72 | Max Simon, Green Flower Media

“If a scientist discovered the cannabis plant today, it would immediately make the cover of Time Magazine and it would be the most celebrated plant in history.”

— Max Simon

The boom is upon us: Cannabis is exploding onto the scene in multiple sectors, including medicine, business, cultivation and processing,, 72 | Max Simon, Green Flower Media and policy. There’s lots to learn in the post-prohibition era, and Green Flower Media is helping people and companies acquire the skills and knowledge they need. Co-founder Max Simon joins us and shares why:

    • The need for training in the cannabis industry is so huge.
    • Apart from medicine and recreational, the primary reason so many people are coming to cannabis is for wellness.
    • Green Flower put more than 8,000 hours into the curriculum and systematic assessment protocol of its new Ganjier certification.
    • This certification, and Green Flower’s other training offerings, will evolve over time as we learn more about cannabis.

Transcript of podcast episode with Max Simon, Green Flower Media

Copyright Kannaboom © 2020

Kannaboom 0:00

Cannabis has come a long way in a short amount of time. So much so that a lot of what we think we know about cannabis is old misinformation from the prohibition era. And this is proven to be a big opportunity for Green Flower Media, co-founded by our guest, Max Simon. Green Flower has developed comprehensive online training for individuals, businesses and even universities. And they have a very cool and very competitive new program called Ganjier that trains people how to become the sommeliers of cannabis. As simple as cannabis can seem -- it is just a plant you can grow in your own backyard -- it's also really complex and Max has built Green Flower into an easily accessible resource that is going to help people understand cannabis and advance the cannabis revolution. If you like the podcast, please subscribe at Apple podcasts or Stitcher or your favorite podcast player. And please leave a review so other people can find the show. And here is my interview with Max Simon. Cannabis is booming, and Kannaboom is on it. Welcome to the Kannaboom podcast where we interview experts on the changing story of humans health and health from San Diego. here's your host, Tom Stacey. Hey, it's Tom. Welcome back to the Kannaboom podcast. Today, I'm really excited to have Max Simon, co founder and CEO of Green Flower Media. Hey, Max,

Max Simon 1:11

Really good to be with you, Tom.

Kannaboom 1:12

So glad to have you on. You guys are doing big things. Green Flower Media -- for the audience who who may not have heard of you -- you do all sorts of training online. Can you tell us more about that?

Max Simon 1:23

Yeah. So Green Flower started in about 2014, which felt very early. But I have a long background in both education and particularly online education. And I'm a, you know, multi decade cannabis patient who's used cannabis medicinally for many decades of my life. And these two kind of intersected in my realization that this cannabis industry was really hitting a tipping point and that there was going to be this wave of adoption and legalization. And yet, nobody knew anything credible about it. You know, there there was no real credible sources of education, no credible sources of expertise. And that there was an opportunity to create an entity that would really serve all of the different educational needs of the industry, from individual people to cannabis companies to even higher education. And so we've been chugging along ever since. And now I have done just that, you know, we have a kind of an industry-leading online platform for individuals to learn everything about cannabis. And we have 1000s of hours of online cannabis education. They're available for people to take anytime they want. And we are the training backbone behind many of the largest MSOs and cannabis brands throughout the space where we basically are their kind of training engine for their their growth of their teams. And we have nine different university partnerships where we power the cannabis curriculums of universities and colleges around the country like UC Riverside, and Florida, Atlantic University and Northern Michigan University and many others. And so it's been a challenging, fun, exciting, interesting, never ending ride.

Kannaboom 3:11

Wow, yeah, that's a lot to cram into just six years. But as you say, you were in kind of early. And you know, I've talked with this about other people on the podcast, where you and I are paying close attention and know some of the myths and, you know, the latest on terpenes and stuff, but a lot of the general public still doesn't, and part of that, I suspect, might be sort of a hangover of the 100 years of prohibition. Right? There was so much misinformation out there.

Max Simon 3:37

Yeah. I mean, if you think about it, I was raised in an era where everybody told me this was terrible for me, you know, and I, I been a medical patient for ADD for a long time, because I realized that a very early age actually really helped me but you know, I can't think of a single doctor, a single therapist, a single, anybody who ever said to me, 'Oh, no, this is probably going to be good for you,' it was just overwhelmingly seen as something that was bad. And so you know, those kinds of multi-decade levels of information and programming just gets into the consciousness and, and it takes a while for that stuff to shift. But, you know, the great thing about the world is that it does continue to change. And, you know, the the medical benefits have become so pronounced in so many different places, and people are so benefited by it, that that's changing. And of course, the industry, you know, especially during this 2020 year, was deemed essential and exploded in growth. And so that was an economic boom, a tax boom, a job boom. And that's gotten, you know, ultimately government to start to take it more seriously because they need the job growth and the money growth and people actually are quite positive and supportive of it. And you can see this same kind of trend happening everywhere. And so it's gonna take some time to educate people to change the mix. To help people understand that not only is this not something bad, it's actually something good. And you know, that doesn't just happen overnight, but it will. And I feel very confident knowing the trajectory of how things are going right now that everything is moving in the right direction.

