46 | Alex Halperin, Founder, WeedWeek


“The least interesting thing about marijuana is what happens after you smoke it.”

— Alex Halperin

We're mid-way through the journey from cannabis as an underground street drug to above-board legit medicine. What can we expect in the political, business and cultural realms as we move into the post-prohibition era? Alex Halperin, founder and editor-in-chief of WeedWeek weighs in on what's really happening in cannabis right now.

You can subscribe to WeedWeek's free newsletter's here.

Kannaboomers (00:00): Hey, it's Tom. Welcome back to the Kannaboomers Podcast. Our guest this week is Alex Halperin of Weedweek. Alex basically invented this publication so that he could cover all aspects of cannabis science, culture, business, everything about it because it is the story of our time. So we're glad to have him on and get his expertise. Watch for us on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or your favorite player, and come by and see us at Kannaboomers with a K dot com. Enjoy the episode. 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.

Kannaboomers (00:38): Hey, our guest this week is Alex Halperin of weed week. How are you doing Alex? Where are you? Well, there.

Alex Halperin (00:42): Thanks so much for having me.

Kannaboomers (00:43): Tell us about WeedWeek, how you guys got started, what your mission is and so on.

Alex Halperin (00:47): Sure. So I was a business journalist in New York in 2014 and marijuana wasn't a part of my life particularly, but I had caught wind of, you know, the sort of early stirrings of legalization. And I was pretty intrigued because it seemed like just like a sort of mega story and sort of the obvious parallel would be prohibition that, you know, would just have a huge impact on American life. And so at the end of the year, I wrote one story about the industry that year and then for fast company magazine. And then they sent me to MJ BizCon in November, 2014, which then is now sort of the biggest industry event. And I got there and I thought there are 3,500 people there. And I thought, this is an amazing story. I should, I should cover this.

Alex Halperin (01:52): And there were just so many dimensions to it. And I've often said since you know, it's a, it's a political story. It's a business story. It's a health and science. It's a story about social justice and who gets to get rich in America. And of course you know, a cultural story and that there's a rich vein of cannabis culture that doesn't necessarily get the respect that it deserves. And so just from a, from a journalistic perspective, it struck me as so interesting and I thought I should cover this. So I moved to Denver a couple months after that, which was then sort of the center of the legalization world and started writing about it for different publications, Fast Company, the Washington Post, the LA Times, different places like that. And not long after that I started writing a newsletter, weed week.

Alex Halperin (02:49): And we now have a very influential audience of about 11,000 folks and includes many, many leading figures in the industry. And we're, we, we hope you, it's free and we hope if they're interested that your, your audience will consider subscribing. We all say, I mean, we also publish, we also have a podcast, the weekly podcast and then newsletters focused on California and Canada. And we just hired our first full time reporter and she's publishing original reporting and analysis every day. So we've got lots to offer and most of it is free.

Kannaboomers (03:28): It is the story of our lifetimes really. I just signed up for your newsletter a couple of weeks ago and I'm impressed with the breadth and depth of it. It's not just business or science or culture, it's kind of all those things. It's very deep.

Alex Halperin (03:41): Yeah. I, I've sometimes said, and it sounds a little glib that the least interesting thing about marijuana is what happens after you smoke it. But, but I think, maybe in some ways that's also a little bit disrespectful because the truth is, while marijuana wasn't a part of my life when I started writing about it, it's become a part of my life. And I, I won't say it's for everyone and that, and I won't say necessarily, I'm not even sure that it has been sort of universally positive for me, but it has definitely been positive in, in some important ways. I mean, professionally, this has been a real flourishing for me. And it happened simultaneously with me using marijuana. And, you know, I'm not, I'm not going to attribute all of that to my use, but, but I'll attribute some of it.

Kannaboomers (04:38): Sure. How often do you use?

Alex Halperin (04:40): I would say a couple of times a week. It depends.

Kannaboomers (04:44): Do you, are you an indica or a sativa guy?

Alex Halperin (04:46): I don't really have a preference. I, I've, I've argued repeatedly that they don't really mean those distinctions don't really mean much, so that, that's not necessarily how I think about it. But it, you know, I, I smoke and I use, I use edibles. I used to, to vape more, although the vaping crisis put me off vaping.

