Happy Joe is stoked to launch our first cannabis industry interview today!
One of our goals since we started focusing on medical cannabis for veterans has been building relationships with amazing entrepreneurs and leaders in the industry. The reason is simple. We want our military veterans to learn from the very best the cannabis world has to offer.
What we’ve experienced in our short time in this industry has been nothing less than awesome. The generosity of people who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise is incredible. Cannabis enthusiasts want to help our veterans. Our first interviewee is no exception.
Derek Riedle, Founder and Publisher of Civilzed.
Happy Joe recently discovered Civilized, an online cannabis publication that is truly different than all the others we’ve encountered. Civilized resonates with us because they aren’t the typical stoner magazine so prevalent in the marketplace. From the look of their website to the content they produce, Civilized is an absolute breath of fresh air in an industry with so many negative stereotypes and “me-too” brands.
We had the privilege of asking Derek Riedle, Founder and Publisher of Civilized, why they are different. We also had the opportunity to chat with him about challenges in the cannabis industry and get valuable advice.
Happy Joe has quickly become a huge fan of Civilized and the quality of content your company creates for the cannabis culture. Can you tell us what separates Civilized from the other cannabis media related websites?
Civilized is a reflection of the millions of motivated, productive adults who choose to enjoy cannabis responsibly as part of a balanced lifestyle, but are not defined by it. This is an untapped audience that wasn’t widely reflected in current cannabis media. Before Civilized, the big publications for cannabis consumers were all playing on stoner stereotypes. We know that there are millions of mature, smart, educated cannabis consumers out there who have interests in a lot of things – current affairs, music, travel, sports, etc. – and we wanted to be their beacon.
Happy Joe has noticed the Civilized brand looks and feels different than many of the other cannabis related brands. Was this intentional?
Since day one, we’ve built this company and lifestyle brand with our mature, professional and motivated audience in mind. We’re about moving beyond outdated stereotypes to elevate the conversation about cannabis. That’s why it was vital to give our brand a polished, sophisticated look and feel. You won’t find marijuana leaves and tie-dye at Civilized.
What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve encountered in the cannabis industry since the launch of Civilized in 2015?
Cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in North America, and with public support of legalization at an all time high in both the U.S. and Canada, there is a major social shift underway. It’s exhilarating to follow the progress: what was once stigmatized is becoming more normalized. We’re seeing this take hold with 26 states and counting legalizing consumption in some form, and about 17 other states voting on legalization this year alone.
In Canada, the national election drastically changed the trajectory of the industry, by electing a prime minister who promised to recreationally legalize cannabis as part of the political platform. That promise will come to pass next spring, and as the first industrialized country to do so, it will have huge implications for the cannabis industry across Canada and beyond.
Despite the federal and state laws and regulations regarding cannabis, what do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or hurdles that cannabis related companies are facing?
When we launched Civilized, we quickly learned that there are a lot of roadblocks facing companies in the cannabis industry. Given that we don’t touch the plant, it was surprising to see how many hurdles still existed in general operational activities, like advertising. We had to get creative with a lot of our digital marketing, as many social media platforms and search engines don’t allow keywords such as cannabis or marijuana.
We were also surprised by some of the barriers we experienced in terms of service procurement. We had some potential service partners turn us down, simply because we have a focus on cannabis.
The cannabis industry has been called the “next big frontier” with businesses having the opportunity to capitalize on a multi-billion dollar market. How do you feel the landscape will change for this industry in the future? What types of businesses will thrive in this new marketplace?
Legalization will open doors for countless business opportunities – the legal U.S. industry is expected to reach over $22 billion by 2020 – that outpaces the projected value of the NFL. And that’s a conservative estimate.
Some of these growth opportunities will be what you would expect: dispensaries, head shops, infused bakeries. But I believe there will be unprecedented opportunities for ancillary businesses too – those that are cannabis adjacent and do not directly touch the plant. Many of these companies, like ours, are targeted to the cannabis consumer’s lifestyle: events and festivals, health and fitness, gourmet cannabis-infused restaurants, cannabis resorts and travel destinations… the possibilities are enormous.
We understand that Civilized is based in Canada, though your focus also includes the United States. Can you tell us how the cannabis culture or viewpoint is different between both countries?
There a few subtle cultural differences, due in part to how legalization is enacted in each place. In Canada, the medical market has stricter regulations than some U.S. jurisdictions, but in general, enforcement isn’t as strict. The cannabis landscape on both sides of the borders has been progressing at different paces: Canada is planning to recreationally legalize on a national scale next spring, while the U.S. has been a patchwork of state-by-state laws.
Both countries have similar cultures, where the social acceptance and access to cannabis can really vary from region to region. Canada’s west coast, specifically British Columbia, is world famous for its “BC Bud” but neighbouring province Alberta is much more conservative. Similar changes in culture can be seen between California and nearby states like Arizona. In either case, you have areas where the culture is more normalized and celebrated, and others where the stigma is still very much alive.
As the cannabis industry grows and becomes more widely accepted, we believe there will be an influx of people seeking opportunities in this new frontier. What advice would you give to a person seeking to make a claim in this industry?
Go for it. Stop waiting for the right time, because that time has arrived. This industry is ripe with opportunity for the taking, so start working on your business now, before someone else does.
Research has shown that cannabis can help military veterans who suffer from PTSD or other health problems. What do you believe about this research and would you recommend military veterans being treated with medical marijuana?
While I’m not a medical professional, I’ve seen a lot of compelling research that indicates cannabis use can benefit patients suffering from PTSD, among other mental and physical conditions. I’ve also seen first-hand how it can help manage pain and improve quality of life when used responsibly. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface on the plant’s ability to heal — and it’s an area that requires substantially more research to help doctors and patients alike make more informed decisions.
There are now many great resources available for the cannabis industry and culture. What recommendations would you make to our military community on how to get started on this journey?
One thing that deters many people from embracing cannabis is smoking. Smoking isn’t the healthiest way to consume cannabis but a lot of people think it is the only way. We have a great guide on Civilized.life that explains the unconventional ways to get the benefits of cannabis. We also have an article with 8 Tips for Cannabis First Timers that will help you get started easily.
Happy Joe loves everything we have heard and read about Civilized so far. What are some of your plans for the future? How can we help “grow” the community at Civilized?
We have some very aggressive growth plans in place for Civilized. In the short-term, be prepared to see more original video content on the site, including mini-documentaries, interviews and more. In the long-term…well, I can’t spill the beans just yet, but let’s just say we have some exciting plans for cool in-person events and experiences. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with what’s new at Civilized, and please continue to read and share our content.
Thank you Derek and Civilized!
Happy Joe would like to thank Derek Riedle for taking the time to invest in our military community and mission. Derek and I are kindred spirits who share a similar journey in the marketing industry. He’s a hell of a guy and you should follow him personally on Twitter.
We would also like to give a salute to Haley Evans and Lesley Dickson from the Civilized team for making this awesome interview happen.