Exile on Strain Street: Hard times in the Yucatán

Exile on Strain Street: Hard times in the Yucatán

where to find weed in mexico

Ted Mateja brings over ten years of experience in cannabis cultivation, project management, and regulatory compliance.

A veteran of the armed forces, Ted Mateja is an expert in all operational facets of the industry. Currently, he’s the president of Georgia Atlas, providing the best cannabis-based treatments to allow their patients to lead happier, safer lives through products designed to provide relief from a variety of conditions and encourage general wellness. 

In this episode, we’ll hear Ted’s viewpoints about cannabis in these trying times, how it is coping up, the legalization in Mexico, and optimistic sentiments amidst the pandemic situation.

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

1:54 – Best ganjas came from America
3:35 – Crucial part of growing
7:00 – Dry farming
11:46 – Legalization of cannabis in Mexico
13:45 – Cannabis in the pandemic situation
19:36 – Greening the black market
25:27 – OKC’s present environment
26:23 – Reflections during the epidemic condition

People Mentioned / Resources


Chip Baker: Hola mis amigos! This is Chip from The Real Dirt. In today’s dirt, I have my good friend Ted Mateja, and we’re speaking Spanglish coming live from Mexico say hey Ted.

Ted Mateja: Hola, everyone, and hola, to you, Chip. Always good to hear your voice always enjoy a good conversation with you. 

Chip Baker: Well, today is your birthday, right? 

Ted Mateja: Yeah, but I’ve started celebrating earlier because I figured I got the whole month down here by myself, so I might as well just celebrate the whole month.

Chip Baker: Well, Happy Birthday Ted!

Ted Mateja: Thank you Chip always means a lot [inaudible]

Chip Baker: So Ted is down in Mexico. His house down he’s decided to wade out the Corona virus. A worldwide quarantine in Mexico he’s living a luxurious life, he’s on the beach he’s kite surfing every day, he’s fishing, he’s looking at the waves. I mean wow! you could be hard to pass the time better any other way.

Ted Mateja: No, man things are getting so detrimental in the world the day. I went ahead and started sprouting marijuana seeds just in case it got really serious. Went to the garden and then started planting seeds just in the event that I need to be sustainable for a little while.

Chip Baker: Oh sweet man. That’s great.

Ted Mateja: Always ironic when an American is growing weed in Mexico, right? 

Chip Baker: What type of weeding smoking down there?

Best Ganjas came from America

Ted Mateja: Shit, whatever you can get really. So I mean, don’t get me wrong there’s good weed everywhere. And I’ve said this about the world America does have the best weed in the whole planet. And that’s not to say that we’re American– 

Chip Baker: Could you say that again?

Ted Mateja: I said, Americans have the best weed on the whole planet. There’s no doubt about that. 

Chip Baker: Oh true!

Ted Mateja: [inaudible] To find it. It’s infrastructure though, we have money behind it, there’s development, there’s capitalism going into it. So as that industry catches up later, and all these other countries come on board, I’m quite sure they’ll be able to produce cannabis on the same level as we are. It’s all about infrastructure and dollars and care that you can put into the cultivation process. Right? 

Chip Baker: Yeah, there’s a culture that has to happen to for sure. People have to know how to grow it and harvest it and what seeds to plant and what’s actually good and what’s not good. I mean, it’s more than just technology and seeds–

Ted Mateja: I will agree with you, but I will say this Chip, and this is something that I hold dearly is. When it comes to pots, not the most difficult thing to grow, and I don’t want to overstate that. So I take the word on that context. But 95% plus of cannabis case, and final product is about harvesting right? How you harvest this product? [inaudible] wrong even [inaudible]. So they’ve grown weed for years, hundreds of years. It’s the hardest thing and the curing process where it starts to differentiate itself from the other cannabis in the world, you lose so much integrity in your cannabis and art that’s right.

Crucial Part of Growing

Chip Baker: I’ll tell you if there’s one thing that I got out of this podcast is I’ve had multiple people come up to me over the past few years. And said something like, Man I took your advice, or you’re totally right, or I’m glad you said this, or I’m glad you recognized that, harvest is the most crucial part of growing and people don’t put enough time on it and it’s ruined right at that last second, I mean, I’ve had people come up to me and say, oh, pocket Yeah, I my weed is so much better because I harvest it properly after talking to your–, you know, you talking to a guest about it or listening to your show or doing some investigation with as you mentioned it like, man, that makes me feel good. I’m making better weed in the world with nothing to do much.

Harvest is the most crucial part of growing, and people don’t put enough time on it. – Chip Baker

Ted Mateja: Yeah, I know. And you’re 100% correct. It’s everything’s about harvest. You know, I’ll say this. And I guess that’s the limitation to give me a month, my company in Colorado forever. And I brought back some land raise strange, probably seven, eight years ago, and I ended up growing them in my indoor garden. Ironically, I started 20 seeds and all of them were females, which was ironic out of the deal. But there were some of my heaviest producers I’ve ever produced. And I’m talking beautiful, ganja beautiful, mega hiting ganja, testing 18 to 25% on the regular, I just grew it under the right circuit, right conditions that needed to be harvested in a way. So I’m a big fan of like landrace genetics [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Select the right landrace, then you cross it in with some other modern stuff and you can really get some great vigor great growth patterns, true hybrid vigor. I mean, we have a handful of landrace hybrids in the old seed stable these days, but yeah, there’s something there. There’s also man landraces that are land racist. You know, they’re not like our modern weed.

Ted Mateja: No, not at all. Not like our modern stuff that’s out there at all. But it’s always good to go come back to where you came from right? And start looking at some of these landraces. It’s one thing I never had the time to do was to breed. It’s been in the commercial industry where you’re just trying to pound out agriculture and weight and volume and never had the time to crossbreed some of these genetics– I would have loved to or loved to give them to some individuals that had the time that we’re doing cross for genetics. I had some really nice [inaudible] out of South America, Mexico that are cultivating up in the States. And I was really impressed with when you put them in a good indoor environment or greenhouse environments that they came along well.

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, man. I’ve got some Panama crosses, and some Angola’s and some ties and some Colombians and some Mexicans, we got a bunch of crosses and stuff. I’m actually looking forward to plant it out this year. We’re going to use them all of our landrace hybrids as dry farming. And so on a chunk of the ranch here we’re going to dry farm and we’re going to use those landrace strains to do it.

Dry Farming

Ted Mateja: Elaborate on that dry farming?

Chip Baker: So it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But basically it means that you’re primarily relying on just the natural rainfall or water table to irrigate your cannabis, right or your whatever crop. Now different crops have different techniques. I know some people are purist about it. The way we’re going to do it is we’re planting out the seeds directly into the ground. We’re going to give them as much water we can in the early part of their life, and then so we’re gonna run irrigation and everything. But it’s all overflow for us. So we’re kind of tapped out on our water, or as much water as we want to actually feed the rest of all of the cannabis carts we got, because we got another couple of acres that were irrigating daily, right? 

This way when you plant them out from seed like that the tap root like goes super deep, the root system becomes huge. And you start to like suck out the water of the field. Right, the plants might not get as big their color might be different. But you know, you don’t have to hear you don’t fertilize. It’s really I mean, it’s how all of the like, most of the, you know, landrace cannabis has always been growing. Right? No irrigation, no fertilization, just under the natural land cycle.

Ted Mateja: Well, that’s your strongest plants, right? I mean, when they say weed, [inaudible] it ends a weed. It will grow. It’s not the most difficult thing to grow. We get good quality–

Chip Baker: [inaudible] We’re choosing these landrace ones specifically so we can feel like that’s the one that they’re drought tolerant, they’re heat resistant– [inaudible]

Ted Mateja: There has to be really good with where you’re at in Oklahoma. And that Southern Oklahoma, Texas region. You’re going to need it more vigorous landrace strangles hot man. It’s hot, humid–

Chip Baker: Hot and windy– Right, it gets all of in here– 

Ted Mateja: Its fucking hell for you to go outside. 

Chip Baker: Wind’s blowing at 25 knots a day as a matter of fact. Yeah, it’s definitely a difficult environment growing outdoors here in Oklahoma. But you know, honestly this conditions are very similar to Southern Humboldt, most of the flowering time of the year, and the fall seemed beyond on forever I mean all the way to Thanksgiving. We had 90-degree days last week. 

For Oklahoma we were doing a lot of stuff for extraction, day neutral flowering, cannabis and landrace hybrids are a lot of the stuff we’re going to grow. We’re going to grow a bunch of clones to outdoors and in greenhouses and whatnot. But for the most part, it’s gonna be day neutral flowering cannabis ie. auto-flowers and landrace hybrids with that.

Ted Mateja: Yeah, it’s really interesting to see what’s going on in the world. Now cannabis is evolving in such a way you know, talking today I would never think about is throwing a whole bunch outdoor and someone like Oklahoma and think I could get high quality products. Not saying I’m against the skills of growing, it’s just in a genetic handle it, right.

Chip Baker: Well, you have to test it. Last year I planted out like 10 or 15 things, two things really, really stood out man. And so that those are the clones that we’re going to put out heavy next year. The Donkey Butter and the Gilz Nilz did great outside. The Purple Punch did phenomenal in the greenhouses. So, you know, the Purple Punch didn’t do so good in the full outdoors though it turned brown and just didn’t have a great taste. So you just got to trial and error it man, you gotta plant that shit out and see what happens.

Legalization of Cannabis in Mexico

Ted Mateja: 100% trial and error, I believe into that, you know, even some of what I’m going to do with a couple strains down here it’s highly illegal for me to do this to Mexico. What highly illegal–

Chip Baker: No, medicinal, just tell them medicinal.

Ted Mateja: Yeah, well, of course. I mean, it granted Mexico’s legal now I think they are legal there’s this recreational bill. But, just because it says that in its constitution, this is only recently this has happened in the past three months. It’s kind of like early days of cannabis in Colorado where the police weren’t quite aware of the laws that were around, right. I mean, for a while people are busting people in Colorado, and they didn’t know and you would sue and you would win, right? Because they didn’t educate the law enforcement on it. And that’s kind of what we have here and you’re not educating up on the current development law. 

Well I’m planning to grow a couple of strains, I’m going to grow them low, kind of make them really tiny so I can keep them where they’re not, you know, crawling over a 20 foot fence. That’s like, we’re going to play with this a little bit and see what happens. Everything always can chop one down, but that’s not an option.

Chip Baker: We got to chop it down [inaudible]

Ted Mateja: My life cycle here is a continual 12-12 yearly I think max is 13 and a half hours. Max 13 hours a day light and exceeding and the lowest is like 11 hours and [inaudible] I get flower out all year round. Yeah the other good greenhouse with some offset lighting you want to do commercial, not a problem–

Chip Baker: [inaudible] automatically going to commercial.

Ted Mateja: I mean, that’s how you and I think, how much can we produce? Right? commodity.

Chip Baker: Commodity. Absolutely. So yeah, just to catch you guys up. I’m sitting here talking to Ted Mateja. Ted is a founder of Atlas Cannabis, they’re international cannabis company. They’re involved in license and license in all over the country from Denmark degrees to Colombia to the old USA. And the reason I called Ted up today was one because it’s his birthday, Happy Birthday! 

I wanted to talk about like, you know, what’s going on with cannabis internationally since we have this current, you know Corona virus that we’re dealing with and how he thinks it’s affecting us right now and how he thinks is going to affect us in the future. You know, one of the things that’s come up is cannabis is essential. Now, let’s talk about that.

Ted Mateja: Man, isn’t that an interesting subject on its own? Really, we’ve been waiting years for that to happen. And, you know, one just to give thought to the political environment right now globally, it’s a shitty situation what we have going on all over the world with is COVID-19 and whatnot. But it’s really promising for cannabis people to see in the United States. What are we like 33-36 states or something that are medically legal. And I could be shooting, I could be a wrong back couple but doesn’t matter but more so is all these states that are legal medically, are beaming cannabis essential. It’s essential as guns, as essential as alcohol, as essential as the damn grocery store being open. And that is a very, very promising thing in today’s environment. We were talking about 15 years ago we were laughing [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally. We would have said it needed to be. In Denver a couple of days ago they issued a stay at home warning and list the non-essential businesses and recreational cannabis facilities and liquor stores weren’t included on the initial list. Man within just a few hours though, it was a reissuing of the list and the first thing it said was, um, well, of course, recreational cannabis shops as well as liquor stores can remain open.

Ted Mateja: For sure, hey, I’ve moved most of my money in the stock market just over to the liquor sales. So liquor distributors and that Southern glacier. Hey liquor sales are up 220% right now, that’s a fact. I didn’t make that number, it was a fact. So, you know, marijuana in areas that are solid and stable are doing quite well, which is good, which is very promising for the industry. But what else you’re gonna do, you’re quaratined at home. 

There’s nothing to do, either you’re going to drink or you’re going to smoke some weed all day because there’s nothing to do and humans were not meant to just sit down all day long. Some people are so I agree. Some people are but, I’m not. And most people I know aren’t. We have to keep moving so might as well do something with the day just stay stone and forget about it.

Chip Baker: So how has the virus affected other cannabis operations throughout the world? Have you talked to anyone with any of your other contacts? 

Ted Mateja: Yeah, I mean, well, you and I are on a project in Georgia, that’s one that’s getting installed. But we’re gonna we can get into that later. In the United States, we’re more established with policy medically, per se, to walk away from recreational environment, right because it wouldn’t be politically correct to say recreational, we still be going to source smoking weed. I agree we should but whatever. 

Medically it’s stopped globally. It’s stopped. Everything is based around this Corona virus. And I don’t think you know, 2020 was a very critical year for myself. And cannabis, because I thought there was gonna be a lot of policy to passing was totally heavily different just in the States and internationally. But we’re gonna stop right now with the COVID-19. We’re 100% there’s nothing gonna happen. 

Chip Baker: It’s going to be topsy turvy in the marketplace too, because is a huge portion of the Colorado and California, Oregon and Washington legal cannabis business and there’s no tourism going on right now. So I mean, I’m not sure what back in but in Colorado several years ago is considered almost half 50% of the sales with tourist sales. So, man without those guys going 50% dude, there’s just gonna be immediately this huge overproduction for all of these shops that had developed retail organizations and then a big fuel, big huge grow to supply that. So you know, those guys they’re gonna like be doing 50% less business at their retail stores. They’re gonna have all this weed. They’re not normally used to like wholesaling weed like tons of people are, and then the wholesalers, they’re still gonna have their weed. So, man, the markets are gonna be flooded the price in Colorado is already dropped like a chunk. And, you know, just the past few weeks it’s perceived that business is really good right now. But I think overall it might not be so man. Just what’s gonna happen when it all catches up when it floods.

Greening the Black Market

Ted Mateja: Well, I like to think I have a great understanding of what that was because it was a time back in the day where everything was [inaudible]. And I remember the 2008-2009 when we had the recession, the black market cannabis was some of the highest profit margin you could ever make during the years and I was originally thinking that that would cause the same type of situation during COVID-19. But to be honest with you, look at the tourism. What about like you look up in Northern Humboldt, and year old area? What about people come into tram, come into work, come into harvest, there’s no mobility right now. 

Chip Baker: Labor is hard right now. It is hard.

Ted Mateja: It’s going to hurt. And black market controls. As much as– I don’t like to say this out loud, the black market dictates price of the legal market. So I think, yeah, the legal market is going to have a glut of overproduction, but I don’t think it’s gonna hurt him on sales, I don’t–

Chip Baker: Well, I mean, currently, it’s not but I don’t know, man. We’ll see, in the states that don’t have recreational their sales are going up, right, because they’re not reliant on a tourist market. But you know, it’s it’s already– So, overall wholesale prices in Colorado have dropped in just the past few weeks and it was rapid drop as well.

Ted Mateja: And that’s on illegal market correct? 

Chip Baker: Yep. Hey, people aren’t going to like stop smoking weed. So private market sales to places like Indiana and Georgia and all the states that don’t have access to legal medication medicine, they’re all going to like ramp-up.

Ted Mateja: Their prices are going to go up. You know.

Chip Baker: It seems that consumer prices is still paying the same as they have for 30 years, man on the consumer end, right. It’s like hardly changed at all. It’s all the middleman people transporting it, growing it, they’re making the money.

Ted Mateja: That’s a whole another podcast alone.

Chip Baker: Yeah. Right.

Ted Mateja: I got you off the rails on this–[inaudible]

Chip Baker: Sales structure [inaudible] brand of this market. 

Ted Mateja: Yeah, as you know, the guys that got fucked in that deal were people like you and me the cultivators. 

Chip Baker: Absolutely got grower grain, he ain’t getting shit– the guy who’s reselling the cereal at the grocery store, he’s getting paid. Right and all he has to do is buy [inaudible]

Ted Mateja: I remember back in the day especially like, you know, when the market started dropping, I would sell a lot of old wholesale black market stuff, and I always drop my prices down, you know, my margin I knew when I needed to make. And I know that. And I was like, you should pass this down to the consumer. They only do it for so far. When you get into the middleman that guy is distributing eight orders out. He or she don’t give a shit–

Chip Baker: On a dollar quarters, $60 rates. 

Ted Mateja: Yep, right all day long. And that’s why I’m a big fan of the recreational market getting illegal because then I tell them in this big thing it scared me you know, back in 2012 and 2013. I truly thought the recreational market was going to make this product more expensive for people. Man, by the time we [inaudible] a goddamn eight it’s gonna cost us $100. Now the recreational the legal market has been very good for cannabis consumers. I mean, can you find eighth on the street for $35-$40. You can buy an eighth in the store $35-$40. 

Yes, you can get a cheaper you get more expensive, but just in general. But I can walk into a store and go can get 100 different types of varieties, right, it gives you an option. And when you think about sales and to the consumer, if you take me into a store and so I need to spend $1,000 on this item. But I’ve got five other items I can spend $900-$1100, $1200 eight. I’m always going to go to the most– it gives you options. It makes retail experience. It becomes shopping, it’s fun. You end up spending more money because you have options.

Chip Baker: Oh yeah, me too, man. Me too. Same one, can I have one of those, one of those– 

Ted Mateja: Of course. Kind of like a– I like to come out with like a Skittles stock every time I go on the store I’m like this is [inaudible] amazing.

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally it’s you know, it’s good changing like that all over that man. I mean, you know, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, like everybody is hopping on some type of medical cannabis operation man it’s everywhere.

We need to set this industry up correctly with the proper rules, proper regulation, proper environment. Then we’ll all make money, but it’ll be a benefit to society and people. – Ted Mateja

Ted Mateja: It’s moving along very well. I mean, it’s solid. It’s really– I don’t want to say shitty. It’s shitty for marijuana business right now. We’re getting policy passed during the current environment right now, but it’s really hard to look cannabis from a distant you know, we’re doing this fairly right. We’re setting this up correctly. And I always take pride into going into places to say the way I tell people I’m not financially motivated. Yes I want to make money, yes there’s money [inaudible] first off we need to set this industry up correctly with the proper rules, proper regulation, proper environment and then we’ll all make money but it’ll be benefit to the society and people. We can [inaudible] you very long time for this, you know as much as anybody.

Chip Baker: Yeah man preach on dude. This true thought, get rid of the greed and just start growing the weed and things will work out.

Get rid of the greed and just start growing the weed, and things will work out. – Chip Baker

OKC’s Present Environment

Ted Mateja: Absolutely. How’s Oklahoma’s environment right now? 

Chip Baker: Well, a bunch of places have shut down because the Corona virus you know my wife’s dispensary, she shut that down. She kept the clone nursery going. We just have somebody that goes in there one day a week and takes care of everything. So that’s still happening. 

We got a pretty good sized garden plan for the year and our sales and the grow stores have been holding pretty steady. So we see that like people are still smoking tons of weed the mark is not like full yet it’s not flooded jet you know there’s still room for people to grow and put it together. I mean, you know, we’ll see what happens with the fallout from this Corona virus. But, man, as far as I know, man, people that are unemployed they smoke more weed.

Reflections during the Epidemic Condition

Ted Mateja: Utilize this time to get closer to your family. Get your own personal situations under order. Use this time to self reflect on you. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Make it solid. It’s good, but you know what I mean? Like it’s use this time to reflect. We’re humans. 

Humans can survive anything. We’re humans, and we’re survivors, we’re gonna get through this. We don’t know what it’s gonna be. I mean, you and me. I love talking to people, especially the older generation. I love turning people that are against cannabis and educating them. So you know, we’re not a bunch of weed hippies around here we’re actually business people, we’re like minded, we want something that’s positive for the world. Nobody’s ever seen a situation like this, some of my biggest investors they’re in their 80s and late 70s 80s, early 90s and I came to them for like I haven’t seen and you want to understand and nobody’s ever seen this we don’t know what’s going to come up with situation around.

Chip Baker: Now, we just have to keep our eyes open for the right opportunity for all of us to scale our businesses. Whichever, scale up or scale down, whichever is good for you. And, you know, just have a little compassion in our hearts about you know, the people we know around us

Ted Mateja: That’s the biggest thing man, you’re right, you run over scaling up or scaling down. But this is time as a society, especially as a country that we still love each other and be like, hey, how can I help you? You help me and I try to help each other survive and be successful when we come out of this correctly. Take all the hate away from the world. [inaudible]

Keep our eyes open for the right opportunity for all of us to scale our businesses. – Chip Baker

Chip Baker: Dude, I agree, man. It’s a small world, man. Well, Ted, it’s been a good chat with you from Mexico. I’m glad we got to speak to you on your birthday. This is the birthday episode, Ted Mateja. Ted, you got any parting advice for cannabis entrepreneurs out there here for the rest of 2020?

Ted Mateja: Yeah, I’ve got Well, I have a bunch of good advice and good night scene did happen. More stories, man. Keep pushing. I came from a situation where people didn’t like cannabis and was always against me. And you said, Chip, we’ve known each other for a long time. We’re pioneers. And we need future pioneers in this industry to keep the thing pushing across get it across the finish line as an industry, in a sustainable and very productive manner that’s good not only for the society, but economics has to play a role in it because we know that the world does work without money. So creating an environment where we’re sustainable economically and socially is huge in this industry. 

Chip Baker: Well, thanks again for joining me, Ted. And if you liked this episode, download this or others, check us out on therealdirt.com or look for us on podcasts at the iTunes The Real Dirt podcast subscribe, please check us out on Instagram, Facebook, all that stuff, comment, follow back, say What’s up, give us some ideas. Reach out anytime you’re in the area. Definitely check out Cultivate Colorado if you’re in Denver. Cultivate OKC, see if you’re down here in Oklahoma City. And again, then there’s a baker’s medicinal baker’s clone nursery. Right now your great, great genetics. So yeah, if you’re in the area stop by and say hi, otherwise roll the largest joint up you can and listen to the next episode of The Real Dirt.

Ted Mateja: Perfect, Chip. Love you brother, always.

Subscribe & Review

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From Red Bull to CBD: Reinventing Energy Supplements

From Red Bull to CBD: Reinventing Energy Supplements

best CBD supplements

John Zolikoff came out of the motorcycle and action sports world. He worked for 15 years at Harley-Davidson and Austrian sports motorcycle maker KTM.

During that time, John worked closely with Red Bull back in early 2000 when energy drinks were entering the market.

After experiencing the health benefits of CBD several years ago, and on a mission to find healthy energy that he could take any time, anywhere, John started ZOHKO in 2018. He pulled together scientists and doctors to create ZOHKO Energy, which is on the cusp of creating a new energy category.

