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Ep.339: Helen Cho

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.339: Helen Cho

Ep.339: Helen Cho

Helen Cho joins and and reminds us that Hawaii legalized cannabis in the year 2000 and it took seventeen years to open the first dispensaries. But two years ago, thanks in part to State Senator Will Espero, legislation passed, for said dispensaries to in fact open. There was a certain threshold of capital heft needed to attain one of those eight licenses. As a reminder the system is somewhat conservative. There is no wholesale market meaning that market participants cannot assist each other with supply and demand during shortages or overages. And in other news, the testing requirements are strict- which of course is an absolute positive. Regarding the consumer- Day 1 sounds like it was just like Colorado but unlike Colorado there were a few issues with the seed to sale technology which hadn’t been tested before that day.

Transcript:

Speaker 1: Helen Cho Cho joins us and reminds us that Hawaiian legalized cannabis in the year 2000. It took 17 years to open the first dispensary, but two years ago, thanks in part to a state senator will aspero legislation passed for said dispensary's too. In fact, open, there was a certain threshold of capital heft needed to attain one of those eight licenses as a reminder of the system is somewhat conservative. There's no wholesale market, meaning that market participants cannot assist each other with supply and demand during shortages or overages. And in other news, the testing requirements are strict, which of course is an absolute positive welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social. What the handle can economy. That's two ends. And the word economy. Hellman Shell.

Speaker 1: No. When you see the wind blow with the palm trees and it gets old really fast. Well you, we, you know, I'm looking at the ocean and you were thinking, you know, Eh, it's the ocean. See it every day. I see it every day. So are you over? This is this. Is it time to move on over? It's okay. Alright, so you're not, so you still are appreciating Hawaii. Alright. So let's just get all of this out of the way, right? Because for three months we've been selling cannabis in Hawaii. Yes we have legally. Yes we have. So give us the background.

Speaker 3: I never big deal, uh, Hawaii legalized medical cannabis in 2000. It took 17 years for us to open the first dispensary's, um, until now people who had medical cards can grow their own plants and essentially it was um, legal protection right to, to have it on your body should you have ever been pulled over by the cops or anything like that. Hold on. For A and two years ago they passed legislation that said, hey, we should start having some dispensary's online. What's the process going to be? And there was an application process. There was a point system and I'm the highest points, the highest scoring applications for each of the islands are the ones that ended up getting the applicant are getting the license. And uh, I believe it was $50,000 just to apply. And part of the requirement was to prove that you had, I think one point $2 million in liquid assets, which shut the door on a lot of people in that space already, um, but lasts a couple of years ago. They, they opened the application process and there are now eight licenses across the state. Three on a while who chew on Maui to one big island on one uncle. Why there's three on Awahoo because Honolulu and Waikiki or on the island of Awahoo, um, and it also has 90 percent of the population.

Speaker 1: We've got an interesting system here in Hawaii. It, uh, and I spoke to a state senator, a sparrow about the fact that it's a, it's a closed fist and we're outside. So we're hearing some, uh, something, a closed fist as far as regulations, much more so than I would have thought I would. I would've thought it would've been much more lax or casual. But that's not the case.

Speaker 3: No, it's not a. We have one of the most rigorous testing requirements.

Speaker 1: Well, that I like. Yeah. Let's, let's talk about the, uh, you know, you do sell flour. We do, but you don't sell paraphernalia?

Speaker 3: Yes. Okay. So let's back up a little bit to sell. Right now we've got carried flower. We've only been open for three months and we are vertically integrated, which means we have to grow all the things that we sell a Chevy Colorado. Yes. But there is no wholesale market at all in Hawaii. We can't even sell amongst each other as dispensary's. So we are completely siloed and our supply is limited to how much we can grow for our own medicine. Um, so when we first started, we didn't, we didn't invest in a huge production facility. We actually used five. We remodeled or refurbished five shipping containers and we've been growing out of that. In the meantime, while we were growing out of the shipping containers, we were building out a huge greenhouse, was huge,

Speaker 1: pretty big ip that we're not sharing.

Speaker 1: Helen Cho Cho joins us and reminds us that Hawaiian legalized cannabis in the year 2000. It took 17 years to open the first dispensary, but two years ago, thanks in part to a state senator will aspero legislation passed for said dispensary's too. In fact, open, there was a certain threshold of capital heft needed to attain one of those eight licenses as a reminder of the system is somewhat conservative. There's no wholesale market, meaning that market participants cannot assist each other with supply and demand during shortages or overages. And in other news, the testing requirements are strict, which of course is an absolute positive welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social. What the handle can economy. That's two ends. And the word economy. Hellman Shell.

