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Ep.270: Media Panel @ Lift Toronto

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.270: Media Panel @ Lift Toronto

Ep.270: Media Panel @ Lift Toronto

Ricardo Baca, Ophelia Chong, David Brown and Jacquie Miller join us from Lift Toronto to tackle media in cannabis..and cannabis in media for that matter. Ricardo takes us through what he experienced in Colorado for the Cannabist, Ophelia touches on what she’s seen in imagery. David shares his Canadian experience. And Jacquie shares her experience coming from the mainstream media into the cannabis industry.
We discuss early days and when and how things changed along the way and we return to the conversation that we started with Derek Riedle in the last episode on what the media is, it’s purpose and how to ensure more trust in media from the each end of the general populace.

Transcript:

Speaker 2: Cannabis media, Ricardo Baca, Ophelia Chong, David Brown and Jackie Miller. Join us from Lyft, Toronto to tackle media in cannabis and cannabis and media for that matter. Ricardo takes us through what he's experienced in Colorado for the cannabis and other outlets. Ofili touches on what she's seen in imagery. David shares his Canadian experience and Jackie's shares her experience coming from the mainstream media into the cannabis industry. We discuss early days and when and how things changed along the way and we return to the conversation. We started with Derek rapidly in the last episode on what the media is, its purpose, and how to ensure more trust in media from each end of the general populace. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the hand mechanic economy. That's two ends in the world economy, cannabis media. Are you excited?

Speaker 1: I mean, you know, you're the new kid on the block, right? Let's talk about it. Let's go right away because the microphone, that's why he has the microphone. All right, so, so Ricardo, you've been nominated right as the first person to speak by Jackie, so just give us a quick sense of when you got into cannabis media and what you found on the landscape when you arrived. Sure. Yeah, so I was a lifelong journalist for 25 plus years and late 2013 right before Colorado's recreational sales were about to be implemented inside the shops. My editor approached me and asked me to create an online vertical dedicated to the news and culture coverage around this newly legal substance. And I jumped at the indeed

Speaker 3: early days in Colorado. Right. Ofelia. Hello. When did you find cannabis as media, if you will, as opposed to cannabis as medicine and, uh, what did you see on the landscape when you arrived?

Speaker 4: First off, I'm not related to Tommy. Say it again or not. I'm not related to Tommy Chong. Oh No. Oh, I'm sorry. No, thank you for clarifying. I get that all the time. Strangely, you are related to Cheech Marin. Somehow. Weirdly, I know uncle uncle teach, I get into, I got into creating the first stock photo agency in the world specializing in cannabis two and a half years ago when my sister started using it and I looked at her and I thought that's not a stoner and some from there I created the first stock agency specialized in cannabis where are now over $18,000, $18,000 exclusive images and videos over 200 photographers around the world and we're partnered with adobe. When did the job partnership happened? They came to me in January and we signed in March of 2017, so that's pretty new. Congratulations on that. That's huge. Thank you. That was my third goal. The first goal was to reach 10,000 images. The second one was 17,200 photographers. Third was to get a partner in distribution. The fourth one is now to get another investor,

Speaker 3: another investor. Okay, fair enough. Chuck e cheese right down there. Were picking on him all day. David. Hello? Uh, when you got in, what did you see on the landscape? A lot of confusing narratives, right? Did you get in? I'm in Canada or in the US, just to clarify in Canada. And so what year was it a, what? I started paying attention to the system here. I would say 20, 13, 2014. And so we had already figured it out of course in the US, the American side. Right, right. But uh, what were you seeing as, as the first couple of folks here outlined what they saw in the us, what were you seeing in Canada just to kind of set that stage?

Speaker 5: Well, you know, there's a narrative in Canada that had been established I think largely by the novelty of cannabis and then those who were being the loudest, which was the activist circuit and you had the, you know, mainstream media if you will, who, who only treats it as a novelty. And so I think there was an opportunity to create something that looked at it as an industry like any other industry.

