Media Archives - Green Market Report

StaffStaffSeptember 22, 2020
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5min420

El Planteo, a Spanish-language media outlet dedicated to delivering news on cannabis, hemp, CBD, psychedelics, gender issues, ecology, investing, local culture, trends, and more, announced its official launch in partnership with Benzinga, a dynamic and innovative financial media outlet that empowers investors with high-quality, unique content, coveted by Wall Street’s top traders.

“We noticed a lack of good financial content related to emerging industries and progressive topics in the Spanish-speaking world. Being from Argentina, I felt like we had to be pioneers in this space, providing a young readership in Latin America and Spain with information on business, finance, and culture,” said Javier Hasse, CEO, and Co-Founder of El Planteo. “We want to engage our readers with interesting, diverse content, while also empowering them to build their own businesses and invest in others.”

With a potential adult-use market of over 500 million people, a patient population close to 5 million, and low production costs, Latin America is quickly becoming one of the most significant cannabis markets in the world. According to a 2018 study by Prohibition Partners, the combined adult-use and medical cannabis market in Latin America is expected to reach $12.7 billion by 2028. El Planteo is headquartered in Argentina, with offices in Detroit and Los Angeles. The outlet is bridging the gap in knowledge and technology between first-world countries and developing nations in regards to sustainability and green alternatives.

Recognizing the importance of this rapidly developing market, Benzinga teamed up with cannabis journalist and best-selling book author Javier Hasse, who currently serves as Managing Director of Benzinga Cannabis, to create a platform where Latin American readers and entrepreneurs can stay up to date about industry news and trends, culture, investing tips, and much more more.

“When we brought up the idea of expanding into the Spanish-language market, Javier mentioned he had a project of his own that needed funding. After analyzing the idea, market potential and necessary budget, we decided this would be a great course of action to supplement our larger Spanish offering through Benzinga España, with a more locally-focused media outlet, El Planteo,” added Benzinga CEO Jason Raznick.

Initially released as a beta test, El Planteo has proven to be extremely successful, with very strong traffic (doubling consistently month over month over the last six months) and a large amount of content, both original and translated from a long list of media partners around the world.

El Planteo’s content has been republished on Benzinga, High Times, Forbes Argentina, Investing.com, Ámbito Financiero, Flipboard, Yahoo, and others. Content partners include Benzinga, DoubleBlind Magazine, Confident Cannabis, Goldleaf, Pick Up The Fork, Flowertown, Green Market Report, Aunt Zelda’s, The Medical Cannabis Community, Weedmaps, The Cannigma, Hoban Law Group, Cannabis & Tech Today, and others.

Green Market Report provides some content to El Planteo.


Cynthia SalarizadehCynthia SalarizadehSeptember 18, 2020
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4min1100

Haus of Jane announces Women in Plant Medicine Virtual Summit! to be held on September 30, 2020. The online event brings together women working in the stigmatized plant medicine industry to build community, network for business and inspire political activism. Tickets are on sale now: http://hausofjane.com

“By bringing women together on a global level we have the opportunity to make our voices heard politically, find the support we need in growing our businesses and strengthen the women’s movement at home,” Kyra Reed, Co Founder, Haus of Jane. ‘The event will be packed with opportunities to network, make friends and build community.”

What: Haus of Jane is hosting women in a virtual environment that facilitates networking, education and engagement on a dynamic platform.
When: September 30, 2020 –10 am PT to 6 pm PT
Where: Online, sign up now: http://hausofjane.com

Guests will find a DJ on the Main Stage, Salons type group networking and over 30 presentations to learn about how women in plant medicine are advancing the industries in which they work.

“Whether you are new to plant medicine as a career and you’ve been leading the charge against prohibition for decades, you’ll find inspiration, new information and a community of like minded women to explore how plant medicine can heal the world,” added Reed.

Haus of Jane Co-Founder, Lisa Snyder, adds, “It is imperative as women that we take this opportunity to strategize and unify with an intentional desire to connect with like minded individuals who support global health and the well-being of all humans on this planet.”

Many well-respected industry leaders are showing resounding support for the Haus of Jane community including White Buffalo SpiritMCS Accounting ServicesCannasitePotencyACS LaboratoryNternal / XternalClark Howell & Barbari.

