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Ep.345: Khurshid Khoja

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.345: Khurshid Khoja

Ep.345: Khurshid Khoja

Khurshid Khoja joins us and shares his deep history in the cannabis industry. He notes how he’s been approaching the California market in 2018 based on the myriad changes stemming from the first week of the year.

Transcript:

Speaker 2: Khurshid Koja principle of Queensbridge corporate counsel. And we're hearing. When did you get in? I got in, um, Geez, uh, Monday evening I believe doesn't meet Tuesday evening. So I was gonna say didn't. I didn't believe you, but I also didn't think you were intentionally trying to be forgotten what day of the week it is. Exactly. It doesn't really matter what day of the week it is. Have you noticed that? It's true. Like a Saturday I've emailed, doesn't care. No email, doesn't care a business, doesn't care, doesn't care clients. Well, fortunately my clients do seem to care which is, which is great, but sometimes when, when they need you, they need you. So yeah, weekends have lost all meaning to me. Totally. But it seems like you've been able to pick your or select let's say, yeah, a, a client base, uh, which is, which is nice.

Speaker 2: It's a nice position to be. It's, it's nice to have the luxury of being picky. Um, it's, uh, it's not that, uh, it's not snobbery, it's not, hey, if you know, um, if you're not Steve D'angelo or if you're not a, um, somebody, uh, who has a long pedigree in the industry that I won't do any work for you. I love helping a new clients as well. But, uh, I like to be able to pick clients that are know well equipped for success, right? Sure. I want to, I want to bet on a, on a winning horse and I want to be able to say, this is somebody that can take cross finish line.

Speaker 3: There we go. So, and so there's a reason why you have this ability to select your clients, but we'll get to that yet because first we need to talk about, uh, the of the moment thing which already happened. So January first you wake up to legal cannabis as to do the rest of your Californians. That's right, right here, your brothers and sisters. And so give us a sense of the emotional construct and maybe even your physical state. So

Speaker 2: have a very happy day. You know, for me, I was mostly focused on being on call for our clients because they're, you know, and, and I did get calls right before I'm opening a from clients saying, hey, we're still not sure we understand this, that, or the other issue about, you know, what we're supposed to label and what we can and can't sell 'em, you know, and we need to make a decision right now. We certainly don't want to have any press in here. I'm showing us selling noncompliant products, so please help us. And so I had to make those types of calls, um, you know, on a, on the day of, um, you know, before opening and um, you know, clients, we're very grateful that we were on call to be able to do that. There you go. So, uh, for me was um, you know, a little bit anxious thinking about, well, what else could potentially go wrong on opening day? Sure. Um, but, uh, it all seemed to have gone off without a hitch.

Speaker 1: Khurshid kojo, Khurshid Kojo joins us to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social at Cannes economy. That's two ends in the word economy. Download episodes on our APP in itunes and the itunes podcast app in Google play or wherever you currently get your podcasts. First, some supporters to thank and then Khurshid Cogent Med men is building the future of cannabis today with unprecedented investment capital and class leading expertise. Med men is helping ensure that the fastest growing industry in the world becomes a sustainable longterm economic engine. Med men invests in GE. Strategic cannabis assets builds high tech cannabis facilities and operates top-notch cultivation. Manufacturing and retail facilities in multiple states. Learn more at [inaudible] HQ.com. Cannabis genome fingerprints. A public service announcement from Steve Hill Steep Hill laboratories has started a cannabis genome research program. The goal of the research program is to gain a better understanding of all aspects of cannabis genetics and provide the cannabis industry from growers and breeders to dispensary's and end users, a suite of identification and diagnostic tools that will help identify important genetic markers that can be used in the breeding of unique strains or the choice of the correct strain for use in treating medical conditions.

Speaker 1: These genetic tools when combined with steep hills already existing strain, chemical profiling program or strain, fingerprint, will advance the knowledge base of the cannabis industry while providing end users with better ways of identifying the important medicinal compounds and properties for which they are looking to learn more. Go to steep hill.com/Khan Academy,

Speaker 2: Khurshid Koja principle of Queensbridge corporate counsel. And we're hearing. When did you get in? I got in, um, Geez, uh, Monday evening I believe doesn't meet Tuesday evening. So I was gonna say didn't. I didn't believe you, but I also didn't think you were intentionally trying to be forgotten what day of the week it is. Exactly. It doesn't really matter what day of the week it is. Have you noticed that? It's true. Like a Saturday I've emailed, doesn't care. No email, doesn't care a business, doesn't care, doesn't care clients. Well, fortunately my clients do seem to care which is, which is great, but sometimes when, when they need you, they need you. So yeah, weekends have lost all meaning to me. Totally. But it seems like you've been able to pick your or select let's say, yeah, a, a client base, uh, which is, which is nice.

Speaker 2: It's a nice position to be. It's, it's nice to have the luxury of being picky. Um, it's, uh, it's not that, uh, it's not snobbery, it's not, hey, if you know, um, if you're not Steve D'angelo or if you're not a, um, somebody, uh, who has a long pedigree in the industry that I won't do any work for you. I love helping a new clients as well. But, uh, I like to be able to pick clients that are know well equipped for success, right? Sure. I want to, I want to bet on a, on a winning horse and I want to be able to say, this is somebody that can take cross finish line.