Speaker 3: Fair enough. A, each of the three of you kind of echoing each other just quickly for production. If we could get a little bit more in the monitor simply because I'm almost a deaf person. I'm Jackie.

Speaker 4: Okay. So I'm the Newbie. You are dreaded representative of the mainstream media. Msm We call you wold was needed a outsider perspective. So I am a lifer at a

Speaker 6: newspaper, that writer and an editor and about a year ago I noticed that marijuana dispensaries, they were opening up in my town and I went to visit one and I was so fascinated by it, but I have been writing about cannabis ever since. Not full time. I also cover the school boards because I'm interested in school boards as well. So those are the two main areas that I cover right now.

Speaker 2: Cannabis media, Ricardo Baca, Ophelia Chong, David Brown and Jackie Miller. Join us from Lyft, Toronto to tackle media in cannabis and cannabis and media for that matter. Ricardo takes us through what he's experienced in Colorado for the cannabis and other outlets. Ofili touches on what she's seen in imagery. David shares his Canadian experience and Jackie's shares her experience coming from the mainstream media into the cannabis industry. We discuss early days and when and how things changed along the way and we return to the conversation. We started with Derek rapidly in the last episode on what the media is, its purpose, and how to ensure more trust in media from each end of the general populace. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the hand mechanic economy. That's two ends in the world economy, cannabis media. Are you excited?

Speaker 1: I mean, you know, you're the new kid on the block, right? Let's talk about it. Let's go right away because the microphone, that's why he has the microphone. All right, so, so Ricardo, you've been nominated right as the first person to speak by Jackie, so just give us a quick sense of when you got into cannabis media and what you found on the landscape when you arrived. Sure. Yeah, so I was a lifelong journalist for 25 plus years and late 2013 right before Colorado's recreational sales were about to be implemented inside the shops. My editor approached me and asked me to create an online vertical dedicated to the news and culture coverage around this newly legal substance. And I jumped at the indeed

Speaker 3: early days in Colorado. Right. Ofelia. Hello. When did you find cannabis as media, if you will, as opposed to cannabis as medicine and, uh, what did you see on the landscape when you arrived?

Speaker 4: First off, I'm not related to Tommy. Say it again or not. I'm not related to Tommy Chong. Oh No. Oh, I'm sorry. No, thank you for clarifying. I get that all the time. Strangely, you are related to Cheech Marin. Somehow. Weirdly, I know uncle uncle teach, I get into, I got into creating the first stock photo agency in the world specializing in cannabis two and a half years ago when my sister started using it and I looked at her and I thought that's not a stoner and some from there I created the first stock agency specialized in cannabis where are now over $18,000, $18,000 exclusive images and videos over 200 photographers around the world and we're partnered with adobe. When did the job partnership happened? They came to me in January and we signed in March of 2017, so that's pretty new. Congratulations on that. That's huge. Thank you. That was my third goal. The first goal was to reach 10,000 images. The second one was 17,200 photographers. Third was to get a partner in distribution. The fourth one is now to get another investor,

Speaker 3: another investor. Okay, fair enough. Chuck e cheese right down there. Were picking on him all day. David. Hello? Uh, when you got in, what did you see on the landscape? A lot of confusing narratives, right? Did you get in? I'm in Canada or in the US, just to clarify in Canada. And so what year was it a, what? I started paying attention to the system here. I would say 20, 13, 2014. And so we had already figured it out of course in the US, the American side. Right, right. But uh, what were you seeing as, as the first couple of folks here outlined what they saw in the us, what were you seeing in Canada just to kind of set that stage?

Speaker 5: Well, you know, there's a narrative in Canada that had been established I think largely by the novelty of cannabis and then those who were being the loudest, which was the activist circuit and you had the, you know, mainstream media if you will, who, who only treats it as a novelty. And so I think there was an opportunity to create something that looked at it as an industry like any other industry.

Speaker 3: Fair enough. A, each of the three of you kind of echoing each other just quickly for production. If we could get a little bit more in the monitor simply because I'm almost a deaf person. I'm Jackie.

