Cannabis: Legalization, Licensing & Learnings with Alison Gordon
We are stepping in the unknown, confusing (to some) and taboo territory on today’s 360 Health Biz Podcast! We have Alison Gordon, CEO of 48North Cannabis Corp. to talk about, you guessed it – cannabis!
In America, cannabis is federally illegal but at state level (in some states) medical cannabis is legal. In Canada however, cannabis became legal across the nation in October of 2018 and edibles became legal in October 2019. However, there's a lot of regulatory work that still needs to be done in Canada and the US.
Depending on your interest and involvement in cannabis, there are areas that are black and white, gray, and frankly…green.
In this episode we discuss:
- legalization and licensing of cannabis in Canada vs America
- what is vaping and is it legal?
- marketing around public opinion
- how to work around marketing cannabis restrictions
- organic cannabis and regulation around quality
- illegal dispensaries vs legal licensed dispensaries
- medical conditions that have seen positive impact from cannabis use
- public perception: why alcohol is accepted by cannabis isn’t
We learned a lot from Alison in today’s episode and we hope you do too!
Alison Gordon - CEO 48North Cannabis Corp. Alison is a veteran of the Canadian cannabis industry, bringing unique experience and relationships to her role as co-chief executive officer of 48North. A skilled marketer, she is celebrated for her ability to shift public opinion and consumer behaviour and has been named one of Canada’s Top 10 Marketers by Marketing magazine. As co-founder of Rethink Breast Cancer, Alison is credited with growing a new generation of young breast cancer supporters, compelled by her ground-breaking communication and pharmaceutical expertise in the health-care realm. Today, Alison is applying her skills to 48North’s business plan in this new era of the cannabis industry. She is on the board of directors for the Cannabis Canada Council.
Connect with Allison on Instagram: @cannabisculturist
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Kendra: Hey guys, what's up? Kendra here, welcome to the 360 Health Biz Podcast. I am super excited for today's show because we're talking about kind of a sexy topic. We're talking about marijuana, we're talking about cannabis. It's a very current topic on social media, because we did just recently legalize it. So, we're going to be talking with an awesome guest today. And unfortunately, Christine's not with me today cause she's off gallivanting the planet as usual. I actually don't even know where she is today. But, she will be back, joining me for our next recording.
So today, it's just me and our awesome guests. We are good. Like I said, talking about cannabis, which was actually something I'm very excited to talk about because you guys follow me on social media, you've probably heard me talk about this. I live in a very small town in British Columbia that was basically built on the marijuana industry and up until recently, our whole economy ran on it.
So myself included, I'm comfortable saying this now because it is cool. But, I used to be very much involved in that industry, and a lot of the people I know in this town are very much involved in it. And now that it's been legalized, a lot of my friends are adjusting to kind of like the new landscape of what is coming.
So, I am sitting here with Alison Gordon. She is the CEO of 48North Cannabis Corporation. She is a veteran of the Canadian cannabis industry, bringing unique experience and relationships to her role as co-Chief Executive Officer for 48North. She is a skilled marketer. She is celebrated for her ability to shift public opinion and consumer behavior, and has been named one of Canada's top 10 marketers by Marketing Magazine. That's pretty impressive. And, she is also the co founder of the Rethink Breast Cancer. Alison is a credited with growing a new generation of young breast cancer supporters, is held by her groundbreaking communication and pharmaceutical expertise in the healthcare realm.
Today Alison is applying her skills to 48North's business plan in this new era of the cannabis industry. She's on the board of directors with the Cannabis Canada Council.
Welcome Alison. Thank you so much for being here.
Alison Gordon: Thank you for having me.
Kendra: So, that is a pretty impressive bio. I would love to know first and foremost, like how did you end up in this industry? Like how did this all get started for you?
