Replacing alcohol with cannabis infused drinks - Jake Bullock, Co-Founder at Cann

Jake: it's wild to think how ingrained in our social culture alcohol is. . Um, and also at the same time, how bad it may be. The worst thing that we do to our bodies on a regular basis, like as a society is all of these negative. Externalities in the social culture and um, uh, and yet it continues to be supported in

Jennifer: Ah, what a fun conversation. Jake Bullock is the co-founder of can, that's C a n N, which is a cannabis infused social tonic that happens to be the number one microdose drink in California. Jake tells me all about the cannabis market, the various. Forms of cannabis. So we talk about T H C and C B D, how those appear on the market and all the things you need to know about such drinks.

He tells me about what building can is like some of the highlights, what getting celebrity investors on and their strategy around that is like the future of the market. But I really, I would say my favorite part was learning more about Jake and some of his formative experiences growing up and the bravery that he had to demonstrate.

Jake is my really good friend. I'm so excited for y'all to get to know him and can better enjoy.

Jennifer: Jake, it's so good to see you. I'm so excited to learn all about CAD and how you've been building. But I wanna get us started with learning more about Jake. So I wanna take us back to Jake growing up and what his experience was like.

So will you share with us.

Jake: Yes. What a fun place to start. Um, so I, I grew up in Colorado, uh, sort of south of Denver.

Um, which kind of comes into the overall can story because. Obviously Colorado's the first state to do adult use recreational cannabis program. Um, but that comes later. This was sort of, you know, uh, nineties Colorado, which is a very different place than maybe some of our friends that have moved to Denver in the last, you know, five years.

They've named the neighborhoods. That's like always a good sign, uh, that something's growing when the neighborhoods have names. Uh, but it was really like a cow. Uh, in a lot of ways, and not necessarily in a bad sense, but it was small and, um, you know, pretty conservative. Um, and, uh, you know, the idea that the cannabis would be sort of, it would, would put its first stake in the ground.

In, in, in Colorado wasn't really clear in the nineties, um, he kind of had Boulder, which was up there, uh, doing its own thing. Um, and, and the world changed in a lot of ways. I think, you know, I, I was lucky to grow up in a really loving family, but also one that like, For me, my biggest challenges growing up were, was really dealing with, with a sexual identity and, and kind of coming to terms with who I was, uh, and doing that in the backdrop of, You know, uh, the evangelical movement doing that in the backdrop of, you know, uh, uh, president Obama running against gay marriage, uh, both times , um, and things that people forget, right?

How, how dramatically the world's changed maybe in the last, in the last 10 years. And so, uh, that was, that was a big part of, of, of sort of my life. And, and it does come into to the overall story and, and ultimately like my decision to start can, I think, , the first thing I did in, in life was sort of grapple with this, this identity challenge.

And um, in some ways coming out taught me that it is often the right answer to, to endure what may feel like a lot of short term sort of pain and, and, and anguish, uh, with the expectation of it paying off in the long run cuz you are your true self or you are happy or you're ma you know, you're doing the thing that you should be doing.

And so that was like a big lesson that I learned growing up. . I also had a family that, you know, uh, the broader extended family battled alcoholism. That was a big sort of character in, in my childhood. So, you know, grandma don't drink and drive. She was thrown through the windshield kind of stories. Um, and, uh, you know, uncle and cousins that don't drink and you're sort of wondering, oh, why is that?

Um, and, and, and so coming to terms with that and, and, and doing it in ways that, that aren't always, um, that pleasant for, for a child, right? Like at funerals and, and having the conversation be about alcoholism. Uh, and so there was always that kind of piece as well, which, which was balanced by the fact that I had a really fun social family too.

like, uh, we get along well and we like to, to do fun things and go out and, and, and often in, in the world that we live in today, uh, that means alcohol. And so that was also kind of a, an idea in the back of my brain, which was. Hey, you may be a little bit more predisposed to, to the, the dangers of, of our social culture and, and alcohol particularly.

So, um, I would say all of those things are, are kind of give you a little bit of a window into, into what it was like, um, growing up, uh, as me.

Jennifer: I wanna maybe peer open the curtains just a little bit on the window that you've, you've given us access to, because I'm so curious about what experiences were formative to someone growing up into the human. They are. And just knowing you, I know that you these days are a very confident, you appear confident in who you are in being your authentic self.

And you just mentioned a couple of these experiences, your sexual identity and then your family's. History with alcoholism potentially. And these two can be a lot to deal with growing up. And so curious how you handled, for instance, your sexual identity and coming into your full self and totally understand the value of being your full, authentic self is such a, it's so hard to do, but it is so worthwhile.

Jake: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think, um, it took me a really long time, , so there's that, uh, I don't think it was something that I handled, you know, particularly well. And, and in hindsight you look back and you sort of say, wow, like, what? I think one of the most nefarious things about, um, struggling with, these things, particularly around queerness or gayness, is, is thinking about what your life could have been, what it would've been like had you done this sooner or differently.

Um, and those are really, really tough. Um, and I think the lesson I pull there is, is, you know, you can't live life looking back and, and, and regretting things as much as it's really, really tempting to do, there's an alert to it. Um, and so battling that I think was really hard, kind of figuring out when was the right time to come out and, and knowing that it'd been a while.

Um, that was really challenging. And I think also, You just don't really know how people around you react. And I think so much of, yeah, I grew up in a, a really, a strong family in lots of ways. And so it felt like those relationships could be at stake. Right. Um, and, and that's a really scary position to be in.

And, and for many people that, that they are, that that becomes a consequence of coming out, um, is they, they lose, uh, relationships with. With biological family members and have to sort of go reconstruct family in a different way. Um, and so that was, that was like a big fear that that was always in the background.

