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Ep. 373: John Fowler, Supreme

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 373: John Fowler, Supreme

Ep. 373: John Fowler, Supreme

John Fowler helps us to manage expectations and think positively on the future of the Legal Cannabis Market: “We had an election over the summer, and our new Premier decided that it was better to allow small or medium-sized businesses access to the market. What does that mean? We’re not going to have stores until April. In the short term, it doesn’t look great. But in the long run, that means for the next 100 years after April, we get that private retail and I think that’s pretty exciting.”

Transcript:

John Fowler: My name is John Fowler, J-O-H-N F-O-W-L-E-R. I am the President of the Supreme Cannabis Company.

Seth Adler: Supreme Cannabis Company, happy Legalization Day, here in sunny Toronto.

John Fowler: Thank you very much. I am glad you come up to Canada and join us.

Seth Adler: Of course, of course. What I'd love to do is it's been a while since you and I spoke. It might give us great context to kind of understand the lift, if you will, from where we were to where we are. Legalization Day, would say that everything is perfect, everything is set, everything's in place, everything's wonderful?

John Fowler: Absolutely not, but it's as we expected. I think this is a progress, right.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Okay.

John Fowler: Nothing in life is linear.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

John Fowler: We've got to look at what this means globally, which is Canada made a choice to do something that no country of our size has decided to do, and that's properly regulate cannabis for adult consumers.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: Are there another podcast we could do talking about all the things we could do differently? Sure.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

John Fowler: But that doesn't take away from the fact that we did something pretty special last night at midnight-

Seth Adler: Yep.

John Fowler: And that's a game changer for Canadians, that's a game changer for Canadian entrepreneurs, and I think for the world. I think we're going to see the world move a lot faster than many people anticipate.

John Fowler: My name is John Fowler, J-O-H-N F-O-W-L-E-R. I am the President of the Supreme Cannabis Company.

Seth Adler: Supreme Cannabis Company, happy Legalization Day, here in sunny Toronto.

John Fowler: Thank you very much. I am glad you come up to Canada and join us.

Seth Adler: Of course, of course. What I'd love to do is it's been a while since you and I spoke. It might give us great context to kind of understand the lift, if you will, from where we were to where we are. Legalization Day, would say that everything is perfect, everything is set, everything's in place, everything's wonderful?

John Fowler: Absolutely not, but it's as we expected. I think this is a progress, right.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Okay.

John Fowler: Nothing in life is linear.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

John Fowler: We've got to look at what this means globally, which is Canada made a choice to do something that no country of our size has decided to do, and that's properly regulate cannabis for adult consumers.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: Are there another podcast we could do talking about all the things we could do differently? Sure.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

John Fowler: But that doesn't take away from the fact that we did something pretty special last night at midnight-

Seth Adler: Yep.

John Fowler: And that's a game changer for Canadians, that's a game changer for Canadian entrepreneurs, and I think for the world. I think we're going to see the world move a lot faster than many people anticipate.

Seth Adler: I think that your kind of invoking [inaudible 00:02:21] because they have legalization. This is the only G-7 Nation. There's no other nation that has legalized adult use cannabis at all.

John Fowler: Correct. Credit where it's due to the folks down there.

Seth Adler: Right.

John Fowler: But I think looking at the international stage, all eyes are on Canada.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: And what I've really been impressed with is how policy drives business. We had a government that, in fairness, has been progressive on cannabis since the early 2000s, with medical cannabis growing through the MMAR, MMPR, ACMPR, it's alphabet soup, but it's all led to where we are today under the Cannabis Act, with the ability to have a multi-billion dollar legal and fully regulated industry when the legal aged adults can choose to use cannabis if they want to.

Seth Adler: Just to go way back so that we kind of do take that timeline, this legalization is in part, if not wholly due to the legal system, the courts.

John Fowler: Absolutely.

Seth Adler: It wasn't the legislature that pushed this. It came from the judiciary.

John Fowler: A little of both.

Seth Adler: Okay.

