Steven Siegel: Track Your Cannabis

Steve Siegel of Track THC

Dr. Steven Siegel, Co-founder of BioTrackTHC

Dr. Steven Siegel of BioTrackTHC has spent the better part of his career inventing technologies to track dangerous drugs, like Oxycontin, and putting regulatory systems in place. Five years ago, he noticed that the budding cannabis market was seeing an influx of business professionals, MBAs, lawyers and doctors, so he decided to see what the industry was all about. Steven and his partner TJ Ferraro noticed the industry needed a strong regulatory compliance traceability system and the idea for BioTrackTHC was born. BioTrackTHC is the most comprehensive seed to sale solution in the cannabis marketplace and has won numerous state recreational and medical contracts throughout the United States. We recently ‘track’ed down Steven so he could share his ‘Bio’ with us.

What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?

The deciding factor was actually a combination of two things, the medicinal qualities of cannabis and the fact that cannabis was everywhere anyway. People are smoking cannabis and utilizing it in various other forms. It is different from other drugs that might occupy the laboratory more frequently than the streets. Because of this, cannabis is not falling under regulatory control to protect the consumers. I took issue with this and, since I have the professional background to impact this very problem, I decided to enter the space to contribute all I could to help. We can help the people who need cannabis make sure that it is properly tested for pesticides, mites and other harmful substances that shouldn’t be in your medicine. Furthermore, we can vet the quality and prove that this is a good, solid, medicinal product that can help their children. That was the deciding factor to me.

The worst thing a company with market leadership can do is get comfortable.

What were you doing before the industry? Specifically, before you started this business?

I was the owner of multiple medical centers and inventing technology to track more dangerous drugs like Oxycontin and pseudoephedrine – a technology called BioScriptRX.

When did you first realize the green rush was underway?

I would say roughly five years ago, when I saw the growth pattern in Colorado. I started seeing MBAs, lawyers, and doctors buying dispensaries and entering the industry themselves. Also, the media went from reporting negatively on cannabis to reporting with a more positive spin on medicinal cannabis applications. For example, Sanjay Gupta MD reversed his opinion after interviewing a child and a family that needed CBDs to treat seizures. That was a pivotal point. I started seeing media take a look at this and that’s when I realized that cannabis was the market I wanted to put a lot of energy and focus into.

Where are you guiding your passion and energy towards right now?

I’m guiding my energy towards the cannabis industry as a whole. BioTrackTHC in a very unique position, a very hard position, but we’re respected on both sides. We’re respected as a government contractor for transparency, regulatory, and compliance for cannabis. However, we are also respected on the industry side because we protect their license and their entity from laboratory testing and employee theft. We allow the owner to run their entire enterprise system more efficiently. From knowing what your profit margins are to how long the customer’s been waiting, we analyze that information to set you up for success. The worst thing a company with market leadership can do is get comfortable. You have to stay ahead of the game and we are working to help businesses does just that.

We are constantly enhancing both the enterprise system and the government system at the same time. I spend a lot of my day speaking to people in the industry, trying to hear what this industry needs. Not what they need now, but next year and the following year. Currently I’m developing new technologies to enhance the current technologies we already have. For instance, right now there is no safe platform available for cultivators to be able to sell their cannabis to dispensaries.

Recently, the media reported on a grower who had a lot of cannabis in the state of Washington. Since he didn’t have a medium in which he could safely sell it, he rented a hotel auditorium and invited people to come out and bid on his cannabis. He was running it like an auction. He even ran an ad telling people there’s going to be a ton of cannabis at this specific address. The problem with that is you have no idea who will show up or even if they are licensed. Not only that but the concept in itself is not conducive to safety.

For the first time we are providing a legal platform where these people can communicate and conduct business without risking their lives or getting exposed to something they shouldn’t have.

