Turning Over a New Leaf: Insights into the Cannabis Industry with Brit Smith (Different Leaf)

Episode Description

In this compelling episode, we delve into the world of the cannabis industry with Brit Smith from Different Leaf Podcast. During our discussion, we identify key challenges within the industry, from the heavy red tape and policy hurdles challenging cannabis entrepreneurs to the need for advocacy in shaping the future of cannabis in states like New York.

Smith enlightens us on the customer experience in a modern dispensary, highlighting the burgeoning demand for clear guidance and precise expectations for cannabis experiences from new users. She underscores the essential role bud tenders play in this process, bridging the gap between product and patron, and details the importance of comprehensive, coherent staff training and education.

We explore creatives ways for cannabis brands to stand out amid the growing competition, focusing on the power of personal connections at events and the utilization of medical professionals within dispensaries for enhanced customer support.

Lastly, Smith gives budding cannabis business owners a crucial tip for growth and success: forming a trustworthy and knowledgeable team around you. This episode is packed with insights from an industry insider that will inspire and inform both aspiring entrepreneurs and established dispensary owners. Tune in now to garner a wealth of knowledge to help your cannabis business thrive.

We are delighted to welcome our guest, Brit Smith, who serves as the Podcast Host, Editorial Lead, and Writer for Different Leaf, a leading magazine dedicated to guiding readers through the rapidly evolving world of legal cannabis. A proud graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology, Brit boasts over a decade of experience in journalism and the legal cannabis sphere. As a passionate advocate for both the cannabis and LGBTQ+ communities, Brit strives to help the burgeoning industry flourish by facilitating insightful conversations on cannabis business and increasing awareness of cannabis culture in the United States.

Find out more about Different Leaf  at:

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Episode Transcript

Brit Smith: You don't have to know everything, but you have to form a team around you to make that launch successful so that you can grow.

You have to have trust in those people, and you have to know that they are knowledgeable about their area whether it's finance or cultivation or business growth, whatever you are not strong in, find others to make whole team stronger and, and go for it.

Tom Mulhern: Welcome back to the MjBizCon nominated Kaya Cast Podcast. I start with that because I need you guys to go and vote. For our podcast for Podcast of the Year at the MjBizCon EMJAYS awards happening this November.

There's tons of great partners of ours and great friends of ours that are nominated as well.

But back to the podcast today, I have a conversation with a fellow podcaster. Brit Smith from the Different Leaf podcast. Join me to talk about how they are helping to educate. Different cannabis, businesses and consumers through their amazing podcast.

We talked about really what can make a brand stand apart. We talked about some of the things that, you need to do as a business owner to educate your bud tenders, because really those bud tenders are the first line of defense in your business. We also talked about what it takes a stand out in the marketplace, and what you can do as a business owner to stand out. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with my new friend, Brit Smith from the Different Leaf podcast.

Tom Mulhern: I am delighted to welcome our guest, Brit Smith, who serves as the podcast host, editorial, lead, and writer for different LEAF podcast and magazine. Different Leaf provides a roadmap to the evolving landscape for new and experienced cannabis consumers.

A proud graduate of the University of California Berkeley, where she earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology. Brit boast over a decade of experience in journalism and the legal cannabis sphere. Brit strives to help the burgeoning industry flourish by facilitating insightful conversations on cannabis business and increasing awareness of cannabis culture in the United States. Welcome to the podcast. You're a fellow podcaster and I'm so excited to have you on here. So welcome to the show.

Brit Smith: Thank you so, so much. I'm so glad to be with you today, Tom.

Tom Mulhern: I wanna jump right into your background and how you kind of became interested in the cannabis industry.

Brit Smith: I was in the iHeart studio, I was in a newsroom and I got to start iHeart's first Cannabis

news podcast, which is called Blunt Talk, and that was in the beginning of 2018. And I was just going to all of these openings of new dispensaries. I was talking to cannabis control commissioners. I was talking to celebrities who were starting out brands. I was just fascinated by all of it. Doctors who were on the front lines of research, especially Boston, where there's a lot of medical industry.

It was just, there was, it was so rich, you know, and I had so much access to all these people. Sadly in the pandemic, that podcast had to stop. but I had already connected with Different Leaf, which was this very cool cannabis Culture magazine coming out of this little town in the middle of Mass.

I met the publisher, Michael Kusek, and I was like, I love what you do. And he said, I love what you do. And I said, well, I'm stopping what I'm doing. You wanna team up. And so we started Different Leaf, the Podcast.

