Cannabis Implementation In Ohio
Cannabis implementation in Ohio with Jay Jones, Director of Business Relations of Bene Leaves Limited, based in Columbus, Ohio. We talk about some of the challenges and frustrations Jay is seeing there and why he thinks it’s been such a struggle to implement progressive cannabis laws in that state. Jay has worked in the industry in Colorado and Michigan, and now also Ohio. That experience lets him speak to what’s going on in each of those states, as well his experiences on how they compare and contrast.
NCIA published one of their early white papers on the opioid crisis and how it may be an EXIT drug rather than a gateway drug for those looking to reduce or eliminate their opioid use to prevent addiction and death. Jay shares his thoughts on that topic as well as so much on today’s episode.
Get informed, get inspired, and get connected.
Hello, thanks for tuning into another episode of NCIA’s cannabis industry voice on cannabis radio, I am your host Bethany Moore, I’m the Communications Manager at the National cannabis industry association today. My guest is Jay Jones, he is the Director of Business Relations of Bene Leaves Limited, and they’re based in Columbus, Ohio. How are you doing today, Jay?
I’m doing great, bet many things for having me. How are you?
I am doing well.
It’s still really hot as we were just saying, the weather, super hot here in August, but we’re all looking forward to the fall.
So let’s dive in, let’s get to know you better, I would love to hear more about your background and your experience and what kind of things you were doing professionally before getting involved in the cannabis industry.
Sure, actually I spent most of my adult life in the corporate world through restaurants and finance. I was always trying to be they were always trying to put me in a box or fit me in on lane, which was something I wasn’t very good at and I found myself gravitating towards more of the philanthropy community outreach in volunteerism, everywhere I went, and I set up that through a couple of different companies I worked for, so that’s basically what I did. They were standard corporate jobs. Don’t really get to do, but I was always like, “Hey I’m not really satisfied doing this. Why don’t we start stocking shelves at the food bank or doing some social equity programs and things like that.
Okay, right, so you were already an employee at these companies, and you wanted to start these new programs, corporate philanthropy programs while you were there sort of taking on another side project is that right?
Yeah, I just wasn’t satisfied in the banking industry, it’s not really fun to work in, as far as personal satisfaction. And I just wasn’t interested in it was just always looking to do something different, that kind still in that void that I wasn’t getting.
Yeah, I’m sure it’s probably a cut-throat work culture, and very regimented and not a lot of flexibility in that kind of environment. I imagine.
Sure, absolutely, you can be replaced, the next day you become a number in companies are always looking at the bottom line and unfortunately, people are the class of that, so not really putting people before profits, I suppose.
Absolutely, got it, so yeah. So it sounds like you’ve got a bigger heart than the banking industry can handle, which is a good thing. That’s a nice right.
So what is the reason you got passionate about cannabis industry, and then chose to get involved and how did that shift happen?
So cannabis actually I can credit it with saving my life. I remember 25 years ago when I first got out of high school, I kinda just popped around on the festival circuit, when the Dead shows, things like that. And I remember being specifically true story, being in a … with a guy named magic and go on right right, and he was at what we call now a wake, and he was… It’s just telling me all the medicinal properties of cannabis. And you’re like, “Sure, pass it over here” I’m I’m cured, so most of my adult life up until I was 38, I was a functioning alcoholic and addict, and I still did well at work and I showed up on time, things like that, most of the time and after I got clean, my doctor because of some Oster arthritis in my knees and some other medical conditions, put me back around opioids.
So yeah, my doctor had me on opioids and I actually took a leave from the financial institution I was working at, and when I found myself counting down the minutes to my next Percocet, I knew where this was going.
Yeah, essentially, and I went into my doctor and I just said, “Hey I’m done, I’m done, I just get a… A right and well, do you want me to start ready? A less powerful prescription to kinda step you down, I said, “Now I’m going full turkey.
He said What’s gonna be a miserable five days so good luck with that, The… So I had some cannabis at home obtained legally of course, and started doing… Honestly, when you’re in the throws with drum, you’re thinking about a lot of things I’m like, “Hey Magic. That guy in the tens, this workshop.