Alison Gordon: Well, it started in high school, when I started smoking weed and never really stopped. But in terms of as a career, and you know, within the regulated legal industry, I started thinking about this industry, well let's put it this way. In 2008, I had a close family member that was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. And her doctor recommended that she try medical cannabis. And I was like, what? Canada has a medical cannabis program? This is back in 2008, don't forget. So, a long time ago. And I had no idea. And I got very excited, and you know, looking back was obviously quite naive and thinking about these ideas that I had for what I thought this industry could become. I was also really amazed at seeing an older woman who had never smoked weed or used it before, using it daily to help with anxiety, pain, sleep, all the things that come with end-of-life care.
And so I was like, okay, this is shifting. Clearly, there's a shift here. People are going to recognize the benefits of medicinal cannabis. And then for me, I started to think and believe that ultimately we would move towards legalization, which has happened. So, I really started looking at the industry, both Canada and the U.S. back then. At the time I was co-running Rethink Breast Cancer, which I had confounded with my partner, MJ. Was very happy there. We were growing this international organization, working with young women with breast cancer. But I just kept having this nibbling feeling that I wanted to get involved in the cannabis industry. And in 2013 I decided, you know what, Rethink is running amazingly. It can survive without me, as anything can. And I transitioned onto the board and started working in Canada, in the industry.
Kendra: Very, very cool. And so, I think like, for those of you, for those of you who are American, or from outside of Canada, Canada did just recently legalize it. And I know in the U.S., I'm not super familiar with the laws there, but I know in certain states it's more or less like may be decriminalized or legalized to some degree.
And you know, in your bio you mentioned like kind of shifting public opinion and consumer behavior. Can you speak a little bit to that? Like why do you think it's important to shift public opinion? Like what is the current public opinion and like why is that so important to you?
Alison Gordon: Well, let me first deal with what you were saying. So in the U.S., it is federally illegal, still at the federal level. So at the state level of certain states, it is legal for adult use, medical, these things. But the federal obviously trumps the state. And in the Obama administration, you know, there was the Cole memo, which allowed the States the right to govern in this way. With Trump, it's still unclear. So you know, Canada was in a very unique position and still is to be legalized at the federal level.
So, you know, coming back to your question of shifting public opinion. Well you know, this is the biggest part of our job on so many levels. Because what I always say is that the prohibition of cannabis is probably some of the best marketing that ever existed. It should be on the cover of every marketing textbook.
Alison Gordon: As the amount of misinformation that exists out there in the world amongst educated, smart people as well as you know, people, all sorts of people. But, it is just staggering and trying to break that misinformation seems to be challenging.
Alison Gordon: I think we've made tons of headway. The fact that Canada has actually legalized shows that, you know, the government understood that this is no longer something that the mass of Canadian voters would have issue with. Cause otherwise they wouldn't do it.
Alison Gordon: And you know, there's all sorts of different stats in Canada and the U.S. about public opinion. And the opinion, in terms of legalizing, is most definitely significantly higher than those that don't believe it should be legal in both Canada and the U.S. But I think what people don't realize is so much of that misinformation, yes they might believe it's legal, but the view of the type of people who use cannabis or whether they want it in their community, it's still strong. And that's challenging because that impacts our, you know, government representatives who pass the regulatory environments. And I think you know, a lot of the information we get from those, you know, MPs and others still believe that cannabis is a drug, and it's a problem, and it's all of these things. So for us to fully move into a legal market and to get consumers to understand the value of having a legal market, there's a lot of regulatory work that needs to be done in Canada and especially in the U.S.
Kendra: Yeah. And I mean something I've noticed cause like you know, I'm from Nelson, British Columbia. If you're familiar with that tiny little town.
Alison Gordon: Yes of course, very familiar.
Kendra: Very much like a town built on the marijuana industry. And you know, it's just interesting cause the dispensary's, you know, before legalization, you can pretty much get anything. It was kind of in this gray zone. But now that we've moved into legalization, like you actually can't get as much. Like you can't get the edibles. Like you can only get like...
Alison Gordon: ...at the legal dispensary's.
Kendra: Yeah, totally.
Alison Gordon: Yeah. Well those are not yet legal in Canada.