Kannaboom 5:14

Well, and you were definitely in the right place at the right time. And I'm a little bit in awe of all the content you've produced. I mean, I know just putting this podcast together what it takes. So how large is your team now? And how do you go about creating all this content?

Max Simon 5:29

Yeah, so we've raised over $20 million at Green Flower over the last six years. And partially again, that was because we had a real big vision for what we could accomplish. And so, you know, the team's gotten quite large. And we've got people all around the world that are creating content with us and building technology with us, and, you know, serving clients with us. And, you know, 2021 should be our best year ever. So, it's been challenging, for sure, but also very exciting.

Kannaboom 5:58

Well, just looking at your homepage this morning, I was really captivated. Obviously, you guys know what you're doing with really engaging video that pulls people in. And I also noticed, it was interesting to me that you've organized it into categories, which makes perfect sense: medicine, business policy, and cultivation and processing.

Max Simon 6:16

Yeah, those are really, you know, at the end of the day, those are the four main sectors of cannabis, right. And the business one is kind of overarching, because it touches so many different sectors. But that's one of the things that's unique about cannabis, you know, there's the business side, which is the engine, but then there is the medical side, which touches not just, you know, healthcare professionals, but touches people that are into wellness or developing products. And then there's the agriculture side, right, this is a plant that is the backbone of the whole industry. And so you need to learn how to grow the plant. And there's many different ways of doing it. And it's, it's a very complex plant to grow, actually. So there's that whole methodology. And just because of the kind of complicated historical landscape, actually, the need for policy and advocacy and compliance and regulations is also still quite crucial and important. And so, you know, these, these are the sectors that are having the greatest level of growth and opportunity, and also where we've been built a big arsenal of training to support people in those different areas.

Kannaboom 7:22

So whether it's an individual or a small company or a larger enterprise, you have a portal to the knowledge they need in that realm.

Max Simon 7:31

exactly. For everything that we need, you know, we, it's, that's what it's been, it's been an intense six years, but we've we've created 1000s of hours of cannabis training. And one of the things that makes Green Flower special is that when I say 'we,' I mean, we actually work with over 700 different experts. And so the way it works is that we, you know, using our advisory board, our customer database, our you know, we've got about half a million people or so in our in our network of reach right now. And we get to get clear on what are the topics and skills that people are looking for? What is the industry looking for, where's the, you know, the knowledge itself, and then we use this network of experts that we vetted, to curate people that are really, you know, in many ways, sitting at the top of experience and credibility, and then we work with them to define, you know, through instructional designers to define the curriculum. And so it's using people that are really at the forefront of, you know, succeeding expertise and research, to make sure that what's being produced is, you know, accurate and relevant and really in depth to the industry. And then our team of content producers and developers kind of creates the material and puts it into the technology. So it's a cool process. It's not fast it takes takes quite a bit of time for us to develop what we've created, but you know, it's quite valuable and is serving a real real need these days.

Kannaboom 8:54

Now, at the back end, does someone come out with a certificate or an accreditation that they can go and show to a potential employer or do they put on the resume? How can they use it? Besides the knowledge? Is there a reputational factor that is coming with?

Max Simon 9:10

Absolutely. There's a few layers of that, you know, we have 10 different certificate programs that are kind of self-paced, smaller certificates that are that do offer the Green Flower certificate upon completion. So we have one in medical and patient care and cultivation and cannabis Business Essentials. And we did one this year with the normal organization and it's a Cannabis Advocacy certificate, really cool one, you know, we have a Cannabis Extraction certificate. So we have those. And then also, we have, like I said, this nine school partnership around the country, and those are real higher education certificates. So for example, UC Riverside, when you complete you actually get a UC Riverside Cannabis Certificate, and those are even more reputable in many ways because they come with the credibilty of a school and those programs are more rigorous. They're about six months to completion, they have live instructors. And there's a whole kind of multifaceted process that goes into the higher education. So we have a few layers of certificates that can be acquired through our different channels. And then of course, we have our Ganjier program, which is been two and a half years in development and launches in the beginning of 2021, which is basically the cannabis sommelier certification and that is a very rigorous certification process. It'll take about a year for somebody to go through. And then there's annual requirements to maintain that level of certification. So, you know, we cover a few different buckets in the certificate and certificate certification realm.

Kannaboom 10:40

Yeah, well, that sommelier program seems really interesting. It's all virtual, right?

