The Effects of COVID-19 on U.S Marijuana and Cannabis Product Consumers (INFOGRAPHIC)

Alan Wood, Founder, Weekend Gardner

We’ve come a long way since marijuana was first decriminalized in 1973 in Oregon. Since medical marijuana was first legalized in California, the popularity of cannabis and marijuana products has grown significantly.

In 2016, the global legal cannabis market was valued at $14.3 billion U.S. dollars and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 21.1% from 2017 to 2024, with an expected reach of $63.5 billion U.S. dollars, according to a data compiled by Ameri Research Inc.

But since the COVID-19 outbreak, these numbers have become irrelevant. So how big of an impact did COVID-19 do on the U.S. marijuana and cannabis product consumption?

People have been stocking up on food and other essentials during the outbreak that led to a shortage of products like disinfectants, hand sanitizers, toilet papers, and food. Similarly, the demand for cannabis has also spiked.

Do note that it was also found in a similar survey conducted by American Marijuana that 29.28% of survey-takers admitted to smoking more weed since the COVID-19 outbreak compared to only 5.70% that stopped smoking. The majority (38.52%) of them consumed the same amount since the outbreak while 26.50% smoked less weed.

Moreover, the spike in usage was found to have a strong link with “keeping you sane” amidst the COVID-19 hysteria. While 65.49% of them didn’t use any anxiety relief supplements, 34.51% of them did admit to having tried other anxiety relief supplements besides marijuana but only 8.32% found the alternatives to be more effective than weed.

To understand the direct correlation between the U.S. marijuana and cannabis product consumption and the coronavirus outbreak, Weekend Gardener conducted a survey involving 1,000 U.S. weed smokers and their weed consumption habits amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as well as and came up with the following:

The number of heavy pot smokers during quarantine was found to have increased by 5%, from only 16.04% of survey participants that smoke above 10 times a week to 21.30% during the quarantine.

Similarly, there is also a decrease in weed consumption once a week or rarely, from 37.34% down to 31.83% during the quarantine period. The same goes for consuming weed below 3 times a week, from 21.55% down to 16.29%.

The main reason why American’s were found to consume more weed during quarantine is due to stress and anxiety amidst the coronavirus hysteria. 27.6% of the survey participants admitted that they use weed to treat stress/anxiety while 21.7% do so to help them sleep better.

Interestingly enough, 45% of American U.S. smokers don’t care about whether or not smoking weed will increase the risk of being infected with the coronavirus compared to 35.5% of them do so to some extent but will continue smoking.

Overall, it was found that about half (49.6%) of the survey participants will not change their weed smoking habit after the outbreak compared to 11.8% of them that will withdraw from smoking weed to focus on other things.

To learn more about the interesting data and findings by WeekendGardener, head over to this link.

 




Widespread Perception Shift Helps to Propel the Cannabis Industry to New Heights

Rebranding the Cannabis Industry - Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPRCommPRO Editorial Staff

The cannabis market showed investors its long-term potential in recent years. Despite legal setbacks on the federal level, the young industry has made impressive progress in terms of cultivation, distribution, packaging and product innovation. This positive trajectory is expected to continue, especially as legalization sweeps throughout the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. For example, Jefferies Group, an investment bank, predicts that these regions will legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use in the shortcoming years. Additionally, cannabis products can be grouped with many other industries and Jefferies projects that the pharmaceutical, alcohol, health and wellness, and pet supply industries will have a growing portfolio of cannabis products in the near future. Last year, Canada made headlines after it became the second country ever to legalize cannabis and the first G-7 nation to do so. Additionally, the remaining G-7 nations, with the exception of Japan, have all adopted partial or full medical cannabis programs, while several have decriminalized the recreational use of cannabis. Meanwhile, the U.S rakes in billions of dollars in cannabis sales annually, largely thanks to states such as California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington. Jefferies also estimates that less regulated markets can account for nearly USD 80 Billion of the total global cannabis market value. Specifically, Jefferies projects the U.S. cannabis market to reach a value of USD 21.7 Billion by 2029, compared to Canada’s estimate of just USD 5.8 Billion. This estimated value is also added onto Jefferies’ base valuation for the global cannabis industry of USD 50 Billion by 2029, a figure that accounts for all the countries that have already legalized cannabis for either medical or recreational use. As a result, Jefferies forecasts that the total global legal cannabis industry is positioned to reach USD 130 Billion by 2029. Pasha Brands Ltd. (OTC: CRFTF) (CSE: CRFT), Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY), Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC) (TSX: WEED), Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. (NYSE: IIPR), Aphria Inc. (NYSE: APHA) (TSX: APHA)

The medical cannabis segment holds the majority of the overall cannabis market share because of its widespread availability and accessibility. However, the recreational sector is growing at a much more rapid rate due to the expanding user base in the North American region. Additionally, due to the legalization efforts and changing consumer trends, cannabis-based companies have introduced new products that are much more potent and clean. Cannabis flower is starting to become less popular among avid consumers, however, the cannabinoids found within the flower are still required to create other products such as oils, concentrates, and edibles. Now, more and more consumers are starting to use oils and concentrates over traditional flower because of their potency and ease. However, the potency primarily depends on the strain used as well as the extraction process. Fortunately, extractors want to use the best quality strain for their products, whether it comes to THC dominant or CBD dominant strains. “Although there are many people who purchase cannabis on a budget, with the plethora of options available on the retail market, it’s understandable that discerning consumers are willing to spend a bit more for a better product,” said Lisa Rough, former Associate Editor at Leafly. “Remember: Craft cannabis does not necessarily require more funding to make a better product. Rather, it requires patience, care, and attention to detail.”

Pasha Brands Ltd. (OTC: CRFTF) (CSE: CRFT) is also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker (CSE: CRFT). Just announced breaking cannabis news, “Canada’s largest craft cannabis brands organization, has announced the acquisition of the Beard Brothers Collective brand. Beard Brothers was previously used by an established provider of craft cannabis concentrates, extracts, tinctures, oils, flower, topicals, edibles, rosin, distillate, and isolates, based in Victoria, BC.

Founded in 2014 by brother-and-sister duo Bradley and Elissa Macauley, the Beard Brothers brand was previously associated with a non-profit, medicinal cannabis provider. Having worked closely with physicians and experts in cannabis therapy for years, the Macauley’s were dedicated to providing consumers access to quality products that met their needs. The Macauley’s award-winning concentrates and advanced extraction technologies have been lauded by manufacturers and consumers alike. Pasha hopes to make products available under the Beard Brothers through legal retailers across Canada after October 17, 2019.

“The Beard Brothers brand feels right at home with Pasha, helping to shape the new cannabis movement,” said cofounder Bradley Macauley, reacting to the news. “Elissa and I truly feel blessed to be able to share our love for this sacred plant with our communities and the world, and we’re grateful our products will reach more people thanks to Pasha.”

Pasha has acquired all of Beard Brothers Collectives’ trademarks, names, and intellectual property and will launch the brand in the Canadian regulated market in the coming months. Already, Beard Brothers Collective products have been included in several product offering packages presented to provincial wholesalers, including Ontario and British Columbia.

“Adding an established brand like Beard Brothers to our family of craft cultivators and purveyors shows that Pasha is setting the bar for craft products in all areas, including extracts and concentrates,” said Patrick Brauckmann, Executive Chairman of Pasha Brands. “Bradley and Elissa have truly captured the essence of craft, both with their premium products and their patient-first model. We’re committed to upholding that dedication as we prepare to provide Canadian cannabis consumers with access to these fantastic products.”

Pasha is also pleased to announce the appointment of senior Vice-President of Southern Glazier’s Wine and Spirits Doug Wieland to it’s Board of Directors. As a new member of the Board, Doug will join fellow directors Patrick Brauckmann, Rosy Mondin, Scott Walters, and Hugo Alves. Wieland has spent over a decade working in beverage alcohol distribution in Canada, the majority of that time at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the world’s largest distributor of beverage alcohol. Earlier this year, he oversaw the launch of a wine division focused on growing the company’s business across the Canadian market.

In July, Pasha signed an agreement with Great North, a company established by the owners of Southern Glazer’s and Canada’s first national sales broker for legalized adult-use cannabis, to distribute Pasha’s craft cannabis products throughout Canada. The agreement will give Pasha access to Great North’s nationwide sales and distribution network, which includes experienced sales and marketing teams, established relationships with all government cannabis distribution boards, as well as coverage with Canada’s numerous private retailers.

“Having spent the past year meeting the Pasha team and craft producers in BC Craft’s supply chain, we believe that the next big move in Canada’s cannabis sector will be craft products,” Wieland said at the time. “I am thrilled to be joining Pasha’s Board just as Canada’s legal cannabis market prepares to usher in a new wave of consumer products.”

“Doug’s skillset lends itself perfectly to our operational plan at Pasha,” said Executive Director Patrick Brauckmann in reaction to the news. “His experience at the head of one of the world’s largest beverage alcohol distributors is an incredible asset to us, and I’m very much looking forward to working alongside him as we look to make Pasha the world’s most recognized craft cannabis brand.”

About Pasha Brands – Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Pasha is a vertically integrated, prohibition-era brand house firmly rooted in BC’s craft cannabis industry, which boasts an international reputation. With proven capabilities in cannabis cultivation, genetic research and development, product processing, and retail, Pasha is uniquely positioned in the new legal cannabis market through its network of hundreds of craft cannabis suppliers under the Pasha umbrella.

Pasha subsidiary, Medcann Health Products Ltd., is a Health Canada licensed cultivator and processor with a licence to sell medical cannabis products in Canada. Pasha and BC Craft are also developing a craft cannabis campus, which is dedicated to bringing craft quality into the newly legal cannabis market in Canada. BC Craft is driven to assist craft growers in obtaining security clearance and licensing to grow as micro-cultivators, specializing in education and compliance to bring growers into the regulated cannabis supply market. Pasha’s common shares trade on the CSE under the symbol “CRFT” and on the FSE under the symbol “ZZD”. For more information, please visit www.pashabrands.com

For our latest “Buzz on the Street” Show featuring Pasha Brands Ltd. recent corporate news, please head over to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80i_hHzj91Q

Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) is a global pioneer in the research, cultivation, production and distribution of cannabis and cannabinoids currently serving tens of thousands of patients and consumers in 12 countries spanning 5 continents. Tilray, Inc. recently announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tilray Portugal Unipessoal Lda., had received a standard manufacturing license and a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification, in accordance with the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) standards, for its Biocant Park manufacturing facility in Cantanhede, Portugal. This license and certification allow Tilray Portugal to manufacture and export GMP-certified dried cannabis as an active substance for medicinal products. Tilray’s EU Campus in Portugal is a multi-faceted production facility that includes indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cultivation sites; research and quality control labs; as well as processing, packaging and distribution sites for medical cannabis and cannabinoid-containing medical products. To date, Tilray has invested approximately EUR 20 Million in the facility, which totals nearly 250,000 sq. ft. with additional room to expand. The site also serves as a hub supporting Tilray’s clinical research and product development efforts across Europe. The Tilray EU Campus currently employs over 100 people, and that number is expected to double by the end of 2019, with production ramping up and multiple harvests anticipated in the coming months. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the inauguration of Tilray’s EU Campus was hosted in April 2019. “This licensing and certification marks a critical milestone for our growth in Portugal and Europe. We’re proud to increase our international export capacity and are looking forward to exporting dried cannabis as active substances from our EU Campus to legal jurisdictions in the EU and other international markets,” said Sascha Mielcarek, Managing Director, Europe. “The next phase of GMP certification will allow us to utilize the full capacity of our multi-faceted facility and continue to serve more patients in-need.”

Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC) (TSX: WEED) is a world-leading diversified cannabis, hemp and cannabis device company, offering distinct brands and curated cannabis varieties in dried, oil and Softgel capsule forms, as well as medical devices through Canopy Growth’s subsidiary, Storz & Bickel GMbH & Co. KG. — Canopy Growth Corporation recently announced that it had received a licence from Health Canada for its KeyLeaf Life Sciences facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Including the Smiths Falls site and the recently licensed BC Tweed extraction site, Canopy Growth now operates three significant extraction assets to support the throughput required for large scale value-add product development. “With this milestone, we are executing against the vision of making strategic investments today in order to deliver results over the long term,” said Mark Zekulin, Chief Executive Officer, Canopy Growth. “This licence will ensure we have the supply of extraction inputs for the medical, CBD, and recreational markets, especially the next generation of value-add, high margin cannabis products here in Canada.”

Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. (NYSE: IIPR) is a self-advised Maryland corporation focused on the acquisition, ownership and management of specialized industrial properties leased to experienced, state-licensed operators for their regulated medical-use cannabis facilities. Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. recently announced that it had closed on the acquisition of a property in Scott Township, Pennsylvania, and entered into a long-term lease and development agreement with a subsidiary of PharmaCann LLC for an approximately 23,000 sq. ft. industrial facility and an approximately 31,000 sq. ft. greenhouse facility on the property. “PharmaCann has demonstrated very clearly over time its dedication to patients in providing the highest quality products in a compassionate environment, and we are excited to partner with them again as they bring their program to the people of Pennsylvania,” said Paul Smithers, President and Chief Executive Officer of IIP. “We look forward to working closely with the PharmaCann team in the development of this new facility that will provide them the highly controlled environment to meet their exacting product specifications.”

Aphria Inc. (NYSE: APHA) (TSX: APHA) is a leading global cannabis company driven by an unrelenting commitment to our people, product quality and innovation. Aphria Inc. recently entered into an exclusive agreement with Toronto-based UNOapp Inc. to collaborate on the development of technology and analytics solutions for Canada’s adult-use cannabis industry.  Founded in 2010, UNOapp has developed proven technology, marketing and analytical solutions that has enabled more than 4,500 customers across the globe to engage with their customers and drive revenue. As part of the Agreement, UNOapp has granted Aphria a first option to commercialize any platform or solution developed from this collaboration in any international market outside Canada. “With our innovation-focused approach, Aphria is setting the pace for the evolution of the adult-use cannabis industry in Canada,” said Jakob Ripshtein, President of Aphria. “Our industry’s long-term future will be driven by consumer-centric, innovation-led product, brand and technology solutions. We are excited for this collaboration with a fantastic technology partner in UNOapp and look forward to developing industry-leading solutions that shape the adult-use cannabis market for years to come.”




Billionaire Launches First Cannabis-tied Cryptocurrency and Global Hemp Exchange

Billionaire Launches First Cannabis-tied Cryptocurrency and Global Hemp ExchangeCommPRO Editorial Staff 

Alkiviades David and his Swiss-based consortium have launched The Swissx Bank of Cannabis headquartered in Gstaad and with a Caribbean headquarters to be named soon. The Bank also operates SWX Coin, a cryptocurrency based on Bitcoin’s blockchain with single unit pricing is pegged directly to the median global price of premium hemp flower. The Swissx Global Hemp Exchange will also provide the entire industry with a secondary market where futures and other trades can be made based on its global market analytics.

Initially the bank and its coin will manage all of Swissx’s financial transactions with its many partners in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean, but the bank is also a turn-key solution for the entire Cannabis sector, providing a secure, transparent venue for all transactions, and a coin tied to a commodity. The CBD-hemp business is expected to reach $24 billion in the U.S. alone by 2023.

Download the Swissx wallet here: https://wallet.swissx.com

Swissx also announced that former Prime Minister of St. Kitts-Nevis Denzil Douglas has joined the Swissx Bank of Cannabis board. Douglas, who is also known as the Founder and CEO of his social and environmental impact non-profit, the Global Lifestyle Group, has already been acting as a Caribbean business development consultant for Swissx. The Swissx Bank of Cannabis and the Swissx Global Hemp Exchange will soon name a Caribbean capitol as regional headquarters from a shortlist of competing offers.

The Swissx Bank of Cannabis launched with the backing of $750 million dollars worth of premium Swissx Cherry Wine and Donald Trump seeds and $250 million in Swiss Francs.  The Farmer’s Wallet within the SWX Coin block-chain has been set up to pay members of the Swissx Hemp Farmers’ Cooperative. The international cooperative, which is growing quickly across the Caribbean, was set up to keep up with the demand for Swissx Hemp Flower products, and provides proprietary hemp strains, training, and a guarantee to purchase all crops grown by its participating farmers.

Farmers are paid in SWX Coin from the Farmer’s Wallet which is redeemable for cash anytime, without restriction, from the bank’s vaults in Gstaad, Switzerland or regional offices in the Caribbean. Outside of the Farmer’s Wallet, surplus hemp is sold to third party buyers using SWX Coins that they purchase from Swissx Bank of Cannabis.

The Swissx Global Hemp Exchange will monitor and analyze thousands of data streams including predictive crop software linked to partner Chase Ergen’s vast network of satellites, EchoStar. The Exchange will initially handle Swissx’s surplus crop at preferred rates but will eventually become the authority for the entire Cannabis sector for trusted pricing and trading.

For added speed and security the Swissx Bank of Cannabis and SWX Coin operate on D-Wave Technology’s advanced quantum computers.

Swissx, the first company to take safe, legal, CBD products into the mainstream, has recently developed a massive international cooperative farming operation with acres already planted in California and Puerto Rico, and 5000 more acres under contract across the Caribbean. Swissx CBD products are distributed globally in premium health food stores, doctors offices, and in mass market outlets such as 7-11 convenience stores. The products have been endorsed by Mike Tyson,  Scott Disick, of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Dave Navarro of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dogg, Chief Keef, Lil Wayne, Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong, Donatella Versace, Jonathan Rhys Myers and many more.

Swissx Genetics, with labs in Switzerland and South Korea, has developed the purest and most powerful CBD-only strains of hemp available and Head of Genetics Dr. Olof Olson continues to modify using genetic modification and some highly unconventional radiation-based experiments to continue to develop a strain so distinctive it becomes its own genus. (The division of Swissx is also working on animal cloning and de-extinction).

Alki David’s efforts in the Caribbean have been praised by agricultural and business leaders, as well as government officials, for their fairness and their urgency.

“First we changed the game for CBD products, then we created tremendous opportunity for farmers and their regional economies throughout the Caribbean,” said Alki David, CEO and Founder of Swissx. “Now we’ve used Swiss financial know-how to create the first bank and cryptocurrency entirely optimized for the legal cannabis industry. The Swissx Global Exchange will be an authoritative resource for the entire industry, better than Nielsen, bigger than Nasdaq. Together, the Bank and Currency and Exchange don’t just insure Swissx’s international operations run perfectly, it will become the engine for the fastest growing business sector in the world.”

Swissx is supported by Alki David’s companies, FilmOn Networks, a pioneering, global streaming TV service, Hologram USA, the original celebrity hologram and telepresence company, and the digital distribution platform Octiive. Partners of Alki David’s companies include Universal Studios, Capital Cities/ABC, the House of Dior, Universal Music Group, Tyson Ranch, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NBCUniversal, and many more.




Five Ways Cannabis Companies are Using PR

Five Ways Cannabis Companies are using PR

 

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR   

The emerging cannabis industry post-legalization faces unique challenges, including limited ability to advertise like mainstream companies. That’s just for starters. At the same time, competition within the sector is heating up, and savvy cannabis business owners are turning to public relations in order to stay ahead of the pack. 

With an effective public relations strategy, cannabis firms are able to communicate their identity, via their brand, to customers; good PR will net companies media coverage, reach, a positive reputation and perhaps even investors. Here are five ways cannabis firms are engaging in PR tactics to expand their share of this emerging market.

Branding 

If there’s one reason branding is essential in the cannabis sector, it’s that each company — more or less — is selling the same product. 

As the cannabis industry matures, branding will become ever more important. Already, the most successful companies are those with great names: Leafly, MedMen, and Flowr. 

“It is starting to be a given that people expect the product to be of high quality — that’s just assumed,” says Leafwire CEO Peter Vogel. “To differentiate in a crowded, competitive marketplace, companies are going to have to focus more on building a recognizable and consistent brand that will stand out on the shelves.” 

Media Coverage 

Journalists covering the cannabis industry can’t be expected to stay on top of everything at all times, or even take notice every time a new player enters the market. This is where PR reps come into play. 

“Cannabis companies need to hire publicists who are passionate about weed themselves,” says publicist Jonathan Hay, “if your publicity firm doesn’t get cannabis culture, it won’t be able to come up with creative ideas to strategically market your marijuana product, either.” 

Reaching Customers 

In the age of social media, it is paramount that a cannabis company has a dynamic Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account that is regularly updated and used to interact with potential customers. 

Even so, there are countless gray areas when it comes to cannabis and social media, and it takes a social media professional to navigate the necessary platforms without your brand being banned. 

Reputation Building 

As the investor Warren Buffett once said, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” 

Even more challenging is the fact that no cannabis company has yet to have its 20th birthday; this means that reputation building is still taking place. 

“Media links,” says ELLO’s Evan Eneman, “[can] become great marketing tools to increase visibility and build the platform of your executives as leading industry thought leaders.” 

Attracting Investors 

Reputation is not only essential to generating sales but also to attract investors as well. With the rise of socially responsible investing or SRI, hedge funds are becoming more and more interested in a firm’s brand as much as it’s internal health. 

Modern investors are media-savvy, fiercely competitive and thirsty for any information that provides an edge. “It is essential to implement and maintain a policy of transparency and forthcoming communication to guide the perception of your company,” explained ELLO’s Eneman. 

As such, cannabis companies looking to grow in an increasingly competitive market are sure to find the hiring of a PR specialist well worth the cost.


Ronn Torossian - June 1About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, which works extensively in cannabis PR.




Rebranding the Cannabis Industry

Rebranding the Cannabis Industry - Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

 

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR  

With legalization taking place all over the world, the cannabis industry is quickly evolving past the stoner age and into a new, slick, era of marketing. But can the birth of cannabis-friendly marketing plans, products, and industry events really pave the way for this evolution, or is cannabis still a long way from being the next big thing? 

“The marijuana industry needs a branding makeover – big time,” writes University of Northern Arizona sociologist, James Bowie. 

The real question to consider is whether the cannabis brand’s transformation is an evolution in the industry or a de-evolution? The problem here is one of perception: has legalization made cannabis a mainstream product, or is it still considered underground and out of reach of normal Americans? In spite of how you might feel about the industry, cannabis is certainly rebranding. Here are a number of ways it is achieving this transformation: 

Diversifying market

The increasingly diverse demographic associated with cannabis use is fast outstripping the long-time stoner stereotype. The culture coming out of the proverbial underground is quickly gathering new adherents attracted to this new shift in imagery, language, and accessibility. 

Normalizing by social media

Social media is adept at making – and breaking – all manner of things. The more opinions you read about cannabis use, the more reviews you read about dispensaries, and the more financial success you see attached to certain rising brands, the more likely you are to buy. There are no language or content barriers to communication on social media, so the fact that brands are optimizing their presence online is key to cannabis’ normalization. 

The acceptance of medical marijuana

No one argues with the idea of wellness, not least with the idea of chronic pain concerns. Where cannabis lays claim to positive medical benefits, it lays claim to being a well-being brand. When it comes to edibles, this provides a host of new opportunities for visual and packaging differentiation. 

Cannabis is on the menu

Expounding cannabis’ worth in terms of cooking is leading it in an entirely new branding direction. Away from its typical psychoactive associations, cooking with cannabis has created a sub-market for a new type of conversation. As such, with cannabis increasingly being added as an ingredient in daily recipes or exclusive cuisine, fears, and concerns about the substance are being swiftly allayed. Some neighborhoods are even beginning to swap recipes and host tastings for strains. 

The classic tradeshow

Conventions, festivals, and expos have begun to pop up all over the US in an effort to expose cannabis in a new light to more people under safer circumstances. If cannabis is to become a mainstream product, rebranding initiatives will have to move far beyond traditional stoner and leaf tropes, and closer to middle America and her daily routines. If you can’t convince your average soccer mom to embrace cannabis, the likelihood is that the rest of America may not be able to either. 

Part of making this happen are events like “pot gatherings” where hosts serve entrees and invite guests to bring their own marijuana. While cannabis is not yet accepted as an afternoon wine in most suburbs, branding efforts are pushing it in that direction.