Alison Gordon: So to date, like ending very soon, cause it's coming on October 17th of this year. But, what's been legal in Canada for the past year is flower and one very limited extract. So not edibles, not vapes, not topicals. So anyone who sees those products in the Canadian market today, and likely over the next two months, those are not legal. And so with the big crisis that's been going on, you know, I want to make sure that everybody understands that vapes are not legal in Canada right this minute. It will be in the coming weeks and months. But you, you know, if you don't buy them from a legal entity, then you actually don't know what's in them.
Kendra: And can you just speak to the vape crisis. And like what is vaping? Cause I'm a little bit confused about what it actually is. And I think some of our listeners are maybe unfamiliar with it.
Alison Gordon: Well, I mean vaping is a, I want to say technology. It's probably not the right word. But it's, it's a very particular, well it's not a mechanism, but delivery method.
Alison Gordon: That uses a certain form of oils and heat to turn, whether it's flower or oil into something that you, a vapor essentially you can inhale into your lungs.
Alison Gordon: You know, this is, vaping been around for a very long time. And in terms of things like the volcano, or you know, different forms of it. But what happened, I think, and I don't know the exact history, but with the proliferation of these E-cigarettes people then took that, or I don't know which came first. But you know, that we have sort of that version on the cannabis side, where it's essentially you can buy disposable vapes. So meaning, you'll use it, and these vapes are made out of oil.
Alison Gordon: Right. So they're cannabis oil, sometimes mixed with other oils. Right? So it really depends on what you buy. And that's why you need to buy from a legal market.
Because for example, we acquired a company in the U.S. called Quill. They make vapes. Those vapes are 100% cannabis oil.
Alison Gordon: There's no additives, no fillers. Often people, especially in the black market, are cutting that with oil, other oils.
Alison Gordon: And so you don't know what's in those oils. There could be flavors or this vitamin E acetate that people are talking about, that they think might be what's causing the deaths, they don't know.
So you know, essentially when you're vaping, generally, unless you're taking flower and putting it in a vaporizer, which would be a much larger apparatus. If it's just one of these pens as we call them, it's an oil. And it being heated, and you're inhaling it into your lungs. Obviously there isn't a ton of research in general, even on the E-cigarette side as to the effect of vaporizing versus smoking a cigarette.
Alison Gordon: And then on the cannabis side, you know, same, same. But you know, again, it's been thought to be a better alternative to smoking. But I guess that's TBD.
Kendra: Exactly. Yeah. And that's really interesting. And I think like within the health and wellness space for all of our coaches who are listening, I think a lot of them, I've seen all just a lot of discussion in general in the communities that people are interested in like, you know, using these types of products personally, or maybe with their clients. But there seems to be a big concern about quality. And personally, I've seen indoor grow shows in my community where I see a lot of chemicals being used for example. And you know within the health and wellness space, like people are always really concerned about quality, and organic, and the fact that things aren't used with chemicals if we are going to be using it for a health application. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Alison Gordon: Yeah, well I mean 48North, we are organic in two out of three of our facilities, our large outdoor farms. So the bulk of our product coming online will be organic. So I completely agree with you. That said, the legal market in Canada, again, if you buy from a legal dispensary or from online from your government, you know, online entity or whichever province you're in, if you're in Canada, or in the U.S. from a legal entity, these things are all heavily lab tested.
Alison Gordon: And the government in Canada has heavy, heavy regulations against using any form of pesticides. So even though we are 48North have gone through the process of being certified organic, I can say with a lot of faith that the legal market, you're not looking at the same level like any form of pesticides. Like for example, in Canada, you can't spray the plant past a certain point with anything, including water.
And that's the government's way of just ensuring nothing passes through. And the truth is we have to lab test so heavily that, you know..., It's just like anything I say like you, you go into restaurants that have, in Ontario at least the green thing on the window that they've been inspected and everything's fine. You don't go buy an egg sandwich off someone sitting on the street with a plate. Like you just don't know what's in these things.
So, this is the move that needs to happen towards the legal market. And it's not to say many people in the black market might be doing organic, or they might be doing all the right things. But how are you as the consumer supposed to know?
Alison Gordon: And so that's what I think you know, is where people need to get to from a health and wellness perspective, is recognizing there's value in lab testing. Whether or not you may pay a couple of cents more, 50 cents more, whatever, or less. I mean the legal market might be less in some instances. The upside of that is it's regulated.
