With New York coming online as a major player in our industry, things are changing fast. New players are looking to enter the field at a rapid pace, and the decisions we make along the way could easily have lasting repercussions for operators and consumers nationwide. But as this industry grows, how do we make it the best it can be?
Today, we’re talking to Lulu Tsui. She’s the Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at On The Revel, a company working to create curated educational and networking experiences for people breaking into the legal cannabis industry. At her company’s Revelry events and through the Dope People mentorship program, she’s working to help make the cannabis industry more inclusive, more collaborative, and more diverse.
Lulu is a designer with over 15 years of experience creating amazing technology, and she’s the president of the Cannabis Media Council, where she works to destigmatize and normalize cannabis use in traditional media.
In this episode, Lulu talks about the parallels between tech and cannabis, why she thinks New York has the power to transform the global industry in ways California never will, and the amazing things that can happen when you get like minded people together in the same room.
- The unique challenges facing the cannabis industry when it comes to data and standardization.
- Why Lulu is betting big on New York to shape what the cannabis industry of the future will look like.
- How On the Revel is rethinking their conferences and events to inspire connection and create opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs.
- How a COVID pivot led Lulu to create the Dope People series.
- The logistics of getting a retail license in New York State right now.
- “We believe that California might be the innovator. They’re brand new to many things but it isn’t until New York does something that the rest of the world follows suit.” – Lulu Tsui
- “It’s not always about your business. It’s about your knowledge and what you’re bringing to the table and why should our people want to work with you.” – Lulu Tsui
- On The Revel
- On The Revel on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube
- Dope People
- Cannabis Media Council
- Point Seven Group
- Tricolla Farms
- Compound Genetics
- Styles P
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Rick Kiley: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Green Repeal. I am Rick Kiley. I’m using my radio voice to talk to my business partner and co-host, Jeffrey Boedges. How are you doing, Jeff?
Jeffrey Boedges: I’m good. I’m operating sans mike today. We’re trying a new type of approach here.
Rick Kiley: For those of you at home, let us know how much better my voice sounds than Jeff’s. And we’ll know how important a good microphone is to a podcast.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. Well, we’ll be able to tell. And Lulu’s voice is going to sound amazing.
Rick Kiley: Right. Great. So, we have an excellent interview today. We’re welcoming Lulu Tsui. She’s the Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at On The Revel, which is the parent company for a collection of curated educational and networking experiences democratizing information for those interested in the legal cannabis industry. It’s a mouthful but I’m getting it. It sounds really cool and I can’t wait to jump into this. On The Revel events known as Revelry are conferences that are aimed at fostering an inclusive, collaborative, and flourishing cannabis sector. These regular in-person events, along with On The Revel’s Dope People membership, celebrates the diverse people building the cannabis industry. Lulu is also a seasoned and experienced designer with over 15 years of experience leading research, strategy, and design for numerous technologies. She applies her vast expertise across verticals in the cannabis industry while championing ways to normalize and destigmatize cannabis. Along with On The Revel, Lulu serves as president of the Cannabis Media Council, an organization dedicated to destigmatizing and normalizing cannabis using the power of traditional media.
Rick Kiley: Lulu, welcome to The Green Repeal.
Lulu Tsui: Thank you, Rick. Hey, Jeff. Nice to be here. Thank you for having me.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. And we forgot one member of our cast today.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Who’s joining us on your lap there?
Lulu Tsui: Oh, this is Orlando.
Rick Kiley: Orlando is adorable. It looks like he’s eating a giant gummy.
Lulu Tsui: I know. It’s actually a little weed gummy.
Rick Kiley: It is?
Jeffrey Boedges: For those of you out there who think we’re doing this for a child, this is actually a puppy here.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. He’s a dog.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s a canine.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. Our friends at BarkBox sent us. They released their cannabis set of little toys and snacks, so they sent one over as a gift and it’s Orlando’s favorite.
Jeffrey Boedges: It beats the crap out of catnip.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I wonder if you could do that like a CBD catnip or something for the cat?
Jeffrey Boedges: I would be willing to bet.
Rick Kiley: We’re just already getting into the ideas.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. You mix them together. Pretty good. Well, Lulu, welcome. I’m wondering if you could just tell us a little bit more. You know, you were in tech, now you’re in cannabis. I realize you’re applying tech to cannabis but tell us a little bit about your story about how your tech background led you to the cannabis industry.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. So, back in 2015, 2016, some of my friends from the legal cannabis space in Washington State, Washington came online, contacted me, and they were really interested in trying to do something with their track-and-trace or their seed-to-sell platform that’s a compliance platform that all operators have to use. And like in tech, a lot of the time you take something that’s from one industry and you kind of Frankenstein it together to apply it to a new industry. So, they were having issues with it because it was so new, the industry was so new, the software system wasn’t flexible enough to map to how they were running their business. So, they asked me to come in and see if there’s anything I could do to kind of like work with any of the open APIs and create some feedback in and out of the system to help them run their business better. But unfortunately, at that time, that track-and-trace system closed off their APIs so there really wasn’t anything I could do. But then my buddies were like, “Why don’t you stay, stick around, and see if there’s anything you want to do in cannabis?”