Speaker 3: There we go. So, and so there's a reason why you have this ability to select your clients, but we'll get to that yet because first we need to talk about, uh, the of the moment thing which already happened. So January first you wake up to legal cannabis as to do the rest of your Californians. That's right, right here, your brothers and sisters. And so give us a sense of the emotional construct and maybe even your physical state. So

Speaker 2: have a very happy day. You know, for me, I was mostly focused on being on call for our clients because they're, you know, and, and I did get calls right before I'm opening a from clients saying, hey, we're still not sure we understand this, that, or the other issue about, you know, what we're supposed to label and what we can and can't sell 'em, you know, and we need to make a decision right now. We certainly don't want to have any press in here. I'm showing us selling noncompliant products, so please help us. And so I had to make those types of calls, um, you know, on a, on the day of, um, you know, before opening and um, you know, clients, we're very grateful that we were on call to be able to do that. There you go. So, uh, for me was um, you know, a little bit anxious thinking about, well, what else could potentially go wrong on opening day? Sure. Um, but, uh, it all seemed to have gone off without a hitch.

Speaker 3: Indeed. And in fairness to everyone involved, the regulations were literally called emergency regulations. That's right. That was the official term. That's right. So, you know, it could, it would be understandable for folks to have, you know, a little bit of a learning curve and. Yeah, exactly. And they were, I don't want to say at the last minute, but they, there was not a lot of a runway. That's right,

Speaker 2: right. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, even a given how voluminous the regulations were and given the fact that we are moving from a non, you know, essentially a non-regulated space, there were some local regulations in place, but nothing at the state level. Um, you know, there, there was not enough runway for them to, um, to fully implement everything that's called for. Fortunately, our regulators are also farsighted enough to know that there needs to be a period where people ramp up where people actually are able to comply before you start a busting their chops for noncompliance. Right? So you want to give them the opportunity to compliant and not be there on day one, jumping on them for not understanding or not having it all fully implemented.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And Laurie Ajax, who's in charge of regulations has said that herself on, you know, cannabis economy, absolutely everywhere else that, you know, hey, we want this to be successful. So January, first to July first is that period, right? Is that transition period. What a, not to give the store away Khurshid. Right? But uh, what, what should folks be thinking and doing in that time frame? Now that we are in these six months, yeah, what operators in California you need to be thinking need to be doing

Speaker 2: well, so labeling is going to be fully implemented. And so to the extent that your products are not properly labeled right now, you can essentially sell what's an inventory, but everything after July first has to be compliant with labeling, right? Testing as well, right? Uh, there is phased in testing, uh, under the bureau of Cannabis control regulations where, you know, up until from January first to July, July first, there's a certain battery of tests that have to be run after July first. There is an additional battery after December 31st, uh, there is a third battery, right? And so, um, so obviously the, they're going to have to locate a testing labs that are up to the tasks that are going to be able to test for things like moisture content and other things that are not just cannabinoid content or potency.

Speaker 3: You, you put that in the future tense. And I wonder if you're advising them to just do this now, you know, be so that you know, how much it costs so that you can get that into your books so that you can get that into the system of doing business labeling certainly is extremely important. But that is a different kind of, uh, you know, lifting, it's not quite as heavy lifting. There's not as much

Speaker 2: a lead time required to get your, you know, but, but you do have to know what you're getting from your suppliers and your vendors certainly course and work with the supply chain and ensuring that, that, that is properly labeled and, and

Speaker 3: absolutely so. But as far as testing, I mean that is where the rubber meets the road here.

Speaker 2: That's right. That's right. Yeah. And so, you know, if you're testing lab and you're not, you don't have your accreditations for all the batteries of tests, they're going to be required after July first. I mean that is the first order of the day, right? Is to make sure that you've got that stuff squared away. Uh, and you know, again, since testing isn't really a mandated until July first, you may not be credited to do all the stuff that's in the first battery of testing to, you may just be equipped to do a contaminant testing and certain other types of, uh, a potency testing, but, um, but not, um, you know, not all of the moisture content that, uh, you know, the additional batteries of tests that are called for.

Speaker 3: Yeah, they're doing that now. The have to be, right. That's right. Already the, the July first you got to be doing that now. That's right. You know what I mean? Yeah. You know, and then maybe kind of in a couple months worry about the December 31st stuff. That's right. Don't get surprised by July first. Right? Yeah. Because enforcement will,

Speaker 2: we'll have to start at some point and you know, it's, it's uh, you know, I think that Laura has been very clear about that as well as that looked at. You're not gonna be able to ramp up forever. Right. So that the transition period is just that. It's a transition period. It's a chance for you to get caught up

Speaker 3: and as far as supply chain is concerned, since you kind of know, you know, it, you're in the cannabis community right in, in California, uh, in, in a real way, in a true way. So as far as supply chain issues are those, uh, how smoothly is that going, you know, from a seed to sale, so to speak. Um, you know, our folks finding new partners are folks understanding what needs to be done and is the supply chain becoming stronger. The true legal supply chain? Well, uh,

Speaker 2: supply chain is getting stronger, uh, and that's a result of a BCC and other agencies issuing licenses in a rapid clip and they've worked very hard to do that and ensure that licensees have other licensees to do business with because prior to licensing a, everyone's been dealing with, you know, collectives and their own patient growers and patient vendors. Uh, and we, you know, didn't have that requirement that anyone would be licensed. So if on day one you're licensed and your vendors are not licensed, they're not your vendors until they get licensed. And so that, you know, that has caused a lot of trepidation and, and rightly so, and the agencies have, have met some of that challenge. I mean, it's not, again, not perfect, but they've seemed to have done their, their, their darndest to ensure that, uh, they, they issues my licenses as they possibly can and keep that, uh, that todd going to keep it rolling, keep it rolling to keep those disruptions down.