Speaker 1: No. When you see the wind blow with the palm trees and it gets old really fast. Well you, we, you know, I'm looking at the ocean and you were thinking, you know, Eh, it's the ocean. See it every day. I see it every day. So are you over? This is this. Is it time to move on over? It's okay. Alright, so you're not, so you still are appreciating Hawaii. Alright. So let's just get all of this out of the way, right? Because for three months we've been selling cannabis in Hawaii. Yes we have legally. Yes we have. So give us the background.

Speaker 3: I never big deal, uh, Hawaii legalized medical cannabis in 2000. It took 17 years for us to open the first dispensary's, um, until now people who had medical cards can grow their own plants and essentially it was um, legal protection right to, to have it on your body should you have ever been pulled over by the cops or anything like that. Hold on. For A and two years ago they passed legislation that said, hey, we should start having some dispensary's online. What's the process going to be? And there was an application process. There was a point system and I'm the highest points, the highest scoring applications for each of the islands are the ones that ended up getting the applicant are getting the license. And uh, I believe it was $50,000 just to apply. And part of the requirement was to prove that you had, I think one point $2 million in liquid assets, which shut the door on a lot of people in that space already, um, but lasts a couple of years ago. They, they opened the application process and there are now eight licenses across the state. Three on a while who chew on Maui to one big island on one uncle. Why there's three on Awahoo because Honolulu and Waikiki or on the island of Awahoo, um, and it also has 90 percent of the population.

Speaker 1: We've got an interesting system here in Hawaii. It, uh, and I spoke to a state senator, a sparrow about the fact that it's a, it's a closed fist and we're outside. So we're hearing some, uh, something, a closed fist as far as regulations, much more so than I would have thought I would. I would've thought it would've been much more lax or casual. But that's not the case.

Speaker 3: No, it's not a. We have one of the most rigorous testing requirements.

Speaker 1: Well, that I like. Yeah. Let's, let's talk about the, uh, you know, you do sell flour. We do, but you don't sell paraphernalia?

Speaker 3: Yes. Okay. So let's back up a little bit to sell. Right now we've got carried flower. We've only been open for three months and we are vertically integrated, which means we have to grow all the things that we sell a Chevy Colorado. Yes. But there is no wholesale market at all in Hawaii. We can't even sell amongst each other as dispensary's. So we are completely siloed and our supply is limited to how much we can grow for our own medicine. Um, so when we first started, we didn't, we didn't invest in a huge production facility. We actually used five. We remodeled or refurbished five shipping containers and we've been growing out of that. In the meantime, while we were growing out of the shipping containers, we were building out a huge greenhouse, was huge,

Speaker 1: pretty big ip that we're not sharing. Fair enough. Pretty vague.

Speaker 3: Oh, the. We

Speaker 1: just recently started filling up the greenhouse. And so when we start doing harvest from the greenhouse, we won't have any sort of supply issues, which we sort of have been having, especially when we were the only ones open. And there was nobody else to help with the supply and demand on the island. It was a little rough. But the second dispensary on a wall who opened about a month ago for that, that really helped a lot. Um, give us a sense of day one, if you were the first one open, you know, what was it like. Because obviously we've spoken with a lot of the Colorado folks and that was the first time that there was adult use and all of that. This is medical, this is medical, but what's, what was it like on day one when folks started to walk into a dispensary for the first time?

Speaker 3: People lie, not the night before. Um, we had, um, the first few days were a, they were interesting why we had so the state requires us to use biotrack as our seed to sale software. And it had never been used live until the day we started selling. And there were some hiccups, so that was fun. That was fun. Super Fun. And I'm, the prices we have are easily 30, 40 percent higher than black markets, so that it was a little bit of an adjustment with that for the patients or the patients. And um, we sold out in three days, so that was a little rough. Uh, we had, we, we stocked up again the next week, but the fact that we have sold out so quickly, we weren't prepared for it. We also didn't think we'd be the only one opens.

Speaker 1: Also anytime a state or locality legalizes they always sell out no matter where you are in the war.

Speaker 3: It's a new thing and it's, it was, uh, lots of, lots of people were really excited. Um, cannabis use is already a pretty popular in Hawaii black market. And the culture here is really strong for us to have a black market and have, you know, globally known strains is, you know, it's, it's a tight knit community here. So people are really excited. Uh, they're glad to see that. See an option to legally purchase cannabis. What are the recognized qualifying conditions right now we've got 11. We've got chronic pain, which is by far the highest number we've got. Um, HIV aids. They added PTSD, right? We've got a curl disease. Susie's epilepsies on there and we've got a, it's, it's a good list of, I want to say 11 and it's openminded it sounds like as far as qualifying conditions and also they are, uh, they have a process in place legislatively.

