By Brandon A. Dorfman
As a Marines Small Arms Repairer/Technician, Military Occupational Specialty 2111, CannAmerica Brands Corp. (CSE:CANA) (OTCQB:CNNXF) CEO Dan Anglin helped his fellow servicemen fix their firearms systems and learn how to fire them effectively and safely. According to the veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the job, a bunch of military jargon for what effectively was a gunsmith and a range instructor, may not have been as sexy as the Navy Seals or Force Recon, but it set him on a path that he carries with him today in business.
“It really kind of set a foundation for myself as a business owner, my integrity and my approach to transparency and my approach to compliance,” Anglin said in an exclusive interview with PotNetwork, speaking of his time in the military and how it relates to his current role in the cannabis industry.
“I feel like, with my reputation, that I’ve got a lot on the line in addition to representing veterans who want to be in this business,” he continued.
Anglin becomes impassioned when discussing veterans access to cannabis in the United States, an issue that obviously hits close to home for him. In all of its literature, CannAmerica is proudly described as a “U.S. Marine-founded” company.
Sadly, when it comes to cannabis, veterans are continually receiving the short end of the stick, according to Anglin.
“I’ve bought every house I’ve owned until I bought one after I became a marijuana business owner with my earned benefit of a VA loan,” said Anglin, leaning into his words. “I no longer qualify for a VA loan because of the business that I’m in.”
He added: “So this is my personal thing, right.”
Anglin, of course, appreciates the fact that he’s no longer in a position to need those VA loans. He’s quick to point out, however, that thousands of vets still rely on them every day.
“We need to fix access for veterans so that they’re not having to lie,” he said. And the issue goes beyond just veterans, according to Anglin, as gun owners, too, are forced to choose between cannabis and their Second Amendment rights. Banking as well, he said, noting that every bank account he’s ever had since joining the industry has been closed.
But one thing the former Marines Small Arms Repairer refuses to do is lie about his role in the cannabis industry — and he believes other veterans shouldn’t have to lie either.
“I’m open, and transparent, and honest, and also publicly listed,” he said. “So there’s a lot of things to fix and the hemp fix in the farm bill, while not perfect, is a good first step.”
“…there’s really the most amount of deep blue sky for this plant.”
In early January, following the signing of the farm bill which legalized hemp, CannAmerica entered into a binding letter of intent with both Invictus MD Strategies Corp. (TSXV:GENE) (OTCQX:IVITF) and CBDistribution Company Ltd., with the three companies set to form a joint venture to acquire hemp for CBD extraction.
According to a statement released by CannAmerica, the deal will see each party receive one-third of the joint venture, pending Board approval and due diligence. Invictus will contribute a $5 million line of credit for equipment, infrastructure, and working capital, while CannAmerica will handle operations, property sourcing, extraction equipment, and staffing. CannAmerica, after all, has already sold more than 14 million cannabis-infused gummies in Colorado and Nevada.
CBDistribution will help source the hemp, and work on branding and marketing.
“I hate to speak for Invictus, but my understanding of them is that they have a high interest in expanding into the North American hemp marketplace,” said Anglin, making it clear not to put words into anyone’s mouth.
What makes this deal unique among the scores that have followed the signing of the farm bill is the cross-border collaboration. As Anglin told PotNetwork, each of the three partners has something to offer the others.
“Canada is really behind the technology curve when it comes to extraction because they’ve had no finished products available, right,” said Anglin. “Not that they don’t have the capability, they just haven’t done it.”
He continued: “So folks like myself and companies that are built like ours, where extraction and oil-based products is our main foundation of our knowledge, have that value to Canadian companies that have the capital and are interested in these types of things. And so, we formed this joint ventureship between the three for funding and extraction operations and then distribution into legal channels based on what the FDA has said is available.”
And despite the uptick in competition following the passage of the farm bill, Anglin sees an open market for CBD products, ready to be conquered. As he put it, there is a tremendous appetite in among consumers for CBD for a wide variety of uses, from post-workout recovery to inflammation reduction to the growing pet market.
“I think we’ve seen a surge of pet food products that have hemp oil-based CBD in them for dogs with arthritis,” he said. “It’s a global market, right, unlike the regulated cannabis space. I mean, there’s really the most amount of deep blue sky for this plant.”
He does foresee, perhaps, one issue that may slow things down.
“Unfortunately, when you involve the federal government it just makes it more, I guess, complicated and time-consuming,” Anglin told PotNetwork.
“…ensuring that the will of the people to have edibles…”
Dan Anglin can speak, read, and write the Navajo language, and was a registered lobbyist in the state of Colorado on what he called business issues. As he told PotNetwork, his clients were large, and they did big things at the state capital.
At the turn of the decade, Colorado was on its way to becoming the epicenter of all things cannabis in the United States. The medical marijuana industry first sprang up in 2009, and by 2011 the state was looking for ways to regulate and tax recreational cannabis.
A year later came the ballot measure that began the cascade of dominoes falling across the United States.
“Cannabis companies really started to ramp up, and I was approached by the only gummy manufacturer at the time, Edipure, to get involved once the ballot measure passed to ensure that edibles and products that they were making would still be allowable,” Anglin said of his early days in the industry.
After the ballot measure passed, Anglin became a crucial player in the policymaking that followed, carving out a small place for himself in the annals of cannabis history.
“I was directly involved in ensuring that the will of the people to have edibles, and to have concentrates, and to have flower products, and to have retail and all of the different things; I was directly involved in ensuring that the enabling legislation was something that was workable for business,” he said proudly.
