09/18/15 John Malanca

2015 LA Cannabis Business Conference I with Ethan Nadelmann of DPA, John Malanca of United Patients Group, Steve Yanish of Amer Cannaabis Exch, Matt Johnson of Cultivation Supp, Pat Lesivoi of Wonder Soil, Kirk Silverston of Hemp Health & Peggy Figi for Charlottes Web

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, September 18, 2015
John Malanca
United Patients Group



SEPTEMBER 18, 2015


DEAN BECKER: Hello, friends. This is Dean Becker, and this is a special edition of Cultural Baggage. Today, we're broadcasting from Los Angeles, California, where I'm attending the International Cannabis Business Conference. I don't know if I'm at conference 20 or conference 220, there's just been too many over the last fourteen years of doing these Drug Truth Network programs. But I keep running into people that, well, I love, because of their commitment, their compassion, and here's one such individual.

JOHN MALANCA: Hi. John Malanca with United Patients Group.

DEAN BECKER: Now, is that a local group to Los Angeles? Where are you based? How -- describe the organization.

JOHN MALANCA: So, we're based out of the San Francisco bay area. We're actually an international company. We specialize in, the leading information education on medical cannabis. So people come to our site, doctors as well as patients, as well as product people, but they come to the site to learn. We do a lot, we proud ourselves on having the utmost updated information education, but they come to our site for hand-holding, so we get a lot of patients that don't know where to start. Don't know where to start. And we get a lot of doctors that work for institutions, and when their patients are asking about medical cannabis, which is becoming a very popular question nowadays, to doctors, not only here in California but around the US. The doctors are saying, you know, we can't recommend medical cannabis, and because of the institution that we work for, we really, can't really talk about it, but here's an organization that we do trust. And so we get a lot of recommendations from doctors to say, talk to these guys, they can help us.

So, we don't sell products. We don't ship products. But we work with top product companies, top doctors, and institutions that we're able to hand-hold and guide people through this, literally tangled web in this industry.

DEAN BECKER: You know, speaking of, my hometown of Houston, you know, I had a couple of calls over the years from doctors who worked at M.D. Anderson Hospital, who asked me to discretely help some people who needed cannabis, and it's ironically within the last year or two, perhaps those same doctors at M.D. Anderson Hospital are conducting studies on the use of cannabinoids for children with epilepsy. It's something else, isn't it?

JOHN MALANCA: So, I wasn't going to mention that, but we have more recommendations or referrals I'd say from M.D. Anderson, Sloane-Kettering out of New York, Johns Hopkins, Cancer Centers of America, that they're referring their patients to us. We have doctors at M.D. Anderson, a pediatric doctor that we're working with right now, she knows nothing about it, but she made a promise to this family with a child that had, a five, six year old child, and she made a promise to the family that she would do some research on cannabinoid therapeutics. So we get a lot of that.

One story that really hits home, not with pediatric but with a doctor, we had a doctor that called us one time, this was a few years back, and one of the press releases that we did, he called me up and he said, is this John? I said yeah. Does this work or is snake-oil? And I said, well what do you mean? And he goes, I'm reading your press release right here, and I said, the reason -- I'll tell you the reason why I think it works. And I know I've shared this story with you, why we started United Patients Group, because of my father in law. He was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, metastasized to his brain, and he was given two weeks to live. It's been close to five years right now, and six weeks ago, he just had his sixth lung and brain scan, still clear.

So this doctor said, does it work? And I said -- I shared this story, and he started crying, and I said, what's wrong? And he said, I'm not telling you everything, but I'm a medical doctor, I'm here in Florida, my wife has brain cancer and I'm scared to death and I don't know what to do. So I shared with him the legal ways for him to become a legal patient, and he flew out to California, became a legal patient, how they got it back, it's up to them. But he called me back about six days later and he said, you remember me? I said, of course I do. He goes, I did what you told me. Thank you. So over the next seven month period, he and I talked on the phone, emailed as well as texts back and forth, at the seven month mark he called me and he says, you got time? I said of course, always for you, what can I do? And he goes, my wife and I are just leaving our doctor's office, and you're the first person I'm going to call. My wife's scans are clear. He's crying, I'm crying, and he says, he wrote me the nicest letter. He said, you've allowed me to cut this cell malfunction off at the knees with a feather, and we're tied for life.