Speaker 3: There's a process to add more and to suggest at a conditions be added to this as being. Is that legislative, is that a board of some kind? It's a, you have to go through the Department of Health and it's the Hawaii Department of health that regulates the entire industry. Let's talk about the Department of Health. What would you share with us? The Department of Health and Hawaii. Um, they have a very hard stance on being antismoking and I believe that. I think Hawaii was one of the first to, to have like no smoking campuses and it was kind of a big deal and it was a big, uh, Hawaii is very proud of where it has the things that it has done, like kind of first in the nation when it comes to antismoking. However, the Department of Health, they don't, they haven't distinguished between smoking and vaping and so they just consider all inhalation of cannabis or tobacco or like all hit inhalation to be considered cancerous causing cancer.

Speaker 3: And so we're in a situation where the dispensary's here are selling cured flower obviously because one of the most popular ways to consume it as to inhale it and uh, they didn't want to support a program that encouraged the inhalation of medicine. So while we sell cared flower, we are not allowed to have any paraphernalia that enables inhalation of cannabis, which means we don't, we can't even sell rolling papers. Interesting. I want to get to the operations in the store and how folks are paying for what they're getting. But first I want to talk about doctors and how much they're, uh, you know, I'm open to cannabis as medicine or not sure. There are lots of doctors who are very hesitant, understandably there. They're worried about their license, they're worried about just federal scrutiny. Um, there are a number of doctors who are openly a certifying patients.

Speaker 3: Um, we in Hawaii, it's not just doctors and physicians, but also aprn who can certify patients. And so on our website, we have a list of every, all the medical professionals who are, you know, publicly and openly certifying patients. And we've thought on this eye, on this island, on Oahu, there's, um, I want to say anywhere between like teen to 20 doctors. What does that mean for patient count, for patient count? We've got, I think we just passed 20,000, but that's across the entire state. The majority of them are state. I don't mean to put you on the spot, like one point 2 million. It's a pretty small state, right? So we're expecting that to grow significantly and we've seen the numbers jump since the dispensary's have opened. The majority of the patients are still registered on big island, which has a very small, but it's because a lot of people grow out there and so yes, homegirl and so we're seeing the numbers go up, but they're going up fastest on the wall.

Speaker 3: Who, because that's where 90 percent of the population as I'm listening to you right now, when I go into the store, you know, uh, I can pay you how, what's, what's going on with commerce and how things are paid for and all of that. You've got a two forms of payment. One is obviously cash and we've got an ATM inside and people seem to be okay with carrying around cash or using the ATM inside. The other method that we have is can pay, which is payment processing. Uh, I believe it's available in a number of states already and they work with existing dispensary's, but essentially it, it's an APP that connects to your checking account. So you kind of use it like a debit card. You can install on your phone. You come in, it's got a little skin, like a barcode that you can scan.

Speaker 3: And it's a onetime scan use and um, people right now about 10 percent of our sales have been coming through. You can pay a, I think it's just more than anything, it's a safety issue. A lot of patients don't like to carry that much money and we don't want our patients to be seen as targets. So we, we do encourage people to use, can pay if, if they're, um, if they're comfortable with it, which brings us to the relationship of the cannabis industry to banks and other ones. Uh, so vice versa. Right now we have a temporary solution that's a part of it was, uh, created in partnership with the state. So it's not just, you know, a little hungry green doing our own thing, but it's a solution that was provided to us by the state regulators. And they're working with a safe harbor banks, a credit union bank in Colorado.

Speaker 3: And we sort of all worked together to be. The state has okayed us to have accounts with that credit union in Colorado and have the campaign money wired straight to there. And so they'll accept checks that we've written from that credit, the credit union checking account, um, however it's a temporary solution and they said that they're really doing it to give local Hawaii banks a chance to sort of trust the system to see how it works to. Because you know, banks understandably are extremely conservative, so they're giving, they're giving some time to the local banks to step up. And that's what we're waiting for some time. Is there a deadline? There isn't a deadline, but in Wilson said, yeah. All right. So I'm, I'm a satisfied with your answers to my questions as far as business is concerned. It brings us to, right?