“The Women In Plant Medicine Summit is produced and curated by women working in cannabis with the goal of creating a virtual conference that fosters conversation, establishes unity among women in the industry and informs with real, raw presentations on science, policy and what it means to be a woman working in stigmatized plant medicines,” explained Snyder. “Whether you’re new to plant medicine as a career or you’ve been leading the charge against prohibition for decades, you’ll find inspiration, new information and a community of like minded women to explore how plant medicine can heal the world.”

Haus of Jane is an events series focused on creating networking experiences for women in cannabis. Founded as a collaboration between Women Empowered in Cannabis and Tokeativity.


StaffStaffSeptember 15, 2020
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3min930

Cannabis is one of the fastest growing markets in the United States, employing thousands of workers and generating billions of dollars in sales revenue. Nevertheless, federal law still considers the industry an illicit market, making it difficult for even the most successful of cannabis brands to raise money. One of the ways the cannabis industry has adapted to this frustrating reality is through Shark Tank-style pitch events where companies pitch their brand to interested investors.

One such event is Retail Alchemy. Hosted by the cannabis-focused brokerage firm Cannabis10x, the event offers to open their “inner sanctum of investors” to a host of cannabis brands hoping to secure critical funding and win the ever-coveted Cannabis Crown. 

The pitch contest will take place in two stage. The first event, scheduled to take place on September 16,2020, will feature 40 cannabis brands, selected by Cannbis10x founders Jason Tropf and Holly A. Ford, who will have two minutes to make their pitch to judges. From there, the Top 15 brands selected by the judges will go on to the finals, scheduled to take place on September 26, 2020.

In addition to high net-worth investors and hungry cannabis brands, Retail Alchemy will feature cannabis legend Cheechr Marin, who will deliver the keynote address along with Tropf and Ford. While any event featuring Marin promises to include his signature style of comedy, Tropf says that events will deliver more than just laughs. 

“Pitch events like Retail Alchemy are always a lot of fun, but there’s more to it than that,” says Tropf. “The cannabis industry has an unprecedented opportunity to empower the public and raise our collective consciousness, and that’s something we take seriously.”

Tropf goes on to say he expects Retail Alchemy to carry on the success that previous events organized by Cannabis10X has enjoyed. Earlier this summer, Cannabis10x hosted another pitch event which attracted a collection of investors worth a collective trillion dollars and an international audience spanning 14 countries. 

 


StaffStaffSeptember 12, 2020
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3min4420

New Jersey: Ballot Advocacy Using Banner Planes

  • New Jersey votes on cannabis legalization in less than two months and entrepreneurs are getting creative to get-out-the-vote.
  • Educational events company Accelerate Cannabis is flying planes over the Jersey Shore to redirect public attention to advocacy groups and legalization messaging.
  • The State only has a handful of fully-vertical MSO’s currently and legalization will open the market to the industry at-large.

In less than two months, New Jersey voters might start a chain reaction on the East Coast to legalize cannabis and create a fertile market sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia – that is, if nothing goes wrong for advocates clinging to a close polling margin.

“It’s so easy to get trapped just talking to people on our side,” said Ellie Siegel, producer of Accelerate Cannabis events and lead sponsor for the Aerial Advocacy Campaign, “we needed a way to reach millions in the State with clear reasons why they should ‘Vote Yes’ and to tell everyone they know to make it down-ballot to the referendum.”

With social distancing in effect, Siegel sees this campaign as a way for businesses to reach both everyday voters and industry actors, “webinars and virtual conferences don’t tend to attract newcomers in the same way and as New Jersey becomes one of the hottest markets in the world, our mission has been to educate and create a sophisticated network of service providers and advocates who are ready for expansion.”

From 500 ft in the air, six feet of separation seemed to matter less as visitors flocked to the Jersey Shore over Labor Day Weekend. Accelerate Cannabis is flying a banner again this Saturday to keep the momentum going and hopes to continue mass market advocacy as the season changes.

Supporters of the Aerial Advocacy Campaign include Longview Strategic, an industry consulting firm focused on licensing and expanding emerging markets, as well as Women Grow, a female-led cannabis networking community, and Trichome Analytical, a local testing lab in the State. “We are all coming together to draw attention to the advocacy efforts of #NJCAN2020,” Siegel continued, “this coalition has been formed by people who have dedicated their careers to trying to get legalization right and we want the public to turn to them for information and resources about the ballot question.”