To overcome that, we developed KushFair. KushFair is a technology that is going to be launched in the near future by our company. One of the main selling points is that only verified licensees can log onto it, as we remove all others who are unlicensed (drug cartels for example). The licensed cultivator then has his cannabis laboratory tested. On KushFair, within the BioTrackTHC technology, he clicks on a link and inputs a number of categorical figures (laboratory testing results, amount of cannabis available, type of cannabis strain and all other info associated with testing). Only when this is done can he then allow the public to bid on it. And of course by public, I mean licensed dispensaries.

For the first time we are providing a legal platform where these people can communicate and conduct business without risking their lives or getting exposed to something they shouldn’t have.

Another technology that we’re going to release in the near future is iKush.com. iKush is like Yelp, if you will, for cannabis. Consumers can log on to one of our accounts on BiotrackTHC and, in real time, they can know how far the dispensary is, what their product is and even make a preorder. Maybe you’ve got a sick child who needs a certain strain. You can log on to ikush.com, find a dispensary, know how far it is, know what their inventory is (in real time to the gram), and you can even pre-order. That way, even if you can’t get off work for example, you can have everything figured out by the time you get off. That way you can get home faster and provide that medicine your family may need. iKush, at its core, is simply going to provide safer access to this medication.

Could you describe to me your work ethic in one word?

Passion.

Who is a person that you would consider a role model?  How have they impacted your life?

I can think of three people that stand out to me, not as mentors, but rather personal heroes. These are people I model myself after:

Randy Simmons. Randy is the Deputy Director of the Liquor Board in the state of Washington. I got to watch, first hand, the battles that he had to put up with, and the passion that he had for these people that need this medicine. He risked everything he had, his career, everything, to fight for people and pass a schematic that worked. That inspires me. Whenever I have a tough day, I turn around and I think of him.

I’m all in on this company.

I admire Representative Singer and Senator Hill, both out of Colorado, for the same exact reason. These people risked their political careers and put it all on the line. That resonates with me because I come to work everyday and I risk everything. I’m all in on this company. Whenever things get tough, I think of these three people and how they risked their whole career for something they believe in. It never fails to re-inspire me, re-motivate me, and provide me the strength to continue the passion that drives this company.

How about a book that’s inspired you? Do you read a lot? What would you recommend to our readers?

I read a good amount of books about either success or struggle. My favorite book would be the one on Facebook. They had to fight and fight, all the while resisting the urge to give up. They have an incredible success story as a result of their stubbornness to keep on keeping on. This example directly relates to the cannabis industry. It’s tough. If you are a quitter or someone who doesn’t stick to their guns then don’t ever try this industry. You have to be willing to operate in the danger zone and believe in yourself at all times, even if you are wondering if you will simply make enough money to keep the lights on at home.

If you are a quitter or someone who doesn’t stick to their guns then don’t ever try this industry.

These books serve as a tool for me to remind me that when the going gets rough, stay in the game and fight forward. If they can go through all these struggles and come out the other side then I can do it with my team. I’m very lucky to have a wonderful team of people working with me.

What do you think is your proudest professional achievement of yours?

I’m proud of my career path. It has always been about people and not about money. If you look at my past, everything I’ve done has been to help people (tracking Oxycontin and more dangerous drugs). I’ve been in medicine a lot of my life and now I’m trying to make cannabis and CBDs more available for patients that need it.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received from someone else?

If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Join the ranks: Are you a CEO, entrepreneur or someone in the cannabis industry who's making an impact? We'd like to hear your story!

What do you think is most important for the general public to know about the legal cannabis industry?

Without trying to sound self-fulfilling, but not enough people out in the general public are aware of what BioTrackTHC, as well as myself, are doing to impact the industry. The general public doesn’t know that, in a lot of cases, cannabis is tracked in real time, even more than alcohol and tobacco combined. I believe that if people out there, especially those who are on the cusp of deciding whether they’re for or against cannabis, understood that cannabis is tracked more heavily than alcohol and tobacco combined, and that states have already passed tracking systems, they would go ahead and realize this is not a party.

This is not about just enjoying life and being able to get high. This is a real product, that, just like alcohol and tobacco is, that is heavily tracked. I think that the public needs to be aware of this, because what we do is not sexy and the media doesn’t really cover it. They need to know that cannabis is treated just like any other dangerous drug out there, like Oxycontin for example. Even though it is certainly not as dangerous as Oxycontin, it’s more tracked than Oxycontin is. The public needs to be aware of that.