John Fowler: So where cannabis is different than the United States is for the first about 15 years of medical cannabis, it was court-driven. So we didn't have ballot initiatives where patients or rec consumers went out to vote for legalizing cannabis or re-regulating cannabis. We had court. So our Constitution protects a reasonable right of access. It's why I became a lawyer in the first place. It's actually how I got involved in this space.
Where that change was going into adult-use legalization, we had a Prime Minister who ran on a platform that included it, so it wasn't a special issue by a ballot initiative, it was a G-7 leader hoping to become the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who put that on his platform. That was a pretty bold step.

Seth Adler: Indeed.

John Fowler: That was a couple of years ago, and it's certainly been an exciting ride ever since, getting ready. We have a market that went from a few hundred thousand consumers to over four million regular consumers overnight.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: That's [inaudible 00:04:16] type of change, and it's been a great fun getting ready for it.

Seth Adler: Let's talk about that, the distinction between the medical market and now adult use. So, you just gave us the numbers on medical. Give us those numbers again, and what happens today, to those consumers?

John Fowler: Correct. Canada is maintaining its Medical Cannabis program, and that means that patients that want to buy commercially produced medical cannabis can continue to do so online the way they have been. This is the market that has grown to a few hundred thousand users very quickly. It's showing that 2-3% penetration rate that we see in a lot of US markets and we're anticipating a lot of global markets.
What changes as of midnight last night, so we're here on Day One, is Canadians nationwide, the 35 million of us here in Canada, can choose to go to a store and purchase cannabis in much of the same way we purchase alcohol. And I just said on the top, could things be better or different? Absolutely. But let's not forget the concept that you can walk in, you can legally do something that very few people in the entire world can do, and that's pretty special.

Seth Adler: The industry is in hyper growth. No one needs me to tell them that. It's evident here, you guys just moved in a month ago, we're in a room now that is still being built. Retail, that aspect of legal cannabis also still being built. Where are we today, and where are we going? I know it's provincial, right?

John Fowler: Yeah, so it's a progression, and it's different in every Canadian Province. It's just like every legal state in the US is a little bit different.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: So we have some models where there's state-run stores.

Seth Adler: Right.

John Fowler: We've seen a few of them open across the country, that's one. We've seen some private-run stores, and some hybrids in between. What I think is really exciting is this makes a national experiment. So we won't know today, we won't know next month, we won't know next quarter. But over the next few years we'll really see what is it the Canadian consumers respond with, what are the differences between the Atlantic Provinces, Provinces like Ontario and out in British Columbia. We'll actually learn very quickly what it is Canadian consumers want.
We have almost 100 years of practice with legal alcohol retail. At this point, I think we're about eight hours of practice in with legal cannabis retail. I'm sure there's lots of room for improvement. Our Seven Acres brand is there to find great retailers. We don't do it ourselves, but we have a lot of confidences in the retail network that's being built, and it's ability to bring our brand to our consumers.

Seth Adler: Let's just go ahead and take the distinction between Ontario and British Columbia. You named them so let's do it. I am someone that has been following this from the jump, and so those old kind of community type retail shops, I have a place in my heart for them. However, British Columbia and those retailers didn't necessarily kind of put together a system that would work on Day One here in British Columbia. Can you share with folks what I'm talking about and how that compares to what we're seeing in Ontario?

John Fowler: Much like in the US, for many years, for a decade and half, it's on evolution. We saw cannabis under the medical system become more and more commercialized, more and more close to traditional retail. With the Cannabis Act, there is a break, and I understand from a legal perspective the need for ... the government's ensured that everyone's following the rules and fully regulated. That was a commitment in the platform from Justin Trudeau for Day One.
What that means in British Columbia that might seem a bit odd, is there's only one store open today. In the short term, does that seem like a disaster? Absolutely. But in the long term, it's allowed the British Columbia government to get a hybrid model that it's going to be government-run stores, but there's also going to be private stores.
So some of those folks with five, 10, 15 years of experience, if they're smart they'll put that to work, they'll transition into the new program, and sure it might take a couple of quarters. But I think you're going to see fantastic retail in BC, and we're going to see the same thing in Ontario starting next April.

Seth Adler: All right. Next April, meaning there aren't necessarily stores open today.

