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How to track your cannabis use so that it works better - meet Tetragram!

If you’re trying to figure out how to make cannabis work in your life, there is one thing that EVERYONE tells you to do… track your cannabis use! Of course, you can use a pencil and paper to journal, but in this interview, I’ll introduce you to a fantastic app called Tetragram that makes it easier for you to track and has so many other benefits.

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*Note: I know many people would rather read a blog than listen to or watch a video. That's why I provide this rough transcript of our conversation, which is not meant to be a perfectly edited blog post. Thanks for your understanding (and not blasting me in the comments.)

What you'll learn

  • Who Is Otha Smith III and Tetragram?

  • What is Tetragram and Why Should You Get It?

  • Otha is a Cannabis Patient First and That's Important

  • Why Should You Use a Cannabis Tracking App

  • Why Not Just Track Cannabis Use with a Paper and Pencil

  • Tetragram helps you find reviews and your cannabis community

  • Tetragram takes your privacy seriously

  • How Does Tetragram Work? It's Just a Few Easy Steps!

  • Tetragram is getting EVEN better in Version 2!

  • Get Great Product Reviews with Tetragram

  • Meet and share with the cannabis community with no worries about Big Tech taking over

  • Tetragram is in dispensaries as well!

  • Tetragram is doing some exciting cannabis research!

  • Why Is Tetragram so Important For Consumers?

  • Why Cannabis Labels Must Improve (And Maryland is doing it!)

  • Being a Minority Business Owner in Cannabis is Incredibly Challenging

  • Otha has advice for you if you're thinking of joining the cannabis industry

Andrea Meharg: Welcome back to another video at Today we're talking to Otha Smith III who's the founder and CEO of Tetragram and if you've ever struggled to really track your cannabis consumption or figure out what's working for you and find the pattern so that you know, what cannabis products to choose again, this video is for you because Otha has created a fantastic solution for both cannabis consumers. But also if you're a cannabis coach or an educator or a cannabis practitioner, you're gonna wanna stick around for this as well. Hi, my name is Andrea Meharg.

I'm a Certified Cannabis Coach and Educator and the founder of Reveal I am really passionate about learning everything I can about cannabis, and then trying to share it with you out there in the world. And this is part of a series of interviews that I'm doing with experts in the cannabis field, where I get to ask them like all my nerdy questions.

Who Is Otha Smith III and Tetragram?

Andrea Meharg: So I'm really glad that you're here with us Otha. I'm gonna start with just your very impressive biography. Um, Otha Smith. I third is the CEO and founder of Tetragram, a cannabis tech company based in Baltimore, Maryland. Otha is a Maryland native who grew up in Southern Anne Arundel County and graduated from Bowie state university, a historically black college. A seasoned entrepreneur Otha started his first company, aggressive detailing LLC while in high school. Otha was recognized by Marijuana Venture Magazine as one of the top 40, under 40 rising stars in cannabis. Congratulations, sir. And he sits on the board of several companies and nonprofit organizations. Tetragram was highlighted by the Baltimore Business Journal as one of the top five startups to watch in 2022.

So you have a lot going on.

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What is Tetragram and Why Should You Get It?

Andrea Meharg: I wanna dive right in with the question of what is Tetragram? Can you give us your elevator pitch to the consumer?

Otha Smith III: Yeah, a hundred percent. So, uh, Tetragram is a mobile app that you can easily download from the apple store or Google play.

And it's simply, unless you can take control of your personal journey with cannabis, you know, there's so many products in the market. It's hard to understand which ones are gonna work best for you and which ones aren't. And so, as you go through this process of trial and error, we built out an application Tetragram that gives you ability to keep track of every product you bought, rate the effectiveness of that product.

And then more importantly, you had the ability to share your personal experience with other people.

Otha is a Cannabis Patient First and That's Important

Andrea Meharg: And when I was looking through your bio and your website, you came at this from a patient first. And I find this really fascinating when people are in the cannabis space as a patient first, cuz there's so many problems with trying to figure out cannabis.

So we go in and we're like, crap, there's no solution for this. And then you made a solution for this. Can you tell us about your journey as a cannabis patient and why creating this product? This app was so important to you

Otha Smith III: Yeah, absolutely. So, um, you know, I've been someone who's been utilizing cannabis ever since I was like 15, you know, recreationally, but really medicating, but just didn't use that term.