ZOHKO Energy combines CBD with eight power-packed ingredients to boost energy, mood, motivation, and focus, all while the adaptogens strengthen immunity and help fight stress.

Here’s an exciting episode about branding and developing a company with a CBD expert. Remarkable insights await from John Zolikoff on how ZOHKO developed their brand, used unique marketing strategies, how they target their market and sell their products.

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

4:53 – Transitioning from motorcycle and sports world to CBD
8:24 – A light bulb moment on CBD
13:31 – Pushing through the CBD industry
18:05 – Branding ZOHKO energy
21:42 – Your brand is your avatar
33:52 – Sales channels
35:32 – Keeping the CBD business rolling
38:05 – Where to find them​

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with John Zolikoff

Connect with  Chip Baker


Chip Baker: Hey, this Chip of The Real Dirt. In today’s dirt, I want to talk about branding and developing a company. To talk to my good buddy John Zolikoff about his company, ZOHKO. Now it’s a CBD energy supplement company but the reason I wanted to have John on so he could talk to people about how they develop their brand, their branding strategy, how they develop their customers, how they sell the product, just all the like little things that it takes to bring a product to market. 

Now many people cannabis or hemp farmers, all they’re interested in is you know, growing lots of ganja which I’m totally fine with that. But many people realize they need to have some sort of added value product or they need something more than they can grow or they can produce, and so a branded or a formulated product is the perfect way to do it. You know, if you’re interested in hemp, you’re in Interested in CBD, if you’re interested in ganja, this is going to be a great great great episode. And we literally like you know you can use this format and develop your company kind of based behind it develop your brand, kind of behind it. So sit back and enjoy this next episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker and John Zolikoff

Hey, this is Chip from The Real Dirt, and on today’s dirt, I have my good buddy John Zolikoff come to you live from Sarasota, Florida. Say hello, John.

John Zolikoff: Hey, everyone. Hey Chip. Great to be here.

Chip Baker: Oh, man, the birds are chirping in the background. I hear you a little puppies going on. Just looks and sounds like an incredible place to be right now. What’s going on in Florida, man?

John Zolikoff: Well, it’s a it’s a good place to to be isolating for sure. So we’re close to the beach as you can see. Got great setup here so we’re hunkered down, good place for ZOHKO headquarters to be trying to support everyone and you know, Sarasota is where– So as you mentioned, we’ve got eight puppies right now.

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, we can’t. I can’t really hear them. I hear the birds. They sound great. They’re very pleasant, John.

John Zolikoff: Yes. So we’re surrounded by nature. So that’s we’re enjoying this is how we’re gonna heal ourselves, right?

Chip Baker: Oh, man treat is just looks and sounds incredible. I’m also in a self isolating format, as you can see grooming myself so well.

John Zolikoff: I shave for you today!

Chip Baker: Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s great. What do you mean I think I shaved?

John Zolikoff: My Sunday best–

Chip Baker: My Saturday sweatshirt on, even though it’s Monday right now.

John Zolikoff: And that’s how we met. Was that baby bathwater–

Chip Baker: Yeah, baby bathwater on a Saturday or a day that felt like it anyway. 

John Zolikoff: Yeah, exactly. 

Chip Baker: Yeah. So John, the reason you know I have you on The Real Dirt is John, you’re one of the founders or the founder of ZOHKO, which is a CBD and energy supplement company. John, you’ve started several other businesses in the past, and you know this is a new venture for you and so many people are thinking about getting involved in a CBD or cannabis business or already have some sort of CBD or cannabis business and you took a slightly different approach to starting your business then then maybe many other people. And you spoke about it at all and how you kind of got involved with it but as the brand you want it to develop this brand. Because in previous businesses you didn’t necessarily own you know, own what you were doing. It was someone else’s brain. So, again, I’m glad we can chat with you about a day. Hey man, how did you kind of come up with this idea of to start a CBD energy supplement? 

Transitioning from Motorcycle and Sports World to CBD

John Zolikoff: Well, so as you said, I, you know, going back I came out of the action sports world so I was in motorcycles I was with Harley Davidson and then KTM sport motorcycles, and KTM has a relationship back between the founders in Austria with Red Bull. So back in like the late night 1990s and early 2000s when Red Bull was just coming into the market. We were doing crazy partnerships with them, you know, with like all that extreme sports and you know skydiving and motorcycle races. So I was in kind of in that group and saw like, I mean Red Bull created the category right before that there were no energy drinks and so then all sudden. I was also kind of in that extreme world of, you know, riding motorcycles and jumping out of airplanes and you know, so we want to [inaudible] Back in the day now I’m just the old guy with all the puppies and kids and grandkids. I saw what all that energy and what energy drinks and you know that how much people would pay for that energy and then also seeing the brand.

Chip Baker: So you learn from some of the major brands and a completely kind of different arena though it’s not healthcare or it’s I mean it’s a much more consumer oriented product than a healthcare product. No I’m talking to my ass.

John Zolikoff: Oh no for sure. So I come in straight out of university actually even my, my thesis, I did it on Harley Davidson. So I had a motorcycle. I bought a Harley when I was in college. I ran a business back then a bartending agency. 

Chip Baker: So you were a fan. 

John Zolikoff: So I was uh, yeah, so and I talked them into sponsoring my thesis and so that was what I love to do. But then about 13-14 years ago, I met my wife, as women will do they, they change you and she’s from Brazil, but she’s also a vegetarian and very much into sustainability. And so it was and then also I started my family and so it was this shift in my life I swore when I met my wife that I would never give up eating meat. And that took about a year to become a vegetarian because she was a really good cook. But more and more, I’ve become healthier with my life and the benefits I feel great. 

So with the energy drinks that we’re doing all the time in the motorcycle world it wasn’t hard to figure out that those are bad for you with all the chemicals and sugar but [inaudible] were much. Still, then you get into than I was into coffee and that’s how I kind of raise my kid was just drinking coffee all day to keep up with my– he’s 12-year-old years old now. But I was always looking for this natural energy and something I can feel good because otherwise, you feel like you’re always like stealing from the future, your future longevity for your industry today, right?

I was always looking for this natural energy and something I can feel good because otherwise, you feel like you’re always stealing from the future, your future longevity for your industry today. – John Zolikoff

Chip Baker: So you are you already looking at an energy type of supplement or you’ve been thinking about it for years and the CBD just it was the lightbulb moment?

A Light Bulb Moment on CBD

John Zolikoff: Yeah for the CBD for me was you know I’ve been into hemp and cannabis for years and but I had this chronic pain in my shoulders that came like out of nowhere. And and it hurt a lot just to raise a you know, higher than shoulder height. And we went through the traditional medical tests, MRIs and x rays and cortisone shots which you can’t do multiple times, but none of it helped. And then finally the doctors like I don’t understand it, can’t figure it out. And you just have to live with it. Maybe cut back on this or whatever. I tried to– 

Chip Baker: But you didn’t cut back in the weed? 

John Zolikoff: No, I didn’t [inaudible]. But just smoking the weed didn’t stop–

Chip Baker: Didn’t do it. No, it doesn’t. And that’s the thing is CBD is anti-inflammatory–

John Zolikoff: That was the medicine. And so a friend recommended it. And it was, I think it’s called ACDC. And, you know, within a day it cut the pain in half. And by the end of the week, like it was down to 10% of what it was before. So that was powerful for me personally. So then the —

Chip Baker: A major believer–

John Zolikoff: Exactly. And knowing as the market became more legal, at least enough that I wanted to look into it. And so then I sought out how could I find like the experts and the best– and then I found you, so but, you know, so that was like the next step [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Here’s how John found us as we were in the corner, smoking weed in a circle. So those large smoke cloud coming up between us and John recognize the smoke signal. And, Hey, man, what are you guys doing?

John Zolikoff: That’s exactly how it happened. And I think we played that out a few different times. But then we’re also you know, at that event, there were a number of really knowledgeable and experts in the new market in hemp, CBD and cannabis. I remember some really good advice that you gave, and some of it was, I was like, Okay, well, California is opening up. I would love to have my own.

Chip Baker: You want, you thought you wanted to grow it?

John Zolikoff: I wanted to do a farm. Yeah, exactly. And so you start calling me farmer John, I think was and somehow–

Chip Baker: Farmer John Oh, I said, Oh, John over there. He wants to be a farmer, farmer John.

John Zolikoff: And somehow I just didn’t, you know, I couldn’t see like, you know, I haven’t grown up in the field, right? I don’t have that kind of expertise. So something there– And I remember you also saying that they look at, there’s an opportunity now, but as soon as the big companies come in, it’s going to get, you know, the prices will just get gutted, like, soy and everything else, right. So, that made a lot of sense. And then you said that, the real places to focus on CBD, which is legal, and across the country and to, and to create a brand, you know, to– So, I mean I think two years later here, maybe from that discussion, but it was appreciated, is great advice. And–

Chip Baker: Hey, man, this is a perfect time for us to stop for a break here. We’ll come back and we’re going to talk about like, your next step, you had the idea, and how did you want to do it differently than you had before? All right, here’s The Real Dirt. We’ll be back in a moment. 

Hey, this is Chip, I hope you’re enjoying this episode of The Real Dirt. I just wanted to have a little public service announcement out there in these trying times. I just want to encourage everyone to have a little bit more tolerance with people around them, with their family, with their friends, and the people they interact in the world. You know, it’s gotten to be an incredibly small world lately, and we all realize that we’re in it together. So the next time that you feel a little stressed or you see somebody else stress, just take, just take a second. Relax, and if you can, roll up the largest join that you can. And then enjoy another episode of The Real Dirt. Thanks again, we’ll get back into it. Right now. 

All right, and we’re back with John Zolikoff. We’re talking about how John has started a CBD energy supplement company. So John, you had this idea and, you know, kind of– Take me to the steps of like, what kind of happened? What was the next thing that happened? You had the idea, and you decided you wanted to make some CBD products.

Pushing through the CBD Industry

John Zolikoff: Yeah. So for sure CBD. So we partnered early on with obviously we were starting with CBD and we searched out the best sources for that. Being able to go all the way back and trace the genetics and make sure that we’re getting full spectrum. So we got all the cannabinoids and so that was the foundation. But then also, for me, it was important I wanted to create supplements that people could really feel like from the beginning and so, the idea from the beginning was also to come up with engineered or formulated products with intentional benefits so, energy was the obvious one and the starting point. 

We searched out a group that is like the best in formulating performance supplements. And so, it was a little bit, I think, a different approach than most people. So product development was key. We wanted to include energy ingredients, but also adaptogens, which even now is, even more, I think timely with adaptogens are great at boosting your immunity and fighting stress and in fatigue. So, that was important. So coming up with the right formula was key, then sourcing the full-spectrum CBD then finding even the manufacturer. Our formula is unique it’s a like a liquid, so it’s like a maybe see here it’s got oil in there, so it’s MCT oil plus the CBD, but then it’s got seven other ingredients so there’s Caffeine, Dynamine, which is a Kucha tea leaf extract and gives a nice even energy that just kind of tapers off at the end versus kind of that nervous energy with a crash that a lot you’ll get from energy drinks. 

Chip Baker: Oh, hold on. Let me get some coffee.

John Zolikoff: Well, we got you got ZOHKO on the way. I know guys like it but yeah, exactly. So instead of that big, you know rush and kind of, you know jittery effect. This is a nice even the combination of the caffeine and the Dynamine and the hemp just really works nicely. Then so we’ve got lots of B vitamins and Rhodiola which like the Russian astronauts and cosmonauts and athletes have been using forever. Through Ginsengs, Spirulina, MCT Oil and it’s a vegetarian capsule. There are certain things that are really important for me I wanted this to be something that I was going to take. I mean I basically since I got my first samples a year and almost a year and a half ago, I’ve more or less given up coffee. I like the taste but this is just so much easier and I know that I’m getting all these other health ingredients on top of it but for example, vegetarian capsules were important to me being a vegetarian. 

So that was a big thing. I designed it for what I was looking for. Making sure people– a lot of people talk about their CBD, that they’re that it makes them tired or drowsy and they can’t take it during the day with [inaudible] You can get your 25 milligrams of CBD in each capsule, and you can go to work and be focused and, you know, the Dynamine–

Chip Baker: I usually take two. Just saying.

John Zolikoff: And that’s why each one has 100 milligrams of caffeine and all these other ingredients, but they’re, it’s the right amount that you can stack it. So that’s the official recommendation is not to exceed 400 milligrams of caffeine of the day. So we say don’t take more than four. But the Dynamine is really a neat ingredient. It’s new on the market, and they promote it. They say, EMF, I think it’s EMMF. So energy, mood, motivation and focus, which right now, like especially we’re all working at home. So how do you keep your head straight while, you got kids and puppies running around? Or if you’re trying to focus and create your new thing, right, it’s great for that. So that’s on the products side and we’re really happy. I mean, you’ve had it people really like it–

Branding ZOHKO Energy

Chip Baker: So you wanted to formulate the product, right? You didn’t want to do a white label product, you wanted something specific for you, you want to stand out. So you got a formulator you had the idea, right? You wanted something different. And how did you approach the brand side? How did you develop because many people don’t even know what a brand is. I guess that’s all up for debate. It’s more than just a logo. How did you approach the next phase?

John Zolikoff: Yeah. So this is what we ended up with, which is so ZOHKO energy, CBD plus energy. I have launched as you mentioned, I’ve started a lot of different companies and I’ve done kind of the branding and always just on my own right. Then just kind of didn’t take a disciplined approach to it, and go through a process and so knowing that the market was going to be so competitive, knowing that looking at the market and really, not to offend anyone, but if you look at the CBD market, there’s just like it all like–

Chip Baker: Charlatans and homespun bullshit and people just want to get rich quick, I’ll say it

John Zolikoff: Yeah, there you go. But no one really looking at it from like a consumer products perspective, right? Like how to really connect with people and like it’s always it’s CBD, the CBD this CBD that, hemp the you know, it’s just like, and even our first idea was like Blue River Hemp. Right? That was that would have been [inaudible] the process that would have been the first that would have been in and then we would have just been competing with every other hemp company to try and be the most trusted or the most whatever. So, we worked with branding for the people, a great group that so we invested first before everything in the brand and that process that we went through, forced us to identify our customers. So it was we came up with three or four avatars, but all around kind of active outdoor adventure type people. And then, you know, you relate to them a little bit differently, like I’m Gen X, I’m 49 right? So I kind of grew up in all this action, extreme sports stuff. But now like I mean–

We invested first before everything in the brand, and that process that we went through forced us to identify our customers. – John Zolikoff

Chip Baker: Now you’re beat up. 

John Zolikoff: I’m beat up and I need yeah, lubricate–

Chip Baker: My elbow, my arm, my shoulders–

John Zolikoff: Exactly. But this now gives me– This gives me energy, and it gives my body like the lubrication to go out and charge and do things than I used to, or not at the same level. It is so focusing on who was our target demographic. And for me, it was just kind of like looking. I’m just going to kind of do almost like the Red Bull in a healthy energy, right? And what’s great is like, so you get a bottle of this, it’s 30 servings, right? That’s like 30 energy drinks in your pocket, or 30 double shot, you know, Starbucks double shots like that.

Chip Baker: That’s a month supply.

John Zolikoff: Exactly. And so for me, like, I would always go to like these trade shows or even when I traveled, I’d go buy those little Starbucks double shot four packs. Yeah, totally. I would put those in my– every everywhere I went, I put those in my luggage because that was my best way to just get my caffeine and my energy to go and now I have this solution. 

Your Brand is Your Avatar

Chip Baker: Yeah. So you mentioned avatars early, you’ve had a couple of different avatars. Let’s explain to people what that means.

John Zolikoff: So that’s where you sit down and you describe the psychographics and the personality, the activities how people [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Of your perceived customer even. 

John Zolikoff: Yep. The media they consume, the places they go just how– so that you can speak specifically to them. What we’re finding is the formula. I mean, there’s so many people that want natural, convenient energy. And so our avatar was actually kind of this young like originally like 18 to 30 year old. 

Chip Baker: He’s made one avatar. 

John Zolikoff: The first one is that one avatar, so it was pretty, it was a younger one than what we’re finding it to be but so and we called him Travis like Travis Pastrana, if you know action sports, he’s like the original, extreme sports guy. And so you as a group we built out this whole page that describes everything about Travis.

Chip Baker: Who Travis’s what he looks like, what he drives, what he what he does?

John Zolikoff: Yep, we now have like four different avatars. So there’s Travis and you come up with names so that people can relate to a little bit better but so now there’s four. So that was the avatar part then you also wanted to come up with the Archetypes. It’s also like the personality of the company like are you like a National Geographic? Are you like the most trusted you know are you like IBM and so there’s this whole through the process. They give examples of other the personalities of other types of companies. And you pick you decide what you want your– So for me, what was really amazing for this was like, we spent a lot of money invested but it was so refreshing to be able to just like dream up who I really wanted my customer to be, right i mean like this.

Chip Baker: So the importance is this is like if you know what your customer is and what they look like your potential customer what they look like and then you start to imagine what they’re going to be attracted to the colors that they’re going to buy the colors that they’re using, the language the copy the content, the sales letters, all of that comes from this avatar. Alright, how do you speak to Travis? Right? How do you lore Travis to come over the ZOHKO–

John Zolikoff: Yeah. And then you start to build off of that. So the archetypes I mentioned. So ours is you know, kind of fun loving and there’s like adjuster, adventure adjuster, there’s two but so that’s part of the process, but then also, we had to come up with a name right? So like Blue River Hemp and then there was someone had you know, I mentioned earlier that like the CBD, as you get older, kind of lubricate. It helps with all your joints and everything just feels better. So one idea was, you know, Life Loob, which sounds a little bit too looby. But there was this whole process of trying to name storm and then come up with a– 

Chip Baker: That’s for a different avatar. 

John Zolikoff: Yeah, so Life Loob didn’t make it. So, ZOHKO, it’s funny I have been called ZOHKO. My last name is Zolikoff so not exactly ZOHKO. For 20 years I’ve been using ZOCO, which is kind of short for Zolikoff company for different projects and consulting. My good friend and my son’s godfather who is the director of motorsports for Red Bull, and he’s an investor in ZOHKO, when I was sending them, I think an invoice for something and had that Zoco name on it as he was involved in this name storming process or this naming process and he goes, he goes, Hey, man, and for me, it’s kind of like seemed a bit egotistical, you know, like I just haven’t. I’m not put my name on things kind of, but I love the name. I just love the sound of it. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, that was a great name. 

John Zolikoff: And so he encouraged that, and so then we had to figure out so ZOCO but then you have to get the domain name right so there’s this whole process and so it shifted to the ZOHKO.

Chip Baker: And that’s the other thing about making up, then the the spelling of it is you got the .com and we can see that and tons of stuff these days. It’s hard to get the .com so if you spell your own word–

John Zolikoff: I mean, ZOCCO was like out of the box– [inaudible]

Chip Baker: [inaudible] Percent. Yeah, of course. 

John Zolikoff: When we got ZOHKO– 

Chip Baker: I bought The Real Dirt. 

John Zolikoff: Yeah, you are The Real Dirt. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally. 

John Zolikoff: That was kind of how those [inaudible]

Chip Baker: I just found out that some of my haters call me The Real Dirtbag, but I believe it’s just because you know, that dude’s a jackass and like, you can’t– probably know who you are.

John Zolikoff: He’s probably more into tea bagging. Anyway–

Chip Baker: Definitely, he’s definitely a Tea bagger, which Hey, man, if you’re in a tea bagging, and I’m not gonna, like, you know, like down you for that, that’s your own sport, whatever you want. 

John Zolikoff: That’s also a different avatar. 

Chip Baker: Right? It’s a different avatar. I’m not going to judge you over your tea bagging but like, you can’t be an asshole about it when you do it. Right. Totally inappropriate John, let’s get back to branding. So the thing I love about the avatar is now you get to take that avatar to every person that you do business with. So your website guy, your label guy, your packaging guy, you get to go take him Travis avatar be like, Hey, this is our customer.

John Zolikoff: Yeah, so it’s even more than that. So the avatar definition was part of building the brand platform and that’s the whole process. So that’s not only so we we created the avatar– so we were working through a whole process over the course of about six weeks. And it was laid out step by step. 

The avatar definition was part of building the brand platform, and that’s the whole process. – John Zolikoff

The avatar was part of it as the name storming and then like one of the main guys, design guys, they came up with a storyboard, after you know, was another step of the process where you know, they came up with images that would help us like narrow zero in on on the logo and things like that. Out of nowhere, the dude came up with a techno zebra so there’s this really cool storyboard that’s got this the zebra with like headphones on and sunglasses and, and somehow that evolved into what we have and but it’s interesting. So Zolikoff is my last name, I always when I spell my name, it’s Z as in zebra, right? Because B and Z and all these other so like It’s just–

Chip Baker: I might spell an axe occasionally but–

John Zolikoff: Yeah, so this is you know it looks really nice on swag I made it. It stands out it doesn’t say hempright it doesn’t say CBD it’s something that people are can really relate to we have a lot that we can do. You know they were very–

Chip Baker: You’re not pigeoned into like a one product, you can do whatever you want and add CBD to it instead of just being pigeon holed into a CBD company. 

John Zolikoff: Exactly. CBD is an ingredient, right. 

Chip Baker: CBD is a main ingredient.

John Zolikoff: It’s not a whole product or a whole experience. And then the group took you know, as we work through the process, the first thing was to get our labeling because we needed to you know, we had product. We had about dozen different things all you know on parallel timelines–

Chip Baker: You developed your brand story, you developed your avatar, you developed your labeling, your bottling your packaging, like how long did it take in order for you to actually get sellable product. How many months did it take?

John Zolikoff: So we really launched ZOHKO on an island in Croatia, in June of 2018. We had product we had the energy capsules by the end of December. 

Chip Baker: June, six months. Okay.

John Zolikoff: And I would say that’s a pretty condensed I mean, I was pushing–

Chip Baker: That’s great. It’s hard for me to get a product in the market and within three or four months like that, I’m struggling to get in through it in four months [inaudible]

John Zolikoff: And for me, it was all new, right? Like, I have I have an engineering like a general engineering degree. So I I’m used to doing projects and business development developers but you know, just the labeling right every step it was like you have to learn a new a whole new set of notes right but you do that all the time–

Chip Baker: Oh man, you know, I mean once you get through a couple products, it’s not the same but it’s definitely something you have to think about in food and supplements those are absolutely different fertilizers but yeah, it’s just you know, huge you know, just rules you have to follow when you put the packaging together. So man–

John Zolikoff: [inaudible] fine with them, you know, we set up warehousing right. So you had to you know, with CBD only so much– fulfillment Yep, exactly.

Chip Baker: So, you contracted out your manufacturing. Well you have your formula, you’ve got your package, you contract out the manufacturing, they put it in your package, and then they send it someplace else to fulfill it.

John Zolikoff: Yes, yeah, exactly. So we have a third party warehouse that we work with ship offers. They’re a great partner in Colorado. But not everyone’s– it’s becoming more easier and open more free now, but not everyone wants to deal with CBD right. So, that was part of part of the step. So fulfillment, right and then selling right so then, you know, website is the most obvious but then and I’ve set up a lot of websites and web shops, and never even really thought us extra time about the processing, processing and banking, as we know is such an issue with CBD, cannabis and hemp. But the last [inaudible] has– I’ve we’ve gone through three or four processors already and not for any good reason they just like decide to shut down. Our first one came in I think it was US Bank decided they were gonna just go into CBD market after and then after four or five months and they were great they’re super low price and funded in a day but then yeah they pulled out and I heard that like it affected like 4500 accounts are something crazy. 

