This site is under maintenance, but will be back up before you can say tetrahydrocannabinol.

It has been a long time since we have discussed cannabis reciprocity here in Utah. Therefore, we thought a refresher was in order. With tens of thousands of Medical Cannabis patients in Utah now, new patients are being added to the roles daily. Reciprocity is a topic that needs to be discussed more often.

What is cannabis reciprocity? How does it affect you? Keep reading to find out. As you read, bear in mind that Utah Therapeutic Health Center assists patients looking to obtain or renew their Utah Medical Cannabis Cards. We have a number of clinics located throughout the state.

The Basics of Reciprocity

The concept of reciprocity, from the perspective of state law, is pretty easy to understand. States involved in a reciprocity agreement recognize and honor the laws of the other states involved in the agreement. Your driver’s license is the perfect example.

All fifty states and the District of Columbia practice reciprocity when it comes to driver’s licenses. So even though you earned your driver’s license in Utah, it is valid anywhere in the country. That’s reciprocity. All the other states agree to honor Utah’s driver’s license. In exchange, Utah honors licenses from all the other states as well.

It is Never Guaranteed

Reciprocity is a necessity in the U.S. due to how our federal and state laws are implemented. First of all, anything not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution is regulated at the state level. That is why we do not have a federal driver’s license. Our state-heavy system keeps Washington at arm’s length. At the same time, it also means different laws from one state to the next.

The reality is that reciprocity is never guaranteed. We know this all too well where Medical Cannabis is concerned. To date, there are only thirty-eight states that legally recognize Medical Cannabis. Patients cannot use Medical Cannabis in the remaining twelve states. So right off the bat, there is a reciprocity issue with those states.

Even among states with legalized Medical Cannabis, reciprocity isn’t universal. There are a few states that have reached reciprocity agreements. Utah is not one of them, so there is no guarantee that your Utah Medical Cannabis card will be recognized anywhere else.

Non-Resident Medical Cannabis Cards

Utah doesn’t recognize Medical Cannabis Cards from other states, either. But not all is lost. The state does offer another option: the non-resident Medical Cannabis card. People from other states can apply for these temporary cards in advance of a planned visit.

A non-resident card gives out-of-state visitors the same legal rights and access as residents with permanent cards. The only real difference is how long the cards are valid for. Resident Medical Cannabis Cards are issued for six months at a time. Non-resident cards are only good for 21 days.

Patients should also note that they must have a valid Medical Cannabis Card from their own state and be diagnosed with a qualifying condition according to Utah regulations. As long as those two conditions are met, non-residents can get temporary cards.

Reciprocity and Interstate Transport

One last thing you should be aware of is that reciprocity doesn’t necessarily mean you can transport Medical Cannabis across state lines. Under federal law, you cannot. The same goes for Utah. Visitors are not allowed to carry Medical Cannabis into the state; residents cannot carry it out of the state. Reciprocity has no bearing on that particular aspect.

Here’s hoping that Medical Cannabis Cards will one day be just like driver’s licenses. Perhaps a decade from now, a card from any state will be recognized by every other state and the District of Columbia.

Utah lawmakers passed a bill earlier in 2022 which requires the Legislative Management Committee to form a working group tasked with studying the possibility of consolidating all Medical Cannabis regulation under a single regulating authority. The idea has a lot of merit. We just need to wait to find out what the working group determines.

As things currently stand, there are multiple agencies involved with regulating Medical Cannabis in Utah. The arrangement has both negative and positive aspects. Among the negative are the competing goals of multiple agencies that some say are causing a variety of problems, including inhibiting the supply chain.

A single regulating authority would streamline things. At least that is the theory. And if regulation can be streamlined, supply could be boosted, and access made easier. But there is also a big negative to consider: centralized, top-down control.

A Multi-Representational Agency

One of the proposals being looked at by the working group involves forming a single regulating agency comprised of representatives from government, healthcare, and the cannabis industry. A multi-representational agency would be able to regulate in a more collaborative way compared to a top-down, centralized governing body.

Whenever government operates outside a multi-representational scenario, viewpoints are limited. Ideas, opinions, and suggestions are less likely to make their way to the top because there are fewer of them. You end up with a bureaucratic model that tends to become more bureaucratic over time.

Should state lawmakers eventually decide to consolidate cannabis regulation under a single agency, here’s hoping they do so based on a multi-representational model. We need input from as many different viewpoints as possible. That is the only way to make the state’s Medical Cannabis program the best in the nation.

Greater Competition, More Options

A number of organizations that help pushed Senate Bill 153 through the 2022 session say that the state should also make some moves to increase competition and give patients more options. Again, both ideas have a lot of merit.

We know from experience that free markets do best when there is healthy competition among multiple players. Competition provides the incentive to do better. On the other hand, when industries consolidate, the incentive to keep customers happy wanes. Quality and customer service suffer as a result.

We do know that the supply chain in Utah is limited. We know that access is a problem for a lot of Medical Cannabis patients. If the state can address supply chain issues by encouraging greater competition, then let’s do it. One of the results would be more options for patients.

While the Working Group Works

For now, we are encouraged by the fact that there is a working group actively seeking at least one way to make the state’s Medical Cannabis program better. There is always room for improvement. In the meantime, we already have a pretty good program here in Utah.

Though our state is on the more conservative side, we have a fairly long qualifying conditions list that covers all the most commonly cited reasons for using Medical Cannabis. It includes things like chronic pain, cancer, PTSD, and seizure disorders.

In addition, it is not really too difficult to get a Medical Cannabis Card in Utah. Patients need only fill out electronic applications and then see a Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) or Limited Medical Provider (LMP).

Here at Utah Marijuana, we help patients obtain their Medical Cannabis Cards. We invite you to stop by any of the clinics we operate in the state. If you qualify, we can help you obtain a card that could ultimately change your life.

Medical Cannabis users are as susceptible to trends as anyone else. One of the hottest trends right now is that of microwaving your cannabis. It is a big enough trend that even celebrities are endorsing it. Doing so isn’t going to harm you, but we want you to know that microwaving Medical Cannabis isn’t a smart idea.

How Microwaves Work

To understand why we recommend against microwaving Medical Cannabis, we should probably explain how microwaves work. A microwave oven doesn’t actually cook food. It heats food by exciting water molecules. Those molecules vibrate when exposed to microwaves, and the vibrations produce heat.

Every piece of food you place in your microwave has at least some water content. As soon as you hit the ‘start’ button, microwaves begin hitting the surface of the food. Water molecules start vibrating, generating heat, and passing that heat through the food. In less than two minutes, your leftovers are hot and ready to eat.

Using the Mic to Decarboxylate

There appears to be a misunderstanding among people who think they can decarboxylate their cannabis by putting it in the microwave. Technically, that may be true when you are dealing with straight plant material. But practically speaking, it doesn’t really work.

When you burn cannabis, the heat produced by combustion decarboxylates the material. But combustion is a more tightly controlled process compared to microwaving.

Microwaving is inconsistent. It is also difficult to control the temperature of the plant material while it’s in the oven. As a result, certain portions of the plant material getting too hot would mean lowering the potency due to heating up cannabinoids past their evaporation point.

Stick to the Old Ways

If you consume medical cannabis by purchasing raw flower and using it to make edibles at home, stick to the old ways of doing things. Cooking your cannabis over the stove or utilizing a commercial infuser are your best bets. Both processes can be tightly controlled so that the plant material doesn’t get too hot.

Going with a microwave could ultimately reduce the potency of your medicine by either under-heating or over-heating it. It would probably take a lot of trial and error to figure out how to best microwave plant material without harming potency, but why waste valuable medicine on trial and error?

Microwaving Anything Else

It goes without saying that there isn’t any point in microwaving anything other than plant material. So even if you do decide to throw raw flower in the microwave, don’t bother trying to microwave Medical Cannabis products like gummies and tinctures.

Medical Cannabis products derived from plant material already contain decarboxylated cannabinoid acids. You cannot decarboxylate a second time. So heating such products not only does not increase their potency, but it could also actually decrease the potency by causing cannabinoids to evaporate.

As a Medical Cannabis user, you want your medications to be as potent as they can be. You are better off using them as-is rather than trying to improve them by way of a fad that has no scientific evidence behind it.

Please Educate Yourself

In closing, we want to encourage you to educate yourself about Medical Cannabis as much as possible. There is a ton to learn. We get it. But knowledge is the key to getting the most out of your medications.

A little research reveals why putting Medical Cannabis in a microwave is not a smart idea. Again, doing so will not harm you. But it could reduce the effectiveness of your medication. As expensive as Medical Cannabis is, reducing its effectiveness doesn’t make a lot of sense.

WNBA star Brittney Griner will spend the next nine years of her life in a Russian jail unless some sort of intervention frees her. Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges after she was found carrying a Medical Cannabis product in her luggage. Her tragic story is a reminder of the need for legal awareness within the Medical Cannabis community.

Griner’s use of a Medical Cannabis vape to help manage chronic pain is not considered unusual here in the U.S. In fact, it is pretty common in many parts of the world. But Medical Cannabis is not approved in Russia. There, possession still constitutes a crime.

America wishes Griner the best and hopes that some sort of deal can be worked out to bring her home. That would be the best resolution to what is otherwise an unpleasant situation. In the meantime, Medical Cannabis patients in the States should be constantly educating themselves on federal and state laws.

As a Treatment for Pain

Medical Cannabis consumption has only increased as more states have gotten on board. Care to guess what the number one reason for using it is? Treating chronic pain. Whether pain is the result of a sports injury, a car accident, or even an underlying medical condition, the majority of Medical Cannabis users cite pain as their qualifying condition.

The thing about chronic pain is that it doesn’t take a vacation when you leave home. If you leave Utah to enjoy a week-long vacation in California, your pain goes along for the ride. Whether or not you take your Medical Cannabis medicines with you is another matter.

By the letter of the law, you cannot transport the medications across state lines. That is a matter of both federal and Utah regulations. Are you likely to have a problem if you’re pulled over in California and found to have a vape pen in your luggage? Probably not. Traveling overseas could be a different thing, though.

Plan Before You Travel

Traveling is not always easy for a chronic pain patient. The travel itself can be uncomfortable, and then you need to worry about how you are going to manage until you return home. The best advice we can offer to Medical Cannabis patients is to plan before you travel. Legal awareness can help you to plan well in advance.

We don’t know about other states, but we do know that Utah makes provision for out-of-state visitors. Let’s say one of your out-of-state family members, who uses Medical Cannabis to treat chronic pain, is planning to visit you for Christmas. No worries. They could apply for a temporary Utah Medical Cannabis Card.

Utah law does not allow your family member to bring cannabis into the state. But with a valid temporary card, your family member could visit any Medical Cannabis pharmacy in the state to obtain medication.

Don’t Take Any Chances

Your pain travels with you whenever you leave home. There is no avoiding it. Still, don’t take any chances with Medical Cannabis. Do your research and plan before you travel. Be especially diligent if you are planning to travel overseas.

There are a lot of overseas destinations fully open to Medical Cannabis. Likewise, there are others that do not allow it. You need to know which are which before you hop on a plane. Otherwise, you could find yourself in quite a bit of trouble.

Medical Cannabis use continues to grow across the country. As it does, so should legal awareness. Patients should take the time to learn as much as they can about the law. Doing so is their best protection.

During your time as a Medical Cannabis patient, you may have noticed that your medicine gradually loses its effectiveness. As a result, your Pharmacy Medical Provider (PMP) has suggested that you take brief and regular breaks. You do and discover that things go back to normal. Your medicine starts working again. Do you understand why this is?

Those of us in the Medical Cannabis field recommend that patients take regular breaks. The breaks are sometimes referred to as tolerance breaks – or T-breaks if you prefer. The reason for our recommendation is found in the name itself: tolerance.

Tolerance Is a Physical Reaction

Tolerance is a physical reaction to a drug, a reaction that occurs when a person’s body gets used to that drug. Tolerance can be experienced with any kind of drug whatsoever; it is not limited to Medical Cannabis. But in the cannabis realm, tolerance is the result of how cannabinoid receptors in the brain interact with the drug.

A good way to illustrate tolerance is to discuss THC. As you know, THC is the cannabinoid that produces the high feeling in cannabis users. That feeling is the result of how THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain. If you only used Medical Cannabis once every few weeks, it is likely that the CB1 receptors would continue functioning normally. If you used every day though, it would be a different matter.

Cannabinoid receptors can gradually get used to the amount of THC they are exposed to. When that happens, you have the condition known as tolerance. Your brain gets used to a certain amount of THC in your system and adapts accordingly. Now, you do not experience the same effects from the same dosage. You need to increase your dosage to achieve the effects that you are looking for.

It’s Not Dependence

At this point, it must be made clear that tolerance is not dependence. Tolerance is simply a physical reaction to using Medical Cannabis – or any other drug, for that matter. This is not to say that marijuana dependence is impossible. It’s not. But the likelihood of it being a problem for Medical Canada’s patients under the supervision of a Qualified Medical Provider (QMP) are pretty low.

The reason for taking breaks is not to prevent dependence. Rather, it is to allow the cannabinoid receptors to reset themselves. The interesting thing is that there is no black-and-white formula we can apply to every Medical Cannabis patient.

A long-term patient using mostly Type I (THC dominant) products on a daily basis may need a break of several weeks if they have gone 10-12 months without a break. Such a long break might be too difficult for some patients, especially those who rely on Medical Cannabis to treat chronic pain. Perhaps a better plan would be to set aside three days per month as break days. The days need to be consecutive if they are at be of any value.

Consult With Your Medical Provider

The bottom line is that Medical Cannabis patients should consider taking regular breaks so that tolerance doesn’t become an issue. Otherwise, obtaining medicines can get awfully expensive. Managing tolerance makes it possible to consistently use the least amount of medicine to feel better.

If you are a Medical Cannabis patient and have any questions about tolerance or taking breaks, consult with your medical provider. That could be your QMP, LMP, or PMP. Regardless, your medical provider should be able to explain tolerance to you and recommend an adequate schedule for taking breaks. Please heed their advice. It is offered for your benefit.

Episode 109 of Utah in the Woods features Jacob Johnson, a Libertarian candidate for the Utah House of Representatives, District 9. Johnson shared some interesting insight about Libertarian ideologies regarding cannabis and other topics of interest in the Beehive State.

Podcast Transcript

Transcript coming soon.