Right. Um, and I grew up in an area that was notorious for growing cannabis. Like I grew up on three and a half acres of land, so a real farm area. So everyone was growing cannabis. Um, but it wasn't until 2006, where everything changed in my. Where I really started to take cannabis more seriously. Um, I was involved in a car accident, you know, was stir up, thrown about 40 feet at the falling asleep from, at the wheel.

And, you know, landed on my head and was actually pronounced dead on the scene. So luckily for me, I had a friend that was going to school at John Hopkins to become a doctor, which she is today. She ran to my aid until the helicopter arrived. So, you know, I've always been very holistic in everything. Like prior to that car accident, I could count on one hand how many times I've used, like even an aspirin.

But when I was released from the hospital suffering a traumatic brain injury, I was prescribed just a handful of different, dangerous opioids. Um, at the three years of using opioids, I was just like, this is not the life that I want to live. We all know how dangerous opioid use can be. And so I started turning the cannabis again, um, and was using that self-medicating and then once cannabis started to form this legal framework throughout the country. You know, it got legalized medically here in Maryland. And I jumped at the opportunity, you know, got my medical card and like, most, I was like a little egotistical. I was like, what do they know about weed when I walked into this dispensary? You know? Um, but that was the moment where I was, I found out that I didn't know anything about cannabis , um, terpenes cannabiniods, endocannabinoid system. I'm like, what is all this, um, you know, uh, Different delivery methods outside of this flower. And so that's what I realized. There's so much more to cannabis. I never realized in the legacy market.

Why Should You Use a Cannabis Tracking App

Otha Smith III: Um, and one of the things that was always being, uh, addressed and told to me was you gotta keep a journal. You gotta write down what you're using, cuz it's the only way you're really gonna figure out, you know, not which product, but more so which terpene, which can annoyed and which consumption method and amount.

Is gonna work best for you. I mean, that's a laundry list just to say alone. Um, so I said, okay, I see the benefit of doing this. Cause I mean, let's face it. Cannabis isn't cheap right, Andrea? So, you know, cannabis not being cheap. You, you can really go through a process, spending a lot of money, still missing a mark or trying to find what works.

Um, so me having a tech background, I said, well, everything we do is on our phone. Why not build an experience where people can simply document their use. Use of their app, an application on their phone. And that's when Tetragram was born.

Andrea Meharg: That's so amazing. We have very similar journeys and anybody who's been like thrown into cannabis cuz they needed it to, to help with something serious or not serious, you know, you were pronounced dead and had traumatic brain injury. Um, yeah, that, it's exactly that experience where you think, you know all about cannabis and then you get into it and you're like, oh no, I know absolutely nothing. I shouldn't say there's no way for people to track with paper and pencil.

I encourage my clients who aren't app friendly to track with, um, paper and pencil. And you can actually see patterns if you go back through your journal and look at everything. But I'm with you, like give me an app in my hand that has so many advantages over paper and pencil tracking. And that's what I wanna get into.

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Why Not Just Track Cannabis Use with a Paper and Pencil

Andrea Meharg: Why would somebody who's, you know, either not tracking at all and I hear you, people like nobody wants to do this, but once you do it, once you do it for a little bit, you can really actually change the trajectory of your life. Once you figure out that, like, Oh, actually CBD is much more amenable to my system than THC, or I really love this product for sleep and I sleep all the way through the night, every night.

So it spending some of the time and effort interacting with an app like yours can yield you like immense benefits. Can you tell me about some of the things that me as a consumer, what would be the benefit of me for using the Tetragram app?

Otha Smith III: Yeah. I mean a number of things. Uh, one of the things I think most importantly about Tetragram is that, you know, we really foster a community with the application.

Tetragram helps you find reviews and your cannabis community

Otha Smith III: So, you know, I, I always say that cannabis is probably the most communal plant in the world where people love to share their experiences with other people. Prior to COVID people were sharing joints with each other. Now you gotta bring your own . So, you know, I, oh, I say all that to say that in Tetragram what we have built is that community so that, you know, whether you're logging your own experiences in the Tetragram, or you can just come to our review section of the application and you can see other reviews that people have shared anonymously.

