Bess Byers  0:00
In my opinion, I think anybody should be able to get a grower license, you know, if you want to own a brewery or a winery, you go and get your license. If I want to own a marketing agency, I go and get my business license. You know, I believe that we should let anybody that wants to grow. And as long as they’re growing pesticide free product that meets, you know, the testing standards, let them grow and let the free market figure it out. And I know people have said, Oh, but if you do that, you’ll get the people like Amazon or Microsoft or Big Pharma. You might but also as consumers, you know, we need to be looking at where our money is going, you know, like you’re voting with your dollar and so if you don’t like a company, go and support the little guy.

Announcer  0:51
You’re listening to two B one B podcasts for cannabis marketers. Were your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up.

Shayda Torabi  1:07
Here’s your host Shayda Torabi can’t believe that by the time you’re listening to this episode we’re gonna be in March. If March is anything significant to y’all like it is, to me, I feel like that is when the world went to shit last year. So I’m really excited that we’ve made it a whole year and honestly I think a lot of good has come out of the experience that we all went through. But with that said, I wanted to take some time to just check in and see how you guys are doing. I want to give you some encouragement and also let you know that I’m here for you. If you have questions or thoughts related to cannabis or marketing, anything that I can help you out with please do not hesitate to reach out. My guest today is also someone who is very generous with her resources her time and her knowledge and I am super pleased to be joined today by best buyers the founder of blaze creative and also a very notoriously well known, deactivated nine times reactivated nine times Instagram influencer with over 94,000 cannabis based followers. She takes amazing photography works with top cannabis brands. She is based in the Pacific Northwest, which to me if you are familiar with cannabis in any form, it’s kind of like the mecca of cannabis. It’s kind of you know, up there in Washington State and Oregon. And she just has a lot of thoughts and opinions we get a little political on this we obviously talk about pot. We talked about some of the things that she’s gone through as a cannabis influencer, as well as some of the you know, hurdles that she’s had to overcome with some of her clients, as well as some of the crap that she’s honestly been observing in the industry. So it gets a little bit, you know, spicy in this episode. So I hope you’ll listen all the way through till the end. I appreciate you guys always now without further ado, let’s welcome best buyers.

Bess Byers  3:08
Thanks so much for having me. My name is best buyers. I’ve been in the cannabis industry almost six years now. I actually was living in Los Angeles at the time I was going to go to Washington DC I had an opportunity out there because I’m really passionate about politics, fiscal issues, I started a political nonprofit. And so I jokingly told one of my girlfriends in Washington that had an AI 502 license. I’m moving to DC in a month, unless you know anyone in the cannabis industry that can make me a better offer. And sure enough, she and her fiance did and it was funny because at the time, my almost all my family and friends kept saying go to DC you’ve already started down this political path. But it was my dad, the one person who was pretty anti drug up until I got into the industry. He was the only person that said to get into pot. And he said pot is recession proof. And at the time, you know, because he said Oh, people will always find money for their vices. But I didn’t realize at the time that not only is it recession proof pot is pandemic proof. So six years ago, I packed up my car moved up to Washington State. I was in the industry started out doing sales and marketing but in addition to that I was in the grow doing everything from cloning, trimming, harvesting, packaging, like learning everything from seed to sale. And it was about eight months into the industry. This company that I was working for was called Western cultured and their whole brand and aesthetic is like Pacific Northwest with cannabis which is me like the life I live is like doing things and smoking weed. And so I started doing lifestyle photography for their brand and it really resonated people hadn’t really seen this, you know hiking nature normalizing of cannabis especially with the imagery, you know, people were still like Rosta tie dye dreads and so they’re like, wait, like, women in like boho gowns, you know, smoking. And fields and people like it was just so foreign to people. And so I actually went on a Tinder date, you know, eight months into the industry. You know, I’d been sharing stuff on my personal account, and I went on a Tinder date. And the only reason I swiped right is because he had a Master’s from Harvard. And he also worked in the industry, he owned some shops, and so I swiped right, we met up, and within maybe 1520 minutes of our date, he was like rolling up a strawberry cough joint. And he goes, do people call you cannabis? And I was like, No, but they’re about to. And that was five years ago that then I started my Instagram. And I never wanted to be an Instagram influencer. People ask me all the time, how do I become an influencer? How do I build up an audience. But I couldn’t tell you because for me, I was just posting content that I loved, you know, the grows the flowers of me doing what I do. And it just naturally took off in a way that I never expected. It had been about two years in and I had really started to gain this audience for my cannabis channel. And I was working for a really corporate company at the time, like they were finance bros, they’ve gotten 100 million in startup money. You know, this was like the most corporate company I’ve ever worked for, like my parents. My dad’s a small business owner, I’ve always worked for small businesses. So I’m like, corporate, this should be interesting. And I had overheard their head of marketing talking to head of legal about how to sell product that tested positive for mold. And I was like, wait a minute, you know, this doesn’t sound right. And I emailed them and just said, You know, I overheard this conversation. Maybe I heard incorrectly, can you clarify, and they clarified in the most legal terms possible that I did hear correctly. And it just made me think, you know, if I’m going to be working nine to five for a company, with this cannabis persona, where people look up to me for brand recommendations. And, you know, it was so important to me that my nine to five was in alignment with my beliefs of legalization and the future of this plant. And I just could not work for a company that just wasn’t about it, that they were really concerned about profits, they were concerned about branding, but they didn’t care about the community, they didn’t care about quality product. And so that was the tipping point that I started my agency, Blaze creative. And I should just clarify, because people think it’s like Plaza, or like blaze like, reefer madness, but really Blaise below came over from France on my dad’s side of the family in the 1500s. And he was really integral in the settling of Quebec. And so I feel like that he was really a pioneer. And below is my middle name, so many ways, there’s a family connection to it. And I feel like what I’m doing and what we are all doing is like pioneering this unknown industry. And so I want to help my clients kind of blaze that unknown trail, help them develop their brand voice, create content, you know, develop more of a web presence, and also work around some of the loopholes that we currently face in social media and marketing, obviously, with sales and promotions, so that’s kind of where I’m at, you know, here I am, six years later, never thought I would be here. But I’m excited and and I am just so curious and excited to see what the future has in store.

