19:30): Do you have any feel for the future of this class? I mean, do you have a sense for the popularity of it? Do you expect that you'll, you'll be teaching it again next semester?
Rob Mejia (19:40): Well, I'm happy to say that it's a fall course, but I'm happy to say that enrollment started or registration started on April 9 and the course is already full and the waiting list is already filled as well. Next in the fall I'm going to be teaching the Introduction to Medical Cannabis class too. And I'm happy to say the same thing. It's all filled in. All the waitlist seats are filled as well.
Kannaboomers (20:02): Wow. So, you're teaching two classes next fall?
Rob Mejia (20:05): I will. And I'm actually in negotiation with another institution to possibly teach a third. So as with many things when, when Rob Mejia jumps in, he jumps in.
Kannaboomers (20:14): Yeah. And I know this isn't the only thing you do. You're kind of a Renaissance man. I mean you, you've been writing books, you're, you're big on cooking and you play a lot of tennis. So this is just one of the many, many things you're doing.
Rob Mejia (20:27): It is. I definitely like to keep myself busy and I like to do a lot of different things. And so actually within the last year, I did publish the Essential Cannabis Journal: Personal Notes From the Field. And that journal is designed primarily for medical patients who are tracking their consumption, but also possibly for people who are returning to cannabis. But it includes some content, like questions to ask your doctor methods of consumption, what are, what are popular strains you'll find in the dispensary and what to do if you get too high. And then most of the book are two-page spreads where you can track what product did I purchase, what was the potency, what symptoms, where was I trying to take care of? How did I feel five minutes into the process, 20 minutes, 30 minutes next day, et cetera? So it really makes you hopefully a smarter consumer.
Kannaboomers (21:17): I didn't realize that you had published a journal. I have your, your other book, but the journal makes so much sense. I mean I've talked about this before on other episodes too, but edibles tinctures, vaping different cultivars and the fact that we all have different genetics and the plant itself might be batch variable. So there's so many things to track and it just makes so much sense to track those things.
Rob Mejia (21:40): There definitely are. And to sort of supplement my other education or the education that I'm doing with Stockton and writing books, I still write my monthly article for Every Cannabis magazine in Spokane. And what's nice about that is I actually address questions from the readers and so I'm essentially their Dear Abby of cannabis and that I also write profiles about people who are working in the cannabis industry and I've uncovered some pretty amazing stories. Although what I find interesting is the column that I wrote that is the most popular is 'how to read labels on cannabis products.' And I specifically focused on how to read a label on a flower product in Washington because what happens is, especially people who are new, you go into a dispensary, it's exciting. If you're waiting in line, you might be a little nervous. You want to get out of there a little faster, you might not know what questions to ask. You get so much information and then you go home with all your child-proof containers, you open up the package and then you're trying to remember what, what is a terpene, what is this percentage, what does this mean? And so the article that I wrote that sort of guides people on how to read labels was by far the most popular
Kannaboomers (22:50): Because it is confusing. I mean a lot of the labels themselves aren't standard. I mean if you get a tincture, sometimes the eyedropper is marked so you know how many milligrams you're getting, but often it's not. And then you need to do some math and figure that out. So that's why I can understand why that particular article would be so popular.
Rob Mejia (23:10): Yeah, absolutely. And then I continue to do community outreach as well. So I was actually on a couple political panels, which was new for me. I was down in Atlantic City right before the state closed down the week before on a panel for candidate Bridget Harrison, who's running for the House seat in Southern Jersey. And District Two going against Jeff Van Drew, who switched from Democrat to Republican. So that promises to be a very interesting race. But Bridget is quite interesting in that she has one of the most forward thinking cannabis policies that I've seen along with Booker. She does want to see it not just legalized in New Jersey, but across the nation. And she also wants to see home grow and she wants to see social justice. It really was a very impressive stance. And so I was on a panel with her and actually got her a couple of panelists too. And then I was also here in Bergen County where I live in New Jersey and I was on a panel here for the Bergen County Democrats. So I find, I found that experience quite interesting and compelling. And then I still talk to any group who will have me. So I actually just spoke to EMTs. I spoke to the Rotary group and another retired group. So basically if anybody wants to have me talk, I show up.