Speaker 4: Okay. So I'm the Newbie. You are dreaded representative of the mainstream media. Msm We call you wold was needed a outsider perspective. So I am a lifer at a

Speaker 6: newspaper, that writer and an editor and about a year ago I noticed that marijuana dispensaries, they were opening up in my town and I went to visit one and I was so fascinated by it, but I have been writing about cannabis ever since. Not full time. I also cover the school boards because I'm interested in school boards as well. So those are the two main areas that I cover right now.

Speaker 3: Okay. When, when you said it was about a year ago and you just started to kind of go into dispensary's and check it out and see what, what, what kind of subject matter were you writing about a year ago? What were the things specifically that were interesting to you?

Speaker 6: Uh, well I've just gone back to writing. I spent a number of years editing. I'd spent the previous three years or so helping to develop a, um, an ipad edition of the paper. It was, um, for posts, media, and then I'd been an editor in the arts department for a few years before that I covered everything from city hall to national politics, bit of everything.

Speaker 3: Got It. As far as just to kind of strike a difference here, Ricardo, when you started writing or when your writers started writing a way back, when, what kinds of stories were you covering?

Speaker 1: It was important to me that we have a good mix of breaking news and investigative journalism as well as this fun stuff, including cannabis reviews, the flower reviews. They now have a bank of more than 100 and I think the cannabis pot critics are among the finest in the world. Um, so I was important to me also coming from an arts background and news before that to really take a holistic, whole plant approach to cannabis journalism as well. So we were, we were covering the spectrum and I think that's one of the things that took people by surprise.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Similarly, David, what were you first starting to cover when you started writing about it and kind of covering the space? What were the initial stories?

Speaker 1: Honestly, the boring stuff, the stuff that no one else wants to write about or I think the stuff that people misrepresent or sensationalize if there's something simple and benign in the industry that's interesting to people within the industry and there's a demand for that.

Speaker 3: Yeah, so to that end, your. Your job is a little bit different. The initial kind of imagery that you started to see that you started to place, that you started to keep. What was that? Just give us a sense.

Speaker 4: Well, when I went online I went to getting and I typed in marijuana and stoner and images that came up or exactly what you would think. It's the guy with the Rasta hat blowing smoke into a cat's face on a couch, on a blog with a bomb or the stone grandma, and even the keywording was illegal. A addict stoner. All the words were derogatory and so we're stockpot. What I do is I don't use. We don't use models at all. I actually use real people and he actually had to sign a form saying I'm holding a schedule one drug and I'm okay about having my photo released for a publication, so I have two year olds and nine year olds. I have a four year old and a new set that came in as wandering around a cannabis farm.

Speaker 3: But your children or subjects? Subjects. I have many children and they all are in the pictures. No, something that you don't know about that, right? Yeah.

Speaker 4: I actually had a four year old whose mother signed the forms saying it's okay to show my son on my cannabis farm because she believes in it, so I'm strongly that we need to legalize, but also to show the real faces of who everyone is because that's the only way want it spelled a stereotype. We had the African American stereotype, we had the LGBTQ stereotype. We have the Asian stereotype and the reason we have that is we like to put people in boxes because it's easier to understand is, oh, it's this, that, and so the storage box was easier to put in there and that's why we have it as illegal because look at those stoners. So what stockpot we're trying to change that and make it look like it's your grandma and your uncle. It's your dad. It's your kid, right?

Speaker 3: Because it is cats and dogs. Licensed. Easy job. You're trying to make it. That's exactly what precisely what it is

Speaker 4: we have. So. And the images that were licensing a lot as well as cats. Aha. People love cats. Especially on the Internet. Oh, cats with syringes. Cats with birds. Cats with a plant. Camp. Cats playing with the cats with a DAB machine.

Speaker 3: Those. I hope you got a one of those cats signature. Is that your release form? Yeah, the cats are signed off to. Yeah. That's amazing. What's getting licensed? Yeah, that's fantastic. You also have a very good cat impression. Oh yeah. So, so let's get to today and here we are in Canada right here, here. We don't use federal dod use on the horizon, which is a little bit more complicated than people want to make it. Right. There's a lot of things that do need to happen. So for today, cannabis media today in Canada, what are you guys covering? What, what are the stories that need to be told?