Shayda Torabi  8:15
I’m, like, so grateful that you’re on the show, because you are one of my favorite cannabis influencers. And really just like, I don’t say personality, like your personality. But I mean, you’re one of the people who I think has really been on the forefront of disrupting this conversation, both from a content creation and lifestyle perspective, but also in terms of, you know, without getting too political. I do think cannabis is political. Right. And so understanding kind of where we started recording, one of the things that came up was, you know, vertical integration and and legalization versus decriminalization. And so, I’m kind of curious, especially given your start in the industry, observing how this corporate cannabis company was, you know, skirting by some of the rules. It’s so wild, I think consumers don’t realize how fast the industry is moving. And they’re watching it happen while we’re experiencing it. And so obviously, you know, for my listeners, this podcast is more for the industry than it is for the consumer. And so from an industry perspective, I’m curious what your your opinion is just around the corporate nature of it. I mean, how frequently are these big brands? Who, in my opinion, probably are there because they have the backing the finances, the muscle, you know, especially in Texas, we were not fully legal yet and we want to be legal, but I’m very fearful of full legalization because there might be vertical integration requirements, which would, you know, make it really near impossible for small brands to get involved in cannabis. And so then it just creates this corporate cycle where it’s like, are these corporate brands even even taking care of the plant, let alone the legal and political laws implications that we’re dealing with packaging vary state to state testing varies state to state So I’m really curious kind of what your observation is in that regard. Yeah, I

Bess Byers  10:04
guess the first thing to keep in mind is, you know, when you have something like legalization, it basically means the product is legal, as long as you follow the government’s rules that they put in place. I truly believe that this plant, we just need to decriminalize it, you know, I don’t think that this plant should have been illegal in the first place. And when you create legalization, you know it like, I would say, Massachusetts is a great example of a state who just really bombed their legalization, they gave out only 10 licenses for the whole state. And what does that do, you know, supply and demand, it’s like, if you have only 10 licenses, the cost to get one of those licenses is going to make it unaffordable, you know, for the small farmer, the person, you know, like my client, lazy bee gardens, they started growing because their dad had stage four thyroid cancer, and they wanted to give him a plant based alternative so that they could grow to make Rick Simpson oil, you know, and so when you have legalization that, especially limits licensing, it makes it almost unachievable and and same thing with some of the regulations in terms of like, just the permitting process, you know, the lawyers that are involved, you know, in Washington State, they wanted to pass last year, they wanted to pass a law that would allow out of state investment. And because right now in Washington state, in order for you to have your business in Washington State, like your money has to come from within the state, you can’t get money from a different state, a different country. So our politicians, they were like, okay, we’re gonna allow out of state investment. But in order for the investment to be from out of state for every $500,000, we’re going to give 1% to like a minority Trust Fund. And we all did the math, and we’re like, Okay, cool. So you’re going to give $5,000 to a trust fund for minorities, who are then expected to compete against, like people that are bringing in millions of dollars to the state, like, you know, what a sham, that’s not going to benefit anybody. So if we really want to look at how we can make, you know, make legalization move forward in a way that’s beneficial. In my opinion, I think anybody should be able to get a grow license, you know, if you want to own a brewery or a winery, you go and get your license, if I want to own a marketing agency, I go and get my business license, you know, I believe that we should let anybody that wants to grow. And as long as they’re growing, pesticide free product that meets, you know, the testing standards, let them grow and let the free market figure it out. And I know people have said, Oh, but if you do that, you’ll get the people like Amazon or Microsoft or Big Pharma, you might but also as consumers, you know, we need to be looking at where our money is going, you know, like you’re voting with your dollar. And so, if you don’t like a company, go and support the little guy. I mean, even in Washington State, you know, we have farms that are really big farms that, you know, are kind of corporate and not what I would support, I make sure that I’m supporting farms that are clean, green certified, you know, giving back to the community, you know, women owned minority, you know, owned and operated, you know, so it’s, it’s up to the consumers, I think, to really do our due diligence, and, and kind of touch on to what she said about vertical integration, you know, that can be problematic as well, in Washington state, we don’t have vertical integration. So for listeners who don’t know what that means is in Washington State, if you have a producer license or a processor license, you can’t be a retail shop. So that kind of helps prevent, you know, the Microsoft’s the Amazons, from coming and getting in. But even then, you know, we still in Washington State, we’ve seen it with them. I won’t name their name, but it was one of the largest grows in Washington. And then they had like their friends get the retail licenses. And it was just kind of like some shady, you know,

Shayda Torabi  13:54
is anybody policing that though? Like, are they actually regulating it or enforcing the regulations? Because that’s where I find troubling in Texas we have Now thankfully, hemp, you know, regulations and a department who’s quote unquote, regulating but nobody’s actually enforcing and there’s no quality assurance and even going back to kind of the mold comment, I hear so many people who get a hot product, especially in Texas, where you can’t have 4.3% THC. And it just takes a couple conversations with the right testing facility who will actually doctor your test results and so you can produce, you know, the right test result for the consumer. And it’s like, wait, what, what is what is happening? Why do we have these rules of no one’s enforcing the rules?

Bess Byers  14:39
I got my super Lemon Haze. That’s like testing point. Oh, 3%. I’m just getting lit off of it. Yeah, I mean, that’s, it’s kind of the same in Washington. Like with this grow. There weren’t people enforcing the rules because they had a lawyer friend who was connected to a lobbying company that then like would lobby and so it was just like a dirty kind of witch. Why I believe again, in like the most freedom possible because when you’re having regulations, then it’s like you’re putting regulations in place that increase the barrier to entry, but then government’s not enforcing them. So you have these people in positions of power, that are kind of able to give preferential treatment and cheat the system. And actually, there’s one shop called uncle likes, they have multiple locations. And because in Washington State, they say there’s a list of like, no pesticides, you can use, but some people still use them, and you don’t have to test for them to get your products on the market. So uncle likes pot shop, they started doing this thing where they would just send their products in for testing. And they created something called the ikes. Okay, program. And basically, if they sent your product in for testing, and it failed, they pulled your product off the shelves, gave you one more chance to like, try and redeem yourself. And if your product failed again, then your product was scrapped from from the shelves. And it’s a great In my opinion, that’s a great example of like, community holding other people accountable. Instead of looking to the state who, you know, it’s like Washington state, we generated 400 million in excise tax revenue last year. Where did the money go?