So I got through my withdraws with cannabis and then started using it regularly, but I didn’t like smoking it, so I went off the prescriptions cold cure. My doctor said this is gonna be a miserable five days. And as a men withdraw from being on it for almost a year.
I remember that guy magic, it sounds corny but I did, and the thing is I really didn’t like smoking flower, so I talked to my aunt and uncle who were both chefs CIA grad, and accomplished and I… We can extract this stuff with coconut oil and make it into some honey or something just more palatable.
And it worked, and I went off of 11 prescription medications.
And I went back into my doctor like six months later. And the first thing I reception is said was You look phenomenal and she said, “What are you doing? And I said, cannabis, and she’s like, Good for you. And had a very honest conversation with my doctor, we… So I never looked back at the bank, I quit, didn’t go back and we started talking as a team. My aunt has rumored arthritis, the medicine she was on… was gonna cause blindness.
My uncle, his sister died of pancreatic cancer and palliative care was such an unbelievably miserable experience for her before she lost her battle. That we just kind of collectively said there has to be a better way and we have to get involved and I, we just had that moment of…
Yeah, we’re doing the right thing and that’s how we started.
Well, wow, what a story. Yeah, that’s great to… So you’re kind of a family-owned business is that true?
We are, it’s a great story. My aunt, my uncle, when I started it, and we teamed up with two brothers who have been a family friend for 30 plus years, and we’ve just built this amazing team here at Ben ales that really believe in us, the two families that started this and really believe in what we’re doing as a company.
Awesome, so before we hop on a commercial break to tell me again a little bit more about Beale. You’re in Columbus, Ohio. Do you have a store front? And what’s your company looking like?
We are processors.
Okay, and we’re in close I like you said, we go to market in about three weeks, we’ve been working on this for three years and we can talk a little bit about that later, but we are approaching this from a little bit of different… We’re approaching this from taste first, and there’s some great products in the market, but nothing that we’ve been 100% satisfied not to knock any competition, because we love the other people in this industry, but we really wanna stand apart with our flavor profiles.
Got it, got it, great, cool, well we are going to jump to that commercial break I mentioned, and then we’re gonna come back and chat more with J. Jones from Bene leaves limited stay
Alright, we’re back on NCIS, cannabis industry voice on cannabis radio, talking with Jay Jones from Bene Leaves Limited in Columbus, Ohio, speaking of Ohio, I understand you have experience working in multiple states, you’ve worked in the industry in Colorado and in Michigan, and now in Ohio, of course. Let’s talk a little bit about what’s going on in each of those states and what your experiences were and maybe the similarities or differences between them.
Sure, absolutely, the great thing about working in those three states, is it’s like a slow timeline, into the future. from Ohio to Michigan, to Colorado in Colorado, no one bats and I at the cannabis industry.
I’m sure there are some people that, but they’re on a…
I teased news right, to get over it. And Michigan with Michigan passing Prop 1 last year there right where Colorado, was years ago and now Ohio were lagging a little bit behind. And you just think it’s from lack of education people really still think that cannabis is the Bookman in the gateway drug, which is just so, unfounded I’m sure as you know, in Colorado where teen use has gone down, property values have gone up crime has gone down to… I don’t need to preach fire, but if they could just see that the normalization of the industry and that we’re all wearing suits and ties or some time that’s…
We have … right now we put them here in a lot down in… Yeah, so it’s really been an unbelievable learning experience for me to bring back to the team here, mentally is just from working in those states, and just seeing the amazing people that are really moving this industry forward for states like Ohio, that’s lagging a little behind.
Yeah, yeah, got it. Well, we’re written for Ohio and of course we were thrilled about Michigan passing and every year we just see more and more progress, across the map. So, slow but steady will win the race in some cases, so absolutely I…
Yeah, Ohio is definitely going a little slow, as far as moving toward full adult use legalization there. Let’s talk more about some of the challenges and frustrations you’re seeing there and why you think it’s been such a struggle to get laws moving and get change the hearts and minds and educate people in that state. What is unique about Ohio that it’s resisting …, most people know ravaged by the opioid epidemic just decimated if you go down into the Apaches down south, there’s zombies walking down the street. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that.
