A surprising oasis for medical marijuana: Oklahoma

A surprising oasis for medical marijuana: Oklahoma

When you think of Oklahoma, marijuana is probably not a thing you associate with the state.

OKLAHOMA (NewsNation Now) — Drive about 40 miles northeast of Oklahoma City and you’ll land on Chip Baker’s hundred-acre farm.

At first glance, it looks like any plot in rural Oklahoma. Spacious fields studded with work sheds and tarped greenhouse tunnels. Roosters roam freely next door.

Throw open the barn door and the golden light doesn’t reveal amber waves of grain but a different kind of cash crop.

It’s a marijuana operation and it’s all “baker’s brand.”

“Tokelahoma, cushlahoma, weedlahoma [and] gongelahoma” Baker says are just a few of the brands he sells.

“I think Lester Grinspoon said it best when he said “I smoke marijuana every chance I get.” and it’s true! Every chance, I do! ” exclaimed Baker.

Baker has grown weed around the world since he was 13. From the woods of Georgia and the lakes of Switzerland to Colorado and California.

“I love California weed, I love California growers. But there’s a certain snobbiness and we’ve done it all,” said Baker. “But like Oklahoma it’s this newness, adventure, that’s partly why we’re here.”

The 48-year-old and his wife Jessica moved to Oklahoma a couple of years ago after 57 percent of statewide voters literally greenlit medicinal marijuana through state question 788.

David Lewis is a lifelong Oklahoman and coo of Stability Cannabis, one of the state’s largest indoor grow facilities.

“I think people underestimate how much of a culture shock this was. This was a state where you couldn’t buy wine in a grocery store, yet we passed medicinal marijuana,” explained Lewis. “Born and raised in Oklahoma, I never would have thought we’d have almost 400,000 patients consuming medical marijuana. It’s shocking.”

According to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, there are more than 380,000 Oklahomans with active medical marijuana cards, about 10 percent of the population. That’s more than any other state in the country and double that of New Mexico, which comes in second.

In a state whose politics are as red as its dirt, the numbers almost seem wrong.

“Oklahoma and Texas are the home of outlaw country, right? Just because people are conservative or work on the land, or fish or hunt as relaxation, or even go to church, doesn’t disbar them from using cannabis and enjoying it,” said Baker.

“What I would say is look around the congregation at your church, and that’s our customer base,” added Lewis.

They’re consumers who get to come out of the shadows like Taly Frantz-Holly.

“I’ve been on the black market, as far as cannabis, as a smoker and everything from the time I was 19,” said Frantz-Holly.

She suffers from PTSD and says certain prescription pills left her suicidal. She found relief in cannabis.

“I went from taking 8 pharmaceuticals—8 medicinal pills every day. And now I’m down to 2. I only have panic attacks once ever few weeks and I was having panic attacks every single day,” stated Frantz-Holly.

Frantz-Holly says, without a doubt, the plant saved her life. So enamored by its medicinal powers, she now grows it herself.

“I literally got drug charges when I was 21 for a joint. And did 30 days in county jail. For a joint! And now I’m picking up 75 marijuana plants to go home to my commercial grow,” said Frantz-Holly.

She’s not alone. There are 7,000 other commercial growers across the state. Baker says it’s never been easier or cheaper to break into the business.

“Oklahoma just made it so easy to get involved that the average and normal person could,” said Baker. “There just no boundaries here.”

The application fee for growers, processors, dispensaries and transporters is $2,500. For patients, it’s $100. $20 for disabled veterans. Baker says it took him 15 minutes to apply in other states? He’s waited two years.


“Well if you look back at the political cycles, Oklahoma is the reddest of the red states. And I think what that translated to in medical marijuana was a free market approach,” said Baker. “The government wanted the free market to settle out who the winners and losers would be, and as a result you saw very limited restrictions on getting into the market and a lot of people participated.”

And many doctors, especially during a pandemic, have signed off on cards for patients suffering from anxiety, depression and insomnia.

“Oh COVID was a boom to the industry! Turns out if you’re trapped at home I guess with your kids and your in laws, you might have to medicate a little bit more every now and then,” said Lewis.

“The other thing is people aren’t sharing cannabis as much because of COVID. So people have been having their own bowls and their own joints,” stated Baker.