And I would say that your podcast is kind of this American Life version of cannabis podcast because

Tom Mulhern: telling your story and telling other people's stories is, is so key to being able to understand this industry because You guys kind of provide that, that framework for them to be able to learn more about it.

Brit Smith: Well we're really, you know, trying to be accessible to folks who have both. A lot of experience in this new cannabis space and zero experience, and they're just trying to find their footing.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges currently facing the industry, and how does education and open conversation through platforms like your podcast kind of help address these challenges?

I think a lot of the challenges right now come through policy and a lot of policy movement comes through advocacy. So what we are doing by shining a light on stories about farmers, in that episode about what it takes to go from seed to shelves. We're allowing more people to have a little look through the microscope at what that little world of farming in cannabis in New York looks like.

How much red tape they're up against, how much it costs them how much work they really need to put into it. And when we get to see these sorts of stories, then maybe we care a little more about where our products come from. What sort of regulations are in place to protect us against pesticides and those sorts of things.

It's those details that you get from the stories that can make people become in more involved in advocacy. And I think that that really pushes change in policy because that is where you come up against the biggest issues to, to allow folks who have been in the legacy market, to stay in the market, or, you know, just keeping good people behind the plant.

So I really think that that's important.

Tom Mulhern: Now thinking of the, the, the modern cannabis consumer, because you know, your podcast is aimed at those consumers, what are they looking for in their cannabis buying journey? Like, what is someone walking into a store looking for when they go into a dispensary?

Brit Smith: New consumers are looking for experiences that they know what they're about to get before they take it.

So it's, it's something that is not surprising to them. When they smoke something, they want to know what they're about to feel. Am I gonna feel giggly and euphoric, or am I gonna feel sleepy and couch locked, or am I gonna get into a panic? So I think what people really want is guidance through what experience they can expect, especially new users.

Having that guidance as to like, when you smell it, if it's, if it's citrusy, it'll be uplifting. If it's lavender, it, it might be calming for you.

If you like it, it's gonna be good for you. Just having that guidance, that's what new users, I think really need to, to get over the fears of jumping into cannabis now.

Tom Mulhern: What are some ways that cannabis businesses can kind of position themselves and cater to the needs of their customers?

Brit Smith: I think connecting with customers beforehand through as much marketing as is legally allowed is a great way to do it. One company that I really love is Cann. The way that they connect is primarily through like nationwide advertising campaigns on social media and on YouTube.

But when I go into a dispensary and I see their product, I know what I'm going to expect from that product because of how much marketing I've seen on my Instagram beforehand.

The other thing that I really love is a popup. When I go into a dispensary, if there's a, somebody standing there with a table and they're like, Hey, you wanna try a non-used version of this? You can taste what it tastes like. I love that. And then I get to talk to the person about, Their experience with the product and what they love about it.

The other thing that I think companies can do is educate bud tenders, right? They're that last link in the chain between the product and the consumer. I trust my bud tender. I know that they know a lot of stuff I know. I ask them all like, did you grow before? It was cool. And if they, they did, they, I will trust their recommendations.

And I think it's important for companies to educate the bud tenders so that they can educate the consumers.

Tom Mulhern: What are the resources that business owners can use to help kind of really get their bud tenders up to where they need to know about product and sales and all of that sort of stuff that you've seen?

Brit Smith: There's some really good educational models that a lot of dispensaries will implement for their new hires. You have to be able to try the products. You have to be able to, you know, sit down together in a room and review them together.

Have educational training for your new onboards so that they not telling all these different anecdotal stories from each other so that your whole staff has a united view on what this product will probably do for your customer.

Tom Mulhern: Are there some creative ways that cannabis brands and businesses can really stand out?

Like is it through having that consistent branding? Is it through education, community focus? What are some ways that brands can grow?

Brit Smith: I think the community focus is really big. I think that that is where you start like having a grassroots movement with your branding. And getting that feedback as to what's working and, and what folks like and don't like. And once you have that foothold of who your audience is and what they want, that spreads a lot more easily nationwide, like Cann, has put in a lot of time and effort into figuring out who their target audiences? Are they cannabis consumers? Are they alcohol consumers? You know, are they moving away from one? And I think probably having a really knowledgeable marketing person on your team is a, a top-notch idea. Because they can be creative. You have to be really creative to stand out from the crowd, right now.

When you go to things like events in person, that's where I connect with a lot of stories and that's where I think that brands don't realize that like when you look somebody in the eye and talk to them at events, you're making a real connection with them. One that they care about, one that they'll remember.

And if you can set up your table in a different looking way than a regular old table, you'll really stand out to people. You'll really connect.