Speaker 1: Because we've got to find out, you know, how you, how do we in the cannabis industry have the pleasure of Helen Cho. Right? So where are you from? So I'm actually from New York and this is why we get along. Where'd you grow up? I grew up in New York City as born in Queens hospital. Grew up in the upper east side. My, my parents are Korean immigrants. My Dad drove a cab, my mom, she was in the nail salon business when all the Koreans had their nail salons and I grew up in New York City and it was the best time of my life. Every time is the best time of my life. I grew up in New York City. I went to school in Pittsburgh. And. Wait a second. You got these working folks, right? Mom and dad both working hard every day. Do you think that rubbed off on you at all or no?

Speaker 1: Think so. I think my, um, my parents, I don't know how my mom did it, but um, she, she raised me to be incredibly ambitious professionally. Um, and she raised my sister to have zero political, a political or professional ambitions and her only goal in life is to make babies. Wait a second. So my mom gets everything she wants. Interesting. The two girls. Interesting. And is it that she understood the personalities from when you guys were very little or somewhat of a forced hand or. I don't know, is what I'm asking. Very much so. Interesting. How many babies does your sister have? Non Yet, but he just got married last year. She went to college to get her Mrs. Degree from Mr and Mrs Greer, she went looking for her husband. That's exactly what she did. And she's a younger sister. My younger sister. How many years younger?

Speaker 1: Six. There's two of us. That's. I'm done with that. Why did you go to Pittsburgh? Oh, they gave me a full scholarship and I didn't know that Pittsburgh was not next to Philadelphia until it was too late. So that's, that's pit pit. Okay. And did you care about sports? Because they have sports teams now, but I think it was the first time I actually watched the entire football game. Yeah. What'd you think? Oh, it's just a bunch of guys throwing a ball around, but that's essentially what I support. I'm sure with arbitrary rules. Sure. Hockey, not, not so much. Not so much of the ball. More of a puck. Sure. Same thing. What was your major in Pittsburgh? My Major was finance, finance, and international business. Why? Because I like money. That's an honest answer. I like money. I've always. I've always really been fascinated by the movement of money.

Speaker 1: I'm kind of seeing your mom run the Nail Salon and your dad tell them the take home pay from the cab or I don't know, it's just, I've, I was raised understanding that money is a tool and you know, my understanding of being a competent person is you have to have a proper understanding of how to use your tools if you're going to use them correctly. And so for me, I've always had an interest in understanding just economies and just the concept of money in general. Um, so what'd you do with that? So with that I worked with Unilever. They own like linkedin and Ragu and consumer. Yeah, I worked with them for a little while and uh, in, in Englewood cliffs, in New Jersey. So I went back home for that three I think is Englewood cliffs, not of Pittsburgh or two. Oh, one, two. Oh, one. His name could have been New Jersey is for one to get it.

Speaker 1: Anyway, I'll keep it in because I know it's for one too, so I'd be surprised at that letter. But two, a, one also North Jersey. What, what did you take away from your experience at Unilever? Just about like two months because while it's just the whole corporate ladder thing, I wasn't so hot. No. So then, um, I moved to Korea to go to seminary school, graduated in atheist. This is the, this is the part that's kind of because alright, so unilever and you're like, you know what, I'm not so much into the corporate stuff and, but instead of getting a job with a startup, you go to Korea used to be like, I need to go to the motherland, which I know you want it to do that. I just wanted to run away from my problems, just want it to run away from everything because that's where the seminary thing is, like I'm just going to do something that is completely, totally the opposite of everything.

Speaker 1: So then I went. Now it's just like, oh wait, I don't believe in God. So how did the nuns take it? When you realized that? Did they know before there weren't any nuns? Oh, excuse me, Presbyterian shows you what I know. Right? So it was Protestant Christian went thinking I was going to be a missionary for the Lord Jesus Christ. Now it's going to bring all of his last lamps to salvation and the whole thing fell apart. Why? What was it like? You got there? Believes in God, but I feel like what's happening as we talk here, you go to the Unilever thing, you went to pit and you're like, oh, it's not, but I'll just stay. I'll stick it out. I'll just do it. But then you went to Unilever and you're like. And then you went to the seminary school. When I was back in seminary school, they said you can petition the Lord with prayer petition the Lord with you cannot petition the Lord with prayer. That's a the doors off of the soft parade. But it's the only time that I would ever be able to say these lyrics. What? So how did you kind of get out of that? Oh, I finished, I finished the program. Or You did do how? For how long? Two years. Two years. You stayed there even though you knew that it wasn't. I mean, I came to terms with it at the end of the second year analysis. Oh,

Speaker 3: let me, let me accept the fact that it's, I try really hard and I beat myself up for not for trying to force myself to believe something that I don't. And it was just, you know, emotionally it was a struggle. So I'm going to be like, science, what's that?