Ronn TorossianAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, which works extensively on cannabis public relations.




Reg A+ IPO: The Only Cannabis Company with Federally Legal Product in US and Canada | Webinar On-Demand

Webinar Overview

Join True Leaf CEO and Board Director Darcy Bomford as he discusses an alternative investment in the only cannabis company with federally legal product in US and Canada.

True Leaf, the quality of life company for people and their pets, is seeking to raise up to $10 million CAD during its Reg A+ IPO and invites fans, customers, and supporters to invest at a discounted price per share than the current market price. During this webinar, Darcy will cover topics ranging from True Leaf’s innovative and safe hemp-based product line to the company’s plans to build out its cannabis production facilities.

Speaker

Darcy Bomford
CEO, Board Director
True Leaf

Three decades of executive management experience and a 30-year history of manufacturing pet products in three federally inspected plants throughout the USA and Canada. Highly adept at building brands through corporate vision, strategy and the successful development of relationships with team members and strategic partners.

 

 

 

 

Legal Disclaimer:

This Presentation (the “Presentation”) has been prepared solely for informational purposes by True Leaf Medicine International Ltd. (“True Leaf”) and is being furnished through Boustead Securities, LLC (“Boustead Securities”) solely for use by prospective investors and other third parties in connection with their consideration of an investment in True Leaf. This presentation is not, and should not be assumed to be, complete. This presentation has been prepared to assist interested parties in making their own evaluation of True Leaf and does not purport to contain all of the information that may be relevant. In all cases, interested parties should conduct their own investigation and analysis of True Leaf and the data set forth in this presentation and other information provided by or on behalf of True Leaf. Any views and opinions expressed in this presentation are those of True Leaf and do not necessarily represent facts. In addition, certain of the information contained herein may be derived from information provided by industry sources. True Leaf believes that such information is accurate and that the sources from which it has been obtained are reliable. True Leaf cannot guarantee the accuracy of such information, however, and has not independently verified such information. The information presented herein remains subject to change. Statements in this presentation are made as of the date of this presentation unless stated otherwise.

SEC Disclaimer: An offering statement regarding this offering has been filed with the SEC. The SEC has qualified that offering statement which only means that True Leaf Medicine Inc. may make sales of the securities described by that offering statement. It does not mean that the SEC has approved, passed upon the merits or passed upon the accuracy or completeness of the information in the offering statement. You may obtain a copy of the offering circular that is part of that offering statement here. You should read the offering circular before making any investment.

Forward-Looking Statements: This presentation also contains statements that, to the extent they are not recitations of historical fact, constitute “forward-looking statements.” Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the use of terms such as “may,” “should,” “expect,” “could,” “intend,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “believe,” “continue,” “predict,” “potential” or the negative of such terms and other comparable terminology. The forward-looking statements included herein are based upon True Leaf’s current expectations, plans, estimates, assumptions and beliefs that involve numerous risks and uncertainties. Assumptions relating to the foregoing involve judgments with respect to, among other things, future economic, competitive and market conditions and future business decisions, all of which are difficult or impossible to predict accurately and many of which are beyond True Leaf’ control. Although True Leaf believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, True Leaf’ actual results and performance and the value of its securities could differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements due to the impact of many factors including, but not limited to, risks and uncertainties detailed in the “Risk Factors” in the Risk Factors section of True Leaf’ Offering Circular on Form 1-A, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other discussions of risk factors contained in True Leaf’s periodic filings or supplements to the offering circular. True Leaf Offering Circular on Form 1-A can be found at https://www.trueleaf.com/pages/investor. True Leaf claims the safe harbor protection for forward looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. True Leaf undertakes no obligation to update or revise any such information for any reason after the date of this presentation, unless required by law.

Investment in True Leaf’s securities involves significant risks. You should purchase these securities only if you can afford a complete loss of your investment.




In Celebration of 420 Weed Day – Why Cannabis Enthusiasts are Looking to Social Media

Tyler KnightBy Tyler Knight, Co-Founder, MassRoots

Social Media, a broad term used to describe the vast network of social interactions online, continues to grow in its ability to influence decision-making and reach billions of web users from around the world. The stats speak for themselves: 72% of online adults use social networking sites, Twitter is adding 300,000 users per day, and YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network. It seems that digital communications, which social media is a subset of, isn’t going away anytime soon.

From my experience in the cannabis industry, people in a range of positions (enthusiasts, patients, business owners, and so on) are looking to social media as a platform for reaching the ‘next level.’ Whether one is looking to find smoking buddies, identify potential investing opportunities, develop business partnerships or find nearby dispensaries, social media is becoming the best way for those in the cannabis industry to achieve their goals in the most efficient and low-cost way possible.

High Traffic and Usability

Social media is well-known to be a system of networks with high traffic, active user engagement and strong usability. Given these characteristics, those looking to market themselves or their products are well served to take advantage of the impressive particulars in social media. Users on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can set up profiles in minutes, and begin to deliver effective messages to their target audiences in far less time than they’d be able to in any other method of communication. Regardless of what your goal is, you can reach it more quickly and more easily with social media.

Rapid Innovations

The cannabis industry continues to be one full of innovating players, and with platforms like Twitter, it’s easy to stay on top of new developments in the industry. It’s remarkable how many different ways people are continuously developing technologies, products and methods that allow for a variety of advantages in the space, and being involved in cannabis-related social networks is a great way to discover budding startups with great promise.

Social Industry

Cannabis users are typically social by nature- they enjoy spending time with like-minded folks, engaging one another and sharing commonalities. Social media is a natural place for cannabis enthusiasts to spend their time online, as they’re able to interact and trade ideas with other users. Social media provides the possibility for those involved in the space to stay connected, even when living in remote areas (it’s worth keeping in mind that many of the legal states, including Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, are quite rural).

Therefore..

It’s hard to get anywhere close to listing the full range of roles that one can occupy in the marijuana space. One could meet a range of dispensary owners, activists, bloggers, entertainers, marketers, and innovators in the space, and still discover new ways to become involved in cannabis. Whatever one chooses to do with cannabis, it’s my firm belief that they’ll benefit by using social media as a platform for their purpose.

About the Author: Tyler Knight is the Co-Founder of MassRoots, one of the largest and most active social networks in the cannabis space. 

 




Using CBD? Yes, You Can Be Fired

Marie Raperto, The Hiring Hub

Using CBD is a popular topic.  I’m being asked if it can show up on a drug test and if you can be fired or have a job offer rescinded for a positive result.  According to PayScale, the answer is maybe.  It’s very complicated.

First, CBD is a naturally occurring chemical compound in the cannabis sativa plant which has two primary species:  marijuana and hemp.  CBD can be extracted from either species.  The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation and allowed the transportation of hemp-derived products across state lines.  This bill defines hemp as those plants containing less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC (the compound that causes marijuana users to get high.)  Both THC and CBD interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system but have different results.

Here comes the complicated part, the Farm Bill states that hemp-derived CBD is legal “if and only if that hemp is produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill, associated federal regulations, state regulations and by a licensed grower.”  It is illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement according to the FDA and they have approved only one CBD product so far – a prescription drug to treat two rare forms of epilepsy.

There is an extreme lack of regulation in this area and it is rapidly changing.

While CBD is becoming mainstream, it doesn’t mean your employer will allow it.  It may depend on the type of job you do or the type of employment you are seeking.  Jobs in transportation and those dependent on federal funds may be more restrictive.  It is really up to your employer.  According to The National Law Review:

  1.  Employers are generally permitted to adopt drug-free workplace policies and make employment decisions relating to recreational marijuana use by an employee.
  2.  Employers are allowed to refuse to hire prospective employees for failed drug tests stemming from the purely recreational use of marijuana.
  3.  Whether an employer must accommodate the use of CBD oil for medicinal purposes will vary by the jurisdiction and will depend greatly on whether the CBD oil is derived from help or majijuana.

So beware.  CBD or using CBD-infused products could result in positive THC test results and it would be possible to get fired.  Most employers screen for THC, current drug testing does not look for CBD. However, CBD products can contain more THC than listed on the label and that small amounts can build up in the body to detectable levels.  There isn’t any uniformity in testing since each state can determine how it samples and tests help plants for THC content.

Can you be fired, MAYBE!

 

 




Top Influencers and Innovators Disrupting 2020

Shazir Mucklai, Founder, Imperium Group

Hollywood is a neighborhood located in Los Angeles, California, that’s also synonymous with the glamour, money and power of the entertainment industry. As the show-business capital of the world, Hollywood is home to many famous television and movie studios and record companies. Yet despite its glitzy status, Hollywood has humble roots: It began as a small agricultural community and evolved into a diverse, thriving metropolis where stars are born and dreams come true—for a lucky few. We had the chance to interview some of America’s leading pioneers, check it out below:

Gary Vaynerchuk – @garyvee

Gary Vaynerchuk is the chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company and the active CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency servicing Fortune 100 clients across the company’s 4 locations.

In addition to VaynerMedia, VaynerX also includes Gallery Media Group, which houses women’s lifestyle brand PureWow and men’s lifestyle brand ONE37pm. In addition to running VaynerMedia, Gary also serves as a partner in the athlete representation agency VaynerSports, cannabis-focused branding and marketing agency Green Street and restaurant reservations app Resy.

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Arcade Jackson – @ArcadeJackson

Arcade Jackson is a rising singer song writer from CA. He’s worked with DJs from Morgan page to artists such as 50 cent. A very versatile list to be sure. But his passion has always been in performing. Originally getting his start as a talented up and coming writer working in the background in writing camps and working with various production groups, he soon found his passion for the stage.Opting to travel the world and work in a band, he fell in love with the life of a performer and took to it like a fish in water.

After a few years touring and working within a group he stepped away. Spending the next few year learning and working with his producer (Grammy nominated Klypso) on his craft. Arcade has created a sound bringing together all aspects of his love for music.

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Jorge Pelayo – @iiamjorgepelayo

Jorge Pelayo is a half Cuban and Puerto Rican American who went from serving breadsticks to building a successful business. After seeing challenges growing up he made a commitment to become a young millionaire. He has built a team of over 3,500 licensed Agents across the United States that does 8 figures in sales annually. He is a Chairman Council with PHP Agency Inc. His agency has helped over 50,000 clients protect themselves and plan for their futures. He focuses on teaching aspiring entrepreneurs on how to build their own businesses. As a business coach, he’s helped several people cross six figures and more.

Aside from helping clients and agents, he loves helping people. His first mission was to Haiti with an organization called, Hearts for Haiti. He saw first hand the need that exists in the world and decided he wanted to dedicate his life to serving people. His passions are family, salsa dancing, whiskey, wine, food, chess, movies, and traveling. He is in the process of writing his first book so stay tuned. His hobby is real estate development and has recently built his first few properties from the ground up. He speaks on leadership, sales, organizational management, and personal transformation and recently shared the stage with Kobe Bryant, George Bush, Billy Bean, Jordan Peterson, and Patrick Bet-David at the 2019 PHP Convention. 

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Madi And Ana Bella Heichel – @madiandanaheichel

With well over 100 million views on their social media and featured trending broadcasts, the Heichel sisters are sure to be the next big thing! Madi, Ana, and Bella Heichel Are singing sisters from a small town in Ohio. From a very young age, the moment they’re tiny toes touched the floor in the morning there synchronized voices could be heard throughout their home. Pure, spontaneous, and in perfect harmony, the girls feed off each other’s energy in a positive, infectious way. At ages 12, 17 and 19, the girls are inseparable and truly better when they are together. Madi is the perfectionist, Ana is the comedian, and Bella is the adorable diva baby sister. The proof that together the girls are a powerhouse is in their TikToks, Instagram clips, YouTube and appearance on Nickelodeon’s America’s most musical family. The world is responding to them in a big way!

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Gina Rodriguez – @ginarodriguez

Gina has been a staple in the entertainment industry since 1992, working in front of the camera as well as behind the camera. She has worn many hats in her 26 years in the business. Working as a mainstream actress, published model, former pornstar, art director, writer, entertainment manager, publicist, wardrobe stylist, reality star, influencer and Executive Producer. She has worked in every facet of the business, which makes her the perfect cocktail for anyone who wants to pop in the entertainment industry.