Um, I was lucky to meet people in life that, that sort of helped me with the, that, that journey. Um, You know, people that, that, that I could see myself in, in lots of ways and sort of, uh, expanded my view of, of what it meant to be queer, um, and in ways that were really accessible and, and I was open to hearing.

And I think that was, in some ways I look back and I was really fortunate, uh, to have come across those people. Um, and, and definitely they helped me along the way. Uh, and I also think, you know, I, in looking back a lot of. I did was I filled that, that gap, that space, that time with really hard work. Like I'm just gonna be an amazing student.

I was gonna, you know, go to, uh, university and, and do as, as well as I possibly could there, and I was gonna get the best possible job coming out of that. And then that would put me on this, you know, this sort of track to do this next thing. And, and in some ways I filled that gap with, um, the, the, the sort of like, uh, perfectionism of expectations of, of, of what I thought family or society wanted.

Of me. Um, and, and I think breaking free from that was a big part of, of kind of grappling with, with what was left, um, which was sort of, you know, my true self. Who are you, who do you want to be? Like, what life do you wanna live? And, and are you being honest with yourself about those, those questions?

Jennifer: Representation matters, right? Even as a woman of color, representation matters for me to see other people like me owning spaces that I'm excited to own, and so it's such a normal thing to have that feeling and it's so great that you had those folks that you could surround yourself with.

I'm curious, when did you come out? Was it in high school? Was it in college? And how was your family's

Jake: Yeah, it was, so it was actually after college. It was after even my first job after college. Um, and I moved to San Francisco. I started working consulting. It was, it was like an environment that was very different than what I'd been used to. And, um, and again, people that I met, close friends still to this day that, that helped me through that journey.

Um, and, you know, I think part of what it, it went amazingly well coming out. Um, I think like, uh, the, the, the tidbit that I take from the whole thing, My youngest brother, um, after it was sort of all done, asked me if it felt scary, said, you have done that. And I, I said, yeah. And he was like, well, you know, we have a, a good family.

And that kind of hit me, um, really hard because he was right and I didn't see it. And it was for so, so many years that like, You sort of just don't, um, uh, being so focused on, on, on what could go wrong, you miss sort of all the things that are going right and that are right in front of your face. And so I was really, really lucky that, um, it went well, um, in, in, in, in lots of ways.

And so, you know, that in some part, I think contributed to where I am now because I have now those relationships and, and that, that piece of figuring out how it looks and it's not always like, easy, right? Um, uh, but, but it's, it's really good.

Jennifer: That's why to me, the word bravery is doing, going ahead with something, even when it feels so scary, even when it feels like you're gonna die doing it. So, Jake, you're so brave and thank you for sharing and being that representation For folks out there that feel similarly,

what about the alcohol situation? Were you, did you used to drink? I understand that this was always top of mind. It's interesting for me, so I grew up in Sierra Leone and didn't drink until I turned, I think 21, and then recently stopped drinking again. So I feel like I, I drank in my twenties and then,

I've always wondered to this point that you brought up, why is it that every time we go to a social event, it's so normal for us to drink alcohol, but then you feel so tired after, or you feel like you're, you're not at your best self the next morning, et cetera. And just for that reason, I.

Much and I decided to stop drinking. Um, and it's funny how even today, like when you go to a restaurant, it's so easy for waiters to ask, oh, and would you like a glass of wine or a beer or this? And it's so normalized,

Jake: I had this experience recently I was in, in Sydney, Australia, which does not have a recreational cannabis program. If, if you're curious and, and is probably quite a ways away. Um, and was. At a concert and it was amazing because there was this massive line to go to the bar and all of these sort of security personnel all around.

Um, and, and you know, ostensibly to sort of be enforcing. , you know, order and whatever, making sure people aren't doing drugs and things like that, right? Like, God forbid somebody lights a joint in, in the crowd. And yet there's this massive apparatus that is funneling us all to drink alcohol.

And, you know, people are walking out with like four margaritas in their hand. Um, and that's fine, right? Uh, and it was sort of this bizarre experience. , why? It's wild to me that alcohol is the thing that not only is, is allowed, uh, but supported, uh, right. The spaces are designed around it. The, you know, the whole process is, is sort of enabling people to drink.

You know, obviously they don't want people to overdrink, but they will, and then they do, and you see it, right? And so it's, it was sort of amazing to me being in a different country where there is no real cannabis laws for recreational consumption. Comparing that to somewhere like, you know, California, where it'd be really hard to be at a concert and not have, you know, uh, cannabis be a part of that experience.

For some, some folks. Um, it's wild to think how ingrained in our social culture alcohol is. . Um, and also at the same time, how bad it may be. The worst thing that we do to our bodies on a regular basis, like as a society is all of these negative. Externalities in the social culture and um, uh, and yet it continues to be supported in these ways.

And I think what's interesting for me personally is I haven't stopped drinking alcohol entirely. Right. I continue too. And I think it's like, it's a balance for me. And I think balance is like a big word we come back to in the company a lot, which is, let's just give people another option. Like what would it look like if you could have a cannabis infused.

You know, behind the bar of that concert, right? Um, folks would at least have the choice, uh, to not drink. And maybe they don't, they drink, uh, one margarita instead of four . Like, I think that's healthy. Um, that's probably really good. Um, and, and they have a couple cans instead. Like it's that, it's, that's really what we're fighting for here.

It's not a, we like to, we like to think about us as being alcohol inclusive, like we, but, but we just think that it's out of balance, right. There's, it's so skewed towards alcohol that folks don't even have access to make these choices and, and make healthy choices for, for themselves. And, and everyone will choose differently.