Chip Baker: Wow yeah

John Zolikoff: This was like an April last year and like everyone you know, trying to find it at the same time. So I come more from like traditional sales and marketing kind of brick and mortar or motorcycles, bicycles–

Sales Channels

Chip Baker: So your sales channels mostly ecommerce or do you distribute to retail locations?

John Zolikoff: So we were doing some retail. Our retail strategy is similar to our demographic right our avatar, so we’re going on after outdoor retailers independent retailers. So fishing, you know [inaudible] all the CBD companies are not right now–

Chip Baker: Sale boarding shop, paragliding shop–

John Zolikoff: Yeah, and that’s where the energy products gonna come in we were actually a 30 count bottle is a big, big commitment to make so we’re actually coming out with three packs and special packaging for that channel and the response has been really, really good so far. So that’s going to be rolling out I don’t want to get too much into– I’m really happy with the packaging. I’ll show you the next time. You’re gonna love them. So that’s the retail is like this, you know, outdoor, you know? So we got e commerce, we’ve got outdoor retailers and then the third that we want to go with these three packs. We think that there really is a mass market for healthy convenient energy. And so that’s where– 

Chip Baker: Like 711 market? 

John Zolikoff: That convenience store is going head to head with five-hour energy. 

Keeping the CBD Business Rolling

Chip Baker: All right, I think I think so too, man. John, long, long the way you wanted to quit I’m sure. Along the way you’re like– man, what kept you going to bring this product fulfillment?

John Zolikoff: The response from the customers is fantastic. Well, I love the product. Everyone around me loves the product. It’s something in the past, my most recent business before was children’s bikes, which was a lot of fun. And it really changed a lot of little kids lives and that was so this evolution from kind of like burning petrol gas for recreation to this more sustainable and healthy to where I really want to help people and CBD you know so we have an expanding line we’re going to have a bomb you know, topical coming out as well. We have plans for more functional blends after the energy but I think energy really is our flagship it’s where we’re hanging our hat but I think this whole that people can make more memories they can do more with their kids they can do you know, they can get their relief and their CBD and still be have energy to get through the day. So that gets me I like I’m organic, you know, vegetarian. I want to be natural and how I treat things. And I just think this is what the world needs more of. And so adaptogens and CBD–

Chip Baker: So you said you had a heart for it man. Did you ever have a down moment? Did you ever have a moment where you didn’t think you’re gonna do this?

John Zolikoff: Yeah, for sure. So the last year has been frustrating because it’s been learning ecommerce, and we’re trying to learn it and build it and fly it and prepare and all that at the same time. And, we are lean, you know, we have a lot of people helping on the project, but I don’t have you know, I’m working, you know, from a home office. So there are a lot of times that you can– yeah, so I guess, just believing and as anyone that brings a product, I mean, you have to have the belief, like it’s already exists right. You just have to know that it’s the right thing and just keep going. 

You just have to know that it’s the right thing and just keep going. -John Zolikoff

Where to Find Them

Chip Baker: That’s awesome advice for any business owner. Thank you, man. Hey, John, how do people get in touch with? Get in touch with you? How do people order the product? Are you on Facebook, Instagram? 

John Zolikoff: Yep, so zohko.com, and we are on Instagram and Facebook – Zohkoholics. Just search on ZOHKO, you’ll find it. 

Chip Baker: Okay.

John Zolikoff: So yeah and the idea was just to help people live their lives more fully, and give them energy to be able to get out and enjoy and now it’s I think it’s a it’s what our bodies need to help you know, CBD helps your body–

Chip Baker: It’s what the body craves. 

John Zolikoff: Exactly. I mean it gives it what it’s need to fight whatever is out there, it is what it occurs. Yeah.

Chip Baker: Awesome, John. Well, hey, thanks for joining me today, man. I really enjoyed hearing the birds and talking to you about branding and developing a new product line and new company.

John Zolikoff: Yeah. Well, we’re happy to support you guys. So anytime you need energy anytime the dogs over there need some and yeah, we’ll keep you updated as we get out there. Appreciate the time, always great seeing you. I missed your smiling face.

Chip Baker: Now, man. Well, here it is.

John Zolikoff: It’s beautiful.

Chip Baker: Cool, bro. Thanks again. Hey, this has been another great episode of The Real Dirt. If you enjoyed this episode, please download others at The Real Dirt podcast on iTunes. You can also download them on therealdirt.com That’s right. That’s our own website. We have a blog, links to our Facebook page, The Real Dirt podcast as well as our Instagram page, The Real Dirt podcast, please participate. Please tell us how you like this episode, please tell us about the episodes that you’re interested in. And once again, thank you for lending me your time. It’s The Real Dirt!

All right, well, I hope you enjoyed that episode, man. You know, John’s internet reception broke up a little bit. He’s down in Florida, but I loved hearing the birds chirping background and then there at the end the dogs you know so much about the podcast for me, is an audio escape when I listen to it and when I make these things that it is a little bit of escape for me. In these times we all need a little bit of escape and whether it’s a rolling up a large hemp joint or a large ganja joint or a small bong hit, or listening to The Real Dirt like and right now it’s about a great time to do it. So if you haven’t already, please subscribe to The Real Dirt podcast on iTunes. That way, you can catch up to all of our latest released episodes, and you can hear the 70 episodes behind. Also, join us on Facebook and Instagram The Real Dirt podcast and man look for all the special offers and whatnot we got coming in the future. As always, I appreciated your time. I know you’ve got lots more stuff you could do today. But instead, you chose to at least spend a little bit of time with me. So thanks again. You’ve been listening to The Real Dirt with Chip Baker.

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Step by Step Irrigation Guide with Michael Box

Step by Step Irrigation Guide with Michael Box

cannabis irrigation set up guide

Michael Box is a lifelong disciple of plants and their cultivation.

For the last 22 years, he has worked in the field of horticulture, emphasizing on cannabis for the past 12 years. Throughout that time, the irrigation sector has always been a passion for all things related to water-installation, design, and instruction.

He is currently the Operations Director and Lead Designer for Sustainable Village in Boulder, CO. Sustainable Village designs and supplies various projects with a focus on Blumat Watering Systems and large multi-acre hemp field irrigation.

This episode of The Real Dirt will give you interesting information on why drip irrigation works best for your grow plus step by step instructions for setting up . Michael shares his irrigation expertise, cultivation experiences, and explains Blumat systems solutions for your unique situation. 

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

5:12 – Blumat, the evolution of drip irrigation
10:57 – Hand watering vs. drip irrigation
16:33 – Parts of the drip system
27:19 – Using drip tape
35:57 – Challenges in drip irrigation systems
46:54 – Advantages of Blumat system
57:27 – Where to find them


Chip Baker: Hey guys, this is Chip from The Real Dirt. In today’s dirt we talk about irrigation. That’s right so many cannabis farmers are hesitant to put irrigation in their small operations and even in their big fields, but we’re going to demystify it a little bit with you today. Today, I’m going to have a co-host, Justin Jones. He’s been on the show many times before and you know, he has some large hemp fields that they irrigate. And I’m also having Michael Box of Blumat Irrigation.

All right, once again, you are at The Real Dirt. Down today’s dirt, I’ve got my good buddy Justin Jones who is our impromptu guest host say hello Justin Jones.

Justin Jones: Hello, how’s it going out there?

Chip Baker: Doing good man and I brought you on today Justin so we could chat with Michael Box. What’s up Michael? 

Michael Box: Hey there, Chip. 

Chip Baker: Michael runs Sustainable Village. Sustainable Village among many other things help and design irrigation systems for hemp farmers cannabis farmers of all types, small scale and big scale. He represents the Blumat brand is that correct? 

Michael Box: It’s Blumat.

Chip Baker: It’s Blumat brand which we’ll attempt to explain that to you a little later but it’s a ceramic brick based irrigation device. We’ll just leave the mystery.

Michael Box: Yeah, I’ll get into it in a bit. Right? Yeah,

Chip Baker: Totally. I’ve seen these things for a long time I saw him first in Europe, 2000-2001 or something– great product. But hey, I’ll tell you guys there’s a huge myth in the cannabis industry you know it and hear it well is that it should all be hand watered and in order to make it great and incredible, you have to hand water it but we three are here to tell you that is not true. And irrigation and automation do rule our full food world as well as the cannabis world as well. 

Irrigation and automation do rule our full food world as well as the cannabis world. – Chip Baker

If you think that drip irrigation is too difficult, we’re going to demystify that today, if you think that irrigation is too expensive, we’re going to bust that bubble too. We’re going to explain how drip irrigation can help you with your cannabis farm. So, sit back roll the largest joints, you can enjoy us here for this episode of The Real Dirt, it’s going to get wet. 

Michael Box: So, I have to say, working on irrigation, there’s a lot of jokes that you can use around getting people excited.

Chip Baker: Oh yeah, man. I love drip irrigation. I love the math. irrigation it is the coolest thing when you put it together but it’s one of those things that people easily fail at because they don’t do the math. They don’t put in the right filter sizes. Have you ever done this Justin? Have you ever like built a drip irrigation system that didn’t work?

Justin Jones: I’m kind of I’m kind of a hand watering kind of guy still, but I have a really tiny cannabis farm in Denver so you know we can do that, we have– [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Sure but all your large scale hemp stuff

Justin Jones: All the large scale stuff is all irrigation. Yeah, and it’s a big deal and I’ll tell you what, you definitely don’t want to screw it up. You want to make sure it’s correct because I saw some people that are you know that definitely scrambled this last year 2019 during the planting season and their pumps weren’t ready or like you said the filter something this or that– there’s a lot of things that go into a successful irrigation system. And it’s also a living breathing thing that on a daily and weekly basis needs to perform. So. 

Michael Box: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. 

Justin Jones: Super important.

Blumat, the Evolution of Drip Irrigation

Chip Baker: Hey, Michael, I’m wondering if you could go over the basis of a the two types of drip systems we were going to be talking about today. We’re going to talk about, like individual drippers. And we’re also going to talk about the wonderous drip tape. So, yeah, let’s maybe we could talk about the individual drippers first.

Michael Box: Sure. So when we look at irrigating containers, so anything that’s in a pot or a raised bed, for instance, whether that be indoors, greenhouse, even outdoor, large raised beds outdoors or also when people are in native soil applications, with their ganja plants, with large plants, things like that. We kind of look at them on an individually plant by plant basis. And we engineer our Blumat systems into those. And we like to call Blumats, the kind of the evolution of drip irrigation. So standard drip irrigation, you know, it tends to be a lot of little plastic drip emitters that run at a certain rate, you know, say like a gallon per hour, half gallon per hour. And those are all–

Chip Baker: Use your pressure compensated?

Michael Box: Yeah, pressure compensating or non-pressure compensating depending on the application. And those are fed by a pump system that runs at a pretty high volume. Some usually on a timer. So, you know, say you have a greenhouse with raised beds, and you have emitters in the beds, and your timer kicks on for 20 minutes a day, twice a day, something like that, and it gives us kind of the standard amount of water, and that’s handy. For years I did a lot of installation of those, I use them on my own grows, worked on a bunch of different just vegetable farms over the years, and new systems like that, and they work well. They take a lot of save a lot of labor, that sort of thing plants, you know, generally, like them. 

The way our Blumats work, and I know you said you have seen these before Chip, and what they are is they’re a ceramic cone with a little plastic cap on the top, and through the top of that plastic cap, there’s a very thin three-millimetre line the silicon line. The cone itself is filled with water, and it’s buried in the soil, and as the soil dries out, the ceramic cone dries out a little bit, which pulls a small amount of water that’s inside the carrot we call them a carrot. It is both a small amount of water into the ceramic, which creates a negative hydro-static pressure inside the cone, which pulls down on a little membrane, which opens a valve and allows water to flow through the top of it. So it’s an on-off valve that responds to soil moisture and then so it lets water flow through the top of this valve and re-hydrate the soil which re-hydrates the cone which closes the valve and that’s like a variable flow as well. 

So if the soil is drying out fast the valve will open more and water more, and it’ll drip out even into like you can have a safe you got a small pot like a one-gallon pot or a three-gallon pot, you could just have a drip right out of the carrot. Yet something bigger like five or 10 gallons, you could have some little distribution drippers that it would drip through. Or with large pots, you know when we’re talking like 45-6500s two hundred that sort of thing. Or raised beds, we feed it into this array of soaker hoses that we have, we call them blue soap, but they’re interesting soaker hose made out of Tyvek. And either way, what we’re doing is maintaining static moisture levels in the soil with the Blumat Systems. And that is different than a traditional drip irrigation system with individual emitters that are going to have wet periods and dry periods, and it’s going to have these big swings in the moisture level–

Chip Baker: They are much more like running rock walls as far as the moisture level running–

Michael Box: And it maintains like a really even consistency. Yeah, I hadn’t really thought of it like that. But yeah, I suppose it is.

Chip Baker: That’s the two major like sections we have that we sell drip irrigation to Cultivate OKC, Cultivate Colorado. Yeah, is there either, quote unquote hydro growers, so they want their medium to stay moist all the time. Or they’re soil-less growers and they believe in some sort of [inaudible] to a tie up.

Michael Box: Yeah, which you know, that’s one at school thought–

Chip Baker: Hey, I’ve done it all honestly and man it’s just how you want to do it right. For me and my scales in the past I can’t see like water savings on one versus the other or, you know, growth technique or grow growing better in any way. The yield seemed to be the same but it’s just preferred you either want to wet or you’d like to dry it out.

Justin Jones: Yeah, I got something for this. So my recreational marijuana grow. Medical unrack and Denver dank. We still hand water and a lot of– [inaudible]

Chip Baker: You got AD lights or something?

Hand Watering vs. Drip Irrigation

Justin Jones: We have 100 lights. We’re small lights, big growers. But part of the problem is that I have multiple cultivars on a grouping of plants. Okay, so and that’s just we were vertically integrated and we just basically we grow a little bit differently than you’ll see in a lot of places. But what’s cool about what I’m hearing from your system is this might actually work. And the reason that we don’t drip irrigate, is because if I’ve got eight different cultivars, they can all be in the same size of coco and they can be in the same you know, in the same grid and all that but you know, they’re gonna use their water and nutrients little bit differently. So we actually hand water and we kind of look at each plant on its own. Because if we just give everything 10 minutes a day, certain things are getting over watered and it becomes really difficult to get any kind of a dry down or it’s just definitely easy to over-water certain things so–

Michael Box: Yeah, and over water is a huge problem, right? I mean–

Justin Jones: So this your system has the ability to– each one of these carrots has its own sensor to how much moisture is there, you know, in [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Each container maintain the same amount of moisture. 

Michael Box: Yeah, I think you guys are just jumping right to the heart of it here, which is that’s exactly right. Different, you know, finos different strains, whatever you’re going with, even like different places in the greenhouse, you know, or the room some are going to be hotter than the others. All these different containers are going to be using water at different rates. So this allows the plants to you know, just take just as much as they want and not too much. And the systems you know, the supply lines are under a constant pressure. So this waters on 24 hours a day. And it’s very low pressure, like our max psi is 15. 

So we just need to maintain a very low pressure on all the supply lines. As soon as the plants want some water, they just open up the valve. And it’s really like the plants are actually controlling the on off switch to the water. And in fact, when you you know, after a plant is done growing and you kind of you pull the carrot out and you look at the pot, you’ll there’ll be a little conical hole, you know, where the carrot had been embedded in the soil, and it’ll just be completely solid root mass. So the plants actually wrap themselves around the carrot and start exerting pressure on that to control the valve, which is, you know, —

Justin Jones: That’s pretty cool. 

Michael Box: That’s kind of a higher level of it. But yeah–

Chip Baker: So this is the– I’ve used this example over and over again, when people talk about how bad drips irrigations are, and I’m like, Well, let me tell you, if you have a right drip irrigation system, when you’re done with it, or halfway through, you will notice that the very top of your soil is just a map of roots, right? And roots will come out of the top of the soil even. And to me, that just sounds like everything. It’s just a healthy environment you know, it’s hard to argue with that one honestly but I’ve never seen I’d love to see a picture of this man and maybe we get one or you could post it.

Michael Box: And if people check out our Instagram, its Blumat Watering Systems, there’s a bunch of pictures on there and people send them to us all the time where there’ll be like a little dripper you know that where the water enters the pot, and we actually have to put the drippers up on a stake about two inches above the soil. 

Because what happens is if you lay it right on the soil, the roots just grow up into the dripper and clog it. And people send us photos all the time of having this mound of roots just underneath the dripper where the plants are getting it and I’ve actually had it at home and my little greenhouse at my house. We’re using the soaker hose, the drip tape soaker hose that we use this type x soaker hose like hundred gallon pots I’ll put a big spiral that. The root mass will actually grow over the top of the soaker hose and completely encapsulate the soaker hose so that you have to like at the end of the season actually tear the roots back to get the hose out from underneath this thick mass which is you know kind of blew me away the first time I saw that.

Chip Baker: So yeah, I’m checking out your Instagram site and I see that the other product you have this type x like it appears to be a drip tape like product is that what it is?

Michael Box: It’s different than a drip tape. And so most we think of drip tape, it’s like extruded plastic, you know, it’s black, and it’s got it’s usually flat looking when it’s dry and then it swells up, but there’s a mirror built in. You know every 8, 12, 24 inches however, you know whatever distance you want those emitters have specific flow rates. And you know, that’s the same thing you turn that system on or the myths at that spacing for that flow rate. This the BluSoak is the that we use is actually has just thousands and thousands of little micro holes that we water out just continuously so you get a continuous soak. And it also operates at a really low pressure, it’ll operate down to two psi which is which is much lower than like the traditional drip tape needs more like eight to 10 to really function.

Parts of the Drip System

Chip Baker: So we bounced around a little bit. Yeah, but a couple things I wanted to get in here is the important parts and pieces that people need when they go to design an irrigation system. And, we’re going to list them out here. So if you got a pen and paper, go get it. If you want to write it down in your notes, you know perfect. And we’re gonna list the parts of the drip system that everyone needs and maybe give a little understand you know? You need water.

Michael Box: Yeah, that’s where it started water.

Chip Baker: Yep, you need our source right? Hey Justin, do you guys have holding tanks or do you come right off your waterline for your large irrigation? 

Justin Jones: The we’ve got both, we’re coming out of wells. We’ve got holding tanks. You know, I know guys I saw people that are you know straight pumping right out of the river. It depends on what your water rights are here in Oregon I you know really but you know most most people have a have a good well, it allows them you know, so many. So many of our those sorts of things.

Chip Baker: We have our water and then we have our, our pump, which is it gives us two things. It gives this volume and it gives us pressure Right, Michael.

Michael Box: That’s absolutely right.

Chip Baker: Go ahead.

Michael Box: Oh, and then the next step is your filtration –[inaudible]

Chip Baker: Most important.

Michael Box: Absolutely. That’s right Chip, most important.

Chip Baker: Water, pump, pushes volume and pressure and filtration.

Michael Box: Yeah filtration so now we’re really kind of talking about, like multi-acre row crops you know, for a big hemp fields and stuff like that. And this in filtration–

Chip Baker: We sell filtration to all of our small indoor cannabis [inaudible]

Michael Box: Oh, absolutely.

Chip Baker: Right, any irrigation needs disk filter.

Michael Box: But when we get into especially when we get into these big multi acre fields, irrigation becomes critical because people are spending lots of money on their irrigation systems. I mean, it’s really easy to mess them up. And there’s a there’s a bunch of different ways to build filtration and to do it like you mentioned the disk filters very popular, there are mechanical filter, basically, you’re pushing water through these disk arrays and takes the particulate out. They’re really inexpensive relatively. And then we also install sand media filters to which are a little more complicated, a little more expensive, but they’re more automated and can go for longer periods of time without–

Chip Baker: They have automated flesh out valves. You can run larger volumes of water you don’t decrease your your pressure when they get dirty necessarily. Yeah, that’s the problem with the disk filters, you do have to have a minute cleaning maintenance schedule and, you know, my in our in our hydro garden with our rock. Well, we have to clean our filter every couple of days.

Michael Box: Right. So we use these big mechanical filters. We like this brand called Irritec they make really nice, really make, they’d make the biggest one. So filtration is all about surface area, the more surface area you have in your filtration system, the longer you can go between cleanings. You can get away with a really small filter, but you have to clean it all the time. Or you can build a bunch of filters in these array, these manifold arrays that we design. They’re really cool. We, you know, we have some of those on the Instagram too. I think there’s some photos of those but yeah, that’s our most popular style that we install. And then sometimes we’ll do the sand media stuff as well. So filtration is really it’s key. So that’s, something we tell people to is that’s where you if you’re gonna spend money on one part of irrigation system, especially for a farm filtration [inaudible] cuz you don’t want to you know, I mean you put, acres and acres of drip tape down in the field and then you run a bunch of, you know, get the sediment through it and you’re going to clog up all those tapes and now you got a bunch of garbage laying out and feel that needs to be replaced.

Filtration is all about surface area, the more surface area you have in your filtration system, the longer you can go between cleanings. – Michael Box

Chip Baker: Well, you know, just last year, I bought a couple acres about a two acre kit of drip tape. And, you know, I sell all this stuff but like, Man, this particular company, I like to work with drip works, you know, there’s no, I do, they’re just great people I love their model and they have really good prices. So like I ordered some kits. And it came with just a three quarter inch screen filter, right, I immediately threw that away and put in an extra large, extra long disk filter. That was for more volume and more water than then my system could carry. But I always liked to upsize that part of the filter. Make it bigger, it’s easier for everybody to take apart and clean it. Just bigger is better in my opinion on [inaudible]

Michael Box: Generally, it is to you know, higher flow, you know, larger diameter stuff, get more flow, you get less friction loss and with your ports, your overall pressure.

Chip Baker: So hey, this is a great engineering point for drip systems this filter is not going to take that same volume or pressure and you need to up it, right, you know, to one inch or one and a quarter or one and a half or whatever the one up, you should up it.

Michael Box: And really, you know, and once you start talking about those diameters, I mean, the smallest we ever get into with the hemp fields is two inches, and that’s where we start with all of our supply lines. We use a product called lay flat, which she probably probably [inaudible] you’d call it’s usually like [inaudible] sometimes it’s like a fire hose. It’s like a rubber kind of fire hose material. Yeah, we use that. So after you know we get to through our filtration systems. Then we start laying out our main lines and our sub mains so we’ll use the highest diameter [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Okay. Let me pause you. So we’ve got water, we’ve got our pump, which is volume and pressure. We’ve got our filter. And now we have our supply line is that what you want to call it?

Michael Box: Yeah, supply lines here. Okay, main lines. You might also put in a fertilizer injector in there too, usually right after the filtration. But yeah, so supply lines, you know, we’re either going to be in PVC or in lay flat, or a combination of both usually, depending on where we need to move the water to. And we’ll start with higher diameter stuff. I mean, it’s not uncommon that we’re using six or four inch stuff right off the bat to get large amounts of water out to the field and then we’ll branch that off into zones or sets, people call them too. And those will be that so we can’t generally can’t water the whole field at once. 

We’ll want to break it off into zones. And we’ll say hey, what’s the max amount of water This field is going to use in a day in the middle of the summer its highest use rate. You know, like, right in the middle August how much of these things going to be drinking? And we’ll say How much time will it take to get that much water on the field and say, hey, we’ve got like, say we have an 18 hour day to water we have to size the system so that it’s possible to put that much water down on that field in that 18 hour window is kind of so that’s our like upper limit of what we need to be able to supply. So yeah, the the mainline takes the water to the different zones, and then those zones are usually controlled by valves. Most of the time it’s a manual thing, but we can also do you know, solenoid valves that go off on timers and that sort of thing.