Shayda Torabi  16:12
Yeah, where’s it going?

Bess Byers  16:13
It’s going to general fund and then I can tell you where it’s going. Because I’ve downloaded the annual reports. And it goes to like the general fund, then it goes to like the LCB, or liquor and cannabis board to like, implement laws, then it goes to like anti drug awareness, then it goes to like drug research. But it’s not going I don’t see it going to the schools, I don’t see it going to the people that it needs to it’s going to the general fund to get mismanaged and lost.

Shayda Torabi  16:41
Well, that’s the hard part to my understanding. I know Colorado, and I’m not a Colorado resident, but it’s just my observation from going to Colorado a lot. And having a lot of friends in the industry there. It seems like their money from cannabis is actually going into their communities and their roads and their schools. And so it just a point to point out that because it’s not, which we personally, I think neither of us want the total federal legalization, we want more than decriminalization route. But I think that’s where it shows state to state, we’re trying to figure it out. And so as different states start flipping and start introducing different cannabis laws, it’s like, some are doing it right. And some are doing it wrong, like you can all just Massachusetts, I think Florida is doing it wrong, too, because they’re doing limited licenses rollout. And so it’s just something to kind of be mindful of, I think people in the industry don’t realize these nuances. They just think, Oh, I want to be in cannabis. And to your point, your dad’s observation, you know, it is a great industry to be in and especially well for all of us, really. But I think in places like Texas, where we are farther behind, it’s like we really are at the you know, front row of prohibition. And it’s like, this is exciting, but the amount of people who come into our shop, and they think, Oh, I’d like to also go open a cannabis shop, I think, one like you, anybody should be able to go open it. But the flip side of that is good luck navigating it, because there’s no real clear path forward. And I think that’s where, as a marketer, especially going into these discussions around testing results and quality control. If you’re a brand, especially a corporation, you do have some sort of you would hope that they would have some sort of, you know, ownership of quality consumer protection, consumer education, awareness, that they have some concern for, and unfortunately, it from your experience that I’m hearing and also just from my own personal experience, it’s really not the case and I think that that is such a difficult position to be in when you are marketing something that is so stigmatized or is so culturally segregated into one particular viewpoint or area and now we’re trying to really disrupt what that looks like and and then you have very well known name brands who are pardon my French fucking it up the

Bess Byers  18:46
corporate Chad’s. I mean, I’ve, in my experience, the the people who get into this industry, because they view it as like dollar signs and like big money, they’re in it for the wrong reason, because it’s not an easy industry, you know, something could go wrong at your grow, you could get bugs, you have an AC that goes out, you lose your whole crop, you know, like, there’s so much that can go wrong is agriculture, you know, and so if you’re getting in this, just for the money, you’re not in it for the right reasons, like don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out is what I say. Because, you know, I look at so many people that got into this industry, because they want it to be alternative medicine, they for mental health, for healing their sick kids, their dying parents. And you know, you brought up kind of a great point, when we started talking about taxes. It made me think in Washington state, we have a 35% tax on cannabis products in addition to a 10% sales tax. So what does that do? It drives up the cost of cannabis for the people who need it most. And also the low income people. You know, it’s like, you know, if you’re poor and you’re like wanting to kick back at the end of the day with a joint, you know, your 35% tax, you know, would that money be better spent going to the government coffers or would that money be better spent staying in your own pocket To then save or give to the community however you want. So I think even with the taxes, people think, Oh 400 million in taxes generated. Yeah. But imagine if that was 400 million that people still had in their own pockets for purchasing power. So it’s really interesting.

Shayda Torabi  20:15
Another thing too, I’m curious, it seems like with your agency particularly work with a lot more, I don’t want to say smaller brands, but more you know, homegrown type of brands, which I To be honest, I don’t know a ton about the Pacific Northwest cannabis scene other than it being like, you know, the mecca for cannabis consumption. I mean, even in the hemp world, we source a lot of our crops from Oregon from Washington State, just because I think the climate and Geography The mixture makes it the perfect combination for cannabis to grow really well. But with that said, obviously, knowing that there are a lot of corporate entities or really maybe even smaller brands who have found success growing and building their business, how do you see that from a, you know, kind of a marketing perspective in terms of getting into the retailers? Whether you’re a grower whether you might be a brand? Do you see that the dispensaries are favoring more the bigger corporate brands? Or are the smaller brands? Like how do they market themselves being a small brand without as many resources is kind of what I’m trying to understand? Yeah,

Bess Byers  21:15
I think to some of it depends on the price point of your product, you know, are you indoor sungrown, you know, obviously indoor, because of just like the increased cost to produce, it can be a little bit more expensive. And so, you know, when you’re looking at retailers, you know, they’re looking for all different brands, like they don’t want just corporate, they don’t just want small farmers, like they’re looking for a lot of different price points, different genetics. So all of those things have to go into consideration. I would say from a producer processor, standpoint, if you’re looking to get into retailers, the things I believe are most important, are, you know, having consistency with your products, there’s nothing worse than like, having a good product, and then all of a sudden, it’s like, Ooh, it’s not available anymore, because then the shops are like, Well, our customers want that. If you can’t provide it, now we have shelf space. So we’re going to take on another brand, if you can’t fill that. And so having consistent product, having a good brand story, you know, like what differentiates your brand from everybody else? And also just like, are you giving back to the community? You know, like, what are you doing to help the community? Is it a clothing drive? Is it food drive? Is it you’re donating a portion of your proceeds to a local organization?