Alison Gordon: That's what we ask of our products and do.
Kendra: Yes. No, I absolutely agree. And would you say that's, like that would be similarly true of the U.S.? Like people purchasing in the U.S., if they buy from like a government body, like does that exist in the U.S. like can they try...
Alison Gordon: Well, it's not about buying from a government body. It's about buying from illegal licensed dispensary. And in the U.S., each state will have different requirements around lab testing. California has quite stringent requirements. So, you're quite certain in California that, you know, what you're buying from a legal market is being tested for all sorts of heavy metals, and same with Canada. So yes, it's about buying from a legal market. I think what confuses consumers is when they see stores on the street that are selling weed, they think it's legal because how does that exist if it's not legal? But, that's part of the confusion that's existing, both in Canada and the U.S., as you transitioned to this legal market.
Kendra: So yeah, and I do find that confusing. So, what you're saying is just because there is someone who has a shop open on this, on like the downtown street, it doesn't mean that it's regulated or that it's technically legal?
Alison Gordon: No, and I don't have an answer for you as to how that sort of store would get shut down. I can speculate that the police themselves are confused as to what's going on. That nobody likes to take time and resources in the court systems for things that won't result in jail time. I don't really know how or why. I think they do get shut down and they pop back up. Especially online is where this proliferating.
So people go online, they can get it delivered to their door. They assume it's legal. So you know, I think it's, it behooves people to just actually understand it. Asking them are you legal? Like they may not get the truthful answer. I think it's depending where you are understanding. Like for example in Ontario online, the only place that's legal is the OCS.CA and then we only have about 25 stores in all of Ontario that are legal right now. They are giving out another 42 licenses. But there's some potential delay there. But yeah, I mean it's, it's, they have a symbol on their windows that show that they are actually a licensed retailer.
Kendra: Okay. Okay. That's good to know. Yeah. Cause I've been a little bit confused about that, and I have seen that happen in Nelson. Like places kind of like shut down and like come back up. And then places like now they can't sell this, but you can get it from their online store. And I think just everything being so new, there's a lot of confusion and hopefully that will, you know, over time have a...
Alison Gordon: Look, this isn't like a positive thing. But the easy way to know is like does the packaging look like this? Which is our pre-roll pack, which is the best that we can do in light of having to have these massive warning. And again not to say the black market wouldn't copy this as well. That's the challenge. Right?
Alison Gordon: But I just, if I was in the black market, why would I make it look like this? I would look more appealing.
Kendra: It would be a lot of effort. Like 10 points for effort, that's for sure. Okay. Yeah.
Alison Gordon: And no doubt it happens.
Kendra: Exactly. And I would love to speak a little bit more about like the whole health connection. Why medical marijuana and cannabis is you know, something that we should as health practitioners like consider for certain conditions. And obviously I think you've seen benefit with people who have breast cancer. Like what else can you speak to regarding that?
Alison Gordon: Well I mean I think there's a ton, a ton, a ton of content now on the web about this from people much more knowledgeable than me. But you know just having been in the industry for as long as I have, and speaking with patients, and people like, there's a ton of new actual clinical studies that are coming out. Which is great cause it's really just been anecdotal to date. So obviously with the advent of all these CBD products in the U.S. There's been a lot of interest in CBD. The FDA has approved a drug called Epidiolex made of CBD for epilepsy. So I think CBD is well known as an anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure that can really help people. I have friends with epilepsy that have gotten off all pharmaceuticals just by using CBD. Now of course, once again, not all CBD is created equal, although it is a molecule.
But you know, again, it's doing a little bit of research and looking into the full spectrum. So, it is likely the cannabis plant has over a hundred cannabinoids. CBD is one of them, THC is another. THC is the cannabinoid that when heated gets you high. But there is a hundred cannabinoids and various things in the plant. So you know, it's trying out these full spectrum products that have that entourage effect.