Speaker 3: There's, I mean there's a lot of stories that need to be told. I think one of the big ones that some people are beginning to tell his supply issues. There's obviously still a lot of supply issues for medical producers. When you say that, what do you mean? Because I think we have different supply issues in the U. s a satisfying supply issues. We're having patients who are unable to get medicine because patients, because the producers are running out and so there's a larger story there about the ability of those same producers and new producers to satisfy the recreational market. The nonmedical market. That will be a very big story. Sure. Just strike the balance here is in the US, we've got oversupply because everybody's trying to kind of outgrow the next for when everybody gets bought, I guess, Right Ricardo?

Speaker 1: Sure. But when we were getting ready for recreation, recreational implementation and all the various states to, they encountered their own supply issues without question,

Speaker 3: without question a nowthis is on the shelves over here. I'll go over there. Oh, nothing's on the shelves over here. I'll go over there with manufacturers of course, uh, that weren't growing their own reporting back saying I can't find trim anywhere.

Speaker 1: Right? Yeah. The edibles and concentrates market around that switch in 2014 was just got hammered. We saw prices go up just because they could. And you know, of course, all of the complications that come along with a growing from a medical market into a recreational market, the one time transfer of product, you know, it's difficult. It's just, it's tricky.

Speaker 3: One time transfer of product. Let's go ahead and a park there for a moment because we're going from a medical market here in Canada and adding adult use. So what do you mean the one time transfer?

Speaker 1: Well, in Colorado at the very least, as most of you probably know, uh, you know, we had this regulated medical system and then how is a medical shop going to suddenly have recreational cannabis on January first when they're able to sell adult use to anybody over 21 and they were just given the opportunity to do a one time transfer product without the taxes and then um, then throw plants in the ground so they could have a recreational product after that.

Speaker 3: Strike the balance to now. What kind of things are you covering now? Obviously not at the cannabis, but what are you covering now? What are the storylines that you see in the US that are interesting?

Speaker 1: Yeah. So briefly, I left the cannabis in December and now I'm writing a weekly column on the cannabis industry for the daily beast. I'm writing for esquire and some other outlets. And what's fun about that is no longer running a daily site where you're posting six to 10 stories a day. Now it's picking and choosing the four or five stories I want to write every month. And so it really is kind of waking up on a Monday and figuring out what I think is most interesting, uh, this week's column and the daily Beast, which just ran today is, uh, about Vermont. And, uh, what happened there with the failure of the government, the governor of vetoing recreational on his desk, a last week's column was the insanity that's happening in Nevada right now, uh, because they're implementing recreational at less than eight months after a voters said yes, and those sales start in a little bit over a month and talk to one of the larger cultivators down there about that conundrum and how exciting it is and how strange it is. Because as you guys probably know, it took Alaska almost 24 months. It took Oregon 13 months, so, and Massachusetts to still waiting, right? You know.

Speaker 3: So, uh, now Jackie, uh, Ricardo is telling us about this situation state by state in the United States of America. Well, I mean, what morons we are, uh, in, in all seriousness, I actually truly do believe that you have this nice kind of settled thing here. Federal Medical Cannabis with adult use coming, the stories that you cover right now, you know, I make it sound like your job is easy. I'm sure it's not. What are the stories that you're covering as we make our way from federal medical, federal, medical. I did say it right to adult use.

Speaker 6: Well, one of the reasons I find the whole area so interesting is that it touches on a variety of subjects. There's the straight business side, uh, you know, that the companies that are growing so quickly now, there'll be producing more jobs in the manufacturing sector by 20, 20. I heard this morning. I'm the big companies which are getting ready for the recreational market, the entire illegal market. Um, so the business side is fascinating. The political side is fascinating because we are going to be the first real major country in the world to develop regulations for the recreational market at the federal level. There's also the social and cultural side, which I find absolutely fascinating. I mean, in 10 years from now, and it's, it's, I mean, people have been obviously using cannabis for many years, but in five years from now, will you be going to your again? I was talking to a chap this morning from Colorado and I said, just tell me what it's like you're a middle aged guy, you have three kids. Um, and he said, okay, here's what it's like. I live in a suburb of Denver, um, three small children, you know, people come home on Friday, these two, maybe they'd have a craft beer now they're vaping and is totally normal so that, that kind of social and, and cultural change is fascinating to me as well.