Max Simon 10:45

Um, Green Flower is and the the program through the higher education is. Ganjier actually does have a few layers of in person training. And so that's part of the Ganjier curriculum is there's actually a live hands-on trainings, we teach people about really cool stuff, stuff that's never been done before. But cannabis assessment methodologies, meaning, how do you actually thoroughly assess the qualities of cannabis, this the aromas, the frame that the tastes, the experiences, the appearances of that, and so there's actually a pretty, you know, the two-day hands on training that goes into that, and then a live set of exams as well, because they'll be tested on their level of assessment, their level of knowledge and their level of service. So Ganjier is the only one that has an in person requirement, but everything else is online,

Kannaboom 11:31

I would think there are some nuances to that level of testing. I mean, we understand how a wine sommelier would swish it around and get the notes and maybe spit it out. But how do you do that? When you're talking about cannabis? Are you taking hits? And then going 'Oh, yeah, that's from California,' or how does that work?

Max Simon 11:50

So it's this is where the bulk of the development time has been required. We started this project in 2018. With 18. They're the most experienced cannabis experts in our network that have also played a big role in transitioning into the legal markets, meaning they're not, you know, most of these people have been in cannabis for, you know, 20, 30, 40, 50 years in some cases. But then also took that knowledge and transitioned into the legal markets. And so with this, that we call them the Ganjier Council, we had to go through and really understand what are the characteristics of quality, that dictate cannabis. And so as we said, there's these four categories. There's, there's appearance, and and you know, most people actually don't understand what are all those dimensions, like, for example, some of the criteria are trichome density, you know, the amount of trichomes that are there, then there's also trichome intactness, the preservation of those trichomes on the finished product, there's the the level of the trim, there's the level of the cure, there's all these things that are, you know, quite advanced in terms of understanding to assess. So there's visual, then there's aromatic aroma, where you actually are learning to classify cannabis, both by terpene profiles, but also by flavor profiles. And there's actually six categories that have been developed that match to the science of the terpenes. And that's the aroma palette and then though, there's a flavor palette, which yes is about consumption, you're actually smoking and learning how to develop in the mouth and in the experience, the what it tastes like. And there's a similar descriptor palette from the aroma. But then there's also a tastes-like palette that's developed as part of this. And then finally, what's different about cannabis than other categories is we also assess effects. And you assess whether it's got a you know, an energizing, a relaxing quality, whether it's more mental or more physical, the potency of it, the effect of it, the duration of it, the after effect, why you know, how it makes you feel as it comes down, all these are also judged in classifying quality of cannabis. And so gone, a Ganjier is trained in all of those, you know, individual nuances in terms of a knowledge base, and then is trained in terms of palate and assessment, how to actually discern those qualities. And that's why it's a really, you know, it's never been done before. A really cool, really fun process took a long time to get here, though.

Kannaboom 14:22

I can imagine. But long overdue. I mean, again, we talked about 100 years of prohibition and, and there was some folklore that went along with that that was either you get high or you don't, it's a binary state. And what you're telling me is no, there's a lot of nuances and intricacies to this. You're going from folklore, to science, and it's a multi-sensory experience. And there's lots to learn lots to teach.

Max Simon 14:45

Yeah, it's really I mean, you know, I have to say, it's been the funnest thing I've done a Green Flower because I've been so intimately involved in developing the assessment methodology, which means that I've now sampled hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of different cultivars through the lens of these assessment protocols, and you really learn deeply, first off, I mean, I hate to say this because people get mad at me. But I would go so far as to say, you know, 75% of the cannabis on the market is actually quite low quality, that it's not, it's it's pretty low-grade quality. And people don't understand that or know that because they've one never been trained, two, they don't understand the variances and three, they've never actually really gotten a tangible understanding of what makes for good cannabis. And so, you know, most of it out there is not so great. But um, you know, we'll we'll learn and we'll develop a deeper palate. And that's part of it is to develop the the industry so that there's real true quality in the marketplace, and not just kind of, you know, whatever people can get their hands on,

Kannaboom 15:47

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think in the underground era, there was an emphasis on THC and growers bred for THC. But, you know, we discovered that there's CBD, there's all these other cannabinoids. What really makes for quality cannabis?

Max Simon 16:01

Well, I think that depends very much on what people are looking for. And that's part of the point is that part of what people are seeking with cannabis is the flavor profile, or is the appearance or, you know, those colors, this smells, and you can judge quality in those areas and determine you know, what has real true vibrancy in terms of those characteristics. And what's kind of more bland or generic or basic, you know, that's part of what people don't realize is a lot of the cannabis out there is pretty, pretty average, it's basic, it's the same basic set of smells the same basic kind of structures, and it's just kind of, you know, it's just average quality. And yet, when you learn to discern and assess, you can actually really get to a sense of understanding, like what's unique and special. But then, outside of that there's the effect profiles, you know, that's where, again, people really have yet to harness and understand the power of it. Because different cannabis obviously makes you feel very differently. And you can adjust it to where it you know, has an uplifting mental quality, but a kind of a gentle quality in the body. So that would be good for working out. Or you can adjust it to more pain relief, and so that you really dial in what kinds of cultivars have a more sedative, relaxing quality to it and, you know, allows you to be a lot more accurate because right now, quite frankly, one of the big problems is that people classify things in these simple categories: sativa, indica, hybrid. First off 99% of the time, they're wrong. They're just making it up. Third, second in the next is it just because it has that classification doesn't actually mean anything to the experience you're going to have. And so most of the time, what I have noticed, especially after going through this assessment is that what people are telling you and what they're thinking is actually all incorrect. And so it's giving perpetual bad guidance and bad advice to people saying something that's a kind of talking point versus what's really accurate. And so by getting trained as a Ganjier, we now have a much more sophisticated ability to guide consumers. And that's the whole point of the Ganjier. It's a master of cannabis service for informed consumers to make sure that people are truly getting the best guidance on what they're looking for.

