Becoming a cannabis business entrepreneur can be daunting, but thankfully industry expert Debby Goldsberry wrote the book on it. Idiot’s Guides: Starting & Running a Marijuana Business came out this summer.
Debby said she first got into the cannabis industry in 1986, when the War on Drugs was in full effect.
“There was a huge crackdown on marijuana. If you looked like a user, you could be hauled away. I tried it – it was relaxing, and then I knew I had been lied to by prohibitionists. The disconnect made no sense to me. The truth was that marijuana was helpful, and the laws were wrong,” she said.
With more than 25 years as a leader in the medical and adult use marijuana industry, Debby co-founded many of the industry’s top organizations, including the Berkeley Patients Group, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Medical Cannabis Safety Council (MCSC), and Cannabis Action Network (CAN).
She is a board member at California NORML, is a former board member of the Marijuana Policy Project, and teaches procurement and patient relations at Oaksterdam University. Goldsberry has been a staff writer at DOPE Magazine and High Times Medical Marijuana Magazine, and was a featured blogger at Smell the Truth.
She’s now the executive director of award-winning Magnolia Wellness in Oakland, CA. Cashinbis talked with Debby about her success in the industry, and why she decided to write the book on how to start a cannabis business.
What’s new for your business?
We took over the restaurant next door to Magnolia Wellness in Oakland, and got a license for a dab bar. We’ll be making fresh edibles, and we’ll have a marijuana-infused coffee bar with infused drinks. We’ll have a dabber at every table, and infused mocktails at the bar. Luckily, we’re in a city that’s enthusiastic about recreational marijuana, but people are being arrested [for using it] in the streets, and some can’t use it at home. We’ll have a soft launch October 28 with High Times Taste of Cannabis.
In Berkley, we’ve partnered with the guys who started Amoeba Music to combine two of the best things on the planet: music and marijuana. You can look forward to that in March 2018.
What makes Magnolia Wellness so successful?
1. Everyone I work with is a future leader; they’re always providing training and letting employees come up with the best ideas, and run with them.
2. Companies built on being a community make money.
What’s the key to having a community-based dispensary?
People in this industry tend to be creative, social and smart. We like to get together and do great work for the community.
Create a dispensary that is dedicated to having a free space for the community, where you can host classes and parties.
In our space we’ll have classes where we teach a different chapter of the book for 15 weeks. We also have the first Medical Marijuana Farmers’ Market, and other interactive programming.
The best cannabis is served by the nicest people, and staff that is kind and cares. We just won the Best of the Bay for dispensaries.
Why did you write this Idiot’s Guide?
I knew how difficult it was to start and run any company. This book is really to help our own people. For people I care about, who share the values of kindness and tolerance.
It’s so hard to get through starting a company – especially the early parts, like incorporating your company. Over the years I created a checklist. Oh, if I’d had that five years ago – you’re going to have to check 100 boxes.
Tell me about writing it.
I definitely reached out to my friends who were content experts. I went to people who knew about business plans and state and federal laws. This manual is the brainchild of the most talented people I could think of.
What do you think about the state of the industry?
There’s still work that needs to be done to end federal prohibition. There are still people who need to learn about our ethics, and cannabis as a medicine. If you can’t commit to ending federal prohibition, none of us will move forward.
We need to fight for a better situation.
We need to continue the cannabis advocacy and activism work being done to make sure this is a socially responsible, community-based industry.
What’s going to move us forward?
Proof of concepts – once America believes in the vision of cannabis as helpful.
With legalization could come an increase in cost – if that happens, it won’t accomplish our goal for patients having access to their medicine, so we need to push for reasonable taxation.