That's something I am biased towards. There is no clinical research to say that's any more effective than using a product like that CBD isolate. But I think intuitively it just makes sense. You know, pain management, glaucoma, MS, Parkinson's, I mean like it does all start to sound like really? But it truly, there is, you know, it's been obviously well-documented that humans have an endocannabinoid system. The cannabis plant and the receptors connect to that.
And I think we're just starting to scratch the surface of understanding how cannabis can help. I mean social anxiety, anxiety's, there are people that I know, and I've read about that you know had extreme forms of anxiety and PTSD, never leaving the house, et cetera, et cetera. That now are able to have a more functioning existence thanks to using cannabis. Some might be okay with a very small amount of CBD. Others, it requires some THC, and you have the problem, or the challenge is, you know, I used to say it's a plant based medicine so of course there's trial and error. But I hate to say that because with pharmaceuticals I think we've all been brainwashed to believe that there's a consistent use, meaning the effect is going to be the effect. But I think the reality is if you have friends who have taken antidepressants, they often need to try three before there's one that works.
So it's no difference, it's just you. You might need a very minimal dose of just CBD to be able to deal, like have your anxiety under control. Others may need more. So there is a trial and error right now, which is part of the problem that the state ranking perception, is that doctors don't have that same ease with which to prescribe and go 10 milligrams. But they were getting there, and we're getting there quickly. And so I think, you know, there's nothing to be scared of. You can try cannabis and see if it works for you. If you are worried about getting highs and start with the CBD product and see where you go.
Kendra: Yeah, yeah I love that. And, I especially love the application to pain management because I know a lot of people like that's how their addiction start. You know, they get into an accident or they have, you know, some sort of chronic issue and they end up addicted to pain pills.
Alison Gordon: Yeah. I mean there is a lot of research to show cannabis as a, obviously an amazing alternative to opioids. But also a successful treatment for opioid addiction.
Alison Gordon: And I think that, that's really important as well.
Kendra: Yeah, that's amazing. And I remember, like many years ago I had ACL reconstructive surgery, and they prescribed me Percocet, which made me feel disgusting. And my friend came over and gave me Phoenix Tears, which yeah. Are you familiar with those? I wasn't sure if that was the Nelson thing or like that's a legitimate, yeah.
Alison Gordon: Yeah, we know of it.
Kendra: And I remember using those and I mean like yeah, they made me super high and like kind of I couldn't really communicate well with people. But I, I wasn't, I was able to not use the Percocet. And like it killed all my pain and that was really amazing cause I just, I've never been really interested in taking pharmaceuticals. So I, yeah.
Alison Gordon: And again, like it's hard for you in that situation. Maybe you didn't have to be that high. Like your friends giving Phoenix Tears. Obviously that's not, you know, regulated. So you don't exactly know what's in it. Even though I'm sure we trust your friend, and it's not about what's in it from an ingredient standpoint. It's like dosing is quite complex, as you could imagine. So, as legal companies who have to lab test, when we say this is the dose, that's the dose.
Alison Gordon: Also, obviously you don't have someone guiding you through that process.
Alison Gordon: Like a physician, which you likely could do now, because we have many more physicians who are educated in this that could, you know, say let's start you on a one-to-one and let's work up. Your friend just kind of brought you Phoenix Tears.
Kendra: Yeah. And though they were so hot here for a while, like everyone was like, Phoenix Tears were like the hottest thing around town. And then this was back when it was illegal. And then I remember like they got so hot that people had to like ditch them and bury them in the forest, because the cops are getting super involved. But I do remember that and I really did appreciate the painkilling. And at the time I liked smoking weeds, so I was fine with being that high. These days, I would probably want to have someone guide me through the experience and not get so high so I could actually function.
Alison Gordon: Yeah. And, and again, like this is a very common saying is you start low, and goes slow. Right? So it's like, it's the same thing. It's no different than Percocet or Oxycontin. I mean, it's totally different, I want to be clear about that. But what I need to say is the misperception that with a pharmaceutical, like that's what you're going to do. I mean, you might've taken that Percocet and maybe you only really needed half of it, or ideally don't take it at all.