So, I lived in downtown Washington for about a year with these guys, and I learned about the cultivation aspect, the processing aspect. And then another piece of their business was all the machines that started taking the plant material and creating oils and isolate and distillate and all of that. So, that was really interesting to me and I got to go with them on installs across different markets and just really started to see the lay of the land across the East Coast, West Coast as markets were coming online and having that perspective coming in from the manufacturing side, we’re going to call that.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, it seems like there’s a lot of parallel lines between the two industries, which is, I guess, counterintuitive at least to me and to some of the people I have known, but we have actually met quite a few people who’ve come from the tech industry and into yours or into the cannabis space.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. Data is king but that’s the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge is you have people who’ve been operating in an industry where anything you wrote down if you’re caught could be used against you if you were arrested or caught. And now you’re expecting all of these people to be very diligent in putting all those information in there.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s really not fair.
Rick Kiley: You’re taking a group of people totally conditioned to try to be off the grid and now are trying to get them hyper gridified.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Welcome to your finals class today. We’re going to give you a final on something you’ve never studied before.
Lulu Tsui: Exactly. So, that was definitely and still is a friction point for a lot of folks that are coming from medical or even coming from legacy and trying to bring them into the recreational, I hate that term, but the regulated industry.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Is the reticence that you’re mentioning, do you think it’s people who just are conditioned to not want to participate in all this tracking stuff? Or is it actually an educational gap? They don’t know how or is it both? You know, when I’m trying to train people to use new systems at our company, some people are…
Jeffrey Boedges: It always goes perfectly smooth, by the way.
Rick Kiley: Right.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah, always.
Rick Kiley: But there are some people who are just like, “I can’t learn a new thing.” It’s like the brain has a hard time sort of adapting to it. Or I’m wondering if it’s more like the personal reluctance because for so many years they’ve been conditioned to be adverse to it.
Lulu Tsui: To your point, I think the former is there’s a lot of sh*tty software out there. It’s like you use your social fun software that you use at home and they’re easy to use. You can pick them up really easily. And then you go to work and you have to use these enterprise systems, which is just awful and you’re banging your head against it. You can’t even use it so how are you going to train your staff to use it? It’s just like that’s one big friction point. And the other one is the latter, which is as new states come online, people that for the East Coast, for example, East Coast has a different culture altogether when it comes towards the cannabis business. It’s a lot of scientists, business people coming in. So, they’re used to having software that they rely on these tools and they’re used to – they’re familiar with navigating around clunky systems because that’s what their experience has been. But you’re coming from at the beginning of legalization for adult use. You know, a lot of people were operating without having any of this, any of these tools, having any of this access. So, I’d say it’s a combination of both but as our industry matures like we got to start making simpler software for people. Like, this is just awful.
Rick Kiley: So, has it improved at all? Like, I mean, I guess you’re talking there like operational systems for the most part. You mentioned track and trace. I mean, financial accounting software is applicable to most. I’m guessing that those are the two areas that are the most underwhelming. I guess have they improved? Where were we? Where are we now? And is there much further to go?
Lulu Tsui: I think it’s just like there’s no standards, I don’t think, first of all. Like, if you’re doing a point-of-sale, somebody in one point-of-sale system tracks the type of Indica or Sativa, another tracks in a different way, you’ve got like a million different SKUs. So, first of all, there’s no standardization in our industry across any vertical, actually. So, how do we even get real reporting on these things? So, that’s always a pain point. And now it’s just like, well…
Jeffrey Boedges: Sorry. I was just going to say, there was a guy that we met at MJ Unpacked last week who was doing basically the MRI data for cannabis and he just talked about what a nightmare it was to try and standardize across all these verticals because the data was coming in a million different formats. And so, to compare apples-to-apples or buds-to-buds, as the case may be, was really difficult.
Lulu Tsui: And what I’m seeing, which are very similar to tech, is as you’re growing your tech company, sometimes you acquire other companies. So, now it’s the same thing that’s happening in cannabis. So, you have like startups acquiring startups, acquiring startups, and no one is integrating. And I’ve been in tech for 20 years now. I’m still dealing with very large-scale enterprise companies going through the same thing with that but they have more resources. So, it’s happening but it’s very just challenging. I wish there was like some type of standardization of how we’re naming just for our industry like someone out there…
Jeffrey Boedges: Do you think that’s coming? You don’t think that’s coming? I would think that there would be an industry organization that would be championing.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. I think that would be great. Someone out there, please do that. I think because we’ve been intrastate for so long, doing something across federal or doing something across multistate is no one’s thinking that far ahead yet.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. It strikes me as like federal legalization will catalyze that happening because the governmental mandate, a universal standard.
Lulu Tsui: I’m like, “Tech companies, prepare for that. Start like coordinating your databases.”
Rick Kiley: That’s really interesting. Gosh, we don’t even think about what a nightmare it is. I do think it’s interesting, though. You said data is king. We’re talking about a business where the statement was always cash is king and now data is king.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. I mean, I think…
Rick Kiley: How far we’ve come.
Lulu Tsui: Well, cash is always going to be king, I think. Well, maybe not to the Web 3 folks.
Rick Kiley: True.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, data is queen?
Lulu Tsui: Data is queen.
Jeffrey Boedges: There we go.
Rick Kiley: Well, sometimes the queen is more powerful based on the chessboard.
Jeffrey Boedges: Chessboard, for sure.
Lulu Tsui: And in life.
Rick Kiley: And in life. Alright. Let’s just say it.