Speaker 3: So as we, as you sit at this inflection point of a true societal change, here's my curve ball for the panel. We also have a true societal change happening in the fact that whereas cannabis was stigmatized up until recently, and it still is, but it's making its way out of it. Media itself has become the new stigma. There's a stigma associated with the media itself, and so I wonder, we are all in some way in this thing called media, especially you, Jackie, who you've been, you know, the real media forever. Talk about how you feel as we talk about media in a completely different way.

Speaker 6: Um, well first of all, I don't see my role as a promoter of the cannabis industry.

Speaker 3: Oh, I'm. This is outside of cannabis. I'm not asking a cannabis question. I'm asking the media.

Speaker 6: We have, we have a world leaders who will remain nameless, who called media the enemy. Uh, we have people that watch a, their television and other people that watch their television and have two completely different understandings of what happened today. What do you think about that being a journalist? Uh, you know, you're, you've spent your life as a journalist. How does that strike you? Well, I can tell you that one of the most difficult things that I've encountered in covering this beat is the selection of language and the tone to adopt in stories. Because I quickly realized in my very first visit to a dispensary, skip us a small story as an example. Um, I mean there's a variety of dispensary's, but one of the first ones I visited with setup like it looked like a doctor's office. There was a picture of a guy in a white coat with a stethoscope, right?

Speaker 6: They were all wearing white. They presented themselves as a medical facility. Um, and shortly after I wrote, wrote the story, the person I'd interviewed phoned me and said, just so you know, said I don't like being referred to as a pot shop. Actually, I hadn't done that. Although I have subsequently said, just so you know, I'm not a pot shop, I'm a medical clinic. So as a journalist, um, you know, I have a responsibility to both to describe something. Um, and if something in this case that the organization was called Magnet Tara health services, that's the name of the organization, but what do I call it? Do I call it a medical marijuana dispensary? Which of course lends a certain credibility. It sounds very medical. Do I call it a pot shop? Do I call it a store? Don't even mentioning this illegal. I've had huge fights with some of the people that I've interviewed that do not like me to mention the fact that these are illegal because they don't think they should be illegal and because they won't be illegal very soon.

Speaker 6: So Ricardo, same question to you. I'm Jackie. You smartly brings up language and tone as important things to a reader and that reader's understanding of what you're reporting. Same question as far as society's understanding of what media does, media understanding of who society is, where do you come down as someone that is clearly a journalist? Yeah. What a strange time to be practicing journalism, right? I mean, two nights ago a guy who was running for the US Senate in Montana body slammed a reporter for the Guardian and then he won the next day and this is the era in which we live. So certainly journalists and journalism are under attack. And at this, just quickly let me interrupt you because the reporter asked a question on policy. So no matter what your political stripes are, the response was to the question on policy. So then now please continue. Yeah, it's, it's, it's really

Speaker 1: unfortunate that, that journalism is under attack and granted the mainstream media absolutely deserves criticism. Um, but what I love having seen, and there was a great painter, a great Dana milbank column in The Washington Post last week on this, is that if you fuck with the media, the media is going to fuck with you. And there's such amazing journalism being produced right now, especially in New York and DC in, in, in the US at the very least. And I just, I'm thrilled to see this golden age of journalism as it's been called. And, and it really is in reaction to what's happening on the federal level down south

Speaker 3: down south being the US. Okay. David, where do you come down on all this? We're skipping a failure here. Well, we're just making it to say, oh, why should we were going to go over there? No, we're going over here. Fair enough. Keep us. Keep surprising them.