Gina runs one of Hollywood’s most successful management companies for reality stars, artists and influencers, Gitoni Productions for the past 11 years. Currently, Gina is producing and appearing in, “Mama June: From Not To Hot-Family Crisis”  which is currently airing its 4th season every Friday night 9/8c on WEtv with phenomenal viewership.

Gina has become the go-to for her celebrity transformations and was named “Best Celebrity Makeover Professional of 2020” by Aesthetics Everything. Watch for more captivating reality TV shows coming out produced by Gina Rodriguez this year.

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Shazir Mucklai – @shazir.mucklai

Shazir Mucklai, a 23-year old, Goldman Sachs alum, who took investment banking and private equity and coupled it with an act for public relations. Shazir first debuted his book on Amazon when he was 16 and went on to become the youngest writer for Forbes at 17 and has generated over 8 million unique views on publications he has written for. Mucklai now represents over 200 celebrities, brands, and media production houses and is an award-winning influencer, an activist investor, a former analyst at Goldman Sachs and is currently in law School while growing his public relations digital arbitrage firm.

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Addison Rae – @addisonrae

Addison Rae Easterling, colloquially known as Addison Rae on TikTok, is an American social media personality and dancer. As of May 2020, she has accumulated 1.9 billion likes and 38.0 million followers on TikTok, ranking as the fifth most-followed individual on the platform. She has broken records left and right with 15.5 million followers on instagram has got attention from many huge celebrities like kane brown, katy perry, jason durelo and the list goes on. In January 2020, she signed with the talent agency WME. She was featured in events throughout the 2020 NBA All-Star weekend alongside Charli and Dixie D’Amelio. She just put out her first huge collaboration with Fanjoy. You can buy her merch atshopaddisonrae.com.

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Christian Garcia – @chrstiangarcia 

Young, inspiring, and humble are just a few words to describe, Christian Garcia. Garcia rose from fame when we were first introduced to him on X Factor Mexico. Now the artist on the rise is gearing up to release his debut album! Christian has been singing since the mere age of seven-years-old. He went from performing at local county fairs in his home state to meeting with artists such as Meghan Trainor, Demi Lovato, and more.

Christian has passed over half a million on Instagram and his slime videos have garnered the attention of Good Morning America and Telemundo. He has been featured on Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat and other celebrity cameos.

He is set to debut an album later in the year. He has also crossed over to the entrepreneur world and is investing in huge brands. He says “ I’m crossing industries that makes me work harder.”




Layne Schmerin on The Growth and Domination by Top Tree Agency

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Layne Schmerin and Top Tree agency have started to become common names and buzzwords across the marketing space. As the world of marketing is almost solely done on the internet, Top Tree capitalized on this as the marketing techniques of our parents’ time are rather vague and useless today.

According to correspondence with the co-founder of the marketing firm, Layne Schmerin,  we got a decent understanding of how his organization isn’t just remaining focused however how it has gotten one of the pioneers of the showcasing game.

Top Tree began right off the bat as a cannabis dedicated firm founded by Layne and his brother, as they understood that the expansion procedure his office made out of need filled in as a solid base for all hurdles he immediately moved core interest of the organization.

Initially founded to increase interest across the board of the medicinal uses of cannabis due to their family member’s battle with cancer, the co-founders decided that it was time to take matters in their own hands to educate the public about the good that comes from cannabis and shun negativity thrown towards cannabis by mainstream marketing media.

Hence was brought into the world Top Tree Agency by Layne and his brother.

Layne claims that they saw that they were acceptable at making efforts and acknowledged that they could help such a large number of different organizations, so the switch to a full marketing service to other clients was a no-brainer.

The Agency has now worked with significant brands, for example, Advanced Nutrients and Ignite Cannabis. With their web based life reach of more than 10 million clients, they can contact for all intents and purposes any crowd. Top Tree has lead marketing campaigns for companies affiliated with Shark Tank as well as music giant Macklemore. The firm presently has over 619k followers across the globe and is growing at an increasingly rapid rate with the ability to provide quality service across the United States. The page is developing by hundreds day by day. With this unfathomable, totally natural, reach, Top Tree Agency can make showcasing efforts of any size for any crowd.

In the same way as other marketing firms, @toptree was developed utilizing images and relatable social media substance. One thing they really push for is using social media influencers such as celebrities to effectively promote by organic traffic growth. As individuals saw this substance they would tag or impart to their companions to get a giggle. With each tag, remark or offer the page developed. The crowd expanded, and soon it was its very own specialty.

In addition to the fact that Top trees have the range and establishment to make marketing efforts, they likewise have the persistence and ability. ”We treat every customer as their own substance. We make a customized arrangement and guide them consistently” Layne mentioned. This personalization can make any customer feel good confiding in the organization. The total straightforwardness that Top Tree guarantees is actually what organizations need when they really need to develop and pick up commitment.

We are now living in a period in which advertising can be utilized to persuade individuals to do anything. Brands and Agencies are utilizing online networking to adapt everything. The wave is moving rapidly, be that as it may, through adjusted development and careful personalization, Top Tree Agency stays probably the greatest rival in the showcasing business.

Top Tree is en route to expanding rapidly in the coming months. The firm is looking to add valuable clients and provide excellent customer service while being agnostic to brand, service, or business.




Blockchain Wire Named Official Newswire for 2020 Crypto World Summit in New York City

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Blockchain and Crypto company news distribution service Blockchain Wire announced it has been selected the official press release wire service and a media partner for the 2020 Crypto World Summit, February 20, 2020 in New York City. The 4th Annual Crypto World Summit will focus on “The Future of Security Tokens” and also explore the latest developments in digital assets, security token offerings, blockchain technology and alternative financing.

We provide access to top media outlets, trade publications and indivduals interested in the sector around the globe, and we’re happy to offer distribution at a discounted rate to Crypto World Summit participants,” said Michael Shuler, President, Blockchain Wire. “Together we share a similar mission to spread awareness of the progress happening in the distributed ledger and digital asset sector.”

Now in its 4th year, Crypto World Summit will feature speakers and attendees from a wide range of sectors. Discussion topics will include the future of Bitcoin and Ethereum, the digital banking industry, blockchain and real estate, ETFs, and banking solutions for the cannabis industry. A special workshop will give participants a step-by-step guide to creating and running a security token offering (STO). Crypto World Summit will be streamed live at https://fintechworld.com




2020 Crypto World Summit “The Future of Security Tokens”

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Leading experts in the digital money sector will gather at the Crypto World Summit in New York on February 20, 2020 to discuss the latest developments in security token offerings and digital assets, amongst other rising blockchain and alternative financing topics.

The most current SEC laws, rules, regulations, and compliance will be addressed at this 4th International Conference and Workshop streamed live on Fintech World Media.

This premier event features speakers and attendees from a wide range of sectors, attracting a who’s who of the industry. Other top discussions include: The Future of Bitcoin, The Digital Banking Industry, Blockchain and Real Estate, The ETF Cryptocurrency Market, DAO, Ethereum Investment, and Cannabis Banking Solutions.

Additionally, a special workshop will give participants a step-by-step walkthrough for creating a security token and running a security token offering (STO).

Blockchain Wire is the official wire service for Crypto World Summit. Receive 40% discount. Enter promo code “blockchainwire” Register here.

Source: Blockchain Wire




Talking Tech 2019: Year in Review

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash

Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

When I look back on the year, I’d never anticipate how eye-opening 2019 was. For me, January was about deciphering all the questions about artificial intelligence (AI). Most notably, the fear of robots taking over our jobs and machines becoming super intelligent.

Nearly a year later, the debate continues about the negative impact on jobs, lack of talent, data quality, cybersecurity threats, algorithmic bias, accountability, transparency, the absence of regulatory and legal frameworks, protecting people’s rights, workforce training and competition.

January 2019: Big Data, ML and AI Fears

Like other technologies I’ll discuss below, one of largest barriers to adoption and innovation is understanding what AI is, how it works, and why it matters for you.

A simple way to explain the benefits of AI is to understand where we are in terms of big data. We’ve reached human capacity or information overload. It’s impossible to read all the structured and unstructured data that exists in the world.

Structured data consists of information already managed by the organization in databases and spreadsheets; it is frequently numeric in nature. Unstructured data is information that is unorganized and does not fall into a pre-determined model or format. It includes data gathered from social media sources, which help institutions gather information on customer needs. (Investopedia, 2019).

AI is based on algorithms or a set of steps for computers to complete a task. Take a digital assistant like Alexa. When you ask it a question, it changes into a digital sound which is translated into English phonemes. Then, the phonemes are broken down into words that are processed by a search engine and formulated into sentences that we can understand in a non-robotic way.

An algorithm in AI provides probabilities based on how it’s programmed or trained to find patterns in data.

By now, you should be aware of the huge amount of data that big tech firms and others have on us. Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Netflix, Telsa and others collect email and IP addresses, phone numbers, locations, search queries, browsers, third-party information, ad targeting data and much more.

February 2019: Data Privacy  Whose Responsibility is It?

Earlier in the year, there had already been 1 billion data breaches. But it wasn’t until the the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented along with the California Consumer Privacy Act that consumers really began to take notice of how their personal data was being collected, used and sold to thousands of institutions, organizations and data brokers.

After a new Vermont law required companies that buy and sell third-party personal data to register with the Secretary of State, Fast Company assembled a list of 121 data brokers operating in the U.S. It’s a rare, rough glimpse into a bustling economy that operates largely in the shadows, and often with few rules.

The registry is an expansive, alphabet soup of companies, from lesser-known organizations that help landlords research potential tenants or deliver marketing leads to insurance companies, to the quiet giants of data. Those include big names in people search, like Spokeo, ZoomInfo, White Pages, PeopleSmart, Intelius, PeopleFinders, and the numerous other websites they operate; credit reporting, like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion; and advertising and marketing, like Acxiom, Oracle, Innovis, and KBM. Some companies also specialize in ‘risk mitigation,’ which can include credit reporting but also background checks and other identity verification services.”

Beyond data mining is social media mining by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and other companies that collect demographic data like age, sex, race, location, profession, schools, friends, connections, networks and more to inform strategic business decisions.

We leave a digital footprint everywhere as we go through the day. Whether we’re speaking on our cell phones, shopping on Amazon, watching movies on Netflix or videos on YouTube, using messaging apps to communicate and more, our every movement is being tracked.

Recently, I asked my digital assistant, Alexa, “Are Amazon and Google listening to my conversations?”

Her response was, “Here’s something I found on the web. According to CNBC.com, Google, Amazon and Apple have used humans to listen to conversations.”

Then, I asked the same question again. She answered, “Sorry, I’m not sure about that.” And again, “Sorry, I don’t know that.” I guess someone at Amazon who was listening asked his or her IT department for help to change the algorithmic response.

Yet there is no consensus about who should be responsible for data privacy. While some believe it’s consumers’ responsibility, others think that governments and businesses should do more. What’s needed is a federal law with consistent standards rather than the states implementing makeshift laws that are inconsistent and confusing for consumers traveling and businesses engaging in commerce across state lines.

Adryenn Ashley and Wendy Glavin @ SXSW

March 2019: South by Southwest (SXSW), Cambridge Analytica and #OwnYourData

During SXSW, I learned even more about data privacy, GDPR, AI, digital money, sovereign identity, fake news and blockchain during #CryptoVixens panel discussions.

Another thought-provoking discussion was with John H. Meyer, Fox Business technology analyst, global technology speaker and consultant; Rachel Sibley, futurist and immersive technologist; and Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica (CA) whistleblower, Co-Founder of the Digital Asset Trade Association and creator of the #OwnYourData campaign. I was fascinated by what Brittany shared about CA.

Brittany explained that the company collected between 2,000 and 5,000 offline data points and built a database, i.e., ground truth raw data, that is real and predictive about what you’re going to do in the future. CA didn’t just do market research and political polling but did psychographic polling on individuals.

For example, CA would ask your opinion on certain brands or politicians with psychographic political polling. Instead of asking questions like, “Do you like Donald Trump?” where they couldn’t change your mind if you answer, CA would ask, “Do you believe in the importance of art? Do you see yourself as a leader in your community? Do you get along well with children?” These are the types of questions that psychographic models use.