Unknown Speaker  22:24
You know, I

Bess Byers  22:25
believe that all businesses should be in the business of giving back in some way, shape, or form. So it’s really important that cannabis brands continue to do that. And that obviously helps break down the stigma that’s associated with the plant as well. But I’d say in terms of just getting into the shops, and with marketing to like the shops want to see that. Where do I begin? This is something that I face, especially with smaller companies, it’s like, they’re like, Oh, well,

you know, we’ll do marketing. Once we get more budget. It’s like what came first the chicken or the egg? You know, your shops that you’re going into, they want to see that you have a website, social media, email marketing, like are you supporting your retail partners, through your marketing efforts? Because, you know, I do have clients that have said, the shops they go to, that’s a deciding factor for them as they go. And they see on our blog, we’ve written about our retail partners, we’re giving the shop shoutouts for subtly using Instagram, swipe up links to, you know, a link to their menus. And it’s like an ecosystem it all kind of plays together.

Shayda Torabi  23:24
Yeah, I guess a precursor to that, to that I’m curious about in regards to licensing in Washington State in particular. Can people get licenses? So like, I guess I’m trying to understand if you want to create an edibles brand, for example, is there a runway? Is there an opportunity to be a new brand versus what I observe? Like a one of brands, which is a great brand. I love one I love consuming their products. But do we want

Unknown Speaker  23:47
to talk about one of brands?

Shayda Torabi  23:51
Do we want to just you know you observe that they have the finances to go and set up manufacturing and all these different states. They’re now popping up California. They’re in Florida doing CBD stuff. They’re going into Canada and it’s nice maybe that they’re able to do that. But now I’m like wait, what do I need to know about one

Bess Byers  24:10
one brands all mentioned this. So one of the brands I actually did a campaign for them and it was contracted through hellomd and I completed this campaign for them I went to Colorado shot it got like 90% of the deliverables posted and certain women in the cannabis space were so angry about me speaking out against mask mandates that they messaged wanna brands told them not to work with me because my views are dangerous. And I mean literally I have screenshots of people bragging about their messages to want to brands to get me canceled, and so on a brand’s withheld $1,000 payment that they still owe me for the campaign that I shot because of my mask stance. And it was ironic because the campaign that I shot and promoted was all about integrating cannabis into your health, mental health and wellness. So I guess they care about health and wellness as long as you like carto, the mask narrative and don’t think outside the box, but their edibles were really good. And I really enjoyed them. So want to brands, if you’re listening and you change your mind, I can send you an invoice and I’d be happy to work together cuz your edibles are great and your branding is super clean.

Shayda Torabi  25:23
So I appreciate you sharing that that is definitely Well, I think something that is just so I don’t want to say the word sensitive, it’s just it’s kind of the nature of the society that we’re living in today. For better or worse people have microphones, it’s really funny, I was actually to digress a little bit, I was I don’t know, if you watch bachelor and all that stuff going on, but they’re going through some, they’re going through some drama. And I spent some time today going through, you know, people’s individual Instagram accounts, who were kind of involved in the drama. And it’s funny you and I’m sure you can relate just because it sounds like you’re obviously not only are you like probably the epicenter of a lot of this, you know, controversy and stuff just in regards to being a public figure in cannabis. You know, those are very politically charged things. But I’m looking at these people’s comments whether it’s positive or negative, I like clicking through and sometimes I’m like, Huh, this person has no posts. And yet they have a very, you know, profound thing to say against or for and I’m like, Who are these people on the internet, even? Like, I don’t know, and obviously causes a spiraling effect. And then people get defensive in these brands choose to act and behave the way they behave. And what’s interesting that during a pandemic, you would like go out of your way to intentionally not get someone paid after they’ve completed the work. You know, it was just really interesting, but in response to like, what actually started that

Bess Byers  26:40
that whole talking point, want to brands actually could come to Washington State, there are licenses available in Washington State. And actually, in order to get a license in Washington, you only have to be a resident for like 30 days or 60 days. So it’s not even like you need to, you know, it’s not like you have to come in like live here for years.

Shayda Torabi  26:58
Yeah, it’s interesting, have you seen that create more saturation are there like so many brands that are popping up that you can’t keep track of it like, because I feel like that’s where some of the fear comes from, if we open up licensing, everybody’s gonna get it. Like, I will say, contracting with Oklahoma, I had a friend Miranda on my show a couple episodes ago, she was formerly from Colorado recently moved to Oklahoma to kind of jumpstart a lot of their industry. She’s telling me 6000 growing licenses, and they have such a surplus of products,

Bess Byers  27:28
that it’s hard to really put it into retailers. Washington was like that, too. And I don’t know how many retailers they have in Oklahoma versus like the growers, and also just like the state population, but I know, in Washington state, we had a ton of grill licenses, I’m not sure how many but like something that was, you know, a lot. And obviously, some grows succeeded. others didn’t. I’ve seen new brands come on the market, you know, a few years in and still be really successful. I’ve seen really good brands I love die off. I’ve seen brands merge, I’ve seen, you know, brands sell to other companies or have like a shift in ownership. And so I think that all industries are going to continue to evolve and grow with the time. So I think if you’re creating a brand that is committed to quality product has a unique message, you know, and it really cares about the community. I think that that Yeah, there is a space for you. And, you know, and I think that retailers will see that and, and be open to it, and the community will too.

Shayda Torabi  28:34
That’s so refreshing to hear, because it really just is so different from state to state and the guests I’ve had on the show and just the friends I have in the industry, it’s just such a variance is there’s no really clear, consistent understanding of anything. And so I just always appreciate getting kind of a pulse on what it’s like for my guests, you know, personal experience and where they find themselves living because that understanding is it just it helps influence. It’s not that I think that for example, Texas is going to do explicitly what Colorado did or what Washington State does or what Florida is doing. But I think it’s in my best interest as a Texas you know, based cannabis brand to understand well, what is Washington State doing and how did Colorado roll out and what is Massachusetts working on? Because I think our state like every state is looking at who else has done it before us and so it just helps us kind of create a better map essentially moving forward but I am curious because I know that you talk a lot about CBD and other cannabinoids in addition to THC, especially me coming from a CBD and now really other minor cannabinoids only market not super high Delta nine market. What trends are you seeing in Washington State? Are there a lot of ratioed products in the dispensary’s? Are you seeing other cannabinoids come to market that people are able to you know, like really purchase in capacity again I’ve seen you kind of About CBG I know that’s getting a little bit more acclaim these days but again state to say I’m just curious

Bess Byers  30:06
CBG is one that’s like started to come out more like delta A delta nine. The one other product that I’m just going to put out there because I don’t see it in shops and I would love to see more of it is like CBD extracts that are maybe like a two to one, five to one. So like,

Shayda Torabi  30:25
I love to dab like,

Bess Byers  30:27
I I am like that person that I’m like, Come on over. Who wants to dab like, I’ll sit down and take like five dabs and go to the gym like it’s nothing.