Kannaboomers (24:24): Rob, are you spreading yourself thin here? Do you have some, you have a lot going on, man. I like to keep myself busy. That's really good. Just so much to talk about. I mean the journal, the politics, the classes you're teaching, and then you have Our Community Harvest. And then just your expertise about cooking with cannabis and infused dinners. Are you still doing that?
Rob Mejia (24:49): Uh pretty exciting things recently. So actually during the summer I partnered with a chef here who's, who's local and who is a cannabis enthusiast and he really knows how to put flavors together. So he and I actually put together an eight course CBD infused dinner. That was our first foray into the market. And what's interesting is we worked with Tweedle Farms with Andrew Gruver who knows a lot about CBD and flavors and terpenes. And so we actually matched up individual strains with each dish and they, we went through the laborious process of infusing all kinds of different oils and butters in order to match it with the food. So that was, that was step one. And that was a lot of fun. From there, the chef and I actually launched a line of CBD infused condiments. So we had a big barbecue outside. And then what happened is people had tickets and if they wanted CBD infused condiments, they gave us another ticket. And we went through the whole process, which took us about a month of infusing mustard ketchup, hot sauce and barbecue sauce. And I have to say those condiments were so delicious and really enhance the food. So, we did those, I've done those two events. And then literally days before New Jersey shut down, I was at a community college near Atlantic City where they have a very good hospitality and culinary program. And I had met their Dean, who's a very accomplished chef. And so we worked out a program where we had a CBD infused dinner on the, on the campus for about 30 people. And again, we had a five course dinner. It was educational, it was a lot of fun. And so my passion for cooking with cannabis certainly has not waned. And I continue to try to do kind of as much in that area as I can combining education with amazing flavors of cannabis.
Kannaboomers (26:41): Wow, that's really amazing how you've combined your passion for the plant and cooking and into an outreach program that syncs perfectly with your education outreach as well.
Rob Mejia (26:53): It does. And I do think the best thing is that, at those dinners, there are always a certain amount of people, probably about 25% I would say that talk to me before or after the dinner because they're caring for someone with medical cannabis and they like how sustainable it is. They like that they learn about dosing and so I connect with them and help them to to really feed and nurture the people that they're, that they're caring for. With medical cannabis.
Kannaboomers (27:18): I followed your recipe and we made some infused coconut oil that's in the fridge. Haven't used it too much yet. You mentioned the key lime pie and I'm crazy about trying that out. You gotta be a little bit of a mad scientist with this. I mean, you mentioned dosing and you do want to be able to tell somebody, okay, there's five milligrams of THC in there, or 10 milligrams of CBD or however you do that. How do you figure that out as you're, as you're going along?
Rob Meiia (27:45): Well then the nice part is that as is the case with the cannabis community, that I had someone who spent a lot of time with me, namely Laurie Wolf in Oregon who is a very accomplished cannabis chef. She's written for cooking with cannabis books, including one that is targeting just cooking for medical patients, but she knows her stuff. She's been writing recipes for decades. She knows how to combine flavor. She's just a wonderful hearted, good person to learn from. And the nice part is that she taught me early on, kind of a, a little system to go through that's fairly easy and I'll go through it now and if somebody wants more detail, they can go to my website or book. But essentially if you start with flower that is 15% THC or CBD and you infuse two cups of oil and you go through the process that I have outlined, you have to decarboxylated or another word for slow roasting and then you have to simmer it in the oil for an hour. But at any rate, once you go through those steps, the potency you get is 25 milligrams per tablespoon of the oil or eight milligrams per teaspoon of oil. So that makes it, that's a nice baseline in terms of dosing. And then what happened from there is that I started to do more cooking. And of course there's almost no strain that comes in just at 15% so I found myself with, you know, 17.2 18.4 or whatever. And it did take a lot of math. And so I worked with another chef and we came up with that dosing calculator that's on my website. So if you go to the OurCommunityHarvest.com website and look under cooking, you can plug in your numbers, you can plug in how much oil or butter you're infusing. You can put in the amounts, the serving amount, and it will tell you what the dose is. So I hope that people will take a look at that.