If users like a particular brand, then ads can be targeted to people who have specific traits aligned with what they like. For example, people who are interested in adopting pets can be persuaded with ads from the ASPCA, Petco and others.

CA adopted this model through mimicking Facebook to acquire data on millions of people to target users who were more prone to impulsive actions and conspiracy theorists with Facebook groups, articles and ads. The company even analyzed political topics before the 2016 election and used other social media platforms like Twitter.

April 2019: Blockchain, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, and the blockchain is the technology that supports it. The blockchain is a digital and decentralized ledger that records transactions. When people purchase digital coins, or buy products and services, every transaction is recorded on an immutable public ledger which maintains a complete historic record.

Rather than having a central hub like a bank, the bitcoin blockchain is supported by a global network of developers, called miners that solve complex mathematical problems in exchange for rewards, such as bitcoins or tokens. Cryptography ensures users’ identity and security with private and public keys that create a digital signature that enables people to sign and authorize transactions.

Many experts say that data is the most valuable asset. Every day, consumers and businesses transact tangible assets like houses, cars, land, cash, stocks, bonds, equipment, vehicles and inventory, and intangible assets like patents, trademarks, copyrights, licenses, customer data, internet domain names, goodwill and more.

Less known are intangible assets like your personal or your business brand which leave a digital footprint for companies to access and harvest our personal data.

Blockchain promises a new ecosystem that’s centered on consumers controlling and owning their personal data. If you need it, please read my primer on blockchain, “How Blockchain Can Rebuild Digital Trust.”

Interestingly, the state of Wyoming is leading the charge with its first-ever U.S. blockchain law spearheaded by Wall Street veteran Caitlin Long. A bitcoin enthusiast since 2012, Long attended the University of Wyoming and wanted to donate to her alma mater in bitcoin. The laws in the state of Wyoming didn’t allow her to do that because of the Money Transmitter Act. Long drafted a legal exemption and organized the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition.

In the 1980s, South Dakota wanted to find a loophole around credit card companies’ interstate banking prohibitions which Long compared to Wyoming’s efforts to avoid financial regulatory obstacles. “South Dakota and Delaware grabbed that industry away from New York,” said Long, who estimates “as much as $20 billion is lined up to come into Wyoming by the end of 2020,” now that regulations were rolled out by the state in November.

State officials say that Wyoming’s bank model enables businesses to legally hold digital assets. Other states are following suit including Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Vermont and Nevada, which is trying to rival Wyoming to be the #1 cryptocurrency haven in the U.S.

Wyoming may have an edge as it has enacted a series of laws that exempt blockchain startups from state taxes, allows cryptocurrency trading, permits corporations to use blockchain technology to store company records and exempts virtual currencies from property taxes. Legislation is also being considered to create one or more cryptocurrency banks which would provide financial services with blockchain-based assets.

Ryan Alfred, president of Digital Assets Data, a financial technology and data company focused on digital currencies, said, “They’re cheerleading, but they’re cautious. Startups are attracted by the potential that Wyoming-chartered banks could avoid arduous New York state regulations while accessing investors inside the nation’s financial capital, by opening a branch in the state. State banks prefer uniformity with national banks for interstate business under federal law.

The SEC declined to comment on the Wyoming bank and whether it holds any risk.

Long said both Colorado and Missouri have taken initial steps to create similar institutions.

May 2019: Blockchain, Distributed Ledger Technology, and Digital Trust

From blockchain summits to conferences, events and parties, blockchain was the key topic along with digital assets, the Internet of Value, digital securities, decentralized finance, regulations, data privacy and digital trust.

After Consensus 2019 in New York City, Gartner reported:

  • Blockchain is still in its early phases and isn’t enterprise ready.
  • Organizations need to determine its suitability.
  • U.S. regulators are cracking down on anti-money laundering cryptocurrency-related entities.
  • Security tokens may hold promise.

However, Gartner named blockchain as one of the top technology trends for 2020. As the underlying mechanism for the crypto market, it’s being used across a wide variety of industry sectors, including but not limited to banking, messaging apps, voting, internet identity, ride sharing, education, cloud storage, music and entertainment, real estate, insurance, supply-chain, sports, retail, charity, cannabis and government.

Distributed ledger technology has the potential to revamp existing trust systems by providing new business and economic models, improving efficiencies, generating revenue gains, enabling users to control their information through a digital identity with cryptography and public keys, creating the mechanism of smart contracts, auditing and reducing fraud.

A major development for the industry was Facebook’s digital currency, Libra, which was registered in Geneva, Switzerland with “Facebook Global Holdings” as stakeholder.

Dubbed a Global Coin by Facebook, its launch was set to be in Q1 2020 across 12 different countries. Throughout June we learned more about the 28 founding members of the Libra Association, each of which are required to pay $1 million dollars for a vote and dividends.

The companies included Mastercard, PayPal, Naspers, Stripe, Visa, Booking Holdings, eBay, Facebook/Calibra, Farfetch, Lyft, Mercado Pago, Spotify AB, Uber Technologies, Inc. Iliad, Vodafone Group, Anchorage, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Inc., Xapo Holdings Limited, Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Union Square Ventures, Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps and Women’s World Banking.

After Facebook released its Libra white paper, top-tier publications highlighted major issues, including regulatory, privacy, ownership by for-profit companies, the potential misuse of economic and political power, doubts about permissioned cryptocurrencies, the lack of vetting app developers and more.

Can’t wait for a cryptocurrency with the ethics of Uber, the censorship resistance of PayPal, and the centralization of Visa, all tied together under the proven privacy of Facebook,” tweeted Executive Director of Open Privacy Sarah Jamie Lewis.

Others hype Libra as having the ability to scale with Facebook’s 2.5 billion monthly users to provide financial access to billions of underbanked people worldwide with low-fee payments across borders, and to raise awareness of cryptocurrency worldwide. E-commerce would be extended by providing products to buy on Instagram and WhatsApp.

While Facebook claims that its wallet, Calibra, will not be connected to user data from Facebook and Instagram without permission, the company’s history with user privacy calls for more than a measure of skepticism.

Other important advancements for the industry were The Securities and Exchange Commission’s public forum focusing on distributed ledger technology and digital assets on May 31, 2019. Organized by the agency’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub), market participants from industry and academia discussed initial coin offerings, digital asset platforms, innovations and the impact to investors and the markets.

June 2019: Bitcoin , J.P. Morgan and Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin needs the hype to attract mass appeal to be considered a viable electronic alternative to money. It is too volatile, difficult to hedge and limited in transactional utility to be thought of as a real currency today. J.P Morgan’s Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a fraud but later changed his public statement and said that blockchain and regulated digital currencies are promising.

Subsequently, J.P. Morgan issued its own cryptocurrency coin called JPM Coin which is only offered to its institutional clients that have been vetted like corporations, banks and broker-dealers.

Anthony Pompliano, Co-founder and Partner at Morgan Creek Capital, tweeted, “One should be wary of what banks say about cryptocurrencies in general. JP Morgan is now putting out reports about Bitcoin’s intrinsic value. Thought it was worthless and had no value according to Jamie Dimon? Never listen to what a bank says. Watch what they do.” Users responded to the tweet by calling out JPMorgan for trying to devalue Bitcoin in order to hoard the coins.

J.P. Morgan has stated that it doesn’t endorse the use of an cryptocurrency, and its coin is based on the value of the bank’s reserves and may eventually replace wire transfers, and mobile payments. JPM Coins are redeemable for U.S. dollars or stable coins, making it a bank coin rather than a cryptocurrency.

S&P Global Ratings stated that cryptocurrency is a speculative instrument which is dependent on global regulators and policymakers. In its view, if cryptocurrencies become an asset class, the impact will be more gradual and blockchain technology could be a disruptor. Cryptocurrencies do not benefit from the backing of cash flows or a credible central issuer, which would give it an intrinsic value. Instead, market perception drives its valuation.

Goldman Sachs was rumored to create its own bitcoin trading desk but retracted due to regulatory hurdles.

In other news, Facebook released its whitepaper which explains Libra. Its wallet, Calibra, will be built into WhatsApp, Messenger and its own app.

July 2019: Is Facebook’s Libra a Cryptocurrency?

The news of Facebook’s Libra was met with “serious concerns for regulators.” Jerome Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve at a House Financial Services Committee Hearing in Washington, D.C. said, “I don’t think the project can go forward without having broad satisfaction with the way the company has addressed money laundering, all of those things.”

As compared to Bitcoin, which is open source meaning anyone can participate, Libra isn’t and can only be used by pre-approved members of the Libra Association, based in Switzerland.

Since its 28 members are mostly for-profit companies, Libra is neither decentralized nor resistant to censorship. It’s a coin that’s pegged to fiat currencies and securities and is a stablecoin, which have legal, regulatory and oversight challenges. Risks include governance, money laundering, cybersecurity, operational problems, data privacy, monetary policy, illicit financing, tax compliance and more.

Earlier this month, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and other congressional leaders, sent a letter to Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, asking that the social media giant delay Libra until lawmakers have had time to interrogate it.

“Because Facebook is already in the hands of over a quarter of the world’s population, it is imperative that Facebook and its partners immediately cease implementation plans until regulators and Congress have an opportunity to examine these issues and take action,” lawmakers wrote.

Globally, countries are against Libra’s adoption, including French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, Benoit Coure, an executive with the European Central Bank and Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority, India.

David Marcus, head of Facebook’s Libra project, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs which was met with rebuff.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell both said they have ‘serious concerns’ about the potential for the digital currency to be misused by terrorists, in addition to money laundering and privacy risks.

Meltem Demirors, Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares, which launched the world’s first regulated bitcoin investment fund, testified to the significant differences between Libra and decentralized cryptocurrencies.

In October, Visa, MasterCard and other companies distanced themselves from Libra because of the regulatory environment and the concerns of centralization and ownership by private organizations. Consumers need to be protected because of Libra’s volatility, the possible use of it to undermine laws and the very real potential for Facebook to collect even more data than it already does from people.

Brittany Kaiser and Wendy Glavin @ the WEF

August 2019: Data Privacy and The Great Hack

Brittany Kaiser’s new Netflix documentary, The Great Hack, begins with Parsons School of Design Professor David Carroll asking his students, “Have you seen an ad that makes you think your microphone is listening to your conversation?” He goes on to say, all of your credit card transactions, swipes, searches, locations, and likes are all collected in real-time into a trillion dollar a year industry.

Carroll was the central figure in the film who traveled to the UK after launching a lawsuit against Cambridge Analytica (CA) to provide him with his personal data. Whistleblowers Chris Wylie and Brittany Kaiser provide all the behind the scenes innerworkings of CA, Facebook’s role in the 2016 presidential election and how our data is being tracked, harvested, sold and weaponized.

The data CA harvested was from 87 million people on a Facebook app which included a personality quiz, that users took through an external app called, ThisisYourDigitalLife. Like with so many other social media tools and apps, people innocently participated without knowing the consequences.

Beyond CA, Facebook has faced numerous scandals, including its news feed, its Beacon program, third-party apps accessing and exposing users’ personal data, its mood-manipulation experiment, GDPR, massive data thefts, violations of Germany’s hate speech laws, its facial recognition software and more.

In the pursuit of personalization, we’re now facing the consequences, lack of privacy, security, how to regain control of our data, fears of identity fraud, security breaches and more.

Whenever I suggest that people watch “The Great Hack,” responses include it’s too scary, I don’t want to know, there’s nothing we can do, and our data privacy is dead.

September 2019: The U.S. Data Privacy Law

With consumers becoming increasingly disillusioned that companies are taking adequate measures, many states are considering creating privacy laws.

In 2019, there were more that 3,800 breaches, a 50 percent increase over the last four years, according to a report published by Risk Based Security.

The California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), passed into law in June 2018, has been described as “almost GDPR in the U.S.” While big tech firms and others lobbied against the bill’s passing, high-profile cases of data breaches, hacks, ransomware, and cyberattacks persisted. The CCPA will take effect on January 1, 2020, and be enforced in July 2020.

The CCPA has a non-exhaustive list of “personal data” that a company must disclose—and delete upon request. The list includes: biometrics, internet browsing information, products purchased or considered for purchase, geolocation data, academic and employment information and inferences drawn to create a profile about the individual to reflect preferences.