But you understand the point that I'm making, which is we lead such blind faith in the pharmaceutical industry and it's so fascinating to me to like, I wish I could fast forward 20 years. Because so much research is being done on cannabis and it's just going to be such a different world. And I just wonder if all of this will be, you know, misconceptions will be wiped out and people will be as skeptical about pharma as they are this poor little plant.
Kendra: Yeah, I mean it is really true. I've always found that interesting. Like how much trust people will have in like the pharmaceutical community, whereas like those types of drugs kill people all the time. Whereas like there's like street drugs and all these other things that like, you know, maybe magic mushrooms, and like marijuana, and stuff when people are just like, "Oh, that's illegal drugs." Like you're a druggie if you do that. Meanwhile, like most people are taking pharmaceuticals.
Alison Gordon: Well I think it's like the tides are definitely changing. Obviously the opioid crisis, especially in the U.S., but also in Canada is like getting front page attention. Which is amazing. But you know, at the same time, I think it's this balance. And my hope of course, is the reason people have faith in pharmaceuticals, whether it's right for them to or not, is it comes through physicians and physicians play a certain role in our society. But also, you know, where they're manufactured, that they're regulated, that things done clinical studies. So all of that gives the public the perception of safety. I'm not going to sit here and start trashing clinical studies, but I think people understand there's lots of ways to collect data. But at the same time, if you know, you got to play the game. And so the goal for our industry, of course, is to get this, you know, double blind studies done so we can prove to the powers that be that this is effective medicine for the things we're talking about.
And you know, no one has ever in the history of, you know, released in, documented to died from cannabis use.
Alison Gordon: So it's, you know, it's toll on your body is nothing and it's, I'm not going to say that, you know, people don't have an emotional addiction, because I don't know the answer whether that is. But there is no physical addiction that's been shown. And also I have many, many friends who were heavy cannabis users that might travel somewhere for two weeks that they can't get it, there is no physical withdrawal symptoms.
Alison Gordon: I mean I think this word just has to spread amongst healthcare community and understand that, you know, a lot of what you hear that it's a gateway drug, it's just total bullshit.
Kendra: I think it is bullshit. I think alcohol is more of a gateway drug. Like I've always made that comparison. Like alcohol is so accepted. But you know, when I used to drink all the time, like I do all kinds of things I regretted, and like end up on like weird people's couches, and be like wake up in the morning and be like, "I can't fucking believe I did that." But like that never happened with weed. Like the worst thing that would happen is maybe I would like eat too many chips or something like that.
Alison Gordon: Yeah. I mean alcohol is really, to me it's unbelievable that people will say, "Oh my God, do you like, do your kids see your weed or whatever?" And quite frankly, like I also suffer the stigma myself. Meaning, I'm in this role, I'm CEO of this company, and I'm still like cleaning up the weed, you know, with my teenagers around, if they are around. But at the same time, I don't even think twice if they come down in the morning, and I've had people over and have drinking. I mean I don't drink myself, not, I never really did. And so, it's just an easy one to wipe out.
But you know, first of all, alcohol isn't just about the bad decisions you make, but for sure it's there. But there's a ton of research that shows the effects of alcohol has on your body and your brain. They're making links to it, to Alzheimer's right now obviously liver diseases, all sorts of other things. But interesting to me is when you saw states like Colorado legalize cannabis, then you saw things like the alcohol sales went down about 30% in Colorado at that time. And then domestic violence went down by 30%. So we know, I think it's just, and this is where going back to 2014. So this information's out there. It's just like I said, you know, prohibition with like a stranglehold on our brains, and it's just people don't want to hear it and believe it.
Kendra: Yeah, I totally agree. And like that must make it challenging for like the marketing side of things. Cause you're a big marketer, top 10 marketers in Canada. Very cool. And like we love talking about marketing on this podcast, and like online business, and that sort of thing. So like how, like what is your sort of strategy towards like marketing, this sort of thing? Cause, obviously you have to shift public opinion, but like where do you go after that?
Alison Gordon: Well, the number one challenge beyond the challenge of shifting opinion is that in Canada we are not allowed [inaudible 00:29:02] as cannabis company anywhere. So, a variety of different strategies.