So education's what we do, yeah. And everyday we have stories like that, and it's very special. You know, and people always ask, you know, is your father in law the only success story? I said, there are hundreds and hundreds of patients, and we're not the only people helping people out there. You know?

DEAN BECKER: And you know, John, and, I'm not going to say sad fact, but just the unknown factor is that there are a lot of people out there that are doing it that you don't hear about, that doesn't make the press, that they don't even want folks to know that it helped them. Your thoughts in that regard.

JOHN MALANCA: We get that everyday. I mean, we have a lot of people, it's still a taboo topic. Melissa Etheridge today made a great point, you know -- ooh, you're smoking some cannabis. You know? But once you say, ooh, I know a friend of mine who's using it for medical reasons -- it's okeh to talk about. So, where is the line between medical and recreational? You know, people think there's that fine line, oh, you're recreational, you're bad. Oh, you're medical? You're great, here, take some more. So, it is, hopefully one day that stigma and that line will mold together. But, again -- I cut you off, sorry.

DEAN BECKER: No, that's all right. You know, John, each week I release an email that kind of summarizes the week's show for the network and a few other organizations, and I include in there a line that, when euphoria is a crime, everyone will suffer. Closing thoughts, John.

JOHN MALANCA: Closing thoughts. You know, this conference has been great, the education has been great, and as you and I, prior to walking and starting this conversation, you and I have known each other for four, four and a half years now, and we've seen a lot of changes. There's a lot of changes, not only coming into this industry but a lot of changes with our government, the local and state. Patients are doing their own education, and trying it as an alternative. You know, we're fortunate that we live in a legal state, my father in law's fortunate we live in a legal state. If he didn't, he wouldn't be here today, and it's sad to know that there are other Americans out there who also live in -- who live in the US but they live in the illegal state, and they don't get a second chance at life. They're loved just as much as my father in law is, from our family, and again, you know, they're treated, one, sorry you don't get a second chance, or if they are using it, they're treated as criminals.

And so, I hope one day, you know, more than half our states, we have 23 states and DC right now that are legal, 2016 is going to be a great year, so. Education is important, not only for ourselves, but our government as well as our medical professionals.

DEAN BECKER: John, before we close, your website, please.

JOHN MALANCA: UnitedPatientsGroup.com. Thank you very much.

DEAN BECKER: All right.

Folks, in about two weeks I'm turning 67 years old, and as I approach that final hour, I take great comfort in knowing that I'm on the right side of this issue, that I've worked to promote the right side of this issue, and I hope you'll do the same, soon. I think in the coming weeks, I'm going to talk with some local officials, the district attorney, my friend the police chief and the new sheriff I've never met, tell them we'd like to help the United Patients Group help M.D. Anderson help these kids.

Okeh, so I'm here in Los Angeles, I'm walking down the hallway, kind of the day before things get started with the cannabis business conference, and I'm looking at a box, it says 800 Puffs of Hemp Hookahs. VG based, no propolyne glycol added, legal in all 50 states, and I'm here to speak with Mr. Kirk Silverston. He's the sales manager of Hemp Health. Kirk, tell us what this product's about, please.

KIRK SILVERSTON: This product is, comes from the cannabis plant. It's CBD, which is cannabidiol, which is the main ingredient of hemp. Now hemp, unlike marijuana, is legal in all fifty states.

DEAN BECKER: I wanted to ask you, Kirk, I mean, I see the stories with, what's his name, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the little kids with Dravet Syndrome, and, how the CBD helps them. Is this the same thing?