Kannaboomers (29:34): Yeah, that's a great resource. And then it's a good thing to have your journal there to record how it affects you. Absolutely. Always good to keep track of that. So you're going for the whole cradle to grave empire. You, you teach people about it and then you put on condiments and you have a journal that they can record it in. So you have a lot going on.
Rob Mejia (29:57): I do. And the other two things I should mention pretty quickly too is I actually did a, a webinar for Georgetown University back on August 1. And it was about jobs in the cannabis industry, but it also had history. It had definitions, it had methods of consumption. So it's kind of a course packed into an hour and 17 minutes. And the very gratifying part is usually those webinars sign up between a hundred and 150 people. I had 234, and then not just that, but to date it is the second most-watched webinar in the last year. So people are going to it on their own and they're, they're watching it an hour and 17 minutes of this with the PowerPoints. And then I've had people reach out to me to ask about employment opportunities and things like that. So that was a, that was a, a very good way to engage a number of people. And it looks like I'll be doing another follow-up session tentatively called Cannabis 2020 where we've been, where we're going, so that we'll probably, I'll probably be taping that in the next step next month. And then the other thing that's been a lot of fun, my profession for the last couple of decades has been in trademarking licensing and merchandising. And so I've worked with a number of publishers and I help them put their content or their images on products. Anything as diverse as plush toys, wallpaper posters. You mentioned it. I've probably licensed it. And so recently I just launched a new website called CannabisArtAndDesign.com and I signed on to represent pioneer cannabis artists. One is Pat Ryan and Pat Ryan has a brand called California Home Growers Association, which has kind of a takeoff on vegetable crates that you might've seen from the fifties and underneath that umbrella of California Home Growers Association, he has eight pieces of art and they all have kind of a cannabis theme to it that again, look like vegetable carts, crates. But he's been doing that since the eighties and so I thought, I want to work with somebody who's authentic, somebody who's been a real pioneer out there. So he was the first person that I signed on. And then the next one is Lawrence Cherniak and Lawrence actually is a hashish expert. He's written a couple of huge volumes about it and he's also a world traveler. He's a playwright and an artist and he really celebrates the leaf. And so if you like leaf artwork and you like things with interesting backgrounds Lawrence is your guy. So at any rate you'll see that we're going to put that content on tee shirts, shower curtains, blankets, you name it, to kind of celebrate the plant. So that's yet another thing that I'm doing in that area. And I was actually able to successfully register the trademark of California Home Growers Association as a U.S. Trademark.
Kannaboomers (32:47): Wow, that's cool. You're in the sweet spot that the whole idea of something retro with vegetable crates just sounds like marketing genius to me. We see the leaf everywhere, but a new spin on it gets bigger and bigger all the time. So you're definitely in the right place.
Rob Mejia (33:02): Yeah. I think one area that people really don't talk a lot about with cannabis is, is branding and trademarking. And certainly you can't trademark the plant, since it's federally illegal. So people will try to trademark ancillary products, t-shirts and that kind of thing. But even so it's still quite a challenge to get a trademark. It's become a little easier with a hemp legalization, especially with the 2018 ruling. So you do see more hemp products and hemp brands that are out there. But just like any consumer product at some point when cannabis is federally illegal across the whole nation, people are going to look for brands whether I'm here in New Jersey, California, Colorado. If there's something that I like and it works, I'm certainly going to seek it out.
Kannaboomers (33:43): Back to your condiments. Have you guys produced a line of condiments?
Rob Mejia (33:48): We did. We did. And we produced quite a number of them and we've actually just recently sold out. And then of course because the state closed down that sort of has stopped our operation at the moment and we'll see if we can pick it up. But we actually were going to start targeting restaurants because there were a number of restaurants, especially here in New Jersey where it is legal to infuse food and beverage with CBD. And there were certain chefs who wanted to include something CBD infused on their menu and what's easier than adding a condiment. So if somebody makes a fabulous burger, for example, why not enhance it with a little bit of ketchup and mustard?
Kannaboomers (34:23): Do you have a kitchen? Do you develop the product and then bring it to a mass producer? Or how do you get a product like that out?