Speaker 1: I gotcha. But the Unilever thing was immediate and then you left the, it sounds like the, a seminary thing was more of a

Speaker 3: progression or is context with the Unilever thing. Um, I was part of this program called inroads and essentially what they do is they provide internships for um, minorities and woman, woman of color. And uh, I was able through that program, have an internship with Unilever for about, I think it was every break. So I went back for Christmas break, summer break, like all the breaks that I had. I went back and I was an intern there. So sure, I was full time employed for the three months and then I quit. But before that, I mean I had, I was very familiar with the company and I think something was just, it was when I was working there as an intern, it was, it was just an internship. That's not my full time thing. But then I graduated and I was there full time and I was like, Oh shit, this is it.

Speaker 1: So two months isn't, that's not an accurate depiction. Right. Okay, fair enough. Alright. So now flash forward, you get done with seminary school and then you say to yourself,

Speaker 3: I say to myself, you know, what was, this was 2006 and I didn't want to go back home to New York. So I told my parents, I mean like Bush was in his second term and like I, I just didn't really. I had nothing calling me back home and I didn't feel ready to go home. So I told my parents, listen, I'm going to be forward thinking here. I'm going to learn Arabic, I'm going to go to the Middle East and learn Arabic or I'm going to go to China and learn Chinese. And my parents were like, there's no way as an American passport holding Asian woman physically small that we're going to let you live anywhere near the Middle East. And so I was like, all right, fine, I'll go to China. That's off the list is what they say. Basically. I was like, great, I'll go to China. And that worked out really well because it was during the Beijing Olympics, 2008, Beijing Olympic,

Speaker 1: just real quick on the Middle East thing and them telling you you couldn't go as far as you know, I'm getting to know you is how I would describe, you know, the way that you and I know each other and I feel like most people can't really tell you what to do. So how did they communicate that in a way that you understood it?

Speaker 3: I had two options for a reason, right? I, I, I was, I was really, it was really 50 slash 50 and I told my parents and I gave 'em an honest. I, I gave him the choice with an honest sort of open mindedness where if they had any sort of, um, if they had any sort of opinion or if they had a preference, like I was actually going to do whatever they preferred. That's how it was brought to them because you, what they think Papa Joe was there were just like, girl, you ain't gone know Lebanon. Okay. That's what your father, this is how your father said this to you, but even though your mother said it to him, they're just. The two of them are like. Anyway, so. All right, go to China to learn Chinese. By that you mean mandarin? And uh, I, I look for ways to get there and there's some sort of, you know, Chinese government scholarship where essentially they'll pay for two years of you learning Chinese if you become like an ambassador, if you go back to your country and say, Hey, China's great, amazing.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So I was like, okay. So I applied to that. I get it. And I moved to China and in China, Beijing of the Beijing Olympics. Was it because of the Beijing Olympics? Excited for the Beijing Olympics, but the scholarship actually put me in Beijing, happenstance. So I go there and uh, I guess the three months is my limit or, or something. But I lost about three months and I'm like, I'm bored out of my mind. So I think about what I want to wear. Why are you bored in this learning Chinese every day. I'm not a student anymore too much of one thing I think it is for you. Sure. You need a little variety. So then I do that thing and I'm just kinda like, I'm bored. I'm not having a good time. And so I thought to myself, what would I like to do? And I thought, you know, I'd like to get some big names on my resume.

Speaker 3: I really liked to work for the economist. So I call up the Beijing bureau and then like, hey guys, this is what I, this is my background. I'm really good at writing. I can, I can do all sorts of things. And um, do you need any help? Yeah. And uh, the chief economist there at the economist, he goes, Hey, I'm speaking at this thing tomorrow, I'll meet you there. And I'm like, oh, okay. So I go to the thing, I meet him and he's like, well, you can start tomorrow because my, my secretary just quit. And I'm like, oh, alright. So then I started the job board secretary a buzz. It was a secretary, it was, um, yeah, it was, that word isn't used it, I mean, it was a long time ago, it was like 15 years ago, not that long. Two thousand six, so almost 10 years ago, a little over 10.