The campaign also links to Headcount’s Cannabis Voter Project, a multi-tiered effort through the entertainment industry to get-out-the-vote. With fewer venues, concerts, and live events offering spaces for mass market advocacy, people are finding new ways to support the legalization message and remain socially distant.


StaffStaffJuly 10, 2020
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5min6490

Four former senior staffers at High Times Magazine have partnered with Northwest Leaf Magazine to launch Northeast Leaf, a free monthly print magazine focused on the growing Cannabis communities and businesses in the eight states of the region. Making the move from High Times are Former Senior Cultivation Editor Dan Vinkovetsky (previously known as Danny Danko), Editor-In-Chief Michael Gianakos, Director of Technology Pete Thompson, and Advertising Executive Michael Czerhoniak.

Distribution is planned for September 2020, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine will be represented. Northwest Leaf is a ten-year media brand that is currently publishing in five markets covering California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Maryland.

Leaf Nation Founder & Publisher Wes Abney says, “With targeted media showing no signs of losing relevance, we’re elated for this opportunity to bring such an amazing stable of proven veterans into the Leaf family. The world needs honest Cannabis education and entertainment and it is our promise to stay true to the plant and the people as we grow the Leaf Nation into the global leader for Cannabis journalism.”

Dream Team

The team that Northeast leaf has assembled comes with a stellar pedigree. Gianakos was the former Editor-in-Chief of High Times from 2006-2020. He is the co-host and producer of Grow Bud Yourself! podcast. Danny “Danko” Vinkovetsky has written about cannabis for over 18 years at High Times and was most recently the Senior Cultivation Editor. He is the author of The Official High Times Field Guide to Marijuana Strains and Cannabis: A Beginners Guide to Growing Marijuana.

Vinkovetsky said, “With several popular magazines all having gone out of print, it makes perfect sense for us to continue our passion for the written word with such a respected, proven brand as The Leaf. And I love that it’s free to the public!”

Co-owner of The leaf and former syndicated radio personality, Mike Ricker, also shared in the merriment. “I’m elated to bring my 20 years of corporate broadcast experience to the next level as we expand our magazines, multimedia platforms, podcasts, and world-class events while building the most revered brand in the blooming Cannabis industry and beyond!” Ricker received the Billboard Award for Rock radio Personality of the Year in Seattle in 2008.

Rounding out the team, Thompson was the digital director at High Times from 2013-2014 and Black was a 21-year veteran of High Times. Black is the host of the podcast Blazin’ With Bobby Black and the Co-founder of High Way Travel. Czerhoniak was the advertising director at High Times for 15 years and is currently the Registration & Event Director for CHAMPS Trade shows.


StaffStaffJune 30, 2020
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4min13280

HBO Max has become the latest production company to use cannabis products as a marketing tool. The company is partnering with Sunderstorm’s Kanha Cannabis Infused Gummies and online cannabis marketplace Eaze to launch a collection of character-inspired CLOSE ENOUGH edibles.

“Close Enough, is a surreal animated comedy about a married couple, their five-year-old daughter, and their two divorced best friends/roommates all living together on the east side of Los Angeles. The series is from the creator  JG Quintel, creator of the Emmy Award-winning “Regular Show” and begins streaming on July 9.

“Kanha’s partnership with HBO Max is an exciting opportunity to showcase our delicious, award-winning gummies to a brand new audience,” says Cameron Clarke, CEO of Sunderstorm the parent company of Kanha. “We can’t think of a more playful, fun collaboration to announce to our fiercely loyal fans. We’re thrilled to partner with one of entertainment’s biggest media giants to help bring the adult characters in their new show to life through our gummy flavors and profiles.”

The Close Enough collection is inspired by each of the adult characters in the series. The products are marketed in for moods like relax based on the character Josh, get things done like Emily, get lost in thought like Alex, or be a social butterfly like Bridgette.

“It has been so thrilling for my team and I to create a campaign that feels so authentic to Close Enough,” said Peter Sherman, SVP of Program Marketing at HBO Max. “When crafting any campaign, our aim is always to create an experience for the audience that feels genuine and exciting, and this partnership with Kanha hits the nail on the head. We’re so excited about this one and we can’t wait to see how fans react.”