Speaker 2: Um, and so that seems to be calling some of the, um, you know, the, uh, concerned about supply chains breaking down even so, you know, we're, we're now reading about shortages potentially nonetheless. And so not, you know, not every cultivator is a licensed, uh, that was dealing with a collective previous to regulation. So, um, so that's still an issue. We've got to get that going type of thing to get that going. A lot of local jurisdictions are still working through, you know, if they haven't already regulated and licensed or band, um, they were in the process of making the decision one way or the other and implementing a licensing system.

Speaker 3: La is finally in order, right? Or still, we're still working on that. It

Speaker 2: seems like a, yeah, I mean I do the majority of my work in northern California, but um, um, yeah, we do have clients in, in southern California, in the La area who, um, you know, are, uh, are concerned. Um, they're not getting the feedback that they need from the regulators in Los Angeles and getting a lot of transparency, a lot of accessibility. It's a, it's a gigantic market, the largest market in the largest state market, uh, and they'll tell you it's the largest market in the world while it is, it is the largest metropolitan market in the world, but it doesn't seem like they have a committed adequate resources to, you know, guiding this industry into regulation. Um, and no one's getting the answers that they need. No one's getting the transparency that they need into the rules that have been proposed and that's it. That's a huge problem.

Speaker 2: So we got to still work on that. That's a work in progress, something to work on. I, with that being kind of a key issue, so to speak, you know, coming off of a, coming off of January first, I am surprised, you know, being outside of California about how smoothly this whole thing has gone, understanding that, you know, what we just talked about. Yeah. I expected chaos at, at a state level. I mean, I'm the task of putting in workable regulations that can be adopted by industry in California. Um, again, in the largest market, state, state market, the fact that it's gone so smoothly. Um, I don't want to say that I am surprised because I do feel like a regulators have been hard at work on this task for many, many, many months and uh, a lot of thought and input has gone into this.

Speaker 2: Um, so I'm not surprised that it's gone off without a hitch, but it's still no less impressive. Right? I should, I should say I expected cast, but before I sat down face to face with Laurie Ajax and I thought, oh, maybe we're going to be okay. Yeah. You know? Yeah, yeah. It's what, what she's done, what her staff has done, other licensing agencies had done is extremely impressive. Okay. Alright. And then Thursday and Thursday. So that all happens, right? Because we're essentially talking about January first. That's right. And then, uh, we, we all wake up and you know, Jeff sessions rescinded the coal and Ogden memos did not rescind fincen guidance by the way that was attached to the, uh, that's right. Well that was to resend. Yeah. That's treasury. That's right. Yeah, that's right. And um, yeah, but I'm, you know, I'm uh, I'm on my recumbent bike.

Speaker 2: Uh, I, I'm just, you know, barely waking up. Um, I, uh, I grabbed my phone, which is what I do when I'm on the bike to, to forget that I'm on the right. What else can I think about trying to think about, to get away from the pain of being gone here at 5:30 in the morning. I think you and I have a similar kind of relationship with exercise but continue. Um, so that's when the first text a tech start rolling in and, you know, immediately, uh, I, I'm, I'm calling folks like Aaron Smith, I'm calling, I'm in and see it. Yeah. With our executive director at Ncia. Uh, I'm calling my friends who are former US attorneys. Um, I'm calling, um, folks in state government, uh, to other general councils at the various departments and agencies that I know in the state of California. Um, and I am trying to find as much as I possibly can on local us attorney statements in reaction to this.

Speaker 2: And so, you know, we see, we see the, um, the reaction from the US attorney for Colorado before we get to that let because the only thing that we can't know is what happened on those phone calls. And so I'm not asking for a play by play of each phone call. Sure. But after you kind of did get in touch with that group of people that you just talked about, um, what was your thinking, uh, after just speaking with that group of folks? Um, I, I, um, felt a little bit more calm, um, after having those phone calls. I mean, were they saying that calmed you down? So, I mean they were, they were confirming some of my initial reactions, you know, one, um, this is not entirely unexpected. I'm jeff sessions has been making noise about this for a while now. It's not like we don't know his opinion.

Speaker 2: That's right. Yeah. And it's not like we didn't know that this was a distinct possibility either. Right. I'm a, I was thinking and others confirmed as well. Um, you know, look, this isn't the whole ball game, right? Like we should be paying attention to robotic or far certainly blumenauer now that's medical. Absolutely. That's right. Well, and it's also, um, you know, it's the only, a real statutory protection that we have now against the federal. Federal. Yeah. Yeah, indeed. So then I ask you a yes. Understood. Great medical. We're backer blumenauer. Okay. As long as they keep that amendment in the budget. Yeah. Wonderful. Yeah. What about adult use? This newly passed wonderful adult use in California. Yeah. So what gave me a lot of confidence, um, was the immediate reaction of our state officials saying essentially, hey, this is the will of California voters, this is the law of the land here and we intend to enforce that law.