Baker says industry-wide, the business grew 50 percent last year.

If you’re surprised by Oklahoma’s booming numbers, Baker says you shouldn’t be. People just haven’t been able to talk about it but singing it.

“Oklahoma has a cannabis history. The cross Canadian ragweed, the famous song from 20 years ago. Oklahoma boys roll their joints all wrong. Its famous! It’s been famous for years!” said Baker.


Investing in Cannabis with Louis Han

Investing in Cannabis with Louis Han

When Louis Han started at Arcview Group in 2015, the firm had only invested about $60 million in cannabis ventures. Today, they’ve invested over $250 million.

Louis Han is the Director of Deal Flow for The Arcview Group, an investment firm with a strict focus on investing in cannabis. Financing is one of the most difficult aspects of starting a cannabis business.

Louis and The Arcview Group make it easier.

Investing in Cannabis Businesses

Cannabis is still federally illegal. Banks operate on a federal and state level. This makes most banks averse to the idea of loaning money to new cannabis businesses, even if they operate within a legal cannabis state.

The Arcview Group negates the need for cannabis entrepreneurs to go to banks at all. With its massive investor network, from small scale angel investors to big money opportunists, Arcview can invest in cannabis businesses big and small.

Rising Opportunity, Limited Investors

While the opportunity to start a business in the cannabis industry has never been more possible, investors are still limited, and competition to obtain investment is fierce. This means Arcview can’t just invest in anybody. That’s where Louis Han comes in.

As Director of Deal Flow, an aspect of Louis’ job consists of vetting businesses seeking investment. There’s a lot of people looking for financial assistance, but only the most promising will get to interview with Arcview investors. Louis has seen some of the most successful cannabis businesses go through Arcview.

With his experience running his own cannabis business in California, plus his years with Arcview, Louis has an eye for what a cannabis business needs to obtain investment in the industry.

In This Episode

Louis Han is a cannabis investment expert. In this week’s episode of The Real Dirt, Chip and Louis talk over the phone about investing in cannabis and hemp. From how to formulate your pitch to reading your audience, Louis and Chip go through the full investment process.

In the words of Louis, “Getting involved with an investor is almost like getting married. Especially if they own a large portion of your business, they can have an impact on your financial decisions, and the way your business runs.” 

If you’ve been considering seeking investors for your cannabis business, this an episode you’ll want to hear. And check out Arcview Group’s Investor Meeting happening in Canada on April 23rd!

Listen on iTunes

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Cannabis Jobs: 6 Employment Tips

Cannabis Jobs: 6 Employment Tips

Finding cannabis jobs is one thing. Applying to cannabis jobs is another.

The cannabis industry is hiring. It isn’t broadly advertised or promoted on the online job board like other more common jobs, however, which can make finding them difficult.

In addition to the difficulty in finding jobs, applying for certain jobs in the industry will have mandatory requirements from obtaining a license to paying a fee in order to qualify. As someone who went through the process of finding a job that resulted in me moving from Pennsylvania to Colorado, I have some tips for finding jobs easier and making your application stand a better chance of getting that second look.

Finding Cannabis Jobs

1. Look local first

Over 30 states in the US have legalized medical or recreational cannabis. This means that over 30 states are most likely hiring, and one of them could be yours! You can check out this handy map to see if your state has a medical or recreational market you could look into.

cannabis jobs are available in these states

Photo courtesy of Governing.com

If your state is highlighted on that map, there’s a chance someone nearby is hiring. Look for local dispensaries or distributors and give them a call. Most dispensaries in younger legal states will be mom and pop shops or smaller scale, and thus not putting out lengthy ads on the job boards.

I recommend finding some local businesses you like, and giving them a call. It makes it much easier to find out if they are hiring. Also if they are hiring, you’re already talking to them! Phone calls make it much easier to relate your skills without sending a resume and waiting for an email reply.

2. Look at the hubs

The cannabis industry, recreational especially, is still in its infancy in the US. This means a lot of states that recently legalized medical or recreational cannabis may still be setting up their industry, and thus not hiring in large numbers. Instead, look to the places that have had legal cannabis for a while.

Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have all developed their markets to a point of stability, for the most part. Although Oregon is certainly not in need of any more growers, there is other opportunity to be found in processing, distribution or retail.