Kannaboom 18:17

When someone has their Ganjier certification, is that more of a medicinal designation? Or are they helping people with recreational choices?

Max Simon 18:27

So you know, first off in most places, there were there are still medical-only designations, you can't actually give kind of medical advice to people unless you're a physician or a nurse or in some cases, a non a therapist where they call them a pharmacist. And so this is again, mostly people that you can work in a medical dispensary or you can work in a retail dispensary. But the point is, it's about providing the highest level of guidance to consumers. And so whether people are coming in because they're looking for products for medical reasons, or they're coming in looking for social reasons, or they're coming in looking for wellness reasons, you know, you are completely and thoroughly trained on understanding not only how to interact with them, but how to define which products are best for what and communicate those in the most appropriate way. But it stretches even beyond that, right it starts to stretch into we see these people being the people curating the menus, because they're the ones that will obviously have a much better understanding of products and product quality and product pricing and product menu and product curation and all that. We see these people being in charge of training so that they can educate their other fellow staff members on how to best interact and serve patients. We see these people being involved in marketing and sales because they'll understand how to target different consumers and speak appropriately. They'll be involved in in the product propagation and making sure that you know they're they're bringing on the right vendors and the right product suites based upon all those things. And so, while this person sounds very much like it has a kind of consumer facing role? And it will we also see this person being able to play in a much more expanded capacity within the industry. Well, I imagine there's an enormous demand for people signing up for this enormous. We, it's I'll tell you, I mean, it's a great problem to have. But it is my, without a doubt, my single most stressful point of my life right now is that we, because of COVID. And because there's this hands on training, we've really only designated about 156 spots for 2021 that we think we can put through the training. And we're almost at 3000 people on the interest list already. Holy. So it's, it's exciting. But I mean, I have to tell you, it makes me so stressed out thinking about what to do about this, because I think people are going to be really excited and then really pissed when they, you know, don't get one of the spots. So I don't know exactly how we're going to handle that yet. But that's definitely something that keeps me up at night.

Kannaboom 20:58

Well, that's akin to being a sommelier, right? I mean, those are very competitive positions. Yeah, a sommelier is at a five-star restaurant, usually, I mean, right there, somebody who's I don't know what they do, but they're so highly trained and very rare.

Max Simon 21:14

Yeah. And that's where actually cannabis differs a little like when we announced this, we had some sommeliers, they got really, you know, snooty with us. And they were starting to say, well, which, you know, which strain and you pair with the black salmon. And I was thinking to myself for that question just fundamentally shows how little you understand about cannabis, because what's different about cannabis is that first off, you know, people are consuming in private. So it's not a consumption-based experience, like it is with wine, where they're having it with food, and that whole thing, you know, right now, cannabis is almost predominantly a private event, whether you're by yourself or with somebody else, and then to the people that are engaging with you are happening at a retail level, and then you're going away to have that experience. And it's a much, it's a huge, much huge diversity, of demographics, you know, and that's one of the things where you get really thoroughly trained is interacting with a senior is going to be very different than interacting with a millennial, interacting with a new consumer is very different than interacting with an experienced consumer, interacting with somebody who, you know, really knows what they want is totally different than interacting with somebody who's looking for that guidance. And that inspiration. And so, a Ganjier is really more, you know, brought in to that retail system, that that consumer-interaction system to really be a leader in the role of defining how do you create an organization and an establishment that really has best in class service to serve all these different people in all these different ways with the products that you've got on the shelves,

Kannaboom 22:49

it is about the relationships between the person and the plant, and to have an educated person at that interface, who can match the individual up with the correct plant.

Max Simon 22:59

I mean, by my wife, she, for a little while, you know, I would come home after doing like an afternoon of assessment. And, you know, this is, again, this is just one of the realities of cannabis, which is not good or bad, it's just different, but you can't spit it out like wine. It's not like wine, where you like, put a little swish your mouth and you spit it in you, you know, the only way to consume cannabis is to in the especially to get the flavor profiles is to inhale it. And so you'd come home after an assessment, you know, quite frankly, looking very stoned, because I've been doing it all afternoon refining the model and testing stuff out. And she'd be like, 'Yeah, yeah, I can tell you're working again.' But it's true. You know, it's like, it's one of the things that you have to do in this role, you have to assess it really thoroughly. And it's the only way you get a thorough understanding of all these nuances. And it's a great part of the role, but it is a reality.