Like we have great consumers that, um, have given up alcohol entirely and this is a product that's brought them back into social culture. That's really cool. Um, we have others that are like, oh, great. Another way to get kind of hef up, like, that's also cool. Um, and, and we want, we want all of that. Like that's part of the journey that we're trying to create is like, let, let's give these options.

And for me, like I've seen that I probably drink 50% less alcohol than I did, uh, you know, even five years ago before we started the company. And, and that's, that's exciting to me. That's definitely, well, I would like to push it even further and, and, uh, you know, I think, I think we'll get there. Uh, but, but, um, it is really amazing how much alcohol has a hold on us as a, as a, as a culture.

Jennifer: Before we get into can, do you feel comfortable giving an overview of cannabis infused in drinks? So what's the difference between CBD B, thc, what are the side externalities, et cetera?

Jake: Totally.

Jennifer: of.

Jake: So cannabis, um, I've learned a ton about this industry over the last decade, um, and, and this plant, and I think that's like maybe the right place to start. This is a plant, it is sort of indigenous plant medicine, and it's something that, um, the history of it, if you really dig into it, Is, is really messed up.

Um, so you have prohibition of alcohol, uh, at the time, sort of before prohibition into prohibition. Cannabis was used as a medicine. It was used actually to fight alcoholism in some cases, in a, in a tincture. Um, and, uh, it was used, uh, for, for chronic pain. Um, and so it had all of these functions and doctors would prescribe it.

It was, it was in the pharmacopia, uh, at one. Following the end of prohibition, there were all of these prohibition officers that had been enforcing the alcohol laws that had nothing to do. And so in large part, motivated by, um, racism, uh, those prohibition officers were then directed at cannabis, um, and heroin.

Uh, in part because was a, a really strong Afro Caribbean cannabis, um, culture and a really strong, um, Chinese heroin culture. And, and it was those sort of like racially motivated attacks on those communities. And, and, and, The, the products that they use, um, in, in, in sort of wellness and medicine. So, um, that's an important place to start and, and the history in, in, in the US gets even more.

Frustratingly, um, and, and disappointingly bad in, in the war on drugs and go into that if it's interesting. But in terms of just the plant, uh, there are a number of strands of, of, of, of cannabis. We found a lot of folks will hear terms like sativa and indica that are really geographically determined. So it's like where, where these plants origin from a genetic standpoint originated.

We used to ascribe sort of effect based, um, uh, kind of, uh, experiences to those strains. I think it's becoming more clear that there's sativa's that are more close to Incas, Incas that are more, more close to sativa's than they may be to each other. So it might not be the most helpful. Way of dividing the world.

The way that probably is helpful though, is thinking about the cannabinoids. So there's hundreds of cannabinoids. The most popular are common ones you've heard about THC and c, b, D. If you lined up every, uh, strain of cannabis we found in, in the history of the world and did the an analytic chemistry. The vast majority of the cannabinoid percentage would be taken up by CBD and tc, like 70, 80%, uh, maybe even more, maybe 90.

And then the smaller cannabinoids, we sometimes call them minor cannabinoids are things you may have heard of, like cbn, cvg, T H C A T, hcv. Um, these represent fractions of a percent of the overall cannabinoid content. They may be really impactful and we're doing research, uh, in a number of, of, of places to learn more about like how they interact with each other.

We think that there probably are some elements of. How these individual cannabinoid compounds like THC and cbd, the minor ones, uh, bind to your endocannabinoid system. We know that you have this system. That's how it works. We don't know exactly how it works. And so there's a lot of, um, discussion in the industry about, you know, do you need THC and CBD together?

We really think so. We think there's something about how CBD interacts with the system when in the presence of THC that makes the THC work, makes the CBD work. They're kind of. Um, related in that way. Uh, but we don't really know. This is all kind of speculated based on mostly people's anecdotal experiences, so that's always dangerous.

Um, THC is the primary psychoactive, uh, cannabinoid. So this is the one that like, if you've ever smoked cannabis, you will, you will feel like a euphoric kind of high feeling like a buzz. Um, or if you've taken an edible, you may feel like kind of more of like a body sort of, people may call it stoned or like fully relaxed feeling.

Um, that's the THC that's doing the heavy lifting, and it does it in a couple of different forms as your body metabolizes and breaks it down. CBD is non-active, so it doesn't, it's not gonna give you that euphoria. It's also not gonna give you a stone feeling. It's gonna, um, it's gonna work on your endocannabinoid system.

We don't know exactly how it does it. Um, but it's often associated with anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety. These are all like not proven medical claims. Actually, CBD is used as a drug currently today for. Um, symptoms of epilepsy primarily in children. It's been approved for that. So, so it, it has effects, it does things.

We know this. Um, what exactly it does in, in smaller doses though is, is not as clear. Um, we have both in our product. It's important kind of the combination interplay. Folks will talk a little bit about, uh, the on charge effect, which is how do these, all these things work together? Uh, again, we're still learning.

I like don't wanna overstate the amount of knowledge here. There has been a freeze on, on cannabis research and information for decades, um, where the federal government in the United States would only, uh, fund research about the harms of cannabis. And so we don't actually have a ton of really good data on how this stuff works in the body and what it can be used for outside.

you know, centuries of an, uh, of anecdotal information, which is, is pretty strong that, that it's doing something in the body. Um, those are kind of the major, the major things to know. The one last thing I'll add is, um, cannabis is the, the, the, the plant, sort of the overall plant specification. We often talk about marijuana as being the, the, the versions of the plant that produce the very, like resinous, bulby flower that you might see in a dispensary in smoke, um, and hemp being the more like long stocky, fibrous.

