Learning How Cannabis Plays A Role In Healthcare

Brandon Quan | Founder

Published: June 20, 2022

Hybrid Pharm is Canada’s first specialty cannabis pharmacy. Their services include prescriptions and compounding, medical cannabis access and education, and wellness services.

Their emphasis on lifestyle modification strives to bring the community together to learn, grow and live healthier lives. Visit https://hybridpharm.com/ to learn more.


Cannabud Marketing is the top digital marketing agency for Cannabis Dispensaries. Our specialized expertise will put you in the best position to succeed when working with us.


What’s going on guys. Welcome to another episode of the dispensary marketing podcast. I’m your host, Brandon Quan.

The founder of Cannabud Marketing. We’re the number one marketing agency for dispensaries, both in Canada and the United States. And I’m joined here by Raim, the founder, the president of hybrid farm. Uh, he’s got some really, really cool insights on the medical side of the cannabis industry and, you know, really, really excited to have him on.

So welcome to the show. Thanks so much, Brandon. This is awesome. All right, so let’s dive into it. So let’s just start with the basic question. Tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about what you go got going on a hybrid for sounds good. Um, so yeah, my name’s Rahim. I am a pharmacist by trade.

I went to school in the us, so I graduated from, uh, Massachusetts college of pharmacy in Boston in 2009. Um, honestly I grew up in a pharmacy. My dad owned like three, four pharmacies in the surrounding OWA area and then two in north bay. So it, uh, I was always in there when I was as early, as like 10 years old working beside my dad.

So that’s kind of what kind of drove me into pharmacy. And he’s like, yeah, you know, just go, you should go to get your pharmacy degree. And then when you’re done, you can come take over the business. And, you know, that’s how I thought my life was gonna go. But, um, obviously clearly life has different plans.

And when I, uh, moved back from pharmacy school, he ended up, uh, having cancer. He had stage four cancer. Um, so that’s kind of where I started my cannabis journey to, with, with, you know, my parents and with, you know, the, the greater community health community. And I started him on oils, helping him with like his pain management, his nausea, vomiting for chemotherapy helped him eat a little bit better.

So it was from there that, that I kind of came up with this idea of hybrid farm. And like, I, I knew people like my dad in the same situation who have never been exposed to cannabis, never don’t have that background knowledge. They, they were, they’re gonna need an outlet to be able to come to and be like, look, I have questions about cannabis.

I have questions about medicine. I have questions about interactions and drugs and everything. So, um, and I thought, you know, this is a good opportunity to use my pharmaceutical knowledge. My, my degree here, my ability to, you know, dispense narcotic medications and integrate it with a cannabis based model and even further from that a, a emerging therapies based model.

And that’s where, uh, hybrid farm kind of grew. Right, right. Awesome. So I’m, I’m curious as to, you know, a lot of people skim over like the, the initial starting steps and I just kind of wanna have this conversation for a lot of people like, Hey, you know, this medical kind of business model and we’ll touch into like, what that actually entails a little bit later, but like, okay, so boom, you’re in pharmacy.

You’re like, Hey, uh, you know, I see a need in the market, right. Something that hits, you know, close to home kind of thing, and you want to start this right. What did that start actually look like? Did you have an existing network that you can kind of leverage? Did you bootstrap this all by yourself? Did you have some co-founders and partners that you had on that kind of went in, like, how did this look for anyone who like actually wants to go in and what’s the next step for them to take from? Well, I did the bold, I did the bold thing.

I started Greenfield. So Greenfield pharmacy is like, you’re not attached to doctor’s offices. You’re not attached to a clinic. You’re not attached to a hospital. You’re not even attached to like a big name banner. Right? I did. I went completely independent, started up a, I found a location that I found was obviously geared towards a, either higher income, but also greener lifestyle.

Right. So you, if you look around the neighborhood of Westborough in Ottawa, you see a lot of like, you know, unique coffee shops, yoga and Lulu lemon. And there’s like a lot of this green mentality. Right? So you think like in, and that meant, and that’s scope of things. That’s, that’s where you’d want to launch this kind of very new model, because people are gonna be very adaptive to it.

And people are searching for these type of new treatments, new therapies, alternative therapies. Right. I mean, if you walk around here, you’ll see like chiropractors, you’ll see naturopath clinics, you’ll see everything. Right. So it’s a, it it’s, it’s one of those, that’s how that started. Right.

But I mean, honestly, if someone’s coming into the market now, I would be like, start with a clinic, start with some sort of foundational place where you can attract consumers, attract patients and have that patient traffic flow. So like a physical location is what you’re, you’re saying. Yeah. Yeah.

So bring in physical location, bring in some people build up that, that I guess that client list or that patient list. Right? Yeah. And then maybe from there expand the services and products that you offer, or would you just say, Hey, I wanna do everything at once. Or would you try and appeal to maybe a specific, you know, niche? You know, like you said, maybe start with the oils and say, Hey, this has a service for a specific subset of people let’s get the system operate and then move on.

Or is it more so we want to capture as many people as possible. So let’s do all these different things. I mean, what I’m finding now, even like, so when I first started this, this is 2018. I launched right before actually July, 2018. So right before recreational legalization started before the onset of in October before all the rec stores started to come about.

And what we, what I’ve noticed is that there’s like really a couple main categories of, you know, medicine that people are searching out for when using cannabis. Right, right. Anxiety, pain sleep. So it kind of built my front store that way too. Right. I’m I don’t have every single vitamin offering that you find out like, you know, Loblaws or shoppers or, you know, any, any of the big chain pharmacies.