Speaker 2: Um, and so if you know, if you would like to bring suits, um, we'll meet you, right. Um, and the time, the place and as far as juries are concerned, look at the. That's right. Look at the vote counts. Um, you know, good luck finding a jury that is going to follow through. That's right. Yes. That's gonna agree with you. Which brings me to the fact that I also noticed that that same week a jeff sessions had a go ahead and put in to Los Angeles or as it's somehow known central California and Northern California. New Federal Attorneys. Yup. So what's the deal there? Khurshid? Well, I don't know that we can assume a very much from that. I mean, I will say one of the bits of feedback I got from my colleagues who are former US attorneys was that jeff sessions had been asking that question of folks who were up for consideration for, for the US Attorney Post, is that, what's your perspective on marijuana enforcement?

Speaker 2: What's your perspective on, on states legalizing cannabis? And so certainly it is something that gives you pause when you think about, uh, his, his, uh, appointments. Uh, at the same time, um, you know, we have to remember that these are local us attorneys that have a great deal of discretion. Um, they are oftentimes folks who want to remain in the state that they are serving in, um, and oftentimes have political aspirations, uh, as well. Uh, and they have resource constraints to. Yes. So there are two hands feeding them don't bite, uh, at least one of those hands that, that's right. Um, you know, they, they don't want to take on an unpopular, I'm a prosecution and ultimately lose on that and blow their budget and then also ruin their chances potentially with the voters in the state. Like your former attorney in northern California, right?

Speaker 2: Um, that's right. Um, you know, she's not, she wasn't terribly popular obviously with, with folks in the movement. So, so this, uh, attorney had taken to task, so to speak, both harborside Berkeley patients group. That's right to name a couple friend lost both cases. That's right. That's right. Okay. Yeah. So, and then we see that history essentially is what you are thinking with your lawyer cap on. Yeah. We, you know, we, we've seen a crackdown before. We've seen what it takes from a political perspective to, to, to win a, both in court and, uh, in, in public perception. And they don't got the carrots, they don't, they don't have it. Having said that, we can still go ahead and cease and desist you. We can still go ahead and send you a letter which costs them the cost of a stamp and that, you know, they send a several hundred of those out and for very little money, you know, they can get a lot of folks very spooked.

Speaker 2: And so, uh, what is your advice, again, not to give the store away, but what's your advice to a, to your clients on that end, you know, being, you know, raid preparedness and really, you know, expecting worse case scenario and all of that. Yeah. Well, um, you know, the advice doesn't really change, right? Even before regulation and licensing, the advice was the best thing that you can do is to follow state law to the letter, state and local law to the letter a show yourself to be completely in compliance would be a good corporate actor. Good, good, good, good, good, good. Citizen M and a that you're following the rules and that you're above ground. Um, and that's the best thing you can do. Um, you know, when we're dealing with licensed and regulated entities, the advice on raid preparedness is different than if you were advising, you know, if you're a criminal defense attorney, advising, advising somebody who is on the perimeter of the deregulated system, shall we say, right, where you don't keep documents, you don't keep a evidence, you don't make the prosecutor's case for them.

Speaker 2: Uh, in this case, if you are regulated and licensed, that's exactly what you're doing, right? But that is also your best defense, ironically. So, um, that is what you do, um, to, you know, maintain your, your ability to continue doing business and to um, keep your freedom. Okay. So some of the advice is the same. Some of the advice is different based on the fact that we do have regulations. Well, I mean, the advice previously was also, even though we didn't have regulations was to we, we had a prop to 15 sb 4:20, and so complying with those and with the attorney general's guidelines, California State Attorney General's guidelines, um, that was the best that you could do. Um, right. Uh, and of course a complying with the Cole memo priorities, uh, as well. Um, and so still, by the way, uh, the Cole memo priorities, still still good ideas.

Speaker 2: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, local us attorneys are going to care if you are growing in the, in the, in the forest and the federal forest there, they're going to carry a few or a marketing things to children. So, uh, yeah, those are still, I'm a cross border trade, so to speak, states or whatever a. okay. And you were going to mention Colorado, we know that the entire kind of a construction of legal cannabis was extremely vociferous, a for both sides of the aisle saying, you know, this is state law. The voters have spoken. So we know what the rest of the reaction was. Now we've gotten a car sheets, uh, understanding as well. Now it seems to be that, you know, what you're talking about based on this conversation and it's something that I fooled you did well, it's something I had anticipated, right, because you've been around.

Speaker 2: Well, I mean since the whole for awhile here, right. Um, I, I started working in the industry in 2011. Why? Um, well, uh, it was always something I was always very passionate about the plant. I'd taken my first, uh, drug policy, um, class in law school. I took it my third year. Huh. What law school was that? A Berkeley. Oh, that's how. Yeah. So I would imagine not every law school has a drug policy class that, that's. Yeah, that, that's probably very, very true, but, but we, we had a very robust, um, a seminar course that, uh, I ended up auditing. I stayed on, even though I didn't, didn't have the bandwidth to take on additional coursework. I loved the reading. Uh, and it was the first time that I really had a chance to dive into the civil rights implications of cannabis prohibition. Um, you know, I've been a consumer since graduate school.

