Flora & Forge, National Hispanic Cannabis Council

Q&A Session with the National Hispanic Cannabis Council

Question 1: Can you give me a little background about yourself?

Answer 1: I’m the founder and CEO of Flora & Forge, an Industrial manufacturer and distributor of Cannabis and Hemp ingredients, as well as finished products. Flora & Forge’s main manufacturing facility is in Orlando, FL and recently launched a lab in San Francisco, CA.

Prior to Flora and Forge, I founded and was the Chairman & CEO of Cansortium Inc. / FLUENT, a vertically integrated publicly-traded medical cannabis company (CSE: TIUM-U.CN, OTC: CNTMF).

I’m part of the inaugural executive committee of the NHCC and began the council with the vision to improve equity and diversity in the cannabis industry.

Question 2: What skills or qualities do you think are required to succeed in this industry?

Answer 2: The required skill set has changed drastically over the course of the last 10 years. Early on the industry was relatively new as far as selling, growing, retail, etc., whereas now you need to know exactly what you are doing.

I have a very decentralized way of looking at the business. Local businesses have always been important to us. You want to be sure that if you are coming into a new market, you are respecting the people who have laid the groundwork. I believe the industry and local economies will both do a lot better if there is greater interaction and collaboration

Question 3: How do you see Hispanics and other minorities participating in new markets such as Florida? How could the NHCC improve Hispanic participation in the cannabis industry?

Answer 3: Florida is a large and diverse state. We do have a very large Hispanic population in Florida, yet this Hispanic population, to a large degree, has not participated in the cannabis space. In terms of the application process, one thing I have proposed is for the NHCC to aid those who want to apply and possibly establish a voice in Tallahassee to ensure that minority businesses are considered.

We have the best cannabis law firm in the country as well as some real expertise and pioneers of the industry within the NHCC. We can help people avoid the many pitfalls of getting started in legal cannabis.

We see this increasing as we go forward because as cannabis becomes more deregulated and more normalized, we want to get more participation as the industry continues to grow. This will create pathways for more Latinos as time goes on.

Question 4: How do you see financing play a role in the success of businesses in this industry? Do you think that minorities who obtain social equity licenses will struggle with raising capital?

Answer 4: This is a very cash-intensive industry. All applicants should satisfy the financial component that these applications have. This means that the business will still need significant investment. The vast majority of businesses that don’t make it in this industry fail because they grossly underestimate the amount of cash that is necessary. 

Question 5: What is your opinion on some of the social equity grant programs around the country? Could they address this need for financing?

Answer 5: Social equity programs are great, and whether these programs provide financial assistance or not, if the founders have done their homework finding financial partners should not be an issue.

A lot of states have already made it clear that minority participation is important, so it is naturally a great match. Whatever social equity or state programs are available,  the NHCC can help entrepreneurs navigate the complex systems and be competitive enough to submit an application and possibly get licensed.

Question 6: What kind of progress would you like to see the NHCC make in the next five years? 

Answer 6: In five years the NHCC will have helped tremendously to educate people about the benefits of cannabis.

The NHCC will aid in making the industry an integrated ecosystem of people helping each other. We will inspire similar organizations around the world to make sure this vision continues moving forward.

Question 7: How do you see the cannabis movement taking hold in other countries, particularly in South and Central America?

Answer 7: The movement is real and well on its way in central and south America, it will take some time for it to gain the momentum and the traction that we have here in the US, but it is well on its way. 

Question 8: What is some advice that you would give to aspiring Latino entrepreneurs in this industry?

Answer 8: The first thing anyone needs to do is vet anyone they come in contact with. Make sure you ask for references and complete due diligence before building business relationships. 

There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into it, but it is the most beautiful industry with the most amazing plant that’s transforming humanity.