Honeysuckle is proud to present Trailblazers’ Authentic Voices: Pride ‘22 “Sweet Sixteen” series! Get to know sixteen LGBTQIA+ cannabis industry leaders who inspire us. Click here to find all their stories.
A Pride Month Message From Trailblazers Co-Founder Tyler Wakstein
Trailblazers is a curated community of cannabis and psychedelic business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators who work together to advance the industry. We are unified by a shared ethos and vision of the future of plant medicine and other alternative healing modalities. We are a group of leaders and visionaries from across the entire ecosystem - from brands, to operators, to investment banks, MSOs, policy and law makers, scientists and researchers. We believe in creating a new paradigm of doing business - where collaboration, authentic connections and an abundance mindset drives the industry. We believe equality, social equity, and justice are not just something to pay lip service to, but rather the cost of entry into cannabis or hemp at large. We are honored to celebrate PRIDE Month with Honeysuckle Magazine and want to help empower the next generation of change-makers and emerging leaders in cannabis through access to the Trailblazers platform. Diversity drives innovation within a community like ours and we recommend applying to our fellowship program if anyone is interested in getting involved. trailblazerspresents.com/trailblazers-fellowship
Interested in finding out more about Trailblazers NYC, coming July 27, 2022? For details, click here.
Meet Luke Anderson, Co-Founder Of Cann
Luke Anderson is the co-founder of Cann, the world’s first micro-dose THC beverage. With his colleague Jake Bullock, Anderson launched Cann in 2019, disrupting the industry with a sessionable cannabis-infused beverage line. Early in his career, Anderson developed a passion for beverages, which he merged with his interest in data and consumer trends and an MBA from Harvard to become a consumer packaged goods (CPG) specialist at the globally-renowned consultancy Bain & Company. That’s where Anderson and Bullock first met and where Anderson got his first introduction to cannabis. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now considered an industry standout for product and marketing innovation, Cann is acclaimed across cannabis and other business sectors. This summer, Cann partnered with Weedmaps to release the star-studded ad/music video “Taste So Good.” The tribute to Pride Month features LGBTQIA+ trailblazers including vocalists Hayley Kiyoko, Ke$ha, MNEK, and VINCINT, with RuPaul’s Drag Race cast members Kornbread “The Snack” Jete, Kerri Colby, Willow Pill and Jorgeous all enjoying the brand’s infused drink. Fun cameos by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Patricia Arquette, and Gus Kenworthy make the short one for the books.
Though Anderson is based in Los Angeles, he mentions that Cann is gearing up for “a big moment” as the East Coast moves toward an adult-use industry; he spends a lot of time in New York City these days as well.
Watch the full Weedmaps x Cann music video TASTE SO GOOD!
TRAILBLAZERS: What is something unique that you bring to your work and the greater cannabis industry overall from your previous work or life experience?
LUKE ANDERSON: I used to help big multinational CPG companies behave more like startups by focusing on hyper-local product launches, so our approach to launching Cann (one SKU, one retail partner in Medmen, and one geography in LA) was in line with that. I think a lot of cannabis companies that find early funding work on a launch for 18 months and spend millions of dollars just to find out that the product / market fit isn't there, which hurts the industry overall.
Why are you passionate about being part of the cannabis industry?
I was an extremely heavy alcohol drinker in my mid-20s and it deteriorated my quality of life. Micro-dose cannabis beverages as an alcohol substitute have changed the way I socialize and created a new lens from which I view the world. I'm still only at the beginning stages of understanding the complexity and power of the cannabis plant, but seeing how it can help people reduce unwanted alcohol consumption and reduce the toxicity of a very common habit is really cool.
Cannabis is all about community. What partnership opportunities with other companies have allowed you to create something even better than imagined due to your combined efforts?
[Andrea Brooks] at Sava and I worked together to create Lime Basil, the first ever limited edition Cann, in partnership with queer icon Ruby Rose. The impact it had on both of our brands, and the consumer, was really beyond both of our expectations and set the tone for how we continued to grow at Cann. Could never have happened without queer camaraderie and cannabis community.
What does Pride mean to you personally? How are you celebrating or championing Pride through your company, the communities you do business in, or the industry overall?
Pride is a way for us to remind everyone that we're here, we're queer, and we really don't like it when socially conservative movements promote LGBTQIA+ erasure. Ban assault weapons, not drag queens. Encourage trans children to be who they really are, don't accuse their parents of abuse. Say gay, and say it so loud that it drowns out the people who tell us not to. As a queer-founded cannabis brand, we think it's important to be visible and vocal while sharing stories and profiling intersectional voices from the community that paint an authentic picture of inclusion--because when that happens it can be life-affirming for millions of people who are actively being told it's not okay to be who they really are.
How are you supporting the advancement of LGBTQIA+ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?
What is one of your favorite LGBTQIA+ organizations to support?
Recently we have been an exciting supporter of Queer Mercado, a local collective of LGBTQ+ artisans in Los Angeles; funding booth fees and introducing them to brand partners has helped to accelerate their growth and enable their vendors to incubate self-sustaining businesses.
What’s your favorite LGBTQIA+-produced cannabis product that isn’t from your brand?
I'm really into Sundae School's mochi gummies; they pack a mighty punch for something so delicate. Their brand is so well thought out and [founder Dae Lim] is a great friend so it's even better when the product you like is made by people you love.
What advice would you give to others who wish to join the cannabis industry and follow in your footsteps?
Don't do it unless you really like to ride rollercoasters.
What are you most excited to see more of in cannabis next year?
I think we are on the cusp of some regulatory reform that will transform access to really safe and quality products for all. The tightness of the restrictions makes it extremely difficult for consumers to discover, learn, and purchase--which in turn makes it so inefficient for cannabis companies to operate. What happens after the rules change? The world changes.
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Cann co-founders Jake Bullock (left) and Luke Anderson (right) (C) Cann