Shayda Torabi  30:37
So about me I haven’t gotten into dabs yet.

Bess Byers  30:40
Yeah, so I love concentrates, but they can really like zonk you out, especially like, if you’re trying to do stuff, you know, you can just get too high it it is a thing. But I also aside from like, getting stoned. I like just like the kind of the social aspect of it. Like, you know, like scooping the dab you got your dad, you know, like the low tech, like tasting the flavors of the Low Temp. So it’s not just about getting stoned. It’s like the whole experience of dabbing. And so I would love to see more CBD, you know, THC ratio, dab products on the market. And that’s just something I’m not seeing. And actually, it’s funny because Washington State last year when they did their awful cannabis legislation push at the state level. One of the things that they wanted to do is they introduced a bill that was going to cap cannabis concentrates, I think, was it over 10% THC, or 20% THC, something just insane. And obviously it didn’t pass because all you had to do was like call the legislators and be like, okay, here’s how much you generated an excise revenue. Here’s the percentage of that let’s extract sales, literally a third. And I was like, maybe 5% of your extract sales would qualify under this new law. So congratulations, you’ve now just eliminated like $150 million in taxes from your revenue. And they were like Oh, oh, you’re right. And so it didn’t didn’t pass.

Shayda Torabi  32:14
quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast. Restart. CBD is a brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas. We operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store and you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart again, thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt. I hope you’ll check them out for your CBD needs. Let’s go back to the episode. That’s crazy. Yeah, I think the money talks right so that’s fun. like come on Texas pay attention like get on board. Let’s legalize this.

Bess Byers  32:53
I would love for Texas to legalize I might be not too far behind if that.

Unknown Speaker  32:57
Yeah, come on.

Shayda Torabi  32:59
Yeah, that’s cool, though, because I think I you know, I talk about it a lot on this podcast. But you know, you and I are new friends. So I’ll share this with you. I’ve been a I will say marijuana consumer for the past, you know, 1516 years of my life and got in a car accident six years ago where I was hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian and fractured my pelvis in two places and was going through traditional recovery. So pain medication, steroid injections, physical therapy, just like time to heal. And I’m very fortunate I have a very open minded progressive thinking mother she’s very into holistic medicine she knew about my cannabis consumption and she suggested so this again was like six years ago, CBD to me and so when you looked around there was no CBD market there was nobody selling there were no brands selling and I was very skeptical when she introduced it to me and so at the time my mom ended up sourcing it from out of the country I think because people aren’t really growing it in tech or not in Texas but growing it in the States. She’s making me homemade concoctions and that was really my first introduction into other cannabinoids and getting exposed to like thinking through the endocannabinoid system and you know i i still similar to you but not quite I don’t I don’t do concentrates just quite yet. But I love cannabis and I love being high like I love a high THC experience like some people don’t I love it. I live for it like I need it. But CBD getting introduced into my life was such a game changer because originally I was under the assumption oh my gosh, I smoke so much weed. I’m probably getting CBD enough. Not really realizing and understanding that. No, most people are not actually growing marijuana with these other cannabinoids and higher percentages, the genetics, the strains, it’s just not what’s happening, their education was lacking. And so I was just super skeptical because I was assuming I was getting it realizing I wasn’t then realizing Wow, CBD really is amazing. It’s now just become such a I mean, it obviously led to me founding my CBD brand and all that great stuff that I get to be involved in now getting to professionally work in cannabis, especially in a state like Texas. But for me, it really opened up the dialogue of there are other cannabinoids and ratios exist and being able to find products that offer those different thresholds, even different consumption methods. I mean, I will kind of maybe pick the scab a little bit I’ve been curious about concentrates, I think it’s a little daunting. I’m probably taking a different approach. In fact, last night, I got in my brand new volcano hybrid.

Unknown Speaker  35:30

Shayda Torabi  35:31
I’m okay the owner of that I’ve just been consuming for so long that my lungs feel really thrashed and I’m trying to find better healthy alternatives. I feel like concentrates would take me a little bit back in that regard. I’ve heard and here it’s very harsh. I’m curious what you think Low Temp so

Bess Byers  35:50
that that was the thing I started dabbing. I didn’t realize that, you know, there’s different temperatures you can dab at. So I would like watch it. Get my nails bird torch it hot red, put the dab on right away. And it’s like, I’m like, oh, it burns so bad. And I would get so stoned like, like

Unknown Speaker  36:12
the couch.

Bess Byers  36:13
But with Low Temp dabs. It’s not harsh. It’s like you can taste more of the flavors, the terpenes you still get stoned. But it’s like a little bit more. It’s like a different high. It’s not as like a slam to the face as more it is like just kind of like a stronger buzz than like a join, but not not as intense. And also, depending on what you’re dabbing with. I like percolation perky percolators. Yeah, multiple perks. Yeah, you really just used the smoke and like give it a nice smooth hit.

Shayda Torabi  36:48
Okay, good to know, I think, yeah, it’s been on my mind of like, oh, man, I really should like explore this consumption method one purely to because I’m in the industry, I sell products, I want to have a better understanding of how people can consume products. But just lack of access, I think in Texas to those types of products. That makes

Bess Byers  37:07
sense. One thing that really helped me with gabin is like for the longest time, I would just dab with you know, the blowtorch and then you like use your hand to figure out the temperature. But the mini nail is a company that basically it’s like an email that like sits on like a quartz bowl, and you can set your temperature to what you want it at. And it makes it so much easier to know what you’re dabbing the temperature dabbing at versus the guests and check of like, Am I going to burn myself like, you know, with a blowtorch, and now it’s too cold and I wasted my dab or it’s too hot, and I wasted my dab and now I’m super stoned. So the mini nail I love, love their product.