Lulu Tsui: And then like happy wife, happy life.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yes, we’ve learned.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I mean, I could talk about data all day but I think we got some more, at least for us, a more fun subject to talk about. And I want to get to the events that you do. And so, let’s talk about On The Revel. What inspired this idea? Where did it come from?
Lulu Tsui: So, I met my partner, Jacobi Holland, 2016, in New York City at a Women Grow 420 event. And at that time in New York, there was a lot of conversation around advocacy and conversation around investment, but there really wasn’t any conversation around legal opportunities along the supply chain or what was actually happening. You know, there was like all these headlines about like billions of dollars and green rush. Anyways, so what we’re seeing in the papers and what we’re hearing people talk about in New York just didn’t align. And it was like the first conversation I had with someone in New York where I was like, “Oh, you know what the f*ck you’re talking about.” And we really vibed because he’s also from the tech world. He’s a mathematician. He came up from Colorado with Mindful, one of the first vertical operations out there. And I was in Washington. So, we had a lot of similarities and if you looked at us, you’re like, “How the heck did you two come together with this?” But through our tech alliances and the way that we think about things, which is very much around design thinking and lean design and just having passion about the plant and also just seeing someone that wasn’t, so no offense, guys, like white and male at that time.
It was really, really cool to just have a connection with someone in New York. And then we both realized with New York, like we have the diversity in New York to actually create a really, really diverse and equitable market. So, we also wanted to bring real truth like boots on the ground truth to folks in New York City because we kept on hearing like all this crap out there. And I was like, “What are you talking about, guys?” So, what’s a little bit different about the events that we do is we never do a call for speakers. Everyone that we have come speak is our first degree or our first degree’s first degree. So, I think that’s really important because everyone’s jumping into the cannabis game. Some people are good actors, some people are not good actors. And by now I have this thing called the cannabis tree. So, if someone is trying to do business with someone, they’ll give me a call like so-and-so from the state and I’ll just do a call. And if this person has good sentiment, then we’re like thumbs up, and if this person has screwed someone over, been a bad actor due to smash and grab then that’s just like a no-go.
Rick Kiley: All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, you’re Angie’s List for cannabis. Lulu’s List. It even sounds better than Angie’s List.
Rick Kiley: Oh, I like it. I like it. Lulu’s List.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Lulu’s List. Sorry. You’re not listed. I’m never on any list, by the way, except…
Lulu Tsui: It’s just like just don’t be a d*ck, right? Like, all you have to do is just not be a d*ck. And even if you want to be a d*ck, just be a transparent d*ck. Because like, that’s cool too. Be a transparent d*ck.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Consistent.
Lulu Tsui: New York is New York.
Rick Kiley: Wear your d*ckishness on your sleeve, please.
Lulu Tsui: Yes.
Rick Kiley: Let me see that d*ck.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s better than wearing d*ck on your sleeve because that could be really weird.
Rick Kiley: That’s really funny. But, yeah, Jeff and I often say when we were hiring people, we have an unofficial no assholes policy. So, I think we clearly are speaking the same language. This is my connection fingers. You can’t hear it through the radio, folks, but that’s good. So, who then are these events for? I mean, who are the people that you are trying to educate, inspire, assist when you’re putting these events on? Is it other people who are trying to build brands and businesses? I mean, I think we’re talking about New York right now. Is it New York-centric? You mentioned you started in Washington state. Is it more national? Talk just a little bit about I think who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to help them with.
Lulu Tsui: It’s New York-centric. You know, we believe that California might be the innovator. They’re brand new to many things but it isn’t until New York does something that the rest of the world follows suit. So, we very much believe that New York is still a global influence on this. So, we put all of our eggs in New York. It’s for anybody that’s interested in cannabis, right? So, we draw entrepreneurs, we draw advocates for our legacy market operators. It’s pretty much I think I’m proud to say that we probably have the most diverse audience in any type of cannabis event that you’ll go to, age, race, religion, all of those things. And I think that’s because our company embodies those things. You know, we’re not out there saying, “We’re this. We’re that.” We’re just doing. We’re walking our talk and just doing it. And I think people see that authenticity and people feel included. We’re trying to create the rooms where people are welcome. There’s good people in all rooms but we want to just give people information. We’re not forcing anyone to come into the cannabis industry. There are so many highs and lows of it but we want to bring real information that people can make a really good and informative decision on if they want to enter or not and what part do they want to participate. So, that’s what we’re here to do is bring good people together with good information.
Rick Kiley: Got it. So, then walk us through an event.
Jeffrey Boedges: Give us one. What’s the flagship? Is it Revelry?
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. So, we did our first full-day conference last November and it was pretty f*cking amazing. I mean, honestly, I’ve never seen butts in seats for 8 hours. It was a full day and we had people there with their pen and paper, with their iPads, just totally engrossed and totally excited. And I’ve really never seen that anywhere, and I’ve never seen that in New York. You know, our attention spans are like that but to have that just have that excitement, have that curiosity, it just felt really, really great.
Rick Kiley: Cool. So, where was it hosted? Where did you produce it?
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. We had it in West Village. So, we’re going to host another one in November.
Jeffrey Boedges: See, that’s the conference center of New York for all of you playing outside. It’s everything conference-wise happens. No. It’s actually…
Lulu Tsui: It’s true.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s the anti-conference part of New York, by the way.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. So, we wanted to do it. You know, like, one thing that’s really important to us is like, yes, there’s the business of cannabis but there’s also the culture of cannabis. And never really do that two mix. So, I’ve been in New York about 16 years, not native but I’ve suffered enough winters now to be considered.