Um, it is very specific. It is very specific to location. It’s very specific to disease state as well. So that’s what makes it really unique in that, you know, you’re not overwhelmed by a bombardment of different products. You’re, you’re very much, you know, kind of focused in, on certain ailments. So you essentially focus on the, the problem, like you said, the anxiety, the sleep or whatever it is, right.

Maybe the pain relief sort of thing had products for that. And then use that as a selling point versus saying, Hey, I have product a instead, you know, is that what you’re kind of getting at? Yeah, for sure. I mean, again, like we started as a clinic owner, right. So we were, we had a nurse practitioner MD in our physical location, seeing patients, then we, once they get the prescription, we would send it off to a licensed producer at the time.

Right. Um, all in the meantime we were applying for our own LP license. So we could, you know, actually physically hold product here at the store. Right. And then distribute. But that’s why that’s why it started there. And then it just obviously unfolded over, over time to, to where we are today. Nice. So what are you finding the biggest differences between the medical side and the recreational side right now? Um, it’s right now it’s intention, right? The that’s like my main reason, like, what’s the difference between medical versus rec is intention, right.

What, what you’re using it for. Right. And most of these patients that are coming in, I mean, I’ll tell you, my demographic is 55 plus, right. And they’re, they’re using multiple medications and they’re either, you know, failing conventional therapy. They’re not, you know, doing well, they’re having side effects.

They are, they’re, they’re concerned about, you know, potential habitation addiction with some of these medications. So they’re looking for alternative solutions and, you know, we’re here to provide that oversight, that medical knowledge that can’t be done within the recreational realms, or even, even take it a little bit further, even to the licensed producers, because again, what they, what they function as is manufacturers, right? They’re not, they’re not caregivers.

And, you know, I get this question a lot and I have this, you know, a lot of these complaints from patients saying like, you know, I was told to get a different product directly from the call center and licensed producer. And to me, that’s like worrisome because now you can, you know, you can fall into the trap of like drug interactions, you know, disease, state interactions, patients are get ended up getting side effects, calling ambulances, going to the hospital necessarily.

And all these things could be avoided. If, you know, if we had a sit down, had a consultation, had had a little bit of insight into what this patient was using or what they were taking and, you know, direct them in inappropriate manner. Right. So what’s happening right now is like to boil it down. Something simply is just like people aren’t, who aren’t qualified to give specific advice for specific ailments are giving advice.

And then that could potentially create a domino effect where it affects what you’re doing, because people are getting upset from other recommendations. Right. Oh, totally. Yeah. I mean, and it’s, I don’t think it’s, it’s not the patient’s fault cuz what what’s happening now in this entire industry across this country is that we have a, a flurry of recreational outlets.

There’s like, there’s more than there even our consumers. I, I wanna say, I mean, I actually just did a talk about this at, uh, one of my lectures and there’s like 1500 plus recreational stores in Ontario where there’s only about 660 or so L CBOs. So I mean, you’re almost like doubling that number for a product that most patients, most people don’t know how to use.

Most of ’em are cannabis naive. I mean, we we’ve essentially just launched cannabis into the stratosphere and on a very cannabis, naive population. And we expect people not to have questions and, and, and, you know, seek advice. That’s, it’s, it’s not feasible. Right. Um, and even if you’re looking at the numbers too, like you look at the medical registrations on health, Canada website from like 2019 to like to now, to, to present, they’ve gone down by like 30% year by year.

And the number of like, and I actually did this, this is part of my lecture, the number of oils that pay people are using from 2019 to present increased by 50% in the medical market increased by 540% in the recreational market, which obviously shows you that like most people are not using the medical market anymore.

They don’t, they have barriers to entry. You don’t wanna get a prescription. They don’t want to go through that whole process. They don’t wanna wait a week to get delivered to your door. They’re walking into the nearest site, possible finding whatever thinks they help them on the internet and they go and purchase that.

And so there, there is a huge gap and a huge disconnect right there. And that’s what, honestly, that’s a big problem. We are trying to solve with our model here. So you’re finding a lot of people are doing the whole self medication, do it yourself, type thing, looking on internet WebMD saying, Hey, you should try this for this issue.

And then again, creating the, the, a wrong kind of environment for themselves creating like a bunch of problem zone plan, right? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So on that end, what are you not, maybe not you personally, but how is hybrid farm aside from obviously having your typical stuff, talking the retail stores up and stuff like that.

What are your plans to try and I guess help reduce this problem, I guess from an education standpoint? Um, yeah, like we’re, we’re always lending a hand. Like, I mean, we have, you know, we, we talk to like myself, like my co-founder Angelo right on the road talking to a lot of different bud tenderers, you know, going to the businesses, like just letting them know that, you know, Hey, we’re here, we’re in Ottawa.

We exist for anyone that has questions about medical. Like seek us out because you know, we’re here to help. Right. You know, and at the, at the end of the day, it’s, it’s not just, you know, we’re not just slanging weed, like we’re slang in medicine. Right. You know that that’s at the end of the day, that’s what its right.

Right. And if we’re gonna call cannabis in medicine, if we see how you know, it’s important, it’s been in many patients lives. We see how many, like look at the seizure trials. Like my God, if, if, if anyone actually wants to really get into cannabis as a medicine, look at the seizure trials, look how like effective it has been for some of these seizure disorders.

