INTERVIEW

Forbes Q&A with Michael Domecq

– Please tell me where you are from? Where are you now? What did you want to be when you (grew) up? Do you have a mentor? Who is that? – Born 1983 in New York City. My mother passed away when I was a 9 and my father raised me thereafter. We lived all over New England and later on in my early teens, Spain. Later on I attended University in London completing an undergraduate Philosophy degree. I initially worked in finance and documentary filmmaking a few years but quickly realized my passion lay elsewhere. At that time (2008) I moved to California looking for opportunity up north and landed in Grass Valley laboring on marijuana farms, learning the trade from top to bottom. After that first season, myself and my wife at the time, move into a property on Fitch Mountain in. Healdsburg CA, and subsequently spent 5 years owning and managing various farms and extraction facilities. After the divorce and liquidation of the farms, I decided to move to LA and start fresh. About 5 years ago, with recreational use looming in the distance, I knew my opportunity to create a brand in the newly regulated recreational marijuana space was approaching. I also knew that competition would be ferocious, so in light of those facts decided to specialize in something I knew well, cold water extraction or HASH. Around that time I conceived of the CALIHASH brand name and built out the business plan and financial projections. Instead of using outside investors, which I had, I opted instead to partner with like minded industry peers from the medical marijuana space, people I had known for years and had done business with for years. Ultimately myself and Richard levinsohn compromise the majority of the ownership and management team. We are manufacturing out of the San Fernando Valley and have been in the market for just under 2 years. I also live in the valley. As a child I wanted to be an “educated bum” that is a direct quote but I think what it really meant was that I would only do something i was extremely passionate about. At a young age I was obsessed with Henry David Thorough (lived with my mother near walden pond) and specifically its the idea that he wanted to separate himself from society in order to figure out what was truly important for him, that always resonated with me. The act of placing ones ideals above ones own comfort, societal norms, life, and that message is reflected in our plight as an industry. All of us who started in this industry before it was legal have all paid a price and carry on our shoulders all the lives that where ruined by the extreme prohibition of these now “essential” medicine. I have been relatively lucky during the last 12 years in CA working in the “traditional market” but there are many who where not. My mentor is all those people who came before me in this industry and paid the ultimate price. – Please tell me about your business? What is your six and twelve-month goal? What obstacles stand in your way? How do you anticipate removing them? – CALIHASH is a boutique cold water extraction company, we create craft cannabis extractions using solely water and ice. We have been operating in the recreational space since late 2018 and offer a complete line of pressed or raw ice water hash and a complete line of hash-infused marijuana pre rolls. Our 6 month goal, other than pandemic related challenges, is to launch our sister brand “The Hashlab” which will offer a complete line of tinctures, capsules, sublingual, and topical care. Fundamentally The Hashlab will focus on the therapeutic and medicinal aspects of the cannabis plant, nothing combustible and teaming up with Doctors to better understand the crucially important medicinal side of the plant. We are excited to launch a full line of Hash Tinctures to start which should be coming to market around July. In 12 months, this time next year, we should have a both brands fully established with all categories and SKUS available at all Californian retailers. The biggest challenges for us is expanding in a controlled manner with the correct distribution partners and how we manage that risk is too never over extend and maintain that crucial consistency of product. – What about stigmas? Do you run into them with traditional business channels? How do you choose your clients? Do you enjoy cannabis? CBD? Entourage Effect? – Having worked 12 years stateside in the industry I’m almost oblivious to stigmas here in California the public is pretty accepting however when abroad back home in Spain the stigmas are all too obvious again. We are extremely progressive about Marijuana culture in California and enjoy a large amount of freedom as such. Our clients choose us. I enjoy cannabis daily and absolute advocate for entourage effect, all cannabinoids or nothing! – Do you cook? What is your favorite thing to prepare? Do you have a food memory from childhood that you’d like to share? Favorite restaurant? Where? – love to cook, favorite dinner is roast chicken with all the fixins. Food memory would be eating thanksgiving as a small child with mother. Favorite restaurant in LA is Gjelinas on Abbott Kinney in Venice CA. – What is your passion? – My passion is to create sustainable companies in the marijuana industry allowing safe access for all. My mother passing away from cancer in 1993 should have had access to the relief marijuana offers. Im passionate and excited to uncover the other therapeutic uses for cannabinoids. I want to unlock the secrets of this plant and potentially improve the lives of people. We look the world over for compounds and molecules in nature that can help us in medicine and for a century one of the most promising candidates has been denied proper study because of ignorance and profit, that needs to come to an end. It is negligent to ignore the benefits of this plant and we have only begun to understand her secrets.
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