Speaker 2: I started somewhat late. You did? Yes. I tried it when I was younger and it didn't really do anything for me. And so, um, I didn't try it again until, um, between undergraduate and graduate school. And so, um, that spoke to you a little bit more soundly. It did. It did. And I'm so, you know, fast forward into law school, um, you know, I, my experience had been as a consumer and as an individual saying, hey, this is wrong, you know, I should be able to consume what I want and then getting a much more in depth picture of the civil rights externalities of the drug war and the impact on communities of color. Um, and that's kind of what informed my, um, I've used on cannabis prohibition for, um, for many years prior to entering the industry. Got It. Um, and so, you know, I had a fairly conventional path after law school, worked at a big law firm in San Francisco.

Speaker 2: I'm feeling reading priest at the time. There are no longer around, but, um, I was doing commercial litigation, um, I was doing a corporate transactional work and I, I remember for the first time they're being, um, conferences that were focused on the business aspect of the industry, right. They were not just conferences about, um, individual rights or drug policy reform generally they were talking about the industry and um, this was at a time where work had slowed down for me because I was doing a lot of renewable energy transactions. Oh yeah. And uh, they had just discovered some shale gas in the northeast or a lot of shell gas in the northeast, which made the cost of renewable projects a higher in comparison and the work, you know, um, there wasn't very much work to be had. And so fossil fuels, I was sitting around wondering about house, you know, when I'd be fired because there wasn't enough work, it and hippy dippy sustainable guy over here to make my own, uh, my own path.

Speaker 2: And um, you know, found a, these conferences that were going on, uh, and um, uh, attended one of them and saw, um, Troy Dayton speaks. Uh, Steve de Angelo. I got to sit next to cvs. Angelo. Sure. Actually, uh, met Ed Rosenthal at the same conference that Scott Mann ritual of a, of a Bang Bang. Yeah. Um, yeah, met a number of folks who were, you know, were formative in the early part of my career and in some of the growers, still very, very influential and kind of our guiding lights for me and each of those names you can find in the archives of cannabis economy. Oh, wonderful. Look them up. But anyway, go on. Um, so 2011, 2011, you meet Troy and let's get to the conference table somehow. Right? Um, so I, I start to, I started a, uh, you know, I'd met Steve and was able to get a lunch meeting with them to talk to him, talk to them about my practice.

Speaker 2: He was interested in knowing what I was doing there because I was there, um, you know, in a suit and I was there. You were one of the first suits so to speak. Yeah, I mean, there, there were a lot in that audience but, uh, but yeah, it was one of the first conferences that I went to where there weren't a ton of people in a tie dye or dreads or, or activist Regalia, um, you know, and so it was a different kind of crowd and, and Steve was very interested in what I was doing there. Uh, I told them about my practice and what I did and what I was interested in doing and he was very generous with his time and very kind and, and, um, um, invited me to lunch to talk more about it. Um, and uh, told me, hey, so you know, we're, we're planning on hiring this from.

Speaker 2: I won't mention the name of the firm, um, and um, but I just heard one of their partners on the radio, uh, basically in a debate over cannabis prohibition, taking the opposite side, taking the pro prohibition side and I'm wondering why am I going to pay six or 700 bucks an hour to a partner at the same from a to do my work when there are folks like you that are well trained and can do the work and are on the right side of history. Indeed. Um, and so, um, I at that moment, uh, agreed to represent harborside on corporate and transactional work and really white cow. They're there, um, a litigation lead and, and, uh, an amazing, a litigated divorce. And one of my, my, uh, my mentors, um, but, uh, I got brought on to do the corporate transactional work, um, which was a fantastic opportunity for me.

Speaker 2: Um, you know, that coincided with me also having my conversations, my initial conversations with troy about arcview. Yeah. And I'm bringing them on as a client and helping them to set up the arcview investor for forum by doing the membership agreements. Making sure that we were complying with securities laws, uh, and so he gave me that opportunity to be able to do that work, um, uh, and bring him on a and bring you on as a client as well. Will you say bring them on the first, as I understand it, the first meeting was literally around your conference table, right? That's right. Yeah, we were when, when, uh, when troy and I first met, um, uh, it was troy, myself and Steve Burg who is also very involved, uh, at the time I'm in founding the, uh, open, uh, he was at open vape and now he is a ceo of firefly right now, right?

Speaker 2: Yeah, that's right. I'm wonderful, man. Yeah. Uh, if you, if you haven't had him on, I have not had him. You should have steve on. Yeah. Um, so, um, so yeah, so yeah, so I met Steve Burg, Troy Dayton, um, uh, at a time where arcview was a concept. Uh, we've not had our first meeting yet, you know, um, and so I helped to set up the membership agreement forms, the, um, again, making sure that they are complying with broker dealer laws because there are things that you can and can't do right when you're setting up these types of, uh, of, uh, networks and introductions and I'm dealing with accredited investors and so on. It's right. Yeah. So, uh, I filled that need for them. Um, and uh, also, uh, hosted the very first meeting, um, of our investor network. How many people there were, I would say about 20 people in.