Kannaboom 23:59

Right? How many cultivars did you say?

Max Simon 24:02

Hundreds. You know, it's we we really, you know, we, as we were designing this, you know, one part of it was designing the, the theory, the methodology, the frameworks, the knowledge, but then the other part was seeing if that actually works, right. Like, as you go through an assessment, can you assess these flavors? Can you assess this visual appearance? Can you assess the aromas? and define those in these systematic ways? Because that's what's never been done before. Right? People will be like, oh, cannabis is so fire, right or whatever. But that doesn't mean anything. There's no there's no evidence, there's no background, there's no criteria. And so we had to create that criteria, and then test it. And so this systematic assessment protocol, which is the tool we built for Ganjier you know, went through, gosh, I don't even know 30, 40, 50 iterations to get to a place where we really felt like we had something that was accurate, usable, and valuable, you know, and it's really cool. I mean, that's why this whole project started in 2018. We calculated that between the council members and us, we put in over 8,000 hours of time just into the material itself right into the curriculum and the systematic assessment protocol. And so it's been, you know, many years in the making, and I'm just so excited for people to see it.

Kannaboom 25:17

Absolutely. Just with what we've been talking about, I don't think it's a perfect comparison between sommeliers and Ganjiers. But on the wine end, there's only a certain percentage people who have the palate to be able to discern those differences. Is there a similar aspect to being a Ganjier I mean, I talked with an epigenetic guy on one of my episodes, and we talked about the difference between slow metabolizers and fast metabolizers. You know, everyone doesn't experience cannabis in the same way, we all bring our own genetic profile into it. So there is a difference there. But is there sort of an ideal makeup for the Ganjier as well?

Max Simon 25:53

And these are some of the questions that I actually can't really answer authentically, yet, until we start putting everybody through the training. You know, thus far, everything has been developed with 18 of these, you know, deeply experienced people, we, we cumulated, that it's over 600 years of cannabis experience just amongst these 18 people. And so they're, you know, obviously a different kind of expert, because they've got, you know, way more depth of experience than any of us, you know, way more than me. And so they're coming from their experience to develop the criteria and the efficacy and the validation and all that stuff. But once we start going out to train people, I don't know, you know, it's definitely a question mark, are people's palates going to be sensitive enough? Can they be thoroughly trained enough on this thing? You know, how will it need to be adjusted? So there's many things I don't pretend to know yet. And that's a good example of one where, I don't know, you know, we'll have to see, as we roll out this first class, these first 156 people next year, you know, what they're able to do and what they struggle with, and then we'll kind of refine it from there.

Kannaboom 26:58

You guys are doing some scientific discovery of your own? I mean, it's such a blue ocean, nobody's done this before. And, you know, you have the data, and the the organization to do this. So it's pretty amazing.

Max Simon 27:11

Yeah, we say it all the time. Like, you know, partially because of the resources and the infrastructure that we've built. You know, it would be really difficult to do that without this because it couldn't be done fast. This took this took, you know, I mean, even two and a half years in, some people feel like it's still a little bit, you know, needs more time to bake. And so it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and a lot of resources. And we've invested a lot of money in building this thing to get it right. And I think that it's still at the starting line, you know, it's probably going to take a few more years to keep refining it in. But you keep mentioning, you know, the 100 years of prohibition. And I really felt like this was Green Flower's 100-year project. I felt like that Ganjiers was something that we should think about this as though this Ganjier will still be here serving the cannabis industry in 100 years. And so we've really been trying to be as accurate and methodical and, you know, valuable as we could be knowing that this is something that should stand the test of time.

Kannaboom 28:11

Sure. It's a legacy project that will evolve as the knowledge expands. And as I mentioned earlier, guys, like you and me, who are paying attention, know that they're still discovering terpenes and cannabinoids and the research is uncovering things all the time. So you've got the structure with your, your basic educational offering on which to build this thing, which is super interesting. So you provide education to individuals and to enterprises. Do you have a favorite aspect of that? Or is there is there one part of it that you like better than the other?