John Fowler: Absolutely. Ontario is a wild example, if you want to talk the rapid pace of change in cannabis.

Seth Adler: Sure.

John Fowler: If you had sat down with me six months ago, we would have been talking about a state-run program. That's how alcohol is sold in this Province, the government owns the stores, we were signing leases, we were seeing this roll out. We had an election over the summer, and our new Premier decided that it was better to allow small or medium-sized businesses access to the market.
What does that mean? We're not going to have stores until April. In the short term, again, it doesn't look great. But in the long run, that means for the next 100 years after April, we get that private retail and I think that's pretty exciting.

Seth Adler: It does, that Premier that you mentioned, who is that?

John Fowler: That's Mr. Doug Ford.

Seth Adler: Yeah, so that's the brother of Rob Ford, and we elected this guy. After we did the whole Rob Ford thing, let's do another one.

John Fowler: Absolutely. Joking aside, the family allegedly has some experience in this space.

Seth Adler: Fair enough.

John Fowler: So not always good to go with experience, I guess.

Seth Adler: Speaking of experience, you mentioned public, private, hybrid retail, state-run, Provincial-run, retailers are selling are going to sell alcohol as well.

John Fowler: Again, that varies. So, in Ontario, we decided to split ... in most Provinces, we've decided to split. Some Provinces in the Maritimes have decided to co-locate. I think, again, it depends on the consumer, but we do have to realize as Canadians, these products are likely to be consumed together-

Seth Adler: Indeed.

John Fowler: And it's very important that we educate people not only how to safely use cannabis on its own, but should you choose to mix it with alcohol, how to do that safely as well.

Seth Adler: Bingo. All right. So this is an ever-changing thing, right?

John Fowler: Absolutely.

Seth Adler: You know, put your glasses on from when we spoke, it would have been probably two years ago the last time we spoke on this podcast. Based on where we are, because I think it was right after Trudeau got in-

John Fowler: Correct.

Seth Adler: Are we in a good place? Are we not as far along as you thought we'd be? Are we further along than you thought we'd be?

John Fowler: I'll tell you an interesting story.

Seth Adler: Okay.

John Fowler: In 2013, I ran a 420 rally at Parliament Hill in Canada. This was April 2013. November, Prop 64 had just passed in Colorado.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes.

John Fowler: I had Josh [Cappelle 00:10:23], one of the lawyers in [inaudible 00:10:25], that was working on the campaign up to speak in front of about 4000 or 5000 people on Parliament Hill. This is the equivalent of going and standing in front of the White House in Washington.

Seth Adler: Right.

John Fowler: We had an event afterwards and I said, "I believe within five years we are going to have legal cannabis in Canada because now it's about the numbers." Now you needed a reason to oppose legalization for financial and economic reasons, rather than a reason to support. So I was a little bit off. It was five years and about a half.

Seth Adler: Right, yeah. Not bad now.

John Fowler: But here we are.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

John Fowler: I think when you look on it the next five years, it's hard to imagine. You look at how fast the global markets are changing. You look at a country like the United Kingdom that essentially went from no medical cannabis, to medical cannabis in about 90 days.

Seth Adler: Yep.

John Fowler: That's obscenely fast for a government generally, let alone cannabis. I think that over the next few decades we're going to see the majority of humans have access to medical cannabis globally. I think we're going to see a lot more recreational countries come online that people anticipate, and we're just starting to hit the beginning of the hockey stick.

Seth Adler: That's a very special-

John Fowler: [crosstalk 00:11:28] reference.

Seth Adler: Yeah, exactly.

John Fowler: I don't know how it works in the US, but-

Seth Adler: That's exactly right.

John Fowler: [crosstalk 00:11:32]

Seth Adler: We have baseball bat growth, yeah. No. And we still do [inaudible 00:11:35]. I want to talk about the commerce of it all, but Trudeau really came in talking about safety. That was his reason for legalization. So what are you seeing on that front? How that can help your own personal opinion, and what's in the regulations, how it actually is?