Cause Tetragram is HIPAA compliance so privacy is of the utmost importance to us. And so if I'm a veteran, for example, and I suffer from PTSD, I could come to Tetragram and just filter down those reviews to PTSD. And see exactly what products people have found a lot of relief with. And that's huge when you're like starting to map out this journey of figuring out what's gonna work.

You know, having other reviews is a great way to like navigate the sea of products. Um, the other benefit to Tetragram is, again, like we talked about cannabis is not cheap. And so, you know, there's not a lot of data that we can rely on as consumers to say, okay, I read this report, or I read this research article and this is what I should take, that, that information is very minute and really doesn't exist.

And so it really is you controlling your own personal journey. So documenting how, what products you use, how you use them is gonna lead you to finding that sweet spot so much quicker. You'll be happy. You got there because you know, cannabis is this the most beautiful medicine on earth where it's, you know, non-toxic, and it just does nothing more than just help propel your life and, you know, help you move forward as an individual health wise.

Tetragram takes your privacy seriously

Andrea Meharg: You mentioned being HIPAA compliant and privacy being really important to you. I wanted to touch back on that. Um, your app works across North America, across the states where where maybe you're in a place where cannabis isn't legal. Is there any concern that I could have that if I was using cannabis and it wasn't in the legal state that at some point Tetragam could be like rated by the FDA and then I could be found out what, how does, how does that work exactly?

Otha Smith III: Yeah. Uh, that's a great question. So, you know, we, uh, again, wanna protect people's identity security to the utmost. So we never ask for a person's first or last name, uh, when it comes to creating account, um, it's simply email address, password and zip code. So, you know, if you happen to get found out that you're using cannabis and someone says, Hey, well, I know they're using Tetragram it's gonna be really hard for them to identify who you are.

Um, and we will push back by all means to not release any information, unless we are just handcuffed and have to of, of our users. Because, you know, we understand that there's still a huge stigma associated with cannabis. And that's another reason why, you know, there's a benefit to using Tetragram because as you mentioned earlier, people are using like journals and writing it down.

Well, what if that journal falls into the wrong hands and you have your name in there, right? Hmm. Um, another benefit of Tetragram is it's on your phone. If you lose your phone, phone gets destroyed. None of that information gets leaked out to the person, to the public. So, you know, we really, even if you look at our terms and conditions, it's also stated in there how much, um, we go, the lens we go to to make sure that, that information secure.

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How Does Tetragram Work? It's Just a Few Easy Steps!

Andrea Meharg: So can you, can you tell me how it works from a consumer point of view?

So I do. I like smoking joint, so I'm gonna log into Tetragram before I consume. And can you walk me through the process of how Tetragram helps me?

Otha Smith III: Yeah. So, uh, once you download the app, um, whether you're, whether you consume before or consume after, um, the process is really straightforward and we made it, um, so there's not a homework assignment, which is something that, you know, it was very important because if you start to feel like, man, I gotta do this, I gotta do that that you're just not gonna track anything. Um, so the first thing we ask you is, um, you know, what the product is, and then we really try steer you to enter in all the terpene and cannabinoid information, if you have that available to you um, because that's the true medicinal value of cannabis. Like I always preach at THC, whether it's 20%, 5%, you're always gonna catch a buzz, but it's those terpenes and cannabinoids, they give you to true medicine.

Um, so you enter into product information first. Then, secondly, we ask you, where did you make the purchase? And that's very important too, because, you know, as you know, Andrea, sometimes you can buy a product from one dispensary, go back to that dispensary next week and it might not be there. Um, so you want to make sure if you do find in a stay consistent with it, you document that.

Um, and then thirdly is, you know, how are you intending to consume this product? Or how did you consume this product? So whether it was inhalation, orally or topically, and then we give you the ability to drill down so that you can really get granular. So if it's inhalation, for example, What device did you use?

Was it a, bong, was it a joint? Was it a vape? Um, and then secondly, what form did a product come in? Was it flower was it wax? Was it shatter because, you know, if I use a vape pen as opposed to a bong, even with that same flower, I'm gonna have a completely different experience. Yeah. Yeah. Um, And then how many hits did you have?