Jeffrey Boedges: You’ve earned your stripes.
Lulu Tsui: Exactly. And there are so many things that both Jacobi and I love about New York, the fashion, the food, the music. And I don’t think you can have anything to do with cannabis without those things. So, with our events, there’s always food, there’s music, there’s deejay, there’s networking but at the end of the day, it’s just good people coming together, creating a safe space where people can speak freely and connect. And I’m also very proud to say that we’ve had so many that come up and say like, “Oh my God, I found my business partner there,” or, “I found my job there.” And that’s what we’re trying to foster is just good connection and company babies and idea babies, community.
Rick Kiley: So, it sounds like there’s a little bit of everything going on there. Is there a specific focus like in the different segments? A lot of people are talking about, “I’m going to try to bring companies looking for funding together with people who are looking to invest.” Are you doing some organized matchmaking around these things and the type of programming that’s offered?
Lulu Tsui: Sometimes.
Rick Kiley: Or are you just letting it organically evolve?
Lulu Tsui: Sometimes. Like previously, we would pick a theme that was interesting and then we would bring speakers from different viewpoints to talk about that same theme and we would do that every quarter. But now that New York is coming, our program is about to launch, we’ve been more listening to what our community is interested in and creating programing or not like very like UX thinking, design thinking. So, that’s what we’ve been doing. We just hosted a boot camp last week for legacy operators that were interested in the first 100 conditional retail licenses. And that programing came about from talking to legacy operators, doing surveys, really understanding the things that they were having they didn’t have informational access to. So, we brought in professors from other states that could address those types of questions. And then what we did on our site is we brought in vetted service providers, consultants from New York that could help with that.
Rick Kiley: Like people can help them submit the applications and that sort of thing?
Lulu Tsui: Application, security plan, fundraising, real estate, all of those things.
Rick Kiley: Great. That’s so helpful.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, what’s the format? Is it like a guest speaker? Is it panels? Is it both? Is it a show for…?
Lulu Tsui: It’s a mix of everything. So, we do Ted Talks style. So, you’ve been to the events where someone is on stage for like 20 minutes and you’re just like nodding off. So, New York, again, our attention span. So, we do ten-minute presentations. And what we like about that is it also makes the speaker really hone in on the things that they want to express. And we have a very specific thing like it’s important for our speakers to do like leave-behinds for our audience. You know, don’t just talk about something. Present the solution. Tell me your top five things for this. You know, tell me the top five things not to do. So, we really, really want to empower our audience members to really learn. And we challenge our speakers to bring their game. You know, give us some insight. Let us know about you. Like, why are you amazing? Because at the end of the day, the speakers that we bring on stage, we want our audience members to work with them. It’s like we want the speaker to be the guy, you know. So, those are the type of matchmaking, I guess, if you want to say it that way. It’s not always about your business. It’s about your knowledge and what you’re bringing to the table and why should our people want to work with you.
Jeffrey Boedges: That you’re back to no d*cks because I agree. If you go up and you can tell your sh*t without having to like read a script, refer to notes, things like that, and you come across as genuine and knowledgeable.
Lulu Tsui: Exactly.
Jeffrey Boedges: You’re going to get collaborations.
Lulu Tsui: And that’s what New York is, like we’re so conditioned to smell bullsh*t.
Rick Kiley: Well, there’s a lot here.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, there is but it ain’t California. California, man, that place, yeah, you guys can get some. Everybody I meet in California has got an angle or a movie deal in the works.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. California’s really interesting. I lived in San Francisco for ten years and then in L.A. for six years. And in Oregon, I grew up in Oregon, went to school in Washington. So, I have a pretty good vibe of what’s going on on the West Coast. And I love the lifestyle it provides but I just wish people were just less passive-aggressive. You could move things along so much faster without being so passive-aggressive.
Rick Kiley: Let’s be aggressive-aggressive.
Jeffrey Boedges: If you’re going to be a d*ck.
Lulu Tsui: Be a d*ck honestly. Be an honest d*ck.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Okay. And it sounds like to me like rather than what I am conditioned to for a tradeshow format, you know, there’s a keynote speaker and then there are a couple of tracks you can go on with long presentations and Q&A, it sounds like you’re getting a lot of people on the floor, getting a lot of people the microphone, giving a lot of people the opportunity to share. It sounds like the division, even to me, just the way you’re explaining it between someone who’s speaking and someone who’s attending, it’s not like I’m an expert and you’re learning from me. It’s more like I’m bringing people close and trying to foster communication and connection. And that sounds cool. I don’t know where I was going with that. I’m just trying to sort of sum it up.
Jeffrey Boedges: Where are the parties happening at your conference? Because we’ve been to a few of the cannabis conferences in there. I’m going to just go out and say they’re kind of dry. You know, it’s a little bit stiff.
Rick Kiley: I think you hear about certain parties that happen but they’re not really advertised, and those turn out to be fun.
Jeffrey Boedges: And I’m not usually on the list, which I already covered. But yeah.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. So, at our Revelry event, it was really cool because our venue space was connected right next to a brownstone. So, the owner of both venues opened up the brownstone. So, we had an after-party there, which was pretty cool.
Rick Kiley: Just like a house party.