Speaker 3: So then, um, it was his executive assistant secretary. So I go and um, he's, he's just like, he's a genius, but he also needs a lot of handholding. And so it was, it's a, it's a, it's a rough job and I can understand why she quit. But about a couple of weeks in, I started drafting, I started, uh, I started reading over some of his work and I could find some, you know, just grammatical errors. And I started copy editing his stuff. And then at some point he was like, Hey, these are the bullets, can you, can you draw something out for me? So then I started drafting things and then it got to the point where he was like, this is the topic, go write it and then I'll just sign off on it because he realized that I could write and that I had all of the basic education can cover things from the perspective of the economist.

Speaker 3: So I did that for about a year and a half and it was fun, but it was also a really dry English company. Right. And so, um, during the times when I wasn't working, um, and I was getting paid like a normal amount, but that normal amount went a long way in Beijing. So it was like I was, I was rich for the first time and I'm in my mid twenties. And so of course, what do I do? I go out and I drink and a party. And um, I, I stopped learning Chinese because I didn't go to Chinese school anymore. So I just hung out with all the ex pats because everyone spoke English, so I'm hanging out with all these ex pats. The Olympics are here, things are like bat shit crazy. You could do no wrong during that time. Anything you touched turned into gold. Like it was just, there was money everywhere.

Speaker 3: So I get to know all of the bar owners and the, the restaurant owners and everyone kind of in that space because that's kind of all I do all day. I just go out and I party and I get headhunted by a company that owns a bunch of restaurants and bars and clubs and they say, Hey, would you leave the economist and would you just be a managing director for us? But you don't have to manage the individual, the individual companies because they all have their own gsms. Um, you have to do more strategy. Right? Well, it was more strategy and it was more like throw parties, be a face. I'm so sorry. I was a paid social lite at 27 years old during the Olympic drugs, sex money. Like it was everything. A 27 year old would want, and I did it two years later.

Speaker 3: I've been in China for about four years. The Olympics is only a few weeks, right? Yes. So the Olympics, the Olympics came and went two years later. It's sort of dying down and the ex pat communities is sort of shrinking and people are going back and I realize the persona that I had created for myself, the only way forward for me was to just start my own restaurant or bar. And that's not what I came to do. So. And Obama had just been elected and I, and I wanted to be back home and be a proud American and see what I can do. So, um, I came home, I took the gmats and uh, I ended up going to northwestern for Grad school and I'm still $100,000 in debt. A fantastic. So what was your concentration though? And um, communications and marketing, marketing. And from there I had a summer internship in San Francisco and I get introduced to the tech space and I'm like, this is everything I've ever been good at and I don't have one thing.

Speaker 3: And it's like, it was still a new industry. So it was very much a meritocracy where the smart kids were moving up on top and there weren't all these barriers. And as, um, as an Asian woman, I faced lots of barriers. Uh, so yes. And in every community it doesn't matter. It didn't really matter. Um, and so I see in the startup space that was less of an issue. Right. And it did help me that I was Asian. That's what I was asking. Right. So this one was a little different. Yeah. And I was like, okay, I could be really useful here and, but I didn't want to stay in San Francisco. And so I thought, you know, I'm going graduate and I'm gonna go back home and I'm going to help build the New York City ecosystem for startups and tech.

Speaker 3: And even then, like we didn't, I don't think we even had that name yet. Right. And it was just, you know, all the Fintech was up in Boston and New York was still sort of figuring itself out. And so for the next three years I stayed at home and that was the space I was in. I was, I was with tech, I was advising startups, um, there were a bunch of really, really smart people who didn't understand how to manage people or to run business. So my job was to help them. My job was to help vcs do their due diligence and understand where these companies were, what kind of help they needed, whether they should, they should invest in them or not. And so I was kind of in that space and just kinda got bored. And I was thinking I, I, I've been hearing really good things about South Africa, so I think I'm going to go to South Africa.

Speaker 3: So I, I decided I was going to leave New York, so I wasn't sure whether it was gonna be South Africa, but I knew I wanted to leave New York and South Africa was top of the list. My mom comes to Hawaii on a, she had some sort of like conference, um, and I, I caught him with her because my dad was golfing and was just like, no, I'm not. I got, I'm going to golf with my boys. My homeboys not invited to go. So my, my mom is like, well maybe you should come. So I'm like, alright, so I calm and while she's at the conference I'm, I'm on tinder. I'm getting like free dates around the tours and you know, like I'm, I'm really milking it and I love it here. The best thing is also I look local and so I get a lot of breaks. It's, I don't know how many people know this, but it's extremely difficult to make it in Hawaii as a white man. It is like the worst thing I tell everybody I'm Jewish.