And my worry is that why, if we did this, we legalized it because of this reason. Right. Then why do we find it okay. For that patient or that mother to go to a rec store and buy that CBD oil for that patient. Right. Right. Cause that’s, what’s happening now. As much as we wanna say, oh, there’s a medical side.

There’s yeah. But no, like, yeah. So I don’t wanna get into the conspiracy side of things, but there’s a whole thing, you know, big pharma, you got cannabis and like eating into like the drugs and stuff that they can sell. Right. Are you, are you finding this to be the case like from just a personal level? Not really.

No. I mean, I mean, again, like a big, a big opportunity that I see here is also like streamlining patient’s, you know, medications that they’re using. Right. So like when, when we started this back in 2018, I never realized how much, you know, patients ended up coming off of certain medications. Right.

It was a big pharma conspiracy to block, you know, cannabis be becoming sure, whatever. I mean, like, I don’t know any more proof , but it, it can have, you know, dose reduction strategies. Like we we’ve seen patients come off with some of their hypnotics and, you know, benzodiazepines that they use for sleep management or anxiety, panic attack.

Um, we’ve, we’ve seen them come off of some pain management medications too. So it’s, it, it is a way to help patients, you know, streamline their medications, make it, you know, better choices, alternate choices that may be more suited to their, you know, their diagnosis and their condition. Okay. Right.

So it sounds like you’re doing a lot of good for a lot of people, but obviously you’re only in Ottawa right now. So what are your plans to essentially expand and then kind of like just, I guess do better for more. Absolutely. I mean, we’re, we’re talking to a bunch of pharmacists across the country, right.

We’re trying to, you know, instill a, kind of a, a medical retail model within their pharmacy realms. And just to kind of get this, you know, molecule into the hands of pharmacists, um, you know, if you look at countries around the world, you know, we’re looking at like Chile, we’re looking at Euro way, looking at, uh, a lot of countries in Europe, they’re all going through a pharmacy distribution model.

And I think it’s time Canada needs to adapt to that as we are seeing a lot of, a lot of big uptake in the medical side. So yeah. Like, you know, and I think we spoke about this before. Like, I don’t know if what we’re doing in Canada right. Is kind of pushing that, that envelope on the innovation level. Right. I think at this point, like, you know, again, to boil it down, basics is like, okay, how can Canada make the most amount of money by taxing this product? Right.

But, you know, we have the benefit of having it being legal in Canada. Not, not like in the states where it’s like on a state by state basis where I do think there’s a lot of resources we can pour into kind of doing things like this to your point, right? Oh yeah. I mean, Canada could have, we could have been the exporter of a lot right now.

I mean, being legal for so long, even like on the medical side, we’ve been legal since 2001, we’ve had the onset of, you know, licensed producers since like 2013. And since that time, what have we been doing? Like, I feel like it’s been very, you know, dump and pump and we’re just making products that are more geared towards recreational, more geared toward lifestyle versus, you know, creating patented products, like, look at GW pharmaceuticals.

They’ve been doing this in the UK for so long. They just got boughted out for like three quarters of a billion dollars. Why where’s Canada’s innovation. Right. Right. You know, is one of those things much above this plant that we don’t know. And yeah, I think that’s, we have, we have the brilliant opportunity that it’s legal here.

Yeah. It’s, it’s a recognized industry. And yet I think we’re still in the very nascent stages of just immaturity. Right. We’re just, oh, let’s pump a bunch of flour out and let’s get high THD. Let’s get all these concentrates and dabs and yeah, yeah. Let’s have fun, but you know what, there’s a real, there’s a real drug development side here that we’re really missing out.

Right. And I think a lot of these countries around the world that are coming online and coming into the medical cannabis realm could use a lot of this knowledge that we’ve had a head start on and I think we’re just falling apart. Right. Well, the, the knowledge we’re supposed to have a head start on. So so, so we’ll, we’ll see all of that.

Um, but so I guess transitioning into kind of like, you know, your retail model and stuff like this, and this is what we spoke about my experience in the recreational space in terms from a marketing standpoint is like, Hey, how do we generate as many sales as possible? Right. But I think obviously on your side, it’s on the educational side, helping people, but we spoke about like your KPIs being more so medical, patient signups and stuff like that.

So would you be able to just kind of elaborate, talk about them, how that works specifically for you guys? Yeah. Like usually, I mean, what we try to focus on, especially now that we’re trying, we’re putting a little bit of, you know, funds into marketing is how do, how do we reach patients in, in certain demographics in certain, you know, either medical, demographics, certain age demographics, um, how do we get them to sign up for consultation? How do we, and then from there it’s about retention, right? Like my goal is obviously to, as a pharmacist, it’s easier if you have all your medications in one place, right.

I don’t want you coming here just buying your cannabis for me and then going off to your other places. Cause I won’t be able to keep track of that. Yeah. And a lot of the patients end up having questions about like, how do I get off this medication? How do I, how do I get off my benzo? Like lorazepam, how do I do that? Okay, well this is something we can help with, but I it’s difficult to do that.

If you’re at three different pharmacies going to three different doctors and you know, like you need to streamline your life and lead to streamline these processes. Yeah. That’s, that’s kinda what we want to help with. And that’s, that’s a big, that’s a big point of like, you know, a KPI as in how we’re measuring, how many patients are coming through our doors.

How many are, you know, getting consultations? How many are retaining the patient? Are they transferring their prescriptions in? How is that? So your, so your funnel essentially comes down to okay. General awareness, right. You know, they know you, this sort of thing. And then they go first into a consultation.