Plants that you would use to make fibers, for example, for textiles or something like that, which was a massive cash crop, um, in the US before, before, uh, cannabis was, was sort of banned. Um, those are both versions of campus, uh, and, and you can get TC and CBD from both of them. It's much easier to get CBD from hemp and it's much easier to get TC from, uh, the marijuana versions.

But, uh, these cannabinoids are present in, in vary levels, uh, in all, all different types of strains of cannabis.

Jennifer: This is fascinating. I didn't have any of that context before, so thank you. Understanding then, THC is the piece of it that is psychoactive, that gives you the high or relaxed feeling. C, B, D, were not super clear on what the effects are in micro doses, but we do understand that it needs to be present with thc.

Jake: Yes. That, that's, that's what it appears like. And, and we need, there's, there needs to be more research to really understand how these things work together. It's really hard, right? Because what you're, we're basically asking is, what do I feel when I consume these products? And so there's questions of, well, at what dosing and, and what are the other factors, right?

Your own, um, body's chemistry, uh, contents of your stomach if you're, if you're adjusting. Um, all, all of these things interact, the ratio of cannabinoid, it's very likely has some, uh, determining factor in, in what you experience. And then if you're doing this in a, in a controlled study, how do you then understand what someone's telling you they feeling and, and ver and verifying or validating that, right?

So it's, it's really

challenging. Um, and, and I don't know if we'll ever get to a point where we have like, absolute clarity on this, but we do know it, it it's functioning, uh, in, in the body. the, the proved version of cbd, which is the drug for epilepsy are, are significant doses. And so, um, part of what, uh, has been challenging there is really understanding what, what is, uh, an appropriate amount for an average consumer that is not suffering from seizures, right?

That wants some of the, the promised benefits of anti-inflammatory or anti-anxiety. We're still trying to learn more there.

Jennifer: So understanding that there might be some effects with delivery or just other. Co inhabit effects there. So then these drink, there's so many drinks in grocery stores nowadays that tout C B D for relaxation or other benefits. So understanding more likely than not, that is just probably placebo

Jake: It seems that way. Um. It really does seem that way. I think that like our, you know, we think that there is some benefits from CBD when used in conjunction with t h a, that's entirely anecdotal. Our, our products are social products, right? So we don't spend a lot of time talking about. Oh, you're going to, you know, feel, um, less inflammation or, you know, less anxious.

It's, it's not really a health product at the end of the day. Now, some of the products that are on the market, you see in, in, in grocery stores, convenience stores that have, uh, 15, 20, 25 milligrams of cbd. Um, , do make those claims. Um, and, and it's not clear that they should be making them, um, at, at this point.

Um, and it's also not clear, like we don't know. Even simple stuff. Like if you start with 25 milligrams of C B D, uh, you know, encapsulated emulsified into a beverage. How much of that is actually getting absorbed into your system? Um, is it the full 25? Is it some fraction of the 25? If we know 500 milligrams taken twice a day has a pharmacological effect?

What does 25 milligrams in the drink drink once do? Right. And so those are, those are questions we, we don't have. We know that there's, there's, um, you know, some potential liver toxicity at really, really high. doses because we, we see that in the, the data for the approved drug. And so part of what folks are trying to figure out is, well, what, what happens if you look at the other end of the spectrum, which are really, really small micro doses of this?

What's the impact or the effect? Anecdotally we found that, um, you know, C B D when used with T HC helps to mellow out the experience of the thc. We don't really know why, but it seems to, and so, um, we love including some CBD in our product as part of a way of like, Oh, making it even more accessible and, and less, uh, likely to cause any sort of like paranoia or anxiety related to the thc.

Jennifer: Totally make it smoother. And I can imagine too, it depends on what you're eating. Different people absorb at different rates. It depends on what other foods you, you consume it with. So really interesting space. All right, let's transition to Ken,

so you started this, at business school, Jake, and now you're the number one. Microdose beverage consumed in California. It's really, really exciting.

Jake: Thank you.

Jennifer: and I'd love for you to give me an overview of like a snapshot of the business. What states do you operate in? How many products? How can folks find you?

And then I'd love to talk about the highlights of

Jake: Cool. Yeah. Great. So we are now available in a number of states through, uh, dispensaries. So California, Arizona. Nevada, Illinois, Massachusetts now New York, um, and also in, uh, a few provinces in Canada. Um, uh, right now Ontario and British Columbia, and coming soon in Alberta and Quebec. Um, we also sell our product.

Um, through retail. Uh, this is the Hemp Drive version. So again, like I said, you can get a THC from hemp or from marijuana, in, uh, retailers in states like Minnesota, uh, Texas, New York, um, as well as online in, in 17 or so states that. Allow hemp, extract in food and beverages. Um, you can find us, uh, either retailers or dispensaries or our online, um, products, uh, at drink

Drink can is got, uh, two ends at the end. Um, and, like you said, Jen, we're, we're the number one cannabis beverage. Um, and, and we're also a microdose, which is great because it's, it's really meant to be a social product and, and an alternative alcohol. And so, um, we're excited to get it in more and more folks hands.

Jennifer: Yeah, and I was telling you before we started recording that I just love the branding. You have the cutest colors and texts. That just sounds so fun. The cans are tiny, so it does feel really accessible. It doesn't feel like a huge lift or commitment that you're making, and even the way you describe it is like drink one or maybe have two, and it feels like a really fun, light party experience.

Tell me more about how you came up with this vibe for

Jake: Yeah, so we really important to us in the beginning was this industry is, is going through transition. A lot of the early products were kind of, Carryovers from the legacy cannabis industry. So gummy candies or chocolates. And it made sense cuz if you, if this was an illegal substance that like you were sort of sneaking into, uh, a state or sneaking into a bar or whatever you would want it to be in, in this, um, sort of more portable, form factor.