Speaker 3: It's really difficult for a white men from the mainland to, to really get accepted and integrated into Hawaii society. So I want to let everyone know the know the voices that you're hearing are not part of our party but, but go on. So I come here and I'm just like, Oh wow, there's a lot I can do. Um, and the, the state's economy is, it's really, it's bolstered by only if you industries. One is the tourism, obviously. The other is it's heavily funded by military. Every branch of the military has a major base here in Hawaii because it's a strategic location. And so a military index, a lot of money in and also healthcare, you know, there's lots of old people here, so healthcare and hospitals and all of that. These are not the type of industries that encourage innovation and sort of like the flowing of money within the state.

Speaker 3: So we've got a huge disparity between people with money. People without money. Homelessness is one of the largest problems we have here in the state. And it's just one of these things where I felt that I could be useful if I can help sort of break apart the silos in the economy here. And so I decided I would stay. And so I went back home and uh, like three weeks later I was back with two bags and a one way ticket. And that was just three years ago. Um, so I came, yes, that was instead of South Africa, like coming here and my specialty has always been in management, consulting and business. And so, um, I was just, I was just consulting for a little while and I also have a background in marketing and branding, which is kind of my favorite thing to do. So I found a job as a director at a marketing and PR agency and I had met, I had met a whole bunch of people.

Speaker 3: Oh, I would, I would pitch for them and you know, and just right. And so like I just got to know a lot of people a month or a year in, um, I decided to leave the agency because it, it, it did a lot of really conservative job. So I, I had a lot of clients who are schools and hospitals, so there wasn't a lot of fun stuff I can do. And so I got a little bored at night. I just started consulting on my own and I ran into people that I had pitched to previously at like some sort of networking event to separate people I didn't know, knew each other. They approached me together and they're like, oh, hey, how you doing? What are you up to now? And I say, first of all, I didn't know you guys knew each other for a second. I'm consulting on just on my own. And they go, we got one of the licenses for the cannabis dispensary's we need some help with just like our branding and our website. And I was like, yeah, I can totally do that, do that. And they're like, oh, can you do patient relations? Oh, can you do pr all, can you help with our vendors? Can you hire? Can you work with the legislative process? So everything that was external to the company was starting to.

Speaker 1: That was external to growing cannabis. Yes. So like I didn't do any of the operational stuff, but they need it.

Speaker 3: Someone who could handle everything else so they can build this company. And so I started with that. And then, um, what ended up happening was there was this very natural division was the grow and the dispensary side and so then I started taking on more of the dispensary side, doing a lot of the hiring, making sure that operationally it was working. And so that's kind of the situation that I have fallen into now where I'm on the executive team and it was just, you know, right place, right.

Speaker 1: Hi. Having an opportunity pop up and me being someone that's capable of doing it. So now we've been open for three months, three months. That's the magic number. Is it? Well, that's what you just told us when we were talking about the whole thing. I wonder is it, are you still interested? I'm still interested. Very interested in things are changing so much every day.

Speaker 3: Three months it took us, it took us a little bit of time to get our shit together. Right. So now

Speaker 1: shit's so when. Well now it's together together or as we might say together. Okay. You wouldn't say together. I would say. Yeah, it's together together. There you go. I hope you're going to cut all of this stays in my car. Okay.

Speaker 3: Oh, so now I'm at a point where after the three months of us really figuring out how to have smooth operations, at least on the dispensary ends, of course things have been on the grow and we've been operational for over a year. Right, right. So, um, now that I, now we've, we've got a well oiled machine on the retail side. I have the, I have the bandwidth mentally to sort of figure out how do we expand from that, what are the new things we can start

Speaker 1: doing and the legislation it continues to change because it's still so new reciprocity maybe come in a. So that changes everything and every time

Speaker 3: there is a major change with legislation or regulation that opens doors for us and nobody's ever done it. And so this is, we've, we've gotten into the habit of asking for forgiveness and not permission for a lot of things. Yeah,

Speaker 1: that's really exciting. Sure. Um, so doing things for the first time over and over again every day. That's what you've been looking for awhile. There we go. Alright, so I've got the three final questions for you. I'll tell you what they are and asking them in order, what's most surprised you in cannabis? What's most surprised you in life and on the soundtrack of your life? One track, one song that's got to be on there. But first thing's first, what's most surprised you in cannabis? What's most surprised me in cannabis? How did you come to? So do you have any relationship with the plant before? I don't even smoke

Speaker 3: at all. Team and I have come to, we think that I'm allergic to a terpene. Oh, but we don't know which way. You don't know which one, but um, I have an allergic reaction where my throat and my tongue swells up if I smell certain strengths and I grew up never liking getting high because I think it's because my body was always interjecting, rejecting it. So I never really enjoyed it. Um, what's most surprised you in cannabis? You know, as a business? Sure. So as a business it's got a lot of parallels with the startup space. So I'm very comfortable with all this uncertainty.