Meanwhile, institutions, policymakers, attorneys, activists, legislators, CEOs, and House and Senate leaders, among others, debated the compliance costs, restriction of digital innovation and the compliance costs, legal risks, and more.

A number of bills have been introduced throughout 2019, including:

  • The Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2019
  • The Do Not Track Act
  • The Protecting Personal Health Data Act
  • The Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly Act
  • The Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight and Regulations on Data Act
  • The Filter Bubble Transparency Act
  • The Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act
  • The Facial Recognition Technology Warrant Act

Democrats and Republicans have continued to debate whether federal law should supersede state laws. Debates have continued into December with new federal data privacy bills, The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) and the Consumer Data Privacy Act (CDPA).

Both bills propose consumer privacy laws at the federal level, requiring companies to obtain “affirmative express consent” from individuals before data is processed or transferred, maintain “reasonable data security practices,” designate privacy officers and data security officers, conduct annual privacy impact/risk assessments, and not deny goods or services to individuals who seek to exercise a privacy right.

However, CDPA would block state laws related to data privacy except for data breaches and COPRA would protect state laws with greater protections. For more in-depth information, I recommend the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ detailed white paper on the two laws.

October 2019: Consumer Datasets and Data Tracking

By now, we know that everything we do is being tracked both online and offline. Companies have huge data vaults with extraordinary amounts of information on people which includes the data we choose to share and, more critically, data that you did not choose to share.

The most obvious examples are when you send emails, post on social media, use a smart device, visit websites, make purchases and use your mobile phones. Lesser known are how mobile apps track location and harvest data on visits to the doctor, drop-offs at school and other, more intimate, personal details even while we’re sleeping. The online dating industry is unsettling too because it’s difficult to know if you’re interacting with a real person versus a scammer, ghost or predator.

Businesses argue that their interests lie in finding patterns to create more personalized experiences for their customers. But many have access to raw data which identifies people without their consent.

The online data-broker industry mines addresses, phone numbers and other personal information, and legally sells that information to anyone who pays. When I did a search of consumer data sets, I was shocked. The list is endless.

On Data.Gov anyone can get hundreds of free data sets and resources to build apps that help consumers make smarter choices. Under its Finance category, we can explore hundreds of free data sets on financial services, including banking, lending, retirement, investments, and insurance. Anyone can use these data sets to build new products and services,

Under Health, there are datasets, tools, and applications related to health and health care across the Federal Government. Others include data.world, the modern catalog for data and analysis, Kaggle has “all the code & data you need to do your data science work. Use over 19,000 public datasets and 200,000 public notebooks to conquer any analysis in no time” FiveThirtyEight offers data sets from articles available online at GitHub and on its own data portal. The data ranges from information about which states have the worst drivers to the economic worth of different college majors.

One glaring use case is Amazon. High-quality data about consumers, products and other retailers has helped Amazon garner an outsized share of the retail industry. It collects and leverages huge amounts of data from its website, app, its Prime loyalty program, its Alexa smart device, home automation services and its Ring internet-connected security devices.

When Amazon integrated Alexa into its AmazonBasics Microwave and offered consumers a 10 percent discount on microwave popcorn, it helped the company gather valuable data on consumers’ consumption patterns while also helping it capture sales that might otherwise take place elsewhere, according to Digital Commerce 360.

Data aggregators are nothing new. Nowadays, a simple Google search will provide hundreds of data aggregators with thousands of data points on hundreds of millions of people.

November 2019: How to Take Charge of Our Digital Lives

Continuing the inside story of Big Data, CA, Facebook and Democracy, I spent more time delving into the world of Brittany Kaiser, author of Targeted, founder of the #OwnYourData campaign, cofounder of the Digital Asset Trade Association (DATA), cofounder of the Own Your Data Foundation and the primary subject of the Netflix documentary, The Great Hack.

Typically, people don’t want to understand what’s happening because they’re scared, feel powerless, are resigned or think it’s not their responsibility. Having met and spoken with Brittany during SXSW and listening to her speak worldwide, I know no better person to provide recommendations on how we can implement change. Brittany inspired me to become an advocate. Here’s how you can too (adopted from Targeted):

  1. Become digitally literate: Find tools and learn more by searching the DQ Institute
  2. Engage with legislators: Call and write to your legislators. All contact information is readily available at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
  3. Read about Ed Markey’s Consent Bill: The Privacy Bill of Rights Act
  4. Learn more about Elizabeth Warren’s Corporate Executive Accountability Act
  5. Since children are vulnerable, learn more from Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense, who testified before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
  6. Review all the legislation named in the section in this article on The U.S. Data Privacy Law
  7. Implement ethical technology solutions by visiting Designgood.tech
  8. Contact the Federal Election Commission and the Federal Trade Commission and speak up about the immediate need for solutions
  9. Make ethical choices by continuing to question fake news. Don’t engage in negativity, don’t participate in quizzes or give away your photos for facial recognition software to determine how you’ll look in ten years which benefits insurance companies, understand that technology and humans have biases. Be diligent when using AI solutions and don’t fall into the habit of mindless convenience.
  10. If you own a company, be transparent about the data you use and allow employees and customers to opt-out.

We can take the steps needed to own our data and value, and help to make the world a place that is based on trust and transparency with online and offline security protocols.

December 2019: Making Sense of It All

For me, a 30-year marketing communications veteran, this year was about delving into AI, machine learning, financial technology, blockchain, distributed ledger technology, cryptocurrency, the cloud, data privacy, personalization, innovation and technology’s entry into different industry sectors.

Whether or not you’re involved or interested in any of these areas, the lesson I want to impart is that you can learn anything if you’re curious and determined. Even if technology is not your thing, there are exhaustive resources to access news and information about any business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) product, service and trends.

Often, people ask how I became a published writer and columnist for Equities. Like anything else, it takes practice. The more you do something you’re interested in, the easier it will be. [Editor’s note: It also helps to be courteous and professional with editors!]

Another takeaway is to be authentic. This year, I decided to say the amount of years I’ve spent working. Some warned me that people will know that I’m old. My response: it’s a competitive advantage because if you’re honest people will trust you.

I understand that in this year in particular, people feel afraid to speak up and speak out because of the divisive climate we’re living in. But another lesson I learned was during South by Southwest (SXSW). There, it was a debate of ideas rather than discussing titles, backgrounds, job roles, age, gender and other stereotypes to try and place people into categories.

As we move into 2020, let’s be more inquisitive, empathetic, helpful, purpose-driven, agile and committed to being #ForeverStudents.


#SXSW - Wendy GlavinAbout the Author: Wendy Glavin is a 30-year veteran and Founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin Agency in New York City, offering marketing, PR, executive writing and social media. Her specialties include blockchain, cryptocurrency, AI, FinTech, financial services, mobile apps, data privacy, and working with B2B2C technology companies. Her website is https://wendyglavin.com/. Contact her directly at wendy@wendyglavin.com




5W Public Relations Names Matthew Caiola and Dara A. Busch President

5W Public Relations Posts 2018 Revenue GrowthCommPRO Editorial Staff

5W Public Relations, one of the 15 largest independently-owned PR firms in the U.S., announced today that effective immediately, Matthew Caiola and Dara A. Busch have been promoted to President of 5W Public Relations. The two presidents will play a vital role in the continued expansion and aggressive growth plans of 5WPR. 

Matthew Caiola formerly served as Executive Vice President of the Corporate, Technology and Digital Practice, and Dara A. Busch was the Executive Vice President of the Consumer Practice. 

“5WPR would not be what it is without Dara and Matthew and it comes with great pleasure for me to name them as the Presidents of this agency,” said Ronn Torossian, 5WPR Founder and CEO. “The promotions take place after many years where they demonstrated their dedication to the agency in providing a high level of growth, client management and leadership. They are passionate leaders who will allow our company to continue to succeed and thrive.” 

In the 10 years Matthew has worked at 5W Public Relations, he has become responsible for the overall growth and direction of the agency’s Technology, Corporate and Digital Practices, which include Financial Services, Legal Services & Litigation, Real Estate, Corporate Internal Communications, Public Affairs & Government Relations, Apps & Online Marketplaces, Ad Tech & Big Data, Marketing Technology, and Financial Technology. Under his leadership, the teams run award-winning campaigns for some of the most well-known brands in the world as well as more than 100 companies globally.  

“It’s been exciting to watch the agency change over the years and grow into the powerhouse we are today,” said Matthew Caiola. “This past year we introduced our SaaS and Data Divisions, and become a leading Fintech, Adtech and Martech PR provider in the nation. We’ve seen huge growth in our international client roster specifically in the booming Israeli tech market. Every day I’m proud of the work we do, the results we produce and the client’s we service.” 

Dara oversees 5W’s Consumer Practice, which includes Travel & Entertainment, Apparel & Accessories, Non-Profits, Home & Housewares, Food & Beverage, Health & Wellness, Mom & Baby, Beauty & Grooming, and Consumer Packaged Goods. With 25 years of public relations experience, Dara is a seasoned practitioner in consumer brand publicity, as well as developing successful strategic media campaigns around large-scale events. Under her leadership, the teams develop and execute award-winning campaigns for indie companies to world renowned brands. In 2019, Dara won the Silver “Maverick of the Year” Award by the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recognizing her commitment to going above-and-beyond for 5W employees and clients. 

“5WPR is celebrating another incredible year of growth. In 2019, the consumer team has seen great expansion in all of our practice areas, with the biggest boom in parenting, indie beauty brands, restaurants and the introduction of a cannabis division. There has been an explosion in our influencer programming, as we develop integrated campaigns that demonstrate large returns for our clients. This year we also formed a Measurement & Analytics Task Force to ensure every campaign is results-driven and grounded in data,” said Dara A. Busch. “I am proud to champion 5WPR, and I am looking forward to continuing to lead the agency, my team, and our clients, to new heights.”




Canna-Business

Rebranding the Cannabis Industry - Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

Merlin Rothfeld, Investment Strategist and Instructor, Online Trading Academy

Weed. Pot. Mary Jane. Whatever you call it, there’s no denying that cannabis has been creating a lot of buzz lately. And for good reason. The medicinal variety is now legal in 33 states, the recreational in 11, and last year, Canada lifted its ban on cannabis entirely. This unprecedented shift in North American pot laws has led to a boom in the various sectors of the cannabis industry, with several cannabis stocks now traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange. This is all is quite remarkable, especially considering marijuana is still illegal in the United States at the Federal level, and it has been since 1937. So, how did we get here? And more importantly, what’s next in the world of Big Cannabis? Let’s find out.

What is Cannabis?

When we say “cannabis,” we’re referring to cannabis plants, some of the earliest-known crops domesticated by humans, dating back 10,000 years. Two major species of cannabis plants exist: cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. Colloquially speaking, indicas have relatively high levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound responsible for a relaxed and calming “body high” described by users. While sativas can be high in THC as well, users generally associate this subspecies with an energizing “head high” that helps increase focus. However, sativas can also have very little to no THC; sativas with less than 0.3% THC are known as hemp, the strong fibers from which are used industrially for textiles, construction, and even fuel.

History Lesson

Once European brought cannabis to America, hemp became a staple of everyday life in the colonies, used to make everything from rope to sails to paper. Hemp was so important that farmers were mandated by law to grow it. In the 1800’s, doctors began expressing interest in the medicinal benefits of cannabis, and by the middle of the century, cannabis-based goods were available for purchase in general stores and pharmacies all across the country, touting their ability to provide pain relief, increase appetite, and aid sleep, among other things. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that American attitudes toward cannabis began to sour. The bloody Mexican Revolution, which lasted from 1910 to 1920, created an influx of Mexican immigrants, many of whom consumed cannabis recreationally. In the years that followed, recreational cannabis became increasingly popular in the black jazz scene of the Prohibition Era. Supported by a propaganda campaign and fueled by the xenophobic and prejudicial sentiment of the day, cannabis grew to become demonized. Before long, the term marijuana had all but replaced cannabis in the parlance of the time, strengthening the perceived link between cannabis and minorities. As hemp production had waned since the Civil War ended, it became easier for the government to justify the outright ban on cannabis which went into effect via the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Though the law was found unconstitutional in 1969, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 sealed cannabis’ fate as a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” lumping marijuana into the same Schedule I category as illicit drugs like LSD and heroin. Although individual states began decriminalizing marijuana starting in the 1970s, substantial cannabis legislation wouldn’t occur again until 1996, with California’s passage of the Compassionate Use Act, which legalized medicinal marijuana. Over the next several years, other states followed suit, and in 2012, Colorado and Washington blazed new trails, voting to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, nine more states have joined them, bringing us to where we are today.