Shayda Torabi  37:46
I appreciate that pro tip. I think that kind of brings up another point too, that’s worth mentioning of just, you know, I think when you’re in the industry, there’s a little bit of like, just I don’t know what the word is, but just kind of like maybe disgust or like whatever because like I don’t want to be corporate, I don’t want to you know, be exposed or everybody like get into cannabis. Like I want this to be like my cool thing that I do on my own. But man, I love the advancement of products and technology. Now that I am seeing cannabis go more mainstream. So I don’t know if that company in particular is a newer company, but it just kind of made me think of a lot of the brands that I’m kind of coming across are coming to market because they’re able to talk about it. Now you have consumers who are able to like discuss, you know, what they would like to see and you’re having brands be really, you know, creative when it comes to how they’re developing products and really solving problems.

Bess Byers  38:37
Yeah, well, funny story with the mini nail, the gentleman who is like the CO owner of it. His mom and my mom are good friends because we grew up across the street from each other. And so he quit his job as an engineer to start this product. And my mom was like, oh, did you let Jeffrey in quit his job. And it’s in the weed industry, a nail, a mini mini nail and I was like wait, the mini nail. She’s like, Oh, no,

it is it is him. And it’s the product is a game changer. And it also makes it a little bit more approachable. Like for someone like my mom, who she’s coming over and I’m like, oh, take a dab you know, it’s like I don’t want to scare with like a blowtorch. And like some dirty cute she’s like, are you smoking crack? Like Well, it’s like, I guess kind of you’re like freebasing weed but it’s weed. Oh, you know,

Shayda Torabi  39:20
but that is the image it’s the torch slider in the I got invest in all this you know glassware and all these doodads and and now a little little whatever. So with the mini nail, it’s

Bess Byers  39:31
like a little pink box that I set my temperature at and it’s like, you know, it’s friendly.

Shayda Torabi  39:36
Okay, maybe I need a mini nail in my life. I love that. And I do want to kind of dive into your social media presence. I know that it gets talked a lot about but I do think that it’s worth kind of highlighting especially with the lens of marketing. You’ve been on social media, you have over 90,000 followers. You’ve been deactivated nine times. It is called out in your profile that you’ve been deactivated. What I really want to kind of dive into other than you’ve been deactivated and reactivated all nine times I read in one article that you were quoted, you know, to get yourself reactivated, it took just like persistence, you’re emailing, you’re like harassing, you’re contacting, you’re petitioning. You’re like, Hey, this is not right. I live in a legal state, my account is selling legal products and marketing legal things. And so I understand that aspect of it. And I want to kind of transition it to knowing that that is kind of the name of the game, right? We know in cannabis that these you know, big tech companies, these big media companies, for better or worse, they want to poop on cannabis and it makes our lives difficult. From being on Instagram myself, my observation and from what I hear from you know, let’s say the Instagram influencer community is Instagram rewards you using Instagram as the example they reward you when you use their new tools and features. So it kind of puts us I think, in this catch 22 of Okay, well, I would love to use reels, for example, as the newest feature. But then if I create content on those reels is that more so going to flag the content for these platforms to then attack you? And so I’m just curious what your thoughts are knowing you’re on the platforms, I know that your recommendation is usually to be distributed. So like you kind of mentioned earlier, Own your content, have a website, have your content distributed across different platforms, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. But how do you navigate it? What’s some of your advice for some of your clients? How do you coach yourself on like, I’m gonna post this video and it may have nothing to do with you know, maybe you’re in a field one day, and that normally gets flagged I’ve heard of you have actual, you know, cannabis leaves in the picture where you’re talking about pricing, those are things that get flagged, but I’m sure you’ve had content that’s not as blatant also get flagged. So there’s no really right or wrong way to approach it.

Bess Byers  41:55
Yeah, I actually did, uh, infused homemade cookies, Instagram TV video that got taken down like a month after I posted it, and like 30,000 something views later. But I think that was maybe from like, people just like flagging my stuff. But a couple things I’ve noticed is Instagram, they’re not even Instagram, Facebook, their AI has changed. So starting in maybe October, on Facebook, all of a sudden, I was having clients that I no longer manage their accounts, they were taking down posts that I shared for clients, four or five years ago. And then as a result, they were freezing my personal Facebook, and all the other accounts I managed to. And so for me on Facebook, like, I’ve just actually stopped posting on Facebook for clients. Because one of my clients, every time we posted, it would get flagged, and then it would put me on a 30 day ban. And then on top of it. The other thing that was so interesting is then when this client would get flagged and I would be on a 30 day ban, Instagram would hide their hashtags in the in the search results. So this one client has a specific hashtag. And I actually just checked the other day because I finally got off this ban and told the client I’m like, we’re not posting on Facebook anymore. Like I’ll share some text good go to our website, but we’re not posting on Facebook. And also, I don’t really want to post my content on a site for someone like Mark Zuckerberg, who doesn’t support me, like why am I going to want to give you clicks, engagement, ad potential, so, but it was really interesting to see how because Instagram and Facebook have merged, that they really have that like power and control where it’s like you flagged my client on Facebook, now you’re going to suppress their reach, you’re suppressing all of their stuff in their hashtag that’s like their branded hashtag. So I would say, on Facebook, don’t even bother. But on Instagram, you know, don’t push things like sales. I also think like you said, their new AI like it recognizes plant photos. Because when I first started posting, you know, some of my plant photos were like my most engaging content, and I would be posting nug shots every other day or farm content all the time. And now because of their their AI the algorithm. They suppress content that’s like plants fields, you know, waxy close ups and also, I know that Instagram likes smiling faces so like if you’re smiling in your picture, like Val boost that out to more people versus a plant shot and I think it’s really messed up like the psychology of it is really messed up because it’s like conditioning us to like get engagement and like our validation from having to post our faces and, and it’s, you know, it’s I don’t know, I have such a love hate relationship with social media because like, it’s gotten me to where I’m at, but also I’ve seen such a shift in it the last few years even with with just engagement in general like You can’t be posting with like the sole goal of like getting likes. Because if that’s what happens, like, you don’t want your happiness tied to likes, like if you’re posting content, you need to be posting content because you love to post content, you want to share your brand, you want to communicate and connect with other people. And so it’s so much more than just getting likes on an app. And also, one other one other thing, if you do want to push sales, Twitter is the place for that, like my clients, we really push sales on Twitter, we support our retail partners on Twitter, we’re sharing their menus on Twitter, and we’ve haven’t had any issues on Twitter. So