Rob Mejia (34:31): Well, what's interesting is our first line, and we produced roughly about 200 six ounce jars of each of these different condiments. And it was just a chef and I, we used his restaurant kitchen and again, it took us, Oh, it took us about a month to do all this. You can imagine how much production there was between having to wash each of the individual jars that we did. Make sure those were sanitized to produce huge amounts of the infused product. And then to measure it to make sure that we had an equal amount in each one to do the labeling. We had so much labeling on each of these little jars. I pretty much took up every bit of real estate on the jars because you had to list ingredients, dosage, story behind it, the whole thing. So it just took a huge amount of work that that was one reason why we were going to make bigger items and sell them to restaurants rather than just sell them to individual customers.
Kannaboomers (35:28): Wow. The birth of a whole line of products for restaurants. That's cool.
Rob Mejia (35:32): Yeah. I hope people will engage with us after this all opens up again. We can actually start approaching restaurants again.
Kannaboomers (35:39): What else haven't we talked about, Rob?
Rob Mejia (35:41): We have actually covered so much ground. I think that's actually most of most of the activity that I've done in the cannabis space. The one other thing I probably should mention is that with schools having to go online, that looks to me to be a big opportunity. And so what I have been doing with a partner is developing some online cannabis courses that I'm now pitching to continuing ed departments, especially at community colleges. So for community colleges who, one of their missions is to prepare people for work. I thought, what if they could start offering cannabis courses so that they could start training their students to get out into the industry as well? So hopefully when we talk again next time I will have an empire of courses in the online community, community colleges,
Kannaboomers (36:26): Your reach becomes enormous in a time like this when people can't congregate and you've already got the content. So that makes a lot of sense to do that too.
Rob Mejia (36:36): It does. And there was also, when you look at, especially community colleges, really their curriculum sort of dictates what they're after. So there are some community colleges that specialize in health and wellness, so they'll have very big nursing programs or physical therapy programs. Some will have pharmacy tech programs, some will have veterinary medicine programs. And for them, the nice part of the curriculum is you have to give them an intro course because everybody needs the basics first of all. But then you can also tailor the courses and you can make it a core specifically for nurses or for somebody who wants to be a vet tech or somebody who wants to be in the pharmacy industry. So the nice part is that you can develop a suite of courses to start them and then from there you can customize to whatever that is a community college, whatever they specialize in.
Kannaboomers (37:22): Right. A nice foundational piece to put out there and something that's shareable across all kinds of platforms. Definitely. Well, there's going to be a lot in the show notes because you've given us a lot to talk about. And I want to give people links to your journal and all the sites you mentioned and the infographic and so on. So where can we find you online?
Rob Mejia (37:43): Let's see. Well, the main area is OurCommunityHarvest.com. That's my main website. And then even if you just Google at this point, Rob Meija, you'll, you'll see the places that I've spoken, you'll see by webinar from Georgetown. You'll see the journal. So really that's probably the best place to find me. And certainly on Amazon you can find my book and at local bookstores, a lot of websites and even in dispensaries and now in college campuses,
Kannaboomers (38:09): You're everywhere. And I know you're on Twitter too, cause I see you there.
Rob Mejia (38:13): I am, Twitter is OurComHarvest and I'll certainly be continuing to put out information there.
Kannaboomers (38:19): All right, well thanks for sharing all your expertise and, and updating us on your expanding empire.
Rob Mejia (38:26): I don't know if I'd call it an empire yet, but I'm trying to get there.
Kannaboomers (38:29): Yeah, it's all good stuff and I'm excited for your students. They'll be well prepared to go out into this brave new world where there are so many unemployed, and be able to help people find answers with cannabis. So that's very exciting stuff.
Rob Mejia (38:43): Absolutely. I have to say that teaching has been such a wonderful experience. My wife reminded me that this is what I wanted to do when I was 21, so it took me quite a long time, but here I am. You're back at it full circle.
Kannaboomers (38:55): Well, thanks a lot, Rob. Thanks for connecting with us again and good luck with your courses in the fall and onward and upward.
Rob Mejia (39:02): And thank you so much for your time, Tom. You do such a good job. I appreciate it. Awesome. Thanks a lot.
Kannaboomers (39:06): Thank you. You've been listening to, Let's Talk About Weed, the Kannaboomers podcast with Thomas J for more on medicinal cannabis for baby boomers. Visit us at [inaudible] dot com.
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