Martha Stewart offers business advice to cannabis industry leaders

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Food and lifestyles guru Martha Stewart says the recipe for success she has followed throughout her career also applies to cannabis companies — offer quality products at fair prices.

“My approach has always been make the best product at the best price and distribute it as widely as possible. That’s why when I started my business … I started at Kmart, that old, wonderful store,” Stewart told about 650 cannabis industry leaders Tuesday at the World Cannabis Congress in Saint John, N.B.

“I think it’s always about the best for the fairest price. There is a fair price for everything.”

In February, Stewart joined Ontario-based Canopy Growth Corp. in an advisory role to help develop a new line of products.

The company said it would use Stewart’s knowledge of consumer products while exploring the effectiveness of hemp-derived CBD and other cannabinoids as they relate to both humans and pets.

“What we’re trying to do together is, in the U.S. and in Canada and other markets, we’re going to the basics of getting hemp-derived CBD,” said Canopy chairman Bruce Linton, who appeared onstage with Stewart. “And then we’re looking at how do we put this in products that will assist dogs first in either having diminished anxiety or better mobility.”

Stewart was quick to say that cats shouldn’t be ignored. “I have cats that could really use some,” she quipped.

Stewart said she never smoked cannabis growing up but has been trying some of the new products, such as skin creams. She wants the next focus to be food.

“Martha Stewart Living has 35,000 recipes. Those can be adapted with the use of cannabis or CBD,” she said.

Stewart said she was introduced to Canopy Growth by Snoop Dogg, a noted marijuana aficionado. Her ties to the rapper go back to at least 2015, when she baked brownies on “The Martha Stewart Show” with him and hinted that he could add some weed to the recipe. The crowd in Saint John roared with laughter when Stewart said Snoop Dogg is always high.

Linton wouldn’t say when the company will have the new Stewart-inspired products ready, but when pressed said the date is still a few months away.

Stewart took a number of questions from the crowd, including from one man who asked what needs to be done in the United States to deal with the number of people in prison for minor drug infractions.

“America has more people incarcerated than pretty much any other free country that we know of,” she said. “It is a sorry state and I do have firsthand experience,” she said, referring to her own 2004 conviction on felony charges of making false statements to federal investigators.

She was sentenced to serve a five-month term in a federal correctional facility.

The three-day World Cannabis Congress was organized by Civilized, an online magazine on cannabis culture. Its publisher, Derek Riedle, said a lot has happened since the first congress last June, when the industry was preparing for legalization in Canada.

“Now we’re charting a path forward, because this year there will be all kinds of strands of products that will be coming out — edibles and oils,” he said. “This is having an impact on the markets for cannabis and attitudes towards cannabis around the globe.”

Canadians looking to buy cannabis-infused brownies or lotions will find a “limited selection” in legal stores by mid-December at the earliest, the federal government says, but industry players expect the full rollout of next-generation pot products to come in 2020 or later.

Health Canada regulations governing the new classes of cannabis-infused goods, including topicals put on the skin and vaporizable concentrates will come into force on Oct. 17 — exactly one year since the legalization of recreational pot in Canada.

However, the agency noted that after the law takes effect, federal cannabis license holders must provide 60 days notice to the agency of their intent to sell new products.

Riedle said he expects that is when more Canadians will embrace cannabis culture.

“The majority of new customers — the ‘canna-curious’ — are looking for new delivery systems for cannabis. Elderly and new cannabis consumers don’t want to put smoke in their lungs. They are looking for edibles, they are looking for vapes, and topicals,” he said.

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