Episode 108 of Utah in the Weeds features Brandon Voorhees, a “marijuana missionary” who made the switch from traditional painkillers to cannabis after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:
Welcome everyone out to episode 108 of Utah in the Weeds. My name is Tim Pickett, and I am the host here. A podcast about cannabis in cannabis culture starting right here in Utah, trying to branch out a little bit here and there. Today is a great episode, great conversation with Brandon Voorhees, a Utah patient that found medical cannabis after a traumatic brain injury in a horrific accident that you should really hear about. Traumatic brain injury is something that a lot of people suffer from after getting in a car accident or getting in a bicycle accident. We treat patients who’ve been hit by cars and things like that. Great story, great guy too. Just a real positive take on what could’ve ended up being … And really what was, for a time, a devastating, devastating injury and situation for him.

Tim Pickett:
From a housekeeping perspective, Utah in the Weeds is well into its second … 100 episodes, weekly episodes. We release every Friday at 4:20, or at least we try to stay up to date. If you know somebody who you’d like to have share their story, or if you’re somebody who feels like they want to share their story, go to Utahmarijuana.org and find the podcast. Reach out to us on YouTube at Discover Marijuana. We’re doing giveaways on Discover Marijuana every couple of months. This week, I believe we’re giving away a desktop vaporizer Volcano in partnership with one of the Utah cannabis pharmacies, WholesomeCo out of Bountiful, Utah. A great pharmacy there. They do home delivery all over the state. Go to YouTube Discover Marijuana to find out more there. Thanks for subscribing to Utah in the Weeds. Again, my name is Tim Pickett, enjoy this interview and discussion with Brandon Voorhees. How are you involved in the cannabis space now?

Brandon Voorhees:
I have been using cannabis as medicine for close to 15 years-ish now. 13 years-ish about that. And so I was using it under the radar in the beginning anyways or trying to. As far as signing petitions and things, I wasn’t on doing the footwork like I wish I could. I was working and supporting a family and things. I was still one of the first cards. I’m card number 180. When the bomb dropped that your doctor could write you a notice saying, “You’re got your” … This is at least legal. I went to my doctor and he pulled the “Well, we don’t know what to do about that yet.” And I was like “Well, I think it’s time to find a new doctor.”

Brandon Voorhees:
I don’t know if you know who Rita Rutland is out at Restorative Health. She was one of the first few writing a letter, or at least giving that permission to say, “Hey, this is” … “We’re using it as medicine. It’s not a bunch of crap, it’s not kids being stupid.” And so I was ready to fill out for my card 10 minutes before it actually opened up on the EPS or the-

Tim Pickett:
The EVS.

Brandon Voorhees:
EVS. And so I got my card. I had one of the first cards and was able to go down to Dragonfly and buy a tincture within probably the first week maybe.

Tim Pickett:
That’s cool.

Brandon Voorhees:
I was still in the very beginning. Because of it as well, I am all about trying to change the stigma like yourself. There’s so much that people think it’s about getting high, but if you looked at the list of medications I was on prior, that’s not even a comparison to what I was dealing with prior. I openly talk to people about this. I actually was able to speak at the Brain Injury Alliance’s Wellness Fair. It happened to be going on the same exact days that UCann was. But I was able to get Julian to come out and do a little talk with me. Putting something together to try and help people realize that there is a better option than the pills that are out there. And not just is it another option, but I personally feel a better option, it’s a natural option. It’s not another pill that you’re taking. I was on pills for the side effects of the other pills.

Brandon Voorhees:
And worst case with the cannabis is that a night with some munchies and sitting on the couch. Back in the day when I was on medications, there was no … What do they call it? A NARCAN pill or nothing to save your life if you OD’d on opioids. And I was being prescribed 60 Percocet 7.5 every month. I used to carry them around in a little pill box in my pocket like a Pez dispenser, and I was never, without at least 20 … Or actually, it was 60 Percocet 7.5s and I was always had 25 in my pocket. I was always scared to be without it because of pain.

Tim Pickett:
Really? And that’s a lot of them, but that’s real. I mean, that 25 of them in your pocket all the time because you’re really scared of not being with them. I don’t know. I got to take that-

Brandon Voorhees:
Scary.

Tim Pickett:
When you take it in as a medical provider, and I’m sitting here thinking well, you’ve got patients you’re prescribing these medications to and things like that, but when you really think about it, okay, no, this person actually carries around their supply because … There’s a couple of things that go through my mind. One, you really are so dependent on it that you have to have it very close, right. You need to know where it is at all times. That’s another thing, the fact that you’re mentally is … It’s like a comfort blanket to have those pills in your pocket or with you, right, it’s a woobie blanket. To put that much dependency on a substance like that. Just the fact that we’ve gotten to that point with people and we’ve … It’s not that providers encourage it, but they sure don’t seem to be dealing with it, right. Your provider wasn’t necessarily dealing with it I’m guessing, right? Just don’t overuse or else I’m going to drug test you and then I’m going to cut you off.

Brandon Voorhees:
And mine wasn’t like that. I don’t know how much of my history you know, or if you’ve read my story on … I was featured on Wholesome’s patient page a little while ago.

Tim Pickett:
Talk about your story. People really need to hear this.

Brandon Voorhees:
Even if you’re not religious, there’s guardian angels out there. One night I had just proposed to my girlfriend all excited. She went to go pick up two children that she had from a previous marriage and I went to go meet them at home. I stopped at a drive-thru and picked up some shakes, and I forgot to put my seatbelt back on when I got my wallet out. I take off down 3300 south, and just above 2000 east, I had a Jeep Wrangler that was a little bit lifted in things and I got in an accident where I clipped the other guy’s front end. What he says, what I remember don’t jive, but either way, I rolled and was ejected from my Jeep. Literally fell out the soft top hitting the right side of my head and my … The whole upper shoulder and everything on the street. My dog ran home 26 blocks. She took off and ran home.

Brandon Voorhees:
I was sent to the U of U. I had two epidural hematomas that they had to evacuate so they did a C scar or a C flap surgery they call it, where they cut open all around here and had it opened. I’ve got 16 titanium screws and eight straps holding the sections on my skull together here under where I pretty much crushed it on the street. With that, I had a couple fractured vertebrae, broken scapula, shoulder blade. My whole shoulder up here is just a scar from hitting the road. I woke up in the burn section of the ICU of the U of U Hospital four days later.

Brandon Voorhees:
When they went to release me, they found that I was leaking CT fluid out my sinus cavity from a fracture in the forehead so I had punctured my dura. So they put a spinal tap in and kept me in there for a few more days until that had resolved and then they sent me on my way.This was back June 3rd of 2005. So as far as resources for brain injury go, being released and resources for anything else that time really there was nothing. They made sure I could walk, and talk, and I wasn’t a vegetable, and they gave me my papers and sent me on my way.

Brandon Voorhees:
From there, I was having, not just the pain issues but I was having a lot of emotional issues. And so at that point, who do you go to? It was finding someone who had some knowledge of brain injury. And it was put on the usual pain medication opioids along with … There was Gabapentin, there was amitriptyline, Celexa, or Citalopram. A whole host of them that I actually went through the whole gambit of different ones where they changed it to Lyrica. Tried another one, it didn’t work out. I had gone through Trileptal and Tegretol. Not just headaches, but where the scar was from where they cut my head open right by my ear. The suspicion, or what their thought is, that the scar tissue is pushing against my trigeminal nerve-

Tim Pickett:
Oh wow.

Brandon Voorhees:
And so it’s causing trigeminal pain in my jaw. It feels like I got in a bar fight the night before. Usually, it’s my face and my teeth that hurt. A lot of facial pain, and that’s my biggest issue there. I was at the point where I was just talking to a pain specialist about a subdermal pain pump. I had gone through a Gamma knife to try and desensitize some of the pain in the nerve. I was doing acupuncture. Pretty much all of these things. With all the medications up and down I was too emotionally … My wife was ready to be done with me, it was bad. That’s where I was, at least my injuries, to put me to where I was at that point where it was just boiling over. Too many things that were not working and just hurting me more than helping.

Tim Pickett:
How many years did you go through this before … And did you find cannabis in … What years are we talking about? Your injury’s in 2005. This is a long time before cannabis is legal in Utah. There’s only a couple of states that it was even legal in that point and not something that I would imagine you even considered.

Brandon Voorhees:
It wasn’t for probably three or four years into it. I was 25. Or I was 28 so about 2008, just about 2009, where I was … I think we’d been on a trip to California … And I had used cannabis when I was a younger kid in later teen years, 17, 18, 19, and so I wasn’t … I was familiar with it, but it wasn’t until I was trying it later on that I was like wow, this is … Not just the pain issue, but it’s helping some of these other facets that are making it a little better off. One of the biggest problems with taking a handful of prescription pills for breakfast is you don’t … You’re not hungry, or it throws off your whole gut biome at the same time, which they’re now even finding out is your second brain.

Tim Pickett:
So I worked in GI surgery for seven years, and people who are on chronic medications, in general, but certainly chronic pain medications, and antidepressants, chronic pain medications, you talked about amitriptyline, you’re talking about messing with the motility of the gut in some serious ways. The other thing you’re about to say is, there are a significant amount of … The same receptors that we consider for depression, the serotonin receptors, there’s tons of those receptors in the gut, right. We’re talking about a lot of the same type of tissue. In fact, have you ever read that there’s a very similar tissue in the gut and the brain, right? This is somewhat similar tissue. So all these meds you’re taking for your brain injury are having a … They’re playing a number on your gut.

Brandon Voorhees:
Oh, yeah. And what good does your brain do if you can’t fuel it properly, if you’re not fueling it properly? I mean, my breakfast was maybe coffee, and then a lunch of a can of Pepsi, and then maybe I’d eat dinner because by then I would finally be hungry at the end of the day after all those pills had kicked off. It was not just their side effects but the trickling down other side effects of just taking them. Again, what good does a car do if you have no gas for it? It doesn’t get you anywhere.

Tim Pickett:
Right. So when did you start using cannabis at all?

Brandon Voorhees:
It was about 2008, 2009. Four or five years after my accident. Four.

Tim Pickett:
An aha moment you feel like or just something you were like oh, wow I mean, this feels good, it seems to help?

Brandon Voorhees:
That was a little bit of that aha moment. We had had a family trip to California and within that, there was a medication swap that threw me for a loop that was a family fight that I will not … I never want to bring up. That’s another side effect of medications. This is helping the pain and not stupefying me as much as the Percocets and the other issues. Because I was at that boiling-over point already, it was like I was reaching for something. Again, I told people I’d had an acupuncture appointment and people would look at you like you were crazy. You’re going to go get needles stuck in you. When you’re in enough pain, a bunch of needles being stuck in you, if it’s going to help, is nothing compared to other pains that you might be already feeling.

Tim Pickett:
Right.

Brandon Voorhees:
I was at that boiling-over point where I was searching outside the box. When the pain specialist told me, “You want to put me on oxycodone or Oxycontin, or whatever the strongest was at that point.” And then he talked about putting a pain pump under my skin that would refill monthly, that scared me to death. That scared me. And cannabis, the way it helped me … Because the only way to use it was to smoke it, inhalation. We didn’t have the options we now have here in Utah. That instant helping was huge. Because part of the problem I was finding also with the Percocet is, when you’re getting the onset of pain you have to take it or you weren’t going to get relief from it. You pretty much had to make sure. And sometimes was I going to be in pain? I don’t know but I was taking it anyways just to make sure because you didn’t want to be in pain it would ruin your day. Not just your day, it ruined your life. It ruins your life.

Brandon Voorhees:
And a Percocet takes how long to kick in? A good 45 minutes to an hour depending on what you’ve eaten. And then you’re stuck with it for a good six to eight hours, that whole issue with it as well. Smoking a little bit of cannabis at the time, I could wait for the onset. I could make sure I was having an actual pain onset or something was coming before I had to actually do it. And it was a lot more immediate. Granted, it did wear off a little bit sooner but sometimes I didn’t need that eight hours of relief. It’s not relief. Getting that over it in that hour or two was more what I needed rather than that Percocet that was stuck in my system for eight hours on that ride if you will.

Tim Pickett:
So essentially it’s giving you a little more control.

Brandon Voorhees:
Exactly. A lot more ability to cater it to what I’m doing. And now, with all the abilities or things we have here in Utah with … I love topicals. All day I’ve got a topical on this nerve here. That does an amazing job without giving me the head change or the effects that I’m not looking for when I’m trying to work or have clarity. The other idea of layering our medications now is huge to be able to get through a night of sleep.

Tim Pickett:
Yes, it is.

Brandon Voorhees:
The medication they had me on for sleep was Seroquel, which was a high, strong, bipolar medication, to my understanding. And the day they took me off that medication and put me on Ambien, Ambien just … I’d be laying in bed and be like I’m not even ready for bed, I’m high now because the Ambien was nowhere near what the Seroquel would do. Again, one more medication that was thrown into the gambit for this, that, the other. Guess what? Cannabis can also really help the sleep. I mean, it was finding where it was needed. And this one medicine, I could make it work where all this plethora of pills were being thrown at the wall and some helping but still throwing me more out of balance.

Tim Pickett:
So did you end up getting completely rid of your pain medicine?

Brandon Voorhees:
I still sometimes take some Tylenol PM or Advil PM once in a while, and, of course, some Advil or whatever. I’ve gotten completely off of any prescription pills other than now prescribed cannabis that I was on in that time period. And I also put part of that to changing my diet. Every morning I now start out with a … I’m not a vegan, but it’s a vegan all-in-one shake that’s got my probiotics, my protein, my fiber, my veggies for the day, but it’s at least putting that in there.

Brandon Voorhees:
Because I still have that feeling where I don’t want to eat in the morning from the years of medication, but I need to have something to fuel my body and so that’s the … I’ve changed the way not just the medications, but at least how I’m feeding my brain. My wife will tell you that she can tell when I haven’t had my shake in a few days, my all-in-one, because it starts to throw my brain off, it really does. It’s in linked with natural cannabis, natural foods, and helping all in one has changed a lot for me, it changed my life completely.

Tim Pickett:
So what is it being legal? What is cannabis being legal and accessible to somebody like you really mean beyond just the use, right? You’ve talked a little bit about how using it has really freed you from the brain fog, it’s given you more control. You’ve used it to help your diet and your gut biome. Cannabis has it sounds like has really changed your life, and yet there’s this legality piece of it that we really haven’t talked about. When you started using it was still illegal, still under … You were having to buy it out of state or buy it on the black market. But now, all that’s changed. What’s that legality meant for you personally?

Brandon Voorhees:
Because it still even has such a stigma even with now it having this accessibility issue, there’s still so many people that frown upon it. It brings me so much peace to where I feel I’m not having to hide it from an employer, I’m not hiding it from my family, I’m not hiding it from my neighbors and my religion, or all these things. When your brain or your computer is broken and you have to tell it that it’s thinking wrong or something, it just adds to the issues when you feel like you’re hiding something. You’re not good enough, or it’s not … You’re in the dark being sneaky about something.