Speaker 2: There you go. Um, so, um, you know, Mj freeway was the first company to pitch arcview. So just again, amy, I'm sure let, Jessica was on a video conference from Atlanta and I'm mark gold Fogo oh, market. The top quarter mark would have been on at the time. Mark was there live. I know mark for a long time. I haven't had him on either. I should, I should again, another wonderful man. So he's an absolute, like actually a good person. He is. Yes, very much so. Yeah. Um, and so, uh, so mark was there in person. We had Steve D'angelo there. We had folks from Berkeley patients group. Uh, we had, um, uh, Chris Crane was there, remember, uh, so a lot of folks who were, you know, old guard pioneers, um, were there, uh, and uh, you know, meetings going along swimmingly. Um, you know, I uh, uh, I expected, you know, at the outset of that day like, this is, this is great, right?

Speaker 2: I, I have partners at the firm who know this is happening and are actually excited about it. Yup. I had one partner who introduced me to a firm, client, existing client that was there for the meeting and said, hey, I didn't know you guys were doing this, uh, and met with us ahead of time to say, Oh, well now that I know you guys are doing this work, I got a ton of work for you. Maybe like, you know, $500,000 in fees for you guys on work. So I, I was going into that meeting thinking I'm going to make partner. This is great. This is exactly what I want it to happen. Um, I go into that meeting thinking like this, the best thing ever. Um, and uh, you know, and everything's going great. I'm a set that I'm thinking about one of the companies that's pitching there, which is a, a vaporizer company.

Speaker 2: Um, they had built a vaporizer that use the infrared technology to dial in specific experiences. It was really a neat a vaporizer. Um, but, um, they were going to test it live. They were going to, you know, how else would you test that vaporizer and show it to the investors that it works. They can't try it. Right. And they had been at the office before with smaller groups of investors, you know, and I, you know, I remember they come and they came in once with a to talk to jb pritzker. Um, and um, you know, showed him the vaporizer and I, you know, I said, well, you know, we're in a small conference room. It's, no one's watching. It's opaque. We pulled the curtains down, sure. And I let them try it with a lot of cannabis. But here in this meeting, we had 20 people, we had caterers, we had our it department who had hooked up Jessica from Atlanta.

Speaker 2: Uh, and so we had eyes on us, uh, and so all morning long, I know I was, the only trepidation I had was I'm not going to be able to let these guys. I'm actually show the vaporizer how it works and whether it works. Right? And I'm going to look like a charm because you know, I'm going to sell. I'm sorry you can't do this here. And there goes my credibility, um, you know, but if I do let them do it, I'm going to get fired for sure. Um, and then lunchtime comes around and I got fired anyway, so I got called a second. That's not what I was expecting. I got called in by the managing partner, um, the, the office managing partner, right. Um, who had, um, told me before that he was not thrilled that I was pursuing this line of business.

Speaker 2: I'd been trying for about six months. I'd put together practice plans. I know had other partner's very supportive of the idea. I'm thinking that, you know, this is a very forward thinking and, and, you know, um, it's a good thing to do. Yeah. I'm not him though. Uh, he was not thrilled about it. He was already solved two from me trying to get pro bono credit for helping mendo grown, which is a small treatment. Yeah, they were, they were the precursor to the Emerald Grower's Association, God as precursor to Cga today. Right. Um, but they were focused on outdoor growing and so I wanted to help them reduce the carbon footprint of cannabis and right doing pro bono work for them. Um, and he organized that. It wasn't thrilled about that. And um, you know, he says, what's, what the heck's going on? And I'd conference room. Yeah.

Speaker 2: He, uh, uh, he said, look, you know, I've told you about this before. I don't, I don't like what you're doing. You push the envelope and um, you know, we're going to call London on Monday morning. That's where her head was headwaters. And uh, um, and basically you don't work here anymore. Um, you know, while the meeting's going on while the meeting's going on. Um, he said that the, that the vaporizer would have something to do with this. I know, I know this storyline, but it has everything to do with a happy ending story. But, uh, but not, no, it didn't, didn't cause the termination. But, um, uh, my, just having arcview there hat was determination. Got It. Um, and so, um, you know, he told me we're not going to make you throw everybody out or you can finish up your meeting. We're not going to cause a scene, but, uh, but yeah, but you don't work here anymore.

Speaker 2: Uh, essentially. Um, and so, well now as sure as we can. I certainly fire up the vaporizer and I had to go back into that room until troy and tell Steve D'angelo and Steve Burg and you know, that, uh, discreetly that I'd just been fired, that we couldn't a linger thereafter, you know, much after five cocktail we should get. Yeah, there's no happy hour. Um, and so, um, you know, they were incensed that, that had happened, but we went on with our meeting at any way and the vaporizer company decided, you know, what they were, they were, they were up next, they were going to pitch the, one of the founders, he pulls out this big jar and nugs a in front of me, which I was like, I can't believe you, you know, you brought like, I don't know how much was in there, it looked like easily a couple of ounces.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I'm brought into the office and gave me, you know, looked at me looking for approval and I basically, I stuck my finger up and twirled it and said, yeah, pass it around. Uh, so at that point I had nothing to lose. I had already fired and so let her rip. So that's what we did. And that's how we celebrated my, uh, my termination and the founding of arcview. That's both the last day and the first day. That's right. And then of course, uh, what would lead to the first day of, of green bridge. That's right. Um, so, you know, I founded the firm in 2012. I had a, um, had a severance from the firm. I was told that I could collect the check yet, but I was not expected, nor did they want me to come into the office, right. Uh, so, you know, the way I looked at it as a, I had enough money to sustain me while I continued to do work for a harbor side and arcview and decided to do it on a, on a pro bono basis because hey, I was already getting paid and I wanted to ensure that they understood my commitment, uh, both, uh, to, you know, arcview into harbor side and also to the movement there.