Chip Baker: Hey Justin, in how many how many zones you got in your hundred acre field?

Justin Jones: They had a lot a lot of zones but– and they do I think that was all manual too. The automated stuff, it’s hard to it’s hard to trust it sometimes.

Chip Baker: Unless you’re just in consistent dry temperature in Southern California or Nevada or something. It’s hard to say okay, it’s going to be this much every day.

Michael Box: And most hemp farms are new, you know that’s the thing most hemp farmers right now have only been doing it for a couple years at best, right? 

Justin Jones: Nobody got ten-year [inaudible] Yeah, well you know, one of the big hemp farms that I worked with a bunch this last year they also are large scale hops our operation. You know, that they’ve got so many years and hops and you know, and of course there’s always something even with their hops farming, but, you know, they’ve usually have dealt with it in the past or they have other resources. 

So yeah with hemp farming everything’s kind of brand new– No, definitely that was an issue you would hear you know about people that if your irrigation isn’t working if it breaks down, if there’s no like catch up time you know if you hit if you– if you kill everything because it didn’t get water your stuff start over so it definitely seems challenging now with these systems, you know, the slasher, I saw guys that were running drip tape in with their transplanting and so the tape was like that, you know, I guess in the ground on the raised beds, a lot of people that planted and then put the drip tape out after the plants are in and maybe they did a little bit of overhead watering at the very beginning with the transplants growing in. Now with your guys’s system for a large scale hemp field, once you get off those laterals and the mains and laterals are your material underground above ground. How does that work?

Michael Box: Yeah, so, again, now we’re talking about just that extra drip tape. That is one or the other, it’s really up to what the farmer wants to do or has the capability of installing.

Chip Baker: Do you see any difference?

Michael Box: You know, the tape can be protected longer if it’s buried, you know. And it’s, it’s also supplying water below surface so it could, there’s less evaporation that happens when it’s buried. It’s hard to get the tape out with hemp plants, especially if you’re finding like, If you’re growing onions or something, you can just pull that tape right out. If you’re growing hemp though, I mean, you guys know what a fully grown hemp plant looks like and how big that stock is and how massive the root system is right? Just [inaudible] 

Justin Jones: You know, in that case, the above ground tape would maybe easier to pull out but those were– I saw people that put those in and then had a lot of wind when the plants are real small and that the lines actually moved around and some plants. Yeah–

Chip Baker: Yeah, you still got to put some weight on it. And if you’re gonna do– because I prefer the above ground on drip tape. I do like to take it out at the end of the year and right to reuse it. Agricultural waste and plastic waste are one of the biggest plastic wastes in the world right now. So I want to be as conscious as possible. 

Michael Box: Yeah [inaudible] It’s the biggest issue I have with this–

Chip Baker: Yeah. And drip tape really is great because you can at the end of the season, wind it up. There’s some great YouTube videos on how to wind it up and keep it on your spool using just like a cordless drill that’s what we use. And so I put it on top, and then I’ll just like every 10 feet, I’ll put on five shovels of dirt on top of that. So then when I come to like, pull the field up, I just walk down the row and I just pull up right where there’s a weighted down section right.

Michael Box: Yeah there’s a lot of implements you know, that will actually shape your beds and lay a plastic bolts and bury the tape four inches down all in one pass. 

Chip Baker: Sure. Yeah. Now I have now I have all that. 

Michael Box: Yeah. So if you’ve got that stuff, that’s probably what you’re doing and you might even be throwing away the tape every year.

Chip Baker: You got plastic mulch over there Justin?

Justin Jones: You know, I see it both ways. The main farms that I worked with were no plastic mulch, flat no raised beds. No, it was it was just flat. 

Chip Baker: No, it was just flat. and it’s in the world for it though.

Justin Jones: Yeah. And we had drip, we had a farmers with drip and we had farms with pivots. And definitely, you know, so, you know, we kind of the Willamette Valley here in Oregon, you can see it a lot of different ways for sure. But we do have to have some sort of irrigation because normally we get no rain from, you know, somewhere in June till somewhere and October. So, [inaudible] but, you know, definitely I like seeing the different systems and definitely it’s super important but pumps and filters, and the injectors, you know that’s the and just that math although all that math going on–

Chip Baker: And the most important pies. Hey Gentlemen, I think this is a perfect time for us to take a break. Let’s just sit back and roll up the largest joints you can and join us just back in a few minutes for The Real Dirt.

Thanks for listening to another episode of The Real Dirt podcast. Hey, you know in these trying times, it’s kind of hard to find all the parts and pieces you need. However, if you call us at Cultivate Colorado, Cultivate OKC, email us, text us, man send out smoke signals. We’ll try to get every single thing you need to grow to you, either drop ship delivery or we offer curbside service. It’s one of the most important things that we can do right now is help our customers continue growing. And you know, just to put more great cannabis out there in the world is definitely going to be a good thing here. So if you’re having trouble getting any of your products or if you don’t think that your local store is open, no need to worry. Contact us at cultivatecolorado.comcultivateokc.com you can look us up on our telephone number, you can drop me a line at chip@therealdirt.com you can pm us, you can dm us, you can do whatever you want, and we will go out of our way to get you everything you need in these trying times.

Justin Jones: Chip, I got a quick question in regards to that. You mentioned [inaudible] direction. And what color smoke signal would you guys like to see if that if that’s where we’re at?

Chip Baker: Well, you know, smoke me always like that fine blue smoke. You know, I’m talking about, right. Yeah, it’s nice blue smoke. That’s what we’re looking for. It’s the intention of the smoke signal, I believe. That will draw us to it like flies in light.

Justin Jones: Yes, yes.

Chip Baker: So man, great to be back with you guys. Today, we’re talking about irrigation. I’ve got Michael Box and Justin Jones here. Justin Jones has done a large scale commercial agriculture with hemp. And he also grows ganja by hand in Denver waters it by hand. Michael helps transition those exact people into irrigation systems. 

Alright fellas, like where we’re talking about, oh, the parts and pieces of an irrigation system let’s just keep reviewing for everybody is we’ve got our water. We’ve got our pump that’s pressure and volume, and we have a water filter. We then often have some type of fertilizer injection system, a siphoning fertilization system. Some people have an additional tank which requires a different pump and an additional filter. But then we have a mainline that that brings all the water to our garden and from our mainline then we set it up into zones. The zones end up breaking into smaller lines that run through the garden. And then the individual drip lines come off into our containers unless it is drip tape. Then your supply lines are also your drip lines as well. Right, does that sound easy? Yeah. I don’t know if anybody else got lost but–

Justin Jones: Alright, I was following you there.

Chip Baker: Yeah. So Michael when we put all these stuff together what’s people– they’ve got all the parts and pieces they’ve they figured out, they’ve got everything right. What’s the main way they mess up right now?

Challenges in Drip Irrigation Systems

Michael Box: Well, you know, we talked about a lot of math involved with these big systems and we’re looking at acres of plants. And the main problem we see is when folks try to do it themselves. And you know, I’m all about do it yourself and many, many aspects of life. But with these irrigation systems, it’s really, really helpful to have somebody engineered for you that knows what they’re doing. Because the last thing you want is, like we talked about getting to the middle of summer, and all of a sudden, you can’t get enough water on those plants. And you’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of plants in the field that are dying before your eyes because you can’t give them enough water.

Justin Jones: Or you’re at the beginning and you just spent all this money propagating and you and your pumps not big enough, and that’s usually what I was hearing was these guys, they didn’t do the math, right? Their pumps weren’t big enough or you know, they couldn’t push enough through the filters. You know? So it’s a–

Chip Baker: That is the case, just to explain it to people who have zero knowledge of this is real simple. There’s a certain amount of volume and pressure that you get at the beginning of this whole thing. And that is as much as you’re going to get ever. So you take all of the drippers that you have and divide it by that number. And, that’s roughly your limitations, right?

Michael Box: Yeah, but even– 

Chip Baker: It’s more complicated than that–

Justin Jones: If you have a good well that just keeps putting out for you, too so–

Chip Baker: Yeah, right. I mean, if you got a five inch well, and you know, it’s putting out 8000 gallons a day, it doesn’t matter if you have a four inch line that put out 13-14,000 gallons a day, it’s only gonna get 8000 gallons a day.

Michael Box: That’s right. And often with you know, big multi acre fields, we’re looking at hundreds of, you know, 120 gallons a minute we’re trying to put out. So it’s really pretty large volume on water. So having an engineer and I do a lot of design work here, we put the system together, we source parts from a bunch of different manufacturers that we have really great relationships with and get that system to people. I do all the kind of tech support customer service, everything that needs to happen. 

I do a lot of design work here, and we put the system together, we source parts from a bunch of different manufacturers that we have great relationships with and get that system to people. – Michael Box

In addition to that, when we’re talking about big fields, I do have an engineer that I work with, who will draw up a system and he’s an irrigation engineer out of Oregon, and actually up your way and he does a fabulous job. He’ll create someone gets a system through us. You know, not only will they have every part that they possibly need delivered to their farm, they’ll get a CAD drawing of the whole system all laid out and everything is going to be guaranteed insured to work. So when we’re dealing with millions of plants. We like to have that insurance policy backing us up so that we don’t ever screw up and we don’t you know, that’s the real advantage of having the engineer design done. It’s done properly. 

When we’re dealing with millions of plants, we like to have that insurance policy backing us up so that we don’t ever screw up. – Michael Box

Chip Baker: All right. So this drip irrigation isn’t just for large farmers, though. And that’s, you know, most of the people that buy drip irrigation from us at Cultivate. They’re small farmers, they might have 12 lights, 20 lights, 500 square feet. So we basically have two types. We have a small scale or your craft’s size, we’ll call it what do you think that number goes up to from one light to how many square feet would be considered a craft operation?

Michael Box: For an indoor situation like that?

Chip Baker: Indoor greenhouse you know–

Michael Box: You know, I don’t know if I have an exact number. A couple thousand square feet canopy I would say stops, you know, it becomes more commercial. A lot of it has to do like what’s the guy’s market? You know, what’s the farmers market that they’re gonna go into? Are they trying to get five rounds a year in are they? You know– 

Chip Baker: What is the equipment change? 

Michael Box: Yeah. So the way we design it, we’ll do our Blumat irrigation systems in in anything that has to do with containers. So we don’t really have an upper limit as long as folks are growing in say raised beds, or large pots or things like that.

Chip Baker: So even over in Justin’s four acre greenhouse or something, it’s all in containers–

Michael Box: Yeah, so I you know that that’d be a situation where, you know, if he’s grown in a lot of small pots, we have some different ways to use the Blumats with that. We also have these systems called Capillary Mats, which are a whole other kind of really interesting way to irrigate, they’re like that, and that pot sit on and with water up through that. So that’s a really great way to do a lot of smaller containers. And, you know, the way we work it is we have a lot of people call us every day say, hey, there’s my grow. This is what it is, maybe it’s six lights in your basement, maybe it’s, 5,000 square feet of in a couple acres of greenhouses, whatever it is. They’re contacting us and then we talk to them, we work out what they need, and we give them a system that’s going to work for them. And it’s gonna be different now we’re talking outdoors, native soil stuff, anything over, like I say, an acre, but he’s probably even a little less than that. We’ll stop doing like Blumat stuff. And we’ll go straight more to this traditional drip irrigation.

They’re contacting us, and then we talk to them, we work out what they need, and we give them a system that’s going to work for them. – Michael Box

Justin Jones: But you would go to with the Blumat, possibly up to an acre?

Michael Box: Up to an acre. Yeah. Yep. And you know, that’s a real kind of craft situation that you’d be doing. It’s, but for sure, we put some of those [inaudible]

Justin Jones: Well in that number here like an Oregon if you have a tier two recreational outdoor, it’s an acre, you know? so–

Michael Box: And then when we’re talking about acres of greenhouses, that’s you know, that’s always going to be– that just really depending on what the containers look like–

Justin Jones: Right, I’m saying for ganja pure tier two, you know, you’d have an acre guys you’re doing an outdoor. You know, 40,000 square foot canopy.

Michael Box: Yeah, that’s that’s a lot of ganja. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, man. We’re trying to put in 240,000 square feet of ganja this summer. 

Justin Jones: Alright! 

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally. 

Michael Box: That’s out in Oklahoma? 

Chip Baker: In Oklahoma. 

Michael Box: Yeah. Is that under full sun, that kind of thing?

Chip Baker: It’s between greenhouse [inaudible] yeah, auto flowers and clones and seeds.

Michael Box: Excellent. Yeah

Chip Baker: Right. Doing it all man. I’m definitely not a snob on growing ganja any all ever we can.

Michael Box: No I mean I think the auto-flower thing is really fascinating development and especially I think it can fill a really awesome niche in a farm,

Chip Baker: Oh, man. It is how all the rest of the commercial. So many of the other commercial agricultural products work with day neutral flowering periods where it’s just time. You know, it’s just 45 days or 50 days or 70 days. I mean, I just planted a bunch of cabbage that was 45 days and tomatoes that were 50 days. And that’s how commercial agriculture talks about it all and even home agriculture talks about it the same way, backyard gardens right.

Michael Box: Yeah, I was just ordering all my seeds for my kitchen gardens just the other day and you know I’m up in the mountains so I like to pick those short windows the short days yeah

Chip Baker: Yeah I’m excited about down here in Oklahoma it was 90 degrees a few times this week. The spring has definitely sprung it may freeze once or twice but yeah we’re ready to go man and places like this are perfect places for auto-flowers and I mean many people grow them inside which I don’t quite understand that but outside they’re just you can start planting right about now and keep planting until well after your first freeze. 

Justin Jones: Well, I think you could get a nice cycle to you know, and we saw a really good success with hemp farming this year. With you know, logistics and being able to dry your hemp, you’ll be harvested. All your work come due in the same week or two, you know, so just trying to go with an auto-flowering genetic and then an early and then you know, maybe later to try to spread out your harvest in the fall so, yeah.

Michael Box: Well and you know, we’ve got a number of clients now they’re using the auto-flowers. A lot of them were seeing them or doing them in raised beds and– actually for us for that craft flower that smokeable flower, which I think is a really very viable market but that’s kind of a different topic. 

Chip Baker: And the raised beds are just perfect for ganja, pulls them out of the soil platform. So it changes the whole water dynamic, it dries them out more gives it more oxygen, even if you don’t put the plastic mulch on top of it. It’s an incredible like a little small addition to growing almost anything. If you add that drip and the plastic mulch, and man that’s how all the organic vegetables are grown pretty much this way. Or many, many of them no pesticides, reduces the weed pressure reduces the pest pressure such a great deal. It’s really good thing.

Michael Box: Yeah. And you’re kind of talking more about the like a shaped bed or raised bed out in the field where the tractor will come and raise those beds up and then and then we see a lot of folks in like greenhouses with built raised beds right like either a fabric bed like [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Similar concept. You get a grounded oil profile–

Michael Box: And a lot of those guys that we’re working with are more of that living soil style grower, right? So I know you’ve got a bunch of say about living soil. I was just looking at the talk you did [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Oh, great, great marketing term. It’s you know, as they call it, something different but right, so whatever.

Advantages of Blumat System

Michael Box: Yeah, but the thing– So that’s where the craft part comes in, I like to think about is when, when we’re looking at I’m a big believer in soil biology and soil health. And I mean, who is like, how can I get around that give it to the roots? Yeah, and that’s where the Blumats kind of really kick in is when they maintain that static moisture level. That’s where we see, you know, we kind of were talking about earlier, the real big advantage is you guys jumped right on it, which was, hey, different plants are going to use different amounts of water, so we’re going to prevent for over watering. 

But the other real big advantage is that maintain that static moisture level is incredibly beneficial for the soil biology. So all that beneficial bacteria, fungi, your flashlights, all this stuff. Those are all these little micro organisms, right that if the soil gets too wet, they’ll go dormant. If they gets gets too dry, they’ll go dormant. But if you can hold them right in that hydro neutral zone require homeostasis, or we’re going Goldilocks zone, whatever you want to call it, that little window, where they breed and do their jobs whether it’s solubilizing phosphorus or transferring nutrients or fixing nitrogen, they do that 24 hours a day, they don’t have like a period where they get too wet and slow down and get too dry and slow down. They just do it all the time. 

So with those, you know, quote-unquote, living soil growers that are that are relying on all that activity that produce the nutrients or to produce the food for the plants. They’re able to get some real, some real benefit out of that static moisture level and increased biological activity to the point where you’re getting significant yield increases, and we actually have some folks out of the Seattle area. They’re about to publish this paper in one of these some new peer-reviewed journal. So I can’t go into all the details, but they’ve done some really controlled studies. With Blumats versus hand watering and saw increase, I mean, it’s dramatic increases. It’s the order of like about 20% increase in yield. [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Do you have a preferred media that you guys like to use the works the best with the Bluemat?

Michael Box: Not really, I mean soil and soil-less mediums so–

Chip Baker: So that coconut pea?– We’re just [inaudible]

Michael Box: [inaudible] a great, great application

Justin Jones: And that’s what I grow is in love the ganja in Denver. I’m in like, three gallon, four gallon, coco and perlite and we drained a ways to add water.

Michael Box: Right. So yeah, I mean coco’s got that tremendous capillary action. So it moves water from side to side and in evenly distributes it. So you know, that’s a really Blumat’s were good in that. Because we I mean, we have some customers that are just straight like coco salt growers and they crush it with the Blumats. They see increases in yield. They say, hey, this isn’t bad. 

Chip Baker: They have a fertilizer through their drip system? 

Michael Box: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. 

Chip Baker: I didn’t realize that was possible. 

Michael Box: It is. And one of the real amazing thing is, is you can actually, and we kind of almost aquire or strongly encourage people to, if they’re going to run their synthetic nutrients through the Blumat system to decrease their dilution rates by 50%, or maybe even down to 25% of what they were using because you’re not getting that drain to waste that you’d normally do. So there’s no runoff, anything that’s going into pot staying there. So we don’t really–

Justin Jones: So you reduce your fertilizer level consumption? 

Michael Box: By % right off the bat. Yeah.

Chip Baker: Yeah, we actually tell people 25% because people don’t want to believe.

Michael Box: Yeah.

Chip Baker: But they usually change their mind quickly. 

Michael Box: And yet, so that’s pretty incredible.

Chip Baker: There’s virtually no run off with your system.

Michael Box: That’s the idea. Yeah, once they’re dialed in, in tune, they’re just gonna maintain that static moisture level. And we usually like to verify that we have a digital moisture meter, we use other, there’s some other ones out there that are really nice, too. And, you know, we just so you’ll have an independent monitoring device of some sort that’s telling you either your moisture level, either in a form of a percent or in millibars is how our meters read their tenancy ometer. So they read in negative millibars. And yeah, you can kind of really cling on to those, those moisture levels, much tighter with the Blumat systems and with the swings, the wet, dry swings of the drip system are hand watering. 

Justin Jones: Sure. That’s awesome. Now, I’m excited. I’m going to get a hold of my growers and have them check it out.

Chip Baker: Yeah, it’s a good solution. For you, most adjustments rooms. I can’t remember but I think they’re mostly like 12 to 20 light rooms? 

Justin Jones: For small. Yeah, everything’s good. 

Chip Baker: They’re all small. So, you know, we’re praying for this.

Michael Box: Yeah, a lot of times when we we talk about converting a system over that’s existing. We really also encourages people to start small, you know, hey–

Justin Jones: Well we could just do a couple of do a room or that’s what I mean.

Michael Box: Yeah, do a room and then you practice you get good at it cuz there’s a learning curve, right? I mean that– it’s a new technology doesn’t just work flawlessly right out of the box. You got to learn how to install it right and tune in and then when you tune it in now, it does a fabulous job but it takes that a couple weeks to learn– [inaudible]

Chip Baker: A little piece of a way to describe it is not perfect right out of the box and you have to tune it. Just like fun musical instrument. Alright. So, you know we’ve kind of — Okay, so right now you’re talking to I don’t know 15,000 ganja growers literally are people interested in it? What can you tell them to help them along with what they’re doing or an irrigation in mind? What’s the like, you know, this positive like you can do it type thing you can say to these guys, right? Or you can say anything, man because it’s like people are always asking you the same question. Let’s answer it right now.

Michael Box: Yeah. I mean, growing plants is fun. I’ve been growing plants all my life. I love growing plants producing my own food, produce my own ganja, medicine, everything this is something for everybody. And, you know, especially now you know, I mean I don’t know when this is going to air what but we got some crazy stuff going on right now in the world. Yeah, with all this virus stuff that’s out there. And I think you know this is the good time to start growing your own and start not just weed but your food, and everything else. And people can do it if they put their minds to it and a good watering system is a key to that because water is essential. It’s easy to screw it up. If you really don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to overwater. And we have a lot of really simple solutions for the small home grower, as well as just for any of the larger commercial folks we can scale up to do whatever you want to do.

Growing plants is fun. I’ve been growing plants all my life. I love growing plants, producing my food, produce my ganja, medicine, and everything. This is something for everybody. – Michael Box

Justin Jones: It’s great.

Chip Baker: Yeah, man, I you know what, I’d like to speak to you, people that are pooping on irrigation right now and say it doesn’t work. And I’ll say you’re haven’t seen enough ganja growing. That they are the biggest the smallest, the best gardens in the world are grown under drip irrigation. And if you do a little math and follow the steps that we laid out here for you, you can make your system better than it is today. 

So just open your mind a little bit. Drip systems will stay in. However long it takes you to water by hand. That’s how long it will take you to install your drip system. So if it takes you an hour to water by hand, it’s going to take you an hour to install the drip system and now you get to collect all those other hours in your day in your life and like sit back, smoke weed hanging out with family and stuff.

If it takes you an hour to water by hand, it’s going to take you an hour to install the drip system, and now you get to collect all those other hours in your day in your life and like sit back, smoke weed hanging out with family and stuff. – Chip Baker

Michael Box: Yeah. Now, that’s I mean, that’s Such a great point the return on investment on an automated irrigation system is one of the quickest return on investments you’re going to get for any element of your grow. You’re going to, especially with the Blumat systems, you’re going to see yield boosts, you’re going to have reduced water and nutrient usage. And you’re going to see the labor seems are just incredible. 

I’ve got a big grower out up in Humboldt area right now he put a lot of greenhouses Blumats and all of them last spring, the end of season he told me hired one less full time employee just because of the Blumat system, just to have that and I’m not saying that you know, machine should take people’s jobs but everybody out there is trying to keep the bottom line intact and [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Well, you know what irrigation does for the farmers and the growers, it allows them to actually grow the weed. Because now here’s what they do is like, okay, instead of spinning that 45 minutes watering the weed. Go look at it. Go turn the plants. Pick off the crooked leaf, the bad leaf pull out the shaded plant, you know, gives you time to actually grow it. Just even the look at it.

Michael Box: Yeah, let them show you what they need. Couldn’t agree more.

Chip Baker: So you’re gonna go get a drip system Justin.

Justin Jones: Maybe I can’t wait to go check out the Instagram page. What was your Instagram again?

Where to Find Them

Michael Box: So Blumat Watering Systems. We have two, one Sustainable Village and then the other is Blumat Watering Systems. That’s where we put off all cannabis related material. And it’s the more popular one too. We’re also like I mentioned we’re based out of Boulder, Colorado. We actually just opened up a really nice big office and showroom which is now shuttered with everything else in Colorado for the next month.