While technically still very young and new, California is very likely looking for qualified candidates right now. California has been operating in a grey market since the medical industry exploded, with private market sales creating entire businesses and supply chain. These businesses were for the most part able to transition into the legal industry, and now they’re hiring.

Look up the most popular cannabis jobs in the state you choose or simply google “cannabis jobs california” to see what the job boards have to offer.

3. Think about what you can do

When it comes to applying for cannabis jobs, it helps to think in terms of not what you want to do, but what you can do. It might not sound like the stereotypical “follow your dreams” advice, but with limited jobs and a lot of applicants, you can’t be too picky when looking for cannabis jobs.

All of my experience was in public relations, social media and content, but I was looking at and applying to growing jobs, budtending jobs and even trimming jobs. This doesn’t mean throw out your dream of being the next big cannabis marketer, because those jobs are there too. They are just much harder to find, and it can be disheartening seeing all the lower level jobs and not the ones you really want.

4. Know the requirements

California has no mandatory requirements for entering the recreational cannabis industry as an employee. Nevada, however, requires you to study, take an exam, and pay a fee in order to obtain a license to work in the Nevada cannabis industry.

The last thing you want is to go through an application process only to find out you don’t meet the one essential criteria for the job. I wrote a guide that goes through all of the requirements for the most prevalent states with cannabis jobs. Look it over to make sure the state you’re applying in doesnt’t have a hidden requirement you might have overlooked.

5. Apply, apply, apply

It’s boring, and it can be time consuming, but it’s essential. If you are looking outside of the cannabis space for jobs as a fallback option, you most likely have two separate resumes that you will be sending to potential employers. One “clean” resumé that covers your professional skills (or whatever), and the other you send to the cannabis jobs.

This resumé will have your grow experience, cannabis knowledge and other skills that would most likely instantly disqualify you from any other job. And like I said, apply to everything. You can always so no to a job offer, but not if there’s no job offer in the first place. This is where you might have to swallow some pride and apply to jobs you would never actually take.

Think of these applications as practice. Learn what kind of questions cannabis jobs employers might ask in interviews and what they are looking for in an applicant. This helps you to prepare for the jobs you really want, and you’ll be ready to answer the questions the employer has for you when you get that interview.

6. Don’t give up

I was in the final stages of the application process for a job doing social media for a children’s museum in Baltimore. I would have gotten that job too, had I stuck around. My point is, there will always be a “safe” option to fall back on. Too many people take that option.

If that’s you, the cannabis industry isn’t for you anyway. There is risk in working in this industry, and a lot less job security than your everyday office job. With that said, you have the opportunity to get involved in a new and growing industry that the majority of people are too afraid to enter in the first place. You already have an advantage.

It took me over six months of applying to cannabis jobs and “safe” jobs before I was offered a job in Colorado, and even when I was offered the job, I still was hesitant. Our society puts a strong emphasis on pursuing the safe option. Breaking that instinct can be hard. But all I can say now that I’ve been in Colorado for almost a year is that it is worth it.

If you have been looking at cannabis jobs here and there, thinking about how cool it would be to actually get one of those jobs, it’s time to start applying. You might be thinking you’re not in the right state to find a job, or you missed the “window” to get in on the ground level. Those excuses passed through my mind multiple times too. Ignore them and keep applying.

The worst thing that can happen is you’ll be one of the few that can say they at least tried.

Hear my story of how I made the transition from Pennsylvania to Colorado in this week’s episode of The Real Dirt! I talk about the problems with finding cannabis jobs right now, how I got mine, and how you can too.

The Science of Smoke

The Science of Smoke

All forms of smoke are not created equal.

Smoking tobacco is widely recognized as the leading preventable cause of death in the world.  Meanwhile, endless analyses by medical professionals and research facilities throughout the world provide little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers. The science of smoke proves this further.

Difference of Smoke

Importantly, methods for consuming cannabis that merely heat the plant material  – not hot enough to burn it via vaping or dabbing – releases a volatile organic compound but to a much less extent and with less potency than the bad actors introduced by tobacco smoke.

Burning plant matter does produce harmful chemicals, regardless of which plant it is, but cannabis’s myriad consumption options make it less dangerous. For instance, cooking marijuana into edibles is a safe way to consume it that removes risks to your lungs. Alternatively, vaporizers for marijuana limit the formation of combustion products and are therefore likely to be safer than smoking.