Speaker 5: I'll say, I think it's. I think it's the same as it's always been a people like to talk about some idyllic golden age of journalism when everyone was Edward r dot murrow. I don't think that's true. I think it's always been this way and I think public perception has always been that way

Speaker 3: and we just hear about it more because there's more of it.

Speaker 5: It certainly the fake news narrative and just the term has become a meme and so I think that leads people to talking about how bad media is and Gotcha journalism is, but I don't think it's any different than it was 10, 20, 30 a hundred years ago. I think it's maybe better now than it was 100 years ago.

Speaker 3: Very interesting. Take affiliate. What would you add there?

Speaker 4: Um, I found that in mainstream media, the photo editors have no idea what cannabis is when they choose images. It's the damn freaking dirty nails holding a Po, a bong, or it's the same damn jar. And the worst is they're using the same damn Bush cannabis

Speaker 3: Bush. Sure. Fair enough. Ophelia. Thank you for clarifying. It's PG,

Speaker 4: but it's the same damn Bush that they use a from ap illustrate every article about cannabis and even if it's a positive image of article about cannabis, it's the same dirty damn. Neil's holding some trimming something and it had it, it doesn't even come visit what the story's about, but also gives you a negative feel.

Speaker 3: And so that Kinda speaks to Ricardo's point about, you know, uh, did you call it mainstream media? Did you call it corporate media needing to do a better job? All of it. Yeah. So, you know, hey, let's try a little harder. Let's actually do some reporting. All that. Jackie, is that fair? Is that something we can ask

Speaker 6: pretty well I don't see covering, uh, in the cannabis industry as that much different than covering anything else. I mean, it's challenging because, um, it's often confusing, contradictory and it's very diverse and there don't tend to be. Actually, it's, it's sometimes it'd benefit were there now some industry organizations forming, but there, there didn't tend to be a lot of what we call talking heads who speak for everybody. And when you don't, that it forces you to, which I like to think I'd like to do anyway to go out and talk to a wide variety of people rather than just phoning the president of the association who, who purports to speak for everyone. So in that sense, it probably, um, I think in genders, better journalism.

Speaker 3: I love it. I love the fact that you just said that. I have one final question for each of you. Some of you know what's coming. Some of you have answered this in the past. You can answer the same way or differently. It's your choice. Ofelia you haven't answered this question on the soundtrack of your life. One track, one song that must be on there. So this doesn't have to be your favorite song. It doesn't have to be a perfect song for the moment, but just as you've gone on your journey through life, one track, one song that's got to be on the soundtrack, Eg staying alive. Oh, well sure. That's actually, that could be the best answer to that question. Jackie, do you have something?

Speaker 6: I don't know. Maybe I will survive given I'm working for nearly bankrupt.

Speaker 3: Yeah, there you go. Donna summer, I believe. Right? So I believe so the second season of leftovers used an iris dement song called let the mystery be and it's so beautiful and it has become my life philosophy. So yeah, the end. That's an old music editor talking right there. Right. You know of what you speak and Ofelia did correct me. It was Gloria Gaynor. I will survive, right? Yeah. Alright. David. Rick Astley Never gonna give you up. He, he, rick rolled made. No, no. Yes, of course. Every time. That's why we went to him. Last please. Thank David Brown, Ophelia Chong, Ricardo Baca, and Jackie Miller. That was your cannabis media panel. Thanks so much folks. There you have cannabis media.

Speaker 2: Jackie kind of gave the whole thing away there. She said when going into cannabis that she had to actually talk to folks because there were no talking heads, which is what traditional media does. Call up the talking head. Who speaks for everyone. Sadly, I think what's happened is that your media outlets have become tribal and it's beyond speaking for everyone. It's morphed into thinking for everyone. It doesn't matter what actually happened. It matters who's side you're on, which is mindblowingly absurd, so what I've done is turned off the television, opened up a spectrum of sources, and try to come up with an understanding of reality by thinking for myself. I would urge you to do the same. As always, thanks for listening.

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Cannabis Economy is a real-time history of legal cannabis. We chronicle how personal and industry histories have combined to provide our current reality.