Starting on June 29 and through the end of July, while supplies last, Close Enough Cannabis-Infused Gummies are available at over 20 select, licensed retailers in California. They will also be available for purchase and delivery via Eaze in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego throughout the month of July, while supplies last.


Kaitlin DomangueKaitlin DomangueJune 11, 2020
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6min7600
Several cannabis companies aspire to be luxury brands but without the proper creative talent, the marketing can fall flat. In the traditional consumer packaged goods market, the look and feel of a luxury brand are remarkably different from a middle-market brand and that can often be attributed to the hiring of a marketing agency that specializes in luxury brands.
The cannabis industry now has its own creative agency that was launched to specifically market luxury cannabis brands. The new ETHEREAL understands the specific DNA of luxury packaging and marketing. The founders are four creatives with an extensive background in the luxury and lifestyle categories – Creative Director/Designer John Mamus, Photographer/Videographer Pablo Aguilar, Creative Director/Writer Tod Brilliant, and Managing Director Masako DiDio.
“The cannabis industry is growing at lightspeed, but it has yet to firmly establish itself in the luxury marketplace,” says John Mamus. “The opportunity is massive, and we have the passion and experience to help the most forward-thinking brands take full advantage. ETHEREAL is nimble and purpose-built for creative excellence, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.”
Mamus founded the boutique high-end creative agency MAMUS (mamuscreative.com) in 2007. With a focus on Luxury (automotive, private jets, textiles) and now cannabis, Deep Technology (low-earth-orbit satellites, augmented reality, sovereign identity, the blockchain, and digital assets) and Retail (high-end food, cosmetics). Pablo Aguilar is an award-winning photographer/videographer. Pablo and his team have created iconic images for brands such as Adidas, Fila, Vibe, Complex Mag, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Snoop, and many more.
Tod Brilliant is a deeply experienced writer and creative director. Over the years, he has developed projects for larger brands like Amazon, Samsung, MTV, Converse, Microsoft, and L’Oreal. Masako Didio has an extensive brand and leadership experience with brands such as Maison Dior and Burberry. She has intellectual property and management experience through her work with MAMUS CREATIVE. No stranger to the cannabis industry, Didio has also worked with Asha, TSO Sonoma, Major, and Seven Vices.
The group will be applying the techniques gained from working with some of the most recognized and successful premium brands in the consumer world. They have worked with Mercedes-Benz, BMW Motorrad, Burberry, Fortune, Adidas, FILA, Dior, Whole Foods Market, Starwood Resorts and Hotels Worldwide, ICON 4×4, Flont, and Richemont.
Luxury branding and marketing aren’t just expensive looking pictures with skinny models. It’s about creating a feeling that emotionally touches the consumer. If successful, the consumer in turn feels like they deserve such a luxury whether their income supports the purchase or not.
Beyond the image work, Ethereal is a thoroughly modern outfit that combines emerging technologies and strategic intelligence with all the usual tools of branding like visuals, brand strategy, and public relations. Beyond the image, cannabis companies are also subjected to onerous restrictions when it comes to presenting themselves to the public. Ethereal brings to its client’s compliance and regulatory insight through their work with global pharmaceutical brands such as Pfizer, Novartis, Innocoll, and Astra Zeneca.
The company’s style is already setting luxury cannabis brands apart from its peers. Some of the agency’s cannabis industry clients include House of Saka, Van Doran, Major Flower, TSO Sonoma, D’Fleur, Seven Vices, Asha and Klaus.
“Ethereal represents the opportunity to augment one-stop solutions to the often vexing cannabis language in a crisp and forthright manner. While launching Klaus Apothecaire, John Mamus is the ringmaster, conceptualizing and solving the most challenging of conundrums in real time. I couldn’t have done it without him and his team,” explained Warren Bobrow, co-founder of Klaus Apothecaire and known globally as the Cocktail Whisperer.

Video StaffVideo StaffMay 20, 2020
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3min5870

AxisWire, the first newswire distribution service and digital PR tech-suite dedicated solely to the cannabis industry, and Green Market Report (GMR), the cannabis industry’s source for credible in-depth financial reporting, have announced The State of Cannabis Media 2020 virtual conference.