So a lot of the arguments that we’ve heard have been… We don’t need another drug here. It’s a gateway drug, now, that we hired old tropes that you’ve heard time time again, okay. Well, there’s great people that are using cannabis as an ex-drug in Michigan and La and aren’t looking at this as an economic advantage, and they aren’t looking at those statistics that we’re seeing in legalized states, they’re not seeing it as plant medicine, they’re seeing it as a drug.
Alright, got it, yeah. Well, I did publish a white paper, one of our early white papers a few years ago on the opioid crisis and how it actually does serve as an exit drug, rather than a gateway drug for a lot of people that are looking to reduce or eliminate their opioid use to prevent addiction, or death in a lot of cases, and for people that wanna check that white paper out the line, the WWW the cannabis industry, dot org, cannabis and opioids. Check that one out.
You have a personal story. So for me to ask you what your thoughts are, I can almost predict what you’re going to say, but yeah let’s talk about using cannabis as an exit drug, or as a healing plant instead of opioids.
Well, you know, it’s funny ’cause I’m also a member of alcoholics anonymous and I go to meetings regularly, and for… Gosh, the first year and a half that we were in this industry, I was I hit what I was doing, everyone knew I still wasn’t I wasn’t at the bank anymore but knowing knew exactly what I was doing.
But these same people we’re perfectly fine taking the benzodiazepine or something like that, or a description because we trust our doctors and not that we shouldn’t but for me it works for me. And I didn’t have the cravings and things like that that I had for opioids or Methadone and really opened my eyes was after I had done all that on my own, going up to first to Michigan and walking or dispensary called Om of medicine which is owned by a fellow NCIA member Mark Passerini and he’s on our board of directors, is… And just seeing what they were doing with the University of Michigan in their pain study and working with Susie and it was, it was validating and yeah, I… When I finally went back to my AA meeting at the facility where I went to rehab the staff are for five years now, and I, they rushed me what I’ve been up to and I finally just came clean and said, “Listen we started medical cannabis company and I got hugs, I got thank yous. I keep, I get a mini-less, I see… And I mean, it’s awesome. I was so far. Yeah, and they get it. So, it’s stories like that and people like that that need to be the voice in a state like Ohio or Indiana, or Kentucky to combat that fear.
Yeah, yeah, I got it.
Cool, wow. Well, there’s still a lot of work to do, but I think the message is getting out there to people that cannabis is safer than opioids and even alcohol.
Absolutely, yeah. So I switch gears here a little bit. You went to our lobby days with us this year in May, it was our ninth annual, lobby days I believe we had over 300-350 NCIA members join us in the halls of Congress this year. And you also got to talk about your personal experience with cannabis and opioids and the story you just shared with me and our listeners, you got to share with members of Congress and their staff, how did that go?
So, lobby days was, I would say, one of the most fulfilling experiences we’ve had so far in the industry, we had heard about it first at the Midwest cannabis caucus two years ago, Michelle rudder with NCIA had quartered me. I shared my story, and she’s like… You have to go to lab days, you have to go and I’m like, Alright, alright, she’s like you, share your story. And for the past years obviously not having income we just couldn’t justify it, but this year we said, we gotta do it. And myself had Allen back our CEO, and Bill Williams or Director of Sales all went down, we did the Vito and… Gosh, was it rewarding? It was just such a need experience to be there with other members in the industry and lawmakers not in-network and capacity. No one was trying to sell you anything. We were just all together as one group.
The involvement that you guys got with lawmakers like Katie, Porter and of course Ed Perlmutter and I think Charlie Chris came to one of our events, didn’t think “Oh I think, gosh, we had 15 members of Congress come through our events after all was said and done. It was fantastic, showing… Yeah, it was just great. And my group, we got two people to change their votes. Joy spay and Bob Gibbs in Ohio.