Speaker 2: Uh, and so I got a chance to prove that. So fast forward to today, I love that. I love every minute of that story. Fast forward to today and you know, kind of give us a sense of where you are as far as, you know, uh, communities of color being disproportionately affected by the war on drugs and all of this other work that you do as far as, you know, the, the regular suit and tie work in the cannabis industry. But yeah, you know, you mentioned um, uh, that being an initial, you know, the disproportionate effect of the war on drugs, on communities of color being the initial precipice for you getting in. That's right. So where are we now as far as that's concerned? So, um, we're, we're at a fairly critical juncture and now I'm, I've been operating under two assumptions. One is that the drug war has been a bad for people of color, especially that generally for everyone, but you know, really used as a tool, so to speak against communities of color.

Speaker 2: Um, and that the end of prohibition is going to be a good thing generally for us from a civil rights perspective, there's going to be a civil rights dividend from ending probation. And there is, we're seeing this in California as a state is dropping a cases against folks, local prosecutors are dropping cases against folks, um, you know, and, and that, that we are seeing that dividend, right? We're not ever going to have plus expungement as well. That's right. Yeah. Um, and so we are finding ways to kind of readdress some of those civil rights, um, uh, harms that occurred during the, during cannabis prohibition. And so that's been a good thing. Um, the other assumption I've been working under is that when we bring capital into the industry, um, that is a good thing that is going to help us accelerate the demise of prohibition at the state level.

Speaker 2: And eventually at the federal level, I still believe that, um, that being said, um, there has been, um, there's still a tension there, um, because the communities of color who were disproportionately affected by the drug war are not getting the same opportunities to participate in the cannabis economy. Um, uh, that you would think that they are entitled to a given their experience. And now we do have, um, you know, we have more progressive laws in California in terms of felony disqualification and ensuring that I'm a licensed, uh, applicants are, are looked at holistically and that we're not punishing them for a cannabis crimes that, you know, are things that are not illegal, right. Um, and that we're, we're giving them an opportunity to apply for licenses as well. Uh, and that's wonderful. And that, that is as it should be. However, access to capital is, is critical.

Speaker 2: Um, and even though we are bringing capital into the industry, uh, in order to move forward on our drug policy reform agenda, um, that capital is not freely accessible to communities of color. Um, one of the problems is that we can't get bank loans. Bank loans are not available. I'm given the generally, generally, but especially given the anti money laundering laws, um, and the impact on the industry, um, you know, you can't get a bank account much less a bank loan. Uh, and so sources of capital are, are, are, are unavailing. And so all I'm saying generally in within the industry, and then, yeah, even more, you know, a hyper specifically to communities of color and also true, also true, but um, but because we don't have those traditional sources of small business capital, um, you know, we have, um, we're relegated basically to private capital in detail, which, you know, works for a lot of folks in the industry, but, um, those who understand how private capital works, those who understand how to access it, how to have those, even those negotiations had even fun folks, uh, who can be sources of, of private capital and in sufficient amounts to actually launch a cannabis business.

Speaker 2: Um, if these communities don't necessarily have those same networks that we have that, that same access. So you're seeing a lot of inequality then I'm in the industry and the makeup of the industry because communities of color that would like to participate don't necessarily have the same opportunities. They don't have the same networks, they don't have the same opportunity to generate operating capital. So we need to fix there. That's right. Okay. Uh, that, that's an area that needs to be addressed. Um, and so, um, you know, I wear a lot of hats in the industry. Um, I'm on the National Cannabis Industry Association board. I'm on their policy council. I'm also on the board of the minority cannabis business association. Um, you know, I've served as general counsel of CCA. I've served as a cofounder of Uga. So I, I, you know, there's, there's a lot that I've done in the industry and my focus now is, uh, to find, uh, entrepreneurs, uh, who come from disadvantaged communities, communities, communities of color, um, and try to find them access to capital, right?

Speaker 2: I mean, I, I think, um, know that's what I would like to do on a policy level is to ensure that we are, um, uh, so as far as [inaudible] concerned that we're providing education to our constituents right now. I see our members as our, our, our constituents in this instance, we have to serve that need. We have to show them how to access those pools of capital and how to do it regularly at effectively. Um, and so that, that's kind of my, my thrust in terms of a policy goals right now is to ensure that we are able to build a more equitable, uh, industry, uh, one that not only respects, uh, the plant respects consumers, respects the environment, uh, but also serves those communities that were harmed by the drug war. Yeah. And so finding odor real way. Yeah. Uh, you know, so access to capital, but also finding novel ways to distribute ownership of cannabis businesses, uh, as well, uh, to communities of color and to folks who, uh, were, were impacted. Uh, maybe you have a felony on their records or have other things that have, um, have sideline them from participating in the mainstream economy.

Speaker 3: I love it. Alright, so we will keep checking in on that, which I can't wait to hear more about. Right? Because it seems like you're conceiving of something as we speak, but I'll leave that there and I will ask you the three final questions. I'll tell you what they are and then I'll ask you 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 things first, what's. Yeah, that's a tough one. What's most surprised you in cannabis? What's both of them

Speaker 2: surprised me in cannabis? Is that, um,

Speaker 3: we're just like everybody else. Oh, you mean the industry, the consumers.