Kannaboomers (05:13): Right. I've been dry vaping, which is different.

Alex Halperin (05:16): Yeah. No, I've done some of that too. Yeah.

Kannaboomers (05:18): You can kind of control the temperature and all that stuff. You've also got a book out recently, The Cannabis Dictionary.

Alex Halperin (05:25): Yeah. I hope folks will get the chance to check that out. But, essentially that was a chance to sort of take my approach to the cannabis news and sort of take a wider view of these plants, sort of thousands of years of history and how, how it is deeply entwined with human history. So we go back to ancient China where it was first used as a medicine and and then sort of Imperial England where him comprised the sails and the ropes of the British Navy, which, which punctured the world, but also some of the you know, the major cultural figures who have been associated with the plant that at various times. So like I really wide ranging look at cannabis that also tries to, as I try to do in, in my publication there's a lot of misinformation about the plant and trying to sort of cut through some of that. So, one example would be with the founding fathers. It, it, it seems like, you know, it's often been said that, you know, they, they smoked weed or the constitution is, is made on, made out of him. And I sort of determined that the founding fathers probably didn't smoke weed, but they certainly grew hemp. And while the Constitution is, is on parchment drafts of it and that the Declaration of Independence and other important documents of the time were almost certainly written on him.

Kannaboomers (07:04): Well, you mentioned misinformation and that sure is the case. I mean, the prohibition began in 1937 or so, but even before that, there was a curtailment of people's cannabis rights and we were all told ridiculous stories until the late eighties when the science began to catch up with it. So part of what you're doing, it seems to me is, is rewriting that narrative and maybe helping the feet, the stigma that is really still out there.

Alex Halperin (07:32): Yeah. You know I think I, I'm a proponent of fact-based information and that's what, what I what I care about in the world more broadly and very much in the cannabis world as well. And the amount to which it defeats the stigma, I think. I think it has some role in that. I'm not sure if it has a sort of an overwhelming role in that. But I mean, I do want to talk a little bit about the stigma because I think stigma is just a fascinating thing.

Kannaboomers (08:08): Yeah, let's dive into that.

Alex Halperin (08:11): I mean, one thing that struck me was, like I said, when, when I sort of first started on this path, I was living in New York and not really hanging out and cannabis certainly then was a much less prevalent part of a new life for me. And, and sort of the, my milieu it is in Los Angeles in 2020. I moved to LA after the 2016 election. But when I started on, when I started on this, this career path here to people I knew, like in the journalism world sort of came out of the green closet to me, which was, which was really interesting. And I think the stigma is, is, is, is a very real thing. And I think a lot of people in the industry still feel it. I think I still feel it in certain respects. I think one of the reasons, however, that we'd, we can sort of carved out some sort of a niche as a publication is that a lot of the mainstream media doesn't take this seriously. Um marijuana, cannabis has arguably been the fastest growing industry in the country for the last five years or something. And the wall street journal doesn't have a beat reporter covering it. I mean, that's sort of inconceivable with any other industry. The New York Times doesn't have anyone on the marijuana beat. You know, it's, it's very difficult times for the, for the media world right now as it is for a lot of industries, which sort of dictates how they spend. And, but this predated Covid for many years. But but even so there's still a lot of media organizations that don't take this seriously. My hometown paper, the LA times, which is in better shape than a lot of newspapers. It doesn't cover this. So in, in, in any depth at all. And there are, there are some exceptions. The Boston Globe right now probably does the best job of any big paper covering the industry, of course, focused on Massachusetts. The Denver Post tried for a while with cannabis which was a noble effort, but it, but it had to be shut down for, for business reasons and, but I think that the stigma has sort of created room for a media outlet. Like we...

Kannaboomers (10:43): Why is there this reluctance? I mean the normal economics of covering a beat would apply. There would be advertising revenues to be had. It wasn't that long ago that we had an attorney general who thought that only bad people smoked marijuana as wrongheaded as that is, it was still the case. And is there just a long hangover from all that misinformation?