Chip Baker: Totally. Yeah, man we’re only we’re doing curbside service delivery only public can’t walk into the stores. I honestly feel like it might change the way so many of us interact. Oh yeah most of our business through our delivery system anyway, we would rather everybody just get on calling us in and ordering it so honestly, this is the perfect time for us to promote that. You know.

Justin Jones: Sure for sure. And even all the way to the other end of it. You know, we’re selling ganja right out on the street corner–

Michael Box: On the corner

Justin Jones: On the corner. Finally our corner and the great thing is actually I just was talking to my business partner back there and the weed cops have actually been out the city actually came in yesterday. Take a look at all the knows the city of Denver but they’re out looking to see how it’s going, you know and checking out these curbside situation. 

Chip Baker: All right, they’re like, man–

Justin Jones: We actually have a perfect situation because we’ve got a big parking lot you know, controlled area so we’re lucky there and I know like chip at his stores you’ve got a big parking lot everywhere and you can people can pull in and, you know, call phone it in. Use all this technology that we’ve got, you know, we’re sitting here on the zoom, doing the doing this right now, as we talk. And I think the zoom’s stock, you know, in the last month has gone has doubled because all of a sudden, we realize how important, how cool this is to have a conversation to get to see people and get some personal interaction through all this great technology.

Michael Box: Yeah, I’ve seen not only did zoom stock go up but any company that looks like zoom, like there was another one I think it’s called zoom communications. That is not this company. People just mistakingly buying it.

Justin Jones: Well, I think it was already the wave of the future. I think this might just be the gasp It’ll get pushed down a little bit on it but. Sure great talking to you guys today here and learning a bunch about the irrigation and new technology and irrigation. So it’s great.

Michael Box: Yeah if anybody wants to check it out to our website is sustainablevillage.com and there’s right on the front page there’s a quote request form, so if you guys want a free custom design we always do a free design quote for anybody. There’s a there’s a button right there you can request that and there’s also a really nice informational catalog, it’s a PDF that you can download as well right there on the front page it kind of lays out how the Blumats work and kind of our products and services overview so sustainablevillage.com.

Chip Baker: Yeah, I got some projects. Maybe we’ll get you guys involved on a couple things to, man. I’ve done all my irrigation myself. forever. But, you know, anytime I go into one that’s built by a professional, I’m always like, Oh, yeah, I should have done it that way. You know? Great, guys. Hey, man, I really appreciate you joining me for another episode of The Real Dirt. 

If you like this episode or want to download others, check us out at therealdirt.com or on iTunes at The Real Dirt podcast, please, please, please subscribe, and you can get all of the like 70 plus episodes that we have sent right to your mobile device. Hey, also, if you’re out there and you see people in the world, just give them a smile and spread a little cheer in love and kindness. We’re all in this world together. And I think what’s going on right now is made us realize how small it is. So I love every one of you. Roll up the largest joints you can and listen to this episode again.

Subscribe & Review

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People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with Michael Box

Connect with  Chip Baker

Finding Cannabis at 40: Professional Writer on Getting Stoned

Finding Cannabis at 40: Professional Writer on Getting Stoned

using cannabis as an adult

Johnny B. Truant is co-founder and storyteller of nearly 100 novels, mainly fiction, in the Sterling & Stone Story Studio. The rights to his horror-satire series “Big Vampire” have recently been sold for production as a television show to NBC Universal. 

Johnny is highly interested in marijuana and would like to speed the hell up by repealing the federal ban. 

In this episode, he shares his thoughts on why he kept away from cannabis in his early life and how weed improved his writing. For Johnny, it’s not about trying it out early; it’s the great benefits he discovered lately. Don’t miss out on this cool episode!

I feel like it opened me up for want of a better term, like I’m just more introspective, and I noticed things a little bit more since I’ve been smoking. – Johnny B. Truant

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

1:49 – Sterling and Stone, changing the world with stories
3:08 – Smoking in TV shows and movies
6:53 – Professional joint roller
10:19 – Cannabis at forty
18:51 – Ganja food
31:52 – Weed and writing
35:55 – Smoke for the first time
38:07 – Where to find them

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with Johnny B Truant

Connect with  Chip Baker


Chip Baker: Hey, this is Chip of The Real Dirt. In today’s dirt, I’ve got my good buddy Johnny B. Truant. Say, hey, Johnny.

Johnny Truant: Hey, what’s up Chip?

Chip Baker: Well, I don’t have too many non-cannabis industry people or guests on my show and you’ll hear quite a few more of this next year. But a Johnny is a writer, which in my mind is synonymous with lots of weed. Is that right Johnny?

Johnny Truant: You know, it didn’t. It wasn’t for the longest time, but then Sean corrupted me, that’s my partner and co-author and eventually, I got into weed and I really enjoy it now but at the beginning it was all stoned sober.

Chip Baker: I remember Johnny, I remember Sean was like, Oh, Johnny didn’t smoke so much weed. I’m the real puffer. Oh, Johnny’s just starting to smoke weed. Oh, Johnny likes sweet. Johnny’s become a weed head. 

Johnny Truant: Well, Johnny became interested in weed. I feel– I still think that Sean goes through way more than I do. But I’m, like, interested in the science of it and all the detail and nuance and Sean’s like, is it green? Okay, I’ll smoke it. Yeah.

Chip Baker: He didn’t ask him. It’s green. 

Johnny Truant: No. Is it black?

Chip Baker: Yeah, right. How much more do you got? right. So, hey, Johnny, and my buddy Sean. They were founders of Sterling and Stone, which is a publishing company, and you guys publish primarily ebooks, right?

Sterling and Stone, Changing the World with Stories

Johnny Truant: Primarily ebooks right now for sure. And almost exclusively fiction.

Chip Baker: And almost exclusively with fiction. They have produced and published hundreds and hundreds of books. Johnny has pinned nearly 100 books under this publication. And these guys are changing the world with a story. I love that tagline, man. 

Johnny Truant: That’s the idea anyway, change the world with story. 

Chip Baker: Yeah. Tell me, I gave you the briefer but tell everybody what you guys actually do?

Johnny Truant: In terms of changing the world with a story? or the– alright. Yeah, okay so well I mean we’re a publisher, but we’re not a traditional publisher, we’re not like HarperCollins or Simon and Schuster or something where we work with outside authors who come in and submit stuff to us. It’s more like we’re a little family. We call ourselves a story studio. And, and so when we say we’re changing the world with a story that’s pretty audacious for right now, but think about the ways that culture has changed. You know, it’s changed through stories trying to like bad people over the head and be like, Hey, man, be more tolerant. Like, that doesn’t work. You can’t legislate tolerance for that example, but you can in a story–

Smoking in TV shows and Movies

Chip Baker: Well, for instance, smoking cigarettes stopped in many, many movies. Right? I mean, it’s just started to kind of to come back again. But I don’t know if that was mandated. Or if it was just a social norm that began to happen and fewer people smoke cigarettes today than I believe anyway, that’s my perception. 

Johnny Truant: Yeah, no, I think that’s all right. I think there was some sort of legislation, but I do know that smoking came to prominence to some degree because people were smoking in popular culture you know, they’re doing it–

Chip Baker: And you know, used to be that weed, you could show weed a little bit, but it had to be fake and then it started to be jointed. And then like, all of a sudden, you know, man, people are smoking joints on television and significant movies.

Johnny Truant: Yeah, I mean, what was that movie that just came out with Matthew McConaughey? Was it Matthew McConaughey? And it was he was like, Jimmy Buffett’s style boat guy or something. I don’t remember. Snoop Dogg was in it, and I’m like, there’s no way that wasn’t all real weed.

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah. No doubt. You know, Snoop Dogg is going to be like, Oh, man, I got to get into character.

Johnny Truant: Do you ever hear that Mitch Hedberg joke about Peter Frampton in movie pot? 

Chip Baker: No–

Johnny Truant: Yeah, because I was in the movie. And I had a scene with Peter Frampton, and we had to smoke pot in the scene, but we couldn’t use real pot, so we had to use fake pot. And he said, so I smoked fake pot with Peter Frampton. That’s pretty cool. Not as cool as smoking real pot with a guy who looks like Peter Frampton, which I’ve done away more. 

Chip Baker: Sure. So it stories and entertainment they do change our culture, and you know we were involved in, you know, a mastermind group baby bathwater, right? That’s how we know each other. And you know you gravitated to the sideshow at one of the events what I mean by sideshows we were smoking [inaudible] shell ganja right the brew for the van or behind the shed or whatever show and that’s kind of how we met. Right?

Johnny Truant: Yeah, totally, and have you told people this story about how to– well it’s not a story it’s more like a truism on how the problem people have rolling joints because that’s one of my earliest Chip memories. 

Chip Baker: Oh, you know, I don’t think I’ve spoken to this audience on exactly that. You’re right, and you know, sometimes a more eloquent on the subject, but rolling a joint is much like any relationship in life. Is this what you’re talking about?

Johnny Truant: No, it was very simple this advice, but I want to hear this one too.

Chip Baker: I don’t know if I want to mess it up, man. Why don’t you give me advice about rolling a joint?

Johnny Truant: Oh, it’s real simple, so Chips and I in a circle, and it was in Denver. It was at that the outside the patio there, and somebody was asking Okay, Chip shows me how to roll a joint, show me that the trick of rolling the joint and Chip goes sits down he goes, all right– The problem most people have rolling a good joint is they don’t use enough weed right? Like, you were dead fucking serious about using maximal weed just to create a good joint need to like roll this giant Chip joint after that. Full on. 

Professional Joint Roller

Chip Baker: Yep, that actually is rule one is you– as most people don’t use enough weed, right. You have to stuff the joint full of weed. Number two is while you’re rolling, you have to commit. Right? You have to commit to that roll, especially on the finger switch. Right when you’re switching from right here to right here, you got just to commit and just go for.

Johnny Truant: You know, I wasn’t totally– so we, the last time we saw each other I was into weed, but that was just a different sort of a situation. But like, we haven’t spent a whole lot of time together since I, you know, really got into it. And so now I feel like I want that lesson again. I should have asked you when we saw you recently. Like I want that lesson now.

Chip Baker: Online. Well, we’ll do an online joint rolling, for sure. I’ll put that in my podcast schedule for all you Real Dirt listeners. Join us here in the future. I Chip Baker, a professional joint roller. Be it of ganja or hemp will instruct all on how to roll. The most fantastic joint you possibly can. So join us for a later date of The Real Dirt. We roll joints.

Johnny Truant: Speaking of professional joint rollers, you’ve ever seen those ones where people make these like super elaborate smokeable joints? 

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah like the Star Trek Enterprise or AK 47–

Johnny Truant: That’s what I saw was the AK 47 

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally. Oh, the first one I saw– I think was an AK 47. There are many others out there. Something I’ve never really like, you know, hopped into, but maybe, I don’t know, man. Maybe I should think about it. You know, the three-prong joint or the dove the sunflower. All types of things. 

So the point of this conversation here is– Johnny, you are part of the new wave of cannabis enthusiasts that are growing on day by day. Right? You didn’t use cannabis so much before until it became legal. And you know, the medical cannabis became legal. And then you know, you started to like realizing how like good it was for you. Right? And you began to self medicate, maybe. And later on in life, you came to cannabis. What was it that kept you away from it?

Johnny Truant: Well, okay, before I go into the [inaudible]. Speaking of joints, why haven’t you rolled a joint yet? Because I feel like I was just telling my wife. I said–

Chip Baker: We’re only three minutes, and I got a schedule. I’m not– I don’t smoke–

Johnny Truant: You have a smoking schedule?

Chip Baker: I just asked you my first real question. And so now is when I roll the joint.

Johnny Truant: I got you, I just fucked it up. 

Chip Baker: And it’s okay. But it’s cool. I got my bathtub full of weed here. 

Johnny Truant: Oh, it’s a great use. 

Chip Baker: And I’m just going to sit here and roll it up while you tell me the story of like [inaudible]. Why did it take you such a long time to get involved with weed? 

Cannabis at Forty

Johnny Truant: It just wasn’t in my circles. I was like, I mean, I was a smart kid in school, like one of those guys who just demonstrated like by the rules, academic smart. So I was first in my class, that sort of thing. And the crew that I ran with just, they just weren’t into weed. It wasn’t anything that came up. But then another thing that happened was I didn’t drink until I was I don’t know, like, well past drinking age to like, I didn’t drink as a kid. And it’s—

Chip Baker: A late bloomer, you’re a late bloomer.

Johnny Truant: Well, it’s more like I’m stubborn, right. So this, I remember I had this class with a bunch of the real jock types. Every Monday they’d come in and talk about how drunk and fucked up they were at some party, and I just found it so annoying. No, this was high school. Okay, I just didn’t want to be like them. And I think that that stuck, you know?

Chip Baker: Well, you know, I didn’t start drinking until I was my late 30’s. 36 I think I started it. And I’d had like, you know, some good times along the way, don’t get me wrong. But alcohol wasn’t something that I was really drawn to, and I also discovered that every time I drank, my ears would itch crazy itch. And so I’m like, I’m allergic to alcohol. Right? And so I just didn’t drink but what I discovered when I was about 36, is I was allergic to fermented alcohols like beer and wine and I can actually–

Johnny Truant: Gluten sort of thing maybe, almost? Yes, no? 

Chip Baker: I think it might have been the yeast, I’m not sure but I can drink liquor and wine man I drink a glass of wine and I’m super buzz, but I can like have a couple of drinks of bourbon and not be like terribly like buzz. I mean I’ll just like two glasses of wine I’m wasted slurring my words. So I’m dead there’s something there with the fermented stuff but the hard liquor, thanks to my Scottish dramatic genes. You know, I can digest it. So I was a late bloomer on weed, but I mean on alcohol, but I started weed when I was like, 13 and also felt like the alcohol ruined my weed buzz. And then for a long time, I was like, Oh, no, strictly just vegetarian living in weed so yeah it took me to hard on alcohol too.

Johnny Truant: Yeah I mean I think when it was prohibition too like when it was illegal that was a much much harder thing for– Not from an illegality standpoint but just the hassle like where am I gonna go find some dealer out there and you know that was sketchy to me the idea of– 

Chip Baker: The streets– 

Johnny Truant: Right who was doing it. What was in it? That’s another thing too. I like that there’s some control now even if it may be annoying for people because there’s some degree of oversight at least you know,

Chip Baker: Yeah, oversize good man. I’ve seen people do all kinds of awful things from literally spray raid and, you know, bug killer for spider mites and whatnot. I’ve seen people do some awful stuff, but mostly people are really conscious about it. And as soon as they learn the right way, they’re generally drawn towards the right way. So you just didn’t have access to it, that’s all.

Johnny Truant: Access or interest, I mean, those two together were a deadly combination for my early weed life.

Chip Baker: So you met Sean. And Sean I know he was immediate like Oh, you smoke weed, man? Because you’re a writer and I’m sure all writers smoke weed, right?

Johnny Truant: Right. Yeah, he said that well, and you know, he was telling me about– I don’t know that I should say this. Well, this is some other stuff and I was like I don’t know that’s you, that’s me. And the more we work together, and I don’t know i just got curious because I’m a curious guy too. Like you introduce a new topic to me and my mind will start working on it. I just want to figure it out. And then I was like, you know what, I should just try it and see what all the fuss is and totally dug at once I did, which was awesome. I wish I could be smoking right now. Chip. I was just–

Chip Baker: I did that for you.

Johnny Truant: Yeah, man, I can’t do it inside the house. I just can’t because my wife doesn’t smoke and my kids aren’t into it. Or I don’t know about it–

Chip Baker: You should be glad your kids aren’t into it or you’ll see they’ll be pinching out of your sack, right?

Johnny Truant: Yeah, no shit.

Chip Baker: So as you as you began to like, use more cannabis, so it occurred the way that most people do it, I’m sure is you– people would pass it to you and you would occasionally hit it, right?

Johnny Truant: Well, no, it was real dedicated the first time. Like the first time I wasn’t around, we’d basically at all except in college. There were some people I knew. But then I just wasn’t around anyone. And so when I decided I wanted to try it, I’d be like, I was like, hey, Sean, smoke me out. You know and we try it, we just tried it then. And then came baby bathwater in the passing the joints and the slow [inaudible] all that’s–

Chip Baker: Oh, wow. So I was there in the early days.

Johnny Truant: Yeah. Really, really early. That was probably like the third or fourth time I smoked weed.

Chip Baker: This is only a couple of years ago now, right?

Johnny Truant: Yeah. I mean, I was 40

Chip Baker: Johnny is new to smoking weed. Hey, Johnny, how old are you? What are you 35?

Johnny Truant: I just turned 44, Oh, thank you. Yes 35.

Chip Baker: Johnny just turned 44 and it was after. I mean, you might have been 41 or two by this when this happened. Right? 

Johnny Truant: Yeah, it was definitely over 40.

Chip Baker: Wow. One of the largest demographics people come into cannabis for the first time are 55 and over. Many of them and those they’re used to taking pharmaceuticals and it is causing them problems. There’s causing them digestive problems, it’s causing them sleep problems. And cannabis is a great way to reduce lots of medications that people take, of course, you have to consult your doctor. I’m no doctor, don’t take my word for it, but there’s lots of evidence out there of people reducing their intake of pharmaceutical drugs. And increasing completely harmless cannabis ie. ganja.

Johnny Truant: I think I had two main things because I actually didn’t even think about that medical but one of my earliest things was I always slept like shit. And it was like, What can I do to sleep better? And, you know, I tried melatonin and I tried all the sleep hygiene things they say like no light in the bedroom. You know, no TV. I even got those blue light glasses or amber glasses. I guess you seen those? 

Chip Baker: Yeah, absolutely. 

Johnny Truant: Nothing worked. But weed knocked me right out. And I think the other thing was curiosity. Like I already mentioned that but when there’s– So like, I’m into wine a little bit, because there’s so much nuance to wine, right, like the different the different varietals and some of them are real tannic and some of them are real smooth and big fruit. And it has this depth to it you know, like you can be a sommelier which there’s only a handful of the like top tier ones. And weeds the same way like all these different cultivars that do different things and why what you know, what is the entourage on this one different from the from on this one and just all the different ways that can be consumed, like the idea of– Because I have a science background, so when I hear Oh, you gotta decarboxylate your weed before infusing it with an oil turk assumption because it’s like– I speak that language and it’s like getting to do some chemistry, you know?

Chip Baker: Right. Well, did you, I noticed you’ve been making ganja food, right?

Johnny Truant: I’ve made some ganja food for sure. 

Chip Baker: All right, tell me about that.

Johnny Truant: Well, I mean, I have a real once I discover that something’s possible. I just wanted to try that if I’m interested in it, and then I just want to explore as deep as I can. So like, first time I made butter like I literally made butter. And you gave us a butter recipe, but I don’t know if you remember, but I think you were a little baked at the time and the recipes–

Chip Baker: It just seems unreal, my recipe that’s all [inaudible] A half a pound of weed into a pound of butter, add some water.

Johnny Truant: Well, but I think you also knew a lot of steps that Sean and I didn’t. So you just wrote the highlights. And we were like, oh, what do we do? So I mean, I don’t know if this is like a thing for new people come into weed, but it’s not that there’s not enough information out there in the world, there’s too much. And I was like, well, so which butter recipe do I follow? Or for that matter, like, what’s my opinion on this grow style versus that grow style? And how is this weed making its way to me and so I just kind of found a recipe and tried it. It was okay. It was all right. 

Chip Baker: Okay, okay. Yeah, it was all right.

Johnny Truant: I think next time I’m going to go through like the kief step, you know and make it from kief right from kief. Because it feels like you could dose it better that way it feels a little bit more like an easier infusion maybe–

Chip Baker: Yeah. There is an easier infusion. I however, like ganja butter for the full-body effect that when you put the extract in it, it’s way easier to mags raise your dose. But if you take like a half a pound of good quality [inaudible] mixed in with just a pound of melted or add enough water to float it. And then cook that at like 135 or on low on a crockpot for at least 30 minutes straight and squeeze all the butter out and then pop it in the fridge the water in the butter separate you end up with about a half a pound of butter right? And then you can take each sliver and start dosing it how strong you want it to be, right. Technically you know a tablespoon or so it shouldn’t be like a dose for 10 people. But I mean making ganja butter with leave isn’t the math, isn’t quite quite there.

Johnny Truant: You said extracts. Do you say making butter with extracts?

Chip Baker: Yeah, well you know like with bubble hash or with kief or with hash or with you know any type of solvent or solvent list extraction product. So if you took a gram say of shatter right and dissolve that into– You know, a fatty product. You would have 25 to 100 doses of product. [inaudible] how strong you wanted to make it.

Johnny Truant: Shatter is an extract, right? Like [inaudible] not just a like a concentrate.

Chip Baker: So it’s all the same. It’s it’s one of the same word concentrate, extract. It’s the same thing.

Johnny Truant: See, I learned some different stuff as a chemist. I’m curious if it translates with weed–

Chip Baker: It’s cultural for sure. But yeah, maybe you can educate me on it. But generally, in the legal regulated market, the government’s just referred to it as concentrates.

Johnny Truant: Gotcha. So it’s almost like a legal designation.

Chip Baker: It is. So that’s what what people have used. But yeah like an extract you would think you were using a solvent or solvent list process you know to extract a really high quality of THC, CBD cannabinoids you know, what have you–

Johnny Truant: Yeah that was the understanding I was working on–

Chip Baker: Right and then what would you consider concentrate then?

Johnny Truant: Well I mean, I’m again I’m speaking my ass as a cannabis guy–

Chip Baker: As a chemist background–

Johnny Truant: Right, because I actually have a degree in genetics. So but yeah, so for me it would be like concentrate I was taking to mean anything that was surprise surprise concentrated right like, kief for hash would be concentrated. But then I would have said extract is something where you were moving the molecule out of one medium and into another and also concentrating it so like, you know, BHO or [inaudible] or anything like that.

Chip Baker: Yeah, that’s exactly the way it works. That’s exactly the way it works. Just legal definition of concentrate is broader, I think and that’s why they use it.

Johnny Truant: I was fascinated when you had your lawyer on, and he was talking about like his around, gummy. That’s colored orange. Is that an orange? Is that a fruit shape? Because you can’t do fruit shapes. That sort of thing. Oh, man that was–

Chip Baker: Yeah, there’s so much– People have the best intentions when they’re making the regulated the laws for regulating cannabis, but it’s just it’s so hard to anticipate the actuality or the reality of the laws when they get into place of commerce. Right. And yeah, hey, that law still exists in throughout the country is you can’t make edibles attractive to children. They can’t be animals or humans or you know, so now people use like stars or marijuana leaves even, squares. I shouldn’t say it’s on artistic it actually means that people have to break out of the traditional gummy molds and make your own gummy balls bro.

Johnny Truant: Have you ever made gummies? Because I want to try–

Chip Baker: I make gummies; yeah, totally there are some great gummies recipes out there. We make vegan gummies. We just made some, and we have a processing license, so we made some like, you know while back and several took us a minute to get a good recipe going, but we got a pretty good recipe. We got a solid product [inaudible] sharp brand product.

Johnny Truant: Do you start from tincture, or you start from–

Chip Baker: With our gummies with the kief in it. We kind of prefer the kief free. You dissolve the kief and the corn syrup as you’re heating it up, and that’s how you decarboxylated.

Johnny Truant: Oh, wow.