Brandon Voorhees:
I do try to be as open as possible now about it. I’m lucky enough, at least the last couple employers, I’ve been able to say, “I use medical cannabis”. The last employer, it wasn’t even completely out yet and he said, “That’s fine. I’ve seen the way you work, I’m happy with your performance.” It’s such a relief, a huge relief, to just … A weight off your shoulders. I mean, to not have to worry about looking over your shoulder and worry … Driving in the rearview mirror or thinking that you’re going to get pulled over and go to jail. I mean, when you’ve got a family, that’s even scarier. That’s even scarier when it’s illegal and you’ve got your family involved. It’s not just you being stupid about something.

Tim Pickett:
It affects a lot of people. I think that it’s lost on a lot of people where that legality is so important. But you also bring up the other point of that which is the stigma associated with cannabis use. And legality can’t … It doesn’t necessarily get rid of that, right. It doesn’t get rid of the stigma. It does for a lot of people and it does a lot of good, but we’re … I hear you saying, you don’t feel like we’re there yet. We’re just not there yet.

Brandon Voorhees:
We’ve made such strides but we haven’t crossed that finish line. Because you talk about it and people still laugh and go, “Oh yeah, right.”

Tim Pickett:
Medical marijuana.

Brandon Voorhees:
Sometimes then they hear your story. Right.

Tim Pickett:
But then they listen to-

Brandon Voorhees:
Exactly.

Tim Pickett:
I’m telling you, I mean, you listen to a story like yours and you’re like no, let me paint you a picture right here of Brandon Voorhees who got in the accident in 2005, was essentially … Who took a handful of pills for breakfast. And now is a contributing member of society, he’s not addicted to pain pills. We’re 15 years later, I mean, congratulations, man.

Brandon Voorhees:
Thanks. It’s been a long rough road. It’s been a really long rough road.

Tim Pickett:
And we still have work to do for the other people, right, because there’s-

Brandon Voorhees:
A lot of work.

Tim Pickett:
For every Brandon there is out there, there’s got to be 10, 20, 30 people who are still really in that mode of get up, got to have 25 pills with me all day in my pocket. You know what we ought to do? Do you carry your cannabis with you like that? I mean, it doesn’t seem like you probably need to.

Brandon Voorhees:
That’s the other thing is I don’t. It’s something I can leave at home. And I now get to work at home, fortunately, but it was something where I would use at home, I wouldn’t have to leave or take it with me and use it at work. It’s not something I would have to do like that. So it makes it a lot nicer in the fact that I can use pretty much just at home and I’m not worried about it.

Tim Pickett:
We were just talking about the stigma and how the stigma, right, the stigma of cannabis is still such a big issue. But honestly, it’s getting better because if there’s 30 people out there that are you in the past, and one of them listens to the podcast and finds cannabis then I guess we’ve done our job, right?

Brandon Voorhees:
That’s the idea is, if there’s at least one person who finds a better way to manage their pain and have a better quality of life from it, I mean, that’s what matters. I would never wish on anybody what I went through and had to go through as a guinea pig to learn that lesson and to deal with it. I mean, it was a literal nightmare. There’s no way to describe. I mean, night sweats, day sweats, restless leg syndrome. I mean, so many things that you wouldn’t even think of with a medication that’s supposed to be helping you, and you’re getting these other issues that are nowhere near what … And again, then you’re taking another one to counteract that and that one’s causing these.

Brandon Voorhees:
They had me on Tegretol and Trileptal, or switched them off, my wife … It was like a narcolept. I would sit down and pass out in 30 seconds. My wife couldn’t leave me alone with the kids. It’s scary that people are so afraid of what cannabis does to you, and if you ever saw what I looked like on all these medications. The next day I’d be like “Honey, what did we have for dinner?”

Tim Pickett:
Right. There should be a meme, right? You could be your own meme. Everybody’s so worried about me being a stoner, but this was me before, right?

Brandon Voorhees:
Right. Exactly.

Tim Pickett:
Me before addicted to drugs and having trouble keeping down a job, get my family. Me on pot, have a job, have a family, happier. What things do you do for fun now?

Brandon Voorhees:
Camping. We’re a big camping family, we like the outdoors. Gosh, my wife likes to play in her garden so pretty much playing outside. As long as it hasn’t been 102 degrees to kill you lately, it’s trying to get outside and enjoy it.

Tim Pickett:
That’s cool. Are you restricted? Do you still get migraine headaches? You said you use a topical still. I mean, using all kinds of cannabis, but you still get migraines from the TBI and still have some-

Brandon Voorhees:
Somewhat. I rarely get migraines. I did come from a family of migraine sufferers before so they were … Genealogically I did have them here and there already but nothing more because of it. I guess something that we refer to as drive-bys in my family. It’s like a bubble or something, you can feel it work its way through. I’ll be sitting there doing dishes or something and have a pinch behind my eye and be able to feel it sort of move on through even if you will. Sometimes those leave a little bit more residual pain. Sometimes they’ll come and go and just be gone. Those seem to be the other one that’s a little bit harder on me is the drive-bys. I’ll get a few of those a day sometimes and sometimes I won’t have one at all. But the bigger issue like the weather and things, that’s what sets off my jaw again like when we get the weird monsoon season. Clouds that can’t make up its mind when it’s cloudy and sunny and cloudy and sunny.

Tim Pickett:
So dude, what do you do for work?

Brandon Voorhees:
I did small engine repair so I work on chainsaws, lawnmowers, rebuilding small engines, and things like that. I actually just got hired to do it over the phone pretty much and help out dealers over the phone doing it.

Tim Pickett:
Whoa. Virtual small engine repair?

Brandon Voorhees:
I work for the manufacturer. So if you call to get a warranty, I’m the guy that now is going to be like okay, did you try these things? You do these things?

Tim Pickett:
Right. That’s cool. How technology has moved the needle. This is totally random. So I’ve heard small engines are … They’re the thing that we need to replace because they pollute the air more than cars. Is this something you guys talk about at work?

Brandon Voorhees:
Yes. And there is a yes and no with all the … Everything’s got a pro and a con. You’re giving and taking with all of that. A lot of people will preach that a Tesla is super clean emissions. Well, if you’ve got enough solar panels at your house to power it, then sure it’s free energy. Most of our stuff is still coming from burning coal. If you’re plugging it into the grid at home, you’re not a zero-emission vehicle. Now, the idea is you’re zero-emission at the point of use. However, that is here nor there, you’re still going to be getting pollution. And the idea is lithium battery mining and all that jazz. You’re getting into other stuff too.

Tim Pickett:
For example, I got a gas blower and a gas edger at my house. My kids are like “Dad, we need to buy the battery-powered ones.” And I say, “Look, this one works, I don’t have to. If I buy a new one then the new one is … I’ve got to waste this one,” which is … This one’s already operational so repairing this one seems like it’s less bad for the environment than buying the new one. And essentially all the plastic, all the boxing, all the battery. All that stuff for the new one has a significant cost compared to just using the one I have. I get that it pollutes. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just starting to become an old man. Am I becoming my own father?

Brandon Voorhees:
No. Probably, partially, maybe. I don’t know your dad so maybe. There’s this idea that it’s not powerful enough and things like that. Now, where you were touching on. Manufacturers do have to go by an emission standard. Granted there’s certain things that people are more likely to do to their small engines on their own. Most people aren’t ripping off their mufflers and catalytic converters on their cars and getting away with it very long. There is a certain standard that if a shop got caught doing certain things to your equipment that goes against the EPA, we can get fined $50,000 so it’s a big deal to go against it and make it worse if you will. But I know of cases even where people have brought equipment over from Europe and they’re getting it taken away because it does not meet the standards of what we have here. A whole different game there.

Brandon Voorhees:
Now, when it comes to your equipment when it wears out, I would probably recommend going with that. But I wouldn’t say replacing it right now is helping out because then you are wasting what you have already and you’re just putting that [inaudible 00:35:36] sort of passing it along. But this is also a whole other sales aspect. If you want to know the pros and cons we can go into that where it’s … You never have to go get gas for it. There’s a lot less issues with a gas … Or I mean, a battery power equipment than a gas-powered. There’s a lot more things you can do to ruin a gas-powered equipment. Not the proper oil or things like that. Where battery is-

Tim Pickett:
Go.

Brandon Voorhees:
Plug it in and that’s pretty much all there is.

Tim Pickett:
Interesting tangent.

Brandon Voorhees:
The future will go there eventually.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, yeah, for sure, right. The future is all going to be … It just seems like it’s all going to be electric except for weed.

Brandon Voorhees:
Hardest thing so I don’t think so.

Tim Pickett:
Man, you’re never going to get-

Brandon Voorhees:
No, we vaporized it now.

Tim Pickett:
Well, okay. Are you a flower guy, edibles, vape carts? What works best? You talked about topicals a little bit. Do you have a favorite strain?

Brandon Voorhees:
I don’t have a favorite strain. See now with all the science these days you don’t talk about indica and sativas, we talk about the terpene profiles. Prior ADHD as well as with … One of the things with some people with brain injuries, the over stimulation, that too much going on. Compared to the medications I was on, I don’t mind something a little more sedating usually. I feel that’s that oh, okay, I can breathe. For me personally, that’s my effect with it. Where I do still like what would be a little more uplifting and what some people would call sativas, but I do tend to lean a little more on that heavier side.

Tim Pickett:
Indica side.

Brandon Voorhees:
Myrcene and things that are going to give me a little more sedation just because it’s a little more relaxing for me. And like I said, the medications I was on had me so lethargic already it doesn’t bother me as much. Where some people, they call it couch lock and would be stuck for hours. I’m still the guy who wants to go hiking.

Tim Pickett:
So how long do you think it took you to get a regimen down to where you know what to use and you learned how to use it? Take you a few months you think or did it … Are you still working on it?

Brandon Voorhees:
That’s what I was just going to say. I mean, besides where that healing process might be, what level you’re at. Things have changed so much and drastically over the last few years. Now that there’s tinctures available for me and different ratio edibles. I mean, what was that five years ago? There weren’t ratios of CBG to CBD. It was edibles and they were trying to make them stronger and more potent with THC all the time.

Brandon Voorhees:
When you are going through the black market, and there’s that old term you trust your dealer, there was a few places it was kind of … It’s like shopping for a pharmacy now. I had to go for a few times and find someone who was more about it as a medicine than it was about making the money or a profit on it. He was actually giving me better stuff at a lower cost, but it was more … I still even tell people he was my apothecary. It was somewhere where I could trust him a little more and know what I was getting. He knew more about it than what everybody else had at the time. And he was also getting some … Was supplying stuff from out of state that was a little more what you would call exotic back in the day. I mean, we never saw all these other things.

Brandon Voorhees:
So it has become changing that regimen, going with it, but I still … Flower is my go-to. It was what I always used and grew up with if you will, or it grew with me. I also find that the flower gives you that little more ability of, this one’s a little more sedating or this one’s a little more uplifting. Where your edible is the same almost every time except on how much you’ve eaten that day, or that can change it. Where a tincture is very uniform. I love how a tincture, you know what you’re going to get out of using it. It’s changed all the time and it’s worked up to where it is. Like I said before, years ago all it would’ve been was a bunch of flower. Now, it’s mostly topical with some flower here and there throughout the day maybe.

Tim Pickett:
Cool. Well, this has been fun. Is there something that we’ve missed? Anything else you really talk about?

Brandon Voorhees:
Something I put together myself. Being a TBI sufferer, being traumatic brain injury, I took that and rolled with it so I put together what I call TBI cannabis, which is just … If there’s someone out there who wants to be informed on cannabis … Like yourself, Tim, I’m not a doctor though, I’m not a pharmacist, but I’m the guy who had to learn the lesson the hard way and has a little bit more of here this is what I would recommend trying. Again, just from being the person who was there. Because I’ve been to the pharmacies even where I ask the pharmacist, “Oh, well, what do you use?” And when the pharmacist tells you he’s never tried cannabis of any sort but he is working in a cannabis pharmacy, you go, “Look, I respect your word of what your patients have told you, but you don’t that firsthand knowledge.” It’s harder to connect with them at that point.

Tim Pickett:
It’s something to be said about it.

Brandon Voorhees:
So that’s where I’ve put that together just as being … It’s not like it’s a business or anything at this point, but if someone wants to ask me about it they can hit me up at TBI.cannabis@gmail and I’m willing to just let you know “Hey, these are some resources.” Your information is probably the first thing I throw out is your YouTube videos is “Here, here’s some info because I’ll just be a flood of too much and you’ll never get it all. Here’s some stuff to pick through and see what might help with you.” I just want to get it out there. I mean, let these people know who don’t even consider it. Don’t laugh at it. Give it some thought. I mean, it’s not about the highs.

Tim Pickett:
Give it a try.

Brandon Voorhees:
It’s about a quality of life.

Tim Pickett:
No. Well said. Well, Brandon, I appreciate you coming on telling your story. I think it’s powerful to hear, it’s good for people to hear. We don’t hear enough of it, frankly. There’s a lot going on in the Utah cannabis space now, and the more we can continue to just push legitimacy and push this type of use, the more the program will expand organically I think. And the more people can find it, that it will help. Congratulations again.

Brandon Voorhees:
Thank you. Thank you much. And for yourself, I love all you do and I am just a huge fan of the show, all the shows you do. The information all around is just … It’s phenomenal. Thank you.

Tim Pickett:
Thanks. I appreciate that. For those of you who aren’t subscribed to the podcast Utah in the Weeds, Utah in the Weeds, my name’s Tim Pickett. Brandon Voorhees, thanks for coming on. Stay safe out there, everybody.

Episode 107 of Utah in the Weeds features Matt Hoffman, a Michigan man who is dedicated to cannabis philanthropy. Hoffman started one of the few nonprofit cannabis companies, and he shared some advice for those interested in working in the cannabis industry

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:
Welcome everybody to episode 107 of Utah in the Weeds. My name is Tim Pickett and I’m the host. Here’s a podcast about cannabis and cannabis culture. We’re expanding the program today after discussing with Lissa Reed about the Utah’s uplift program, the subsidy program that helps low income and terminally ill patients right here in Utah. If you haven’t heard that episode, go back and listen to episode 106. This episode is a discussion with Matt Hoffman, who is from Michigan, spent some time growing, producing and selling cannabis there in a legal gray area, spent some time in jail actually. After that experience, decided to turn everything on its head and start one of the first and only nonprofit cannabis companies in the United States. Talked to him about that experience and what he’s doing for the cannabis culture and the cannabis community, and people who want to work in cannabis space.