Lulu Tsui: It was just a house party. You know, we had deejays from different genres come in, we had food, consumption was allowed, you know. So, that was really, really cool. Our last event in February, we had HighGarden host it, which is a speakeasy restaurant type of vibe. So, honestly, you can’t have these cannabis business conferences without having culture. And in New York, there are so many amazing event spaces. There are so many amazing chefs. There’s a lot of stuff that’s happening. And we always like to partner and collaborate with everybody.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, it’s funny I think in a lot of industries working a lot on alcohol beverage, I can’t tell you how many deals get done with alcohol beverage because the person that you’re doing business with is someone you enjoy drinking with. Like, the sort of the social element that ties into what you’re doing really forges a lot of relationships. And I can imagine that in cannabis, I mean, this comes back to the no-tax thing again but like if you enjoy consuming with someone, you’re probably more likely to want to work with that person too. Like, I think there’s probably a fostered connection even around that social environment. And I think that’s important to make happen too. So, it’s cool you’re making space for that. It sounds like fun events. Are people coming back like are you seeing a lot of repeat attendees from these things?
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. I think when you walk in and it’s hard to describe like there’s just a really great energy. You know, a lot of the times when you go to these corporate events, it’s just like, ugh, I call it beige. Everything is just beige. The floors are beige, the walls are beige, the floor is beige like everything is beige. And with what we’re trying to do is like our ultimate goal was always like a Brooklyn Day party. Like that’s the energy that we wanted to bring and that’s the energy we’re trying to curate is the social aspect of it, the being excited for the business aspect of it. Those moments in New York when you’re connecting with people, you’re like, “You’re f*cking cool. What do you do? Oh, sh*t. You know, like, that’s great. I’m looking for someone that does X, Y and Z,” those like organic connections. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Rick Kiley: Awesome. Cool.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, can I ask, how big are they? Because I’ve got one side I can see it being a million people. On one side, I can see it being 150.
Lulu Tsui: We’re about at 400 people now.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. So, we’re doing some other things in September. September 11th, I think we’re going to be doing a Brooklyn block party, which we’re really excited about. So, we’ll bring the education piece.
Rick Kiley: Where in Brooklyn? I live in Brooklyn. What part of Brooklyn?
Lulu Tsui: Bed–Stuy.
Rick Kiley: Oh, I’m really close to Bled–Stuy and I mean…
Jeffrey Boedges: Bled–Stuy?
Rick Kiley: Well, I got excited.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Lulu Tsui: I’m in Prospect Heights, so we’re neighbors.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I used to live in Prospect Heights myself. Very cool. Oh, awesome. All right. I’m going to try to hopefully leverage this interview to get on to Lulu’s List. I think Lulu’s List is something we’re going to go with.
Jeffrey Boedges: You’re not a d*ck. So, you should make it on that.
Lulu Tsui: You’re admitted.
Jeffrey Boedges: I just don’t know how much experience we’re going to bring to the party.
Rick Kiley: No. I mean, it would be great to check out and we’d love to. But I want to keep us moving and it’s great to hear. One more question I had about this. Like, a lot of these trade show events also have like a big exhibitor floor where people are like set up booths and whatnot. That doesn’t sound like that’s part of your event experience.
Lulu Tsui: No. I don’t know if we’re going to move towards that direction. You know, it’s interesting but it’s also something that…
Rick Kiley: It creates like a sales environment. That sounds a little different than what you’re trying to curate. So, it makes sense the choice so far.
Jeffrey Boedges: The serendipitous interactions that happen there can be profitable but it sounds like you’ve got a different way to foster that same sort of energy, which is cool. I think it’s interesting. It’s just a different spin.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Cool. So, look, I’m going to keep us moving because this isn’t the only thing to talk about. You know, I want to hear about Dope People, which may be just should be Lulu’s List, I’m just saying, but you have this private member’s space where you’re trying to build the cannabis industry in New York. I’m gathering that the Dope People and On The Revel and the events that you’re doing do intersect in some way but can you talk to us about Dope People, what you’re trying to achieve there with that group?
Lulu Tsui: Sure. So, Dope People started because we pivoted during COVID. So, we were doing in-person events and then all of a sudden like, oh my God, like we’re going to go through a pandemic. So, we started doing a Dope People series, which is just bringing our speakers in and doing kind of what you guys are doing, a one-hour interview, just learning about people’s backgrounds, administrative, their business models and things like that. And then we transition that also to just being like anybody that wants to participate as a member with us and membership is free but it’s an area that we put resources in. So, we’ve got templates for applications, we’ve got our service directory for folks that we work with that we trust. Jacobi and I are both going for licenses as well. So, all of the information that we’re learning, we want to share with our community and just give people that access. There’s so much to comb through out there. We want to have just give people easy access information. So, we also have a Discord channel so there are conversations going on there. We bring in experts to talk about subject matters that they’re experts in so that’s all free for members.
Rick Kiley: I’m sorry. My understanding is that Discord is only used to yell at people while playing video games like that’s what I’ve been told Discord’s for. How are you using Discord?
Lulu Tsui: And now it’s evolved into a place for folks to gather and share information and connect. I’m learning about it. I’m in my 40s so my brain can only handle so many new things. So, I’m focusing on cannabis and psychedelics. Jacobi and Peter are focusing on a lot more on the Web 3 things. So, we’re splitting up lanes and navigating that way.
Rick Kiley: That’s really cool. All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: Can I get a Dope People t-shirt or do I have to be a member to get a t-shirt?