Alex Halperin (11:08): And you know, let's be honest, I mean, we've probably had those attorney generals for a long time. Not all of them, but, but certainly a lot of them who thought only bad people smoked marijuana. And it, you know, I don't think that's necessarily our, our current attorney general's view, but he doesn't have that different view or, you know, he doesn't. So yeah, I mean this is a very so, but you know, you look like a senior editor at the wall street journal once just told me flat out like we're not interested in this. And that's because this is a topic that people who work at places like the wall street journal don't necessarily take seriously. That's because they see it goofy or silly. So they, they just think it's something that they can ignore and they arguably have ignored it, which, which is, you know, I think very sad from an immediate perspective because it's such an interesting story. And at the same time, you know, there's a lot of funny business going on and it could use some investigation, some, some more aggressive reporting to, to shed some light on it.

Kannaboomers (12:18): There's a business aspect. There's, there's a science aspect, there's a cultural aspect. The readership wants to know these things. I mean if people are buying stocks, they would like to have some coverage from a business perspective about which cannabis stocks are going to perform.

Alex Halperin (12:32): Sure. To be fair, I mean there are some, some organizations doing good work. Jeremy Burke is a good Wall Street cannabis reporter at Business Insider, although he's recently been sort of pulled off the beat a little for the coverage of the pandemic. And you know, there are definitely some good resources out there for credible information on cannabis investing, but still like many other stories these days, I think the sort of main mega legalization story has been under covered in the mainstream media.

Kannaboomers (13:12): Well, and you mentioned the pandemic and of course that is kind of overshadowing everything at the moment and will be for a while. But do you see the whole essential status and how all of a sudden unthinkable two years ago dispensaries are seen as essential. And then I guess the second part of that question slash comment is that the states are going to need some tax revenues after all putting all that money out, do you think that helps the legalization accelerate a little bit?

Alex Halperin (13:41): That's what a lot of people are saying. You know, there, there is some logic to it. At that stage, we'll need a shot in the arm from, from jobs or tax revenue. I'm not necessarily convinced that cannabis is going to deliver on the tax revenue or the jobs quite as well as some people hope. But certainly the essential status has been a real vote of legitimacy for an industry that, for understandable reasons, is always happy to receive. Sort of a stamp of legitimacy. And as you, you know, I think we had a really good column this week by our business columnist, Dan Mitchell. You can check it out on the site where he's sort of going into the depths or sort of the nuance of what, what it means to be essential because like liquor is essential but spa treatments. And so, just to give a few examples, like pharmacies are essential and liquor is essential and spa treatments are not, cannabis is arguably each of those things. So, so while there is this sort of stamp of legitimacy, it's not necessarily clear how that translates into policy. Although of course the potential for economic benefit certainly helps. It probably could help as well once States are ready to sort of deal with other issues, which right now they're not

Kannaboomers (15:18): Right, as legalization has rolled out, I guess it's the patchwork is the word. There's no real standard and you can point to what California has done, maybe not as well as as we could have out here where there's a market that is still an illegitimate market that is hurting the people.

Alex Halperin (15:38): There sure is.

Kannaboomers (15:40): And then when you go into a dispensary, I mean it's 35 to 45% tax now I think. So as the new states come online, do you think they will learn from some of the mistakes that have been made thus far?

Alex Halperin (15:52): You know there are, there are different models. I mean, I think one of the, before, before the pandemic, I kept talking and I was hoping to make a trip to Oklahoma. So, so, you know, there's literally a song like a famous culture war anthem Okie from Muskogee that begins, we don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee, but it turns out that Oklahoma has made it as easy and is an, you know, straightforward a process to open a dispensary, a medical dispensary. So presumably it's pretty easy to get your medical card as well. But, but there's a quote, they've made it as easy as opening a taco stand and they're, you know, Oklahoma's a low-tax low-regulation state. And now there are something like 2,000 dispensaries in Oklahoma, which makes, which amounts to the second highest per capita of any state. Oregon is number one, but you know, you, so Oklahoma has three times as many dispensaries as California. That is just totally crazy, but it's true. And so there are different models that are emerging and certainly we're going, you know, as there is now, you know, Missouri, which borders Oklahoma and Arkansas, which I think it borders Oklahoma too. They as they think about how they're going to legalize and open up that there's nobody really arguing that it's not going to happen. You know, certainly they're going to be looking to places more like them, but so, so, so Oklahoma and I think that's so largely how the industry is going to evolve.