KIRK SILVERSTON: Yes, it is. CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, which is something all of us animals, and mammals, have, and it turns out that the endocannabinoid system is the -- they think, the largest neuro system, neurological system in the human body, is mostly involved with the immune system, and with the, with the gut, with digestion. Cannabidiol, that works with the endocannabinoid systems, from hit up of CBD1 and CBD2 receptors, and it works on the mood modulation. So, it calms all of those impulses, you know, the over-excitement.

DEAN BECKER: The random electrical firing of the brain.

KIRK SILVERSTON: Yeah. Exactly. And it calms it all down.

DEAN BECKER: I've even heard that, you know, we hear there are 22 veterans killing themselves every day, many of them with that post traumatic stress they picked up from going to our various wars, and that they take a lot of pain pills, they take a lot of pills, that the VA prescribes for them, and I've heard that the use of CBD and other cannabis products can help diminish the need for those pills and help stabilize their head, so to speak. Your thoughts, sir.

KIRK SILVERSTON: Yeah, it is true. There, initially, cannabis was sold to the public as a gateway drug. That if you took cannabis, it would lead to harder drugs. As it turns out, cannabis is an exit drug, that it actually, and these are papers written by the government, you know, PubMed, that it interrupts the pleasure signal from opioids, and that it changes the relationship to the pain, as opposed to a narcotic, which just tries to mask it, and block the signal. CBD, the way it works is it tends to change the relationship to the pain.

DEAN BECKER: I've been speaking with Mr. Kirk Silverston, sales manager of Hemp Health. Is there a website?

KIRK SILVERSTON: Website is hemphealthinc.com.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects. Breast enlargement, impotence, corneal opacity, deafness, anaphylactic shock, pseudomembraneous colitis, bloody diarrhea, rectal hemorrhage, myocardial infarction and death. Time’s Up! The answer: From Bristol Meyers Squibb the answer weirdly is Asafex, for heartburn and obviously not for your ass effects. By the way, the number of potential complications is more than one hundred.

You are still listening to Cultural Baggage, the unvarnished truth about the drug war on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. Today we have reports from the Los Angeles cannabis business conference.

STEVE YANISH: My name is Steve Yanish, and I'm the CEO of Amercanex, the American Cannabis Exchange.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Steve, tell us a bit about this situation, what do you guys do, how it involves itself in the cannabis industry.

STEVE YANISH: Absolutely. We're very excited, actually, to bring the first fully electronic marketplace for wholesale distribution for licensed cultivators, distributors, dispensaries, food manufacturers, all an online transaction venue so now they can buy and sell from each other on an online platform.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh, it had been pretty much a hodge-podge, just kind of catch as catch can in prior years, right?

STEVE YANISH: It really has, it's been a face to face transaction, and we've kind of developed the ebay of pot.

DEAN BECKER: Given the circumstance, you guys could really take off soon. Tell us how it's, how far along you guys are in your efforts.

STEVE YANISH: Absolutely. We're actually very far along in the state of Colorado, we have some of the marquis names on the platform, like Medicine Man, Dixie Elixirs, Native Roots, some of the largest, both producers and consumers in the state of Colorado have joined the technology in our platform, and now we're moving into California with those same vendors and many new participants here.

DEAN BECKER: Now, you know, we're here in Los Angeles at this major gathering, the cannabis business conference, it's just a sign of things to come, is it not?

STEVE YANISH: It really is. If you look at what's happened just the past two or three weeks in California, it does look like this state is now going to regulate and tax the industry, which is a huge milestone for medical cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I've not had enough time to thoroughly read and analyze these new regulations that they're putting forward. What's your take on them, is it an improvement?

STEVE YANISH: Oh, it's a tremendous improvement. You're actually building in an infrastructure to help grow and develop the business now, where now you'll have licensing, you'll have mandatory testing, you'll have transportation. These farmers and these traditional business owners will now be able to, literally be able to produce to live in the white market instead of the gray/black market.

DEAN BECKER: Which is good for everybody, it would keep the cops involved in what they should be doing, going after violent folks, right?