The following people participated:

Jeremy Berke (Business Insider) Will discuss how brands can pitch directly to media if they can’t afford PR on a temporary basis
Terry Stanley (AdWeek) Will discuss the state of advertising and how ad budgets have been cut
Heather Cabot (Forbes & author of The New Chardonnay) Story focus and what readers are looking for during the pandemic
Warren Bobrow (Forbes) Story focus during the pandemic
Javier Hasse (Benzinga & El Planteo) Story focus during the pandemic and pitching writers directly
John Schroyer (MJ Biz Daily) Talking about pitching cannabis media
Rosie Mattio (Mattio Communications) Crisis communications and staying active in the media as other companies go quiet
Gia Moron (GVM Communications) Retaining clients in a challenging atmosphere
Lewis Goldberg (KCSA) The state of public relations among cannabis companies

“Events were the main source of exposure for cannabis brands as advertising remains largely off-limits to our industry,” explained AxisWire & Green Market Report co-founder Cynthia Salarizadeh. “When this pandemic took over, it left our industry and most cannabis brands who do not have the support of a public relations firm without many options. We felt the best way for us to provide some guidance was to create a free virtual event where brands can hear directly from journalists and PR professionals about how to navigate during these times.”

“Online screen time has increased as many of us are in various states of lockdown, which has increased the demand for content. Unfortunately, media companies have been forced to scale back as a result of the pandemic creating huge disruption in the supply and demand for news,” said Green Market Report CEO and Co-founder Debra Borchardt. “We believed that an event like this was needed as we all pivot and adapt to a new normal in the cannabis industry. We are stronger together.”


Kyra ReedKyra ReedMay 14, 2020
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12min10840

Welcome to the New Video Age

In early-March Google and Apple issued some of the first work from home orders in corporate America. This was soon followed by announcements that the biggest conferences and festivals of the year, SXSW, Coachella, E3, were canceling or indefinitely postponing dates. The business world found itself, suddenly and unexpectedly, faced with figuring out two major issues: how to keep employees motivated and focused from home and how to reach consumers, vendors and other essential relationships necessary to survive. 

For marketers, it signaled a dynamic shift into a space they’ve been advocating for years – Video. Video conferencing, live streaming, and on demand are powerful tools to reach an endless audience, around the world, 24/7.  Marketing professionals have been preparing for this explosion of use for years. 

Video platforms like Zoom and Skype have been tools for marketers for nearly a decade but failed to replace the in person experiences for most companies. From in house meetings to conferences and networking events, companies have relied heavily on these interactions to conduct their business. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic they’re now forced to pivot and find ways to integrate video into all human contact required touchpoints of the business. 

How The Cannabis Industry is Using Video 

The plant-touching part of the cannabis industry requires 100% person to person contact to survive. The products cannot be digitized. Fortunately it has been determined to be an essential business for most legal states enabling farmers, manufacturers, testing and retailers to continue conducting business. 

However, precautionary measures will need to be taken for an indefinite period of time in all aspects of the business. Cannabis will need to pivot to using video tools and platforms for training staff, connecting with suppliers, networking and consumer education. For an industry reluctant to invest too heavily in technology or reaching an audience that extends beyond city or state lines, the transition to video will be a challenge to execute but promises, for those who do it right, to catapult their brand recognition and reach.

Times of great change require nimble and creative thinking and the cannabis industry is proving to be innovators in the multiple ways to employ video to stay connected and solve new business problems that are arising with social distancing and limits on gathering size. 

California Central Valley Cannabis sales rep Amanda Soens realized she needed to find a way to stay in front of customers to keep her brands top of mind so she conceived the idea of  a “Virtual Demo.” A laptop sits on the demo table streaming Amanda from her living room. Products are laid out near the computer for customers to examine and discuss with her, on the spot. She can answer technical questions, educate on the benefits of the products and hold the customers hand through the selection process. The customers have found it to be a fun way to engage and the dispensaries willing to give it a try are thrilled with the results so far.

Hemp seed company Kayagene found themselves at a critical point when the COVID shutdown happened. It was time to put seed in the ground and potential customers weren’t returning calls. The Head of Product Portfolio, George Workman, took everything the company learned in the field last year and turned it into webinars to educate farmers interested in growing hemp. He was blown away by the number of attendees, their questions and their interest in learning more about how to grow a high yield hemp crop.