Lulu Tsui: We’ll send you some. We’ll send you a care package.
Rick Kiley: Dope People has t-shirts, right?
Lulu Tsui: T-shirts and hats right now.
Jeffrey Boedges: Got to have them.
Rick Kiley: I hope so. Yeah. I’m going to put Lulu’s List on the back of mine. I’m just going to keep saying it until you just make that a reality.
Jeffrey Boedges: Dope People’s hard to beat, dude. That’s a good moniker. As much as I like Lulu’s List, Dope People’s cool.
Lulu Tsui: It’s a nice one.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I think it’s just hard to trademark where I think Lulu’s List you might be able to. Dope People might be tough to trademark. I don’t know. I’m not a trademark lawyer but…
Jeffrey Boedges: Alright.
Rick Kiley: I don’t know.
Lulu Tsui: I think we looked into that. Yeah. There’s a couple of Dope People out there.
Jeffrey Boedges: People’s organizations.
Rick Kiley: You’re not the first Dope People? Gosh, darn it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, at least they’re not suing you for copyright infringement.
Rick Kiley: Because you can’t use that name.
Rick Kiley: All right. Enough of the legal lesson. That’s what we’ll do our TED Talk on, copyrighting your logo and your name and your trade name.
Lulu Tsui: That’s a good one, actually. That’s a whole new one. That would be very interesting for cannabis because everybody loves roots, everybody loves green, everybody loves leaf canna like yeah.
Rick Kiley: Well, we’re very interested in how the industry evolves to go from being very strange product-focused to see the birth of like branding and a CPG and luxury brand focused on it and it’s already starting to just percolate and blow up. And I think there are a lot of lessons from other industries, from CPG, from alcohol beverage, from pharma. I think there’s a lot that people will bring across from those industries but I don’t know how they’ll all apply.
Jeffrey Boedges: We cannot use those pharma naming companies to make up a cannabis name.
Lulu Tsui: Nope.
Rick Kiley: No?
Jeffrey Boedges: They’re the worst. Yeah. Because then they try to make like some kind of catchy jingle around it. It’s like, you know.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: “Weedify your life.” You know, and I’m like, “What the f*ck is that?”
Rick Kiley: Everybody, Weedify Your Life is copyright Jeff Boedges, 2022. Just saying. You heard it first here.
Jeffrey Boedges: Weedies but it’s spelled with a D. All right. Again, send me a check if you want to use it.
Rick Kiley: Awesome.
Lulu Tsui: Those are great. I think I think those are all t-shirts. I think you should have a list of all the t-shirts you want to make for the show.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, but I think you’re right, though. It’s like, how do we create something that’s a cool-sounding name that can be copywritten, right? Weedies may not qualify.
Rick Kiley: Since you’re in New York, the thing that I heard once that I keep repeating to people is living here and walking around the streets of Brooklyn, you can’t go more than two blocks without smelling weed anymore.
Lulu Tsui: Not anymore.
Rick Kiley: And so, I have some friends visit town and they’re like, “You know what, New York smells fun again.” It’s just like this is the thing I keep saying. It’s just like…
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. That’s a shirt.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Lulu Tsui: That is a shirt.
Rick Kiley: It’s a good shirt. It’s a good idea. I think people are enjoying consuming here and I’m looking forward to seeing how it materializes in the market.
Jeffrey Boedges: It does when you come here, though. To the outside, it looks like 75% of New Yorkers are stoned.
Rick Kiley: It looks like or smells like?
Jeffrey Boedges: Smells like. Yeah. The appearance that we’re giving right now isn’t necessary – once you get out of Wall Street, it’s not necessarily one of great industry.
Lulu Tsui: I think like New York has been very, very stoned except no one talked about it because it was much more drinking was what you talked about. But all of a sudden everyone’s coming out of the green closet going like, “Oh, I want to announce my entry into being a daily cannabis smoker now.”
Rick Kiley: I agree. I think the social acceptance is quickening in the city anyway from the people. And I’m in my 40s and I’m a father and the people I run with like it’s not looked at in a negative fashion. Like if someone smoked a cigarette, they would be like thrown out of a house right now. They’d be like, “Gross. Get out of here.” But it’s getting very normalized and I think that’s great. I think that’s part of the need, the mandate of the people who are helping grow the industry this sort of enable the conversation around social acceptance and call it consuming in moderation or whatever you want as being like a normal part of life. And then having not being vilified I think it’s really important and we got to keep doing it.
Jeffrey Boedges: I’ve mentioned it a few times, just like and I joke that like growing up if I were smoking, I would be looking around for my parents or for Johnny Law. Now, I’m still looking around but I’m looking for my children making sure my kids don’t see me. That’s totally lame. But when does that start to transition out? Because I don’t hide drinking a beer for my kids, that’s for sure. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. That’s the next phase.
Jeffrey Boedges: It is the next phase.
Rick Kiley: But I think they probably know.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah, the kids know.
Rick Kiley: And when they’re in their 20s, they’re going to be like, “Yeah. I grew up and it was all around.” You’d be like, “What? you did?”