STEVE YANISH: Oh absolutely, and most importantly, the state will now be able to fill up its tax coffers like the state of Colorado has had, if you look at the most recent numbers, the numbers are staggering, over $70 million in revenue and that's in a marketplace that has very little trackability. If you looked, they probably leave somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of that revenue on the table. Our goal as a company is to make sure that every state, every client, is fully regulated, fully transparent, and the ability to tax and collect 100 percent of the revenue due to the state.

DEAN BECKER: Steve, website, closing thoughts.

STEVE YANISH: Website is www.amercanex.com, that's amercanex.com. We couldn't be more excited to be delivering some of the best products to the cannabis industry, and even more excited as to what's being developed across the entire nation, over the next few months.

MATT JOHNSON: Hi, I'm Matt Johnson, I'm with Cultivation Suppliers. We design, build, and support all cultivation facilities, all nationwide.

DEAN BECKER: This is growing so fast. You guys going to be able to keep up?

MATT JOHNSON: It's changing every day. Fortunately, we see ourselves as ahead of the curve. We actually came about as a commercial division from a retail outlet that's been in the business for many years. We were the first to go to YouTube to educate people about products that are brought into our industry. We have over 450 videos out there. It's really propelled our retail division, but at the same time we've had a lot of commercial growers call us and ask advice about things. What that's done is inevitably create our commercial division. We bring the best in, we're the most, we try to be the most knowledgeable in what we do. We try to be ahead of the curve in what's out there and what's available, but what's typically, what we all come back is what's traditional in ag. How are they doing it in ag? Most of the ag installations and greenhouses are working on low profit margin crops, so they have to do it as efficient as possible, and I see the cannabis industry going there.

DEAN BECKER: Well, eventually it's going to have to, because the price will continue to fall as more and more states legalize and regulate, right?

MATT JOHNSON: Yep. To be the best out there, to build the biggest facilities, the amount of money it takes to put up these facilities is quite substantial. To get your immediate ROI, you have to think efficiently all down the road. Mm hmm.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Matt, as I understand it, you guys are not just national, you're going international as well, right?

MATT JOHNSON: Yes. Well, we've looked at Chile, they're being pretty progressive. Costa Rica's coming on line, Jamaica's been talked about, but of course, Canada's our neighboring country and we've been up there in Quebec and Ontario quite a bit, doing large medical facilities. Mm hmm.

DEAN BECKER: We're here at this gathering in Los Angeles, I don't know, there's a couple of dozen tables, major vendors, providing those services and equipment necessary for people to jump into this industry. California just passed a law that made it, well they're going to tax it, they're going to regulate it like they maybe should have done 10 or 20 years ago, right?

MATT JOHNSON: Probably back in '97, that would have been a good, interesting move at that point. But, in a lot of ways, we have a long ways to grow, and mature, and get it to the point where it is right now. I feel this is a perfect move, we all, most of us here of course do, it's going to regulate it, we all know that California could use a lot of the money, and we all know that medicinally and hopefully recreationally down the road that it will be available to everybody.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Once again we've been speaking with Mr. Matt Johnson of Cultivation Suppliers. Matt, website, closing thoughts.

MATT JOHNSON: Yeah, CultivationSuppliers.com, you can reach us out if you have any questions, any educational videos, you can go to youtube on monstergardens.com.

DEAN BECKER: You know, trouble's always looking for marijuana users, and who's bringing the trouble? It's the cops. I have a good friend in an organization I'm involved with, she has a lot of maladies, she's old like me. She was growing a few plants in the backyard, and then the helicopters started flying overhead, and they tried to get in her door without a warrant. But they took her plants. I don't know what's going to happen to her, but we have got to quit this stuff.

PAT LESAVOY: Hi, I'm Pat Lesavoy with Wonder Soil.

DEAN BECKER: What are you bringing to this conference?

PAT LESAVOY: I'm bringing Wonder Soil, which is a dry, compressed planting medium, core fiber based. We can mix to order, our factories in Las Vegas. We add worm castings, mycorrhizal kelp, humic acid, azomite, zeolite, unless you wanted organic, we add potassium polyacrylate polymers, which molecules are too big to get into the plant but it also helps save up to 50 percent water. A very successful growing medium.

