Article15 How Would Cannabis Legalization Affect The Industry? Hash it Out - Ep. 85 with Christina DiPaci
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The long-awaited federal cannabis bill from US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer along with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden has finally been released. Well, a first draft of it anyway. In this episode, we'll be speaking with Christina DiPaci of Paradiso about how federal cannabis policy reform would affect the cannabis industry. We will also discuss the essential nature of creativity and female representation in the industry creating a cannabis industry that we can be proud of and more.
Hash it Out features conversations about trending cannabis topics. We also bring in industry insiders and influencers to discuss their point of view. To reach the show: firstname.lastname@example.org
RJ: Hey, everybody its RJ your host and welcome to Hash it Out. The long-awaited federal cannabis bill from US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer along with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden has finally been released. Well, a first draft of it anyway. In this episode, I'll be speaking with Christina DiPaci of Paradiso about how federal cannabis policy reform would affect the cannabis industry. We will also discuss the essential nature of creativity and female representation in the industry creating a cannabis industry that we can be proud of and more. Without further ado let's Hash it Out. My guest today is the founder and CEO of the Cannabis company Paradiso, welcome to the show Christina diPaci. Hello!
Christina: Hi there. Thank you for having me today.
RJ: Thank you so much for being here. I understand that you are coming to us live from the farm and so I thank you so much for taking the time out of I'm sure you're busy schedule to have a conversation with me today. Not many people join us live from the farm or where the magic happens so thank you so much for joining me. Before we started recording here you had a little fun latin music playing to set the scene and not many guests came with their own soundtrack either so I thank you so much for being here today.
Christina: I am in a loft area above our trimmers.
RJ: Yeah, I love it. We gotta make it work whatever works in this day and age. We are very much in a renewed makeshift mentality over the past year, just making do with what we got and thank you so much again. As I mentioned during your intro here you are the founder and CEO of Paradiso. So first and foremost, I just want to ask you about the company. I understand that Paradiso Farms is located in Salinas, California. So tell me about the inspiration behind starting the company and how and when you decided it was the right time to start the company. Also I am curious about you personally because I just want to know how holding a bachelor's in Fine Arts from the Parsons School of Design and a graduate certificate in Scientific Illustration from the California State University of Monterrey Bay. How do both of those give you a sort of distinct and unique approach to doing business that might differ from others?
Christina: Those are all great questions.
RJ: That’s what I do.
Christina: The other co-founders and I were from this industry. We had farms up in Humboldt, we had delivery service going on in Berkeley in the early 2010's. Monterey County changed their laws and their ordinances in 2016 and they opened up this greenhouse space right before the regulations passed in 2017 and it opened up all this greenhouse space and they are like you can grow however much you want. No county at that point had done that and we were intrigued, we must grow more. We came down here and as most wonderful things in life happen it's through network and chance, and so we met some wonderful people. We got introductions, we got a little grow going and we started naively thinking we can definitely grow this, no problem. But the truth of it, especially in 2016 there wasn't any other model for large-scale cannabis cultivation. There was a huge learning curve. So us and our neighbors who are doing the same thing, it's been years and years of cycling through ideas and trying things and seeing what works, what doesn't work interacting with this environment to really kind of get a constant steady consistent production going. I would say that my background in art and design applies really well. No matter what, if you’re doing a painting, if you're designing a light, if you are creating a cannabis cultivation company, you have an idea, you're going to do some sketching, you're going to trial, you’re going to choose your materials, you're going to go through essentially the core design process, no matter what the application is. So I think trying things, making mistakes, learning how to correct them and I always having this creative mind to it really has helped us tremendously and staying alive and improving working through all of the learning curves that have happened.
RJ: I agree with you. I definitely agree with you because I think that the cannabis industry in particular differs from other industries in a lot of ways although a lot of big players in other industries are now sort of trying to get into the cannabis industry. But the cannabis industry, I think differs in many ways, one being that it requires a certain level of creativity and adaptability because things are changing all the time when it comes to the cannabis industry and cannabis legislation in this country and how it would influence how business is conducted in this country. I definitely agree with you that I think your experience in university and fostering that creativity would lend itself to the industry because you need to say quick on your toes.
Christina: Exactly. Compliance has been an overwhelming challenge. Every operator especially in the state of California and to really know how to navigate some of the more technical and fine-tune compliance things you have to be really creative. We have more than more than a hundred thirty people at our farm. You have to empower them with how to think creatively and how to problem solve to really help them be successful at their jobs and helping the farm grow and kind of to deal with all these issues, it’s definitely vital.
RJ: Oh, absolutely, essential. Essential, it's been the word over the past over a year now, definitely essential. Yeah, creativity has been deemed essential on this show that's for sure. I want to shift gears here and ask you a little bit regarding representation in the cannabis industry. There was a recent report released in 2019 from the women-led cannabis staffing company, Vanx that revealed that 43% of respondents said that women constituted a majority of their companies. Now still 74 percent of surveyed companies had 10 or less female employees. Now this puts the cannabis industry in terms of representation above other Industries, tech for example is twenty percent women employed, agriculture 25, food and beverage 26 but that is still behind most female dominated industries such as education at 68% and real estate at 50%. When you look further into the statistics, you find that with most Industries, when you look at the proportion of women in leadership roles, only 12.6 percent of companies surveyed said that they had no women in director or executive level positions and 41% had just one in a c-level executive position, 14.6 had three or more. So there's a lot of percentages there. But my question for you as the founder of a woman-owned and women-led business, what are your thoughts on that and what do you personally see going right in terms of representation in the industry and what still needs to be worked on?