The New Kid in Town

One of the more notable effects of pro-cannabis legislation has been the proliferation of CBD and CBD-based products. CBD, or cannabidiol, like THC, is one of over 110 different chemical compounds found in cannabis known as cannabinoids. Both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system; however, CBD lacks the psychoactive element for which THC is famous. Simply put, it doesn’t get you high.

Found mainly in hemp, CBD is believed by some to provide relief for a laundry list of ailments, including pain, inflammation, and anxiety, while its purveyors offer up the compound in every imaginable form — from gels and gummies to extracts and creams. Indeed, research suggests that CBD may have therapeutic benefits, including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-epileptic properties. Last year, in fact, the FDA went so far as to approve epilepsy drug Epidiolex, the first-ever prescription medication to contain CBD. Despite this progress, science still has a long way to go toward fully understanding CBD, chiefly because the federal ban on cannabis has made research difficult. Still, Americans are shelling out big money on CBD products, with sales reaching $535 million in 2018, and projected to approach $2 billion by 2022.

Though the ubiquity of CBD is largely a byproduct of its lack of FDA regulation, it is by no means the only compound making waves. Its cannabinoid cousin, THC, remains a hot commodity in cannabis circles, available in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and of course, good old-fashioned loose leaf “flower.” Consumers use THC to treat glaucoma, insomnia, anxiety, nausea, and a host of other afflictions as well. In other words, people aren’t just using cannabis to get high.

Show Me the Money

Americans old enough to remember anti-marijuana propaganda films like Reefer Madness no doubt marvel at how far cannabis has come, especially over the last 20 years. As laws governing cannabis continue to evolve in the United States, our neighbors to the north appear to be leading the way. Canada legalized recreational marijuana in 2018, which was a banner year for cannabis. In July, Canadian pharmaceutical and cannabis company Tilray became the first cannabis IPO on the NASDAQ. In November, Constellation Brands, a Fortune 500 alcoholic beverage producer, closed a $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian medicinal marijuana producer. And in December, Phillip Morris USA parent Altria Group announced it would spend approximately $1.8 billion for a 45% stake in Cronos Group, another Canadian company specializing in cannabinoids. In all, investors poured $10 billion into North American cannabis in 2018, with the combined North American market projected to reach $16 billion by the end of this year.

Looking Ahead

As cannabis becomes better understood by the scientific community, medical applications will continue to be sought, setting the stage for a potential showdown between Big Pharma and Big Cannabis. Big Pharma, the status quo darling with deep pockets and a lengthy track record of success, is expected to do whatever it can to keep THC and CBD illegal under federal law, since medical applications for unregulated cannabis products sold as a food or supplements would naturally eat into Big Pharma’s profits as drug-makers. Big Cannabis will do its best to compete, armed with solid financial backing of its own and the seemingly limitless potential of its key compounds to relieve pain and other ailments, without the habit-forming or psychoactive effects of, say, opiates. Whatever happens between Big Pharma and Big Cannabis, one thing is certain: the lobbyists will certainly earn their keep.

 




Pot for Pets

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

With two-thirds of the country legalizing cannabis in one form or another, it was inevitable that discussion would turn to using it for pets that are in pain. 

Why the Popularity?

In areas where medical marijuana or cannabis is legal, the drug is used to help treat patients for everything from nausea from cancer chemotherapy treatment to muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis and helping glaucoma patients in reducing eye pressure.  It can be smoked, taken orally as a capsule of ingested as an oil. There is a growing number of advocates who are extolling the virtue of using cannabis oil to treat seizures, stress, arthritis, back pains and a host of other issues in pets, particularly dogs.  They argue that cannabis doesn’t damage internal organs and has no threatening side effects if used properly.

Look Before You Leap

One of the first states to legalize cannabis was Colorado.  At a forum held earlier this year by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, one presenter offered results of a 2017 AMA study that showed that only 31% of products offered by 31 CBD online retailers were correctly labeled.  Another veterinarian panelist discussed the research she had been conducting after having seen many dogs euthanized after suffering epileptic seizures as a result of side effects from medication.  In her double-blinded study, she discovered that dogs had a significantly lower number of seizures when taking cannabis.

The issue today is that there aren’t any FDA-approved cannabis supplements for pets.  That and the uncertain labelling issue pose a problem.  Any veterinarian or pet-related supplier recommending cannabis faces serious potential legal risks. Unless and until the FDA gives its okay about the use and dosage of cannabis for pets, this issue is best left unaddressed regardless of how well-intended you may be.  Don’t even intimate anything like this to a pet owner.  While a pet owner has every right to give cannabis to their pet, encouraging or implying that it could help opens up a potential legal door if something happens to the pet.

A Better Solution

Pet owners whose pets carry the same burden of angst and care that parents with ailing children do.  They’ll do and try just about anything if they think it will help.  You can best assist by keeping them informed about best and approved practices while keeping them updated on issues like cannabis for pets.

At the same time, monitor and track the progress of cannabis.   It’s very likely and just a matter of time until cannabis will be approved for use in animals.  Have a marketing plan in place with potential reputable suppliers so when it is approved, you’ll be ready to roll it out and get a jump on your competitors.  Also be prepared to work with and cite reputable veterinarian sources for their advice on the use of cannabis.


Ronn Torossian - Pot for PetsAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading cannabis PR firm.




“Lookin’ for a Leader”

“Lookin’ for a Leader” - Ronn Torossian

 

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

That was the title of a song written and recorded by musician activist Neil Young, formerly of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young,  The song was released in 2006. In these trying times, many companies are looking for new leaders who understand and can successfully manage the changing landscape, not just among its workforce, but also in marketing and communications.

Need a Toolbox?

Here are some things that can assist a new leader as well as help him/her avoid some potholes. Besides being a mentor and coach to some team members, it always helps to be a voice of support and encouragement. This means all the world to some workers, especially when it comes to a leader.

As mentioned in a previous article, trust is very important. If you have the right team, set the direction, monitor and believe that they will do the best job. This does more for loyalty than anything else.

It doesn’t take much effort to show appreciation and confirmation for work well done by an employee. That can range from a simple thank you to even a gift or token of appreciation. On his retirement, one CEO had copies of more than 17,000 thank you notes he had written to employees. Gifts can range from a gift card to something that fits well with an employee’s interest if that’s known.

Empowering employees by permitting them to pursue and implement ideas on how to better manage or handle a situation is a tremendous confidence booster. Recruiting the right employees and entrusting them to do the right thing is huge.

Avoiding the Potholes

The easy answer to this is to not get in the car and drive. But if you’re in the driver’s seat, that’s not realistic, is it? And in this ever-growing AI world, management is not yet self-driving. Leading can be stressful but here are some potholes to avoid.

As much as we try, we all make mistakes. If you do, fess up to it, set new directions, and move forward. This sets the tone for team members who will be much less apprehensive of owning up to any future error when they see their boss own a mistake.

However, in admitting a mistake and setting new directions, be careful not to take the tendency to move forward quickly simply to forget the issue. More care and consideration must be taken before going forward to avoid the possibility of even bigger problems in the future.

To achieve the best results, especially after a mistake or failure, invite and be open to all ideas and constructive criticism. It’s easy to take the later personally but remind yourself that the objectives and goals are all well-intended.

It is sometimes necessary to recognize and admit that a particular mission or goal cannot be met. Not every good plan can be accomplished. However, before classifying a project as DOA, consider what was learned and other takeaways. Get input from your team as well and consider how lessons learned might improve plans going forward.


Ronn Torossian - “Lookin’ for a Leader”About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency which works extensively in cannabis PR.




5 Digital Marketing Strategies to Improve Medical Marijuana Sales

Ken Newman, CEO, DMA | Digital Marketing Agency

The number of people who head to the internet to research health and wellness products has jumped to 57%. These online searches are especially important in the medical marijuana industry, where so much confusion, misinformation, and changing laws send consumers to the internet in search of clarification.

This chaos in the market can actually create opportunities for medical marijuana dispensaries that are seeking ways to attract more local customers. In a market where buying paid search ads is not legal, dispensaries must rely on search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to get discovered. Here is a breakdown of how search engine ranking works and how you can optimize your website to ensure your dispensary moves up the search results page for local searches.

The Power of the Local 3-Pack

The number of “near me” searches has grown by 900% since 2016, with 72 percent of those searchers visiting a store within five miles. When Google receives a search request that includes geographic search terms, Google provides a results page that consists of a map, the Local 3-Pack, followed by the organic search results. Google uses its own ranking system to determine which businesses will appear in this Pack, along with the order that businesses appear in the search results. The ideal, of course, is to get your dispensary listed in the 3-Pack. Here are five ways that you can optimize your website for SEO to increase your page rank among the search engines so that you can earn more local traffic.

1.      Claim Your Business on Local Listing Services

To ensure your dispensary appears on the search results page, register and claim your business on Google My Business, Yahoo! Local and Microsoft’s Bing Places for Business. Fill out each section of the questionnaire completely and accurately, providing your NAP (name-address-phone) details, hours of operation, and photos. This information will be pulled by search engines to populate search results whenever your prospect searches for a local marijuana dispensary.

The business category you choose for the services category is also relevant. While Google now offers a “Cannabis Store” category, you can also tailor your results around the services you provide by selecting other categories, including a wellness center, pharmacy, or alternative medicine practitioner.

Additionally, claim your dispensary’s listing on third-party sites, including Yelp, CitySearch, and Apple Maps. These sites have a large amount of pull in SEO, and you don’t want to be left out. There may be other local listing services exclusive to your area, including the local Chamber of Commerce, local mapping services and online yellow or white pages.

2.      Answer Your Prospects Questions With Your Content

One of the most essential strategies to implement to earn local traffic is a steady stream of helpful content. The content that you publish on your website helps the search engines determine if your business is a good match for the search request. Focus on building article topics around the specific questions your prospects are asking in their searches. Pay attention to Google’s specific guidelines that govern any medical-oriented content published on the web. Google categories this type of content as “Your Money, Your Life” (YMYL) and subjects this content to higher quality standards.

While you can use Google’s Keyword Planner to ensure you are using the best words to boost your SEO presence, use them wisely. Your keywords should flow naturally into a helpful article, rather than one that is packed with keywords that make little sense to the reader. At a minimum, aim for creating at least one 750-word article for each service or product you offer. Boost your content for local by weaving geographic indicators wherever possible into your content. For example, “cannabis dispensary in your town,” or “your town’s cannabis provider.”

Add specific pages to your site that are dedicated exclusively to providing your NAP details, a Google Map of your location, and links to your social media profiles. Include your hours of operation and specific names of people to contact if they have questions. Optimize your site for SEO by ensuring you add local keywords in the URL page title, headers, and main text.

3.      Mobile friendly

When consumers conduct those medical searches, they are more than likely using their phones. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly so that prospects can find the information on your site quickly and easily. A mobile-responsive design will not distort your images or content to fit on a mobile screen. Google has a Mobile-Friendly Test tool that can help you test your site to be sure it is easy for customers to navigate.

4.       Credibility from Other Sites

Publishing helpful, valuable information on your website increases the chances that other websites will link to your content. These inbound links are the number one local organic-ranking factor, as search engines give more credibility to sites that are linked to by other sites.

Claiming your social media profiles gives you the added benefit of attracting local influencers. You can discover local events and build an online community with other businesses in your area that can help you earn locally-relevant links. You can also receive inbound links by ensuring your dispensary is included in industry-specific directories like 420 Nation, Cannabis.net, CannaPages, Marijuana Business Daily, Medical Jane, Medical Marijuana, THC Business Directory, among others.