DEAN BECKER: Main question is, you know, there are, gosh, on your list, about 40 different components that can be a part of your product. Why so many? I guess would be my question.

PAT LEVASOY: Some want higher nitrogen, some want lower nitrogen. Just like plants differ, and strains differ, so do the ingredients that you want that will help your plants thrive.

DEAN BECKER: Some of your product is even going mainstream to Home Depot and other facilities, correct?

PAT LEVASOY: Absolutely. We're the private label lawn repair for Home Depot, Ace, True Value, Do It Best, mix with Barenbrug Seed. They've done testing and our seeds thrive, grow faster, higher germination rate, than any other planting medium.

DEAN BECKER: You know, as I understand it, California's been undergoing a severe drought for, gosh, nigh onto a decade now, and I hear people faulting growers for using too much water to grow their plants, but your product will help prevent that over-usage, will it not?

PAT LEVASOY: Absolutely. It helps with the over-watering and the under-watering, and we save up to 50 percent water. In Las Vegas, where we manufacture, it's been tested in the parks. They brought in 9 trucks, we brought in one truck. They brought in 200,000 pounds, we brought in 2,000 pounds for comparable land where they were starting just from sandy dirt. And it took them 30 hours to spread it out, it took us 3 hours with a little spreader. Seven days later we were green, they weren't, and 15 days later we were greener. We could have actually cut the watering down after 7 days but because it was a test, all on one watering system, they didn't. And even after 60 days, after a high traffic event, we were still green.

DEAN BECKER: Pat, if you would, please share your website, some closing thoughts.

PAT LEVASOY: Okeh. WonderSoil.com, we're available online, we're also on HomeDepot.com, we're also on Costco.com, and we sell bulk, up to a thousand pound supersacks, and made to order.

DEAN BECKER: The first keynote speaker at this cannabis conference was the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Mr. Ethan Nadelmann. I got a chance to talk to him right after his speech.

So, I heard your speech upstairs, a powerful, an enticement, an invitation for all of these cannabis enthusiasts to look at the bigger picture of the drug war, am I right?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, that's right, Dean. I mean, you know, an interesting thing at these conferences, there's two and half thousand people here, probably only about a fifth of them actually come to my talk, so you figure most of the people here aren't even interested in the broader politics. This was the 20 percent who are, and you know, it's fortunate they are, and as I said to them, my pitch is that they aim to create a really ethical, decent, inclusive, diverse industry, do it the right way, recognize the historical origins of this amazing industry opportunity, and then a kind of half joking, half serious pitch, where I said that the guys I want to meet in this crowd right here, I want to know which of you is going to do two things. One, make a hell of a lot of money, and have or develop a commitment to the broader cause of drug policy reform. You know, because you guys are the future, when it comes to funding this broader movement.

DEAN BECKER: We've all been, had family members busted for one drug or another, at least some friends we know, we know it impacts us, our family, our friends. But we don't, as you were talking about in the speech, we don't bring it home necessarily, we don't embrace it that it's part of our life, we just ignore it too many times. Your thoughts, sir.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, look, I mean, two things. One is that for a lot of people, when they go through an experience of either themselves or close friends or family being arrested for drugs, they, all they focus on is putting it behind them as fast as they can and then leaving it behind. So most people don't want to get caught up in our movement because they want to forget that difficult moment in their lives. The other thing of course is that, who ends up getting caught up in the system, there's a real, you know, equality about that. I mean, all the evidence shows is that, although white people, brown people, black people, roughly the same percent use drugs, and perhaps even the same percent roughly are involved in selling it, it's disproportionately the people of color who are ending up getting arrested and prosecuted, incarcerated, and ending up with a criminal record.