Um, or how many milligrams did you apply that topic or, or that oral solution? Um, and then you get to pick a symptom, right? So this is really where it gets pretty fascinating so that, you know, you've entered at what the product is. Where you bought it, how you intend to consume it. And so now we wanna ask you, so what is your intended purpose with this product?

Um, we give you a list of defaults, so you can select from some, but the thing that's cool is that we may Tetragram customizable. So it's completely your journal in every sense of the word word. So, you know, if you're not one of the defaults and you're like, Hey, I just, I'm using this product to chill out.

You can actually type that in there, save it. And it'll be part of your profile moving forward. And then you can actually add pictures too. So that's something you can't do with, oh, that's cool. Right? Like, you'll see tons of people that is taking pictures of product and sharing it with people all the time.

So again, we knew we wanted to incorporate that as well. And then after you added any pictures, you could put any notes in there, like, oh, this made me energetic or this made me creative. And then save that review. Um, and then once you save it, it's completely up to you. If you want to share that review anonymously with others, or you just keep it exclusive to yourself. So no one can see it. So it sounds like a lot, but in all actuality, I mean, it could take less than two minutes to log a session on Tetragram.

Tetragram is getting EVEN better in Version 2!

Andrea Meharg: And will the app ding me, or notify me later on and say, Hey, Andrea, your dose should be wearing off kind of thing. How do you feel now? Or do you go back in later and put it in?

Otha Smith III: Yeah. So that's, um, what we're working on with version two. So I'm excited to announce that here today on your platform that, uh, version two, our flagship model will be out in, uh, late January. Um, cuz this version we have out now is just the beta version and I'll be honest. I didn't know how well was gonna scale and now it's taken off to being in 200 plus dispensaries. But to your point in version two, we are gonna ask people, you know, go ahead and enjoy that product and then come back and rate it later. So really breaking up the flow a little bit, because I'll be honest, like. There's been times where I'll start logging in information in our current application, I'll go get you medicated and then I'll forget to finish it.


Andrea Meharg: you can't even put in that one of the symptoms was short-term memory loss. Like you can't remember to put it in.

Otha Smith III: Exactly. Exactly. So I was like, all right, this is something we definitely gotta fix. So now, you know, in version two, we break it up. So we ask you, what are you. Uh, what are your intentions with this product?

What the product is, where you bought it, how you consume it, then go enjoy that product. And then we'll pin you, uh, 30 minutes to an hour, uh, later, so you can rate it.

Get Great Product Reviews with Tetragram

Andrea Meharg: Yeah, that's a great idea. So that you can remember right. And tell me more about the reviews. If I'm. I shouldn't use Texas if I'm in Colorado, for example, am I able to see just other reviews of products that are just in Colorado?

Cause each state is different?

Otha Smith III: Yeah. So that's, that's another feature that's coming in version too. So, you know, right now it's just wide open. So if you look at that reviews tab, you're just seeing reviews across the country. And we knew this was something that we wanted to improve in the, uh, new version, because to your point, you know, if I live in Maryland, I can't even go, if I go two hours, north to a PA, I'm not gonna be able to get those same products in that, in that the state, unfortunately.

Uh, so we definitely wanted to put more filters in place with the review section so that people can, uh, sift through those more efficiently.

Meet and share with the cannabis community with no worries about Big Tech taking over

Andrea Meharg: And you have another really interesting part of your app and the platform that we talked about earlier that you excited for the community aspect of this app and that people can go in and interact with each other.

And can you talk more about the group section there, which I thought was really fascinating?

Otha Smith III: Yeah. Um, so again, just the building upon the community, right? And so, you know, the group section is something that we built for version two, because. You know, I I'm a tech company. I don't touch the plant at all.

And I've had my Instagram account shut down. I've had my Twitter account shut down. And you know, you just hear the horror stories about people who spend, you know, thousands of dollars on these social media accounts, tens of thousands only to wake up one day and that account be completely, uh, disappear.

And so we created this new functionality, which is the group section, so that. People who are on Facebook, people who are on Twitter or vetted, um, can migrate through our platform and feel comfortable and confident that they can share information, um, directly among each other, in that feel that their account might get shut down or they're gonna get policed by the content that they say.

And so this group section not only allows people to advertise their products, services brands, but it also allow. You know, physicians and us as consumers to create our own groups where we can just chat directly. So something I'm really excited about. I know the industry from what I've shown to people like, yeah.