The State of Cannabis Conference, a mainstay California conference for policy updates, idea exchange and networking, has created two virtual experiences to keep their audience engaged. Susan Sores, CEO and Founder of The State of Cannabis describes the  event as a Full Spectrum Conference Experience. She was quick to transition not only the conference online, which had over 700 attendees, but she’s also launched a weekly  happy hour/sesh  via Zoom. Susan believes online experiences will ultimately provide better ROI for sponsors and content for attendees. 

A popular networking event for women, Haus of Jane, had several parties planned at conferences around the country. When it was clear the events would be canceled they had to rethink their entire strategy. Co Founder Samantha Montanaro discovered that there was a real need for women to connect with one another and keep the business contacts flowing. They found a technology that allows them to host a range of dynamic events and have been able to  expand their reach around the world. Haus of Jane has built a series of speed networking events for women and is planning an International Women’s summit for July of 2020. Their first two events brought over 250 women and they have expect to double that with their next event. 

How to Produce a Successful Cannabis Virtual Event

Video has the potential to revolutionize the way we do business but it must be executed on the appropriate platform (venue) with a professional approach. Lisa Caperello-Snyder, a digital event producer and Co Founder of Tokeativity,  provided insight on how to choose where to host an online event. “Finding the right digital venue is as important online as it is in the real world. It’s ridiculous to host a fancy 200 person wedding in a dive bar. The same is true when it comes to choosing a platform for your virtual experience.” She provided this list to keep at hand to help sort through all the options:

  • Is the event Free or Paid?
  • Is it for the public or invite only?
  • How many tickets/attendees?
  • Will guests be on screen, if so how many?
  • Is group interaction part of the event? (Will people talk one on one or many listening to one or more?)
  • Is a chat function for questions required?
  • Will there be VIPs?

[Curious what event tool might work best for you? Take the quiz at howtohostavirtualevent.com]

The rules of professional engagement are different with video and require more attention to detail than an in person exchange. Kendra Losee, CEO of Mota Marketing,  recommends being very strategic in how you approach video. “The content needs to be well thought out with a clear message and outcome for the audience. It’s easy for a video conference to turn into a free for all without the proper guidelines. Once the content is nailed down the next thing necessary for a really smooth experience is the environment where you are broadcasting. Good lighting, sound and background are all critical for your viewers to see and hear you and not get distracted by lighting or sound issues.”

Video will never replace human interaction but it provides the cannabis industry an invaluable tool to continue business as usual in highly unusual circumstances. Brands that are nervous about jumping in can start small with inter office meetings via Zoom or Skype. Get comfortable in the environment and hire a professional who can help with a plan and make sure that simple missteps that can lead to disaster – can be averted. 

This is just the beginning of the video age and the innovative cannabis businesses who are willing to experiment with the technology will be better equipped to deal with the times ahead. 

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtMay 4, 2020
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18min8600

HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS is a documentary featuring comedic tripping stories from A-list actors, comedians, and musicians. Star-studded reenactments and trippy animations bring their surreal hallucinations to life. Mixing comedy with a thorough investigation of psychedelics. HAVE A GOOD TRIP explores the pros, cons, science, history, future, pop cultural impact, and cosmic possibilities of hallucinogens.

The film tackles the big questions: Can psychedelics have a powerful role in treating depression, addiction, and helping us confront our own mortality? Are we all made of the same stuff? Is love really all we need? Can trees talk? Cast members include Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Sarah Silverman, Ad-Rock, Rosie Perez, A$AP Rocky, Paul Scheer, Nick Kroll, and Rob Corddry to name a few. Written and directed by Donick Cary. Produced by Mike Rosenstein, Sunset Rose Pictures, and Sugarshack 2000.

The film was originally planned for a premiere at the SXSW film festival, but unfortunately when the event was canceled so was the big premiere launch. The documentary will be available on Netflix.

Green Market Report was able to speak with director Donick Cary about the movie recently and this is that interview:

Green Market Report Editor Debra Borchardt:

What prompted you to have the idea to do this movie?

