I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Garzot, founder and CEO of both 530 Cannabis in Shasta Lake, California and Synergy an adult /medical use dispensary in Redding, California. Jamie has been involved in the cannabis industry for a decade and brings “boots-on-the-ground” experience as a compliant cannabis operator and an appointed city official.
Jamie understands complex cannabis-related policies because she has been actively engaged in the process, both at the state and local level. Jamie logged thousands of hours advocating for responsible cannabis regulation before the California State Legislature, working directly on policy analysis of the three MAUCRSA* foundation bills. Her two state licensed retail storefronts and ongoing expansion plans are proof of her successful cannabis strategy work at the local level.
She has also traveled to Colorado, engaging with state agencies on their cannabis policy, as well at Washington D.C., engaging with congressional offices on the cannabis banking issue. Her local government outreach is extensive and ongoing. As an industry pioneer Jamie is a sought-after resource on local cannabis policy and her companies serve as examples of how cannabis businesses can be a positive force in their communities.
Jamie has served on the Board of Directors for the Shasta Lake Chamber of Commerce and the California Cannabis Industry Association. Her first company, 530 Cannabis, is a founding member of the California Growers Association. Jamie served on City of Shasta Lake’s planning commission from early 2013 until December 2016 and she remains very active in both Shasta Lake and Redding’s ongoing commercial cannabis policy discussions. Over the years her storefront has hosted tours to numerous local government officials, law enforcement, state agency staff, and state legislators.
Jamie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Diego State University. *Medical and Adult-use Cannabis Regulatory and Safety Act.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I’ve become an expert in opening bank accounts. Even though my company doesn’t touch any cannabis products, my cannabis clients pay me in cash and eventually the banks get tired of processing it and close down my accounts. Since 2012 I have been through seven banks. Seven banks in six years! All kinds, household name banks to local credit unions.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Being an ancillary business to an all-cash industry means you get paid in cash. In an effort to lighten the load on my bank accounts I would sometimes put the cash in different places. Once, I stumbled upon one of those hiding places several months after the fact. It was a bit better than finding a $20 bill in the laundry!
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Expanding the service area for North State Enterprises/Roots Consulting as well as working on opening up 2–4 more retail cannabis locations for the Synergy brand.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Gracious Palmer, the then-mayor of the city of Shasta Lake, and I got off to a rocky start when I opened my first retail cannabis storefront in 2009. In fact, I thought I had made an enemy for life but I kept up my community presence and local government outreach. Then, one day in 2013 when Gracious was the acting Chair for the planning commission, she called me and encouraged me to seek appointment to a planning commission vacancy. I was both shocked and honored. I sought and received appointment in July 2013 and began a term on the City of Shasta Lake planning commission. In Gracious, I found an experienced and helpful friend. This experience in local government service has given me a unique perspective that continues to help me in the cannabis industry.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
Outreach and networking with all local media outlets (print, television, radio) has been an excellent yet unplanned marketing strategy. I have never been shy about talking to reporters and they appreciate a reliable and knowledgeable cannabis industry source. It turns out the cannabis audience values professional representation and this media exposure definitely drives traffic to my stores.
Can you share what excites you about the Cannabis industry as well as what concerns you?
For me personally there are just two in particular in terms of excitement and concern. Exciting because of the innovation and finally legitimizing this very useful plant, And of course there is the huge growth potential of the industry (no-pun intended). I am also concerned because of a genuine lack of banking access, lack of per se for THC (or a ‘breathalyzer’ for cannabis), ongoing and, in some cases, expanding illicit markets.
Can you share your top “5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Run a Successful Cannabis Ancillary Company”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be prepared to get paid in cash
2. Expect to have banking challenges of your own even though your company doesn’t touch the cannabis products
3. Stay nimble: expect regulatory and legal changes
4. Keep your pipeline full: nearly all of the newly licensed canna-businesses are start-ups. Therefore, many will not survive for a variety of reasons. If one of your clients doesn’t make it, make sure you have another lined up to take their place.
5. Know your own limitations/scope and know when to refer a client to someone else. Become an expert in your area of focus. Let others be the expert in other areas.
Aside from your particular vertical, which other cannabis ancillary industries to you think have very strong potential in the next few years? Can you explain why?
Employee education support, portals, and online learning! This industry is growing so fast and there are new innovations every day. My staff needs better access to information quickly and easily.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Absolutely what I stressed in answering 5 things to know particularly because this industry is moving very fast. You must expect the unexpected and the ability to be nimble when needed.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :
As I had mentioned, it’s a very exciting time to be part of the cannabis industry .It’s extremely progressive, particularly when you consider so many women are leading the charge for change and acceptance of an industry that quite frankly, still carries a lot of old stigmas and stereotypes. And that’s where I would very much like to see a stronger, secondary “movement” of acceptance and professionalism. What was once thought of as just a bunch of “potheads” selling weed has grown to be a legitimate billion dollar industry. We have seen sweeping changes on regulation and currently ten states have legalized recreational marijuana. Now I want to help lead a movement of acceptance that cannabis is not the “bad guy”, but in fact is an amazing plant with many, many medicinal benefits.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Facebook and Instagram
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Jilea Hemmings is the CEO & Co-Founder of Leaf Tyme. She is running a series on Leaders In The Cannabis Industry.