Can you bring this tomorrow?

Andrea Meharg: Let's talk about that specifically. When you talked about that doctors could have their own groups. Can we talk about how Tetragram can be used by the other group of people who I love talking to and with which are cannabis coaches, cannabis practitioners, cannabis doctors.

You're gonna have this amazing ability for even me with my cannabis club, for example, for me and all my club members to be in a group together where it's safe, we're not gonna get kicked off Facebook, all the things, but also where a doctor or a cannabis coach could have their group of patients and they could have a back and forth community chat about like, Hey, this isn't working for me.

Have you tried this? What about this product? Again, all within a safe, contained area. Am I explaining that?

Otha Smith III: Yeah, exactly. Um, and the reason being, because, you know, we've heard from people like you, Andrea and other physicians, coaches that, you know, it's hard to stay in contact with my patients. Right. Um, sometimes, you know, I'm sure you told people, Hey, documents, your use, they write it down.

They come see you next month. I don't have my paperwork. I don't know where it is. Right. Um, so it makes it so much easier when we have that customer, that patient of yours who's already utilizing tetragram documenting their experiences and be able to share that with you in real time. I mean, now we're talking about really rich data beyond just, you know, text of saying, Hey, Andrea, this product worked well that you recommended for my insomnia.

Thank you for the recommendation. What else do you think I should use? You know, now we're that patient is sharing where they made the purchase. Uh, what the terpenes in cannabinoids are because, you know, I read a report recently that. It's an overwhelming amount of physicians and, you know, nurse practitioners, just medical professionals don't feel comfortable making recommendations cause they don't know enough.

And so this is an area that we've saw that we can improve by creating this conduit where patient and doctor are so intimately connected that it makes that learning process a lot easier for.

Andrea Meharg: I love that idea from a cannabis coaching perspective. Um, I do, I don't make my clients track. Like I don't go over to their house and knock on the door, but I like write it right in their guide.

Like you must track, you won't have to do this forever, like in big capital letters cuz you're right. It's not, most people are not super excited about this idea, but having that back and forth with one of my clients where she could upload a product and say like, Hey Andrea, should I try this? Or how much of this would I take to match my previous dose from a previous product that would be so much superior to like waiting for an email and all of this stuff. So I'm, it's exciting to me to see how you're building out this functionality as you grow. And you said you're in 200 dispensaries.

Tetragram is in dispensaries as well!

Andrea Meharg: What does that mean? That they're recommending to their customers that they download and use Teragram?

Otha Smith III: Yeah, exactly. So, um, you know, it depends on the resources of the dispensary, but you know, like Curaleaf for example, um, which is, you know, one of the largest dispensaries in the country, you know, we actually have a 32nd commercial that airs in their dispensary as well. So, you know, as people walk in, um, And, you know, make purchases, they actually see our content and be like, oh, well, what is this?

Let me check this out. Um, so at, at a bare minimum, every dispensary location that we work with has our marketing material so that, you know, it's a flyer has our QR code on, it, gives a brief description about the application and that way to the customer can easily download the app from a QR code. We have some dispensaries that put our market material in every customer's bag.

Um, and then again, from people like yourself who are evangelists of Tetragram as well and promoting it to your patients like, Hey, you know, do you want to track more paper? Would I really highly encourage you to use a app? Cause it's easier for you to document. And so we, uh, we have both channels.

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Tetragram is doing some exciting cannabis research!

Otha Smith III: And then the other thing that, um, is really exciting that we do is cannabis research.

So, you know, we work with, uh, universities, independent researchers as that data collection partner, so that, you know, the participants of that study will utilize our application. And then we can gather that information, um, provided back to the research, uh, people as well. Oh, that's really cool that you're able to put this right into research studies, which are ramping up. Right. We talk about how we need more cannabis research all the time and it is actually happening. So to be able to use an app like that, and then have all of that stuff really well tracked again, rather than the like paper and pencil that you bring in. That's fantastic. Have you, has anything come from that research that's been really interesting or exciting or do you get to see it on the other side.

Andrea Meharg: yet?

Otha Smith III: Yeah. Um, so we, we St just had our two, we just kicked off two, uh, research projects. Uh, one was in June and one was in July. Uh, the one in June we did in concert with, uh, the college of New Jersey and CERI which is short for cannabis education research Institute. And so that one, we put together a survey and sent it out to all of our users.