Donick Cary:

It’s really interesting, or at least it’s really interesting for me, obviously, I started this 11 years ago out of sort of this idea that big celebrities sharing what at the time was a really taboo subject, that you’d only have at lunch or something. I was with Ben Stiller and Fisher Stevens and people were sharing psychedelic stories and I was like, “Oh, what a cool thing. Maybe there’s a version of that movie The Aristocrats, where we just get a whole bunch of people to share stories. And for the viewer that would be like having this extended lunch where you just go around the table and let a hundred people tell us what they learned.” You know I come from a comedy producing and writing background and in general, those stories have some funny elements and I thought like, “oh what a funny taboo place for us to get the stories and then I could animate them or do reenactments and that would be a great thing.”

Now what happened was over those 11 years it took to make this thing and pull out those stories, two things happened. One, the conversation in the world changed, things like Michael Pollan’s book, testing and different reports coming out and more conferences and groups starting up to talk about real, actual beneficial benefits and science that was going on in this day. But also the stories as I was putting them together started to tell a different story than just these are all funny. I started to have a huge variety of experiences. Some of the people were saying like, “this is not good for my brain. I’ll never do it again.” And some of them saying, “Psychedelics helped me organize everything in my life. Keep my ego in check. Be a better human. Be in touch with a spiritual side I didn’t know I had. Not be afraid of death.”

These were sort of like anecdotal things that were just coming out from a very interesting variety of people. And often the most unexpected person would say the thing that you’re like, “oh wow, that changed your trajectory in life” or whatever. But those things sort of came to a head as we were in the edit room is the conversation changed in the world and we realized we actually have this bigger story to tell from real people and real stories.

GMR:

I could tell there was, I guess, some kind of time warp on there because when I saw Carrie Fisher. Which kind of made it really special to see her sitting there and of course she’s so honest and generous with what she’s sharing and so self-effacing. It was just lovely to see her as a part of that.

Donick Cary:

Yeah, both she and Anthony Bourdain have passed. But we also interviewed Tommy Ramone before he passed away and it was like this other very sweet story about 1970s punk rock New York and these punkers at CBGBs but also LSD and like how it was in all these different communities was such an interesting thing.

I would say about Carrie, and Anthony too to some extent, but all the interviews are the people who agreed to be in this were really like, whether they knew it or not, we’re kind of opening their brains for an interview. And these interviews are so intimate that way. And then you have another level of Carrie brought us into her home and was like, “Look, I’m an open book. Just look around. This is how I see the world. And psychedelics were a big part of that.” It was very intimate, close setting wise but also just from their heart and from their brain. And that Carrie interview was a really big version of that, an example of that.

GMR:
And was it difficult to convince people? I mean, as you said, the narrative around psychedelics has changed so much with decriminalization and such, but I’m sure going back a couple of years or so, was it difficult to get people to agree to this because there is still some stigma there?

Donick Cary:              

Yeah. In general, people who have an overall deal at Disney or whatever were like, “Nope, can’t. Nope. Not going to give a story.” But there are a lot of people too who are like raising kids and just don’t want to talk about drugs or maybe got addicted to some other drug and were like, “I just don’t want to talk about drugs at all. Just because it’s not my thing. I don’t want to be the face of anything.”

So it was a little bit of like, I would say, we asked everybody we could get close to, and I have very funny and famous people who I know have great stories but we’re like, “Nah. Nah, I can’t do that.” So we just put the word out. This was meant to be fun and interesting and come from a place of not a document interview at all.

GMR:             Non-judgemental.

Donick Cary:

Yeah, non-judgemental. It was whoever said yes, I was like, “great, let’s talk and see where it leads.” Even Susan Sarandon was really interested in doing this and I got on the phone with her two or three times, talked through her story. She knew Timothy Leary. She had really interesting things, but she just wasn’t sure they were good for a movie. We tried and tried and it just didn’t quite happen.

I felt like there is an important distinction to make with these drugs. They’re there in general, science has shown us they’re not addictive, that alcohol causes way more death and destruction than psychedelics. And it’s part of this thing that I’ve been saying like I’m not an advocate that everyone should do these drugs or that they should be out everywhere and just legalize, I hate the word willy-nilly, but willy-nilly. But that I’m an advocate for a rational conversation about these. That there’s a powerful tool there that we have, in a time where humanity is looking for fixes for mental health and connection to each other and the planet, that these might provide some help in those areas that we’re really lacking in. And we should have a rational conversation about that.