Shayda Torabi  45:40
that’s good to know about Twitter. I, I’m always curious what I mean, you said it, I agree. I think I have a love hate relationship with social media in general to just because I’ve seen the power and opportunity that it’s provided me to get to this point. But it’s, it’s like they keep moving the goalposts and it’s hard for me to feel excited to want to post content because I know that if I post something and they don’t like it, it might get removed if I post something, and it doesn’t get the amount of engagement that I want that I might feel, you know, down on myself. And so there are all these different dynamics that I think, you know, at the end of the day, it’s a tool. And I think that’s something that I have to always kind of like confront, especially with my friends and family. They’re like, Oh, you’re always on your phone. I’m like, but I’m working. I’m like on social media. And so it’s really hard to create a boundary sometimes, because you want to use these tools, but then they make it so challenging to do so effectively. So kind of on that thread. I mean, you said Twitter, but are there other platforms that you see that are maybe emerging that are opportunistic for cannabis?

Bess Byers  46:48
I hope so I’m on telegram and I actually created telegram. I know a lot of people think of telegram as like a direct messaging app for two people. But they also have like a chat forum that kind of reminds me of the chat rooms and like the early 2000s that like your parents didn’t want you to get ill. Yeah. And I love it. Because I’m allowed, I’m able to like post pictures, post links, and then it’s like a discussion with everybody, you know, as opposed to like, I mean, I guess it’s a discussion on Instagram, too. I don’t know, somehow telegram just feels a little bit more personal and open.

Shayda Torabi  47:20
It sounds like they’re not, you know, attacking or pulling your content down, that they haven’t pulled our content down

Bess Byers  47:25
yet. The one other place I’ve reached out to like on LinkedIn messaging them. I’m like trying to email them. They probably think I’m crazy. But I did the same thing. And Instagram got my account back. parlor. Yeah, so a lot of people think of parlor as like conservative, like free speech, you know, like, patriotic, but parler is created as a platform like a free speech platform. And so I’m trying to get a contact there, because I actually set up a political account on parler. But because of my agency, I would like to get my clients on parler. And right now for parler. If you you can only use one phone number per account. And so from an agency management perspective, like that’s just going to be a nightmare to like try and login, you know, manage multiple accounts. But But I think that there’s a lot of potential for the parlor platform to embrace the cannabis community and allow us to utilize our free speech to promote the plant. So if anybody listening connection to parlor, I would love to get in contact with them because I off the top of my head have probably like four accounts that I would like to put on there.

Shayda Torabi  48:31
No, that’s a really cool point to bring up. I do think that you know, the collective we have a citizens of these, you know, this world, we believe too much. Sometimes I’m going to say it of what the media says. And for some reason we’ve gotten ourselves into this hole with these big tech giants, namely Facebook and Instagram now being merged in Twitter and it’s like, like falseness. Wait a minute. Yeah, you don’t like that I posted this will fuck you. You know, like, Who says that? That? I mean, obviously it bleeds into so many different areas, whether it’s health, wellness, medical, political agendas, but specifically speaking on cannabis again, coming from Texas, like I sell a federally legal plant. It is not more than point 3% Delta nine THC. And as such, I would love to be able to use the tools that you market to small businesses to be on your platforms. And yet here I am a fully legal business and I can’t take advantage of this. It’s just like, wait, what the fuck like this is stupid. And so I’m really glad that people are waking up to some extent and whether, you know, we see an end of Facebook and Instagram and Twitter or we just create more diversity of platforms. I do think it’s time for us to start looking at other means of communicating. And so I guess I was also shocked when you said Twitter because I’m thinking like, how do I Who’s on Twitter?

Bess Byers  50:01
There’s a great cannabis community on Twitter. Yeah. And that’s the thing I didn’t realize, you know, I got on Twitter a couple years ago. And I didn’t realize there’s a pretty solid cannabis community on there. And if people are listening, and they’re looking for an alternative platform that promotes, you know, or regimes, they promote, like, allows sales allows for a little bit more discussion of this plant. Twitter’s a great one. And I also want to remind people, because I feel that way, too. I’m like Facebook, Instagram, they’re so dominating of, you know, the, the social media realm, you know, look at MySpace, you know, MySpace, phased out and even looking beyond social media, look at just technology, Nokia, the Motorola razor, you know, like, now we’re on Android and iPhone. But just there’s always going to be evolution and growth, hope for growth for the most part, as long as like governments not subsidizing winners and losers. You know, and so that’s what I’m hoping is like, as people are seeing that certain companies are censoring information that like the people that are into tech, and maybe you got some techies that are smoking weed, and they’re like, Hey, we need something better. Yeah. You know,

Shayda Torabi  51:07
like, build it. Yeah, build it and build it. Yeah, I’m in dab on your platform. Amen. I will join you for that experience. Now, I couldn’t agree more, I think, I think you know, is, it’s just, it’s run its course. And so I’m excited for the community of cannabis industry, as well as the consumers to kind of wake up and realize that and again, it kind of like punctuating a point that we kind of made earlier, just to kind of bring it home. For the listeners, it’s like, I think consumers do not realize the red tape that we go through as an industry. It’s funny, I come from corporate tech, and a lot of my peers, when I was building my website and setting up my e commerce, were like, Oh, it’s easy. Just use Pay Pal, just use, you know, Shopify, they’ll totally have you on their platform, it’ll be awesome. You can sell online, I’m like, I don’t think you understand how difficult it is for me to be online to take your money to be on Instagram to integrate all these things. It’s just a constant wake up. So that’s obviously what I hope this podcast can help be for my listeners, and I just appreciate you sharing your expertise. But final question I have for you is, I saw you reshared a video of you and your dad for Father’s Day. And it’s a question that I kind of, you know, get asked a lot, you know, What do your parents think of you being in the industry? And so just, you know, from one female to another female who’s blazing trails forward? Obviously, it looks like you had a good time The video was you getting to smoke with your dad into the context of like smoking with your dad for you know, pot for the first time. But how is that, you know, change? It was three years ago, you’ve been in the industry six years? Plus? What is it like, you know, with your friends and family,