And then from that consultation, it goes into, uh, prescription. Or how does that process from consultation to actually becoming a patient with the consultation would be, um, a discussion with our nurse practitioner and or doctor, right. So like a prescription for medical cannabis. And then from there, the pharmacist ends up, like myself will end up talking with the patient after discussing their goals, discussing their different medications, looking at drug interactions, creating like a treatment plan for them.

So they can help, you know, follow along with what their goals are. And then from there, it it’s mainly about maintenance, you know? So we get calls every single day, Hey, I have this problem. Oh, I just started this new medication. Oh, I have a side effect. Like these are things we can easily mitigate with a simple phone call or simple accessibility at a retail store.

Right. Right. And for the most part, like, I’m sure you can bucket like most problems, like you said, sleep pain, anxiety and stuff like that. Are those the three main things that you’re finding about what people are coming to? Or is it also that subset of, Hey, I’m on this medication, I have this side effect, you know, that sort of thing.

Yeah. It’s, it’s mainly like, oh I have, I have this issue. I have like, you know, chronic insomnia. I have anxiety, I have pain. I don’t want to use pharmaceuticals. How can you suggest an alternative, right. Or it’s I bought this at the rec store. I’m not sure how to use it. Um, can you help me guide me through that? Um, don’t get me wrong.

We do get, you know, obviously more severe cases, you know, of course therapies the cancers, like the seizure disorders, things like that. Um, but on the most part in the, in the general community, I think the, the three main things, people are always asking about anxiety, pain, sleep, anxiety, pain, sleep, and a lot of patients are concerned about the current medications they’re using and the longevity of how can, how long can I actually sustain on these medications for, is it actually helping my condition? So these are kind of things we gotta work through, especially on a medical side is, you know, setting expectations and setting like kind of parameters of like, is this successful or not? Right.

Cause again, most, some patients are not even successful on campus at all. Yeah. So, so you have to essentially just, just test to see if it works. Right. You know, you have same thing in marketing, you have best practices of what generally works over the just broad overview for most people. But you know, you have to try different dosages, different strains, like whatever it is to try and make it work.

Right. Yeah. Um, are you finding that patients are able to kind of lean off the dosage is as they like, so let’s just say you’re on, I don’t know, a couple of medications, like pharmaceutical medications and medicines and stuff like that. They switch to the cannabis side. Are they able to wean off on the concentrations of the dosages of that? Or are you finding like, well, works, works, stay with it, don’t touch it kind of thing.

De depends. And it depends, but yes, like on the, on the general general, obviously generally speaking, there’s gonna be use cases. And I find like, so we actually just published study, um, it’s in the Canadian pharmacist journal and it was about cannabis and insomnia. Right. And we had about, I believe it was about 30% of patients ended up having to reduce or stop completely their sleep medication because they found either CBD and or tht was effective for their treatment.

Ah, nice. Okay. That’s yeah. You know, people say like, you know, cannabis is not a gate rate, an exit, right. I mean, there, there is some truth to that, obviously a lot more studies and like larger case cohorts need to be done, but it’s something that we shouldn’t be turning our back to because there’s not enough studies.

I absolutely hate when people say that. I hate when doctors say that I hate when any practitioner or healthcare provider says, there’s not enough studies. Well, you know, every single drug didn’t have studies at one point in time. Right. They all had to get it at some point. Right. Exactly. And I think this is where we need to, you try to provide your best, you know, evidence based foot and provide the most sound advice to these patients.

And obviously you work with their healthcare teams, you work with their doctors to help kind of strategize and manage, manage the, your, their best opportunities, their best medications. Right. Right. And yeah, I find it’s like, it’s, it’s all about intentions, right? Yeah. And obviously you’re coming from a place where, how can I help this person out the best? Right.

And you might not be right all the time, but the intention is helping the person out. Right. Whereas as you mentioned on the recreational side or the manufacturer side, it’s like, Hey, maybe I just know this person and I’m getting a kickback from that person. Or maybe this is a higher profit margin product for me.

Or, Hey, I need to move this product off the shelf. And you know, like I wanna get rid of it. Right. I’m not saying all people are bad like that, but we know that both yourself and you know, hopefully everyone else in the medical pharmacy side has that intention of how can we help this person out the best. And then obviously you’re gonna come out with studies like, Hey, this is what works and you know, same thing, right.

The analogy and same thing in the marketing world. Right. I have case studies of what I’ve done for clients that have helped them out on the marketing side. I’m gonna try my best you out with that stuff. It may or may not work, but my intention is to help you out best as possible. And I think that’s the same kind of strategy that you guys are employing and you know, I think it’s working well.

Absolutely. Yeah. Um, so on, I guess on the, the barrier to entry side, so I have a, like my hypothesis is that like, you know, medical now is not necessarily like a constraint for building a business in terms of like what people can or cannot do. Cuz like you said, there’s seems like millions and millions of recreational, uh, popups coming up.

But you have the pharmacy side where you exactly have a niche, you know, who you’re helping, you have a key demographic and then you have services and stuff that you’re offering to help those people. Right. So, uh, do you have, you know, does that make sense on your end? Are you finding it? I wouldn’t necessarily say easier, but are you finding that, you know, you can now leverage medical, being a benefit versus a constraint on your side of things? Yes.

I mean, I think a lot of our growth has become from organic mm-hmm word of mouth friends. Um, acquaint is relatives telling them, oh, go see hi in front of they know what they’re talking about. Um, even on the medical side with, you know, connecting with healthcare or practitioners like doctors and nurse practitioners in the community, they have also reached out and we have reached out to them letting ’em know, like we’re here to help.

