Marine veteran Dan Anglin shares the story of how he started CannAmerica
Dan Anglin is an entrepreneur with a heart of gold. Having served in the Marines during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, Dan went on to not only help set standards for the edible industry, but also to create one of the most coveted edible brands in the country. We sat down with Dan to talk about his journey to cannabis and what it means for today’s veterans.
MRR: First off, being a former veteran, thank you for your service by the way, what made you want to go from the Marine corps to found CannAmerica?
Dan Anglin: Thank you for that. Great, great question. So yes, I’m a United States Marine Corps veteran, 1988-1992, Desert Shield, Desert Storm. After that I worked as a lobbyist for 10 years before I got into the cannabis industry in 2011. The company that I got involved with had hired me to prevent some prohibitions from the Colorado State Legislature, when they were implementing the recreational and medical rules for the regulated side of the business, and we did such a great job and had such a great relationship that he offered me ownership in the company. So I actually started at Edipure which was the only cannabis gummy company selling at scale from 2011 to 2013. Our best year was 2014, and 420 was a big, big month, with big months leading up after it being the only gummy company at the time we really owned the vertical.
A year later, we just had some creative differences – I wanted to create a different shaped product, and stamp the product so that you could tell it was cannabis outside the packaging. I’d been involved in some of the policy making for that because I’d continued to lobby on behalf of the industry. I founded the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce and basically we were the voice of business at the capital so I was very involved, and we just went our separate ways. After that I created CannAmerica out of my experience as a veteran and my choice to give up my old career for the cannabis industry because I believed in it and the freedom aspect. It’s patriotic I think.
So we did very well at introducing our product, a hemp leaf shaped gummy with THC in a diamond, because I was helping to design that with the Marijuana Enforcement Division. We really just wanted to give parents and law enforcement officers the tools they need to recognize that it was a cannabis product. It solved a lot of issues, it stopped a lot of discussions. Being able to show that you can mark a confection or a food product with something to indicate that it has cannabis in it was key and we’ve just done very well ever since.
MRR: Being a veteran and seeing how PTSD affects veterans in the industry, do you potentially see veterans getting access to medical cannabis and how important is that to you?
Dan Anglin: It’s extremely important and for a lot of reasons, because there’s other VA benefits that are affected by a veteran consuming cannabis, but I’ll get back to that. Am I hopeful? Absolutely. Am I inclined one way politically? Not any more. I used to be, right now all I am is cannabis. I’m a single issue thinker so it’s hard for me to identify completely with my old party, the Republicans, when they’re not getting on board with this. So now I’m just an issue person, not a party person, and I think with the director of the VA coming out on Monday and saying “Yeah, we’ll look at cannabis when it’s federally legal” is the clear direction from that director to Congress: ‘You need to do something, a lot of people want access to this and we can’t give them access.’
So there’s other benefits too, I bought every house I’ve ever owned since I got out of the Marine Corps through my VA loan. Well, I bought a house three years ago, so right in the middle basically of my 8 year cannabis career, and I couldn’t get a VA loan for it because of my business. I had to report my business and I was turned down. This is a travesty, it’s an earned benefit, I’ve earned it before and my job is constitutional in the state I live in, right?
So it’s time to do something, for a lot of reasons, but the primary reason is to get these guys off opioids. The number everybody is aware of is 22 a day, which is how many veterans kill themselves. I hear it’s going down, but I want it to go away completely and I think one of the ways we work on that is through therapy. For everything else, give them cannabis options instead of only opioids. There’s guys out there with traumatic brain injury, there’s guys out there with missing limbs, and they have a different approach to their pain management. What the VA does, because it’s all they can do is load them up with drugs. I’d much rather see more therapy offered and again, the option to choose cannabis.
MRR: What’s the timeline in your opinion for legislative change?