So one thing we did was create an online platform called Latitude where we share stories about how when women use cannabis for their health and wellness in their day-to-day lives, and it's just average women. And it's, you know, some of them are a mother and daughter, or they may be a yoga teacher, or it may be, like it's all over the map. And the idea there is, when you read these stories, so I'm looking around to see if I have one of the books in the office, in my office, but I don't. But when you read it, and it sells at Indigo, and it's a beautiful book or sort of magazine thing, you, you know, there's, I think a subconscious level where it's like this person's just like me. This isn't a scary person. This person has a good job. They're not just on their couch. But also understanding their rituals around it and how they use it and when they use it. And what it's done for them.
We also have hosted events latitude. Because again, we cannot do that as 48North because we sell cannabis and as part of that, we are not allowed to sponsor events, are not allowed to do all these things.
Alison Gordon: So Latitude, we've had a few events. The last one was on sex and pleasure and a lot of the women that came and spoke if, and the idea there is, it's like we have speakers and they might read poetry, they might tell a story. It's however they want to express themselves. And a lot of them were talking about, you know, really negative sexual experiences, whether it was like all the way of rape to just, you know, those are uncomfortable positions.
Alison Gordon: Like you end up a being somewhere you don't really want to be, and feel in control of. And each one spoke about how cannabis brought them back into their body, how they were able to use it to kill the trauma. And I get, I think, you know, we sell out those events very quickly. So you have a large audience hearing these stories and again normalizing it. And it's all you can do, it takes time and all you can do. You know, I continue to do things like this podcast with you, in the hopes it keeps people keep going, "Oh my God she's kind of like me. She runs a public org, she runs a public company. You know, she must not be out of her mind."
Kendra: And so, you cut out a little bit earlier, so I'm not sure if you already said this, but just like is there any regulations or rules around like if. Cause I have a lot of friends in this community who have like gotten, I guess I don't the right word, they've been given permission...
Alison Gordon: Licenses.
Kendra: Or they've been able to start there like their zone, their warehouse or whatever it is.
Alison Gordon: Licensed, they have been licensed.
Kendra: They've been licensed.
Alison Gordon: And I don't think that many in Nelson have been licensed, so that's interesting.
Kendra: Yeah. There's a few, like the people I'm thinking of, like they've been licensed for a certain number of plants. And then, they have to go through like this whole thing where they have to like show that they have like the space, and like get that approved and like there's this whole thing. And they're kind of working through this process. But I was wondering, like what is like, is the regulation around like sharing that sort of thing on social media? Like if you were to have like, you know, open the warehouse and start growing legally, can you be set up an Instagram account?
Alison Gordon: Sure, I mean we have Instagram. You can go to the 48North Instagram. We do show pictures of our grow, especially the outdoor grow, cause that's exciting to be one of the few, like really I think there's like only five that have been licensed for outdoor and like our scale is huge. We're going on, you know, almost a hundred acres, so 3.5 million square feet. So it's to our knowledge, the largest legal outdoor grow in the world. So that's something like we're obviously documenting and showing on social media from time-to-time. You have two issues in social media, one is that Instagram, and/or Facebook, and others don't allow for weed to be shown. So many, many, many, many people do it. It's just a question of are you going to get caught, and your account shut down, and restart again, which has happened to many of my friends.
Alison Gordon: And, and then the other issue is of course Health Canada and you know again it's just that fine line between showing, educating, and not being promotional.
Kendra: Right. Yeah. Cause I'm guessing there's probably law like rules. You can't advertise. You can't run Facebook.
Alison Gordon: No we can't. That's what I was saying. You can't, well Facebook doesn't allow you themselves Within Canada, that's what I was saying earlier, but I guess I cut out is, you are not allowed to market or advertise at all. You're not allowed to sponsor events. You're not allowed to. You know, in the U.S., you'll have certain brands naming their strains Calm or Energetic just to simplify it or the consumer.
Alison Gordon: You can't do that in Canada. You can't make claims, like you can't do anything. So that's where Latitude or us starting up sort of auxiliary, you know, businesses to be able to educate is so critical to the mission.