Speaker 2: It turns out that there's not a thing. There's not a there, there as far as. Yeah, I mean, you can put these people in this box type of thing that, that's right. That's right. Um, you know, I, I think that's um, you know, I went into the industry thinking that we were somehow a separate community. Um, and it turns out, no, that's actually not the case.

Speaker 3: The only thing that I've noticed as far as the industry and consumers that is different than general society, more hugs.

Speaker 2: I'm more hugs. True. Yeah. Uh, I don't know how to feel about that and the age of Weinstein, but uh, oh, come on. No, these are, these are loving friend. Doug's is. What I'm speaking of of that is it's a dangerous area. So from now on, it's just side hugs, more hugs nonetheless. Right. That's a fair point.

Speaker 3: But I do. I mean like I have a couple of different podcasts and in these

Speaker 2: different communities that I kind of come into a, there are just more hugs at the, uh, in the cannabis community. It's true. Uh, you know, I, I just, yesterday I hugged a client, um, you know, uh, if somebody that I had been working with for awhile that uh, hadn't actually met in person before, I'd worked with a lot of his colleagues in person but never, never with the founder. And he walked up to me after a paddle and said, hey, you know, I'm so and so, uh, and my first instinct was to go down and not shake his hand, but to actually give them a big hug. And that's true. I mean, I don't remember ever giving hugs when I was working for the firms that I worked at before green bridge. Yeah. I don't think that that really doesn't have any. That would be appropriate.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Actually that's what we're saying. Alright. So what's most surprised you in life? Let's suppose surprise me in life, um, uh, is that, uh, we have the capacity within us to do what we want. Um, and that, um, there are a lot of mental constructs that we, that are imposed on us, um, that aren't real. I'm just take, take. I agree with you completely. Take us one level deeper there. Give me maybe through an example. Um, well, you know, when I started green bridge, um, I'd never started a law firm. I had never started a business before then. Um, and, you know, going through a, um, you know, big law firm, being trained at a big law firm has a lot of wonderful advantages. Uh, but there's also a lot of hazing that goes on and there's also a lot of, you know, um, senior attorneys or attorneys who are senior to you at least who, um, you know, I'm trained, but also Hayes, and also give you that sense of, well, you know, you don't know what the fuck you're doing.

Speaker 2: You know, you're, um, you're a young attorney and, and you don't know how to do x, Y, and z and you would never know how to do any of that, but for me teaching it to you and you and you can't teach yourself. Um, and some of that, yeah, there's, there's a little bit of truth to that, but it basically ingrains in you this sense of, well, like, I don't know if I'm going to be up for that task. I don't know if I can, um, gain the competence that I need to be able to do x, y, and z task. And um, when I started green bridge, that was one of the most frightening thing. So it's like, am I really up for this? I have never run a law firm before. Um, am I going to be able to serve my clients well and make this business actually work?

Speaker 2: Um, you know, and I just did it. Um, and in part because I didn't really have a choice, um, I knew I wanted to work in the cannabis industry. I knew that nobody else is going to hire me because I wanted to work in the cannabis industry and that the only way I could do it right was for me to do it myself. Um, but, um, you know, and I had to suspend my disbelief to do that and I did and I'm still around. We just had a merger last week. So we're expanding our firm. We merged with a emerge law group in Portland, a wonderful, wonderful set of attorneys there, uh, and really excited about them being being my partner's going, going up the, uh, up the side of the country they're adding or Oregon on top of A. I used to say I want to be everywhere from Baja to Alaska. Know we're getting closer and closer. Absolutely. On the soundtrack of your life. Khurshid one track, one song that's got to be on there. Oh Man. Now you don't have to tie yourself down to the one song. Okay. So that's an initial thing you should know. But what we're looking for is as you've gone on, you know, through the course, through the journey of your life. Yeah. Uh, you know, there's a soundtrack that's been created, there have been, songs have come into your

Speaker 3: life. All we need is one of those songs. It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be, you know, the most descriptive. But, uh, it's a song that certainly has been friendly to you throughout the,

Speaker 2: the whole thing. And my soundtrack kind of changes on, uh, on, you know, my, my soundtrack had changes every, you know, two weeks to a month or so. That's fair. Um, and so, um, I guess, uh, thinking about what I was listening to a yesterday, thinking about, um, the merger and everything that's ahead of us, um, was a Dr Dre song a next episode. I'm so, um, I guess appropriate that, that is the, uh, the current track that's rolling through my head.

Speaker 3: There we go. There we go. Khurshid, I very much appreciate not only your time today, but everything that you've, uh, you know, all the time, energy and work that you've put in because I get to say a guys like me don't get to interview guys like you on shows like cannabis economy. If you didn't do what you did back in the day, so thank you very much for that. And for this and for everything. Thank you seth. I appreciate the opportunity to be on.

Speaker 1: And there you have Khurshid Kaja. I mean the guy's been doing it for a long time in the cannabis industry. Very much appreciate everything that he has done and is doing. He's a real advocate. And so, uh, if you're not one who appreciates a lawyers, there's one for the good team. Very much appreciate his time. Very much. Appreciate Yours. 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.