Dan Anglin: So my answer this week is totally different than my answer for the last year. Right, I’ve been saying OK, if Trump wins a second term, then the first year of his second term. If Trump doesn’t win, potentially it’s that first term of that new president’s. I think we could be months away though, it’s crazy. I would not have assumed that between his midterm and the end of his presidency that he would touch something like this, but it’s the only thing polling in the high 60s of any issue, period. So at 65%, a guy like Trump, he pays attention to polls. He talks about them all the time, so this has got to be on his mind about what he can do. What really matters is Trump needs to pick somebody that can help him with a public perception that he’s a businessman – OK, if you’re truly a businessman, you must be thinking about all the money that’s being lost to Canada. I went public in Canada, I would have loved to have gone public on the New York Stock Exchange but I can’t, and so I didn’t, that’s an awful lot of American financial decisions and opportunities that are being missed out on.
MRR: Scaramucci said previously that this was a post midterm issue for Trump so we’ll have to wait and see what’s going to happen.
Dan Anglin: Meaning he either heard it directly from him or he’s a psychic, because I wouldn’t have predicted that. Second half of his first term, he goes on the “Let’s Legalize Cannabis” train. Here’s the deal though, it has to be descheduled, that’s the only way everything that’s in the conference room right now maintains the status quo, because if we do a Schedule 3 it goes into the hands of pharmacists. So you’ve got all these retailers and all of these relationships and all of this history between the customer and the industry that could be wiped out with a Schedule 3. Cory Booker asked for Schedule 3 but that was so they could study it.But let’s get past that, 20% of the country is adult use. 65% of the country is medical something or de-crim. Let’s just make it happen.
MRR: Do you see it as the defining 2020 issue?
Dan Anglin: Man, I’d love for that to be the 2020 issue, or for it to be a point of success that President Trump can point to. I would agree with him, if he did it and did it right, then I would agree with him that he’s right, he did make this happen. Especially if he does it by executive order which I think he probably can do, most of this is policy. I’d prefer Congress to do it, because then I’d like to see the STATES Act passed, that way no states can say that it was forced down their throat, because that’s bad press for us, right? Oh, it’s very illegal, I didn’t want anything to do with it, now I’ve got to spend money and I’m dealing with ‘the weed’.
MRR: It also goes into the conversation of does it make sense for a state to have a medical program first so they are established and it’s easier to segment into an adult use recreational platform.
Dan Anglin: You know that’s a really good question Nick, because what Washington did was kill their medical program, and it devastated the patient community there. It changed their access to high potencies, it changed their relationships, it changed their – you know, it just changed everything about it. So I do believe that a medical program and a rec program should exist separately, for one the legitimacy of parents who want to get cannabis for their children and not walk into a retail adult use store and not feel medical or not have a medical element to it. I think it absolutely is legitimate and necessary, but there’s a lot of states at this point now are just saying look, lets just go straight direct, the med patients can get it anyway and we don’t have to have a database. There’s a lot of administrative reasons for them to do that. Salespeople unfortunately usually aren’t educated in why some people have a specific approach to consumption. There’s people who are walking in like “Gimme the gummies, man, ” and then there’s people walking in like “I’ve got rheumatoid arthritis, what should I take?” and “I work a late shift.” People have questions and they want to understand, what do these strains mean? I’m not saying that some budtenders don’t have that kind of knowledge but what I am saying is that I agree with you that the medical foundation is extremely important and helpful to the recreational community.
MRR: What is going to be on your plate for 2019 for CannAmerica?
Dan Anglin: Brand acquisitions, expansion into other states and potentially other markets around the world. Building our public company to exactly what our vision is, which is to be a branding company. Think about the Johnson & Johnson of cannabis. We want to have that level of consumer confidence in the core business that we built, and the states that we’re in. With that consumer confidence in our flagship brand, any brand that we put in our family also, by virtue of association, is something as a consumer you can expect the highest level of quality, the highest level of care, the best ingredients and the most precise dosing whether we’re microdosing, macrodosing, or standard dosing. Because you know it’s different in every marketplace.
So that’s our vision, that’s 2019 and we hope to have a lot of great announcements in 2019 of something along those lines happening in every vertical.
MRR: Thank you Dan, I appreciate your time today, as well as your service.
Dan Anglin: Thank you.
Thanks to Dan for stopping by. To check out CannAmerica online, visit www.CannAmerica.com