Excellent, excellent work. Oh, a more high fives cool, yes. Well, I hope to see you again next year for a 10 annual cannabis industry lobby days and any other “ncia members listening please join us next year in DC. And you heard from J. himself? It was one of the most fulfilling experiences in the industry.
We’re gonna hop and take a commercial break, but we will be right back to talk more with J. Jones of Bene leaves limited stay
Alright, we’re back on NCIA’s cannabis industry voice on cannabis radio. I’m your host, Bethany and we’re speaking with Jay Jones of Bene Leaves Limited based in Columbus, Ohio and we’re just wrapping up our talk here, today, thank you again for sharing your story about your personal experience with opioids and alcohol and using this wonderful cannabis plant to become more healthy. So thanks again for sharing that.
Coming to lobby days, that’s amazing. It is a big deal to go to DC and it’s long days walking around the hill but it is, it’s a fantastic experience and I truly enjoy it. It’s one of the best events that NCIA does throughout the year. And like you said, it’s not a networking event, really it is, but I mean a… But yeah, you’re there to do something, you’re there to effect change, you’re there to change a couple votes which could mean the passing of something. So thank you so much.
What made your company decide to join NCIAa? And how old are you enjoying your membership? So initially when we formed the company we started, we just kinda Googled trade organizations and we found NCIA and just went through pore through your website and just saw the benefit of it and we joined because we were little guys, and we’re still little guys, and we didn’t have a voice.
And I can’t tell you through the events how great a resource, NCIA is. Everyone picks up the phone. If you have a question from John in to you or Michelle, I’m friends with Aaron on Facebook. Now, how cool is that?
That’s awesome, so I can… I just give one a bit of advice for lobby days yeah, so there’s a little tram subway under the capital and do not attempt to take that unless you’re with a member of Congress on the day.
Oh, they don’t like that, do they?
On Tuesday, we had a member of Congress with our team, and I forget his name, he’s on the NCIA larger team and we just hop on this and to it. So the next day I was with my group, and I was like, “I know this shortcut” and I go walking through just all confident. And these guys that are armed very well came. Just what are you doing? You can’t go in here.
And I was like, What I took it yesterday and the Congress only, and I was like, Oh, sorry. So we ended up walking 12 miles out of our way because of it.
No, it’s okay. I think I remember hearing about that story. I think Khurshid who’s on our board of directors also had an opportunity to take the Congressional train. It makes you feel a little special. I personally have never gotten to take the train, but yeah, that’s cool. I don’t know, just another side note, there’s these little boxes around some of the buildings that there’s a plaque on them that says their escape patches and these things are like no bigger than a small book shelf and you’re like, what their escape hatches or something, right?
They’re so weird… Anyway, DC is such a weird old place with a lot of weird history are… So, we only have about a minute a year before we have to wrap up, but yeah, thanks again for coming to lobby days and it was great to see you at the cannabis business Summit last month in San Jose as well, and thanks for hopping on camera with me as well to give a testimonial and then I hope people are ready to attend our industry socials in our Heartland tour this month in August although the month is almost out, but there’s other events, there’s the California cannabis business conference October 8, and ninth in California. And if you get your tickets before August 31st, its early bird prices right now, it’s half basically, from the price of the door.
So definitely check that out. At California cannabis business conference come, “Oh yes. And then our cannabis caucus event series as well continues throughout the end of the year. So there’s lots of opportunities, whether it’s an evening networking reception or a two, three-day full on conference to get involved in NCIA’s events and meet other NCIA members and industry professionals.
So looking forward to all these events throughout the rest of the year as we’re wrapping up our summer vacations here in August. So where can people find out more about Bene Leaves Limited?
Sure, you can go to Bene Leaves dot com, that’s B-E-N-E-L-E-A-V-E-S, dot com. We will pending approval will be up on the usual social media sites for the industry, and you can always find us at the mid-west cannabis caucus or lobby day next year, ….
Nice, nice, great. Okay, Well Jay, thank you again for being on the show and for sharing your story. It’s very inspiring and we’re glad to have you in the industry. Thanks for your membership and thanks to everybody who tuned in to this episode of NCIA’s cannabis industry voice until next time.