John Fowler: I think two things are very important to remember. The first thing is there's still about 50% of Canadians that do not support legalization.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: That number's shrinking, so it's showing that we're doing a great job with education, and really educating people that you don't have to like cannabis or cannabis to like ending cannabis prohibition. Legalization is great for everybody, whether you choose to use it or not. So we have to keep that in mind as a starting point.

Seth Adler: Okay.

John Fowler: As a secondary point, when you look at the long run, having a safety first approach means we start with education. It means we start with how do you use this product safely? How do you produce it safely? And how do you market it responsibly?

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: Maybe that's not the most exciting way to start for a lot of people listening to this podcast, or people that have been in the industry for five, 10, 20 years.

Seth Adler: Sure.

John Fowler: But remember, people like ourselves, we're the 1% of cannabis users. We've had that education and experience. Most Canadians are not. So while it might not be the sexiest way to start, I do think it's the right way to start, and I think it will evolve over time.

Seth Adler: Start low, go slow. That's-

John Fowler: Absolutely.

Seth Adler: Every single time. No question about it. All right, so that's the safety piece. Let's talk about commerce. What have you seen as far as investment? Let's talk about how you guys have taken over as far as cannabis capital around the world.

John Fowler: So you see Toronto's well known in the mining industry. We are the mining finance center of the world, so a large portion of all the capital raised globally for resource extraction is done here in Toronto. What we're seeing is the same thing with cannabis where the vast majority of global capital raised is raised here on the Toronto Stock Exchanges. Supreme, under the ticker Fire, is right here. We have had fortunate access to capital, very supportive shareholders, and that capital is so important to growth.
This is an industry that's growing far faster than a business can be bootstrapped, where then you can grow by reinvesting your own profits. So for us, it's about really first understanding the plant. That was the purpose of Seven Acres. How can we learn to grow great cannabis at scale? We believe that over the coming decades, cannabis will be one of the largest agricultural crops in the world and it cannot be a bad thing to know how to grow that plant with expertise.
As we have executed on the Seven Acres plan, now we're looking downstream. We're looking at concentrates, we're looking at vapables, we're looking at injestables, and we're looking internationally. We made a great investment in [Lucutu 00:14:19]. Imagine people are hitting Google right now to find out what that is. It's a landlocked kingdom inside of South Africa. That is one of the most ideal growing environments that I've seen globally. They have a progressive public policy on cannabis. We believe that asset's going to be one of the most important global producers of cannabis oil for the medical markets in places like Europe.
These are things when we spoke just two years ago weren't even on the radar yet.

Seth Adler: Not even possible-

John Fowler: And I think two from now-

Seth Adler: To think about.

John Fowler: We're going to be talking about things that Supreme has done that we can't even think of today.

Seth Adler: All right, so this is official. You definitely are in South Africa.

John Fowler: [Lucutu 00:14:55]

Seth Adler: Well, excuse me.

John Fowler: So it's IN South Africa.

Seth Adler: Oh, it's its own sovereignty?

John Fowler: But it is its own sovereign nation.

Seth Adler: Aha. Okay. All right. Fair enough. So Lucutu. You are in Lucutu.

John Fowler: Correct.

Seth Adler: When can we expect to turn this around, if we're just announcing this now, how long does it actually take to get something like that going?

John Fowler: It's still a work in progress, so a great team down there. We're putting in a massive extractor to do high grade GMB/CO2 oil. So it is a work in progress, but that team down there is just something else, and the support they're giving to the community, they're investing in the local school, they're bringing jobs to a rural part of the country there. It's a feel good story, but the cannabis they're producing is absolutely epic.

Seth Adler: 2019/2020?

John Fowler: Yeah, it's coming.

Seth Adler: Yeah, all right. So we'll leave that there. We'll come back. We'll talk about that one next time.

John Fowler: Absolutely.

Seth Adler: Let's talk about the regular people, jobs. So you just kind of intoned how cannabis in Canada is actually improving jobs in other nations. What about right here at home?