So the consumer and, and me, I'm really drawn to these events and to going to see how would I use your product in the real world. Can you show me a cool scenario where I can like, you know, indulge in your stuff?

Tom Mulhern: I find that the brands that don't just cater to the old tropes of cannabis, like the big swirly tie dye flags and everything, but the brands that are classy really are connecting with us older consumers. I'll, I'll, I'll let myself in there.

Brit Smith: I'll put myself in there. I'm like an a mid to elder millennial. Right. And I, yeah, I don't wanna be that. Tie dye, hippie, smoking weeded anymore. I feel like it's getting more elevated and if you want to consume in that way, like that's a, that's possible. Now, isn't that cool?

Tom Mulhern: Are you seeing any sort of new developments in science when it comes to the, the medicinal side of the plant?

I think that the medical side of things has actually been sort of swept under the carpet in a lot of states lately, sadly, because rec comes along and folks are like, oh, this is cool. I can just go over here, pay a little bit more in taxes. I don't have to talk to anybody.

Brit Smith: I just buy what I want and test it out. A lot of medical professionals in the cannabis space hold, like, available appointments virtually that you can just check in and, and talk to them about dosing. If you've already got your card, you don't tend to check back in with that doctor, right?

So there are doctors that actually allow that you can check back in and talk to them about. This isn't working for me anymore. Maybe I need to change like you would with a regular doctor. I think it's important for medical consumers to know that they can still reach out to most of their doctors.

The other thing that a lot of dispensaries do is there's at least some here in Massachusetts, they have like a nurse practitioner on staff. They'll come in a couple days a week and be available to have those medical consultations on site because there's sort of a line that a bud tender can't cross when it is giving right medical advice.

They, they give guidance. Educated guidance as much as they can, but they're not pharmacists, they're not doctors. So sometimes dispensaries will bring in medical professionals who can give you those sorts of details.

Tom Mulhern: Now one last question and what is one tip that you would have for a cannabis business owner to launch scale or grow their business?

Brit Smith: I think my top piece of advice would be to find, business partners that you trust to do that launch with people that know things more than you from their area of expertise. You don't have to know everything, but you have to form a team around you to make that launch successful so that you can grow.

You have to have trust in those people, and you have to know that they are knowledgeable about their area of, of whether it's finance or cultivation or business growth, whatever you are not strong in, find others to make your whole team stronger and, and go for it.

Tom Mulhern: That's a really great tip, like bringing the right people around you, the right community around you will help you be more effective and it will help you, you grow your business.

So Brit, how can people connect with you, connect with Different Leaf, connect with everything you've done and, and just kinda learn from your experience and from your podcast and your magazine.

You can find us on different and under the Subscribe and Shop tab, you can find your nearest in-person retailer. So we're on shelves in Barnes and Noble bookstores. Select CVS, select Walmarts, like we're in a lot of places, but if you wanna find your nearest one, different, the subscribe and shop tab.

Brit Smith: Or you can buy your issue and have it mailed to you, which is nice four times a year, you get a beautiful magazine in the mail. Our differently if the podcast comes out once a week, it is everywhere the podcasts are you can go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts, anywhere and make sure that you subscribe so that you don't miss an episode.

We have episodes coming out every week apart from, you know, I take a couple weeks break in between seasons, but we have four seasons a year. And if you wanna follow us on social media, we're at different leaf and I'm at Brit, the British.

Tom Mulhern: Well, Brit, thank you so much for taking this time to be on our podcast and

it's been a lot of fun.

Brit Smith: Thank you so much, Tom. This has been an absolute pleasure. So nice to meet you.

Tom Mulhern: Once again, I want to thank Brit for her insights and her time of just sharing, her great experience of working in cannabis, educating cannabis businesses, consumers about what's out there in cannabis, whether it's, you know, understanding the different products that are out there, the, the lifestyle, the culture. They're doing a fantastic job of really sharing. what it means to be a part of this amazing industry.

Go over to different, check out their website, check out the magazine, check out the podcast, subscribe to their podcast. And hopefully you've subscribed to our podcast because we're putting out these podcasts every week for you amazing listeners out there.

And we would love it if you would go vote for KayaPush for Business Software of the Year and Kaya Cast for cannabis Podcast of the Year and any other business that you really want to support. So thank you for subscribing. Thank you for voting. Thank you for listening to this conversation with Britt. And we'll see you next week on the Kaya Cast podcast.

Thanks for listening to the Kaya Cast podcast. We hope you enjoyed the show. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast in your favorite podcast app, or visit our website to learn more about our guests and to access the full archive of episodes from the show. Join us next time as we continue to explore the world of cannabis.

And help you grow, launch, and scale your business.

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