And I think that that’s been a big opportunity and a big benefit essentially is that we, you know, as much as we have not really put that much money into marketing, it’s, it’s been a steady flow thus far. And I think a little bit of the constraints and I find the barriers to entry. Sometimes it’s frustrating too.

When people come in and be like, Hey, do you have a topical for a CBD or THC? I’m like I do, but you need a prescription. And then from there their eyes just go, Ugh, I don’t wanna do that. I wanna go to my doctor, my doctor’s inaccesible yeah. You know, like these pieces start coming out. Right. And then they’re like, okay, I’m gonna go down the street.

Right. And then they go down to the street to get whatever they need to get. Yeah. Um, so it it’s, you have to kind of, you have to kind of really deal with a little bit of those, you know, kind of constraints on the medical side. Yeah. Um, there are some like written legislations that should be and need to be changed.

Um, one of them being taxes, I think Canada is over taxing this and they’re just taxing everyone back right into the, you know, the illicit market, which again was one of their main plans. And the main reasons of existence of legalization is let’s get rid of the illicit market and let’s regulate the supply and control it and see that.

But it’s, it’s I feel like with, with a medical model like this, with pharmacist dispensing, it can eventually turn into a place where patients don’t have to pay taxes because they’re using this for a verified medical purpose reason. Right. So it’s, it is harder to maybe get patients coming in through the door.

But once they come in, they are stick here for the most part. Right. Yeah. Know them, friends, family, that’s where the word of mouth comes around. I’m sure. Right. It’s like, Hey John, you know, you had this issue lingering. You seem to be all good now how, how did it work? They’re like, oh, these guys at hybrid farm kind of helped out.

Right? Oh yeah. So that’s probably the benefit for you, right? Yeah, absolutely. It’s, it’s been really, it’s been really well worked where I guess we’re blessed in that sense that people are talking about us in a, in a good light. So it’s getting a lot of referrals that way. Nice. So in terms of your marketing mix, you said you don’t do a lot of marketing and it seems like the word of mouth is really churning, but what have you done so far in terms of marketing and I guess getting patients through the door, even when you just, just first started out, how did that, how did you get to where you are at this point? A lot of knocking on doors, uh, like started with the doctors, um, you know, handing out our information, packages, letting them know that we’re here in Westboro, reach out if you have any questions.

Um, again, like Angelo has been really good at going to a lot of the recreational stores and you know, making connections with them, letting them know again, look, yeah, we’re here, we exist. We can help your patients out. And you know, you know, bless the bartenders. Bless, bless those guys because again, a lot of them are there also for the exact same reasons.

They’re there to help out they’re there to get the best intention of their client coming through that door. Right. A lot of ’em you don’t see, most of ’em are not malicious, right? Like they’re trying to, here’s a product, go sell em and have fun. A lot of them do have the best intention of like, okay, I want you to get, you know, streamlined approach here.

You’re asking medical questions. It’s very pointed that you’re obviously asking these questions, go talk to them. Yeah, no, they, they definitely are pretty good. I mean, if you look at a lot of Google reviews and you look at both, you know, most part, mostly on the recreational side, it’s like, yeah.

You know, John helped me out with this product or John, remember it was my birthday or, you know what I mean? And, and it seems like, and it’s good that they’re doing a good job, cuz that is the first impression that a lot of people get, especially when first stepping into this space cuz like a lot of people legalize, okay, first time buyers, like what is going on? I have no, like there’s so many things going on, what’s up.

Um, and I find if you have really good bud tenderers, you know, they can help on the educational side of things. At least again, the intention is there right. To the best of their ability. They think that if I say this, this will help out. Right. Um, so I’m happy to see that for the most part. And it’s good that you’re also benefiting, benefiting from that as well.

For sure. Um, so word of mouth knocking on doors doctors and that stuff, are you doing anything in the online space in terms of marketing? And um, we started, I mean Google’s AdWords and you know, obviously SEO, but not, uh, we, again, we’ve had barriers again, like I think most cannabis, uh, industry folk that we got blocked because of, you know, what we represent.

And even though we’re a pharmacy, like I’ll give you a great example. We tried to post and push a Facebook ad through, and this is about a study that we were conducting and it was about like, um, autism and cannabis. So we were trying to put that out to the market and be like, come see us, if you wanna participate in a study, this is actually being, you know, it’s ethical review board approved by the CHIO hospital.

So it was all, you know, way above board way legit. And we still got block saying that you can’t talk about these things. I’m like, well, how, I mean, you, I feel like it’s almost on social media. It’s like you have this amazing platform, you have the reach. And I feel like it’s almost like your ethical responsibility to be able to put out proper information, obviously that’s not happening.

But that was, that was a barrier that we obviously had to overcome and like, alright, I guess we can’t really do too much online with being a pharmacy that sounds cannabis. Um, so we had to kind of figure out different ways we had to kind of work around those, those, you know, those barriers. Yeah. So what did you end up doing in, were you able to push that through at all? Or was it just a, no, it, it was more like, um, posting from our various like, you know, independent, um, profiles and going into like those subgroups and categories and just, yeah.

Kind of spreading, spreading the knowledge like that way. So just putting it in like the Facebook groups or whatever it is and getting that even our Instagram got taken down too, I was gonna ask, I was like, you know, were you cause you and hope at least on the medical side of things, cuz I I’ve spoken to like must be like about 75% of people that have of dispensaries that I’ve spoken to.

