Meet Cannapreneur Ry A.K. Russell
1. What is the story of how TheWeedsBudz.com and BuddingCanapreneur.com came to be?
I owned a marketing company for many years and we helped build some local brands, the biggest being what is called the Saco Drive In movie theater. I took control over that in 2001 and tried to make it “cool” again, mission accomplished. When I left the drive-in shortly after the start of 2015, I focused on building business and continued to market other products. In 2017 a friend of mine noticed how much pain management and sleeping aids I took and recommended I try cannabis. I refused. Adamantly. After some time, I started to have severe stomach issues from everything I was taking. I finally said I would try it because I had a migraine and really just wanted to sleep. I smoked with my friend and I went to bed about 15 minutes later and slept better than ever before. I continued for about a week or so and decided it was helping, but there was something about it, maybe the stigma, maybe what my family would think. So, I decided to stop. A few weeks later, I wasn’t feeling well again and had enough. After a year, I finally said “this is stupid.” I became a medical marijuana patient, and I have never felt better.
That being said, I’m not a scientist or a doctor, but I am someone that can create conversations and engage with people. I felt like it was time to humanize this “demon drug.” That’s when I started The Weed Budz and Budding Cannapreneur.
2. What is your mission?
My good friend Darrin came up with the name The Weed Budz and we decided to build a community out of it to help give a voice to those that may also be afraid to talk about cannabis publicly. At the end of the day, aren’t we all just trying to live our best lives and be happy and healthy? That’s why we exist - to grow and to fertilize an engaged activist community around this wonderful plant.
3. Can you tell us about your products? What makes your take on cannabis unique?
Our product right now is community. We are a media company that will be phasing in different podcasts, websites, blogs, and video content that sparks conversation and helps the world see cannabis a little differently. We have sports shows coming, cooking, healthy living and much more. The more we can collaborate with others and grow our audience through different communities and channels, the more significant impact we can make in the long run.
I was one of those people that hated cannabis and thought it made people lazy, but there is truly so much science that can go into this and help people live their best lives. One of the things I think about — and not to take a dark turn — but one question that sticks in my mind is if my grandmother used cannabis to treat some of her ailments instead of some other treatments, could I have had one more day with her? If so, I don’t regret that science wasn’t there, however, I want to make sure that it is there for someone else. Maybe, one day, they will be able to get ONE MORE day with their loved ones. If The Weed Budz and our growing network can help spark conversations and bring attention to the science and reduce the stigma, it will inevitably bring happiness…That’s my long-winded sappy rant on why this is important. My other grandparents on my dad’s side, dad’s father, and my grandfather use cannabis to supplement his cancer treatments. My dad’s mother, my grandmother, uses cannabis products to assist with pain management as well. To me, it’s special. [I am open to] any product that can make my family’s life a little better. I will do everything I can to help communicate and educate others.
4. What's the biggest challenge of working in the cannabis space and the biggest reward?
Challenges: goodness, what isn’t a challenge right now? I see what’s going on as states adopt policy and regulations. In Ohio, for example, their medical program…isn’t benefitting the consumer the way it should. It might not be a challenge for me per se as a spokesperson, but it certainly is when you’re trying to help people obtain their cards and product. The growers and dispensaries in Ohio are micromanaged to an absurd level and costs for the customer are not where they should be. This is a medicine that can have some fun recreational benefits as well, but it is medicine first. If I break my knee…they give me opioids and all the issues we see with that, but insurance won’t cover a smoke? Give me a break. Then, in Maine, I’m watching now as they adopt recreational laws — don’t misunderstand me — I want anything going in our bodies to be regulated to an extent, but I feel the consumer is owed a level of responsibility but at the same time we also need to protect industry and ensure laws and taxes don’t hurt consumers.