Um, for us it was all about how do we take cannabis from under the table and put it on top of the table, right? Make it more mainstream, make it compete with alcohol. So you had to have branding and, and an, an experience of the product that really resonated with consumer that it, it drew them in.

It said something about them if they purchased it right, it stood for something that was like, really important and you could do that visually. And we really wanted to, to, um, represent the experience of drinking the product on the packaging. Um, we also were hyper focused on making it approachable from, uh, a dosing standpoint.

Like you say, these are really mild. You can have a few of. Just like you could have a couple glasses of wine, you ha are in control. You figure out kind of what works for your own tolerance like you would with alcohol. Again, things like contents of your stomach, how hydrated you are, may have impacts on, on how much you can drink on any given.

In any given setting. Um, but the dosing is low enough that at two milligrams of thc, most if you had a gummy or something like that, they're probably 10 milligrams in California. Some states make them five. So we're fraction of of, of sort of the standard, um, single dose, which helps give you control over how much you can consume.

And we also wanted the product to taste amazing. Like at the end of the day, the whole theory behind beverage was we drink, uh, mild intoxicants that are similar to tc. Caffeine or alcohol. Right? And we, we drink them in micro doses. That's what allows us to have multiple drinks. Um, and that's what makes it social.

And so for this product to really be social, you wanna drink a couple of them and for you to wanna drink a couple of them, they have to taste good. That's sort of the key piece. And it's amazing to say that in like beverage, right? Because, or foodie products, you're like, oh, of course they should taste good, but so many out there don't.

Right? And so we really focused on. Really approachable citrus fruits that, you know, like our blood orange product. And we pair them with more adventurous, savory, herbal note. So in the case of blood orange, we pair it with carma and it, it creates like a really unique balance, almost like cocktail adjacent experience in, in a can.

And because you don't have alcohol, Uh, there's no alcohol hangover the next day, and we don't have the alcohol calories, so we can actually make something taste really amazing and bright and fresh. That's 30 calories instead of, you know, a hundred, 150, whatever you're drinking, um, with your, your regular alcohol products.

Jennifer: Let me ask you about, so you mentioned that the products in stores that you sell are derived from, was it hemp? Not the marijuana plant. Is there any difference in that T

Jake: No, it's the same. Um, the, the compound that we derive, whether it's from hemp or marijuana, is identical. the only difference is for the, the plant type that we get it from is they're both cannabis plants. They're just different sort of versions of them, um, that, that have been fertilized in a different way.

They, they sometimes get assigned sexist to them, which is kind of a funny thing for plants. But, um, uh, they're basically variations of cannabis plants that have different ratios of CBD and thc. It's much harder. So five years ago, we couldn't have gotten a hemp derived thc. Uh, out of, out of, out of the plant.

Um, the technology just continues to get better and better and it allows us to extract THC from, uh, he the hemp plants, which are not controlled. And so what that means is,

um, it's regulated by the Farm bill and, and it's really an agricultural product that can move across state lines. It's not a controlled substance and, and it really makes sense if you think about it, cuz.

These are the, the lowest amount of THC products, like our products are the safest products, um, that exist in the cannabis industry. Not only because they're so low in thc, but also because they're in a beverage. So you have to drink the whole eight ounces to get two, two milligrams of thc. So it's really, really hard to like get 20 milligrams from our product, right?

You have to drink a lot. Um, and so that also makes them safer.

Jennifer: And is one dose, is it 10 or 20? Migs?

Jake: Yeah, exactly. So if

you got a gummy, if you got, like, if someone gave you a, he's like, Hey, I got this from a dispensary in California. That gummy is, is most likely 10. No, uh, could be five, but it's most likely 10. And so we're talking about a fifth of the dose of, of a gum. Um, and it's also a little bit different cuz it's in a beverage.

So you're gonna start absorbing that like immediately through the lining of your, of your mouth, esophagus, et cetera. Which is a good thing because you'll get, you'll get the THC and it's like original form as it goes through your body. Like a gummy for example. It takes some time. That's gonna get broken down in your liver.

The THC will slightly change. Um, it's still thc, but it has like a, a different sort of effect. That's where you get a little bit more of what people might describe as like a, a body high. It's not as, it's not that same sort of euphoric feeling. And so we love beverages for that reason as well.

Jennifer: As we are engaging so much in education on this call, Jake, I imagine a lot of what you have to do is again, educating the market on cannabis. What do you see as the education that needs to be ongoing? I imagine. With relation to alcohol, with relation to folks that are worried about the effects of marijuana, thc, C B D, hemp, et cetera,

Jake: it's, it's a great question. We spend a lot of time doing education. It's getting easier in part because we're doing a lot of it. I think people are, people are, are, are understanding more and more things like, what is thc? What will it do in my body? How do, like, how do I think about dosing? Um, I think the biggest challenge we have, Taking a, a step back and looking at the industry as a whole is really getting people to think about THC in context, which means it's not, we're not talking about THC or nothing.

We're talking about THC instead of alcohol. We're talking about two milligrams of THC instead of a hundred milligrams of thc. And thinking about the relative risk profiles of these, these compounds, um, two milligrams of THC in a beverage compared to, uh, you know, A shot of tequila, like let's have that conversation.

That's really the relevant piece of what we're talking about, right? Two milligrams of THC in a beverage compared to a chocolate bar that has 100 milligrams of thc. Like, let's talk about that, that those differences. Um, I think so often what we see in this sort of popular mainstream press is, um, attacks on THC that focus on the a hundred milligram, uh, products.