GMR:

Who do you see as your audience for this movie?

Donick Cary:

I always felt like the low hanging fruit was first the stoner community. We were like, “let’s just get stoner comedy. That’s great. That’s no problem.” You know people who go to Burning Man and an Electric Daisy Carnival should love this.

But I think there’s a bigger conversation here where there’s a little bit of the New Yorker community that loved Michael Pollan’s book should also find an in here and enjoy it because it brings up some big ideas. But also, like I always think of my father-in-law, who lives in the Atlanta suburbs and stuff, and he’s going to love this. There are people in that he loves, like Sting, who he’s going to go like, “whoa, Sting.” And he’ll be skeptical about a lot of it, but I think he’ll enjoy the ride and it’ll bring up some topics that are worth talking about for him or thinking about with him.

GMR:

I thought what was interesting about the movie was seeing, like you said, that you had different viewpoints because you had like a Ben Stiller saying, “I was one and done. Like this is not meant for me.” And A$AP Rocky was also very like, “I do not think this is for everyone.” And so you definitely have a little bit of everything. And to the people that were very intimate like, “this really changed my life and this really made a difference.” And then you had the other people that were just kind of like, “yeah, this was a good party.”

Donick Cary:  

Right. Right. And I think we tried to put in all viewpoints and just make sure, too, these are the interviewee’s opinion and try to give people… This is almost like a guide book. Read it, do what you need to do with it. Take the information you need from it. If you’re more of Sting kind of person, maybe some of his stuff makes more sense to you. If you’re more of a Ben Stiller kind of person… These are tolerable drugs that can be dangerous when used in the wrong setting and situation. So like Carrie Fisher said, “they’re not to be used cavalierly. They might not be for you. You have to know yourself.”

Two things that tied it for me was like, I’m not a religious person, but I feel like religion is a powerful drug. You should understand it and then figure out if it’s something you need. That the personal choice. This is very similar to these, but they’re not for everybody. And the other thing that really guided me was my kids are both in the movie because they were around while we were shooting it. And I was like, “Otis, will you put on a white top hat and do this?”

GMR:

That was a funny thing. This little kid in the white suit.” And then it kind of, as the movie goes along, it’s like, “oh yeah, now that works.”

Donick Cary:

Right. I do think that there are little nods like that come from the psychedelic or cosmic thinking, which is this thing of like, “yeah, you have little guys that pop up in different places that you weren’t expecting.” So that was kind of the goal there, was let’s have sort of a little somebody who’s got some extra advice and is like almost sitting on your shoulder and reminding you this or that. But it could be a little bit of a prankster, who knows?

But that was the other thing, it’s like, well my kids are in it. I love. Like we were doing this in a fun way and wanted to involve them because they were having fun and a part of it. But also they were growing up as I was editing and making this and I really want them to have tools to make informed decisions. Like I would not tell you that then they should be doing psychedelics, obviously. And I think all of that information is in this movie, it is like people are saying like, “wait, know yourself, it’s not for kids. There’s so much to do before you just ingest stuff.”

GMR:  

It looked like you were planning on premiering this at South by Southwest?

Donick Cary:

I go to the Nantucket Film Festival every year and Janet Pearson who did a lot of the booking for South by, comes there two or three years ago, I met her on Nantucket and was telling her about this and she was like, “oh my God, like can we get it at South by? It would be so fun to bring it there.” I was like, “oh my God, yes. Please.” And that was sort of like this three year plan that was finally coming into the place and we have so much talent in the movie, including the rock band, Yo La Tengo did the soundtrack for it and they were going to come to South by and do a show for us. Comedians like Reggie Watts were up for intro-ing it, doing comedy, and we were like we were finally going to be the big be in party tent experience that we’ve always dreamed of, alas-

Donick Cary:

Yeah, so we’re on Netflix, it’ll debut May 11th, coming up in a little while. I think May 1st we’re going to release some assets. I’m getting way too technical, but like a trailer and some bits from the film, so can start to get a sense. And then May 11th, it will be on Netflix and hopefully, as we come out of lockdown, at some point we can maybe travel with a little bit and put together some comedians and music and even some of our scientists and stuff and go out and talk about… Keep the conversation going.

 



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