Cannabis – ‘it’s a good thing!’ That's the message that Martha Stewart shared during the closing keynote address at the 2019 World Cannabis Congress in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
Martha was joined on the WCC stage by Derek Riedle, CEO and publisher of Civilized, and Bruce Linton, founder, chairman and co-CEO of the Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth. The conversation ranged from Martha’s childhood to her partnership with Canopy Growth - a deal that came together after Stewart was introduced to Linton through her good friend and frequent collaborator Snoop Dogg.
“I met Snoop years ago, he was on my show a few times and he’s such a pleasant guest. Always high,” Stewart told the packed crowd at the WCC. “We sort of talked about the industry. He has a lot of stuff going on in this industry and he introduced me to Bruce.”
Although Snoop helped introduce Martha to the cannabis industry, she had been exposed to cannabis itself when she was younger via one of her three brothers, who may have paid his way through school with a little help from marijuana. Martha told the packed crowd at the WCC that her brother dabbled in growing some plants, and she “think[s] he paid for his college education with the proceeds from that growth.”
When Martha was first in talks with Canopy Growth, they didn’t really know how this unconventional deal would take shape.
“Normally, celebrities want their own strain and to sign on for five years so they can move on to something else," Linton said. "This isn’t a good model and wasn’t what we were getting with Martha. She’s really involved in creating and bringing quality product, [and] we had to find a way to bring her on with equity and make it more of a partnership without being reckless to her brand.”
"It wasn’t something I entered into lightly," Martha shared. "I tried to learn a lot about the industry before joining."
Her interest was piqued after she founded two medical clinics for seniors, which will be in high demand in the years ahead.
“By 2029, we will have more people over the age of 65 than under 65 in the U.S.”
Many of those patients will face difficult decisions about their treatment options, which often involve the sorts of medications that have led to the opioid crisis in America. After examining that situation, Stewart came to the conclusion that cannabis could be a huge win for seniors. Being on the advisory board for Canopy made sense and brought a different audience and demographic to the table. And it's opened the door to adding a cannabis twist on some of her classic dishes.
“Martha Stewart Living has 35,000 recipes," she noted. "Those can be adapted with the use of cannabis or CBD,” she said.
Here's a sampling of Martha’s best quotes from the address:
On her partnership with Snoop
"My partnership with Snoop is such a fun partnership, it’s not what anyone expects – he is teaching me and I am teaching him. It’s a cultural mix-up, and what we need with what’s going on in the US."
On women in business
"When I started my business, I wanted more than 60 percent female [employees], and that’s where we’ve always been. I also always insist my creative talent is treated as well financially as my business people."
"I have a personal motto – for women in business: baby, don’t cry. Buck up. If you build a good work ethic, you can get through the hard times."
On women and cannabis
"I always think of myself as every woman. I see my friends adopting – they are coming over and at their bedside there are these cute little gummy bears [edibles] and it’s not me providing them. I am shocked and pleased that people are adapting to it."
"There are more and more skincare, hair care and food lines that are being developed by women for women. And it’s not a surprise that we are seeing more of these products being infused with CBD."
On the stigma of cannabis and the impact on her business
"The research is interesting, intriguing and useful. As companies do more research and get quality information, some of the restrictions and barriers should be eliminated. There is negativity but there’s a real dialogue and we’re understanding more than ever before."
"No one has cancelled a subscription to my magazine because of my relationship with Snoop. Some partners looked askance when my connection to Canopy Growth was revealed, but now those same partners are selling CBD products in their stores."
On Elon Musk
"I have a Tesla but I had to sell the stock. He’s a brilliant inventor but someone needs to put a leash on him. He needs to stop it and get back to work." (In case you're wondering what she's talking about, here's a quick overview of Musk's questionable antics.)
On her influences
"I was lucky, I grew up seeing Bill Gates, Steve Jobs – one of my boyfriends was the man who wrote Excel and Word. So you see how they’re changing the world. You need to ask yourself: How are you going to change the world while doing good things, being philanthropic and growing the business."