Kendra: So, for like the small guys, like for people who, you know, maybe in Canada who are, you know, getting licenses and they're eventually going to be legal and be able to kind of start their own operations. Like I'm guessing, like their marketing strategy is going to have to kind of include a lot of what you guys are doing. Like they're going to have to like also work on like changing perception and making it relatable and that sort of thing. Right. You think that's correct?
Alison Gordon: Well, I mean I don't know. Hopefully as they come online, we've done good work. And we can we help change that? I think everybody has a role to play in that for sure. But, you know, , again, without truly boring your listeners, it is very weird to call this out in your community. Like what a lot of people try and forget, is that we grow for up to sit down and that still exists. So, I'm not sure what you're referring to when you talk about license. They're still growers who are growing for patients, but that's not really what they're doing. Right. So they're legally allowed this grow, and they're saying they're growing them for patients, but it very well, okay. You know,
it might hit the black market, or illegal dispensaries, or whatever it is. I don't know. I don't want us to get rid of people that are growing for patients, and I'm making is that it's very difficult to actually get a license in Canada. Very, very difficult.
Kendra: Yeah. And it seems like, and I'm totally uneducated in the whole process and like, you know, I'm kind of just like, I'm hearing this through the grapevine and yeah, but from what the one thing I do understand, is that it sounds very complicated.
Alison Gordon: It's complicated and Canada's a highly regulated country. So you know, what do we have five banks, five cell phone companies. It's not going to be that there'll be thousands of these companies. What the government did put into effect last year was is the micro processing and micro grows. So you might, in referring to, you know, they're trying to license sort of small boroughs for people to transition from the black market.
But these, you know, it's a very difficult business to be in because then you have to figure out how to get your products onto a shelf which runs to the governments and requires enough quantity.
You know, it's like alcohol. It's like if you want to get your stuff in the LCBO Ontario and you only make a hundred bottles of something, that's very difficult for them to stock and spread out amongst their. So it's not, unfortunately the way it's structured today at business for small businesses.
Alison Gordon: Certain verticals might be, meaning you might grow up very small, grow very, you know, good quality craft, cheap and then sell it to a company like mine who has the ability to take that and get that on to along with our other products. But the industry needs to evolve to allow for small businesses to take part in it.
Kendra: So that's something your company does. Like you might look at like a, like a micro grow and like take their product. And try to like help them like get it to a bigger market?
Alison Gordon: Well, I think what we would do potentially, is we just buy it from them. So we just buy wholesale. It's not like to help them get on the shell. Right. It's to supply us with the high quality input. That we can then use our brands for. You know,
Kendra: it just seems like it's complicated and there's a lot of gray area right now. Because I mean I'm sure lots of people are still selling on the black market and I'm sure the black market's going to be around for a few more years before it totally disappears. Right?
Alison Gordon: The legal market is not gray at all. It's black and white. Right. For the average person, the black market and the gray market. Like it's all bleeding into one.
Totally. Well thank you so much for having this conversation.
Alison Gordon: Thank you.
Kendra: I feel like I learned a lot. I also learned I'm way more ignorant about this industry than I thought I was. That's good. I'll have to do some more reading and I'll definitely be following you on Instagram. And how can our listeners get hold of you and learn more about 48North and Rethink?
Alison Gordon: Well they can definitely follow us on Instagram at 48North. I am on Instagram as cannabisculturist. Which is a bit hard to spell. But if you find your way to 48 North, I'm sure you'll find your way to me. I think there is a lot of, I know there's a lot of great resources online for people to understand the health and wellness aspect of cannabis. So I would just suggest Googling and like whether it's Leafly, or Miss Grass, or any of these other content producers. Like you'll find your way to good content to start to understand what you know cannabis can do for your life.
Kendra: Awesome. Well thank you so much. I really, really appreciate you taking the time out of your, I'm sure. Like you sound like a busy person, so we really appreciate it. And thank you to all the listeners and as always, we will see you again in one week on Wednesday with another awesome episode of the 360 Health Biz Podcast. Love you all, and we'll talk to you guys next time.