They’ve had their account banned suspended, or at least shut down. And then they eventually were able to get at that for whatever reason. And it seemed like, you know, there’s a whole bunch of issues, so that’s the same for you. Oh my God. I know. I, it blew my mind too. I’m like we weren’t even posting even any like flower shots or mug shots or anything.

Right. Like it was obviously we’re talking cannabis, we’re talking medical, but of course, and then we have vitamins and like, you know, natural health products that we sell over the counter, things like that. And we still got shut down and I was like, this is, this is getting pretty ridiculous. Yeah.

Have you done anything on the direct mail side of things like you, you still need to be age gated, right? No. No. So are you, are you able to run any direct mail marketing campaigns like postage and stuff like that? Or have you tried that? Yeah, we, we did try that. Uh, we did do a couple through like Canada post, um, within like a, I think it was like a two to three kilometer vicinity of our store.

Right. This was mainly actually targeting patients about like vaccinations as well as like COVID testing and ion test kit, stuff like that because of like, Hey, we’re kind of a new pharmacy here in your, in your neighborhood book, your appointment online. Yeah. So we did that, it’s it is, I’ll say somewhat successful.

I mean it brought more awareness that, you know, we’re not just a cannabis place where we’re also like a pharmacy yeah. That drove in traffic. So I guess on the overall marketing standpoint, right now, you wouldn’t say you’re necessarily investing too much time slash resources into direct kind of, uh, marketing, but more so like in the services that you offer.

So then your services get better. Word of mouth gets better and that is the main driver of how you’re growing your business right now. Right? Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. It’s about surrounding services that, you know, we’re trying to implement and kind of integrate this new, new brand, this new genre pharmacy into the community.

And you mentioned you were trying to open up more locations as well. Was that part of your game plan? So what were you looking to expand? Um, so we have a, a couple going up in like, uh, Saskatchewan, um, BC, uh, Atlantic Canada. Um, so yeah, we are looking to put to one of these stores in every province across country.

Wow, nice. So if anyone’s looking point, right. I was looking for the pharmacy hybrid farm, you know where to go? Uh, what’s a timeline for that, uh, the next six months. Oh, so soon so not. Okay. All right. That’s that’s awesome. So, um, like, yeah, so I’m, I’m just very curious again, like on the marketing side of things.

So you mentioned Angelo was the go-to guy to kind of knock on the doors, kind of do the, the cold introductions and stuff like that. So is your plan upon opening up for these new locations to have an Angelo equivalent to then do all these different things and then essentially use that word of mouth to continue going? Or do you plan on doing something else to kind of just boost your awareness at the start? Yeah.

And then you can kind of like do that. Like what is the general game plan on that side of, well, both. I mean generally like once we start, once we have those established locations, like we will be investing heavily into marketing and starting to get, you know, kind of our, our brand and our, and our image and our in our, you know, the communications of how, what that brand represents, right.

To really go to mass market. Right. And just really start attracting, you know, new, new patients, new faces to a, essentially a new subset of what a pharmacy can be and what it should be. Right. Right. And are you, I would assume you don’t really need to do this, but on the loyalty side of things is, you know, what I talk about for a lot of the recreational spaces, it’s like, how do you get your customers to come back over and over again? Right.

Yeah. Cause it’s super easy to just, Hey, you know, I had a bad experience at bad product and then kind of move. But with you guys, you have the, um, I guess the luxury to kind of have the prescription, have the patient kind of with you for the long haul. So are you leveraging kind of like SMS and email marketing at all? Like maybe from an educational standpoint, you’re saying, Hey, we release this study, come check it out.

Like, are you doing any of that or is it just email we’re starting to, we’re starting to definitely use email, um, loyalty eventually will get into, as we again, expand our footprint. Right. Again, we’re like one small store in Ottawa. That’s, you know, kinda, I say we’re always in start on Mo. Right. But it, it, I think that will become a big part of the platform as we expand.

Um, I do like the mail marketing, email marketing. Yeah. Um, especially cuz I I’ll give you example. We did one for our rapid antigen test kits when they first were coming into the community, we blasted out to like all of our patients that signed up with us over the course of this pandemic and since our inception.

So we blast that out. Everyone’s like really receptive to that. They’re like, oh thank you so much for letting us know and started to come in, pick up their test kits, like things like that. So it, it has been successful. I think that’s something that we’ll stick with in the, in the long run, especially like blasting out little snippets of like, you know, what’s coming up or yes.

You know, what’s, what’s new in the community. Some education about, you know, surrounding ment therapies. Um, like new studies we publish. Yeah. Nice. Okay. Yeah. Cuz I’ve found that for marketing campaigns, like a lot of people look at the open rates cuz like again on the rec side it’s like, Hey, we have this new product for 20% off, blah, blah, blah.

But if you have people responding to your emails and they know that it’s a newsletter, that’s like, that’s, it’s almost magical because like they’re interacting directly with this thing and they know what’s not customized like, Hey, insert name, here’s all these things. So again, like I think the, the play of the educational intention of what they have going on, cuz they know it’s not just like, Hey, how can this company just make the most amount of money for me? Right.

Cause there’s a sale. It’s like, Hey, they have this really cool thing that actually applies to what’s going on right now. Right. And again, think you guys are absolutely crushing it right now. Um, and yeah, just continually building that email asset is, is also very, very important. Right. Even if you’re not using the emails right now, they at least interacted with your brand at some point so that you got their email and I think that’s, you know, really, really key.