I believe that you’re going to see more states pass cannabis legalization bills in 2016 than ever before.

If we’re sitting across each other, a year from now, how do you think our conversation about the green rush will be going?

I believe that you’re going to see more states pass cannabis legalization bills in 2016 than ever before. It’s going to be an incredible, incredible year for the industry as a whole.

Also, you’re going to see something that’s already starting to take place right now, and that’s the rise of big business in cannabis. For instance, LivWell, in Colorado, is probably the biggest grow house I have seen, roughly the size of four city blocks. Also indicative of this trend is Medicine Man in Denver, a large and impressive grow and dispensary. What you’re going to see in a year from now is a lot of smaller operations being bought up. You’re going to see the Costco’s of cannabis taking their place. The industry is undoubtedly going to get bigger.

When these states start passing through legislation next November, that’s when you’re going to start seeing large companies like Oracle, and other companies, crossing the line and getting into cannabis. More than three quarters of this country will probably have legal cannabis.

Also, I’d be convincing you to invest in our IPO.

What would you say scares you most about the industry?

My concern is that big industry is going to get involved, and that passion is going to be lost in profits.

What scares me the most is what I mentioned in my last answer. I worry about big industry and big companies entering the cannabis industry because they don’t have the same passion as the people in the industry. This industry has so much passion. The people I deal with every day and the people I talk to every day, they’re all heroes. They care so much about their customers. They care about their product. They care about the legislation in their state. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. My concern is that big industry is going to get involved, and that passion is going to be lost in profits.

If you could tell a skeptic one thing about the cannabis industry that you think would change their mind, what do you think that thing would be?

I’m asked this question quite often by both political figures and citizens. My answer is always the same. I tell them, “Look around you right now. There’s already cannabis everywhere. Whether this is legal or not is not going to stop the amount of cannabis. The unfortunate truth is that laboratories do not test most cannabis. It may have mites or it could be overdosed in pesticides. It could be hurting people. Because it’s here anyway, let’s go ahead and legalize it. Let’s be proactive and tax it. Then we can use that money to help schools and communities. Furthermore, let’s make sure the consumers of it have something safe that they can give to their children medicinally or utilize them themselves. People need safe access to something that’s not going to hurt them or kill them, because it’s here anyway. Look in your own back yard.”

What is the one thing you wish you would have known before entering the cannabis industry?

I wish I would have known the difficulty surrounding raising capital. Not everyone is who they claim to be and you truly need to vet out people prior to meeting them and establishing a working relationship. I tend to be a person that looks at people on face value and I wasted two years of my life chasing this dream because I got involved with the wrong people.

However, I took this experience and turned it into a positive, so that others who come after me might be able to avoid this same pitfall. I started KushFair and iKush, in addition to investing in the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, with the idea being that we can vet people in the industry and weed out the riff raff. The purpose of the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce is to provide a safe environment for the industry. Every member of the Cannabis Chamber of Commerce has been vetted out. Their finances have been looked at, they are insured, and they have been in business for X amount of time. Now the industry has one platform that they can go to with the piece of mind that every member of the Cannabis Chamber of Commerce has been vetted out. The likelihood of them being in business in 5 years is very strong.

Not everyone is who they claim to be and you truly need to vet out people prior to meeting them and establishing a working relationship.

Anything else you would like to add in for our readers?

BioTrackTHC would not be the company we are, leading in both the technology and marijuana sector, without the passion of the entire company. Currently we have about fifty-six employees. My idea of success isn’t what I have in the bank. When your employees look forward to coming in to work, they pull into the parking lot and they’re excited, that’s success. It’s not about my founding partner or me, it’s about the company as a whole and the passion and love that my staff has for this company. That love and passion has been the foundation for BioTrackTHC to become the multi-industry leading company we are today.

What is the one thing you wish you had known about business when you were younger? How about the best advice you have ever received. Join the conversation and comment below!

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