Um, and so we're starting to collect all that information back now. We haven't analyzed it yet, but that's something I'm excited to start doing um, you know, actually probably next week. Um, and then the other one that we did and we kicked off in July is in Massachusetts. Um, and this one I'm really excited with because this one I'm doing with, uh, Dr. Marion McNabb um, as well as, um, Gibby's Garden and which is a dispensary. And so this one, the thing that's really fascinating about this research is it's really the first of its kind in the sense that, um, the research is with 450 veterans that are eligible to participate and we're actually providing them with the medicine from Gibby's Garden.

So that way we know exactly what the products are, what the terpenes in cannabinoids are. So we can more actively analyze that information instead of this, you know, people just randomly using products and analyzing it that way. So, you know, that one's kind of fresh, so we haven't analyzed that data yet, but this is gonna be some great stuff that we're gonna be publishing in a couple months.

Andrea Meharg: The more I talk to you seems like it's the app for so many different groups of people involved in the cannabis space, obvious use case for people who use cannabis obvious use case for doctors, coaches, et cetera. Then there's this whole group social setting where you can go in and avoid all the problems that we've talked about with other major social media outlets.

Plus, it can be a space for research to happen. Like you have so many things happening with just this one problem that you've solved with like, Hey, I need to track my cannabis use better. And now it's turned into this amazing company that you've created. That's really wonderful to hear. And especially in such a short amount of time for you.

Otha Smith III: Yeah. Yeah. It's only been, it's only been two years, but it's felt like 10. Yeah. I mean, that's for sure.

Why Is Tetragram so Important For Consumers?

Otha Smith III: But, uh, you know, when I looked at this industry, I just really wanted to build, um, something that was gonna be a utility that everyone could see benefit in. Um, and something that, you know, at the end of the day, I mean, our ultimate goal with Tetragram is just to really bring transparency to this industry.

You know, if you think about it, the consumer has really been put at a disadvantage where. We got so excited that cannabis became legal at the various state levels, but we didn't do any research initially before these products were just dumped into the market to try to understand the impact they may have.

Um, and then again, as we talked about numerous times, like the consumer doesn't have any insight on what that potential product might be good for. So it's, um, it's a real challenging problem right now, um, which is why we're starting to get a lot of interest from state regulators as well, because, you know, state regulators have all this transactional data from Metric or BioTrack telling them what has been sold, how much has been sold.

But we're missing one key component, which is all right. We know these products are selling. What impact is they having on the state population? And so we can really, you know, um, paint a picture if you will, about what these products are potentially good for and what they're not. Yeah,

Andrea Meharg: that's so exciting in terms of things I highlight no, really just, you know, jump, uh, letting people know that B2 is on the way, uh, here shortly is something I definitely wanna get across for sure. Absolutely. And it's free to download, so you can go download the awesome version one right now and be fully prepared for when January hits, which will fly by.

Otha Smith III: It'll be exactly. That's why I tell people now, like, you know, sooner or later we'll be celebrating Christmas. So, uh, you know, take advantage of start downloading Tetragram now. Um, I know a lot of people get worried when they're like, oh, a new version's come out is my data is still gonna be there.

Absolutely. Your data will be transferable to the new platform. Um, so yeah, just take advantage in of toucher Graham now. And, uh, when a new version comes out in early, early to mid January, you'll be excited. You did so.

Why Cannabis Labels Must Improve (And Maryland is doing it!)

Andrea Meharg: All right. Before we close out, I like to ask guests what they're really like fired up about in the cannabis industry.

So is there something that's out there like making you mad right now?

Otha Smith III: Yeah. Um, two things. One is, uh, the lack of transparency when it comes to product labels, like there really needs to be a standardization when it comes to these labels. Like, if there's anything that gets me more fired up, is this conversation because like, I'm never, you know, like I'm a Marylander.

I love Maryland. And I never thought I'd say this, but Maryland actually got it right. In the sense that. They made it legislatively that every product sold in Maryland has to have the terpene and cannabinoid information on the label. Wow. Not like readily available at the dispensary if you ask for, but no, it's actually on every label and that's huge because you know, we're talking about something that we're ingesting it to our bodies and I will always use the analogy, Andrea, that, you know, what if I said, Hey, Andrea, I'm gonna cook dinner for you.