Kannaboomers (17:47): Obviously they probably have a good tax revenue from all those sales. And you know, there's a lot of things you could look at to study and say, you know, they did this right or, or not.

Alex Halperin (17:58): Yeah, no, absolutely. I, like I said, I really want to go, it's as soon as, as soon as that seems like a reasonable possibility.

Kannaboomers (18:08): Let's talk about, again, the pandemic. There's been a lot of claims made. Kyle Turley got slapped, got his hand slapped for claiming that CBD could cure or prevent Covid-19. On the other hand, we know that CBD can help keep your endocannabinoid system balanced and fine tuned. Is there some middle ground that makes sense? Or should we just keep these two things separate?

Alex Halperin (18:32): Okay. So you, you know, Kyle Turley and some other companies who've been called out by the, by the FDA and I think one has even been sued. We're making unproven and what seemed to be totally bogus claims about CBDs potential to either prevent or cure Covid-19 and that's it. That's illegal. And, and they've been reprimanded for it. And you know, I think, I think that that kind of misinformation needs to be, or I don't have a problem with combating that kind of misinformation. On the other end of the spectrum, there is beginning to be some, some scientific research, but this is preclinical, so probably an animal that CBD and perhaps other cannabinoids in conjunction with other drugs may reweave. Certain symptoms. And I believe the symptom was lung inflammation, which sounds like a pretty serious symptom in some folks with very severe and advanced cases. And of course that needs to be explored and it's because medical marijuana is so hard to study in this country. We've got a good story on that today. Hillary, our new reporter, Hillary, has a great news story on that today on the site. So check that out. It is so, it's so difficult to study that this middle ground is Oh, allowed to live where people sort of rely on anecdotal evidence and stuff like that, which you, you know, it's impossible to prevent when you can't do legitimate research and find out what, what these chemicals actually do and don't do what the sort of other middle ground, I think is that it seems pretty clear from, from sales and in most places that people are finding solace and joy and other kinds of comfort in cannabis during this very difficult time. But that is largely unrelated to the disease itself.

Kannaboomers (21:09): Right. You wouldn't take it with any expectation that it's going to protect you. Yeah. It might help with some of the stresses of living in quarantine.

Alex Halperin (21:17): It certainly does. I don't know anyone who would, if, if, if you're a cannabis user, chances are you're using it in quarantine.

Kannaboomers (21:28): You've got your finger on the pulse of this. But do you read Biden's current stance as a positive or a negative? His stance on cannabis.

Alex Halperin (21:37): So, you know, anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter knows that I'm a Democrat and we'll be supporting Joe Biden or if he's replaced, whoever his replacement is. And he was, you know, he was one of very few of the democratic candidates who doesn't favor legalization. He wasn't who I voted for. I voted for Elizabeth Warren largely for, for other reasons, but, but she has been a legalization supporter, one of the most meaningful legalization supporters in Washington, I would think, you know, as her for Biden's view, I don't think I, I've said, you know, he's not going to take away people's weed, which is, which is good because that's not the way to get votes. You don't, you don't get votes by taking away the people's weed. But you know, I think another, some of the other candidates might've been able to brandish that as an issue in the campaign.

Alex Halperin (22:51): On the other side there, there, there are some folks who have sort of said, "Oh well Trump is going to, so we legalize in order to sort of win the election?" I really don't see that as happening. I don't see this as something he is interested in or understands. And you know, he says he's never had a drink in his life. He, he's not, this isn't something that resonates with him and I don't, I really don't think it's on his radar at all. It's even there. Even recordings of it being brought up with him a little bit and he really doesn't seem interested in this topic even though it could potentially, theoretically it could help him a lot. So right now as I see the race, I say we go as a nation is largely a wash. I don't think it's, it's not going to be what decides people's, I mean, you know, I think if you are a legalization supporter, Trump has certainly been no friend to the movement. He has left it alone. But that in terms of his support for the moment, it's really the least he could do.

Kannaboomers (24:13): Right. If someone convinced him that it was in his best interest to do it, he, he might do it overnight then, but yeah, he'd have to be open to that.