The really, really. You know, high dose High

This is a medical product,

right? This is a product for somebody that's suffering from cancer. Pain absolutely should exist. It should be in a dispensary. It's a totally different risk profile than what we're talking about, right? Which is we're trying to get people to drink less Chardonnay.

Okay. Um, maybe that should be, I, maybe that's okay to be in. In a liquor store or in a grocery store that sells beer and wine. Um, and I think often people talk about cannabis as if, um, it's, it's, uh, you know, some sort of vitamin that we're, we're taking, right? It's gonna be this healthy thing. It's, it's better for you to take it.

And like, of course it's a toxicant. Um, it's better for you not to take it than, than to take it. But if your comparison is, is it better for me to have a couple of cans tonight or a couple of whiskey sodas? It might be better for you to have a couple of cans and like, let's, let's allow people to make that decision A and trading off from alcohol.

I think that's the educational challenge that I've. Most eager to have, uh, as people have learned more about T HC and, and what it does, let's really talk about the relative risks of these products and, and how it could help our society in public, public health and, and public safety if we have people mixing up their safe cannabis consumption.

Um, and at the, at the expense of, of much more dangerous products like alcohol and, and, and that doesn't even get to the whole opioid epidemic that we're experiencing. I think this is another potential path forward for folks that are suffering from addiction on, on the opioid side. Cannabis could provide an option there as well.

So there are a lot of things that we should be talking about that we aren't. Cause we're so focused on, you know, um, cannabis being this dangerous thing that's coming into our schools. It's like, it's not really what's happening.

Jennifer: in that context, what do you see as the future of the cannabis market? It's obviously just starting out, getting started out.

Jake: Yeah, it's really in transition, right? So cannabis exists everywhere and it's been an amazing experience for me to, to be in places like the, the, the middle of Texas and everyone smokes weed. Like it's wild, right? Um, and have, they have been for hundred hundreds of. Um, in this country and, and, and longer in other places.

And so I think really what we're talking about is a transition of how do we bring some of these products, the the right ones into, um, access for people in the right ways. And so, like I said, there's gonna be products that should always be sold in dispensaries because they are, um, have a really high risk profile, right?

Um, and then there's products like that are pretty darn safe. And if they were alongside beer and, and wine, Or or non-alcoholic beer. So people have a choice of, okay, I've got a non-alcoholic beer. I've got a non-alcoholic plus THC drink. I've got the actual, the real stuff, the alcohol over here. Like that feels like where we're headed.

Now the question is really how fast do we get there? Um, and, and how does the regulations change and evolve? And five years ago when we started this company, we really thought that the federal government would lead on this, in part because it's just so obvious how low risk, um, these cannabis products are.

And there's been a lot of conversation publicly about legalizing cannabis. Majority of Americans support it and, and continue. That number continues to grow as it's pulled. Um, it's not sort of fluctuating or giving up ground, which is really interesting. It means it's kind of inflected in, in, in the world's change in that, on that regard, the reality is the states have had to lead and they've had to do it.

Pretty considerable expense to themselves from a regulatory standpoint. political standpoint, time and effort. Um, and it, it adds a ton of complexity as well. Cause you've got multiple states with different programs. Some are medical, some are recreational, some are more per permissive, like Minnesota of really low potency, food and beverage, um, infused products.

Um, others are really, really restrictive or they don't allow beverages or any edibles at all. And it's, it's really, really like a tightly controlled medical market. Um, that creates a lot of uncertainty and I think challenges for. Primarily consumers that are looking for access to these products and wanna make smart, healthy decisions for themselves that aren't able to, if you live in the state of Pennsylvania today, you can't get, can't, you can't get it medically.

You can't get it recreationally, you can't get it hemp derived. Um, I mean, you could drive across, uh, across state lines where, and, and, and get it that way, which we know some folks do. , um, going to Massachusetts and coming back. But, but it doesn't seem right that, that folks in, in Pennsylvania are, are not given alcohol alternatives, um, that may work for them.

And so I think we're, I think we're headed in that direction. There's a lot that there's only so much we can do as a brand. We can, we can continue to, to do things the right way. We can ask other brands in the industry to like, do things the right way. Um, but at the end of the day, like, someone's gonna have to lead on this.

And, and right now it's the states and, and they're doing a good enough job, but uh, they can only do so much themselves as well.

Jennifer: It sounds like there's a bit of a tension between wanting to protect consumers and citizens, but at the same time it's important to also treat adults as adults, and they can make decisions for themselves. I think that's where the education piece comes in and allowing folks to. Be in charge of their own decisions I imagine too. And I wanna talk about, cuz Jake, you've got some pretty cool investors on, I know you've got Casey nte, rebel Wilson, Gwen Paltrow, and others. And I imagine having some of these folks too, when it comes to education and just putting the word out there, Rosario Dawson.

is really important, right? It's about making whatever looks scary and showing that it's, it's okay and I'm curious , whether you've been able to leverage those folks that have come on board and just even how you got them to join

Jake: Yeah. Yeah, no, uh, great question. So, and Rosario is amazing and, and it sits on our board in addition to being an investor. Um, and it has been a fantastic board member. it's been interesting. So we started the brand in la Um, my co-founder has, has, Luke has, has sort of led this, uh, amazingly effectively in the early days.

Um, no one knew we existed. We were like two guys in, in, uh, a room above a garage and we were creating this product. We had the formulation, we had the brand, we got it in a good place. And, and one of the things that we did, which is I think sometimes tricky for founders early on, especially of CPG like physical consumer products, is you build this whole business plan around, well, I need this amount of cash and I'm gonna invest it in the pro initial production runs, and I go sell those products and then that's gonna give me more cash that I can use to fund the next runs.