Tim Pickett:
This is an interesting conversation with somebody with an entirely different perspective in my opinion about cannabis. He doesn’t hold back his opinions about what’s happening in cannabis and his experience. Great. We cover a lot of stuff too in this conversation. From a housekeeping perspective, summer is well underway. If you need to renew your medical cannabis card, or you’re having trouble finding medical cannabis access in Utah, head over to utahmarijuana.org, you can find out tons of information there, and lots of information about specific conditions. The Utah program, you can find out a lot more on our YouTube channel, Discover Marijuana. This next few weeks we have a big giveaway on our YouTube channel, so pay attention to that. Subscribe where you can if you’d like. Comment, we always love to hear your comments and answer all of them.

Tim Pickett:
Again, my name’s Tim Pickett. Enjoy this conversation with Matt Hoffman. I joke sometimes with my staff, the only requirement to be adjacent to cannabis or in the cannabis business, one of the main requirements is you have to have microwaves in your office big enough to nuke the laptops if the black Suburban show up. You always have to have stuff like that in the back of your mind. It’s stories like yours that solidify it in people’s minds. You think about where we are now. I’m 36. I thought where we’d be when I was into my 50s, well into my 50s. If you were told 10 years ago that we were going to be here, I would’ve been like, “Fuck you. There is no way it’s going to be legal in Utah and any of that.” Right?

Matt Hoffman:
Right. You and I laugh about nuking laptops and having go bags and all this other stuff, but that was my reality, like it’s movie stuff. I think that people that are part of the culture now, they’re like, “No way that’s real.” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s real.” That’s how the industry functioned back then and back then was about five years ago.

Tim Pickett:
I know. Okay, so introduce yourself. I just want to hear the whole thing really.

Matt Hoffman:
Okay. Hi, I’m Matt Hoffman. I am a legacy cannabis owner and operator. I grew and owned a dispensary for a number of years in Western Michigan. After my tenure and time served for participating in the cannabis industry, I got out and realized that I was totally fucked because I couldn’t pursue a license that many hold now [inaudible 00:04:27]

Tim Pickett:
Because you’re a felon.

Matt Hoffman:
I sidestepped the felon [inaudible 00:04:33]

Tim Pickett:
Thank goodness.

Matt Hoffman:
They stacked me up with three of them and I was facing seven years. I got off pretty easy, but my life was in shambles regardless. I wasn’t able to do what I honed my skills over the years doing. We first started, I was… If you bought a [inaudible 00:04:56] from me, you get a quarter of seeds and stems and I probably got a couple pieces of shitty schwag weed.

Tim Pickett:
This is in Michigan?

Matt Hoffman:
This is in Western Michigan. This is over here by Lake Michigan.

Tim Pickett:
Okay.

Matt Hoffman:
Over the years of just living, eating, sleeping, and breathing cannabis, we ended up winning back-to-back-to-back caregiver cups in 2015 and ended up doing 1.3 million a year in revenue through our dispensary, which we started with our family’s 401(k) of $37,000.

Tim Pickett:
How does that work? How do you get your family to say, “Oh, I know, this is a really great idea, Matt. You should take our retirement plan and invest in a federally illegal business and grow weed.”

Matt Hoffman:
I think charm and persuasion is a gift I have. Apparently I have an abundance of it because I convinced my family to cash in their 401(k) and start a illegal enterprise with me. It starts as any other pitch is feed people, make sure they have to go to the bathroom and they’ve had a relatively good day and just have a conversation and it went, “Hey, how do you think life’s going to go?” My mom said, “Oh, I think I’m going to fall over debt at my desk.” I said, “Well, I’m probably going to work in a factory and die broken and standing in a machine.” Here is this thing that is legal now in Michigan. I think we could have a go at it.” Drug dealers do it. We’re smarter than them. We’re educated, so we could do it and we did and failed for three years straight.

Matt Hoffman:
Both of us ended up working two jobs and building our grow and messing up and learning. There were resources back then, but we kept at it. It paid off. It took about eight years to get that million, but we did. After that you can’t do what I did in the time and in the place that I was doing it and not get in trouble. It’s almost impossible. I got in trouble and then went away for a while and got out and thought, “Okay, well, what do I do? I’m fucked.” We had an idea for a workforce development agency, like indeed of weed. We started a tech company. I’ve never run a tech company before. I had no idea what I was doing. It blew up wildly successful and holy crap. We were inundated with people asking for help. Can you help us make a resume? Should I bring weed to an interview? Should I bring a plant to an interview? Should I wear a tie? Will my skills translate. Help me, help me, help.

Tim Pickett:
Wow. This is something I didn’t know about you. What year was this?

Matt Hoffman:
Oh, this was like 2017, 2016.

Tim Pickett:
You get online, you create this tech company that focuses on the cannabis industry, jobs, connecting people who need to work together. The indeed of weed is a good way to put it.

Matt Hoffman:
Then people would pay to list their jobs.

Tim Pickett:
Yep.

Matt Hoffman:
What happened is we ended up making more money off of valuations and headhunting than we did off the technology. The technology was an aggregate for people to come to us because it didn’t exist at that point in time. There wasn’t people that were really out and knowledgeable that could talk with another grower and say, “Hey, this guy knows what they’re talking about.” Or they say, they’re here and they’re really here. We think they’d be good here. We did a lot of valuations and placing people.

Tim Pickett:
Boy, I feel like that’s still really a necessary thing because I still run into people and no offense, if you’re one of the… I’m not going to pick anybody out. In this short period of time I’ve been in this space, I’ve met a lot of people and there is a significant number of people who will tell you, they are God’s gift growing the plant. They know everything there is to know about the science, the growing, the cycles, the education, they’re amazing. Really, when you dig into it, they could barely grow a tomato compared to somebody who really can do it up. Set up the growth facility, put it all together, put the humidity, all the machines and the equipment and all that. There’s so much more to it. It seems like that would be a really necessary thing to do those valuations where you can take somebody and say, “Okay, well, give me your resume. I’ll tell you where you actually fit.”

Matt Hoffman:
Well, it morphed. We had a guy… I was actually talking to him today. One of our first alumni, Dane, he was one of those guys that couldn’t get a job. The word master grower is thrown around a lot. It’s a self-appointed title. There are people that are master growers, but they would never call themselves that, but I would. I would say Dane is de facto master grower. I know that because I know my business and I’ve grown for more than a decade. Also, because he proved out. He came to us where we ended up rolling that for profit, indeed of weed, company was called handgrown.jobs.

Matt Hoffman:
We rolled that into a nonprofit called Our Cannabis because the demand was so overwhelming for people like Dane, who could… He didn’t really talk the talk, he just walk the walk. He needed to be able to come in and get a job and health insurance and W-2s and all the things that a lot of people in traditional industries take for granted. When he came to us he had, no bullshit, he had 11 page resume. It read like a novel. He had been looking for a job for a year. It was readily apparent to us and my team within five minutes of talking to him like, “Whoa, this guy’s awesome.” The problem is that our recruiter, a headhunter, an HR person, they would never read the novel that he wrote as his resume. He didn’t know how to get their attention. We do. My mom’s background, her master’s degrees in education and workforce development. She worked at multiple nonprofit agencies, helping refugees find work.

Matt Hoffman:
She doesn’t speak a second language, by the way. She helped mentally and physically disabled adults find work rather job training. She did program development for the State of Michigan. This is kind of our thing. We said, “Okay, well, we have this cannabis background and we’ve got all these people that are asking for help. Then we have mom’s workforce development pedigree. She’s been doing it for 30 years, so let’s start a nonprofit that focuses on helping people write resumes and prep for interviews and go through the negotiation process, which most people don’t even know that they can do and support them throughout their careers. That was formed in 2018. We’ve rolled everything into that. It’s a robust suite of services that helps people now. It’s built on her professional background and our professional background and in the cannabis field. That’s what I do now is chair and then fundraise major gifts for cannabis charities.

Tim Pickett:
How did you get a 501(c)(3) approved?

Matt Hoffman:
Fuck if I know. It took four years.

Tim Pickett:
What people don’t realize is normally when you set up a 501(c)(3), it’s a six-month waiting period. You do the application process, you turn it in and then you got to wait six months. I don’t know why. Sure there’s reasons the governments like you can’t start a nonprofit if you have a million dollars. You need to sell all your stocks and put it in a nonprofit, whatever, tomorrow you can’t do that like a normal business. You have to have this whole application process. Then typically wait six months. In the cannabis space, it’s not, and it took you four years to get it approved.

Matt Hoffman:
I don’t think that I need all my fingers to count the registered 501(c)(3) cannabis nonprofits in the world. There’re just aren’t that many because it’s incredibly difficult to do. There are so many hoops that you have to jump through. Let’s just say, if you wanted to be a 501(c)(3), that’s an arduous task in and of itself. For us, they had a lot of questions and they move at their own time table and then there was a pandemic and so we got lost in there. It was a lot of us on the phone saying… They would go, “Okay, your name is Our Cannabis.” It was a debate between the founders and the board and I. They thought, “Hey, let’s do like Americans for prosperity.” I said, “Fuck that.” Can I curse on your show?

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, podcasts have no rules basically. You know, no rules. We haven’t broken enough rules yet to get in trouble. I should put it that way.

Matt Hoffman:
Okay, good. I said, “Fuck that. We’re planning the flag at the top of the hill. We’re call ourself Our Cannabis because fuck them”.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, like “We’re going to do what we’re going to do.” We’re obeying all the rules. This isn’t illegal, what we’re doing. We can call it whatever we want. We have this conversation all the time.

Matt Hoffman:
It was future forward. I was looking forward and it was saying, “Hey, in 20 years, this thing that is a liability because it is a fucking liability right now, this thing in 20 years is going to be a massive asset.” To be that explicit, to be that at the top of the hill planting the flag, that’s over the horizon posturing. I said, “Well, I’m from cannabis.” We fought with the state and local and federal government, like, “I’m not really afraid of anything or anybody because I fought the biggest guys in the room and they pummeled me, but I didn’t die.” I went, “Well, so what? Let’s do it.” We still had challenges with it. In my view it was worth it.

Matt Hoffman:
My board still disagrees with me. As far as the naming and trying to go all the way… Yeah, they said, “Matt, why do you want to go pick a fight?” I said, “Because I can, and because we can win, and because we were winning guys, we’re winning.” That’s something that I think is lost on cannabis in general is at some point in time we stopped asking and start conquering. It was a conquering mindset.

Matt Hoffman:
It’s a winning mindset of we’re going to call ourself something explicit like Our Cannabis, because it won’t be taboo in a very short… When we started this interview, one of the first things we said was imagine 10 years ago where we’d be today and we’re only accelerating from this point forward.

Tim Pickett:
We have to remember that. We are only accelerating from this point forward, despite the periodic, what looks as setbacks, right? There has to be. I do a lot of medical evaluations. I see a lot of patients. That’s our primary… That’s my primary thing. I teach people how to smoke weed for a living and nice. It’s extremely rewarding that I come from a medical background and I teach at the University of Utah Medical School, their cannabis program.

Tim Pickett:
When we go up there, I have to really focus on… It is not all awesome, right? Cannabis isn’t all the answers to all of your problems. There is a significant like psychosis. There is a significant correlation between psychosis and cannabis, especially in young people. We don’t know the answer, but we know there’s this five times more likely thing that’s correlated between heavy cannabis use and young people developing psychosis, like, “Look that might be a setback for the industry, but if you don’t acknowledge it, it will come up as a skeleton later and you’re going to be dealing with it later if you’re not dealing with it now. You can’t get legitimacy for all of the wonderful things that it does in opioid reduction and benzo reduction and sleep medicine reduction. Literally 79% of our patients use less prescription medications within six months, right?”

Tim Pickett:
Well, I can’t get to that legitimacy without acknowledging the hiccups, but you are absolutely right. In my opinion, it’s accelerating. I respect your board, but I tend to lean on your side. That’s the point of a board is feedback. You go in a closed room and you argue it out. There’s the quorum and it’s professional. At times is passionate. That’s the point of the board.

Matt Hoffman:
For sure.

Tim Pickett:
Are you into all the states?

Matt Hoffman:
As far as what I do exclusively, everything is focused on the nonprofit. I don’t grow, I don’t sell, I don’t do that anymore. I don’t have the desire. A real quick aside, I don’t have desire because anybody could do that. More students that come through the programs, more people that are trained up and mentored, anybody could grow weed and do it consistently and do a fine job. Okay. Not anybody can do what I do because they don’t know what I know when they’re not in the position that I’m in. I’m solely focused on cannabis philanthropy, impacting people’s lives and through workforce development and enriching them that way. Finding meaningful work. To answer your question, we are all across North America. We have worked with people in Australia and India, all across Europe. We don’t have the capacity right now to support Spanish job seekers. We have in the past I brought… My aunt is a fluent Spanish speaker. She’s a Spanish teacher doing it for like 20 years. We brought her in to help some Spanish speakers.

Matt Hoffman:
Yeah, we’re all over the place. Anywhere, there’s a medical or recreational cannabis program, we are forming relationships with state agencies and making them aware that a resource like ours exist and programs with proven track records are there to support the workforce. That’s [inaudible 00:20:54]

Tim Pickett:
When you go into a state, like here in Utah, would you go to the regulators and say, “Hey, we have a platform that not only will connect people, professionals, and you want us really to be successful because you want a professional program.” Do you also offer with the classes and education, it standardizes that level of the budtenders, the patient advocates or the people who work in the dispensaries. Are you training them as well?

Matt Hoffman:
God, no. We’ve veered right away from that because we looked at it and went, “Okay, the universities are going to come in and we would like to be a resource in what we know and flip a coin in the jar collectively for that.” The standardizations and the certificates and all that is in my view, too big of a thing for any one individual to tackle. When it comes to accountants, if I went to the University of Nebraska and I got an accounting degree, it would be acknowledged in Miami, where with certificates and things like that in cannabis that is more often than not the case. Our view was let’s let academia catch up and then be a resource for them and let them collectively use their might to tie everything together.

Tim Pickett:
We’ve run into that same type of thing. I’m sure in the beginning, people were constantly saying, you should develop a program. You should develop education. You have all these people that need your services. You could charge for it, but it does not standardize.

Matt Hoffman:
Then you got to work for it. You got to go sell it. You got to standardize it. You got to compete.

Tim Pickett:
That’s not the wheelhouse you want to be in.

Matt Hoffman:
No. Why would somebody want a red cup certificate when they could go to the University of Michigan?

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, when you speak of master growers. In Utah, we have the Utah State University, which is one of the best agriculture and farming and growing universities, probably in the world. They have really, really good programs. Why not go there? Right? They’re going to figure it out.

Matt Hoffman:
Exactly.

Tim Pickett:
They’re going to develop a program, probably ought to just let them do it.