Alex Halperin (24:23): Also. I mean, I think, I think it's also worth noting that a lot of the Fox News personalities who he pays attention to and who are very influential, like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingram are very anti weed. So even though a majority of Republicans favor legalization, there remains a very strong anti-legalization contingent within the Republican party and especially sort of in the senior ranks of Washington.

Kannaboomers (24:53): Well, I guess that kind of leads to the next question. In lieu of an executive order, you would probably need a democratically controlled Congress to get it through the legislative branch.

Alex Halperin (25:03): You know I think, I think even a Republican-controlled Congress is going to come around eventually, but certainly a Democratic Senate would, would probably could be expected to move more quickly on this then or Republican said it would and one could expect in, in my view, that Biden or Trump would probably sign any sort of marijuana reform bill sent to them, whether that was banking or, or for weed legalization because not doing so it would be politically toxic.

Kannaboomers (25:44): Let me ask you, if you have a feel for what the economic impact would be, is it a comparable industry? Could you look at the liquor industry and say, you know, this is what the cannabis industry could be in terms of tax revenue and sales and jobs and all those things.

Alex Halperin (26:01): Yeah. You know, it's, it's, it's a hard question. So the, the, as I understand it, the, the U.S. Liquor Industry is worth about $200 billion a year. So right now, and that's sort of plateaued a while ago and may even be sinking a little bit. Cannabis is still much, much, much smaller than that. I mean there are only, you know, a dozen or so states with actual functioning markets, but but I think sales were about $12 billion in, in 2019 so, you know, I, so there's a huge amount of room room to grow and certainly with, with tax revenue, it's hard to compare because you know, right now liquor buyers don't really have an, have an alternative illegal market to, to shop on. So part of the tax question involves, I guess eliminating the illegal market. And maybe one way to do that is to lower taxes and then maybe you can sort of raise taxes again once you're, you're sort of collecting from a larger amount of the population. In terms of jobs, I think there's sort of a trap door here because, with the legalization you know, right now if a brand wants to have, wants to sell its product in more than one state, it has two options. It says it's based in Colorado and it wants to move to California. It can either license, it's intellectual property and recipes and trademarks and brands and stuff like that to a company that's already operating in California or it can make its own factory and hire people and sort of import its own resources. So that creates jobs. But as soon as you know, with reform and legalization, companies aren't going to have the need for two factories anymore because they'll be able to drive their products from Colorado to, to California. So then where do the jobs at the factory they created in California go, they disappear. And then of course there's the possibility, and maybe this seems a little far off, but it's beginning to happen, in dribs and drabs is that production can be, can be sent overseas. And you know, right now there are WIC, very expensive. We powered warehouses in the, in the desert, in the California desert growing cannabis, but it would be a lot cheaper to grow them in greenhouses in Columbia where they're, they're powered by the sun and that's going to be a, you got to figure that's going to be a factor pretty soon.

Kannaboomers (29:02): I guess the consumer will decide whether they want sun-grown, probably cheaper Colombian because there's no air conditioning involved in robotic things. It's, it's, it's grown by people who aren't paid a lot and maybe it doesn't cost as much.

Alex Halperin (29:16): Right, exactly. I mean, you know, I mean, one could argue that the pandemic is going to scramble global supply chains, but, but we'll see. People are still gonna want to, companies are still going to want to pay their workers less. I don't think the pandemics going to change that.

Kannaboomers (29:31): Right. There's often the comparison to the gold rush. You know, this is a green rush. What are the ancillary who's, who's got the picks and shovels concession?

Alex Halperin (29:41): Well, you know, there, there are so many. For, for a while, you know, I, I suspected that the, the events business was, was really popping. But now of course that's very hard and I have a feeling it's a lot harder to make money from, from virtual events than in person events. Anyone who's ever paid to set up a booth at a trade show knows that just costs a fortune. So it's hard to tell who's making money. I don't know. I, I want, I wish I knew, I wish I knew more frankly. But there are clearly, I think some of the software that are sort of making life easier and cheaper for companies are doing pretty well. Compliance is always going to be a concern. Right.

Alex Halperin (30:29): And of course the lawyers,

Kannaboomers (30:31): This is a big crazy beat. And like you said, it's the story of our time. What part of it excites you the most as you look into the future?