And so, for many of us who are white and middle class, we know it's a risk and we all know people and have close people who've been victimized. Many of them were fortunate enough to get a good lawyer and to deal with it, right? Not everybody. But we also know that if you're poor, live in the wrong place, or your skin color or your accent is the wrong one, you've got a lot less likelihood of getting out of a drug thing if you get into it.

DEAN BECKER: You know, Ethan, it's so seldom I get to see you, but luckily I'll get to see you in about, well less than two months, I think, or right at two months from this point, in Washington, DC, correct? Tell us what's happening.

ETHAN NADELMANN: That's right. It's going to be the next biennial international drug policy reform conference, organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, my organization, but co-hosted with a lot of the other leading drug policy reform organizations in this movement as well as some of the major, you know, organizations like the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference of African American Clergy, Open Society Foundation, which has been an important funder, but I'll tell you, we've already got close to 700 people registered with two months still to go. Never happened before, so either we're being much more efficient than before in getting people to register early, or it's possible this conference is going to be far bigger than anything we've done before.

I mean, we've gotten up to 1100, 1200 people, who knows? This one could be a big one, and taking it back to the nation's capitol, hasn't been there since before Drug Policy Foundation merged with the Lindesmith Center to create DPA back in 2000, and so, it's going to be an exciting moment. You know, part of the challenge we have now is that, as the mainstream comes increasingly in our direction, how we continue to keep our focus, our age, our radical spirit, right, while at the same time engaging ever more effectively with folks in government -- that's one of the challenges up ahead.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, speaking with Mr. Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director, Drug Policy Alliance. They're out there on the web, drugpolicy.org. Please check it out.

I should note that Ethan was the first plenary speaker. Anyway, he spoke at the main stage, and he was followed by the singer Melissa Etheridge, who was introduced by Peggy, the mother of Charlotte Figi. You've heard of Charlotte's Web, right.

PEGGY FIGI: My daughter Charlotte had a severe form of epilepsy. They consider it the worst kind. Her life was transformed by CBD, by the cannabis plant. We're about -- we're coming onto four years now. She was [applause] she was not going to make it, a couple weeks, a couple months left to go, home on a hospice, horrible horrible situation, and we started this. We figured it out. Stanley Brothers, knowledgeable and all of this brothers, they helped her, and they saved her life. She's been on medical, she's been using CBD, Charlotte's Web, for this entire time and no other drugs, and the world is kind of watching because it's unprecedented to see what's happening to her. So this issue has my passion and my heart.

We have to watch all these other parents decide what to do, in other illegal states and countries. They have a choice, they can break the law in their state, you know, this is growing everywhere. They could refugee to Colorado, or they could pass a bill in their state, so many many states are, you're seeing this happen, are passing CBD or hemp legislation because that state wouldn't allow anything else. And these parents, it's very deeply deeply close and personal to our hearts, we're very very passionate about this, because we have nothing else to try, and I don't like to be told no, so people can't tell me my child has to suffer because they're uncomfortable with something. Thank you.

So, we have gotten involved federally. If people wanted to pass a federal bill, it's not the whole shebang, it's not the whole cannabis plant, but they want to take a little baby step and pass CBD and agricultural hemp descheduling bill. These are schedule one substances. A mistake was made, we're trying to fix it. So, I've been passionately involved with the Coalition for Access Now, it's a nonprofit in DC, and we're going to pass this bill as soon as possible, and we need help. So if you're listening to Ethan, and you're going to hear some more people in a minute, we need an army of people to get on board with every single thing. We need to coalesce on every single issue, and we have public opinion, we just need to enforce it, we need to act, and we need to do it urgently.

DEAN BECKER: Charlotte's mom, Peggy Figi, is absolutely right. We do need to act urgently. You may ask, why after a hundred years of prohibition do we need to act urgently? Because it might be you, it might be your mother, your daughter, your friend, who could benefit from medical cannabis. I guarantee you it won't help everybody, but for those it will help, why in god's name should we stand in the way of that progress.

That's it for Cultural Baggage. As always, I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, and certainly not outside the legal states. Take care of each other.