Matt Hoffman:
Well, what the savvy universities are doing is they’re finding guys like me that are keen on education and sharing the knowledge. They’re bringing us in to be guest lecturers, which I’ve done for a number of years. The other side of the fence, the guys from my side are getting their credentials up so they can become educators themselves at some of these programs. That’s where you get people that have real world practical in the field experience that can come into an institutional framework and provide the maximum value for the students. That’s exciting to me. When you talk about Utah and their ag program, I’m like, “Man, if there were some guys that were legacy growers that would come in, that’d be cool.” The state would have to get the license, which is starting to happen. Mississippi had a cultivation license, a research license for a number of years. We’re starting to see that where some of the universities from the state level are being given special licenses, special uses to actually cultivate cannabis at the facility.

Tim Pickett:
Mississippi, you used that example. They were producing like a 100 marijuana cigarettes for the veterans and they’d ship them all over the country. You’d get your allotment of a 100 marijuana cigarettes, Mississippi weed. I don’t know what type of research they still do, but I think Penn State has some research in medicine that they’re doing. I know…

Matt Hoffman:
North Carolina’s hemp. I know that.

Tim Pickett:
Utah has tried to incorporate and change their laws to allow the University of Utah to do some medical research because we have a big cancer research facility here. You fit well into all these places because I’m thinking, “Well, where do you get the person who knows how to set that up, right?” You have to be you.

Matt Hoffman:
The way that it was done and the way that it’s still done now is if you want the guy and I’m not the guy, but let’s say, I’m the guy. If you want the guy, guess what? The guy is getting mega bucks either because he’s either a part of a leadership of either a regional or a multi-state operator or he is at the helm of his own company or he’s still underground. There’s not many incentives for that guy to come and be a part of anything because to be a part of cannabis is the pursuit of ferocious independence. We’re a wild bunch. That’s why we do what we do. The prospect of coming in and playing well with others is not one for most guys. What we’ve done is we’ve found people that have this particular skill set and then we match them and we fill in their weaknesses with other people’s strengths, where you could have the guy come in and do three roles, you’ll have four or five other people come in, assemble and do the role of the guy.

Tim Pickett:
Interesting way to look at it. I wouldn’t have thought about it this way. All the people that I know who you could hire to do this, they’re not interested. They already have either their own thing underground on the secondary market as I would consider it, right? Or they’re in a multi-state operation and they’re making great money on that side, or they’re in jail. What was that like? How long were you in jail? Do you want to talk… Do you talk about this a lot?

Matt Hoffman:
Not really. I was there for four months and to be honest, it was a vacation. It was wonderful. It was hell, don’t get me wrong. It was hell. At the time my company had just… We had just crest it and I was working so much that the only time that I would get a break was… I drove a Lincoln, and I got one of those monthly passes to get a car wash. The only time that I would get a break was I would go to the car wash and turn off my phone, turn off my radio and I just closed my eyes during the car wash. I did it so much that it actually removed the paint off my car. I was so burnt out because it was a criminal enterprise. It wasn’t like I could bring on, I had a staff of 12 people that I paid cash and that were like my ride or die people. I couldn’t scale because of the nature of my business. It being a criminal enterprise, it was operationally gray area.

Matt Hoffman:
There were no protections. There really weren’t incentives unless the local or state or federal police wanted you. I was burned. I was just strapped to the outside of a rocket ship. When they came and got me, everything was in place. Everything was fine. It ran without me. I ended up getting a job in jail where I go and make 19 pots of coffee for the East Grand Rapids road commission and clean their bathroom and read a book every day. For me it was… I would’ve never stopped. I would’ve had a stroke or a heart attack and probably died from the stress. Going to jail and having to fist fight somebody or watch people fist fight over a remote control or play cards or watch people steal it, fuck each other up. I didn’t care because I was from the world. I was from the underground. Unfortunately, that is a currency in that world. It didn’t phase me, but I didn’t have the burden and the stress because my team was at the helm. I had strong people. The team was at the helm of the business, which ended up being taken.

Matt Hoffman:
I think the effect it had on me was one, it forced me to take a break, but I didn’t get the punishment until afterwards, when several asset forfeiture was leveraged and all of my assets were taken. I don’t know how they didn’t take my house. I think it was because I was remodeling at the time. They thought that it was like a [inaudible 00:30:49] or something. They didn’t take my house, which was great, but they took everything else. When I came out, I was financially destitute. I don’t listen to good advice. I act on it. I was very lucky, or fortunate or blessed, whatever you want to call it early on to get tied in with some very smart people in finance and illegal. They said, “Matt, we love you bud, but you’re going to burn. You need to go bury some cash in the yard type of stuff.” They showed me how to protect some of my assets. I was able to restart when I got back out and it was the most gnarly brutal thing that I’ve ever gone through.

Matt Hoffman:
I thought, “Oh my God, I have all the advantages of the world.” I am haggard, like my guts are hanging out. I’m wrapped. It took years for us to get back on our feet. I thought other people that don’t have even a fraction of what I have are so fucked, it’s not even funny. These are my people, like, “What can we do to help them?” That’s where the idea for indeed of weed came through. Also, all I’d ever done professionally was grow a cannabis companies. I didn’t know how to do anything else. It was shocking for me to go, “Okay, well the State of Michigan’s issuing licenses. I’m connected. I’m respected. I have resources. I’m a known entity and people are throwing money around left and right, but I couldn’t even own a fraction of a share of company.” It just killed me.

Matt Hoffman:
I thought, “Okay, well in service of myself, how can I service others?” I went down a different path in life that it’s so challenging. One running a cannabis nonprofit is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, which is fun to me. It’s been so enriching because I can share what I know and the resources that I have and help other people live better lives. If I was growing weed and selling weed, I’d have a private jet and do whatever I want, but it’s money. At some point in time and I’ve been at this point. At some point in time, you make so much money, you don’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t enjoy my life because I was too focused on making money. To answer your question, what jail did for me, was it reset me?

Tim Pickett:
Sounds like it almost just completely reset the paradigm that you were living in and yet it kept you… What’s interesting about that is it changed your outlook, your paradigm, but it didn’t change your skillset necessarily, right? You knew how to grow cannabis. You knew how to grow a business in that way.

Matt Hoffman:
I understood all the components of business from the branding to the to… Branding like this to the marketing, to customer relations. All of it. All the things that a business needs, I learned. I wasn’t too worried because I understood the systems of business and enterprise. I knew that I could make money one way or another. I was angry for quite a while because I was excellent at what I did because I paid my dues and then to be able to… I’m not saying I’m Michael Jordan of weed, but this is the first one I’ve grad. It would be like Michael Jordan having to sit on the bench and watch others play. It just killed me.

Tim Pickett:
What was the rules that made it so you can’t because I think these rules exist in Utah in most states. What were the rules that made it so you couldn’t be a license holder in Michigan?

Matt Hoffman:
It was pretty cut and dry. They just said if you’ve got a conviction of any type, then you’re excluded from holding any portion of a license. At the time it was so that I couldn’t even be an employee without going before a board and having a board review and then approve or deny my employee status.

Tim Pickett:
Yep. This is very, very similar to the Utah law originally. They wouldn’t let anybody be any part of it. Then they modified it I believe last year to allow people to work in the industry, maybe not be an owner. I don’t know if that ever changed or if that has changed yet, but, at least now you can work in the space. It’s incremental, it is so tragic that you could get in trouble for something that was really a legal gray area at one point or against the law. Literally you want to do the same exact thing legally, and you’re good at it, but you can’t because you did it before, like literally your experience is what is keeping you from the job.

Matt Hoffman:
My experience qualifies me for the job, but excludes me from having it.

Tim Pickett:
Keeps people in the black market.

Matt Hoffman:
It does. What’s interesting is we’re starting to see companies, not just mom-and-pops. We’re starting to see companies shuttering. Terrapin had a location here in Michigan. They have a few, but they liquidated all of their assets. They employees came in, they said, “Hey, Friday’s going to be your last day. Will you work through Friday?” By Friday, they shuttered the store and they completely removed themselves from the Michigan market. We’re starting to see the cooling down of the market. It’s not because of the demand in weed. The demand in weed is still up there. It’s that bills are coming due and runways have run out and yields are not what they meant to be and then price per pound is down.

Matt Hoffman:
All the market factors are starting to come into play. The people that are able operators are doing just fine, but everybody else is suffering. For me, I’ve got a dozen people right now that were laid off and I’m going, “Oh my God. The companies that are doing well, don’t have high turnover because people are happily working there, but they’re not hiring either.” We’ve got all these experienced people that we take them from one sunken ship and put them on another burning one. It’s a very tumultuous period that we’re entering.

Tim Pickett:
You feel like we’re entering it just now? We’re just coming into it. You feel like we’ve been in it for a little while?

Matt Hoffman:
We’ve been in it for about six months.

Tim Pickett:
When you see the Curaleaf stock graph, is just one big slippery slide down. I love those guys and I’ve got some friends who are great people, but the stock price is getting crushed.

Matt Hoffman:
Yeah, I think it was… I don’t know if it’s a reckoning.

Tim Pickett:
It kind of is. Investors will look at the tech money, Uber… What did I read the other day? Uber subsidized all the rides. We’ve been taking for so long now, “Hey, you got to pay for that ride.” What used to cost you $15 to get downtown is now 40, because that’s what it costs. That’s always what it cost. We’ve been subsidizing it. Now we got to pay the piper a little.

Matt Hoffman:
What’s interesting is I was talking to somebody about this earlier today and I said, “Look, what you guys are experiencing in the legal market has been at play in the black market forever.” Guys like me… Oh man. Okay, I’m not going to say something crass. Okay. Yep. It’s unfortunate what’s happening to the staff. That’s all I’m going to say. The people that rode into town and thought they were going to just show all the cannabis people, how to do it, they’re laughing stock. The problem is that they weren’t wise enough to listen and heed the advice to the people that have been around, and it’s destroying people’s lives. That’s not funny to me. A bro losing his money, that’s funny to me, without the consequences that’s funny. I think what will happen is we’ll start to see companies do things that are unique to them. For example, if I was operating, I would only carry what I grew. I would only grow what my people wanted, because that’s what I found success doing. I didn’t grow everything.

Matt Hoffman:
I grew what my people wanted, several thousand people and my people solicited feedback. We said, “Okay, tick it on the Excel sheet. People liked Night Nurse, so we grew the crap out of Night Nurse. We grew only what our people wanted and we stopped taking on new customers. We only focused on servicing the people that we had and that we focused on servicing them so well that they never even thought about going anywhere else.

Tim Pickett:
Ah, old school business. Instead of trying to take over the world, try to take care of your community, right? The local doc down the street, he doesn’t need 14 providers, he just needs to take care of the people that he takes care of and he can still live in a nice house and go on vacation twice a year. That’s okay.

Matt Hoffman:
No, if we think about conquest, conquest takes decades. It doesn’t happen fast. The ones that try to do it fast, they overextend… I love playing the board game Risk. You get the guy that he get a good roll and he’ll run across the board. Okay, cool, he spreads something. I’m going to eat him up. I won’t push into his territory, but I’ll make him pay for his mistake. It’s understanding that keeping the cost of goods grown low, keeping the cost of goods sold low, keeping a consistent and happy customer base builds strength. Then when I want to move on something, when a company is begging an investor to come and buy their $4 million investment for $300,000, okay, here’s the cash. Thanks for the assets. Good rent. “Hey, you know what? You’re really good at this. Go start another company.”

Tim Pickett:
Call me when you needed… Call me when you need another buyout.

Matt Hoffman:
Yeah, so it’s been something where-

Tim Pickett:
It the MedMen’s story, right. Get too big, too quick and you can’t keep up with everything.

Matt Hoffman:
The truth is that growing cannabis is incredibly lucrative. Anybody who’s not making money in this is doing it totally wrong. It’s totally wrong. Understanding having a growth plan for the business itself because even when times are lame people still buy. Even when the price is low, people still buy. It’s having that plan and then running it for years. That gets people to the position that they can start to make bigger moves over time. It’s a matter of perspective.

Tim Pickett:
If somebody was going to go out… What do you think is needed in the cannabis space now that you’ve been on both sides, really before and the nonprofit side. Do you have any advice really for the whole industry now that you’ve seen both sides? Is there something other than you’re growing too fast and here’s the reckoning?

Matt Hoffman:
Put your money where your mouth is? We’ve put year to date. I wish it was year to date. So far to date, the Hoffman family has put in over 350,000 of our dollars into our nonprofit. We put our money where our mouth is. We don’t just say, “Hey, we might do good later.” We gave when it when it was a pound of flesh for us and we kept giving. I think the people that are new to the culture don’t understand that generosity of cannabis. People that are from cannabis are incredibly giving in time and money and in spirit. That’s something that is lost on the new age of licensees. They’ll say, “Matt, we love what you’re doing, but we’re just not in a position to give.” I have a response for that, and the one that I’m going to say now is not it, every dollar matters. It’s the act of giving. It’s the act of charities. It’s the act of supporting other people who, while one person is struggling… While I may be struggling, there may be somebody who’s having a harder go than I am.

Matt Hoffman:
The cannabis community, because of the nature of the war on drugs, we supported each other.

Tim Pickett:
Yep.

Matt Hoffman:
That’s something that’s lost on this group. They don’t understand that we can’t give $100,000. We can’t give a million dollars. Okay. Can you give $200? Can you give 50 bucks? Can you give a dollar today? What can you do today to help somebody else? They say nothing. Nothing. I say, “Okay. Well, that tells me what I need to know about the culture and how these people understand or don’t understand the community of cannabis.” It’s not about taking. It’s about giving. Most of the companies are not into giving.

Tim Pickett:
Interesting. I can totally understand where you’re coming from. I have much less experience in the cannabis industry than you. I’ve much more experience, my background is all medicine and even that industry is very reticent to give back. They know how to make money in medicine.

Matt Hoffman:
Think about the risks that you have taken and the stigma that you have faced doing what you do now, that’s a sacrifice for you. You’ve sacrificed whether you know it or not. You’ve given whether you know it or not, that to endeavor into this space is a personal risk. That’s part of the charity. That’s part of the generosity is you say, “Hey, you know what? There may be ramifications for this action, but I’m going to [inaudible 00:46:21].

Tim Pickett:
I’m going to go out there. I’m going to put the flag on top of the hill and say, “Hey, you need good info on cannabis. You can come through me. You need a job in the cannabis space, I’m Matt Hoffman, here you go.”

Matt Hoffman:
You need to learn how to smoke joints?

Tim Pickett:
You can call Tim.

Matt Hoffman:
[inaudible 00:46:38] Tim.

Tim Pickett:
Right. Call Tim. I’ll show you exactly how to do it. Maybe I’ll tweak that a little bit and help you feel better. I like the idea. I think you’ve definitely made me think about every dollar, right? The charity needs to happen now as you’re going, not when you’ve reached the end. It’s now. Any advice for somebody who wants to start a nonprofit in or adjacent to the cannabis space other than good luck.