Alex Halperin (30:39): You know, I've just always been totally fascinated by how an industry goes from illegal to legal and, and what that entails and how sort of all the dynamic shifts. So like the easiest, the easiest example of that is, or I think my favorite example I would explain is on the illegal market, weed sells itself. All a business does needs to do is get his, I guess produce weed and get it to where get it to the consumer, which is basically anywhere and how that shifts in a legal market where once everybody's got, is able to sell really good weed that totally shifts the dynamics and the skills that come valuable change as well from to branding and presentation and all sorts of stuff like that. And, and you know, we've seen that even as we've seen this evolve and sort of attitudes change over the, over the last five years, we still haven't seen that much tangible difference in how, how these businesses are operating. They're still operating in a wildly unconventional way. They don't have access to banks. So I think it's going to be really interesting to see what, what banking reform does and we're, that's probably, that's the thing that has the most momentum in Washington. It's the thing that sort of, I think both parties can come closest to agreeing on, but it's going to upend the industry in all sorts of crazy ways. So, I'm pretty interested to see what happens when that happens.

Kannaboomers (32:34): Well, you said a lot of interesting things there. I mean, I think obviously from the old school guys going in the basement or in the back 40 and yeah, you, it sold itself and you're right. I think as you develop brands, there's going to be, okay, this is not a commodity. Ours is special because we have minor cannabinoids or we have more of this terpene. There's going to be all kinds of branding and differentiation that happens to this thing that I don't know if it's a commodity or not. Maybe there are a lot of differences in it, but in the end you follow the money, right?

Alex Halperin (33:05): Yeah. I mean, every day I hear from PR people who want me to talk to this brand or that brand, but I mean, I don't find it that interesting because it's all, it's all the same stuff. I mean, I guess I'm more interested in sort of the process of how a company goes about thinking, okay, we're going to start selling flower. Here's how we're going to distinguish ourselves from the thousand other companies selling, selling flower.

Kannaboomers (33:34): Even if you know about the plant, there can be higher levels of THC in one bud than another bud right next to it or the bottom of that bud. So how do you standardize that experience for the consumer when there's so much variability on the same plant? Or is it just a roll of the dice? Does the consumer get what they get? You know, I had an organic chemist on a few weeks ago and she talked about the different cannabinoids and she was like, well, what is a cannabinoid? We're not even sure because we're, there's new ones being discovered all the time, almost every day. So from a chemistry standpoint, she's interested in pulling out different molecules and combining them.

Alex Halperin (34:11): Send me that episode. I'd like to hear that.

Kannaboomers (34:13): Yeah. Her name is Andrea Holmes, but I'll send it to you. From her standpoint, it's almost like a designer drug. I mean you can, you can manipulate these molecules and come up with something that is different.

Alex Halperin (34:24): My personal read is we're pretty long way from a company being able to credibly claim it can do that might be out there in the future. Yeah,

Kannaboomers (34:35): Right. Maybe I'm wrong. You also touched on banking reform and again, that's the great level or you know, if, if you can embrace the industry with the banking system, everything changes.

Alex Halperin (34:48): Yeah, so that's going to be exciting. We'll, we'll see if we live to see it happen. I mean, we were thinking, you know, I don't think too many people in 2015 really thought, I don't remember actually what people thought about banking when banking reform would happen in 2015.

Kannaboomers (35:08): It's just kind of byzantine now. I mean, if I go to the dispensary, I have to have cash. I can't use my credit card. I mean, once it's embraced by the banks, end to end, then there's more lending, right? Businesses have a credit line, there's more investment. It's easier for the consumer. What else would change?

Alex Halperin (35:26): Well, big money would get involved. You know, mainstream venture capital, mainstream wall street both of whom are sort of dabbling in sort of dipping their toe in along the ages. They would jump in fast. That that's a big thing

Kannaboomers (35:43): Right now Aurora is being hammered, right?

Alex Halperin (35:46): Yeah. All the kids, most of the Canadian companies are really struggling.

Kannaboomers (35:50): Do you have a theory for that?