Chip Baker: Right and then just follow your traditional gummy recipe. Pretty easy, yeah. Fruit leather, any of that stuff works with it too. Wow, fascinating. It’s so fascinating, but you know what, it’s time to take a small break. So hey man, we’ve rolled up a portion of the joint. I’m going to see what kind of weed I got here, and maybe we’ll get a little canna olympics going on during the break. So we’ll be right back folks, Real Dirt with Chip Baker and Johnny B. Truant.

Hey, this Chip of The Real Dirt thanks for joining us today. You know world’s changing every day and sometimes you can’t quite go to your local store to pick up the products that you need to grow your fine cannabis. Well, look no further. Contact us at cultivatecolorado.comcultivateokc.com

We are continuing to deliver, we have curbside procedures and we ship all over the US. So it doesn’t matter if you need a bag of soil or a truckload of soil. If you need a pint of nutrient or a 55 gallon, you know, three part of cutting edge, we can help you get that to grow in these trying times and we’re just gonna do the best we can to help you guys keep on growing. So absolutely check out cultivatecolorado.comcultivateokc.com. And yeah, man, keep your head up. Keep on growing. 

Johnny Truant: Chip you’re in an essential business right during the whole Coronavirus stuff?

Chip Baker: Yeah, we’ve been deemed an essential business and we’re an agricultural business, man. You know, medical cannabis has also been deemed as important as pharmaceuticals. It is considered a medicine. And yeah, we’re going through the motions, man. We shut the doors to the store, you have to call in all your orders, there’s curbside service, we do delivery, we put stuff in the mail still. 

So we’re really trying to work with everybody to get all their products out. But you know, at the same time, we have a responsibility to our customers and all the people we work for to be as safe as possible. So, we’re going through extreme measures, keep everything clean, keep in our social interaction appropriate. And you know, just kind of like eliminate any cross contamination or chains of contamination. But yeah, man, people need medical cannabis in times like these, more than anything else, that’s for sure.

Johnny Truant: I was– this is gonna sound like a joke, but I feel like recreational cannabis should be an essential service. Like that’s actually not a joke.

Chip Baker: No, it’s not a joke. And just yesterday in Denver, they passed a ruling that said that they were gonna, you know, or said on air that they were going to shut down liquor stores and recreational dispensaries. Immediately that changed and they’re like, No, no, no, actually, we’re gonna let you still go to your recreational dispensaries and the liquor stores. You know, it’s and so yeah, it was about two hours for people like what? Oh, you know?

Johnny Truant: Yeah, I feel like there are two major dangers here, and only one is the actual contagion, the other is panic, way of hoarding everything and freaking out, and just general social unrest. Like weed helps you chill out.

Chip Baker: Weed helps you chill out. When you’re freaking out sit back and smoke some, just a little bit of sedating relaxing weed. Just a little bit. Don’t go overboard, because when you go overboard and times like this and it might kick in you know I’m saying Johnny–

When you’re freaking out, sit back and smoke some, just a little bit of sedating relaxing weed. – Chip Baker

Johnny Truant: You want to see how I’m relaxing over here?

Chip Baker: Yeah, let’s see it

Johnny Truant: So, like I said I can’t smoke inside because even if I– I do have a spliff right, but you know you get that sidestream smoke and sounds like I want to go sit on the porch during the interview, so I feel like this might get me kicked off The Real Dirt but I got my vaporizer here.

Chip Baker: No one’s been kicked off The Real Dirt yet.

Johnny Truant: Nobody? What if it takes– you’re supposed to the firefly two and you’re supposed to draw on it like for 20 seconds or something. So it probably make for a really good interview.

Chip Baker: You look like a douche or doing this. 

Johnny Truant: Oh, totally. Like I totally agree. That’s why I don’t do it in public.

Weed and Writing

Chip Baker: Right. So Johnny, tell me about weed and writing. This is why I wanted to talk to you because I wanted, to hear about your perspective of if your writing has changed, writing style has changed since you started using cannabis more frequently.

Johnny Truant: I think I can brainstorm on it. So first of all I have– there’s a whole lot of stories here. So I think this is kind of fun. I did– Sean was like, Oh, writing on weed is really cool. I can’t edit on weed, but I can write when I’m high. And so I was like, alright, I’ve never tried that. I’m gonna give it a shot. And I’m a real analytical sort of writer like, not in a sterile way. But I do, I’m very precise and very articulate. Like, I want to make sure that every loose end is handled and stuff. 

And so when I tried writing, I just I picked a project that was if it got fucked up that it was okay. It was just a little short story that’s totally isolated. And I got blitz and I wrote it. And it was not the right experience for me. I am not somebody who should actually write on it. But as far as brainstorming and stuff as far as coming up with ideas, and my dad said once, my dad’s a big fan of my work on surprisingly, but he’s also a fan of weed. And he said, we have– Sean and I have a story called Unicorn Western. And it’s exactly what it sounds like. 

Like not all of our work is that zany but that is and it’s about a talking unicorn who’s an asshole and his marshall who rides him who’s you know, named Clint in a very Western fashion. And there’s this whole scene where or sequence where they keep hearing about chili in a town that’s coming up like it’s just all about chili. There’s signs about like the chili. It’s like chili is a huge part of this culture is weird town. And we just did that because, I don’t know it seemed amusing, but my dad’s like, I need you to ask Sean if when he came up with that he was smoking because what the fuck, chili? And he answer, those ideas come up for sure man. 

Chip Baker: Right. The little points of the universe they get connected is one of the major things I see that cannabis does. Does it allows you to see this inter-connectivity and just the smallest things.

Johnny Truant: And actually that is probably a way I think it has affected my writing is because I have no evidence for this. I have no idea. But I feel like it’s opened me up for want of a better term. I feel like I’m just a little bit more introspective. And I noticed things a little bit more since I’ve been smoking. I don’t mean like well, I’m actually smoking I mean just in life. And I think my writing has deepened in that way. Like I’m not actually writing high, but it’s getting a benefit from all the other times around. If that makes sense.

Chip Baker: Yeah, no, absolutely. It’s a cumulative effort. It’s not necessarily about writing while you’re stoned. It’s about the inspiration, muses that come to you little funny things and the inter-connectivity you see to the world and cannabis, truly great, great plant with that. Hey, Johnny, we’re getting short on time. I feel like we could have had a, you know, talk two three more hours here. But I gotta ask you, man, if you’ve got some advice for people who are just getting into cannabis that are kind of in our middle age that don’t necessarily know a lot about it because we’re about the same age. I’ve been involved with all my life. You just got involved. You got some suggestions for people that are interested in smoking cannabis, just or you haven’t tried it or want to?–

Weed at First Time

Johnny Truant: I would just say that– I think that I was a little weirded out by what was gonna happen. You know, like I’m a person who likes control. I think that is people get older if they haven’t smoked before, or imbibed in any way that might be the intimidating thing. Like, you know, I’m used to control and so now suddenly I’m gonna relinquish it. And I think that understanding getting past that and like, yeah, it’s you may be a little floaty, especially the first few times but whatever. There’s a lot of benefit to be had from that, like, the fact that I could sleep better.

Chip Baker: Loading is good. 

Johnny Truant: But yeah, I mean now I’m like, kind of trying to chase that. Like, where is that now? But it’ll help get my mind off things, like that’s what I keep trying to say, like, my wife isn’t interested, but I keep trying to kind of nudge her because if I’m writing I need a clear head, like to start writing. 

Chip Baker: Right? Absolutely. Okay. 

Johnny Truant: And if my mind is cycling on something, like I had an argument with somebody and I can’t let it go, but I need to stop and get to work. Then if I’ll just take like, just like one hit from a vaporizer or joint or some just one hit. It’s enough to not make me like, so I can’t write, but it’ll take me out of that loop. And I think just understanding that it’s a versatile tool that you can be consumed in many different ways and you can suit your style and your preferences to your consumption. You know, you can control it more than you think in that way. Don’t be afraid.

Chip Baker: Don’t be afraid. I love it. Well, hey, Johnny, thank you for joining me today. I appreciate this conversation, man. You know, I think we’re going to have to have you back, because I got several other questions, specifically about writing and cannabis and your newfound great hobby.

Johnny Truant: Love of the plant. Yeah. Thanks for having me on, man. I’m a fan.

Chip Baker: Yeah. Thanks again for joining us. Hey, Give us your connections, man you are Sterling and Stone pretty can we find you on Instagram or on Facebook? Or how does it work?

Where to Find Them

Johnny Truant: Well, I’m kind of a curmudgeon on the social media thing so sterlingandstone.net. I actually don’t even know, we do have some social but it’s kind of just beginning.

Chip Baker: Right, tell me what’s the name of the story time travel with ayahuasca? Maybe it was not time travel it was apocalyptic ayahuasca.

Johnny Truant: That was Invasion, involved ayahuasca. He saw the aliens coming through ayahuasca visions.

Chip Baker: What was the name of that book again? 

Johnny Truant: Invasion, by me and Sean Platt

Chip Baker: Invasion.

Johnny Truant: Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt.

Chip Baker: Great book, check it out. You guys are sitting back and such a you know relaxed environment this but an alien invasion science fiction book involving ayahuasca and travel throughout the US is a perfect thing getting a read right now.

Johnny Truant: There you go. Absolutely!

Chip Baker: Thanks again, Johnny. 

Johnny Truant: Thanks, Chip!

Subscribe & Review

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A Conversation with an Average Medical Cannabis User

A Conversation with an Average Medical Cannabis User

medical marijuana patient interviewThe use of cannabis as medicine has not been rigorously tested due to production and governmental restrictions, resulting in limited clinical research to define the safety and efficacy of using cannabis to treat diseases. Preliminary evidence suggests that cannabis can reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, reduces chronic pain and muscle spasms, and treats severe forms of epilepsy.

In today’s episode, Chip’s good friend, Greg Davidson, an average medical cannabis user, shares his insights and experiences on cannabis. He and Chip have smoked out many times “recreationally”.

In 1984 Greg was paralyzed in an automobile accident, and has used medical cannabis almost continuously since to control the spasms in his legs. And just about two years ago, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and used medical cannabis and CBD to beat cancer.

Stay tune on Greg’s life-changing experience together with the help of his canna-friends who supported him from developing programs to solving growing problems.

There’s nothing like the feeling of a doctor walking in and saying you’ve got cancer. – Greg Davidson

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

0:31 – Finding new friends in cannabis
5:17 – Salad joint kinda guy
9:18 – Proposition 64
24:01 – Greg’s first encounter with cannabis
41:42 –Average medical cannabis consumer
43:23 –Message for the regulators, commercial growers, extractors
56:49 –Weather problems

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with  Chip Baker


Chip Baker: Once again, you have reached The Real Dirt. In today’s dirt have my good buddy, Greg Davidson. Hey you say Greg. 

Greg Davidson: Hey, Chip, how are you doing? Hey listeners of The Real Dirt.

Finding New Friends in Cannabis

Chip Baker: Real Dirty-ans, Greg’s one of my oldest and best friends. I, he, and his wife Elaine, are dear people to us. And the interesting thing about Greg is, in many ways, you’re average medical marijuana patient. He grows a little weed, he smokes a lot of weed, goes to the grow store, goes to the dispensary, he buys vape pens, and I feel like you’re just real average consumer, right? You may be smoke a little bit more average, but I mean you use medical marijuana and medical cannabis. So that’s why I wanted to have you on the show. Plus, we always have really good conversations when we’re on the phone anyway. So you’re a good conversationalist. 

Greg Davidson: I love rubbing with each other. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, it’s always fun. Yeah. Greg, I met you must have been 2004?

Greg Davidson: Ah, no, I was going to say three. So three or four. 

Chip Baker: It was pre, Santa Cruz, for me?

Greg Davidson: You were up in Willow. You were actually the first time I met you, you were a self-proclaimed dirty hippie, and you had pitched attempts at early.

Chip Baker: Oh, okay. It was at one of the cannabis worlds.

Greg Davidson: I actually met you when I was trimming. That’s when I was an itinerant termer. 

Chip Baker: Oh, trimmer. Yeah. I was camping out of Charlie’s funny. Well, we met through cannabis world or something. Right, which was an online group. We’ve talked about this in the past. And it was set up as part of a seed bay. So you could talk to breeders and growers about buying cannabis seeds, and then you could go buy them online at this seed auction site.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, it was up a loose affiliation of growers, breeders, kind people and as many of us as could a met once or twice a year up in Northern California. 

Chip Baker: You and Charlie were some of my first internet friends, you, Charlie and Shanti Baba Mr. Nice Seeds were awesome offers internet friends. 

Greg Davidson: Yeah, back in the day. I can I tell the listeners, my first impression of Chip was I knew that we had a different cat on our hands. Chip had all of his weed and mason jars. Chip was the very first guy to have his weed and make some dirt, that back when we all let it dry out in ziplock bags, and I was like, wow, this guy hightech cuz he’s got mason jars. 

Chip Baker: Oh man years probably still smoking Mexican weed back then. 

Greg Davidson: No we’re getting from–

Chip Baker: Yeah, no first names! 

Greg Davidson: Oh yeah.

Chip Baker: Now he is your medical cannabis supplier, right?

Greg Davidson: Ah, yeah, exactly. I trained him for medical cannabis, that’s how it works.

Chip Baker: Right. So man what puts, what are you smoking on today?

Greg Davidson: I just– Well, I saw that you sched to your part of [inaudible] in progress. I snuck outside real quick and booked to join a gelato. And then I’ve got a couple of canns here. And in my left hand, I’ve got some tandy. In my right hand here, I’ve got what they call Chi up, punch. This is a Rog garden, live resin and I’ve talked about live resin before–

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally love it. 

Greg Davidson: Yeah, the taste is right on. What are you smoking?

Salad Joint Kinda Guy

Chip Baker: Man you know I’ve been kind of bored with our weed lately but right now, I’ve been working on a salad that I like, which is a Mimosa and Gilz Nilz. Right. Gilz Nilz is a Swamp Boys Seed and yeah, man. We really like this weed. I mean, I didn’t think I was it– I don’t know, it doesn’t have like, to me like this drawing smell or appearance. It looks good. Don’t get me wrong and it smells great. But like I was totally proved wrong by this weed, Greg. Right. 

I immediately saw it, and I was like, oh man, commercial producer. And because it gets big, it grows easy. It doesn’t have any problems. And then like it has an older look because it is Georgia pine and cross the wide. So it’s an older plant, a place or something that they’re not telling us what the Georgia Pine is. Swamp Boys Seeds, actually get them on here and talk about it but they– so I liked smoking this weed, right it’s great outdoor, great greenhouse weed. And we mix that with the Mimosa, which you know, it has a citrus kush you know, taste so yeah I blend them.

Greg Davidson: [inaudible] you’ve been a salad joint kinda guy.

Chip Baker: Yeah, like salads for sure. Yeah, you know, salads are such a good way to, like, tell potential genetic combinations to– right. Something that like could be there or might be there. But yeah, like pure joints too. I’m just kind of bored with our weed right now. 

Greg Davidson: I remember back in the day when we were smoking a lot of arcade a train wreck, to get, we would get tired of that creosote taste and you’d mix in a little of that lavender. Oh, that was a nice salad.

Chip Baker: That is a good fond memory, you know, we planted some of those train wreck back crosses, we had, T three, T fours. Just recently, we’ve got a great fino that’s a train wreck, you know, that not carbon copy, but like really, really close. So, yeah, we’re excited for that this show this outdoor season.

Greg Davidson: Alright, so now that we know both know what we’re smoking, mysterious back to. When we first met–

Chip Baker: Yeah, okay. 

I’ve been using medical marijuana for the spasms in my legs associated with my paralysis. – Greg Davidson

Greg Davidson: I really liked you right off, back then you were just off your activist days down in Georgia. And that impressed me that impressed me. I really liked that about you. But yeah, at that point, I’ve been using medical marijuana for the spasms in my legs associated with my paralysis, and it’s really, back then your doctors would always ask, you know, are there be forms to fill out? And of course, I was always, no because you didn’t want your doctors to know. If you had a medical condition, you didn’t want your doctors to know. But this is before 1996. So at that point, I’ve been using it for 12 years medicinally. 

Preposition 64

Then 96 came along, and it kind of loosened up, got a little bit better. And has gradually, you know, you followed the legislation as close as anybody it’s gotten a little bit better, but it’s still not right. I’m conflicted about proposition 64 pretty much removed the whole medical marijuana scene. I mean, I don’t need to go to the dispensaries rather than the vape cartridges. But I’ve noticed that there’s maybe one place left that will ask if you’ve got a medical card, and I think they’d give some break on the tax maybe. But that’s about it; there’s no compassion and the compassionate care act anymore. It’s all about money. 

All the places are really good about either a disabled person or veteran discount, which I’m both– which is nice because they’re pretty much wiped out– your discount pretty much wipes out the excise tax that they’re charging. And the other thing that I really and I talked to Jessica about this is proposition 64 just exploded the one use single-use plastic market so we can just choke this planet even faster on plastic. I mean everything, yeah it just it’s really bad used to be able to go into a dispensary. They break out one of those big extra big mason jars and a set of tongs, and you could pull a bud out, you couldn’t touch them, but you could pull a bud out you could look around, and there’d be nice looking buds in there. Now everything is packaged in a– got my props ready here, Chip. Now we’re making a glass jar or plastic jar like this? You can’t see through it. So you can’t see what you’re getting. And of course, because of the size of the jar, everything is just mids. I wonder– and you know some people might know the answer to this. What happened? Yeah, I know you know some people. What happened to the big buds? Where’d they go? 

Chip Baker: What happened to the big buds? Where did they go? I feel a song coming on here. What happened to the big buds, where did they go–

Greg Davidson: Now I go to my dispensary. All I get is bids, Oh show there we’ve just wrote a song.

Chip Baker: Yeah, you used to be my dealer had big buds, the dispensary is getting nothing but meds.

Greg Davidson: What happened? What happened to these top cool? Where’d they go?

Chip Baker: Man, okay, I’ll tell you this dude, is in California and the rest of the country. Yeah, everybody’s buying grams and [inaudible]

 right? And the board, the dispensary, or the buyer should have a consistent nugget size in a sack of weed as opposed to like trophy nuggets how we all used to have. Yeah, right. And people talk all the weed used to be better, the weed used to be better, you know, and it’s like, well, man back when like, we all had trophy nuggets, back when that was a thing because you know, the pounds would have small to large nuggets and it was a different story. 

Here in Oklahoma and kind of in Colorado a little bit, they shove everything in the bag, right? And Colorado is changing a bit, but here it’s still everything goes in the bag, big nugget, the small nugget, but they’re often cut up dude. [inaudible] are often cut up. It’s better for everybody if they’re– because of the packaging and you know the way people buy it. Because it’s not like potatoes we go and buy this potato that potato three potato four potato you know, and each [inaudible] is bigger, different size, and then you weigh it all and it’s like oh, that’s point nine three pounds, and you pay six bucks or whatever. Right? And we’ve talked about this for a long time too. You know is I would like to go into a dispensary and just buy nugget, buy it by the nugget, buy the gram just like– that 4.6-gram nugget and that 2.8-gram nugget. 

Greg Davidson: Right.

Chip Baker: Commercial, commercialism.

Greg Davidson: I’ve had a– and they’ll talk to, you know the bud tenders and, and even the owners of the dispensary will talk to you and tell you that they get and this is just amazing to me. They have people come in every day,

Chip Baker: Every day. Yeah. At Jessica’s dispensary Baker’s Medical. We got people that come in every day about an eighth. Every day and buy two joints every day.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, why not save up your money and come in once a week and buy an ounce I don’t get it. 

Chip Baker: Oh, I mean, Well, I’ll tell you what, that’s going to happen more and more in the social interaction. It is definitely going to change. So the people that used to show up and buy an eighth a day–

Greg Davidson: We have this thing at the local grocery store; he mixes a compost tea every week. And then on Sunday, people who are customers can come in and get through their two gallons of compost tea for free and it always turns into a circle out in the back have three or four joints going around, and we call it church 

Chip Baker: Church, teachers.

Greg Davidson: In the past couple of weeks, church has been canceled. And on the last week of it everybody got their own joints we didn’t have to ask to join around. This episode’s been forwarded well I’m in the county, I’m in California we’re under stay at home orders.

Chip Baker: So yeah, weird. I see you’ve got your orange jumpsuit on there. [inaudible] log lot now.

Greg Davidson: We got a safety orange in case things go wild.

Chip Baker: Yeah, man.

Greg Davidson: I’ve got enough weed in the freezer from I had a really good year this year. We’re because of Proposition 64. We’re finally able to blow it up in the backyard and with Chip’s help, I gotta say with Chip’s help through a couple of rough patches. I turned out a really nice crop this year.

Chip Baker: Awesome, man.

Greg Davidson: I went out right before the lockdown and bought eight packs of rolling papers, looking at me like I was crazy after accident papers and notes.

Chip Baker: I’ve got a couple cases my shits gonna happen. Now we’re trying to stay really positive doing it all taking it as seriously as we should regardless of like how we might feel about the whole scenario and you know, it is definitely a good time like just take a second back man, you know, actually dude, I’ve been doing podcasts left and right literally I’ve had two others today. I’ve got two tomorrow at three yesterday at a webinar yesterday and then all the rest of the stuff that we decided we wanted to do. But yeah, man, we’re just kicking it down the road and just staying home. You know, this is my new home studio here at the ranch.

Greg Davidson: Yeah. Pretty fancy. 

Chip Baker: And I– were just sitting back starting a big garden. Taking care of all of our business. It’s amazing how much work that you can do from a home office and I’ve been home office in for a long time. And I know you do, too. You guys have worked at home for years. But when you use this tool like Zoom, like what we’re using right now or Google Hangouts or, man, it changes everything. Yeah. Man, I think it’s really good time to like, be with your family, and talk to some friends here and there. And, yeah, I enjoy one another’s company.

I think it’s really good time to like, be with your family, and talk to some friends here and there. And, yeah, I enjoy one another’s company. – Chip Baker

Greg Davidson: I wanted to be on The Real Dirt since you started it. Yeah–

Chip Baker: Man. We’re on. We’re on today. Well, hey, you know what, I think this is a perfect time to take a break. We’ll sit back we’ll roll up a joint. We’ll have a little break and we’ll come back and we’ll talk about medical cannabis. Right. This is Chip with The Real Dirt, Chip and Greg. 

Greg Davidson: Thanks.

Chip Baker: Hey, this is Chip from The Real Dirt, today is like March 25th 2020. And if you’re like most of the country, while you’re kind of concerned about what’s going on in the world. Well, hey, don’t be alarmed. The Real Dirt is a safe place to gather and listen and enjoy this episode and others if you’re interested in more episodes of The Real Dirt, download them at therealdirt.com or on iTunes. Subscribe and listen to all the episodes that we have there. Some are better than others, but I tell you what, there’s something great in every single one. So if you’re sitting back bored just downloads more episodes of The Real Dirt, therealdirt.com.

Chip Baker: So you want those vape pens huh?

Greg Davidson: I do. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, the vaping crisis didn’t scare you none man?

Greg Davidson: As long as you’re buying tested, that’s the good thing about 64. That’s one of the good things about 64. Got a little can’t see this but there’s a there’s a sticker right here that is mandated by the state of California to go on these larger dinos right? So no I never had it and with the weather changing I’m able to get outside and get back to smoking flower. In fact we’ve got another prop for y’all here. This is what I do when I’m locked out. Can’t get out these are all joints that are rolled here and see so– time comes and I can just boom out the door.

Chip Baker: Oh, that should go-bag. 

Greg Davidson: Yeah. That’s my go-bag.