Matt Hoffman:
Okay. Yeah, good luck. Okay, so couple of things, go and read every… Okay, this advice is for board members or would be founders, okay. You’re not going to be able to and if you can, if I’m wrong, I have to eat my words then bully for you. For the most part, you’re not going to be able to hire a professional fundraiser for a couple reasons. One is you can’t afford them. Two, professional fundraisers, they’re like first round sport draft picks. They can go do anything they want to do. They’re not going to want to come and work at some plucky startup that’s got no money. Ask me how I know.

Matt Hoffman:
My first bit of advice would be, don’t spend a dollar until you’ve done a couple things. One, see if there is a problem to be solved and if you’re the person to solve it. If there’s somebody else that’s already solving that problem, then go and volunteer and help them. Make sure there’s a clear demonstrateable problem that you can clearly solve. The next thing is go and build a board. You don’t want to board more than 12 to 15 people, but go and talk to a dozen people and say, “Hey, I have this idea of this problem. I’m the guy to solve it. I think you’d be a great contributor to that. Would you consider if I did this coming on and being a board member?” Before you do that, go and read what the role of a board member is. Then lay out a couple expectations.

Matt Hoffman:
The real point of a board is counsel and those passionate debates. Also, they are the people that can introduce you to people who may be open to supporting the cause. Okay. Raising money is the crux of it. If it were… Well, it was me. What I did is I read every single fundraising book there was, and then I hounded as many people as I could and I just annoyed them with page after page after page of questions until, I think they respected me enough to take me seriously and they would engage with me. Then I took classes with a lady named Amy Eisenstein. I took all of her classes, all her podcasts, all of her one-on-ones. It was the best money that I ever spent.

Matt Hoffman:
There are universities, the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Saint Mary’s School of Philanthropy at Minnesota. Go and study… Actually spend the time and do the coursework and learn how these function because a nonprofit is a totally… Okay, dolphins and giraffes are mammals, but they have nothing in common, other than they’re mammals. That’s where the commonalities end for for-profits and nonprofits. Just because I was a beast that my for-profit enterprise did. The things that made me really good at that business were actually hindrances as a nonprofit operator. If you’ve got the luxury to go and take curriculum at a university, do it. If not, join the association of fundraising professionals and then just read. Go on Amazon and buy literally every book and read it, cover to cover about a dozen times before you spend any money. Then endeavor. Go for it and then strap in for a couple years because you’re not going to raise any money right away. If you do, great for you.

Matt Hoffman:
Typically, most nonprofits start with a group of wonderful people that like me said, “Hey, this is a problem. We’re going to solve it.” The world’s going to say, yeah, that’s a great thing and they’re going to throw money at me. It doesn’t work that way.

Tim Pickett:
In the cannabis space, you can’t take donations from cannabis companies with 280E.

Matt Hoffman:
I’ve stopped having that discussion. I’ve said talk to your tax professional and however you want to support us, we will take the check. That’s how I’ve done it because of the 280E application.

Tim Pickett:
Right.

Matt Hoffman:
That’s the Godzilla stomping around the field without a doubt.

Tim Pickett:
At the same time, there’s always creative ways to donate if you want to get it done, right? You want to contribute, there’s ways to do it.

Matt Hoffman:
There is, and it’s not about the money. It’s not about somebody giving $2 million. It’s about the fact that they gave. Okay, so here a bit of statistics about nonprofits and fundraising. One is 8 out of 10, first-time donors only make a gift one time. That’s horrible because the largest gifts come from the seventh or eighth gift. Nonprofits spend a lot of time acquiring new donors and they do a terrible job keeping the donors. It’s called stewardship. Showing the donors the impact. Here’s how many cups of water we fed to dehydrated people. Wells, we dug. Penguins we clean. People we got jobs in cannabis… Cats we neutered. Nonprofits, if you show the impact, then donors have a higher propensity to give again. Then you’ll get to that seventh or eight gift where we’ve seen many times where someone will make a gift of 100 or $200 for a number of years. Then they’ll be asked, “We’ve seen that you really support the mission. Would you consider making a gift to our capital campaign so we can build an extra 20 wells?” They go, “Yeah, absolutely.” Then they’ll cut a check for $100,000.

Matt Hoffman:
A way to get to that seventh or eighth gift is stewardship and that’s show the wells. Show the cats. Show the people working. Show the impact. Then people are 74% more likely to make a second gift if they’re thanked within 24 hours. If you sent us a check for 100 bucks. I just texted you and I said, “Hey, Tim, we got your check. You’re awesome. Thank you.” That would increase your likelihood of making a second gift by 74%. Longstanding statistic and philanthropy and that’s the nice thing about nonprofit work is that through the reporting to the IRS, because everything’s transparent, you can see the data sets and the data doesn’t lie. If somebody makes a gift or does anything for you just in life, if you thank them immediately, they’re more likely to do something kind for you again in the future.

Matt Hoffman:
Those are just some things to consider going in that I wish that I knew because I was an eager beaver. I was calling everybody I knew and just bombing because I didn’t know what I was doing, so get trained.

Tim Pickett:
Cool. What’s your favorite strain? You still have a favorite strain?

Matt Hoffman:
I do. Honestly, I’d have to say Night Nurse. That was the one I grew that I’m smoking right now. I don’t even know right now. I had some buddies come up from Florida and they got a bunch of joints and they didn’t want to fly with it so they left it. I’m just grabbing one and smoking it. You know what it is?

Tim Pickett:
That’s funny, Night Nurse though, huh?

Matt Hoffman:
Night Nurse, anything that’s going to be really like a tranquilizer.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Matt Hoffman:
For some reason, cannabis is a bit of like an upper for me, which I don’t particularly enjoy because it makes me manic and I don’t particularly enjoy that. Something that would be more of a couch lock or a sedative going to bed, hits me where I’m just chill. I can go mow the yard, do whatever and I’m good.

Tim Pickett:
Cool.

Matt Hoffman:
What about you?

Tim Pickett:
Fatso. My favorite strain altogether is Fatso. It’s a high THC strain, can be very high. If I use a lot of it can be almost hallucinogenic to me, so it’s really creative. I’ll almost consult it, right. I’ll consult the Fatso, if I’ve got a problem to solve. When I’m outpacing and I pace and I have a whiteboard to see if my whiteboard behind me, I’ll write on the whiteboard. I write out stuff, shitlike, and it’s… I always save a little bit.

Tim Pickett:
There’s a guy who grows it an hour away for the medical market, and his particularly Sugar House Select is the brand. When he grows it, it’s the way, I’ve become a big fan of that one strain. I am like you, I get pretty paranoid. Sometimes I have to even set a timer on my watch. That’s like, “Okay, I didn’t have chest pain an hour ago. In two hours if I don’t have chest pain, I won’t go to the ER, but certainly right now I think I’m having a heart attack.” I get that way with sativas, so for me, I’m same way. I like a little more sedative chill type experience.

Tim Pickett:
I hurt my back in February when I was using it. I realized that when you hurt yourself, you’ve got to use a lot more. If you’re really using it for acute pain, you got to lay into it pretty heavy. I learned a lot that period of time. Anyway, where can people go to connect with you to get more information, to get jobs in cannabis?

Matt Hoffman:
Yeah, the best way to reach me directly is honestly on LinkedIn, Matt Hoffman, H-O-F-F M-A-N-N. I think I have an unhealthy obsession with LinkedIn, so I’m on it constantly. The best way to get a hold of the organization is to go to our O-U-R cannabis.org. You can sign up for classes when we’re running them. Right now we’re doing one-on-ones and we’ll walk you through the process. Everything is no cost. At no point in time we say, “Hey, Tim, we need 50 bucks to finish your resume or $200 to do this negotiation training.” Everything is no cost because when someone asks for help, you just help. We don’t want any barriers, especially one being money to helping people have access to the more often than not transformative opportunities of finding a new job.

Tim Pickett:
Cool.

Matt Hoffman:
That’s the best way to get hold of us.

Tim Pickett:
Cool. Well, thanks Matt. It’s been a real pleasure and honestly I hope that we are able to continue our conversation and work together. All right, everybody stay safe out there.

The 106th episode of Utah in the Weeds features Lissa Reed, Community Programs Manager for Utah Therapeutic Health Center. Part of Lissa’s job is overseeing “Uplift,” a Medical Cannabis subsidy program for low-income and terminally-ill patients.

Since its launch last December, Uplift has raised more than $53,000 to subsidize Medical Cannabis evaluations. Thanks to Lissa’s hard work, and donations from the community and UTTHC’s partners, 194 patients have already benefited from the program.

Podcast Transcript

Tim Pickett:
Welcome everybody out to Episode 106 of Utah in the Weeds. My name is Tim Pickett and I am the host. Here is a great episode describing and interviewing and discussing and conversing with a good friend of mine, Lissa Reed, who is the manager of the Uplift program. Oh, there’s the dog in the background. He’s howling because he likes the program too. So Uplift is a great program in Utah designed for low income and terminally ill patients who need access to medical cannabis, and it’s a subsidy program. We describe how the program works here and get to know Lissa Reed too, who is an amazing part of the team. Somebody with a deep background, as you’ll hear, in community development and community program development, frankly.

Tim Pickett:
She’s a great individual. I’m very excited to share this with you because when you do good things, good things happen. We’ve raised a lot of money for people in Utah. It’s a program that does nothing but give back to the community. And I think it’s kind of designed… I know I’m patting ourselves on the back a little bit because I feel like it’s designed and implemented in a way that does nothing but good for the whole system for medical cannabis here in Utah. So I’m excited to share this with you. Lissa Reed a good friend of mine, Utah in the Weeds. Okay, Lissa Reed, Alessandra Reed.

Lissa Reed:
That’s me. Hi.

Tim Pickett:
When did you first smoke cannabis?

Lissa Reed:
Oh, it was, it was 4/20 and I was in high school.

Tim Pickett:
In south Florida?

Lissa Reed:
South Florida, yeah. I grew up near Fort Lauderdale in the suburb out there. And I remember that I had been talking to some of my weed smoking friends for a few months about what it’s like to smoke weed. And I was like, “That sounds good. I think I’m ready to try it.” And then 4/20 hit and everyone was making their 4/20 plans and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll come.” So it was real shady because we were high schoolers in a state where it’s not legal. So we hid behind some kind of tree or something, smoked a bowl, and then I had to go to-

Tim Pickett:
Was it a glass bowl or was it like a… do you remember?

Lissa Reed:
I think it was probably a glass bowl.

Tim Pickett:
Like with a lighter, a Bic lighter?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah. Oh yeah, of course.

Tim Pickett:
Okay. And just whatever weed anybody could get.

Lissa Reed:
It was weed that’s as much as I knew.

Tim Pickett:
Then you had to go somewhere?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, I had a piano lesson that night, that evening, which was bold of me. But I remember coming home from hanging out with my friends and being like, “Okay, I’ve got to play piano and make sure I can do this in front of my teacher.” And I was like, “Oh my God, I’m amazing at piano.”

Tim Pickett:
So you sat down to the piano and you’re like just getting into it.

Lissa Reed:
I was like, “Wow, weed made me so good at things.” I’m sure it didn’t. I was just high. But yeah, I made it through the lesson. Nobody brought it up so I don’t think she knew.

Tim Pickett:
Wow, that’s pretty good.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, and it was all downhill from there.

Tim Pickett:
Then of course it was like, “Oh yeah, I did that once I can do it again.” Did you ever get paranoid though? I always remember in high school just the paranoia of… it was so much fun right up until the moment I inhaled, and then after that it was just like, oh man, I was so worried about everything.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah. I look back and I’m like, “Why did I keep doing that?” Because I was definitely paranoid all the time.

Tim Pickett:
All the time.

Lissa Reed:
Like was it even fun or was it just fun to be rebellious?

Tim Pickett:
Breaking rules is fun. Yeah, I feel the same way.

Lissa Reed:
It actually has taken me a long time to get over the paranoia, like till recently.

Tim Pickett:
Oh really? What made you get over it? Just like using different strains, different products? Or was it the experience, giving yourself permission to be high?

Lissa Reed:
I think that working in this industry, it definitely has happened since joining the cannabis industry, where occasionally I’ll be like, “Oh, everyone’s a little bit high today, maybe I’ll try it at work.” Like I’m in some pain, maybe it’s okay for me to take a hit right now and then see if I can still keep my wits about me. And I think I’ve learned like what works for me when I’m medicated and what doesn’t work for me, what kind of tasks, and so I’m less worried all the time like, “Oh, everyone thinks I’m an idiot right now because I’m high and I don’t know what to do.” I can regulate it more.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, I feel like I can plan it out. Now if I have a three o’clock meeting or I need to record a podcast, I mean, there’s a couple of podcasts that I’ve been a little medicated. Not a lot though because, I don’t know, just the way my brain works, I don’t love to have conversations where I have to think about questions and where the direction… I guess it’s the direction of the conversation. If I feel like I need to guide the conversation in a specific way, I don’t like to be high. If I don’t need to guide the conversation at all and I just need to be present, that’s a totally different scenario.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, that makes sense. I feel like if I’m doing really logistical work, I do not. I will wait to medicate until later. But if it’s more conversational, like I work events occasionally, if I’m out talking to the community that’s a good time for me to medicate if I need to.

Tim Pickett:
To medicate, yeah. I’ve found that there are people who… I met somebody who does social media for a company and they found that medicating before they do all their… they pre-plan all their posts, and I guess it’s easier to come up with quippy little statements… and to think about yourself like absolutely that’s going to work great, post. That’s going to work great, schedule that one, and not being so inhibited with worrying about what you’re going to say. With things that really, I mean they matter, and you want to say good things, but-

Lissa Reed:
But you don’t need to really stress over every single detail and make sure it’s going to work. Right?

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. Okay, so tell us the story. I think I know the story, but tell everybody the story of how you got into cannabis, because I feel like this is… Yeah, okay, I want to know the story. So you’re in Florida. You’re going to school. You graduate high school, thank goodness, the weed didn’t kill you.

Lissa Reed:
I made it.

Tim Pickett:
Thank goodness. Okay, so then did you go to college in Florida first?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, I went to Florida State for my bachelor’s. Got it in music theory. Played a bunch of music up there. While I was in my undergrad, I was on The Students for Sensible Drug Policy Club. I don’t know if you knew that.

Tim Pickett:
What was that like? I didn’t know that.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah. I guess I’ve just always been like pro drugs. I think drugs are fun and good if you educate yourself and want to explore what your brain’s like. So The Students for Sensible Drug Policy is exactly what it sounds like it is, it’s students advocating for drug policy changes.

Tim Pickett:
How much impact do you think those students actually have?