Max Simon 28:43

Yeah, I mean, I think again, for me, what's been so fascinating about cannabis because I come from, you know, different education backgrounds I was a major part of Deepak Chopra's business and brand whose self help author and you know, he's kind of in the spirituality, mind body medicine domain and, and then I was in a kind of a digital marketing circle for many years where we were really teaching experts of all types digital marketing, and then I was in an audio, audio book kind of community for a while and I ran a built a body of business there. And my point of saying all that is that in almost all those businesses, you would find a pretty kind of core set of customers or demographics or you know, and I would call in my language, I call them tribes, people that you know, really like the core avatar of who you're speaking to, and then you would build the business, you know, around the, that kind of core one or two or three, you know, avatars and in cannabis. It is the most diverse, wide, all encompassing, set of people ever in in my history of being in business. And so the thing I just love most is the incredible diversity of people that we're touching, you know, we touch the medical professionals in and have really good programs for doctors and nurses and therapists and pharmacists, and, you know, and wellness seekers, and that whole audience, and I love that because I'm at heart a wellness advocate. But then, you know, we are touching CPG executives that are coming in from, you know, CPG brands and and alcohol brands and tobacco brands and transitioning into cannabis and getting to educate them on the industry. And we're working with scientists, because we have this whole library of extraction, and we're working with farmers who are looking to grow, you know, grow the plants and build agriculture. And, you know, we're working with lawyers who are getting trained in the background of how do you, you know, keep a legal compliant industry, and we're working with bankers, who are, you know, now doing investment banking or private equity. And so what I just like most about Green Flower is that we are able to play in this huge pool of diversity of really ever-expanding opportunity. And that's both, you know, a blessing and a curse. But it is quite interesting, because almost each and every day, it kind of feels like I'm jumping into a new pond. And that's just cool. You know, it's really interesting to an entrepreneur like me.

Kannaboom 31:19

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And as far as I know, you kind of have a first mover advantage here. You seem to be out ahead of the curve. Do you ever feel like you're spreading yourself too thin?

Max Simon 31:29

Yeah, I, it's, I have to say that. I'm not sure I would have done this business the way we did it. In hindsight, I guess my answer to that question to summarize is ask me in another five years if being stretched too thin was the right idea or the wrong idea? Because I won't be able to tell you today, but maybe in the future, I will.

Kannaboom 31:48

Well, it's an exciting place to be. And there's so much happening, and I don't see anyone else providing the breadth and depth of instruction and knowledge that you guys are offering out there.

Max Simon 31:59

Yeah, thanks.

Kannaboom 32:00

What advice would you have for listeners who might be thinking about entering the cannabis space?

Max Simon 32:05

Oh, my favorite question: Use Green Flower like you wouldn't believe. Because, because, you know, I'll tell you, it's funny, I was talking to a consultant yesterday. And he was telling me how unbelievably frustrated he is, because he's had a lot of clients with a lot of money that have thrown a lot of money at them. And he says that, while that's great, they just fundamentally don't understand the cannabis business or the cannabis industry. And as a result of that, they make a bunch of stupid mistakes, they waste a bunch of money, they make a bunch of dumb decisions, and it all goes to waste. And so these are the kinds of things that get avoided with education. But even more importantly, if somebody wants to get in, you have to know what that means. You have to know: Do you want to get into the retail sector, the medical sector, the agriculture sector, the manufacturing sector, the distribution sector? OK good. If you want to get into those, do you understand how those sectors work? You know, what's required to be successful? The soft skills and the hard skills? Do you speak the language, because the thing is, is cannabis is very complex. And it's very fast moving, and there's a lot to understand. And it's very nuanced. And so if you're expecting to get a job or get hired in some place, well, if you don't have a good cannabis background, it's really challenging because these companies don't want to start from scratch. And if you're trying to start a business, you know, you need to understand where the opportunities truly are, and what you can and can't do. And if you're trying to raise enough money, then you have to, you know, really be able to speak about the industry eloquently and understand what's unique about it, you know, all these things. And so, education is the vehicle for success. And this is why I love Green Flower so much is that when people ask that question, you know, I want to be a part of this thing in any sector, I can tell them go to Green Flower, because whether it's the medical or the agriculture, or the policy or the business side, you know, get educated, it's not that expensive. It's actually quite cheap. If you contrast that against real school, and and then you'll have a huge leg up to go in whatever sector you want to go into.

Kannaboom 34:14

And it is so nuanced. I mean, for a lot of us, we're we have the mental framework, it's a plant, I can grow it in the backyard, how complicated can it be, but again, you have a whole channel a whole category of content along policy lines, how often do you have to come back and revise your content because things do change?

Max Simon 34:32

Well, let me just start by asking you a return question earlier on to from what you just said. So have you ever have you ever grown a cannabis plant Tom?

Kannaboom 34:39

I have recently, yeah.

Max Simon 34:40

Yeah. How did it turn out?

Kannaboom 34:43

Well, it was not what I expected. It was short, not as not as big as I thought but it was a clone. I didn't do it from seed but it was very fragrant. But there are a lot of nuances and you know, when do I harvest it? How long do I hang it upside down? What should the humidity be in that room? You know, when do I Put it in a jar. Right? All that stuff.