Chip Baker: Let me see a picture that go-bag again. That was great! That’s awesome. You’ll have to take a picture that send it to me. Yeah, look for Greg Davidson’s go-bag.

Greg Davidson: My go-bag.

Chip Baker: That’s great.

Greg Davidson: I learned from you that you don’t want to have a shortage of [inaudible] No, because, you know, you’ll be cruising along. Life’s cool, and then you get like a paper cut. And you can’t roll– I hate that. Oh, God. 

Chip Baker: Fortunately, my wife is pretty good roller.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, she’s decent.

Chip Baker: She’s decent. She’s not great like me.

Greg Davidson: You are so far too much credit. I’ve smoked some of the pregnant guppies that you rolled,

Chip Baker: Hey, sometimes it’s just function, you know.

Greg Davidson: So anyway, we’re gonna try and steer this back–

Greg’s First Encounter with Cannabis

Chip Baker: Oh, this that’s right. This isn’t just like a play conversation. Hey listen Greg, I want to have you on to talk about medical cannabis. When did you get– tell me your cannabis story, when you got first involved with medical cannabis?

Greg Davidson: Oh, man first time I got involved with medical cannabis is first time I got high.

Chip Baker: Well i mean it’s really two different things. I think you’re in medical cannabis user, how did you– Okay, here we go. What was the lightbulb moment when you realize weed was medicine?

Greg Davidson: Ah, okay. February or March of 1985 when I gotten out of the hospital after my back injury. So I first realized cannabis was medicine was in February or March of 1985 after I’d been released from the hospital, and I was living with my dad and stepmom in Sacramento. And had finally gotten to where I was comfortable going out of the house, going out and getting some fresh air, getting some exercise started getting back in touch with old friends and got a sack from one of them. And was being Mr. Sly going out in the garage and rolling up a quick one to take on my exercise journey. Yeah, let me think of like 26 years old, and my dad busts me I get busted by my dad right? And he’s like, you know, you can just roll that up in the house and take it with you. So obviously wasn’t us [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Your mom and dad are like, Just go out there and tell him he can do it in the house?

Greg Davidson: Tell him he can do it in the house. Exactly. So I was smoking, not with the idea of cannabis as medicine. But I noticed that when I would smoke, my the spasms in my legs would really calm down. And I noticed that the more I smoked, the more the spasms in my legs would lead up. Then I thought, you know, maybe I don’t need to take all these liver-killing medicines that the doctors have prescribed for me if I can replace it with what at the time was medicine [inaudible] So I was a medical marijuana patient when you were still running around in three corner pants. 

Chip Baker: Dude I was playing weed in 1985.

Greg Davidson: Okay, all right, but you get my point. You get my point. It’s been a long time– 

Chip Baker: I was just out of diapers. 

Greg Davidson: So I thought, you know, I had to keep it from my doctors back then.

Chip Baker: Right? You can keep are [inaudible]–

Greg Davidson: Yeah, it was a robot–

Chip Baker: You were in the VA at that time. I mean, you were going to VA hospitals–

Greg Davidson: [inaudible] State University of California system. Which has hospitals in various campuses around the state.

Chip Baker: Some may have understood, but you know, it’s not something–

Greg Davidson: I went through different doctors and I know that my first doctor would have been like, good for you, you know, and then he moved on and the next doctor would have been I’m calling the police said oh you just get a vibe, you get a vibe from people. And then I had a doctor for a long long time that I think she heard listen to anything that I said anyway, but I don’t think that she would have been up or down about it. 

So then we’re gonna we’re gonna jump forward a long, long time and I got bladder cancer in 2018 was diagnosed with bladder cancer in like February of 2018. And, man, there’s nothing like the feeling of a doctor walking in and saying you’ve got cancer. But at the same time, he was really good doctor and I realized right then in his office that I was gonna beat it. Underneath this shirt, I’ve got a whole slew of tattoos and I think that they– one of them’s the chemical symbol for THC and one’s a chemical symbol for CBD and the doctor is always key on those right away and you know when you know what that is like– 

Chip Baker: This guy’s for real.

Greg Davidson: I think they know not to ask their questions anymore. But the guy said to me, amongst other things, he said if you use marijuana, he said use more. He says if you don’t use it now start, and if you do use it, use more. 

Chip Baker: I like this guy–

Greg Davidson: So that’s how the just fast forward thing. That’s how the attitude amongst the doctors in the UC system changed over the years. We have mutual friend in Colorado, who does real high grade CBD oil. I got tons of that from him. And talk to Jessica and you about how I developed the three legged stool for my recovery. And it was Western medicine which involves surgery and chemotherapy combined with some other various medicines. 

The second leg of the stool was Eastern medicine and a big shout out to Jessica Baker. She was my rock. Right there. She developed a program for me of herbs, proprietary herbs that came from a place in Berkeley. She started; there’s my wife Elaine that made the Reishi mushroom tea and the Chaga root tea that tasted just horrible. And I had a friend can I give a shout out to a friend back in Matthew no last names– 

Chip Baker: Matthew no last names

Greg Davidson: You know who you are? He’s a healer, he’s a chiropractor and a Chaga root hunter. It turned out– duty he goes out and he any harvest chaga roots and send me. So that was my– they know each other. So that was my second leg of the stool, and then the third leg of the stool was all about cannabis it’s all about cannabis, man. I smoked —

Chip Baker: Propping up on weed. 

Greg Davidson: I smoked, I ate, I use drops. I use poultice I think I used everything except those [inaudible] shouldn’t go–

Chip Baker: Oh, man, you know when you really got to get up in there right?

Greg Davidson: Any [inaudible] method that you could? And I really think that those three things Western medicine, Eastern medicine and then the power of medical marijuana.

Chip Baker: So now you can bring it up to anyone. You can talk about that you use medical marijuana to anyone now.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, right. In fact this past year when I knew that I was going to grow big. I went around to all the neighbors and I you know, fest up tonight. A year–

Chip Baker: For the past you were nervous about it. 

I went from door to door at around the neighbors and told them I’m gonna be growing. – Greg Davidson

Greg Davidson: I was I’d be very careful. Although we have really good neighbors and we’ve known them for a long time. You know you don’t want to offend anybody. You don’t know their feelings about it. And so I went from door to door at around the neighbors and told them I’m gonna be growing. And I said, and they were all fine with it. They were all great with it. And I said, by the way, did you know that I’d been growing outlaw style for years, none of them had a clue. So yeah, I was able to grow my own medicine this year, and the state makes it really easy. There’s real good nursery that has high quality clones. Chip knows who I’m talking about. I used a nutrient line that was a lot harder than it needed to be. But I think it was worth it and I grew and grew in one [inaudible]–

Chip Baker: Oregon zone nectar the gods that are what she is right?

Greg Davidson: Yeah. Nectar for the gods. Yeah, it was like an 11 [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Great product, too complicated for– 

Greg Davidson: Yeah, I had to contact you a couple of times and say, why am I giving my plants carbon?

Chip Baker: There’s only instruction just follow it.

Greg Davidson: Yeah.

Chip Baker: Now they got a good product, man. You know, it’s they do have 14 pieces to the puzzle though.

Greg Davidson: I turned out some really, really nice medical marijuana and I’m sad I mean if the you know if this is a zombie apocalypse, man I’m good, I got jars sealed up out there. Do you remember the legendary APK we call it All their Point Kush?

Chip Baker: I do remember it but but I was never that– I wasn’t that into that one, but it just never crossed my path the same way as it did you guys, I remember it?

Greg Davidson: I broke out a jar that has been sealed up for 15 years. 

Chip Baker: No way! Holy shit.

Greg Davidson: And I smoked it with our mutual friend

Chip Baker: In the freezer, had you forgotten about it or purposely it was back there?

Greg Davidson: I totally knew and I knew at some– I was gonna smoke with our friend and own the seed bank. Can I give him a shout out?

Chip Baker: Absolutely. 

Greg Davidson: Oh man. Oh cool! 

Chip Baker: Who’s our friend? That into seed bank?

Greg Davidson: My best friend–

Chip Baker: Oh Sha, 707 Seeds yeah totally got some of his 707 kush going on down here in the 405–

Greg Davidson: So he and I’ve been friends for a long time. He actually got me the cutting of that all good point kush. So I broke it open, roll the joint smok it with him, and then told him what it was, and showed him the jar. It was it had lost a little bit of he used to have a really nice spicy smell. Now just kind of had a flat smell, but as far as taste and getting you high, it had lost nothing, and it been in my freezer for 15 years.

Chip Baker: Well that’s awesome. We smoke some a Fletcher’s Malawi and oh five haze recently though, that we had, it was in the back of the frigerator for 18 months maybe more. And it lost his color a little bit. Didn’t have an initial smell but you broke it open and there was a smell and it smoked just fine.

Greg Davidson: Have you sealed it and then put it in– 

Chip Baker: Just in a jar, dried, right? tight. I am putting the one cooler.

Greg Davidson: Buy yourselves a vacuum sealer. Good. 

Chip Baker: So I’ve got a vacuum sealer, there’s just you know, like, we got too much weed. We just put this in here.

Greg Davidson: And we don’t have– That was a funny experience. So that’s what I did with this year’s model. I have a nice mix of SFV OGs, Chip knows I’m one of those fuel oil, kind of guys. And then with Jessica’s help, I was able to develop the terpene profile.

Chip Baker: Yeah, what’s your what’s your ter[inaudible]? 

Greg Davidson: Man, I got to have the limonene,a little of that. You know what works out strain wise for me and money because it’s one I’ve always loved is Sour Diesel. And then the– anything like that [inaudible] the real dank OG. My favorite OG is Tahoe OG, I couldn’t find that but it I grew some really nice SFV OG. And my garden star was a replacement plant. I had a Venom OG, that was not working. And I sent my boy Chip a picture of it. And he says pull it up. It was pretty late in the season, but I was able to get the same nursery. Some [inaudible] And man–

Chip Baker: The great. Yeah.

Greg Davidson: It was great. It was super easy to grow. Super easy to trim and just chunky rock hard buds that taste of you can taste the cookie influence but also, you can get that limonene but, man, I wish we could get a hold of some genius. Remember?

Chip Baker: Oh, you know what we actually just planted a seed run of the Apollo 11, I think looking for that genius fino and man I think we came close. I think we came close man. I think you’d be impressed. Yeah some my favorite weed genius. Oh my god. Just great.

Greg Davidson: Yeah.

Chip Baker: It’s great. So man, let me ask you a couple medical marijuana questions. 

Greg Davidson: All right, yo.

Average Medical Cannabis Consumer

Chip Baker: You are an average consumer, if you could say anything to the dispensaries what it was. If you have all the dispensaries in the country listening to you because you very well could. What do you want to tell them?

Greg Davidson: Wow!

Chip Baker: As an average medical cannabis consumer.

Greg Davidson: This is going to sound harsh. 

Chip Baker: It’s good criticism–

Greg Davidson: [inaudible] with the bait and switch. Yeah, it’s bad problem, too bad problem. No show.

Bait and switch work this way, and they put a bud into a clear lucite jar that has a magnifying glass built into the lid. And the bud is just dank. Yeah, frosty. Perfect, you can tell it’s got a perfect mixture to it. So you buy an eight of that, and you bring it home, and it’s not even the same weed. It’s sad but true and one a would-be, man we’ve got to cut down on the plastic.

Chip Baker: How is it works? Have to cut down the plastic.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, yeah.

Message for the Regulators, Commercial Growers, Extractors

Chip Baker: I was gonna ask you what you would say to the legislators if they were listening to this and the regulators because they are they’re out there, man.

Greg Davidson: Oh, that’s easy one, I don’t even have to think on that one, legalize it.

Chip Baker: Well, one of the things is less plastic. You just told me that.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, definitely require less plastic. I get what you’re trying to do. But people are responsible, patients are responsible enough and you know, I hesitate to use the word patient anymore. Let’s just say users, users are reliable enough that you can put it in a paper bag and staple it closed. You know, we don’t need everything that we’re buying in one plastic or glass jar. And then put it inside of I meant to have one of those ready, but you know what? single black ziplock–

Chip Baker: Exit container, a secure exit container.

Greg Davidson: Thank you. I knew they had a name. The exit container, what can you do with those afterward?

Chip Baker: Now, the waste is tremendous.

Greg Davidson: Yeah. And now our recycling, our recycling won’t accept that kind of stuff.

Chip Baker: All right. So dispensary owners legislation, what do you want to say to the commercial growers, the people that are growing this stuff?

Greg Davidson: Learn how to cure your cannabis properly. Man, I hate to keep banging in your drum, because your heads are not going to fit in the studio. But Chip taught me more good cannabis gets ruined and the curing process that any other point. It’s not easy to grow great weed, but it’s not super hard. You can trim it. You can dry it and you know the merits of wet trimming versus dry trimming. I mean I’m a dry trimmer, I always have been. 

But then there’s that last step that brings out to taste brings out the flavor profile. And that’s curing, so you growers out there, I know you’re trying to get your product to market as fast as you can you know you’ve gone through all the hoops I know what they all are and then you want to get your product to the dispensary. But take a little bit extra time and give it a nice cure. Chip told me in Colorado, and I didn’t know this Colorado is a super dry state super hard to dry and get a proper cure. So here in California where we’ve got the proper climate court do it. Next question, please?

Chip Baker: Next question. All right, well, extractors there’s the next thing. As a medical cannabis consumer, what do you have to say to the extractors? Because this is perfect information for all of these guys, what is my average consumer?

Greg Davidson: I see a drop off in the wax and resin and that kind of product and a better job being done with these things. And I know it’s hard. Not everybody can do it, but if you can do it, think about becoming a live resin extractor. Adjust the flavor, you don’t have to add terpenes back end because they’re there. So ask me long question Chip so I can hit this, waving it around like–

Chip Baker: Man now I think those are I got what I want and really you know, the grower the extractor, the distributor, the legislator, I mean we you know talk about, how you can talk about it now. You snuck talk about it you talk to your neighbors about it you know make how regulations actually really made you feel better about it. And there’s– we’ve both talked about this though there’s it, man it’s harder to get great, great product.

Greg Davidson: Yeah it really is — It’s easy to get good extracts.

Chip Baker: Yes, it’s so easy for somebody to make an SOP of an extract. It’s really easy to be like, Oh, if you treat this weed this way and you put in a recipe with growing ganjas not exactly the same every time.

Greg Davidson: It’s so hard to do it right. To do it right is– one thing you told me a Chip seems to have enjoyed smoking my cannabis over the years. 

Chip Baker: I’ve smoked as much of Greg’s weed as I can. 

Greg Davidson: Quite a bit I gotta say, which is quite a bit. One thing you always said and I appreciated you saying this was because of my situation, I’m able to be with my plants every day and give them love and that makes up for a lot of things.

Chip Baker: Oh yeah, absolutely you don’t need a bunch of care to grow weed. I mean of course no I love it don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t take much. As long as you got a pot, and some soil and a little bit of fertilizer, and some seed or a clone like water, right?

Greg Davidson: There are so many seed companies out there now. Like Fletcher’s just turn it out some crazy good stuff.

Chip Baker: I mean, he’s hands down one of the top breeders in the world. I’m proud to know him call him, bro.

Greg Davidson: Me too. I knew him.

Chip Baker: I knew him when he was like 15 [inaudible] to be it as the parties we were at.

Greg Davidson: Right, you’d look over there and you’d be like, Who’s that kid? 

Chip Baker: I never can tell how old anybody–

Greg Davidson: Where did he get that crazy good weed sitting in front of. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, man. He’s got he’s got a fucking $60,000 car too, so he must be 21. Right? He wouldn’t even old enough to drive. Somebody else drove him–

Greg Davidson: We know a lot of characters back in our day, Eddie, remember Eddie. 

Chip Baker: Yeah. He just came up yesterday in conversation Eddie Lap. I’d love to get Eddie Lap on the show, man. Oh, my God. He’s got some of the best stories ever.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, I said, we had a friend that this is going back to our CWGA days. That had a party for all of us at the end of the year. And that’s where I met Jessica, for the first time I was walking, for you were there, and there was this girl just tearing up foosball table and you said, that’s Jessica. And since the four of us my wife Elaine, Chip and Jessica and I have been become really good friends, we’ve got some great stories. Chip eating pecan pie with chopsticks. Still makes us laugh. We’d been up there for the weekend, and all the silverware was gone. But there was still and Chip showed us his chopsticks.

Chip Baker: I got mad chopsticks– you know, that’s an off the grid living on the road item like their chopsticks. That’s how I’ve got such a good usage of them [inaudible] off the grid, use chopsticks–

Greg Davidson: And the rest of us did not go without entertainment.

Chip Baker: Good time. Good times. Oh, so, man, what kind of weed you’re looking to plant this next year?

Greg Davidson: You know I’m interested in doing some Affies. I listened to your show about affies and I did put in a lot of time last year and I don’t want to put in as much time this year. So you’ve kind of sold me your show kind of sold me on doing some feminized Affies. In fact, we meet we need to talk about seed source.

Chip Baker: Man, I tell you, you need to contact Caleb over CSI, man. He’s got all the genetic that perfect for short, slow growers. A lot of that purple and that stuff you know, this basis of a lot of his crosses in the past and then he’s got some straight Afghanistan and yeah, I think he’s a great person to talk to you. Great.

Greg Davidson: Cool. Well at some point is going to pass and we want to be able to go on some day trips, maybe some overnight trips, this coming year, when–

Chip Baker: What will less solve your problem? What was your, you had to water them? 

Greg Davidson: Well, I can just like count backward from a certain date and know when to plant them, instead of going getting some clones and worrying from I’ve got a lot of the infrastructure and now I’m looking at my pots that are out there.

Chip Baker: What keeps you being home so much? Is it because they need to be watered?

Greg Davidson: Yeah, they need to be watered and then mix it up nutrients so there’s no way I’m going to use the same new track and 

Chip Baker: I can solve all those problems for you. Yeah.

Greg Davidson: Okay, yeah.

Chip Baker: Your problems are simply solved. One is use some sort of pre-mixed organic nutrient or make your own that you add to the soil that you’re using. There’s coming recipes we could talk about, and then put in a simple drip system that just comes off your water hose and it’s just water. You occasionally want to feed it with something, then make up some jugs and nutrients and feed your plants.

Greg Davidson: That was my– this year because we’re prone to some really, where I live is at the upper end of the San Joaquin beginning–

Chip Baker: Do you know exactly how much your plants are drinking with water I bet

Greg Davidson: Oh, and there was a point where the ones in the half wind girls where they were getting 10 gallons of water a day. We had a freakish– 

Chip Baker: Simple drip system. We can make all that happen.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, we had a freakish heatwave that we see temperatures in the hundred and teams. Day after day. And it was– 

Chip Baker: We had that here last year too. Yeah.

Greg Davidson: Yeah, I know you have 90–

Chip Baker: It was 91 degrees here yesterday.

Wheather Problems

Greg Davidson: I know you weather problems. You got a late start and I saw your post today about bugs. 

Chip Baker: Have to be honest [inaudible] 

Greg Davidson: Here, cabbage loopers. I guess I need to put some cabbage in, because they have a problem with cabbage looper bugs.

Chip Baker: Yeah, a companion planting can help you guys for sure. And you know, there are some simple pheromone boxes to draw the bugs there, the cabbage loopers they’re actually, I believe they live in the soil. They come out the soil, right. So you could like [inaudible] somehow–

Greg Davidson: I think the bug that you– the worm that you posted today, that might have been a cabbage looper. They come on a small white mark like maybe the size of a nickel you’ll see these white mods flying around your grow. And then a few days later, the classic sign a few brown leaves on the outside and you don’t pull on them. And the whole top of the bud comes off.

Chip Baker: Yeah, right. They’re ugly, there’s a few different versions we have down here. We’ve got the tomato hookworm, we’ve got the quote-unquote, garden worm. But they’re they’re fairly large. Yeah, you can burn the ground, and it burns off any of those. Any of them that are in the ground over the winter.

Greg Davidson: Yeah.

Chip Baker: Right. And then pheromone boxes attract the moths. So then they catch the moths in the pheromone boxes instead of on your buds. Then you gotta pick that shit out and look for it daily.

Greg Davidson: But it’s something that you know, I wish more people, I don’t want to put the dispensaries out of business that’s not m– But I’d like to see more people growing their own. I’d like to see more people at the grow stores– Every grow store owner that I’ve ever known is willing to just talk with you for as long as it takes you know–

Chip Baker: We’re good at that

Greg Davidson: Yeah, they are, all you guys. I mean Chip our friendship goes so deep that I can call him with a quote-unquote emergency in the crop and he’ll get back to me within six hours and has solved everyone.

Chip Baker: You’re my six hour list. 

Greg Davidson: Six hour call back. But yeah, it is something that I would like to see the legislators who are listening to your show and may come in the future I’d like to see them work towards a uniform thing. Because even here in California it’s not very uniformed. You know, it changes from town to town. 

Chip Baker: [inaudible] Oklahoma State law. Right state laws so the individual countless cities can’t manipulate it quite as much as other places like California. Well, Greg, I have appreciated this little conversation we had, man. To me it felt like almost any other phone call we’ve had.

Greg Davidson: It’s gone a little longer than our usual phone call. 

Chip Baker: Maybe a little bit. We talk about 40 minutes, I think. But yeah, thanks for having me having me on your show.

Greg Davidson: Thanks for having me on your show.

Chip Baker: Thanks for having me on your show. This has been another fine, no wasted hour of your time by listening to The Real Dirt. My name is Chip Baker and this has been The Real Dirt.

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Cannabis Marketing Tips from a Public Relations Expert

Cannabis Marketing Tips from a Public Relations Expert

cannabis marketing with Lisa BuyerLisa Buyer is an entrepreneur, author, wife, mom, digital junkie, and certified yoga instructor. She is the founder/CEO of The Buyer Group, a social PR agency, and the author of Social PR Secrets in its 4th edition with a foreword by Guy Kawasaki. 

Digital Detox Secrets is now turned podcast of Lisa’s most famous book. The pocket guide is a series of tips, interviews and insights that have been curated by top industry experts.

In this segment, Lisa shares her expertise in public relations, how to help create space, and balance in business digital life. Plus, she also provides a fresh and honest approach to face the challenges by other entrepreneurs when it comes to marketing their brands. Listen to this new episode and learn how Lisa helps brands crack the code with digital PR!

My favorite word is optimization, and we make sure that all the content that we write from a PR and journalistic standpoint is optimized with keywords that journalists and also your audience will be searching for. – Lisa Buyer

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

1:28 – The Buyer Group
4:16 – Associated Press
15:06 – Participating in bigger PR
17:39 – Native content
26:46 – Common misconception about PR
33:27 – Where to find them

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with Lisa Buyer

Connect with  Chip Baker



Chip Baker: Hey, this is Chip from The Real Dirt. Once again, we are going to have an excellent conversation on my favorite subject, ganja. That’s right. And today, I kind of have an unconventional guest, my good friend Lisa Buyer, and I know I say many of these people are my good friends, but Lisa is a good friend of mine. And Lisa is not involved directly in the cannabis industry. She’s kind of like me; she services cannabis people. Lisa runs the buyer group, which is a PR group. She is also the author of Social PR Secrets and Digital Detox Secrets. Welcome, Lisa.

Lisa Buyer: Hi, Chip. Thank you so much for having me.

Chip Baker: Yeah, man. I was so glad when you reached out and booked the time to be on the podcast. We always have such great conversations. And, you know, like, what does Lisa want to talk to me about on The Real Dirt? right, and today we’re going to talk about marketing and PR in the cannabis industry. And more specifically about an article that me and my wife Jessica just had written and put on the associated press. Maybe we can explain that and get get all into that. So, Lisa, tell me tell me a little bit about The Buyer Group. Tell me what you guys do.