Lissa Reed:
Well, in my time there… I think there’s a lot of local impact that can be made. I haven’t really kept up with the org on a national scale lately so I don’t really know what they’re doing now… but in my time there I’m pretty sure that SSDP was really involved in getting good Samaritan laws in Florida, which is if you’re with somebody who’s doing an illegal drug and you are too, but that person overdoses, you have amnesty if you call for medical help. They can’t charge you for the drug use or the paraphernalia charges because you’re trying to save someone’s life right now. So I think that was an impact we had. And then they’ve been pretty involved in getting naloxone centers, harm prevention type stuff.

Tim Pickett:
Well, I mean, they’re the ones in the thick of it, so to speak. Right? I’m here, I need the naloxone right now, like listen to me.

Lissa Reed:
So I think those groups have a lot of impact that way. And then another thing we did was a lot of education on campus. We would bring in speakers and stuff and just kind of try to move a cultural shift.

Tim Pickett:
Then you went to Ohio next?

Lissa Reed:
Did my master’s at Ohio State also in music theory. I didn’t do any interesting cannabis related things there other than smoke weed.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, well it’s Ohio. But The Ohio State, “The”, and it’s trademarked now. Did you hear that? The “The” is trade… they own it, they own the “The”.

Lissa Reed:
We, we own the “The”, as a Buckeye.

Tim Pickett:
Of course you do, of course you do. Why does one study music theory and then go on to get a masters in music theory? I’m sure that’s a really pressing question that everybody wants to know the answer to. I’m smiling right now because we’re friends, but I love music and I do understand now more talking to you that there is… well, there’s theory and there’s science kind of behind all things, music is no different. But what made you want to go on and get a master’s?

Lissa Reed:
Well, my goal was a PhD, which I will get to, I guess, but I wanted to teach and I got to teach throughout all of grad school. I got to teach undergrad music theory classes. And what really got me into music theory is I was always pretty good at music and I always hated practicing my instruments. And I was like how do I do music in a way that doesn’t make me sit alone in a practice room for eight hours a day and drive myself crazy? And so music theory is kind of like, I like to call it like the linguistics of music sometimes, or the math of music. It’s kind of just the mechanical ways that notes fit together to create different effects. So scales and chords, how are those things built? Those are kind of the building blocks of music theory. And I always really liked those logic puzzle type things, math things have always just kind of worked for me. So that’s why I went into that because I was like, “Oh, I could just do puzzles all day and listen to cool music. That’s great.”

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, okay, that does make a lot of sense. And I like the logic part of it. So you finish at The Ohio State, then you go to… where’d you go in New York?

Lissa Reed:
The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Tim Pickett:
What does your family think about all this? You started in Florida, you go to Ohio, do you have a lot of siblings?

Lissa Reed:
I have two siblings and we have all moved around several times as an adult. So that’s kind of the norm. We all moved out to go to college and then landed in different places from there. I at least stayed in the country. Both my siblings spent decent amounts of time in different countries.

Tim Pickett:
Was that encouraged by your parents?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, totally. They were like, “Yeah, follow your dreams. You’re succeeding. You’re doing what you want to do. If that brings you to Japan for a summer, if it brings you to South Korea every year, great. Go out and do it.”

Tim Pickett:
What did your parents do for work? Did they both work?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah. My mom worked in advertising. She worked for a parenting magazine, which actually made for a great childhood for me, very convenient. All kinds of fun kid’s events. And then my dad did something in software. I never understood it. He’s gone now. So I can’t ask clarifying questions.

Tim Pickett:
So a parenting magazine and then and all these events for the magazine, do you feel like that’s where you got your… you enjoy events because when you were a kid you used to go to these fun events?

Lissa Reed:
Totally, and it was also my first job. Once I was 14, I think, I started working at those events for her.

Tim Pickett:
What did you do?

Lissa Reed:
Just like manning a table, helping kids do crafts or sitting in a dunk tank. I did a lot of costume characters. I was the Easter bunny a few times at events.

Tim Pickett:
Oh wow. All for this parenting magazine. What kind of booths do these events have? I can’t imagine a parenting booth, like a don’t hit your kid booth?

Lissa Reed:
I think it’s more like advertising for products and locations. The event would be at the museum or at the zoo or something, and it was a place kids wanted to go and then they had all these community partners that would set up booths of tables.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, cool. So you go to New York and you teach because now you’re working on your PhD, and this is 2018, 19?

Lissa Reed:
2017 I started my PhD. Yeah, I went to New York, the Eastman School of Music. It was, still is, one of the top schools in music theory in the country. So it was kind of always my dream school. And then I got there and it turned out the dream wasn’t wasn’t really my dream anymore. There’s a lot of emotion in this for me because it was the life path I had set myself on from like age 16. I was just going to get a PhD in music theory and become a professor. And I worked, I was in school for like 10 years working on that, and towards the end of it the academic life started to appeal less and less. It’s a really, really overworked space where you’re just expected to be working a hundred percent of the time. And also you are your own product.

Lissa Reed:
I had to market myself as an academic and I just found that that really didn’t work for me. I love being part of a team, I love having a common goal and I just couldn’t get motivated by I have to be the best. I have to show that I deserve one of the few academic jobs that are out there by being better than everyone that I’m friends with.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, because the people you would be working with at all would be the people who are striving for the same goal you are in a really limited field. So during that time, so you worked for the drug policy in Florida, but then you worked, you did more nonprofit work in New York.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah. I co-founded and for a year I co-ran it, this organization called Project Spectrum and it is an org that is dedicated to diversity and equity and inclusion and access in all music academia, all that kind of like academic music studies world. So not necessarily the performance world, but all these nerds who are getting PhDs and stuck in these really just inequitable spaces that do a lot of harm to marginalize people. I was one of those marginalized people. I am a queer black woman, so there were a lot of ways that the music academic space was just doing harm to me and my communities. And so a few of us kind of started this org to start making some changes in the way that we talk about people in our fields.

Tim Pickett:
Was it mostly just to bring up the conversation and to kind of expose it do you feel like?

Lissa Reed:
That’s definitely a big part of it. And we really had a big impact on that conversation.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, you did?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
I mean, I imagine if you’re not talking about it before and you have people that are academics that have skills of communication, and it’s 2017/18, is this the timeframe?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, yep.

Tim Pickett:
Right? So, I mean, you’re going to have a pretty big voice pretty quickly in the circles because you already have, I mean, you’re already working on your PhD, you’re already kind of somebody in this small pond, so you’re going to stir the pond.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, and then the other thing is, so our org was entirely run by grad students of color, which was awesome. It was people from different schools that we kind of networked at conferences and then decided to start this thing. And it’s fairly common in academia that scholars of color who make it are already at the best schools. So we were all kind of from these elite schools which meant that we had networks that had influence. Like it was me from Eastman and a couple people from Harvard. I think we had a Yale, we had a U Chicago. So yeah, so we had these networks of impact already and that really was useful.

Tim Pickett:
I mean, what did the work look like?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah. I’ll say first, I’m talking about this organization in past tense but they are still alive and well and doing amazing things since I’ve left academia. If you are happening to listen to Utah in the Weeds podcast and you’re in music academia, hi, let’s be friends and also go check out Project Spectrum. So we did a bunch of different projects. Our first thing was a conference. It was called Diversifying Music Academia and our theme was strengthening the pipeline. So we had this conference, it was in San Antonio and we planned it so it would be right before the big music conference that happens every year so that people would already be flying in and they could just come out a couple days early and come to our conference on diversity in music academia. And that really worked, we had about 120 people come to our very first conference. We were this new org asking people to fly in early.

Lissa Reed:
And there were just enough people in the field that were hungry for those kinds of conversations so they came out. And we had workshops, we had speakers, we had networking and fellowship events and it was all centered around this idea of strengthening the pipeline for marginalized scholars. So that kind of is looking at all the ways between being an undergrad and becoming a professor, all of these leaky spots that marginalized scholars tend to leave that pipeline, tend to leak out or be pushed out, we were kind of trying to look at all these different stages of a scholars career and where are the holes that we can plug for diverse scholars?

Tim Pickett:
That’s cool. I mean, I like this. It really is your you from the beginning to now. And as you get to know people, I don’t know if everybody is like this, but certainly it almost is like you enhance yourself. You’re like enhancing yourself as you go along your life journey and you totally have done this, at least so far. I mean, it’s certainly not over with yet. No, no, definitely haven’t arrived to all the things that you want to do. Okay, so then COVID hits.

Lissa Reed:
So COVID hits, I was working… Oh, I did a lot of music psychology research, so at the time I had a grant from the National Science Foundation. I was working on this big multi-site study on music cognition. And our lab got shut down when COVID got shut down, we couldn’t keep testing human subjects. So I came out to Utah because my sister had moved out here by then. And I was like, “I don’t know how long this COVID thing’s going to last, but I don’t want to be stuck in my one bedroom apartment by myself not working, so I’ll come out and be with my family and help with the childcare of my niece while everyone else is working from home.”

Lissa Reed:
So I showed up like March of 2020 and I stayed for about two months at first. And then it was time to go back and I realized I really, really didn’t want to. I just decided to move out here so I just went back and got my stuff and came back. And at that point I was still in school, I was doing remote. I was kind of done with my coursework and I was teaching a class still and working on my dissertation. And so I was like, “I can do this from anywhere. I don’t need to be in Rochester,” which was not my favorite place I’ve lived already. So yeah, I stuck with it remote in my apartment in Utah. And then over that next year, I was like, “Oh, it wasn’t just Rochester that I wanted to leave. It’s this whole shebang.”

Tim Pickett:
This whole thing. Okay, so that’s when you started working for Utah Therapeutic?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
And that’s when our paths crossed. But there was this other piece that you did with this bail. Remember that bail? Remember that thing two?

Lissa Reed:
So when I first moved out here, I was working a little bit with…

Tim Pickett:
What are they called?

Lissa Reed:
What are they called?

Tim Pickett:
I know what they do, right, so I know what they call…

Lissa Reed:
This is so embarrassing.

Tim Pickett:
They support giving bail to low income… do they focus on minorities or just low income people who cannot afford their own bail?

Lissa Reed:
I think if they don’t have bail.

Tim Pickett:
Because if you’re rich, if you’re rich or you have any money, you can go get… I think you can go get a bond, somebody will post your bail for you. But if you’re broke, you stay in jail.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, whether you’re convicted or not. You just have to wait there.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, you just wait there. So it’s really not-

Lissa Reed:
And that ruins people’s lives. You lose your job if you don’t show up for three days. And if you’re innocent and you’re stuck in jail just because you don’t have money, now you have even less money when you come out because you lost your job.

Tim Pickett:
I know it’s really such a broken system. An acquaintance of mine has been involved in the system for a little while and has money, and at least enough money to pay all the fees. And I mean it’s like a siphon. It just siphons money away from people. The parole, the meetings, the testing, the lawyers, the home confinement. I mean everything costs money. You want the ankle thing, you’ve got to pay for it. Everything just all costs money. And the bail and not being able to get out, that would be pretty rough. When you first told me about this organization, I thought, “Well, this is kind of crazy. They’re letting criminals out of,” of course my white privileged mind is like, “They’re letting criminals out of the jail.” But when I started thinking about it like, well, it doesn’t make sense.

Lissa Reed:
Criminals are getting out of jail as long as they have money.

Tim Pickett:
That’s the only people that have to stay. Yeah, exactly.

Lissa Reed:
So it’s the Salt Lake City Bail Fund or Salt Lake Community Bail Fund, and that is kind of affiliated with Decarcerate Utah, that’s the org that I was working with for a little bit. The bail fund is just one of their projects in this larger decarceration effort in Utah. But they just will pay, they raise money and they use it to pay the bail of whoever needs it, whoever needs their bail paid.

Tim Pickett:
That’s cool. That’s a cool little organization.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, it’s really cool.

Tim Pickett:
I think, especially when now we get into talking about cannabis and there’s so many people that have been incarcerated for cannabis and really just stupid charges. And then if you’re broke, you can’t get out. That sucks.

Lissa Reed:
It’s terrible.

Tim Pickett:
Okay, so you start working in cannabis, but now, what do you do now?

Lissa Reed:
Okay, present day. So I started working for UTTHC-

Tim Pickett:
Fast forward.

Lissa Reed:
Started out doing outreach and events mainly, and as I was doing all this community outreach I just couldn’t kind of let go of the fact that a lot of people who need medical cannabis just can’t access it because of that same thing, they just can’t afford it. And so maybe they’re still using cannabis, but without a med card and they’re at risk legally there because they just can’t afford the med card, or maybe they’re just in pain and they don’t have access to the kind of medicine that can help them. Or they’re on 10 different opiates or whatever. And so doing all this outreach, I was like, “You know what we need to do for outreach is we need to find money to help get our services to the people who can’t afford it.” So I started the Uplift program and that is what I run now.

Tim Pickett:
Just like that?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah. I was like, “Hey Tim, is it okay if I start this program and run it and you keep paying me?” And then you were like, “Okay.”

Tim Pickett:
It kind of was about that easy.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, it really was.

Tim Pickett:
If I remember it.

Lissa Reed:
It was. Well, you were really invested too.

Tim Pickett:
I mean, I feel like there was… Oh totally, because I mean we’re going along with the evaluations and cards and there was a lot of people that were complaining that they couldn’t get access and I was seeing it too. The program is literally designed for the most sick. How did we get this program passed in Utah? Well, we bring the most sick, the most traumatized, we bring those people to the capital. Now granted we raise a bunch of signatures, but we literally used the stories that are the most impactful, have the most chance of impacting a legislator, and those are the stories that… a lot of those stories revolve around people who can’t afford the product or they can’t afford the evaluation or they’re not getting the good education because they’re asking some… I mean, sorry folks, but they’re just asking some doctor who doesn’t know shit about cannabis how to use it.

Tim Pickett:
So when you say we need to design this program that gives back to those people that literally helped us pass this, helped us get legal cannabis in Utah, it just seemed to make sense. Now I love the idea because then it’s a puzzle that we can solve. I remember trying to figure out well, how are we going to make this create a self-perpetuating machine that can do this?

Lissa Reed:
Keep bringing in the money and keep bringing in the patients, yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Right, I love that part of Uplift because that’s my personality, I like to solve those types of problems.

Lissa Reed:
You and I both. And it’s always so fun.

Tim Pickett:
Well see, the chords, the music theory, right, you’re like putting these puzzles together. How do we do this? So how does Uplift work? We have found, you and I have found, that this is somewhat unique in kind of the US. We don’t know of another program that does this. If you’re out there and you have a program, love this, like this, we’d love to hear about it.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, comment below.

