Interviewing Joey Espinoza From

Cannabis legalization gave birth to a new industry in California. One that has been around our Golden State for quite some time, as early as 1895.

Today the cannabis industry is largely welcomed by residents in California. We had a Gold Rush in 1848 and now in 2018 we have the Green Rush.

We interviewed Joey Espinoza from who’s been a strong advocate in the cannabis community. Let’s dive in.


Joey, tell us your origin story, what did you do before the Green Rush?

I began to professionally work in the industry in 2010 when I started working at a local hydroponics store in my city. The owners of the store quickly realized my passion for cannabis. I wasn’t someone who would simply clock in and out. I was promoted to store manager and ran the shop for about 3 years. Then the store was sold towards the end of 2013.


Do you know why the operation was closed?

The owners I worked for had one of their grow rooms raided and we lost many customers overnight. They had their faces of television and for what the industry was back then that was not acceptable. Customers wouldn’t risk going to a store that was raided.


What did you do after that?

In 2014 I decided to start a medical cannabis delivery service in Monterey County. As an aspiring entrepreneur I became familiar with Simon Sinek. He teaches that your business should not just be about what you do, but also be about why you do it. I was inspired by his teachings and decided to name my delivery service CannaFreedom. We believed that everyone deserved the freedom to enjoy cannabis and that’s what our brand was all about. That was our “why”.


Co-Founding NORML

This passion to cannabis led to me co-founding one of the first advocacy groups Monterey County NORML in 2015. Helping change laws in our area through Monterey County NORML I also became a part of a group known as The Coastal Growers Association. This group was founded inside a law firm in Salinas. Together Monterey County NORML and Coastal Growers played important roles shaping the regulations for cannabis in our area.


How did your experience help you start

As strong advocates of cannabis and staying current with rules and regulations of state, county, and city, many people started seeking advice. We would constantly get questions on how to start, to operate, how to run their business and what they had to do to stay compliant. My partner and I realized that we were ideal for starting a consulting/licensing business. Like any other business, experts are needed to help business owners and entrepreneurs get their licenses and learn how to efficiently run their business.


What do you think the future of cannabis is like in California? What will happen to small shops?

On our podcast, the $1 pound show, me and my partner have discussed this same question. Truthfully we would like to see the smaller operations have sustainability and stay in the game. However every day it seems like that’s less likely to happen. When it comes to operating any business capital is what keeps you alive. Even more so when it comes to a heavenly regulated business like cannabis. I believe that some small shops and brands will survive only if they have a strong foothold in their brand. This would allow them to gain market share that would otherwise be difficult.

The cannabis industry is now like any other. It’s a branding war. At the end of the day your average consumer doesn’t really know if you’re a “small” operation or not. Consumers typically don’t know the nuances in this industry, and frankly probably don’t care.


What can these small shops do to stay competitive?

At the end of the day, quality marijuana will always reign supreme. That’s what we tell our clients whether they’re on the smaller or larger scale. Cannabis business operators simply need to produce quality product.


What’s your prediction on the future of cannabis?

I think in the next five to eight years the price of cannabis will continue to plummet. The flood of product entering the market will force prices to be competitive. We’re already seeing it happen. 2 years ago you were able to sell a pound for $1,400. Fast forward today you can buy a pound anywhere from $900 to $1,100, depending on quality. Funnily, that’s why our podcast is called the $1 pound show.

Slowly we believe that the cannabis industry will become like any other. Commoditization to the point that products will decrease in value. There will always be people with a deep passion, like craft brewers. But in America if there’s money to be made you can bet that the corporate culture will infiltrate it. I don’t see a way of preventing that.


Joey, as a key figure in cannabis industry, what is one element that people fail to pay attention to?

While there are folks that understand the important of it I believe there are more that don’t. The cannabis industry is heavily regulated like alcohol and gaming. Many people still don’t appreciate the value that a good compliance expert can bring. Mostly because they don’t pay any real attention to it. Many of these companies have full-time people focused on compliance but I don’t think they truly realize its importance.

For example, I’ve had clients that basically make decisions for their business without even putting a filter on compliance. They just take action without full consideration. It’s important for business owners in the cannabis industry to remember every single action could potentially have compliance consequences. That’s just how it is now with a regulated market. The specs from video surveillance, the method of storing products, the way you dispose of it, and the way they are packaged. These are all aspects of the operation that is regulated and have to all be done in a specific way.

What do you believe is the most important element in the industry?

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