John Fowler: The Supreme Cannabis Company is now about 300 people here in Canada. It's something that when we started, even two years ago, you can't really picture. It's an effort to get everybody together for a group photo now. But it's beautiful. We're impacting our community. In King [Carden 00:16:14], it's in a place called Bruce County. We're one of the fastest growing employers, I believe we are THE fastest growing employer in the county. We're bringing good family wages.
One of the commitments that we had is we want to make sure cannabis could continue to be a career. We've seen in the evolving market cannabis has an ability legally or illegally to support families. We wanted to make sure that legal cannabis grown by Seven Acres could still support families. We've got 300 of those prospering up there and it's super exciting. The energy in King Carden, the just excitement not just about legalization but about the future, it's really a special place and it's one of the big points of pride that maybe we didn't expect when we started. But it just puts a smile on my face every time I'm up there.

Seth Adler: There you go. Helping people, right?

John Fowler: Absolutely.

Seth Adler: Why not?

John Fowler: And what's interesting, we're operating in a building that used to grow tomatoes in a park that used to be about tomato processing. They made tomato paste and juice, things like that. Now it's become like a Cannabis Center for Innovation. The offers we're sitting in here, it was a bread factory that closed down, and now we're going to have 100 cannabis employees between Supreme and Herb revitalizing this neighborhood. We're seeing this across Ontario. We're seeing this across Canada. It's actually a beautiful renaissance of job creation and economic development, particularly in areas that may have lost their jobs to globalization. Now we think we have to be the globalized oars. We get to take our jobs and our intellectual property and export that globally.

Seth Adler: There is something that inherently is local about cannabis. You know, it needs to be grown in the ground.

John Fowler: I wasn't aware.

Seth Adler: Yeah. What I'm saying is it's farming. It is agriculture. It is the ticket to a local economy.

John Fowler: Absolutely, and I think cannabis is one of the most complex agricultural crops at the moment because agriculturally, we know so little about these plants. You add a complicated regulatory regime, but you add a hyper-specific product. So think about the end product. It is a flower that's sold by weight and potency, and it's quality is defined by, in some cases, hundreds of chemicals working together in ways we don't fully understand.

Seth Adler: Cannabinoids.

John Fowler: Cannabinoids, turpines, flavanoids. All of these together, working to create the medical or social effects people are working for. It's incredibly complicated, and that's where we focus our investment. First, on the plant, if we understand that plant and how she works, we can apply to all the beautiful downstream products available today and even though they haven't made a venti yet that we're working on.

Seth Adler: What was that last thing one more time?

John Fowler: We've got some things down the pipeline we're excited about.

Seth Adler: Yes.

John Fowler: If you look ... Again, two years ago, probably most people hadn't heard of things like diamonds and sauce, we weren't even talking about turpines. That was only two years. That's 24 months. The rate of growth is expanding. The rate of product development is expanding, and we're very excited to be a part of that.

Seth Adler: I appreciate you kind of unpacking the ... What you basically said was there's something that I'm going to talk about that I can't talk about.

John Fowler: I don't know what you're talking about.

Seth Adler: Exactly. Exactly. You did mention, and I just want to make sure that we re-discuss it, the reason that you got into the cannabis industry to begin with, just take us through that.

John Fowler: Yeah, so I guess my story's magically become interesting over the last couple of years. But I started when I was a younger man. A friend of mine's mom was an early medical cannabis patient. We started by helping her with her plants. As I got a little bit older, and I wanted to see how could I really help shape the industry? As that in Canada, there was a handful of lawyers with a handful of cases that shaped our industry. So I put my head in to become a lawyer, and that was my whole purpose in life at the time.
Over the course of my time in law school, I changed paths into more corporate attorney. I'm sure there's nobody applauding at home hearing that. And then I got a gift. That gift was the creation of highly regulated commercial cannabis. So I was able to take my experience and passion for cannabis, and my understanding for law and regulations, and apply that into what's now a nearly billion dollar company here in Canada with 300 employees in Canada, 300 employees in Africa. It's just totally wild how things are growing.
We have global aspirations. I look back, it wasn't that long ago that I went to law school. I could not have imagined where we are today. As people have been asking me, "Where are we in two years, five years, 10 years?" All I can think is no matter how ambitious your plan is, it's probably less than half to where we're actually going to be.

Seth Adler: It's probably better than that, yeah. That's unbelievable. And just going back to it, if we had done July first, you only would have been less than two months off in 2013, when you said five years.