And I, um, you tell me, you have certain food allergies. I'm like, okay, great. I wrote that down. I go to the grocery store and I'm not able to read any of the nutritional facts on these product. I could potentially get you sick. Right. And the same thing happens with cannabis, right? If certain people have, are allergic to certain terpenes.

Um, and so we need to understand what's in that product that we're buying so that we can make a more educated buying decision about our own health. Um, and it just infuriates me that. Some states say, oh, well, you know, you gotta do testing, but only for heavy metals and pesticides where it's just, it's too much of a mixed bag.

It just needs to be standardized across the country that everyone has access to that information.

Andrea Meharg: On the flip side, before you go onto the second thing that you're upset about here in Canada, regulated, um, recreational system for coming up on four years now, and you would think four years in we'd have our label game down.

They changed the labels about two years in so that you couldn't tell how many milligrams of THC or CBD you were getting in products. Like you would have to go and do math on the side before you could figure out what you were consuming. And then we are just starting to, some of our license, producers are doing such a good job.

Exactly the same thing, putting minor cannabinoids and terpenes right on the label. But then you need bottle cap glasses because the labels are really small. Like it's a problem. People want to know what they're consuming. They deserve to know. They need to know. Um, But how so? It's great to see that Maryland came out of the gate swinging with that because so many other states, as you say, whatever, it's okay.

Like I'm sure it's fine. yeah.

Being a Minority Business Owner in Cannabis is Incredibly Challenging

Otha Smith III: Exactly. So, you know, then the other thing is something that's always a hot topic in this industry. Is this. You know, the lack of, uh, minority participation, right. Um, you know, it's, uh, it's unfortunate that, you know, minorities where, you know, the war on drugs was really targeted against minorities like me, myself.

Um, I'm four times I'm I'm four times had a greater risk of being locked up than you are for cannabis, even though we had this, any consumption. And so, you know, seeing that some of these social equity programs are being, uh, been in place are not being effective and it's still not getting to more people like who look like myself, getting into this industry.

It's something we need to address. And it can't be addressed as simply by you know, writing a check to someone like myself and say here's 10 grand, have a gr have a great day, best of luck to you. Um, it needs to be more than that. Like, um, educational resources, business resources, you know, things that besides money can help me understand how to navigate my business and help it grow.

So that's something that, you know, like I said is a hot topic overall, but it's always something I wanna bring to the forefront. And anytime I have a conversation.

Andrea Meharg: I'm really glad that you did bring that to the forefront. It shocking to me that in Canada it's completely legal and yet we still have thousands and thousands of people locked up for low-level non-violent cannabis crimes. And the same thing to a much greater extent is happening in the states. And then you alluded to these social equity programs that some states are putting in, and it sounds great. Right? We're gonna give back to the community who's been most affected by this extremely racist war on drugs, except for we're not giving them the resources, the education, the time, the support to be able to get into this industry. We're just saying like, Hey, if you can come up with $500,000, you can be one of the first people to own a dispensary. Well, that's not freaking help in anybody. Right. So, um, and the other thing that I've noticed and read about recently is that in both countries, 4 5, 10 years ago, the amount of minority owned minority represented brands, people in the space was actually higher that we're losing minority owned brands as time goes on.

And as cannabis, legalizes and big, you know, money comes in and consolidates things. What do you see as a hands on action that people can do to help with this fight? Yeah.

Otha Smith III: I mean, one is we gotta, we gotta band together because to your point, you're exactly right. That's one of the things that scares me about, you know, this industry, as it continues to evolve is, you know, at some point cannabis will be legal at the federal level.

I'm hoping um, but that's gonna allow for interstate commerce and cannabis at the end of the day is a commodity. And so when it drops from $45, an eighth down to $20 an eighth, you know, how are people who are small mom and pop minority owned companies gonna survive? They're not gonna have the piggy bank to weather, that type of storm.

And so I think now is the time that more than ever there needs to be unity, not only among, you know, other minorities, but just across the industry to say. Let's put together the right framework legislatively to make sure that these companies will continue to strive, uh, thrive and, and grow and prosper and what that looks like I'm, you know, I'll be honest, I'm not a hundred percent sure, but it's something that we all need to, uh, sit down and just make a hot topic as we, uh, you know, travel to country and go to various conventions and speak to different stake.