Alex Halperin (35:52): Well, so Jesse, I'm going to make a plug for our WeedWeek Canada newsletter. Jesse Stanford really does, I think, have a purest job of keeping up with the Canadian market, which is, you know, it's a fully illegal market and a very different market than, than any in America. But even though it's fully illegal, it's really struggling. The regulation has made it exceptionally difficult for companies to function. But they also made some bad calls. So I think Aurora, you know, they opened these huge facilities for growing, you know, a million square feet or 500,000 square feet and the demand wasn't there. Especially since a lot of consumers are still shopping on the illegal market there. And you know what we talked about earlier with imports from Columbia, that's going to be a factor in Canada a lot sooner. It is my impression because that transaction can be done fully illegally. But there's also a widespread perception in Canada that the licensed companies, they all tend to be sort of big corporate entities, but they have a reputation for not producing very good product. And that's not really a problem that companies in America have. But that's one of the reasons folks in Canada have, a lot of them have stuck to the illegal market

Kannaboomers (37:25): And they had something funny with edibles, right, for the first year or two. Did they even have access to edibles?

Alex Halperin (37:32): Right? So, Canada we go, I flower went on sale in October, 2018 and then edibles and vapes as well. We're called where you go as a nation 2.0 and that became legal in December. And so one of the rules they have is that you can't have more than 10 milligrams of THC per package. So a pack of gummies in California is a hundred milligrams either divided into 10 or five or smaller per piece and that costs about 16 or 17 bucks. But in Canada, if you're limited to 10 milligrams per package, that means edibles are going to be much, much more expensive. And I think there's a, in general in Canada, there are a lot of rules that, I mean I suppose are purported away in the interest of public safety that don't to be doing all that much for public safety but, but also seem to be pretty hostile to the idea of a functional industry.

Kannaboomers (38:43): Yeah. That just seems ridiculous to have to buy 10 packages. I mean the packaging industry must love it, but what an inconvenience.

Alex Halperin (38:51): Yeah. Yeah. And no doubt that also pushes up prices as well.

Kannaboomers (38:56): That purportedly is a safety measure to keep it out of the hands of children or...

Alex Halperin (39:00): I don't know the exact reason, but you know, it's being done out of an awareness of the drug. You know, you can't, you don't buy liquor in a, you don't go into a liquor store and buy it by the shot. You know, it just doesn't really make sense. Maybe the liquor world would, could make that work, but right now the cannabis world isn't really in a position to make that work.

Kannaboomers (39:26): Just like you said at the beginning, I mean, there's lots to cover. There's, there's a lot of aspects to this and there's certainly mistakes being made along the way. There are people doing it, right. But like everything about cannabis, there's, there's lots to learn. Alex, is there anything we haven't covered that we should?

Alex Halperin (39:42): No, you know, I just say I hope, I hope your listeners will, we'll check out our resources at WeedWeek.net. So we've got three free newsletters, WeedWeek, which I write WeedWeek, California written by Donnie Alexander, and WeedWeek Canada written by Jesse Standford. We have the weed week podcast co-hosted by myself and Dani. And we have a business columnist to publish a story a week and then a new reporter. Hillary Corrigan who is publishing news stories daily. So lots of news. And we're also just publishing the WeedWeek guide to the California cannabis industry, which I wrote, which is about a 65-page guide. And this is more for people who are professionally involved in the industry, but you don't have to be professionally involved to just check it out because it's free. I talked to about 14 entrepreneurs and executives and regulators and lawyers and winemakers about the issues they're facing in the industry and how they are navigating them. And it also includes market research data from an exclusive survey we commissioned which asks folks we asked 400 Californians about how, what, where, and why they buy and buy and use cannabis. So if you're professionally involved, that may be of interest to you. And so anyway, this is the WeedWeek Guide to the California cannabis industry and by the time this podcast airs, it should be up and available for free at WeedWeek.net.

Kannaboomers (41:31): What a great resource. I will definitely be looking at that. And digging in, we'll get all that in the show notes and you're on Twitter too and Facebook and all that stuff.

Alex Halperin (41:40): Yep. We're on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and LinkedIn at WeedWeek news.

Kannaboomers (41:45): Excellent. Thanks for taking the time to share what you're up to and share your expertise with our audience. I know people are gonna love hearing this episode.

Alex Halperin (41:53): Thanks so much. It was a lot of fun.

Kannaboomers (41:55): 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 kannaboomers dot com