John Fowler: I think the big would have been the weather just would have been so much nicer.

Seth Adler: It would have been nicer. It would have been. Although, again, it's sunny, beautiful Toronto, right? No one's giving it up.

John Fowler: Absolutely.

Seth Adler: I've got three final questions for returning guests, John. Okay.

John Fowler: [inaudible 00:21:05]

Seth Adler: I'll tell you what they are, and I'll ask you them in order: What would you change about yourself? What would change about anything else, if you could? And on the soundtrack of your life, one track/one song, that's got to be on there? That's always the last question. But what would you change about yourself if you could? Excuse me. What would change about yourself, if anything? It might be something you're already working on.

John Fowler: I think for me I would have recognized earlier the importance of people.

Seth Adler: What do you mean by that?

John Fowler: When we got into this business, it was about the plant, it was all about the product. As it evolves, it's all about the people. Whether that's the people that [inaudible 00:21:43] growing the product, or the people at the end of the chain purchasing the product, this is a consumer industry. I think we have done well because we have shifted our focus to the people. But any day sooner, we could have done that as another day of advantage. So I'm excited to turn that corner, but it's still a work in progress.

Seth Adler: If we go all the way back, this started with a medical cannabis patient, right? Your journey.

John Fowler: Terrence Parker.

Seth Adler: There we go.

John Fowler: The man who's responsible for all of this, who could probably walk through most legal companies in Canada, and nobody would have any idea who he was.

Seth Adler: Well, until now, right?

John Fowler: Exactly.

Seth Adler: Although we can't necessarily see him, but people can look him I guess.

John Fowler: Find him on Facebook. He's a fantastic man.

Seth Adler: That's it. What would you change about anything else, if you could?

John Fowler: I think that what I would love to change is I would love to be able to snap my fingers and remove the stigma around cannabis.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: A lot of where we are in terms of the fear and the concerns is 95 years of prohibition, and prohibition is about building stigma. I'd love to see that removed from our government. I'd love to see that removed from the Canadian consumer, and the Canadians in general. More importantly, I'd love to see it removed from our industry. You would be surprised at how much cannabis stigma still exists in senior leadership amongst licensed producers. And that must change. So give me that magic wand and that's where I'm putting my wish.

Seth Adler: I would be amazed about the stigma that remains in senior leaders in licensed producers here in Canada, really.

John Fowler: Absolutely. I think, you've got to remember there's a lot of people in this industry that got into this space because of the economic opportunity.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: They didn't maybe have a pre-existing experience with cannabis. They may or may not be users. They may or may not like the stuff outside of the business opportunity.

Seth Adler: Interesting.

John Fowler: I think that creates a bit of a different industry than maybe what you see in the US that I would say is much more of a passion project for many of the entrepreneurs and the leaders.

Seth Adler: So far. So far. All right. Well I will say, as far as stigma for the plant, this is a big day for reducing that stigma many, many percentage points. You can't just have a G-7 Nation legalize the plant completely, and not change hearts and minds.

John Fowler: Correct, and this goes back to that hockey stick reference, that exponential growth. The reduction of stigma, the normalization of cannabis has been increasing at an exponential rate. We will get there, but that's the precursor to liberalizing laws around marketing, liberalizing laws around use. It starts with Canadians have to be comfortable.

Seth Adler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Fowler: And globally, I think we'll see the same thing start to happen.

Seth Adler: There we go. Most importantly, John, on the soundtrack of your life, one track/one song that's got to be on there.

John Fowler: I've been thinking about this, and there is a song that I've always listened that as of midnight last night became wholly irrelevant in Canada-

Seth Adler: Is it Peter Tosh?

John Fowler: I was going to go with Legalize It by Peter Tosh. So somebody has to do the legalized hit remix for Canada. But for every other country in the world, put that song on repeat. We're coming for you.

Seth Adler: John Fowler, thank you so much. We will check in with you down the line.

John Fowler: It was my pleasure. Let's make it less than two years this time.

Seth Adler: Fair enough.
And there you have John Fowler on Legalization Day in Canada. I very much appreciate his time. I 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.