Lulu Tsui: I grew up and it was all around and I have a different kind of perspective on it. I’m from China. Originally, I was born there. My parents moved to Eugene, Oregon in the 70s, late 70s, and they didn’t know anything about American culture at all. And it just turned out the folks that took care of us helped us acclimate, taught us English, babysat me were all cannabis growers and crystal healers and people coming back from the ashrams in India. So, all the things that are kind of becoming more mainstream and popular now is how I was raised. And it’s interesting when a lot of Asian families are very anti-drugs because we’re still dealing with our opiate crisis that was started by the British in the 1800s. It was really interesting about my parents because it was so normalized in the community and they had friends that were growing and it was just accepted. And I just grew up with it and my parents are okay with it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I did not have that experience. Yeah. Mine is as different from that as you can imagine.
Lulu Tsui: We came from the Just Say No era and, “This is your brain on drugs with the egg.” Like, that’s what we grew up with but in Oregon, in Eugene, it was my principal group for weed. Like, it was just such a different experience and learning about how it was so different for everybody else. It’s been interesting.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. When I was a sophomore in high school, students in high school went to go see Grateful Dead concerts, and they’d keep running into our math teacher there. You know, it’s funny.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s hard to deny your involvement at that point.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. It’s just like, I mean, he didn’t try. He was a good math teacher, too. So, look, one thing I want to get to before we run out of time, you mentioned it earlier, but you are pursuing a New York State license. Yes?
Lulu Tsui: Correct. Retail.
Rick Kiley: A retail license. Cool. Can you talk to us a little bit about what that experience has been, where you are in the process? How hard, easy, terrible, great it’s been?
Lulu Tsui: So, it’s kind of a waiting game right now. So, right now what my business partner and I – shout out to Akim Vaughan from one of my dearest friends that I met in Brooklyn about 20 years ago. We’re looking at some place, a real estate right now on Bed-Stuy. That’s where we want to have our first location. It’s just real estate, getting the application ready. So, we’re working with a group called Point Seven who is going to be helping us with our application and all of those things, fundraising plan, corporate documents, financial projections, all of those things. It’s a lot of work.
Rick Kiley: Right. And do you have to have – we’ve heard in some states you actually have to have the space before you can submit the application. Is that true?
Lulu Tsui: I think that’s TBD, right? I mean, right now the first conditional license for cultivation for hemp farmers have been released. The regulations for the conditional license for retail for justice-impacted folks have been released. I think there’s a public commentary period right now. So, those two groups of licenses will have one more round of revisions. And then we’re waiting for the other license, the standard license types to come out. So, it’s just a waiting pattern.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. And so, in the alcohol beverage industry, when you want to open a liquor store or a bar and it’s a new license like the local area gets wind of it at a time and…
Lulu Tsui: Community boards.
Rick Kiley: Right. And the community board can say, “We don’t want this here,” and sometimes that creates a problem. Are you expecting that same process will happen wherever you try to put your location and that you will have to get the approval of the community board or whatever?
Lulu Tsui: 100%. Yeah. So, that’s kind of the programming that we do. Our last event was around critical community relationships so we had the fire department come in to community board members. So, some community boards are actually creating cannabis committees already. So, again, there’s really no like regulations out but we were told, as you can expect it to be somewhat similar to what you would do for a bar or a liquor store. So, which means like 30 days before you submit your application, you should be presenting to your community board. Bring your lawyer. That was also recommended. So, start participating in your community like look up who’s part of your community board. Start going to those meetings. Participate. And one thing that’s very interesting about New York is along with like things like your security plan, you have to also submit a community plan as well.
Rick Kiley: A community plan.
Jeffrey Boedges: If it’s what I’m thinking it is, we’ve helped develop one of these for a California-based company but it’s like how do they actually embrace the community? What are they doing to be additive? I don’t know if that’s the same thing.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. And what do you do to educate the community? How are you incorporating safe practices? So, how are you being a good member of your community, bringing in a new controlled substance?
Jeffrey Boedges: Free brownies. Free brownies every Saturday for everybody.
Rick Kiley: And are you finding, I mean, have you met with the community board members so far?
Lulu Tsui: With some of them, yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Anyone hostile to?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I’m curious as to reception.
Lulu Tsui: The one that we’ve been talking to have been very receptive because they know this is just something that’s going to be happening. You know, like when New York gets behind something, it’s like a bullet train. It’s just going to happen. I think, in New York City, I mean, I can’t speak in the other counties but in New York City, I mean, we haven’t experienced, knock on wood, a lot of opposition. I’m sure it’s going to be coming but just be a good member of your community.
Jeffrey Boedges: You know, it’s funny, though, I have a hard time picturing the New York community being hostile to it.
Rick Kiley: Well, the interesting thing just where I am in Clinton Hill and I think Bed-Stuy, these areas of Brooklyn that have seen a lot of gentrification is a bad word, I think, to use it that way but just a ton of change that has been economically driven. There are families that have been here for a long, long, long time. And then there are a lot of new families. And I think the people that have been here a long, long time, they tend to comprise a significant portion of these community boards and they have a vested interest in trying to – they care about the fabric of the community they’ve spent their entire life in.
Lulu Tsui: And they also dealt with the war on drugs, right? So, a lot of family members historically have probably served time and been arrested for small infractions of things that other people are totally getting away with now. And so, there can’t be a conversation around that without a conversation about reparations, a conversation about how do you get all of these other people…
Rick Kiley: So, it’s like the people who are mad about the potential of student loan debt getting forgiven because they’ve paid the loan debt already. Like, I paid my loans and like people have these different perspectives on it. And I think that’s a tough balancing act. I’m curious, I think you should get a food truck-like location right outside your place that you can sort of rent out to people because I think having like the taco truck right outside the dispensary is like what I would like.