Tim Pickett:
Comment below and slam the subscribe button.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, okay. So Uplift works… it’s kind of similar to the Salt Lake Bail Fund actually, we bring in money and then we use it to get med cards to people who need it. So more complexly, we raise money from individual donations, mostly our own patients have been so generous when we tell them about this program. They’re like, “Yes, I want to help somebody else get a med card who needs it.” And so a lot of our patients donate. We get a lot of online donations too. And then we have several industry partners that we work with and that we refer patients to, have agreed to match donations alongside UTTHC. So the first thousand dollars that we raise every single month is matched by UTTHC and by each of our industry partners, most of them are dispensaries or pharmacies.

Tim Pickett:
Who’s our industry partners now?

Lissa Reed:
Right now?

Tim Pickett:
In Utah?

Lissa Reed:
Right now we’ve got WholesomeCo Cannabis, we’ve got Deseret Wellness, we’ve got Zion Medicinal, we’ve got Block Pharmacy, and we’ve got Perfect Earth Modern Apothecary, and UTTHC is also matching donations.

Tim Pickett:
So six times matching.

Lissa Reed:
Yes.

Tim Pickett:
And Curaleaf has wants to join the program.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, we’ve got some folks that are excited to join on and if you’re listening to this, we still are always happy to bring in more sponsors.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. I mean, I’m mentioning these people because literally if you are listening and you’re not one of those groups-

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, what are you doing?

Tim Pickett:
You really should be.

Lissa Reed:
What are you doing?

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, what are you doing? The first thousand dollars goes back. It directly funds patients to get their evaluation, get good education, get their med card. And then all of those pharmacies supply a discount to those patients in order to help them on the other side.

Lissa Reed:
That’s right. And that’s one of my favorite things about the Uplift program is we are really focused on the med card side because that’s what we do at UTTHC. We do the evaluations, we do the patient education, we help navigate them through the whole process of state certification and all of that, but we don’t touch the product. We don’t touch cannabis actually in our business. But of course that’s where most cannabis patient’s money goes. They get the evaluation, that’s done for six months, and then they still have to go out and buy out of pocket their medicine. So I am just so thankful that our Uplift cosponsors have agreed to do this 25% discount for Uplift patients on cannabis products in their pharmacies. I think that’s amazing. And I think that really, really helps people every day.

Tim Pickett:
So the patients who we support, who Uplift supports in Utah, are low income plus terminally ill patients, that’s the qualifying-

Lissa Reed:
That’s right.

Tim Pickett:
… kind of… obviously you have to qualify for a med card and have the conditions that would warrant that, all the normal stuff, the Q and P evaluation and that sort of thing. But we focus on the Medicaid eligible or people who have Medicaid as that being a nice objective measure of income essentially.

Lissa Reed:
Right, and so up to this point we have used Medicaid as the main metric for income verification because we pour a lot of resources into this program already and doing that income verification in-house would take a lot more of our resources. So at this point we kind of have said, “Okay, we can only do so much.” And we’re doing absolutely as much as we can. But Medicaid is already verifying people’s incomes so if they have Medicaid, then they fit our requirements and that’s that.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, it does simplify it. It would be nice, and hopefully one day, we figure out a way to expand that.

Lissa Reed:
Totally.

Tim Pickett:
But it’s really hard. I’ve found that it is somewhat challenging to navigate a program like this and make sure that it kind of is sustainable, because everybody wants well… and of course the partners want to see that there’s people joining the program and that we’re doing the work that we said that we’re going to do. Do you think that this is something that you can scale in a bigger way?

Lissa Reed:
Yeah. I mean, I’m hopeful that we can. It would take a lot more money and kind of the infrastructure to bring that money in.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, I agree. As we’re talking about it there’s no doubt in my mind that this is a totally scalable thing. Nonprofit, I had talked to Matt Hoffman and interviewed him about his Our Cannabis nonprofit, and this is something that I think could easily be a big nonprofit. But, it’s one thing to run it from inside the clinic, essentially that is doing a lot of the work or doing all of the work to get all of this done, it’s another thing to run an organization where now you have to take the money you’re getting as donations and matching and then pay clinics-

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, to see those patients.

Tim Pickett:
… to see the patient, that’s a whole layer of complexity that we don’t have to deal with right now which makes it more efficient.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, we probably will. I mean, I think right now, like right now this is a UTTHC program, right, the only way to get your med card through Uplift is at a UTTHC clinic. And personally, I think that’s great because I think we do a really, really good cannabis education and evaluation. I think that patients are really well served when they come into our clinics. And that’s what I want to put this money towards is giving our patients a really good experience and getting them off on the right foot on their cannabis health journey. But I think scaling it up, there’s just so much more need than we can fulfill right now. I’ve got a long wait list already. So we’re working on developing it into a something with more capacity.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, and I think that now that we’re seeing that there’s more need and there seems to be enough interest in matching donations and giving back to this community effort, I think that there is a justification to scale it.

Lissa Reed:
Totally.

Tim Pickett:
And get more donors-

Lissa Reed:
Totally.

Tim Pickett:
… who can not only match a thousand dollars, but put a $30,000 or a $300,000 check in there. Wouldn’t it be cool to have $300,000 as a donation to say, “Okay, we can hire a couple of people. We can expand the program. We can just do more, we can just help so many more people.”

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, I mean, I’ve got a big wait list already for people we just don’t have the funds for yet. And as a principal in Uplift, we see people first come, first served. If you apply and you qualify, we’ll bring you in in that order. There’s no preference or anything. But, oh shoot, what was I going to say? Oh, just that we haven’t really done very much outreach looking for patients who need this because we already have a wait list. I would love to go out into the community and find those vulnerable patients who need medical cannabis and give them this opportunity. But right now it’s just kind of like people who need it have to find us because we just can’t. The patients on the wait list would be at a disservice if we go out and look for more patients to add to the wait list.

Tim Pickett:
Right, to add to the wait list. So how does this compare with the work you’ve done before with these organizations? We’ve never really talked about that because you’ve always, you’ve literally grown up… this is really by the way really who you are, I think. This type of thing just does seem to fit. How has this been different from the music theory world for you?

Lissa Reed:
My favorite thing about doing this instead of music theory is that I’m directly impacting, I’m changing somebody’s life every day.

Tim Pickett:
Like immediately.

Lissa Reed:
Like immediately. Somebody applies, they get approved, they come in, they get their med card and now they have access to life changing medicine. Before, I felt really passionate about a lot of the diversity and equity work I did in music theory, but it was in such a bubble and it’s really a long term project. It doesn’t have that immediate gratification of like, “Oh, somebody’s life is better now because I came to work today.” So that is a big change that I really love is just that direct impact.

Tim Pickett:
Do you feel like that we could expand Uplift into more than medical evaluations? This has always been something we talk about and I’m interested if you’re listening to this and you happen to be listening to it on YouTube, and you make a comment of an idea of how you can solve this problem, we are more than happy to entertain it, but there’s so much need surrounding cannabis with incarceration and giving back to the communities that were so impacted by the drug war. It’s always on my mind of like how… I don’t know. I don’t know whether or not just stick with this because this is what we’re good at, this is what we do, we’re in medicine. We do this, just do it well, make it bigger, help more people.

Lissa Reed:
I’ve got some ideas.

Tim Pickett:
Or do you want to expand?

Lissa Reed:
I want to expand it. I want Uplift to have more kind of subprograms that help get medical cannabis access to people who need it. So like I said, we just do first come, first serve right now, which I would like to keep doing, but I would also love to find maybe a donor wants to donate money for a specific population. Maybe there’s a formerly incarcerated fund in Uplift and that will still be first come, first served, but only for those people who meet that demographic. Maybe there’s a homeless fund. Maybe there’s a cancer patients fund, all these different kind of communities, I guess, that have a different interaction with cannabis. I would love to find donors who want to support specific funds like that.

Tim Pickett:
That’s a really good idea.

Lissa Reed:
Thanks.

Tim Pickett:
Because you would imagine that somebody would, like if I had this experience and I had money and I wanted to help my particular community, that this would be a great avenue. Okay, awesome. Yeah, okay, yes, easy.

Lissa Reed:
All right, so hit me up with your donations and your discretions for them and we’ll take care of it.

Tim Pickett:
You know the other thing that we haven’t talked about is, and I think we’re going to toot our own horn here, but I think Uplift affects the ability of the local cannabis industry to affect legislative change, because we’re just doing good things. It’s hard to say no. It’s really hard for the legislature to say no when they’re like, “Well, we’re supplying this service to people who absolutely need it.”

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, how can you just take that away?

Tim Pickett:
Are you going to take that away from us?

Lissa Reed:
Good luck.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, we can’t do that? Yeah, you can’t do that. So I love that part about, I love the statistics. How much has Uplift raised this year?

Lissa Reed:
Oh, I should have had those numbers. Let me find it.

Tim Pickett:
40 something thousand.

Lissa Reed:
It looks like, yeah, like 45 about, $45,000 this year.

Tim Pickett:
$45,000 this year, so we are literally on track. We’re almost on track to raise a $100,000 dollars this year in 2022.

Lissa Reed:
I think we can do it. That’s a good goal.

Tim Pickett:
I think we can do it. Yeah. I think we could totally do it. Okay. There it is. So how do you donate to Uplift? Utahmarijuana.org/uplift.

Lissa Reed:
Slash uplift, yep. Utahmarijuana.org/uplift, go there now. Send us money. We will give it to patients who need it.

Tim Pickett:
We don’t keep any of the money. Okay? We don’t keep any of the money. If you want an accounting of where the money goes it’s all very transparent.

Lissa Reed:
And that was a big goal for the program when we started it, we want the patients going through it to be able to trust it.

Tim Pickett:
There’s no administrative fee.

Lissa Reed:
And we want the cannabis community to be able to trust it. I mean, I think we’re pretty trustworthy with it. So I trust us and I think that’s all that matters.

Tim Pickett:
And now that everybody knows your story, I mean, there’s no way they cannot trust you.

Lissa Reed:
Good, because it was all a lie.

Tim Pickett:
You were in high school on the responsible drug policy team, you were working for diversity in music theory with a group that was making a really big impact in your specific field, you then came to Utah and were raising money for poor people to get bail. Like, come on.

Lissa Reed:
It’s just what I like to do. You called me-

Tim Pickett:
That’s pretty awesome.

Lissa Reed:
… Robin Hood once and it was the best compliment I ever got.

Tim Pickett:
You are, you are, you’re Robin Hood.

Lissa Reed:
Thank you.

Tim Pickett:
And let these cannabis companies, right, this is a money making industry, let this be something that we give back to the patients. Put your money where your mouth is.

Lissa Reed:
Totally, totally. It’s so interesting to be in the cannabis space because everyone’s kind of… you enter and you’re like, “Oh, this is a space that required a fight.” It was unjust. It’s still unjust in many ways. But I think a lot of people in the cannabis space are like, “Yeah, we’re in this together. We fought for legalization of medical cannabis. We’re fighting for recreational legalization,” whatever, but it’s always been kind of a political thing. And so I think a lot of people kind of have that automatic buy-in to initiatives like this, but some people need to be reminded sometimes. The fact that we’re standing in a dispensary is a huge privilege, and a lot of people have been hurt by this industry in the past and we can really make an impact right now to kind of right some of those wrongs.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, I totally agree. Thank you for reminding me. What else do we want to mention, talk about? What else have we missed?

Lissa Reed:
Good question. Oh, I guess we haven’t talked about, I mentioned our pharmacy partners, but I didn’t talk about our work with our Canna-Therapy program, the kind of cross programming between Uplift and our mental health program over at UTTHC. So Clif Uckerman, who has been on this podcast, hopefully you’ve heard those episodes, he runs our Canna-Therapy program at UTTHC, and he was really excited about Uplift when he came on and he said, “I want to contribute.” And it’s been awesome. So he contributes the money to sponsor some of the Canna-Therapy patients who are in financial need and need access to medical cannabis. So patients that go through Canna-Therapy, if they can’t afford the med card, he basically just will pay for it out of the Canna-Therapy fund.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, that program pays for the evaluation when they need it.

Lissa Reed:
And that’s been really awesome because it’s kind of helped move the wait list along too. We can kind of say, “Hey, do you want to try Canna-Therapy? It could be really, really good for you, and also maybe they can help sponsor you to move through this Uplift program a little bit more quickly.” And I know that has really impacted several patients who have been on our wait list and had not considered therapy even, and then we were like, “Hey, why don’t you try this?” And now they’re on a mental health journey too, which is amazing.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, it’s something they didn’t really understand the benefits of until they tried it. And then they had kind of the best of both worlds. There’s so much benefit from therapy, behavioral health therapy, especially when you get somebody you can be honest with. If you listen to Clif’s interviews, I mean just being able to be honest about your cannabis use with your doctor and your therapist, the person you should be honest about this with, it’s a big deal for patients. And again, it speaks to that idea that you’re helping people now.

Lissa Reed:
Exactly.

Tim Pickett:
Right? Today, you could save a life. I’ve interviewed quite a few people where they claim that cannabis really helped save their life. What’s your favorite strain?

Lissa Reed:
I’m not good at this. I’m sorry. I buy vape carts mostly and I just go in and I’m like, “I need a daytime one. What have you got?” In my mind I’m like, “Oh, I’ll try lots of different strains.” Now that I have medical access I can kind of tune in what I want, but then I don’t, I just say the same thing every time.

Tim Pickett:
It works, makes it easy.

Lissa Reed:
I love lemon strains. Those ones really work for me.

Tim Pickett:
Ah, the lemon haze, yeah.

Lissa Reed:
It’s a good daytime feel.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, it’s good. Cool. Okay, so Utahmarijuana.org/uplift, or you could even call (801) 851-5554. I always find it funny when I have to say the phone number out loud.

Lissa Reed:
And we’ve recently expanded Uplift. We’ve got a new staff member who’s on Uplift all the time. So if you call, you’ll probably talk to him and he’ll help you with whatever you need.

Tim Pickett:
Awesome. Well, thanks Lissa.

Lissa Reed:
Thank you.

Tim Pickett:
I am so happy you’re here.

Lissa Reed:
Thanks, me too.

Tim Pickett:
And you really are Robin Hood for 100% sure. And I am also positive that this is really just the next step in a much bigger thing, and I hope… I’m excited to watch what happens.

Lissa Reed:
Well, I’m excited you’ll be a part of it.

Tim Pickett:
And be a part of it.

Lissa Reed:
Yeah, thanks.

Tim Pickett:
Cool. All right everybody, Utah in the Weeds, subscribe on any podcast player that you have access to, please. We really love when you download the podcast, share it around, share all the Uplift info you can, and we definitely need more donations to help more people. And stay safe out there.

Lissa Reed:
Stay safe out there.

Add a Little Green to Your Inbox

(801) 851-5554hello@utthc.com
Address:
740 E 3900 S
Suite 108
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
press@utthc.com
Utah Marijuana Logo
chevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram