On Giving Back: In Conversation With Jetty Extracts
The Oakland-based extract brand waxes on about doing good and the future of California cannabis.
Cannabis brands sometimes get a bad rap. This is to be expected; after all, weed is a drug. And as a substance that qualifies for the chemical designation, using and distributing the herb and its derivative products is still not yet legal at the national level. As such, there are certainly some less-than-savory characters in the shadows (or on social media, as the case may be), and lots of gray––the war on drugs has left a huge wake behind it, and continues to make claims on the cannabis industry's future.
Still, despite any gray areas the marijuana business may occupy, a growing number of people working in the industry are making moves to better their local communities and should (at the very least) put a dent in the misinformed mainstream perspective.
"I think the industry as a whole does a pretty good job of giving back considering the hurdles we face," Matty Lee said to KINDLAND in an email.
Lee is the co-founder of Oakland, California-based Jetty Extracts. KINDLAND reached out to learn more about his concentrate brand's social initiative, The Shelter Project, which provides cannabis oil free-of-charge for cancer patients in the Golden State.
KINDLAND: So, tell us about the Shelter Project.
Matt Lee/Jetty Extracts: The Shelter Project is a program we started a few years ago that provides free, lab-tested cannabis oil to cancer patients throughout California who want to incorporate cannabis into their treatment plan.
"We sort of traded in the magazine ads for The Shelter Project, which is a lot more rewarding."
KINDLAND: How did the idea come about?
Matty Lee/Jetty Extracts: The idea actually came about on a surf trip to Costa Rica. We had already been giving oil to friends and family with different ailments who all seemed to really benefit from it. I started thinking about the possibility of doing it on a larger scale, so one day after a surf, I walked back to our cabana and started hashing (no pun intended) out the numbers and writing a business plan. I found that the money we saved by not including any packaging or distribution fees made it economically viable, and if you look at it like a marketing cost, it really made sense. We sort of traded in the magazine ads for The Shelter Project, which is a lot more rewarding. The response we have received from the patients, community, and cannabis industry has been great. People like supporting companies that give back, whether that be people who buy your product or the people who work for your company. That success has allowed us to grow and bring more awareness to the program. I think we have around 400 patients who are signed up now.
KINDLAND: Can you provide a bit of context as to the science behind infused suppositories and how they might differ from other methods of cannabis consumption?
Matt Lee/Jetty Extacts: We are not doctors but “research suggests” that the endocannabinoid system in the body consists of cannabinoid receptor sites located on every major organ of the body. When cannabis is ingested via the suppository method, there is little to no psychoactive effect even when using high-THC suppositories. It's thought that the endocannabinoid receptors in the lower portion of the body absorb the active cannabinoids before they reach the brain which causes a medicinal effect that is felt only in the body, keeping the mind clear and functional.
"California owes it to itself to do this right."
KINDLAND: Do you work with any other brands on the Shelter Project?
Matt Lee/Jetty Extacts: We have been approached by different brands several times looking for ways they can help. We haven't really found the best way to deal with the logistics or utilize this yet, but we are working on it. We would love for it to not only benefit the patients but also the industry by encouraging collaboration over competition. We do work with a handful of dispensaries and growers when trying to source specific CBD ratio strains for patients and that has been enormously helpful.
KINDLAND: What can the cannabis industry do to better itself and give back more to the community?
Matt Lee/Jetty Extacts: I think the industry is dealing with some understandable growing pains at the moment––consistency in lab testing being one of them. When one lab says a sample failed pesticide and another lab says it passed, it makes it hard to really know what you’re putting on the market. I think the industry as a whole does a pretty good job of giving back considering the hurdles we face. High local and state taxes, no access to banking, and IRS code 280E––which doesn't allow us the same basic tax deductions that all other industries in the country enjoy––make it difficult to turn a profit. If there is no profit, it's pretty hard to give back. In time, hopefully we can overcome some of these issues, which could free companies up to do more for their communities.
KINDLAND: What is the most pressing issue the industry faces?
Matt Lee/Jetty Extacts: I think being regulated to death. California has generations of cannabis history and a huge existing population of pioneers who have taken a lot of risk getting the industry to where it is today. These people, most of whom are small business or family cultivations deserve a place to operate in the legal market, which was built on their backs. If the state decides to start issuing permits before it has fleshed out all the details, there will be constant changes in requirements, which is financially crushing to a business. There are only so many storms a company can weather before going bankrupt, and unfortunately, it's the small ones that will go first––the very ones the AUMA (Adult Use of Marijuana Act) is supposed to protect––leaving only the well-funded, out-of-state companies moving in that have the time and resources to make it through. California owes it to itself to do this right.