Lulu Tsui: I’ve also heard of putting…
Rick Kiley: The food trucks need locations.
Lulu Tsui: I also heard of putting the cannabis truck outside different locations, the food locations.
Jeffrey Boedges: We heard of somebody doing a cannabis truck outside of a concert recently, which we thought was brilliant.
Rick Kiley: Wow. Right. Because you can’t sell inside the concert.
Lulu Tsui: But you can sell outside.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. So, they cut a hole in the fence and you could come out of the concert and buy and go back in through the hole.
Rick Kiley: We were trying to go with a drone delivery service inside the festival from outside the festival. That would be funny.
Lulu Tsui: You should talk to my brother. He was a part of that at Amazon.
Rick Kiley: All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: We want one of those ones that can control it like a smart bomb but it’s a smart weed, just like a smart pre-roll. And it’s just…
Rick Kiley: Smartweed. Smartweed’s a brand, by the way. You had to come up with smartweed.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. That’s not necessarily how it works for me, by the way.
Rick Kiley: I know. Somebody is doing it. Somebody is doing it. Cool. So, I think we’re close to the end of our time here. I guess what I would love to be able to share with our listeners is if they are someone who wanted to get involved either with Dope People or try to check out one of your events, how do they go about doing that? How do they get more information?
Lulu Tsui: So, we have our social media channels. So, we have Instagram. It’s ontherevel. Our YouTube videos are On The Revel. So, we’ve recorded all of our speakers. So, if you’re interested in learning more, just check out our YouTube channel. We have our Discord. You can sign up for Dope. You can sign up for being a member of Dope People on OnTheRevel.com. We actually have an event coming up next week, June 4th, up in West Chester. It’s the first time we’ve left New York City but West Chester is very interesting. It’s one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. but it also has one of the largest number of underground operators as well. So, yeah, so again, getting people in the room that might not always be together in the room, making people feel a little bit uncomfortable and hopefully grow a little bit from that uncomfortability and just being open to meet some new people. So, that’s going to be a good one. So, it’s Foundations of Cannabis. We have a really amazing woman, Brittany Carbone from Tricolla Farms. She’s going to be talking about growth strategy like how she’s actually segmenting her outdoor grow. She received a license, one of the first cultivation licenses.
We have a friend of mine, Felipe Recalde from Compound Genetics. They’re one of the largest providers of tissue culture, nursery genetics that are completely clean and unadulterated. We were doing a panel. We’ve got real estate, we have banking, we’ve got cultivation, we’ve got about 12 speakers. And then we’re doing a live Dope People episode with Mario Guzman for Sherbinskis, one of the creators of some legendary strain like Gelato. And Styles P will also be participating. So, it’s going to be nice. So, if folks want to come join us, just go to OnTheRevel.com. If you guys are coming too at Saturday, June 4th.
Rick Kiley: Saturday, June 4th.
Jeffrey Boedges: I will be running a Cub Scout meeting.
Rick Kiley: And actually just based on our posting schedule, June 4th will likely have passed by the time these people are listening to it because that’s in one week. What’s the next event after that?
Lulu Tsui: We’re doing our Brooklyn Block Party. That’s going to be September 11 in Bed-Stuy.
Jeffrey Boedges: That I’ll be in.
Rick Kiley: I’m in. We’re in. That’s great to hear. Cool. So, look, the way we finish a lot of our interviews and I feel like you are someone who is pretty in the know since you seem to know a lot of people and you have info from both coasts, we’re trying to sort of chart when we think federal legalization may be coming to this nation.
Lulu Tsui: Is there a betting pool?
Rick Kiley: Yeah, we’re trying. We have an unofficial bet. Yeah, we have an unofficial betting pool. You get an official New York Smells Fun Again t-shirt if you win, that’ll be hand-created. But, yeah, we’re just asking all our guests if they have an opinion as to when they think federal legalization may come. And if you have any intel on it, that’s even better.
Lulu Tsui: I don’t think I have any intel on that but I think my guess would be probably two years after the New York market opens.
Rick Kiley: Two years after New York market opens? Now, New York market is technically legal now but what are we defining? How will I know when the New York markets open?
Lulu Tsui: I’d say sales, when sales start.
Jeffrey Boedges: When the first retailers are opening.
Rick Kiley: Okay. Two years after that. Fine. All right. And since you’re in the licensing, when do you think that’s going to happen even, the first retail license is operational?
Lulu Tsui: Well, I think the whole idea was if we put flower or seeds into the ground with the hemp farmers, they would be able to cultivate September, October and doors could potentially open November, December with the first retail licenses for justice-impacted because that’s almost like a JV with the state that’s happening with that.
Rick Kiley: So, have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Lulu Tsui: So, we’ll see. I mean, I think that’s the best-case scenario.
Rick Kiley: We’ll stuff our stockings with some new stuff. All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: I’m dreaming of a green Christmas. You had to say it. It was there for the taking.
Rick Kiley: Cool. Well, Lulu, it has been great speaking to you today. We really enjoyed having you. I can’t wait to check out one of your events and, hopefully, we’ll have you back again sometime, maybe with your business partner.
Lulu Tsui: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.
Jeffrey Boedges: And we’ll see you at the block party in September.
Lulu Tsui: Amazing.
Rick Kiley: Cheers.
Lulu Tsui: Thank you.