Christina: Those are a lot of numbers that you threw out. I think for me I tried to create pathways in our companies that women can move up very quickly. I think that having and seeing other females in manager, director, C level roles is super important just to think that that's a possibility and have that be a goal of where you're trying to go. The woman psyche is super duper important. There's not a lot of female operators who have CEO titles or C level titles and I think a lot of that is there's not a lot of female investors either, a lot of money and decision-making that's happening in most of these companies is coming from a male-dominated space. I think the cannabis industry is extremely vocal about this and it gets so much press in general this industry. It gets a lot of press in trying to advocate for women and for minority and equity and it's trying to use this industry as it rectifies kind of a hundred years of the war on drugs, a hundred years of prohibition into something that we can all be really proud of and it's approachable. It's something that you can be a part of and it's something that coming out of America it’s something we can all be proud of. And so, I do see a lot of like more women funds coming into the space and people trying and talking about it, I think that's really important. I think people need to give women a lot of money, just give them cash.
RJ: I’m down, yeah..
Christina: And then, you'll see a little change. Having one or two women in a space is fine. When you have a bunch of women and it's 50 percent and they're the ones who are making decisions, I see at our company so many, it's a healthier environment. We do not work people to the bone here. Our Director of HR is a woman, we are all ears, like, come vent to us, let's talk about problems, let's clearly communicate, let's be really mindful of ourselves as individuals and our work life balance and our roles that we have outside of our workplace. Also how do we be professional and how do we be really efficient and really well organised and all of these things feel more balanced when you have females more balanced in your role and its top down. Ultimately, if I'm the one making decisions on certain things it's going to be a kinder decision. I'll be like please don't like if they don't have to work overtime please don’t have them do overtime and it shines through inherently in our actual company and it shines through our brands as well. Our products have this approach ability to them, they have a sensitivity to them, they're very thoughtful, they are mindful of who's going to experience this. Any event that we do is mindful of that, like is this overly masculinem is this inviting for women? When you have people, when you have a more diverse group of people who are making decisions you're going to have a more approachable company and more approachable brand.
RJ: Yeah, so first and foremost I want to get your thoughts on how you think federal cannabis legalization might affect the cannabis industry. I understand that there's verbiage in the draft of the bill that is meant to sort of keep the cannabis industry from being overrun by the big players in other industries such as tobacco and food and beverage. So yeah, what are your thoughts and how nationwide legalization in this country might affect the industry?
Christina: That is a giant question. I think that it's a question that we all since inception of all of our companies and especially California regulations have thought about and have considered. I think overall the more cannabis that is accessible to not only Americans but internationally the better and trying to have it be affordable, approachable and high-quality is inherently all of our goals. I think how that happens is something that we don't know. I think it will affect each state very differently. It will also affect the Canadian market very differently too. So here in California we grow a lot of product, there is a lot of product grown here and it has its own issues. To really give California's legalized market the support that it needs, it needs to be able to ship to every other state and to distribute not only domestically but internationally and that will give California the means and all of our companies because we are the taste makers for the entire cannabis community internationally and we will continue to be that way. How we get there is going to be a political challenge but that's essentially what needs to really happen and so I'm in full support of that. I am in full support of anybody who has been convicted of a non-violent drug crime but in this instance, cannabis crime should be off your record. You should not be in jail anymore. You like that's insane that people are still having issues with that and I think there's a lot of those details that are super duper important and meaningful in somewhat larger ways than it is us being able to ship domestically and internationally. For me it’s those two folds.
RJ: Do you think that it's possible to create a cannabis industry that we can be proud of in this country if we do end up having massive corporations and big players from other industries, big tech, big tobacco, big pharma, what have you, if they start dipping their toes in this industry? Do you think that it would still be possible to create a distinct industry, something that sets the cannabis industry apart from all other Industries?
Christina: I'm an optimist, so, yes. They are already part of this industry. I think one of the beautiful things of what you see in California is that so many of the operators who come from the unregulated market are still here. As federal legalization happens and I hope the state of California is also in full support but they're going to do whatever they can to help us really survive. The more that these companies who do have diverse, kind of C level, diverse investors, all this kinda stuff and inherently, so much of our lives doing this we have so much knowledge about this plant about the products and about how consumers are and what they want. Having money to help us is how I see the creation of a cannabis market that we can all be really proud of. I try not to look at it as us versus them. But how can we continue to grow and continue to shape this? There's enough division in the world and it's not versus them. It’s the realities and these are the companies who have money. how can you start to diversify that and how can you start to use that to support the more homegrown stuff?
RJ: Yeah, yeah, I appreciate that perspective. You are right it, we are massively divided as it is now. So yeah any sort of opportunity to bridge that divide and to work together is certainly needed and certainly valued and certainly essential which is another theme. We will certainly be keeping an eye on all of these developments and all you have going on over at Paradiso. Please continue to be well and stay safe up there. Hopefully, I would love to drop by for a farm tour at some point.
Christina: Any time I love farm tours. I am here, anyone wants to come. I love them.
RJ: I’m down, yes. We will definitely stay in touch because yeah I love a good farm tour. Absolutely, right on. So yeah so we will see each other very soon then hopefully. Christina Dipaci thank you so much for joining me today, I really really appreciate it.
Christina: Absolutely, that was fun. You're wonderful and thank you so much for having me.
RJ: I feel the love and I reciprocate it right back to you, thank you so much for all that you do. Christina DiPaci everybody. Thank you so much for joining me. That is it for Hash it Out y'all. Thank you so much for watching, liking, commenting and subscribing. That is it. I am your RJ your host as always and I'll catch you next time. Peace out.