Andrea Meharg: One of the things that, um, really fired me up about cannabis in the first place. when I first started using it for depression was, um, the endocannabinoid system, like learning that we had a system in our body, you know, to catch the cannabinoids in cannabis. Um, that was, that helped me to shed a lot of stigma and to help me like speak loud and proud about what I knew was helping me.

And as I learned more and more about cannabis and specifically cannabis prohibition in the United States, we have our own problems here. Don't get me wrong. But cannabis prohibition in the states is 100% about racism, greed, and lies. So it's a racist prohibition law that's been put upon the entire American public, but specifically to, you know, like really, um, target minorities.

And then the war on drugs was just like a fantastic way to lock up a whole bunch of black kids for smoking weed for a law that should have never been passed in the first place because cannabis has never been dangerous or lethal, or if you smoke it, you're gonna go kill the kid next door. Like the fact we're in this space right now, where people are locked up for this plant and that people like yourself struggle to get out there and make a business because of, of this like a hundred year ago, prohibition. That's what. Infuriates me and I'm white. Like I'm a white lady from Canada, so

Otha Smith III: yeah. I mean, I, I, could you imagine sitting in jail right now for a cannabis conviction, especially in a state that is legal for cannabis, like it's, it's unfathomable.

That's why. You know, um, L'Oreal and Anthony of 40 Tons, um, are really great friends of mine. And they're really leading the charge over there because Corvain Cooper are really good friend of theirs was given a life sentence for cannabis, um, with no eligibility for parole. And luckily Donald Trump you know, he came through on this one, um, actually pardoning him in his final days of office.

But, you know, there's, there's hundreds, if not thousands, more people like Corvain are in that similar situation. And it's just, it's just unbelievable. It's appalling

Andrea Meharg: for smoking a joint often. Yeah. Yeah. Unbelievable.

Otha Smith III: Unbelievable.

Andrea Meharg: Well, we didn't solve systemic racism on this particular YouTube video, but I'm really glad that we brought it up and talked about it so that people can see and, um, maybe vote with your dollars.

Like this is a really good place to go investigate. Who's producing your cannabis, who's selling your cannabis. Do they know anything about the cannabis plant, have they been in this world for a long time and, you know, buy cannabis from, from brands and people that represent your values for sure. And also freaking make noise, right?

Like tell other people, did you know, people are still locked up for smoking a joint and I'm smoking a joint right here beside the jail kind of thing. Um, yeah.

Otha has advice for you if you're thinking of joining the cannabis industry

Otha Smith III: I mean, you know, when people come to me and they're like, Hey, I wanna get into the cannabis industry. The first thing I ask them is what do you know about the history of cannabis, right?

Because that's where it starts there. And. Understanding the history, if that doesn't put, uh, fire in your belly to do something that can, you know, uh, inflict change in this industry, then it shouldn't be the industry you're getting into

Andrea Meharg: get out. Yeah. Get out. yeah. You need a fire in your belly to stay in this industry.

A hundred percent. I there's very few people who I've met in this space who are not extraordinarily passionate, so yeah, we need, we need all the fire. We can. Thank you so much for coming on and talking about such a wide range of things. Um, it was great to learn more about Tetragram, and if you're watching go download it, you'll see the link down below, go download it and let us know.

Tetragram is happy to hear your feedback, so reach out to them and tell them what you're thinking. Give them some more ideas for version 2.0 so that they can add it to their list. Um, yeah, I really appreciate you. Thanks for coming on and sharing your knowledge with us.

Otha Smith III: No, no, no. Thanks for having me.

Andrea version two will be on the way. So please, uh, the best way to stay up the date is follow us on Instagram at the @thetetragramapp. And you have to spell that completely out cause we've been shadow banned. Of course. So @thetetragramapp, um, is the best way to keep up the date with everything that we have going on in a new release that will be coming out soon.

Excellent. For your time.

Andrea Meharg: Yeah, thank you. All right. Um, if you haven't already subscribed to this awesome channel, you should definitely do so now so that you never miss another video with great people like Otha, And we will see you on the next video.

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