Bess Byers  53:01
my mom and dad are both really open. I mean, they’re super supportive. You know, there are days where my mom’s like, I still don’t understand, like, what you’re doing for work, like, how are you paying your bills, and I’m like, you know, the Instagram, like, I

Unknown Speaker  53:15
have, like, I

Bess Byers  53:16
do that for brands, like my mom, she doesn’t really understand, but she’s supportive, you know, my parents have both come to grows and seen the growth. The one thing that’s interesting is I do feel like, with some of my extended family, there’s a little bit of a stigma where they think I’m just getting high on Instagram all day long. And that I’m like, wanting to be a model and like, and even my mom has said it, because it’s predominantly her side of the family. She’s like, they have no idea the magnitude of the industry, the potential health alternatives, the you know, the medicine that this provides for people, they just don’t know. And so I think for some people, it’s almost easier to like pass judgment or like, put someone down. I mean, the stuff that has actually been said about me from my own family members, I’m like, you have no idea. You know, and so you can’t let it get to you. You know, it’s like, there’s always going to be people that are going to judge or not like what you’re doing. But at the end of the day, I’m not living my life, to make anybody else happy. I’m living my life to make me happy and to make the world a better place and to, you know, give back where I can and, you know, that’s,

that’s what matters. That’s, that’s all that matters, you know, is like, are you living the best life you can for you? And if the answer is yes, then who cares? If people don’t like that you work in weed. You know, it’s like, whatever, I’m still getting paid. I’m still the money I make is still valid. It still buys goods and stimulates the economy. still paying taxes for it like it’s a job and what is it 100 and last I heard it was 176,000 people in America alone work in recreational or medical cannabis like that’s a huge that’s that’s huge.

Like that’s a big industry. With a lot of power, and, you know, that’s why it’s so important that as we continue to bring more people on board that the companies that are getting involved are like doing it right are committed to the future legalization because like, I don’t want to see Pfizer, Monsanto, Bayer marburo, Amazon, Google, Facebook, I don’t want to see those companies suddenly get into pot and do the same thing to this industry that they’ve done to so many other industries, you know, so so I’m just gonna keep using my voice and my platform to push the people that are doing it right. And, you know, hope that more people will get on board,

Shayda Torabi  55:37
I think you’re doing a tremendous job, I appreciate your impact in the industry. And I appreciate just getting to exists and the other side of the screen and be a fan of what you’re doing and advocating. And, and I say it a lot, but I’ll kind of highlight it again, in this context. You know, obviously, you’re an influencer with many 1000s of followers, but I do you think that we’re all influencers and so, kind of, you know, the point of bringing up your family conversation to it’s like, we can’t control all the conversations we’re having and how everybody’s going to react, but realizing the position that we’re in to help D stigmatize in our own relationships, you know, it’s not always going to be positive, it’s sometimes not always going to be understood. But you know, reminding that we are all influencers, whether you have, you know, 10 followers or 100,000 followers. This plant is making progress. And I think that is absolutely because of conversations that people like yourself are having. So I’m really grateful that you got to hang out with us on the To be blunt podcast, and thanks for having me. Oh, my gosh, yeah, come back anytime. And please come to Austin, we’d love to dab with you and show you around our Texas cannabis community. Yeah. And but if you could let the listeners know, what’s the best way to connect with you? I would love to share that out with them. Yeah,

Bess Byers  56:46
my website is I’m that’s the letter I letter M. Canna best be SS. That’s my name. And then all my social handles are at ein cannabis. If you’d like to learn more about my creative agency, it’s blaze it’s spelled bl a is E creative. And same thing with social handles for blaze creative. And, you know, yeah, feel free to reach out anybody. You know, I love hearing from people, whether it’s, you know, interest in how to get into the industry, I had actually a woman text me last night, she’s like, my Instagram got deleted, what do I do, and I sent her a link to my blog, and her account came back like an hour later, you know, I’ve had people email me about steps to get a job and I’m give them advice. And a few months later, they’re like, I followed your advice, I got a job in the industry. And, you know, it’s like, I love just seeing so many people like getting involved getting inspired. And, you know, reach out any anybody and everybody reach out, especially if you’re coming to Washington state you want to smoke hike, just need a good recommendation of strains. I got you.

Shayda Torabi  57:52
I told y’all, we were gonna get a little bit spicy in that episode. But for real, I’m just super grateful for besses transparency, for her experience for her sharing so openly with us. Obviously, some things are nuanced. But you know, I really respect her opinion and everything that she’s kind of gone through and what she’s observed in the industry and think that there’s just so much that we don’t know whether you’re a consumer, whether you’re a brand in this space, that’s obviously the point of this podcast is just for us to learn from each other and share our experiences. So I really hope that you enjoyed getting to learn a little bit more about best and encourage you to connect with her. She’s super sweet, really genuine and wants to help others just like I do. So take her up on it, reach out to her connect with her connect with me. We’re just two gals who really care about progressive you know cannabis laws and want people to have access to the plant who want to have access to the plant and want to make sure that big corporations don’t squash the potential of this industry for everyone to have a piece of the pie. So I really hope that you know, our conversation gave you some food for thought. I think right now every state is operating independently and some are obviously doing it bad and that’s just the reality of the industry. So you know, hopefully this opens your eyes a little bit to what’s going on and if you have any thoughts, questions, concerns, please don’t hesitate ever to reach out that’s what I’m here for and obviously best made herself available to so thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode of To be blunt. I’m your host Shayda Torabi and I’m signing off until next week.

Announcer  59:29
I love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit de Shayda slash tube lunch for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi

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