And so you're very focused on the value of your inventory coming back to you in cash. Like makes sense. That's like how you would build the, the model of your business from the beginning. And it feels hard to use product. Um, uh, that you're not getting paid for, right? Um, essentially like how do you take advantage of, of the fact that you have this inventory, um, and not, not necessarily selling all of it and, and working that into, into the plan.

And we, that's what we did. We were very, very generous with product. Early on in LA it was, it was Luke driving around in a car, showing up in someone's front door and, and dropping a product. And it really started with, , anyone that had a blue check on Instagram that followed us, we would like Ping being like, Hey, can we give you products?

Um, and in, and some people, like LA has this whole culture, which is hilarious of like, I'm so-and-so's like hair stylist, or I do makeup for whatever. And like, and, and, and then we'll give, I'll give it to this person. I'll give it to that person. I'm the bodyguard for so-and-so. And like, and it's really funny because. It, there's like a whole culture of trading on sort of your proximity to famous people, , um, which is great, you know, use it. Um, but it's never really clear does that product get to the person, right, or not. And so part of Luke showing up in, in, in, in, in the driveway was, I'm gonna bring it in the front door and make sure that it does get to the person, and I'm gonna tell you about our story.

And that was really important I think in the early days. The product. This strategy is an interesting one, right? It, it, it, I think it's a really strong strategy. I'll like walk you through how we did it. . It only works if you have an amazing product like product. Like the first thing I tell people when they're like, how did you get these celebrity investors?

It's like, you have to start with a product that they love and care about. This will not work if you're in this world of like talking to their agent about doing like a big commercial agreement. And they're gonna, you're gonna give them this and they're gonna give you that and you're gonna list it all out in a contract and like, they're gonna be trying not to do everything and you're gonna be trying to make them do it.

If you're going down that road, like it's gonna be a disaster. It will never work. If you can get in the living room of, of, of a celebrity because they love the product so much that like they want to talk to you about the story and they wanna like, join you on this Climb up the mountain. Um, that's like a much better dynamic.

So that's, that's the first thing I would say is avoid business manager's agents. Um, managers at all costs. Uh, it's really easy to say, possibly hard to do. What we did was we just continued to get product in front of people and follow up and ask like, Hey, did they like it? What, like you said, you were giving it to this person.

Did they get it? What did they say? Can we give them more? And like, most of the time, 80% of the time, uh, you hear nothing back or you hear something back that's sort of like squishy and you're sort of like, ah, maybe, maybe someone from the house took it home. Like it's not clear that this got to them. But then every now and then someone would say like Ruby Rose.

I love it. Can I get more? And, and then we would jump and, and bring more. And then that would sort of, sort of started snowballing. Um, you know, someone like Gweneth Altra, like, come into the office, let's meet about this. Like, I think this is really cool. And then you start having these conversations and they see the vision and the story and they're like, oh, I get this.

And I think it helped, particularly that we were in LA and we're targeting celebrities in, in sort of the entertainment media world because this product is, is pretty endemic to them. Like they've been many of of folks in entertainment. Are fighting, you know, some sort of alcoholism or addiction related to the, the sort of the real drug fame.

Uh, others are hyper conscious about what they put in their bodies cuz they have to be right. You can't be hungover if you're waking up at 4:00 AM to show up for a shoot, right? Like, that just doesn't work. There's like, the makeup artist is gonna be mad, very mad at you. Um, . And so like you, you have to be super focused about what you're putting in your body as well.

And I think that helps. And then the third thing is like most of these people have been stoners for 30 years. Um, and they don't, they haven't been as public about it, right? But like, the fact that they're already, they already have a relationship with cannabis, I think helped as well. Cause they're like, oh my God, I get this, this is what I've been waiting, I've been thinking about every time I get high smoking weed, I'm like, I wish it wasn't a drink that I could bring to like, you know, whatever.

I'm going to. And so that all of those factors really came to help us. And I think the last thing I'll say about the strategy is we treated them like investors. They sent us money, they invested in our companies, um, which is the opposite of how it works. Usually brands are sending money to celebrities to do like post something.

Like, God forbid, right? Um, we did it, we thought about it differently. We're like, we want you to be an investor and a thought partner in a part of our journey. We're not asking you for anything. You don't have to show up to this. You don't have to do this, you don't have to, you know, post that we, uh, just want you to be an investor and we're gonna treat you like an investor.

Interestingly, as like investors do, they're curious about what's going on, how can I help? And that often happens, we'll get, you know, celebrities reaching out to us at our investors that say, what can I do to help you? Like, how's it going? And, and that's amazing. Cause then we'll be like, there actually is something you can do to help us.

Like, could you talk to, you know, entrepreneur magazine, they want to quote or, you know, could you post on your Instagram reels? Like how, what's your favorite flavor of can, like just little things, right? But. I think that, um, doing it, uh, in the way that we have, which is really treating these folks like the real business, smart, savvy people that they are, and not like some sort of like talent that you're gonna put into a deal.

Like that's, that's I think a losing battle, at least for startups of our size in the beginning. It just doesn't make a ton of sense.

Jennifer: Oh, that was such a great story, Jake. And just commending your and Luke's hustle and also really great long-term thinking. I think just bringing them on as an investor and as a partner is so much different and I imagine they value that and, and are your long-term partners. . It's great. All right. I know we're running at time, so I will wrap us up.

Unfortunately, I feel like I could mine you for so many more fun stories. I'll just

Jake: Yeah. There'll

be a part sale.

Jennifer: Perfect. I wanna ask two things that, are a staple on the Jennifer Kamar podcast. So, one is how do you operate at peak performance? Jake, you're building a company, which as a founder I imagine can get super stressful, very busy.