It was around that time that the founder of Edipure offered him a job that, in his own words, he couldn’t refuse. They made him a partner in the company, which allowed him to focus all of his efforts on the rulemaking process in Colorado. For three years he participated in every working group in the state.
By 2015, Anglin was ready to strike out on his own, and along with his good friend Frank Falconer, who’s the Co-founder and COO of CannAmerica, they decided to enter the marketplace with, what Anglin called a focus on compliance.
He told PotNetwork: “We wanted to make a hemp leaf, marijuana leaf-shaped gummy product so that it was instantly recognizable. And then, I worked with the legislature on child-resistant packaging, proper labeling and marking an edible product so that even things that weren’t a pot leaf like ours, you know, could be recognized by parents, law enforcement and people in general as being a cannabis product outside of the packaging.”
They formed two brands at the time, Live Labs for concentrates, and Americanna, a gummy brand. A slew of imitators forced the decision to change the name to CannAmerica, trademarking everything they could. Today, Anglin’s company continues to expand, with licensing agreements in Colorado, Nevada, and Maryland, an intellectual property company, and a public listing on both the CSE and the OTC markets.
“We’re entering into bigger and greater relationships as we look at the future of hemp and the future of interstate commerce and the future of cannabis as well,” he said.
“…government sometimes puts those things to a screeching halt.”
Of course, nothing is ever easy when it comes to cannabis in the United States. Three days after California legalized — a state larger than all of Canada — Jeff Session repealed the now infamous “Cole memorandum’ sending the industry into a tailspin. Or take Oregon, which has an oversupply of weed, but can’t sell it across state lines.
“Now, what’s disappointing is that 10 minutes after the president signed the farm bill, the FDA prohibited food and beverage products from interstate commerce,” Anglin told PotNetwork, referring to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s pronouncement that CBD was still considered illegal despite hemp’s new status.
In the meantime, CannAmerica is pressing forward, hopeful that the FDA comes to a quick resolution. The company still plans to put hemp-derived CBD oil products into the marketplace and to comply with interstate commerce rules. It will still be business as usual.
And Anglin is hopeful that the FDA will move quickly.
“At first, I was concerned because the FDA approval process can take years, and I think what has likely happened — I don’t have an inside track on this… was the opposite of what was expected which is, they actually stunted the growth of the hemp industry by pressing the pause button on products that are already in the marketplace,” said Anglin.
“So, for us, we’re silently hopeful that the FDA comes to a better decision than what they immediately came out with,” he continued.
For now, CannAmerica is pursuing opportunities to either build an extraction facility or acquire an extraction facility that’s currently operating, according to Anglin. Branding is key right now, and the company intends to expand their brands and create more brands and to bring them into legal marketplaces.
In his own words, Anglin would have preferred to see cannabis — Delta 9-THC — descheduled and regulated like alcohol, but the farm bill was most likely the easiest thing to pass through Congress at this time. Although, as he told PotNetwork, easier doesn’t always mean better.
That’s because Anglin worries about putting this in the farm bill under the Department of Agriculture, where, as he noted, the FDA lives.
“I’d really like to see an industry group start to take the reins just like many other industries and create self-regulating policing instead of creating onerous regulatory hurdles to access for the product,” said Anglin. “There’s a lot of appetite, there’s a lot of people out there who have the ability, and the expertise, and the funding, and the team, and the — on, and on, and on.”
“But, you know, government sometimes puts those things to a screeching halt,” he continued. “So it’s really good on one hand and unknown what the unintentional consequences are of either.”
“…setting those standards for the industry.”
One thing is for sure, Anglin has big plans for CannAmerica in 2019. For starters, he’d like to see his products on the shelves of every recreational market, as well as the medical marijuana markets that allow for finished products besides flower. Then there’s international expansion as well —he wants to be in Canada; he’d love to be in Mexico too.
Concerning hemp, Anglin told PotNetwork he wants to do global distribution and put products on store shelves across the globe.
But he also knows that the cannabis industry is filled with uncertainty, especially in the U.S.
“You know, again, there’s a lot of unanswered questions,” he said. “Just because something’s happening now doesn’t mean that the government won’t come in and say you can’t do that anymore, you have to do it this way, right? So, you know, we’re trying to anticipate and be in the first wave of companies making that jump into the hemp space.”
Something that won’t be happening in 2019, at least in Anglin’s opinion, is cannabis legalization in the U.S.
“No,” he said when asked if it could happen this year. “I think we’re too polarized.”
Despite the polling numbers showing a plurality of Americans from all political backgrounds in favor of legalizing cannabis, Anglin doesn’t see it happening with a divided Congress. While he praised Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, for his efforts to move the issue forward, it was a faint ray of light in an otherwise empty hole.
“D.C. is so different than it used to be,” said Anglin. “[The president] said he was going to do it, and he said he was going to drain the swamp, and there’s just so many distractions. Whether it’s new popular Democrats or whether it’s unpopular policies that the president is trying to negotiate, I mean, there’s just so much going on that cannabis is one of those social issues that they’re just not ready to take on.”
“I wish they were, but I don’t see it.” he continued.
Meanwhile, CannAmerica waits with the rest of the country, and the business moves forward. Anglin told PotNetwork that now that California is settled in with their regulations, the company is hoping to move out there soon. In fact, they are vetting various opportunities right now.
“Compliance, consumer safety, and doing it right is our primary goal as a business, beyond all the other things of expansion and generating revenue,” said Anglin. “We want to be known as that cannabis brand that people can rely on for quality and that the governments that we’re operating in can look to as the good actors that we are, and kind of setting those standards for the industry.”