Speaker 3: What I find interesting is that there's so much potential for not only making money but for really changing lives because I believe in it as a concept and I just believe in it being legalized generally, and so when I can do a job that supports that, it's meaningful for me, but for me, I think one of the most surprising things is, especially coming from tech where you only really make it anywhere in tech if, if you're smart enough, right? Like most are engineers or you know, they, they have the brains and the businesses built around smart people, Darwin, everyone out. That's not the case here yet, which is really interesting because a lot of the same a business structures I'm beginning to see build around the industry, like all the vcs and the money and that all is very similar to how it started with tech.

Speaker 3: But they're in a meeting, a lot of people who are in the industry because not because they're smart but because they used to do this and they just sort of found themselves as experts who were needed, but they're not really good at other things. Right. Um, and I had been seeing a lot of things were, uh, some of the ancillary and secondary businesses that are popping up are really to support people who should it be in a position of running a business. Right. It was really difficult for them or their brain doesn't work that way. So I'm surprised I haven't seen that before too. The only place where I've seen sort of like this sort of gold rush type behavior is because, you know, there's, there's something there, um, but for cannabis, the cannabis part is there, but the people who are growing in the people who are now in a position where they have to figure out really strong, hard detail a business concepts, like they don't get distribution, they don't really understand and they don't tell us coming in and we needed to come and quit. Yes. And I, I'm, I'm surprised that it's surprised it's gotten as far as we're going to be. Okay, hold on.

Speaker 1: Don't worry about it. I know what's most surprised you in life? In Life? I think I've just been, um, in life I think it's just about not being so scared of what could happen. You just take life by the balls and you just do what you want with it and magically it turns into like what you worked for, you know, and for me, like I never thought I'd be someone who's working in the cannabis space in Hawaii, but you know, like that's kind of what happened and if I think back it's kind of what I wanted. It fits my personality, fits my lifestyle. I've put myself in a position where all of the things that I'm good at can be useful and are being used or being utilized. Yeah. And that to me is really is, it's surprising but not at all. I expected anything else from me.

Speaker 1: Right. I gotcha. You're where you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. It happens to be this. Right? But eventually you, you figured out the system. Yes. And I think also maybe the most surprising thing about it was that I could have never known that this would have been what's most fitting. So to think back, it's surprising that I ended up here, but if I really break it down it's not, it's just how I could have never imagined that there is no way this could have been a possible option. It's amazing. Alright, so on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that's got to be on. No, that's two defining. Okay. Well then let's just do this. You know, as you've gone on here in life, there's been songs that have come through. There's one that I had been listening to a lot. Kind of embarrassed. Let's try it. Let's post Malone. Congratulations. I don't even know what that is. It's really young white rapper kid. Do you have any other thoughts about maybe something from further back. I don't really listen to a lot of music right now. What were you listening to in high school and high school? I listened to Lincoln Park. There you go. Yeah. This guy died just recently, right? Yeah. Sad.

Speaker 1: What else? Yeah, I like, I was listening to a seminary school Jesus songs. For me, music is a little different in the sense where, um, a lot of people grow up and they hear music from their parents. My musical influences that their, whatever their parents listened to, my parents did not listen to music, they were just hardworking immigrants and if they listen to songs or music in general, it was just like really old school Korean stuff that like, you know, a lot of yodeling and um, and so I didn't grow up understanding the world of music essentially until I was much older and even now I'm really confused by it. So just to, to kind of tie a bow around the whole thing, you know, as far as the gospel thing or as far as seminary school, the Gospel, there's a good, a really good, uh, Aretha Franklin Gospel album.

Speaker 1: So maybe you could, do, you know what I'm saying? Go listen to that right now on. Fair enough. Helen show. This has been a pleasure. I think we talked too much about me. You should get more pieces about Hawaii maybe. Oh No. I think we got Hawaii because it was at the beginning and then it came back and round at the end there because you love this land is what it is. This land is your land. This land is my land from California to New York island. We didn't have. Yeah, I think Hawaii came after that song and there you have Helen show in some ways that was around the world in 20 years with Helen show. Very much appreciated her kind of giving us the inside baseball of Hawaii. Cannabis. Very much appreciate her time. Very much. Appreciate your time. Stay tuned.

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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.