How do you manage your time, your processes, and your routines,

Jake: Yeah, great question. I was actually just talking to another founder this morning about this number one on my list is sleep. And like I feel like I have a moral obligation when asked questions like this to talk about sleep for just a little while because I think it's the thing that we underinvest in.

As a class founder, class business people, just anyone in society like that's waking up sleep is probably something that you're not thinking enough about. Um, I think about it all the time and I'm probably still not think, you know, getting enough of it. It's so important. It's how I balance my life.

Everything is crazy. On calls to, you know, wee hours of, of, of the night. Um, so, you know, not always able to exercise, not always able to balance and like, I wanna push on all these different dimensions, right? Like, I do wanna be exercising, I do wanna be meditating. Like I do wanna have pause, practice built into my day.

But like, if all those things fall through, the one thing that you can and should invest in is sleep. I think it's like the only way I've been able to survive the last five years, and it's hard. There is a sort of cultural element, like a, a prestige factor of people that are so busy they can't sleep. And it's like, ah, I'm like, I, I'm, I'm constantly stratas,

Jennifer: That's so overrated.

Jake: only four or five years.

Jennifer: That's so last

Jake: do it. It makes no sense. You'll make worse decisions and, and also like, it will kill you. Like it's, it's, it's, you may not see it, right? Like, I'm running around in my thirties and it's like, oh, life is great. Like visible signs of aging have already hit me, and I'm telling you, it's related to stress and sleep.

And so sleep is the number one that I, I think about like you ha you, you're never sleeping as much as you want. Track your sleep. Understand it. There's some amazing products out there that help you sleep. It is a skill you can practice and work on it. People are not just. Built to like be able to sleep for five hours.

It doesn't exist. Um, and so that's like a big, that's a big one. The, the second one I I mentioned as well, which is stress, like stress is huge. And so like how do you manage stress throughout the day? It's really hard, right? I think sometimes I joke that like my job is just like people telling me bad news all the time.

Constantly. Um, and like, okay, stop. How do we reframe that? Like how do we take time out to like pause going into meeting that maybe, you know, is going to be a stressful one or could be like a bad news situation, planning around that. And it can be simple, right? Like I love getting out of the building and walking.

Um, any meeting that doesn't need a computer, like make it a walking meeting. I think that's like such an easy thing. People don't do that. It changes the entire tenor and especially for me, like where I'm often, like when I get, um, when I get bad news, I get stressed and like there's like hormones in my body.

Like just walking those out can be really, really helpful for me. And I, like, I can feel myself making more reason, better decisions. Um, so I would, I would point to those two. I mean, there's a million more we could, I could go on forever, but like, thinking about sleep and, and balancing stress are, are so important.

Jennifer: Incredible, Jake. And then lastly, what does success mean to you these days and how might its definition have changed

Jake: Hmm.

Jennifer: I have a, I have a feeling it's definitely

Jake: Yeah, it's so interesting,

like success, I mean, you at various different stages right there. In the very beginning it was like, I've gotta do this and like gotta be an investment maker and then I'm gonna be in private equity and then I'm gonna do this and I'm gonna like raise a fund.

Jennifer: Whatever society

Jake: whole thing.

Right, exactly. And, and then like even starting the company, it's like, oh, we're gonna build something big. And like, I want to create a culture and a team and like make a mark on the world. Like the reason I left the sort of rote uh, investing world is so that I could, if, if like I didn't do this, no one was gonna do it kind of thing.

Like if I, if I'd left investing. They found someone to step in behind me, that's the easiest thing in the world. Um, but I, now I'm thinking about it even more differently than that. Like, in the beginning it was like, how do you make an imprint on the world? How do you do something that if you didn't do it, it wouldn't have happened?

And now I'm thinking about like, well, what is the definition of failure? That's the, that's the other way to think about this question. Right. And, and it's such a fun one because every idea I have about failure of like, well, it would, this would be a failure if, if this happened. Yeah. Um, only really is a failure.

If the, if it, if it continues to say, this happens and then I die, right? Like there's no, like, it's, it's amazing to think about failure as this thing that, like any idea you have, it's like, okay, the company goes bankrupt, okay? Um, you know, you get pushed out by the board. Uh, the, you, you give somebody botulism, right?

I guess I'm terrified of all the time, right? A food safety risk. Um, like, uh, and there's a whole. Uh, you know, crazy like e coli outbreak in your product or whatever it is, like only really is a failure if like that, that is the end of the story. If it's not the end of the story, there is actions and things you can do.

And so like part of what I think about a lot now is like, well, when am I gonna stop? Like, when is it the end of the story? That is, that's sort of how you have to think about it, uh, about success is by sort of looking at the inverse and saying, okay, well when would I stop? And then like, what do I, what does that need to look like, um, for me to stop?

And, and I don't know, like, I kind of think like, . One of the amazing things about starting this company is the experience of. Uh, hindsight and of, of, of education, like I've learned so much from these last five years, I would do everything differently. Almost everything, maybe like 95% of the things differently.

And so if that's true, then like there's so much potential and, and energy and excitement I have to like, go do this again or in a different way or, or even take what we have now and figure out how to like, continue to learn and mind this experience for like more and more of those 95% changes. Um, So we'll see.

But I, I think that like, um, it, that the, the first five years have been really, really energizing. I've learned so much from it. Um, and I don't wanna stop. And so I think in that way, like, um, it, it is success and it will continue to be until I decide, you know, that I'm, that I'm done.

Jennifer: So much wisdom and all of that. Jake, thank you for sharing. Thank you so much for coming on. I can't wait to do this again. And everyone should check out. Please check out. Drink, Ken. It's so much fun, Jake. Talk to you

Jake: Thanks, Jen.

Replacing alcohol with cannabis infused drinks - Jake Bullock, Co-Founder at Cann
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