Yeah. That was, it was actually very open, like eye opening when we launched a couple of the emails and I was like, I didn’t realize how receptive it would’ve been. Right. But again, like maybe we had an advantage of like giving away free rabbit test, which was like hottest. It was like the season. Right.

It was, it was. Um, but yeah, we’ll see how that continues down, down our path. And well, you said your, your demo, your main demographic in terms of age was 55 plus. Right. Mm-hmm like, I, I feel like a lot of, you know, those people in those demographics, that email is still, you know, kind of their main thing.

Right? Yeah. Even like, um, direct, not direct mail in the sense of like, Hey, I have this product here’s what’s going on. But in the sense of like the newsletter equivalent of direct mail, right. So I don’t know if there’s a way you can kind of isolate the different addresses and say, Hey, these are our patients.

Like let’s send them a physical piece and think, um, yeah, I think the, I think that demographic still likes physical touch. They like, yes, they like, you know, coupons in the mail, they like flyers. Right? Like they’re receptive to that. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Well, there’s a reason why companies still do it to this day.

Right. We just can’t ignore that. Like offline advertising still is like a really big piece of what’s going on, right? Yeah. Yeah. That could be a barrier too, for a lot of patients is the online aspect and that’s again, reason probably why a lot of patients are not choosing to use the medical stream is because it’s only done online traditionally and really yeah.

Like for license producers, like you, you have to do everything online or via phone. So like a lot of ’em don’t have that knowhow capability. Some of ’em don’t have computers like, uh, again, they they’re relying on their kids or their grandkids to help them kind of navigate these waters. And, and we, we get that here at the pharmacy.

Like a lot of them, a lot of like boomers, you know what I mean? Like a lot of them are helping them out or, you know, facilitating the consultations, like they’re sitting in with them, helping them with their medication management. So. Nice. Okay, cool. So how you said, you mentioned you started 2018, right? Yep.

How have you seen the landscape change just in general, just from your perspective, what are the biggest things that you’ve seen for yourself? Um, I think it’s growing very honestly it’s growing pretty rapidly, right? There’s more and more people in that demographic range in that 65 plus range that are asking questions that are more curious about it that are more open to it and they’re more open to having cannabis conversations.

Right, right. I think that’s a great thing. I think we’re starting to, we’re starting to get educated about it. It’s still, it’s still very new. Like, you know what I mean? We’re still talking about CBD and THC. I mean we’re as the markets even globally are starting to progress into different cannabinoids progress into different, you know, products, but we’re still in that nascent phase where it’s very new and people need to start to kind of accept that this is now in medicine.

This is now part of our life. Right. So I think that’s, that’s been definitely changing over the course of even the past three years. Um, I mean, if you even look at the landscape it’s, it’s changed dramatically. Oh yeah. There’s a lot of license producers that have shut down. They’ve folded a lot of, um, medical LPs that have kind of either switched their gears and went right to rec or they’ve shut down completely.

Uh, a lot of them have given up their direct to direct to consumer sales. So they’re only selling through third parties. So that is also ever shifting. And this is what also kind of throws a lot of patience off. Right, right. Like I’m so confused. I don’t know what’s going on in the industry. Like, uh, it used to be registered there, but now I’m here.

Like everyone’s confused. like, well that’s the thing. Right? Like, you know, growing, I think a lot of people think, yeah, like it’s, it’s obviously a good thing, but with growth comes a lot of change, right? Like yeah. Business is going out of business. Business is eating other businesses.

Like, you know, business is just pivoting and doing something different. But when you’re looking at the consumer level, especially on the medical side, when you have the demographic that you do serve and things just like change just like this, it’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I spent like, you know, a full day talking with this person, next thing you know, their phone lines, not there or saying I have to call this other person or go straight to online.

Right. Yeah. Um, so there sounds like there are some growing pains for sure. On that sort of thing. Right. Oh yeah. Does, um, are you finding people are still trying to stay like secretive about their cannabis related consumption some yeah. Sometimes. Yeah. It’s sometimes like, you know, patients, um, choose to come in and, and you know, directly come in and pick up versus getting it delivered just cuz like stigma, like stigma’s still there for sure.

Yeah. Yeah. Some of them don’t wanna have those conversations with their doctor because they just feel like they’re gonna get, you know, looked at negatively so they tend to avoid it. And that’s why they don’t wanna sign up for a prescription or um, even have the extremes of like, oh, I don’t want to be on a roster with health Canada because I’m like track when I across the border or something.

So it’s like, yeah. A lot of people are still very like, you know, iffy on this stage of like cannabis even how it can potentially impact them globally. Yeah. Not even people in Canada, but interesting. Interesting. I mean, one of the, I don’t wanna say ridiculous, but one of the more extreme examples was like, there’s a credit like credit card statements too.

Yeah. Yeah. I don’t want this on my credit card. I’m like, who’s looking at credit card state, it’s your credit card state. So like who’s, you know, um, but yeah, that’s, that’s super interest. They’re like, yeah, I don’t wanna pay anything with credit card. They just want to pay with cash and here’s all the things, so yeah.

Like you’re right. You know, that whole stigma is there. So I think there’s like, there’s a few pieces of this, right. There’s a one stigma to be one accepted and then the educational piece to then use this thing to help benefit themselves or whoever else. Right. And I think those are the two main things while it sounds simple.