The Buyer Group

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. So The Buyer Group is named after my last name is Lisa Buyer and so nobody can really believe that– especially when you go to make a major purchase like a car– 

Chip Baker: Baker, right, same boat– 

Lisa Buyer: So The Buyer Group is a social PR agency, and how are we different than most public relations agencies is we integrate social media and search marketing into the PR strategy. So I was an early adopter of taking traditional PR and just kind of turning it upside down and integrating digital, I thought everybody would be in the same kind of pace as I was when you know, Google first came out. And we could leverage things like optimization, and then Facebook came out. And from a business standpoint, you can get exposure through your social network. But I was wrong. 

And still today, 10 years later, a lot of PR agencies most are, you know, still focusing on traditional, there’s nothing wrong with traditional and a great example of traditional PR is what happened with you and how you got the coverage in Associated Press. And that the way it used to be was you pitch the journalists, you get the story and you get exposure to your audience. So what you got is like a home run in the PR world, but what we do is we then take into the PR world, social and search. That’s what our agency does, and that’s how we’re different.

Chip Baker: So, back, you know, one of the things I’m really interested in is the organic or organic traffic and organic movement and stuff like this. I mean, I have tried to because in the cannabis industry we can’t pay for advertising the same way you have some mini cannabis clients. I can’t necessarily go to facebook or instagram and pay to have my advertisements put in for the real dirt for Cultivate Colorado for Cultivate OKC, for Growers Soil, even those are all ancillary businesses of mine that don’t involve cannabis at all. Right? It’s hard for us, right? 

Okay, let’s back it up a little bit. And I’m going to ask my question. So for those of we’ve alluded to this a little bit, you can look this up on our website, you’ll see that there was an AP article written about kind of people moving to Oklahoma or this kind of the state of the the cannabis economy around the country? How would– Tell us how the AP works? You know this better than these? What is the AP? What is the Associated Press? 

Associated Press

Lisa Buyer: Yeah, so the Associated Press is basically a network of other media outlets. So there are basically the top tier when the Associated Press write something, it gets syndicated, nationally, whoever picks it up that’s for the Associated Press, so it might appear in the Orlando Sentinel where I live or Miami Herald or Associated Press’ associated publications. So to get something in the AP or into let’s just say there’s other syndicated types of outlets that you could get into but the AP is like a home run. So, to get that– 

Chip Baker: In the movies, they call it like on the wire right?

Lisa Buyer: Yeah, and what’s interesting about this how you were sourced in that article is that you can see, and this is the big mistake when it comes to public relations is that the story wasn’t necessarily a feature on your company. They featured you in their story, their angle was about your areas becoming a hotbed and why and right. 

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. And so that’s the thing with public relations is that you want to be sourced in an article and but to have the idea that somebody has got it and it happens to have like, just a complete profile is like an add on your company is kind of a misconception and it’s not the right expectation to have with editorial like coverage like what you and your wife back for your business. That’s it’s awesome and takes a long time to get something like in the–

Chip Baker: We tried this over and over again, you’re professional, you get to do this, but like, oh, for a couple of years, we sent out letters to everybody like, Hey, we can talk about this subject, this subject, this subject, if you need an expert on anything cannabis, if you have a question and literally nobody, right would call us back. And then just never know where this guy shows up. Right. And, you know, he’s fascinated by all of the information because, I mean, you know, we’ve had numerous conversations about it. I have a high level understanding of cannabis. And you can ask me, pretty much any question. I will give you a background detailed story that you’d never even knew existed because I am fascinated with every aspect of cannabis and involved with every aspect to write. I have my finger on the pulse. 

So I was always just surprised that nobody wanted to talk to me. As I read all of these articles that were reproduced all over the country, all over the world, I’m like, this is just crap. I can’t believe that they’re saying this or they’re interviewing this person, you know, and it was almost just like they stumbled upon us. Right? A little bit. And, you know, like, oh, as soon as the guy, Sean Murphy came and started talking to us he doesn’t know anything about weed, he maybe has consumed it or something in the past, I can’t speak for him. But he was truly fascinated by the conversation. And we had like, two, three hours for the interview. 

And unfortunately, the story that came out was totally different from the kind of interviews we had. Yeah, right. It was, I don’t know. They just broke they found the best thing they thought could sound great quote from me, about my landlord going on vacation, which means I thought I probably had other bit great quotes, but they like that one for some reason. Right? So you do this professionally? How do you get that media person to like say the things you want them to say about you, just like you were saying, it’s not a feature on yourself, but it’s you just featured in their story.

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. Well, I mean, one way is the clients we work with, we recommend doing at least one newsworthy press release a month. And that’s just something that you can distribute as a pain distribution on the wire. So that gets put out in Google News. And then then journalists subscribe to certain categories. So you know, there’s a category for CBD and cannabis. So anything that any news that comes out, they subscribe to it, they kind of scan it and at least you’re staying in front of them as an expert source. They might not think that your news is news for them, for their audience. But what we try to do it as a journalistic style. 

So we make sure that what we’re reporting on, and what we’re announcing, on behalf of our clients is newsworthy, and has a trending angle that might be trending for, you know, maybe it’s Black Friday depending on the, or if it’s CBD day, or something like that, or cannabis month tying in something newsworthy. But staying in front of a very curated list of journalists that are reporting on, basically, stories that would be relevant to your audience to your brand’s audience. So it doesn’t have to be a big list, it could be 10 or 15 of your top, top journalists that you know, are covering your angles, and then the pay distribution takes care of the masses. So it gets you on Google News. And we, my favorite word is optimization, so we make sure that all the content that we write from a PR standpoint, journalistic standpoint is optimized with keywords that journalists and also your audience will be searching for. 

So I’m sure that AP article is in Google, Index and Google, it’s very high authority source. So it’s going to outrank anything. And you know, when it comes to organic traffic, so you’re talking about organic, which is PR would be considered organic. And then there’s the paid side advertising side. So that would be Google Ads. That would be you know, Facebook ads, that would be, you know, traditional ads. It used to be PR and advertising where like church and state like that you didn’t really cross over. 

Today is it’s more blended. So we do pay campaigns for the clients that we can, but it used to be like, we’re just 100% organic, and we’re trying to get our clients in the news. Third-Party credibility is the best type of credibility; it’s considered like eight times more valuable than paid; anything paid that you could do. So even if you could do paid, you still want to do PR because it helps in your SEO, it helps in your credibility, it helps on public perception. So you want to get to those audiences through those third party outlets, whether it be the journalist or it might be through something that would be in a TV or podcasts or anything like that.

Chip Baker: So the title of the article on in Jessica was called something like, People Move to the Bible Belt to Avoid High Cannabis Taxes, or something like that, right. And I don’t think we said any of those things in any of the handbook, and you know, but that was the hot topic, bible, belt, cannabis and taxes. Right. And, and that’s why it really went everywhere. I think. I mean, you went everywhere. New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, like it went everywhere.

Lisa Buyer: It might be It picked up again like, they resyndicate things, and it does really well. So there’s a chance you’re gonna still see the pickups coming,

Chip Baker: But we’ve already seen like, you know, the added benefit of it, we’ve gotten multiple phone calls, we’ve done some pretty good business immediately afterwards. Like it was really great for us, you know, the, the credibility that you’re just quoted in something like that. I know, it’s odd, because I don’t see it as–guy like Sean Murphy, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see it as the best article and I’m sure it was edited out of his hands. You know, it doesn’t really scratch the surface about what’s going on the cannabis industry in economy. But because of all that, I’ve had two other different like, pretty, you know, big podcasts people call me up with hundreds of thousands of listeners wanting to talk to me about exactly.

Lisa Buyer: Exactly. So that is the perfect example of momentum that takes place when you get one, and it doesn’t even mean you got a home run, okay, you got a home run with this AP. But let’s just [inaudible] in getting home run, let’s just say it’s first base and you were podcast that was very niche and go for it. Let’s just eat that– 

Chip Baker: Like The Real Dirt podcast.

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. And let’s just say you or you got picked up in, you know, maybe it’s just a local paper, that is typically the path. Typically you don’t come out of the gates getting a home run, but if you do, right. But typically the path is you start local, you start on small niche types of publications or outlets. Then somebody from New York Times or USA Today that’s covering that beat hears that and it’s like, Hey, this is one of my expert sources I’m going to use for this story or this is an angle I came up with, with a Google search. They see your press release, and you know, talking about you just expanded to, you know, this area and this, here’s why, you know, you can be your brand journalist, which is fine actually, right now, by having this podcast, you’re your brand journalist. But you know, so this is an example, podcasting is a great example of you can have your show, and create and control the message, or you can also pitch to be a guest on somebody else’s podcast. And that is, either one of those is considered, you know, what I consider as public relations and third party credibility and you’re controlling your message when you have your show.

Chip Baker: Now, most people consider public PR is it’s they don’t realize how much is behind the scenes of it. Right, and some people even think that it’s unfair, the way that the situation’s manipulated but you know, it’s just the system that we that we are all working in. Right you have some like, hacks for the cannabis industry on how they can participate in this bigger PR industry that we seem to be restricted from?

Restrictions for Cannabis Industry to Participate in Bigger PR

Lisa Buyer: Yeah, well, I mean, whatever size company you are, you could be just starting out, you could be doing this just for your personal brand. Public Relations is accessible to any budget, any brand. And you don’t have a budget for it, you can do it in house, if you have the budget for it, you can outsource. But what I would tell anybody is, you know, focus first on your PR, create your list, you could create a list right now of your top five, doing a Google search of like, who’s covering your brand, who’s covering your industry and where and just start out really small and very focused. 

Public Relations is accessible to any budget, any brand. – Lisa Buyer

The beauty with public relations and doing your own even if you start writing a blog and write an article once a week or twice a month and that article, then you send it out to the different journalists. You could do that on your own. And then we’ll eventually, you know, start following them on social media. Create a Twitter list for the journalists that you’re following. These are some of the things we do for our clients. But you can also do it on your own. So when you can’t advertise, it stinks because you can’t put that layer on top of public relations, like a lot of other brands and industries can do. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t do anything like doing some sort of PR. In some sort of what we’re talking about right now when it comes to PR is media outreach and try. The goal that we’re talking about right now media outreach, with the goal being to get picked up by a publication, I can’t remember, did the AP article have a link back to any of your sites your domains?

When you can’t advertise, it stinks because you can’t put that layer on top of public relations. – Lisa Buyer

Chip Baker: No, it didn’t. It did mention you know, The Real Dirt podcast and we got significant amount of traffic over that and did not however mentioned Cultivate Colorado or Cultivate Oklahoma City. Yeah, didn’t really mentioned my– and I tried to I tried every time I spoke, I was like cultivatecolorado.com.

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. Well, I mean, if you could go back with the AP might have a little bit of pushback. But whenever we get articles for our clients we always ask for a link back because that’s gonna help get you like super high quality referring traffic back to your site and also helps in SEO. So coverage that you get will help you and if you get a link in SEO if you don’t, I mean, you see the result of the AP [inaudible] link, right.

Native Content

Chip Baker: Yeah, absolutely. It was great. You know, we have, so let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects native content, which is content that you create yourself that is supposed to mimic or look like news stories. And this is mostly what I’ve done, but none of it really has been as successful, right? Or, I mean, people read some of them, but how do you crossover from that, you know, to make that native content appeal and look like it’s real?

Lisa Buyer : Well, I mean, one is I have, you know, I could take a look at it, but I’m coming at it with a journalist type of approach. So, you know, here’s what I tell everybody on my staff is that we’re, we’re not marketing. We’re not talking like a marketer. We’re not trying to sell something. 

Chip Baker: Right.

Lisa Buyer: If it doesn’t sound like a title, like a headline, you would see in the Wall Street Journal or USA Today; then it doesn’t have like a hook leading angle, if it’s a truly newsworthy then it gets the attention of our audience.

If it doesn’t sound like a title, like a headline, you would see in the Wall Street Journal or USA Today; then, it doesn’t have like a hook leading angle. – Lisa Buyer

Chip Baker: That’s great advice because so many so many times it turns into a sales letter of some sort, right that really is great advice is to make it news worthy, even if it is native style content.

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. Another tip is to include relevant data, those statistics, reports, surveys, even if it’s your own data, that’s another everybody is looking for some sort of like a number or figure turning in an infographic making it super visual, adding an image or adding a video to what you’re doing. You know, people are would rather watch a video, they’re getting lazy, they don’t want to [inaudible]. So creating a YouTube channel and making content that is going to be how to type of content or there’s so many different ways you can slice it or dice it. 

Speaking of organic and the reason why we call The Buyer Group, a social PR agency and not just a PR agency, is because we take Social Media and leverage it into the strategy. And so it used to be kind of like dialing for dollars, like we would have all the journalists that were pitching, we would have their number, and we would call them and Hey, did you get my press release? Whether it was mailed or emailed like back in the day, and just think about it, like, who has a landline? How do you look up somebody’s mobile number? Journalists are operating off their mobile smartphones. There, they don’t have a listed number. So, you know, an email. I mean, even the AP writer, I would be interested to see like what email he used because even they use [inaudible]

Chip Baker: I believe Twitter is how we really got like Kevin contact with the guy. 

Lisa Buyer: Exactly. Yeah. So the new media relations today is reaching out through Twitter, reaching out through DMS on LinkedIn and cultivating relationships through social media because that is the new type of the new media relations. So we’re very hyper focused on your Twitter,your social media network, whatever network that your audience is on. 

So making sure that it’s optimized making sure that you have a Twitter list following, let’s just say certain reporters or making sure that you’re following and interacting with like, forgiving. So, you know, this guy, Sean, before he actually came out with a story and you were talking to him, if you were following him on Twitter, and like sharing some of his stories that he was coming out with, he’s gonna be like, they’re trying to get, you know, make a name for themselves, too. From a personal branding standpoint, all these reporters the more exposure they get, then somebody else wants to hire them, right?

Chip Baker: Yeah, though, some of the best advice I’ve had about contacting reporters is to make sure that you’re tell them that you’re trying to help them that it’s a service you’re providing to them for free that you don’t want any glory. And eventually like you’re helping hand it’ll lead to a positive benefit for you. Haven’t quite worked for me, but maybe it was Sean. I mean, me and Sean had great conversations, you know, and I am truly disappointed at the awful news coverage and media and facts about cannabis. I hope he does call me in in the future. You know, ask for some clarifications on some this and that.

Lisa Buyer: Yeah, I mean, I would cultivate that keep going with that relationship for sure. And that, [inaudible] maybe he knows somebody that’s writing a story for another time move on angle that [inaudible] you as a source. So I would definitely send them an email or however you guys are communicating. Hey, great story. Thank you so much for thinking of me if you know any of your colleagues that are writing and need an expert in cannabis, please, if you could refer me I would be greatly appreciated. Is there anything I can do for you? 

Chip Baker: Absolutely. And big thing I believe in business and in life is making friends.

Lisa Buyer: Yes. 

Chip Baker: If you can be friends with people that you do business with, then man, you’re in the best of circumstances. It’s also I think the number one way to gain customer loyalty and develop like real customer relationships is man, be friendly, be friends with everybody, and then they want to talk to you.

Lisa Buyer: It’s true. I mean, the new funnel, the new marketing funnel, is when somebody becomes a customer, does that mean that Oh, you’re on to the next prospect, like you really need to nurture your customers.

Chip Baker: Lifetime value for sure.

Lisa Buyer: Exactly. And public relations doesn’t necessarily have to mean getting exposure and third party credibility for your prospects. It’s also for your customers to be Hey, I know this brand or I know these people that are being quoted it makes them feel like wow, I made the right choice. It just helps solidify the relationship with your customers. When they see that you’re getting exposure, getting quoted as an expert source, or your product is getting listed as top 10 blah, blah, blah. Like a thing. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, as silly as it sounds. When I started all this, Michael Lovitch and Hollis Carter, they suggested I do The Real Dirt. And one of the first things Hollis said was, are you comfortable being the guy? And I’m like, Well, what do you mean the guy? It was like, man, there’s gonna be could be a lot of attention. I think you’re going to kill this. Are you really comfortable with it? And absolutely, right. Like, I want to tell, the cannabis story. 

I want to talk to my customers. I want them to come up to me and say, hey, but many people they don’t want that. And they’re embarrassed about sales or it’s hard for them. You know, to put their neck out a little bit and see if their fail is or they’re scared of failure, and we’ve got 70-80 episodes of The Real Dirt and wow, I guarantee you, they’re not all great. 

But it doesn’t matter. You do have to like, stick your neck out a bit if you want to be seen. You got to ask people; you got to say, Hey, this is me, this is what I’m doing, hey, we’re here, in whatever manner. And many people, that’s their number. One problem that they have in their business is they’ve got a great idea. They’ve got a great business, they’ve got a great product, they’ve got great sales– but don’t want to tell people they’re doing it.

You do have to like, stick your neck out a bit if you want to be seen. – Chip Baker

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. And that’s why sometimes you need help you need, an agency or you need somebody to be like, this is actually news, what you’re doing. Did you know that what you’re doing right now? As newsworthy and you know, some of our clients really, that’s newsworthy, people are going to be interested in that I’m like, yeah, that’s actually like a very good angle. And that’s something that we should write about. And then so you need to get out of your own way sometimes and let other people see things differently come in and help you come up with the newsworthy angles and help you come up with the quotes and come up with something that might be right in front of you, but you just don’t see it.

Chip Baker: You know, your business is probably similar to mine. When people come in to you for the first time, they probably have some common misconceptions about what to do did cannabis people or customers in general have a are there’s some common misconceptions about PR that you could talk about?

Common Misconceptions About PR

Lisa Buyer: Sure. Well, I mean, not just cannabis. I’ll just start just common most common misconception about public relations is that it is not a short play, it is a long play, it is a long term commitment. It’s something that you never stop doing. So yeah, maybe you can’t afford to have an agency doing it for you at first, but you move into that, or maybe working with an agency, you need to pivot for whatever. And but you don’t stop, you go to plan B, a PR, and you’re always doing it. So the biggest problem, you know, misconception is somebody like, Oh, we really want to do PR, we want to try it out for three months, and we want to see what happens after three months. So that’s mistake number one, don’t even there’s no reason to just try it out. Just don’t even do it. Because after three months, and then you just stop because you’re not really sure what’s happening. It takes a while–

Chip Baker: Nothing may happen in three months.

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. And so it just has to be a long term commitment has to be a long play. And it doesn’t have to be, breaking the bank type of thing. There’s a book that I recommend called Free PR that was co written by a Cameron Herold that you could pick up and that’s like a do it yourself type of thing. Anybody could do it, you don’t need a degree in public relations. I’m not trying to minimize what you need to — 

Chip Baker: The access is there now, anybody really can do it. If they like get on Twitter, get on Facebook, get on Instagram, get on LinkedIn, you can do it. 

Lisa Buyer: You can do it. And you know, just like you’re doing your podcast, you’re consistent. You have your episodes that come out on the days that they come out, every week or every month. PR is the same way. So that’s why I said earlier, we recommend to our clients, it’s part of our program, one press release a month is going out consistently to Google News and journalists. Unlike advertising, this is another misconception. 

Unlike advertising, where you’re controlling that the visual, you’re controlling the message, you’re controlling the call to action, you’re going to see immediate gratification for most advertisers from Google ads and Facebook ads, you will see traffic you’ll see some sort of a conversion happening. With public relations, it’s not that type of KPI. You can’t, it’s not a fair KPI to say okay, for every dollar I spend in PR, I need to see an ROI that same month and products off the shelf. Like it’s just you have that mentality. Let’s just not even talk. Okay?

Chip Baker: Yeah. Now, because it is not something that you will see return on investment immediately, you’ll have like spikes of it, you know.

Lisa Buyer: It’s there. It’s not black and white like it is with advertising. So if you spend three months on PR and you stopped so what happened behind the scenes is you’re in front of a bunch of journalists that you wouldn’t have been in front. They might happen in six months. If you stop because of what you didn’t get in the first three months then you’re gonna be like, Oh, I wish I would have kept going because this all could be this momentum. You know, could all be going but no, maybe you’ll get something once, who knows there’s there’s no way to really predict.

Chip Baker: Yeah, absolutely you just got to keep at it, man and also count those little victories because we’ve had quite a few little victories over time but nothing big like this no home run. But you know the cumulative impact of it all really does help when people ask me about something I’m like, oh go to my Instagram and they look at it and like, Oh, you got 17,000 followers. Oh, you’ve made 3000 posts, it adds this legitimacy to it and the same way with Facebook posts and you know, because social media is our free PR. That’s our free PR.

Lisa Buyer: It’s definitely Free PR you can do it your house, you could buy a book to show you how to do it. Like I said earlier, my favorite word is optimization. Use strategic hashtags to get more exposure to get that Instagram post is to get more in front of like your audience. There’s also hashtags that you can use or tags that you can use to get a journalist attention. So by tagging it like hashtag news or hashtag cannabis news or get into that stream. And so journalists are following hashtags there. They are following keywords through Google alerts and a variety of different sources that they use to follow like what’s happening in industry, but they also follow hashtags. So just keep that in mind. I know we’re kind of running out of time, but I just want to cover two other ways. 

Chip Baker: Yeah,Let’s do it. Keep it up. Keep it up! 

Lisa Buyer: Yeah. So influencer marketing is one. So using other people that are influential, so the media would be– We put the media under the category of influencers right there, one for influencers. So then, there might be two or three other types of influencers, that you can have in your– as part of your strategy to help get the word out and help maybe publish things on their Instagram and tag you and things like that. So that’s one and then the second is so podcasts like, obviously you can be a host or you can be a guest. But you can also sponsor podcasts. So that’s one way to kind of get around the getting exposure. We’re not on it. You’re not hosting it, but you’re sponsoring an episode or sponsoring a certain part of the of the podcast.

Chip Baker: Yeah, we do sponsorship here at The Real Dirt. So if anyone’s ever interested in a sponsorship program, please ask us here at The Real Dirt you can contact Travis with therealdirt.com. Shameless. This has been such a great conversation today. So half of my listeners are in the cannabis business. Half of those people you work directly in the cannabis business. 

This has been a really great episode and it’s really made me think about how much you know cannabis people need this other resources. That they don’t have this other encouragement that they don’t have. It’s often hard to find real, legitimate and professional people like yourself that will shoot people straight forward and not just say, Oh, yeah, yeah, I’m gonna take your money, Oh, I’m gonna take your money. And you know, that’s a the industry is kind of plagued with that. But I really thank you for joining me today, if people want to reach you, how do they reach you?

Where to Find Them

Lisa Buyer: Well, you can go to thebuyergroup.com and that’s my website for the social PR agency. You can also go on Amazon, you can buy my book called Social PR Secrets and the whole book is basically about optimization and how to get free organic traffic and using PR and social media and SEO.

Chip Baker: Actually I can’t believe I haven’t read your book yet. I will order it today. 

Lisa Buyer: It’s extremely actionable. So you don’t have to read the whole book to get something out of it. You can be like, oh, all I need is to read the Facebook for PR chapter. The foreword was written by Guy Kawasaki, which I’m super proud of. So reach out to The Buyer Group or an Instagram Lisa Buyer.

Chip Baker: Awesome, Lisa. Well, thank you for joining us and listeners, thank you for joining us on another episode of The Real Dirt. Thanks again Lisa.

Lisa Buyer: Thank you!

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