5.      What Are Customers Saying About You?

Online reviews have overtaken friends and family recommendations as the most trusted source of product information.” Google includes reviews in its 3-Pack listing, and adding reviews on your own website can boost customer conversion by 270%. While Google keeps the details of its search algorithm a secret, prominence is one of the key indicators that Google uses. Prominence includes how well-known a business is, including more reviews and positive rankings. You can help your rankings by reading the reviews you receive, including those on social media and third-party sites. Treat any negative reviews as an opportunity to correct what went wrong.

Page Rank Is Constantly Dynamic

Once you’ve made it into the Local 3-Pack, monitor your progress, as search engines continuously update their rankings. Don’t let your website become static, and continue to update your content with new articles to match the evolving changes within the cannabis industry. Use the strategies identified here to ensure fresh content is optimized for your local market while continuing to meet the needs of your local customers.


About the Author: Ken Newman, CEO of DMA | Digital Marketing Agency began his career with the U.S. Army serving proudly in Desert Shield and Storm. After 8 years of service, Newman quickly rose to success in traditional marketing platforms then graduating to the Digital Marketing industry for RH Donnelley’s DexMedia and Hearst Media.




Facebook Owns Our Data. Should It Own Our Wallets?

Facebook Owns Our Data. Should It Own Our Wallets

Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

Since 2016, Facebook ( (FB[NGS] – $203.88 0.03 (0.01%) Trade )) has faced numerous scandals, including its news feed, its Beacon program, third-party apps accessing and exposing users’ personal data, its mood-manipulation experiment, the Cambridge Analytica fiasco which exposed ties to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, GDPR, massive data thefts, violations about Germany’s hate speech laws, its facial recognition software and more.

Now, it’s Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, which some lawmakers called for Facebook to pause its development thereof, citing the company’s seemingly endless list of scandals. In their letter Tuesday, the groups said Libra raises questions about everything from national sovereignty to consumer privacy.

The US regulatory system is not prepared to address these questions. Nor are the regulatory systems of other nations or international institutions. If products and services like these are left improperly regulated and without sufficient oversight, they could systemic risks that endanger US and global financial stability,” lawmakers said in the letter. CNET, July 2, 2019.

Yet, since June 2019, after Facebook released the Libra white paper about its “cryptocurrency,” top-tier publications have provided in-depth analyses of some of the major issues, including regulatory, privacy, ownership by for-profit companies, the potential misuse of economic and political power, doubts about permissioned cryptocurrencies, the lack of vetting app developers and more.

Can’t wait for a cryptocurrency with the ethics of Uber, the censorship resistance of PayPal, and the centralization of Visa, all tied together under the proven privacy of Facebook,” said Executive Director of Open Privacy Sarah Jamie Lewis, on Twitter.

Others hype Libra as having the ability to scale with its 2.5 billion monthly users, provide financial access to billions of people worldwide with low-fee payments across borders, the underbanked, and to raise awareness of cryptocurrency worldwide. E-commerce will be extended by providing products to buy on Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook claims that its wallet, Calibra, will not be connected to user data from Facebook and Instagram without permission. The company’s history with user privacy calls for more than a measure of skepticism.

But is Libra a Cryptocurrency?

Geneva welcomed Facebook as the home of the Libra Association, a not-for-profit organization that will govern the payment network and manage a financial reserve for the cryptocurrency. The Swiss State Secretariat for International Finance said it’s a “positive sign that Switzerland can play a role in an ambitious international project. Swiss politicians have gushed about the potential of “Crypto Valley” in the low-tax Swiss city of Zug, and then-Finance Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann last year even talked about Crypto Valley morphing into a “Crypto Nation Switzerland.” Bloomberg, June, 2019.

The Libra Association consists of 28 founding members, including MasterCard, PayPal, Spotify, Lyft, Uber and others that get one vote each along with Facebook. But, just because Libra employs blockchain technology doesn’t necessarily make it a cryptocurrency.

While Bitcoin is a decentralized network exempt from permissions and resistant to censorship, Libra is run by a consortium of large corporations which will be impacted by regulations from various global governments. Also, it’s not a currency, it’s a digital token or – in financial parlance – a “stablecoin.” London Loves Business, July 3, 2019.

Unlike bitcoin which is decentralized and controlled by thousands of nodes worldwide that validate transactions, the Bitcoin blockchain needs more than 51 percent computing power (equal to billions of dollars) for it to be altered. Bitcoin is transparent, anonymous, borderless, permissionless, verifiable and immutable.

The Fuel for Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive technologies like cryptocurrency are defined as such because they’re driven by customers’ demands for faster, personalized, frictionless, cost-effective and more trusted products and services. However, since Libra is slated to launch in 2020, the debate will continue.

Like financial technology (FinTech), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, drones, self-driving cars, cloud, 5G, smart devices, and other new technologies, companies either identify ways to improve existing services like Uber did with taxis or create a new offering like Netflix by creating a low-cost alternative to subscription services like Blockbuster.

In the Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Blockchain Are Challenging the Global Economic Order, Wall Street Journal journalists, Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey write:

Most of the people we talk to seem to think of cryptocurrencies and related projects in terms of two to three years, or five to ten years…. Bitcoin is just six years old. It has gone from what ostensibly was one lonely coder’s pet project to a global phenomenon that has sparked the imagination and activism of libertarians, anticorporatists, crypto-anarchists, utopians, entrepreneurs and VCs.

Society-at-large will play a role, too, partly because of the disruptive impact that technology is having on people’s lives. Cryptocurrency is a potentially powerful new disruptive element. Interconnected computing gadgets give people far greater control over their lives, new markets for their products and labor, and new tools for organizing politically.

But the technology also fuels anxiety. Some fear the surveillance that it permits; others feel overwhelmed by the barrage of information; a good many will have their jobs replaced by machines and software. Technology has fueled a backlash, and cryptocurrencies are no different….

The passionate believers and the threatened masses are already rubbing up against each other in the public square. They are going to meet and mix and mingle and test out each other’s ideas and hash out where this whole thing goes. This is exactly how change happens, a constant, slow-moving evolution by which human society alters and adapts.”

Is Wall Street Bullish on Crypto?

J.P Morgan, RBC, SunTrust, Raymond James, and Baird are some of the Wall Street firms predicting that Facebook’s Libra is a move forward towards global adoption of crypto. Its financial infrastructure backed by heavyweights is a “watershed moment” but will take some time. Other investment banks are open to crypto trading based on customer demand.

Before any real progress can be made, however, cryptocurrency needs to be clearly defined to understand the key differences and potential problems.

First, Libra is centralized meaning its founding members will run nodes, and it’s regulated. A decentralized blockchain, like bitcoin, has millions of nodes so it’s not controlled by any intermediary. Other differences include onboarding. With Libra, you must be approved. With bitcoin, anyone can use it.

Bitcoin is really a people-to-people currency and you can actively participate in the network. Libra is a currency of business-to-people. As a private person, you cannot easily participate actively in the network and, unlike Bitcoin, you must rely on the fact that the companies that operate Libra do not operate in secrecy. In addition, one can imagine that Libra could possibly be frozen and/or censored.

This is not possible with Bitcoin. Bitcoin transactions cannot be censored and Bitcoin accounts cannot be frozen by anyone. This makes Bitcoin a great place to donate to organizations that may be censored and muzzled in their own country. In addition, everyone can actively participate in the Bitcoin network.” CrytoTicker, June 2019.

A Brief Blockchain Primer

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology which uses cryptography to secure every transaction and insures its accuracy for every user in the network. It’s the underlying mechanism for the crypto market and is being used across a wide variety of industry sectors, including but not limited to, banking, messaging apps, voting, internet identity, ride sharing, education, cloud storage, music and entertainment, real estate, insurance, supply-chain, sports, retail, charity, cannabis and government.

“If Facebook can establish Libra as a trusted way for users make their transactions, it will go a long way to rebuilding trust in Facebook itself. Despite all of this, the crypto movement isn’t scared of Libra. “I’d be nervous if I were the US government, but I’m not nervous as a Bitcoin holder,” says Sasha Hodder, a lawyer from Washington DC.

“It’s a good thing… for more people to learn about Bitcoin. One is decentralized, one is centralized; one has a blockchain, the other says it’s a blockchain; one has an anonymous, pretty cool founder and one has Mark Zuckerberg.” The Telegraph, June 2019.

Have Americans Caught the “Crypto” Craze?

Conversely, 85 percent of Americans are not interested in Facebook Libra, a new IBD/TIPP Poll found. Some 94 percent of young adults ages 18-24, and ages 25-44 are not interested. For 45-64s, 91% said they are not keen on Libra. Americans age 65 and older showed the least resistance. But seniors were hardly enthusiastic: 79% aren’t interested in Facebook Libra.

In total 56% of people said they do not believe it is likely they will buy or use cryptocurrencies in the next 10 years. Notably, 57% of self-described investors don’t expect to buy or use cryptocurrencies in the next 10 years. That compares to 53% of non-investors. Investor’s Business Daily, June 27 2019.

Backlash from Around the World

The Senate Banking Committee will be holding a hearing, “Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations” on July 16, 2019, at 10 am ET. Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC) called for a moratorium on Facebook’s activity on Libra.

The House committee will hold its first hearing into Libra and its “impact on consumers, investors, and the American financial system” on July 17 2019.

France’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, asked the Group of Seven including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada to draft a report on the cryptocurrency for its July summit. “This money will allow (Facebook) to assemble even more data, which only increases our determination to regulate the internet giants,’’ declared LeMaire.

On July 3, Cointelegraph reported over 30 advocacy groups have appeared as signatories on a request that Congress and regulators implement an official moratorium on Libra development. Also, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Eugene Stiglitz published an article claiming that “every currency is based on trust, but only a fool would trust Facebook’s Libra.”

“The scrutiny that we’ve seen is something that we expected and welcome. We announce this early by design to have this discourse in the open and gather feedback. Reserves would be subject to monetary policies of countries where funds are located. Calibra does not plan to apply for local banking licenses,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We look forward to responding to lawmakers’ questions as this process moves forward,” but did not agree to pause development on Libra.

But, Facebook is setting its sights on underdeveloped countries. David Marcus, the head of the company’s blockchain group said, “Libra’s great promise is to help people who are poorly served by the current banking system, particularly those in developing countries.

“With Libra, anyone with a $40 smartphone and connectivity will have the ability to securely safeguard their assets, access the world economy, transact at a much lower cost, and over time access a whole range of financial services,” he wrote. “We firmly believe that if Libra is successful, it can be a non-linear step change for billions of people who need it the most.”

The novelty and ambition of the idea does not seem to be discouraging investors: Facebook stock is up about 4% since the company announced Libra. CNBC, July 3 2019.

To learn more about David Marcus’s testimony before the Senate on Libra’s cryptocurrency, listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUQpmEjgFAU. 

Here are the top ten issues:

1. What about the bad actors?
2. How is Libra a non-profit if it will pay dividends?
3. Crypto is decentralized. Libra is centralized
4. Where’s the accountability?
5. It’s business model will provide even more ad revenue for Facebook
6. The sharing of even more data between the tech giants that own a $10  M dollar seat
7. There are major trust and privacy issues
8. Users data will have to be collected
9. It’s open platform raises concerns about how developers might use it in nefarious ways
10. If Libra is designed to help the poor, there are concerns about lack of education, over-spending and scammers
Stay tuned for the continued debate worldwide.
#SXSW - Wendy GlavinAbout the Author: Wendy Glavin is Founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin, a NYC full-service agency. Wendy is a 20-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership. She specializes in B2B2C marketing communications, PR, social and digital media. Her website is: https://wendyglavin.com/. Contact her at: wendy@wendyglavin.com



Ep. 14– CryptoCharacters with Jason Nagi

Mikhail Gurevich- Founder/Managing Partner- Dominion Capital LLC- Value, Growth, Innovation

Take a trip down entrepreneur lane, and learn what drew Mikhail to the first Ycombinator class as a young engineering student, along with the likes of Redidit.  Get Mikhail’s take on value, what it takes to build companies, innovation’s quickening pace, and innovation barriers in both theFinTech and cannabis industries.  Learn what may be holding back blockchain on a regulatory and lobbying level and what is pushing blockchain adoption on a regulatory level.