Using an e-cigarette leaf vaporizer also could be a safer alternative. Observational studies show that vaporization allows consumers to experience the rapid onset of effect while avoiding some of the respiratory hazards associated with smoking.

Science of Smoke

While cannabis smoke has been implicated in respiratory dysfunction, it has not been causally linked with tobacco related cancers such as lung, colon or rectal cancers. Furthermore, compounds found in cannabis have been shown to kill numerous cancer types including: lung cancer, breast and prostate, leukemia and lymphoma, glioma, skin cancer, and pheochromocytoma, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

When it comes to the science of smoke, there are three kinds. Mainstream smoke is the smoke that enters the consumer from a direct draw on the cigarette.  It is then exhaled, which creates environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS. The smoke that comes off the cigarette as it sits in the ashtray is side stream smoke.  All of the smoke that enters the atmosphere begins to decay and has a defined half life.

If we gave mainstream smoke a number associated with its potency, let’s say that number is 1, then side stream smoke would have a potency of .1, and ETS would be .01.  Stated another way, the potency of ETS once inhaled would be 1/100th of mainstream smoke.  At that concentration, most of the purported illnesses are out of reach and cigarette smoke is primarily just a lung or sinus irritant, which goes away after you get to fresh air.

Ted Corless

Recognized as one of the leading insurance litigation lawyers in Florida, attorney Ted A. Corless spent nearly a decade fighting for some of the largest companies in America. He trained at Shook Hardy, an international law firm infamous for its vigorous representation of Big Tobacco. Shook Hardy triggered his passion for scientific and medical-related litigation.

Corless routinely shares his scientific experience gained from representing the largest tobacco companies in the U.S. He regularly authors articles, gives television interviews and presents lectures on a range of legal topics, including insurance coverage, complex expert testimony and insurance bad faith.

Corless has a broad range of litigation experience including first-chair jury trial experience in matters relating to commercial litigation, environmental law, construction law, bodily injury, advertising injury, products liability and insurance coverage litigation. Ted Corless founded the Corless Barfield Trial Group and is Founder and Editor of newsmunchies.com.

The European Hemp Exchange

The European Hemp Exchange

Returning for a second impromptu, sea-side episode in Croatia, Mike Leago joins The Real Dirt once again to discuss the growing European hemp market.

As a member of the International Hemp Exchange, Mike connects hemp farmers and producers with buyers all over the world. Whether its getting hemp seeds to the UK or finding a specific hemp product anywhere in the world. As the exchange grows, so does the reach of the hemp industry.

The European hemp industry

The European hemp industry grew over 30% just in 2016 and is showing no signs of slowing down. Hemp has a much less negative stigma surrounding it, making European countries more likely to push legislation that moves the European hemp industry forward much more quickly than its psychotropic counterpart.

In fact, in the European Union, it is legal to cultivate and supply cannabis plants for hemp fiber if they have low levels of THC. This is now starting to expand to other uses beside fibers, including CBD isolates and high CBD flower.


Listen to this week’s episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker where Chip and Mike hang out in Croatia and talk about the booming European hemp industry and what the future holds.

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Cannifest 2018: The green 420 festival

Cannifest 2018: The green 420 festival

Humboldt Green Week is a manifestation of culture advancing the ideals of our community while building bridges, honoring the environment, supporting the local economy, and promoting music, art, and solutions through action.”

A celebration of all things green, Green Week encompasses earth day and 4/20 in an all-encompassing 10-day 420 festival. While the changing laws in California have brought Cannifest to a halt, Green Week is still going strong as it strives to bring the community together.

From April 13th to the 22nd, people from all over California come together in Humboldt county to share their knowledge, meet new people, and show support for a green, clean environment. Farmer’s markets, yoga and clean cooking classes are just a few of the events that will fill the week out.

While the week is full of fun events and activities, these 420 festival goers are also committed to keeping the environment clean. The week consists of multiple volunteer clean-up events around the county, as well as workshops for cooking with cannabis and other natural herbs and their use as medicine. Let’s also not forget about the Vines by the Sea beer and wine event at the end of the week!

Tune into this week’s episode of The Real Dirt Podcast with Steve Geider to hear all the details about the Green Week 420 festival.