Max Simon 35:02

And that was kind of my point is that, you know, it's true, it's very easy to think like, 'Oh, it's just growing another plant, how difficult could it be?' It's actually very difficult. And, and it's, you know, once you get the, the good foundational level of knowledge it gets, it does get easier, right? And then you can really get exciting, but, you know, to grow bigger plants that are, you know, really dense in terms of their yields and fragrance in terms of their terpene profiles, and, you know, picked at the right time for potency and cured and all it's, it's, it's, um, it's a learning journey, for sure. And so that's why I always just like to challenge people, you know, not not challenging you here, but challenge people in their understanding of this, because that's the problem is that everybody kind of simplifies cannabis down to just a bunch of stoners, like couldn't be that difficult. You know, like, what are these stoners know that? I don't know? But but that's just old propaganda and misinformation. And when you actually start to look at the whole sector, whether it's the botany and the agriculture, or whether it's the manufacturing and the new form factors, or it's the science and the extraction methods, or, you know, it's the very nuances of the distribution models, there's just a lot to learn. And so I love that, you know, just to plant, can't you just grow it, well try growing that plant, and you'll see that it's actually quite difficult to do well, you know what I mean?

Kannaboom 36:26

Right, and that, and that's just the cultivation aspect. As you mentioned, we're not legal in every state yet. 35 or 40, I guess. But each state has its own wrinkles of how it should be packaged, how things are labeled and all that. So it's not going to be simple for a long time.

Max Simon 36:44

And it not only not going to be simple, but it's it is going to ever change. And so to answer your question about the amount of material we change, what we've discovered, after doing this for six years through a ton of trial and error, is that about 80% of the knowledge is kind of mostly foundational, meaning, you know, how you apply for a license, what they're looking for, is, you know, fairly similar from one state to the next, or, for example, the kinds of licenses that they're offering, you know, maybe there'll be a little bit of variance, but not often so many. And so there's about 80%, that's pretty consistent. And then there's the 20%, which is highly localized. And that's the difference is that, you know, oftentimes a city in one place will have a totally different set of customized regulations to the city right next door to them. And so in that you teach them the 80%, and then you teach them about the 20%, that varies, and where they can go get the most up to date information about that 20%. And that equips people to be successful, wherever they are.

Kannaboom 37:47

I was a journalist and accustomed to news gathering, that's like part of your job. And then there's also video production, almost like movie production. So you have a big spectrum of skills that you're looking for, you must have an incredible team.

Max Simon 38:02

Yeah, it's a really good team, really experienced team, I feel very fortunate that, you know, partially because of just the dynamic nature of Green Flower, partially once you get funding, you can actually go find some really talented people, you know, we just, we that's one of the benefits of getting funding is you can actually go find really caliber, high-caliber people. And so we've got a team that's just stacked in, you know, education as a background, online learning as a background, media production as a background, instructional design. It's just a really, really amazing group of people behind this that, you know, amazing.

Kannaboom 38:39

Yeah, that's a huge part of it. Among those hundreds of cultivars you sampled, I have to ask if you found a favorite.

Max Simon 38:46

Pinia. Yeah, there's this one cultivars up here. It's actually one of my, I shouldn't say friend, he's the managing director of Ganjier, Derek, but he's a longtime friend of mine. And he's got a cultivar called peenya, which is this. fruity, delicious, energizing, but also body relaxing cultivars that's just delicious, with a great effect profile and a beautiful aroma. And it looks gorgeous, and it's a high yield. And you know, my buddy, Derek here grows outdoors organically in the Ojai sun, and it's, it's my favorite.

Kannaboom 39:27

Is that available at dispensaries?

Max Simon 39:29

No, no, that's just that's not available for me and Derek.

Kannaboom 39:36

Well, that's, that's cool. You have that? I guess I should ask, Is there anything we haven't covered yet? That we should. I mean, there's so much to talk about, we could do a whole nother episode. But uh, the whole thing to me is super fascinating. And I'm just really interested in what you guys are doing and doing a great job at.

Max Simon 39:52

Yeah, thank you. Um, I guess I think the only other thing that I really love talking about again, it's because it's what my passion is, is to just the the wellness side of cannabis and that. I think that unfortunately, one of the downsides of legalization in a funny way is that it kind of wiped out the the medical market. And the reason I think that's important is because certainly there's a lot of people that, you know, just kind of see cannabis as something fun to do here and there. But but more often than not actually the largest population of consumers, there are people that are consuming very consistently, because yes, it's nice and enjoyable, but also because it's helping them manage something very real for them. Whether that's pain, or whether that's sleep, or whether that's epilepsy, or whether that's anxiety and depression, or in my case, whether it's ADHD, and and I use cannabis every single day, and I use it consistently throughout my day, and nobody that you know, ever meets me would know that if they didn't know, you know, me speaking out on these podcasts and stuff, telling people about it. But it's important to understand that because there's a, there's a not just an opportunity there, but there's a market and a group of people that I don't want to forget about. And that's the people that really do have a deep, intimate, daily relationship with this plant. And they're, you know, successful, regular everyday people, they're not, you know, people sitting in a basement, they're not, you know, teenagers on the couch, they're real people. And I say that so that more real people can continue to open up to it, because one of the things that I've learned is that, you know, there's lots of ailments and conditions that people struggle with that cannabis could help, but they don't turn to it because of the stigma. And and I really want to change that I want more people to recognize that cannabis is actually a healthy daily substance. You know, I come from a background in Ayurveda and herbology from the Chopra side. And at the end of the day, if you really look at it, it's it's literally just a plant. It's a plant that has very powerful compounds and substances, but it's just a plant, and you consume that natural plant, just like you consume other natural substances that we take every day, you know, vegetable juices, and supplements, and herbs and vitamins. Those are also, you know, natural substances we take every day that we feel good about for our health. But I want to encourage more people to add cannabinoids into that daily regimen, because I found that not only is it you know, been profoundly life changing for me, but it really can be beneficial for a lot of people dealing with a lot of different stuff, especially as the age and I'm, you know, I kind of as one of my missions, I just want more people to embrace the value and benefits of cannabis, which requires them to evolve beyond that old stigma.