It sounds like there’s a lot of work to do though. Right. I find a lot of the, um, I, I don’t think you say ethnic community, but a lot of like, you know, like your, your Asian crowd, Muslim crowd, Indian, you know, like they, they have, maybe it’s a bigger stigma within those cultures. Yeah. Um, cause you know, a lot of my, like I’m from the smiley community, a lot of the smiley communities also like, Hey, can I take this? You know, like kind of whisper me.

I’m like, it’s okay, we’re talking medicine here. Like if you’re using this for healing purposes, then you know, your, your culture should be okay with that. Right. It’s the attention, right? Yeah, exactly. So that, that still definitely exists. And I think it, it, again, that, that comes with time yeah.

That comes with time and, you know, a global awareness of what cannabis is and, and can be. Right, right. So I guess to kind of end off my, you know, my final two questions. Um, so second last question is, um, do you have any additional nuggets of wisdom for, I guess, pharmacies, medical retail, or recreational retail, that’s looking to take it to the next level, what they should do.

And the next level is however you define, right. It could be operationally educationally, financially on the resource side, finding partners, what do you think they should do to take their game to the next level? I think honestly the medical community needs to step up their game. Um, and I’m talking like the broad spectrum of medical communities right.

Needs to really step it up because if not, then we’re just gonna be accepting of having 19 year olds sell medical products to patients. And they’re not gonna have any oversight on that. Right. So what do you mean by step up the game? So you mean just do everything more like let’s educate more people. Let’s just get ourselves out there.

Mm-hmm yeah. This option needs to get in, involved in pharmacy, in, into the dispensing realm, into, you know, and there’s, there’s a lot of different barriers, a lot of different levels that this needs to hit in terms of like, you know, politically it needs to hit into like the legislation and the changes that needed.

Um, but even on the go almost a systemic basis, it, it, it needs to be ingrained into our culture. Now it needs to start becoming part of a non taboo conversation. And if, if more, if the more medical community got behind this, because they see either the benefit or they see the need to educate on proper cannabis use and safe and effective use, then the better we are as society for having to use this and safely.

Right. Awesome. Awesome. Wow. Definitely, definitely. I’d be hitting. So like, yeah. Like I, I, I completely agree. Like I think in this space specifically, right now, like you said, in, in the growing industry, we have a lot of people that are, I don’t wanna say taking advantage, but taking advantage of this specific situation where maybe they can, you know, in most cases like, Hey, I can make a lot of money by doing this thing.

Right. Or, Hey, you know, my state only allows medical, so I’m gonna do medical just for the sake of it until recreational comes and just only do recreational. Right. Yeah. Um, but I do think that if medical is kind of your priority, it should be your intention to kind of benefit everyone else. And to your point, just, just do, just do better.

absolutely right. Like it, it goes even beyond like consumer patient, but even industry of like, I mean, like we need to start implementing this into treatment algorithms. This needs to start getting more clinical data and trials. And, you know, the, the, the funds that have been exposed in this entire industry over the past, you know, God knows how many years is, is like, seems like a waste of money at this point.

Right. Right. Or where did it all go? Right. Right. And, and I think that’s a big, it’s a big kind of almost, it’s a big like, ah, kind of point of like, you know, we, we should have had a lot more trials done. We should have had this. We should have had that by this time. And maybe this is a, a point to talk. If anybody listening out there, that’s not in Canada and they’re situated globally.

I mean, this is, these are, you know, stress points that we have here is that, I mean, we could be cannabis, could easily be falling into some good treatment algorithms, but we can’t do that yet until we have, you know, large perspective clinical trials. Right. And we, we could have gotten there, but again, we spend too much time focusing on the consumer, focusing on, you know, recreational use versus medical.

Right. Exactly. Exactly. The two need to coexist. Right. I mean, you can’t have one the other yeah. Hopefully, hopefully one day. And I don’t want to keep using one day, but hopefully like today, tomorrow, you know, sooner, sooner rather than later. Right. So, you know, I think it’ll, I mean, it’s hard not to, since the entire globe is starting to look at cannabis in a different light and starting to implement that into their countries and it’ll, it’ll happen.

It’ll happen. I believe it. Um, so I guess lastly, where can people get in touch if they wanna find you or maybe not necessarily you specifically, but hybrid farm where you guys located socials website, everything we’re here. We’re we are in, uh, Westboro we’re in Ottawa. Um, you can search online hybrid farm.com.

Uh, we’re also on Twitter, we’re on Facebook, we’re on LinkedIn, um, search us hybrid farm. Um, and we’re, we’re here available usually Monday through Saturday, 10 to 10 to five, and we can easily contact us. Um, our numbers are all on our website and we’re always here for open consultation about any of your medical needs, cannabis needs.

Um, and yeah, we’re always here to lend a helping hand. Awesome. Well, you heard it here first, if you know, you’re in, uh, you know, Westboro you’re in Ottawa soon to be, where is it? Saskatchewan, Toronto, Saskatchewan, Toronto, just all the provinces, you know, where to go, go to hybrid farm. And then if you own a dispensary, you know where to go to for some marketing, go to cat bid, marketing.com.

reach out to me if you need a free audit for anything like that. But thank you again, uh, for all of your nuggets of wisdom, like I said, the medical, you know, kind of industry is very, very new. So I really appreciate, you know, kind of sharing some of your insights and all that stuff. Um, but that was another episode of the dispensary marketing podcast.

And I’ll see you guys later. Thanks guys. Thanks so much, Brandon.

Article By

Brandon Quan

About The Author: A digital marketer with over 7 years of experience, Brandon Quan is wildly known as the top marketing expert within the Cannabis Industry.

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