For episode 1 of the Professionally Cannabis Podcast, the hosts welcomed Jesse McConnell, CEO of cannabis cultivators, Rubicon Organics, who spoke about the benefits of organic production, the importance of employee selection and his Grandma’s strawberry jam!
When asked what took him to the plant, he acknowledged his answer was one that most people in the medicinal cannabis industry like to give – having an ill relative that was significantly helped by their usage of cannabis. For Jesse, this was a reality:
“For me it was my father; he contracted the neurological disease ALS and found that the use of cannabis significantly helped him. So that certainly helped to continue to drive my passion for the plant and industry, but even before this I used it myself both for managing pain and anxiety, and recreationally here in Canada where its legal as a nice way to unwind.”
However, starting when the industry was much less accepted was difficult, because expansion opportunities remained quite limited. As the commercially regulated industry started to become more established, it allowed for both a much wider audience and a much more sophisticated organisation. 10 states had legalised medical use since 2016, and corporate and institutional opinion has changed drastically but as Jesse says in the Professionally Cannabis podcast, “you can imagine asking an American financial institution in 2012 for money to grow cannabis. They thought you were crazy!”
The Rubicon Organics CEO went on to say how he believed that having the right team behind you is key. It’s especially important to have people you can rely on in a rapidly developing industry because they must be flexible and willing to put the time in. With so much change and risk involved, as well as revolving around a number of social issues, Jesse said “it wasn’t just about finding professional people with good looking CV’s; it was about making sure we had people who weren’t stuffy and boring.”
Jesse McConnell was one of the first industry leaders to be open about his recreational usage of cannabis. His personal enjoyment of it spurs the companies focus on quality and commits to doing it organically and on a large scale. He relates it to an analogy of his Grandma’s strawberry jam: “Like yeah, you can go to the store and buy mass produced strawberry jam, but your Grandma’s effort and high quality preserves are always going to be much better. You get different levels of quality in organic cannabis in the same way.”