Kannaboom 42:50

That's like the best articulation I've heard in a long time about the practical realities of this plant and what it brings to to anybody almost. And when I started, I was Kannaboomers, because I'm a I'm a boomer and I figured, okay, insomnia, anxiety, inflammation, these things get all of us when we're north of 45, 50. And it's going to catch up with all of us, I had to shorten the name to Kannaboom, because the boomers just weren't showing up. And like you said, there's something for everyone. So I broadened my focus a little bit. Another interesting aspect to this. I've talked with people like Keith Stroup at NORML, one of the founders of NORML, you know, the old timers who fought the battles in the 70s and 80s to decriminalize and legalize, and they went at it as, okay, this is an individual right. And that really never resonated, it wasn't until they began treating AIDS patients in San Francisco, who were nauseous, and they found that cannabis could help them keep their food down and just help them feel better, where it activated people's compassion. And people went, 'Oh, it's a it's a legitimate medicine.' You know, and then you probably remember Sanjay Gupta's work with CNN where he looked at the pediatric epilepsy and how cannabis can help that, that really expanded people's minds. So you know, I think you're on the right track. It's, it's about wellness, and it's, it is an herb, it's not some scary pharmaceutical, it's comes out of the ground and there's something in it for everyone.

Max Simon 44:17

Yeah. And and, you know, the, when you learn about the plant itself, too, it's such a miraculous substance. I mean, it's the most biodiverse plant on planet earth in terms of its chemical production capacities. You know, I mean, again, you think about it, the plant produces 100-plus different terpenes It has different cannabinoids, it has different flavonoids, terpenoids all these different substances out of a single plant and, and this single plant has all these different, you know, cultivars and varietals that can be created from it and grown in all these different regions and, you know, grow so fast and it has regenerative properties for the soil and it's an amazing plant, you know, I mean, I don't want to get too big. But it definitely does feel like it was brought here by God because of just the remarkable nature of it. And we, you know, it's so funny to me. I mean, it's sad actually, that somehow our society took this thing that actually is so miraculous. I mean, I always joke, if, if a scientist discovered the cannabis plant today, just for the first time, it would immediately make the cover of Time Magazine. I mean, it would be the most celebrated plant in history, if all of a sudden we just discovered cannabis plant today. But we didn't win. Instead, we have this, like 100 years of people, basically deciding that it was, you know, the devil's lettuce. And that said, you know, we got to get back, get back to the truth here. And that's why, you know, podcasts like yours, and organizations like mine, I think are doing something good for the world. And I take a lot of pride in that.

Kannaboom 45:52

I agree. Thank you. I don't know if there's something in our puritanical past, but you actually don't have to get high. I mean, you could get a high CBD cultivars, and avoid the THC. I don't know if you can avoid it completely. But you talk about stigma. And if people enjoy themselves a little, there's nothing wrong with that. I don't know why that baggage has traveled as far as it has. You don't have to get out if you got a little high. It's not a big problem.

Max Simon 46:18

Yeah, that's exactly right.

Kannaboom 46:20

Max, I want to thank you so much for sharing your time with us. Where can we find you online, people who want to take classes or follow you on Twitter or wherever?

Max Simon 46:29

Well, definitely, you should go to Green dash flower dot com or Google 'green flower.' And the new learning platform has your abilities for people to take classes for free and preview everything that's on the platform instantly. So that's great. We're also on all social media channels. I'm personally only on LinkedIn. And so you can follow me on LinkedIn. I'm pretty active there though I post pretty much daily, so you can find me there.

Kannaboom 46:54

We will definitely look you up and connect. And thank you again.

Max Simon 46:57

Really good to be with you. Thanks so much for your time.

Kannaboom 47:00

You've been listening to the Kannaboom podcast with host Tom Stacey. If you like the show and want to know more, please check us out at Kannaboom with a k dot com. And please leave us a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. See you next week.

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