As a part of my series about “the 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business ”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Wendy Robbins and Karen Paull. Robbins and Paull produce The Marijuana Show on Amazon Prime seen by millions. It’s the “Shark Tank of the cannabis industry.” — CNBC. They’ve offered $20 million to entrepreneurs, been named the most influential women in cannabis and women to watch in 2019. Wendy co-invented The Tingler head massager selling millions, has 2 Emmy awards and wrote the bestselling book, “Why Marry A Millionaire? Just Be One!” Karen Paull ran a successful digital marketing agency bringing in $25 million in revenue. She was VP of Sales at Snapfish and helped them be acquired by HP for $300 million.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with the ‘backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis space?

I starred in Kelly Ripa’s, “Homemade Millionaire,” series for TLC. My gig was to coach women inventors how to pitch HSN. Karen Paull, my wife and business partner wanted to star in a reality show. We wondered what we could produce a show on. This was 2014. We were smoking a joint at the time, and The Marijuana Show was born. CNBC calls it, “Shark Tank for the Cannabis Industry.” We had the idea and two weeks later we were shooting the auditions for the show in Denver, Colorado. Hundreds showed up including major press like CNBC, FOX, NPR, ABC, etc. Fast forward 5 years and the show has been seen by millions on Amazon Prime. 250 million have been reached through National mainstream news. (Fortune, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, WSJ, NY Times, Cheddar, Benzinga, Hollywood Reporter, etc) We are in pre-production on season 4 now. We have been called “The most influential women in cannabis and women to watch out for in 2019.”

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Very few people in our industry have bank accounts so one time, a sponsor was giving us a large sum of money. Stacks and stacks of hundred dollar bills. We brought our pitbull, Cleopatra with us to the meeting. She was a badass protector in her pink bling collar with the large spikes. We had to drive 5 hours to get back home and she sat on top of the money protecting it. That still cracks us up. It was like a scene from Breaking Bud.

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?

Trusting everyone. Season one of our show was shot in Denver. We had never been there and we didn’t know anyone. That all changed when we met a woman named Addison who introduced us to Dawn who introduced us to Chris who has a mansion in Cherry Creek and he let us shoot season one in his house. We had five days to shoot 10 episodes. We had a million dollars of liability insurance in case of an accident. Chris decided on the first day of the shoot that he would not let us into his house unless we had two million dollars worth of insurance. CNBC had a satellite truck outside to film our shoot and to interview us and he would not let them or the cast or us into his house for hours. The second season we shot at a gorgeous lake house in Denver. When we scouted the location it was quiet, gorgeous, perfect and affordable. We gave our crew Marijuana Show shirts, and as they got equipment from the vans, neighbors who we discovered hated cannabis started their lawn mowers and kept them going during most of the first day’s shoot. Some got into their boats and drove back and forth, engine on full throttle while giving us the finger. So we had to find another location, re-set the lights and one of the “Sharks/Investors” calls from the emergency room saying she can’t do the shoot. We only had two days to shoot the pitches with investors so that was incredibly hard to deal with. What we learned is to shoot in a professional studio so we won’t go through those things. We are shooting in Toronto, Canada this summer.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are shooting season four this summer in Canada, Israel, Columbia, Europe and the USA. The industry has grown up and now the “sharks/investors” are with public companies looking to acquire companies so the deals are huge. Tens of millions to hundreds of millions. It’s really exciting and so different from when we first started. Our show is on Amazon Prime. We partnered with Gravitas to analyze deals and make sure they have the best return on investment. 30 companies will pitch investors quality deals. We have the High Finance Fund that we manage so that accredited investors who are not on the show can invest in these valuable companies. We are focused on companies that are ready to go public, to scale big time or to be acquired so it’s a fantastic and unique opportunity for investors. We are the first in the world to have a fund and a television show. We also partnered with two amazing people from our show. Luke, season two, our farmer and Heather Lawrence, season three our formulator for Club Hemp. is a community of consumers who want education and lab tested, non gmo, organic, natural CBD and hemp products. Our health, beauty, edibles and pet products have won 4 awards for being best products on the market. We are humbled because there is so much competition. We welcome resellers, affiliates and distributers to join us.

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?

We needed an investment because we spent our own money to prove the concept. We were in Las Vegas at a cannabis conference with investors and Karen spoke with one who met us for a beer. He asked if we could put our business plan on a napkin. We did. He was impressed and asked us to send our full plan and financials to him. A week later almost a million dollars was put into our newly formed bank account. Four years later he is still a good mentor, networker and friend. We even visited him and his wife for my birthday. He gave me a PAX and 4 strains of oils to vape so we could be more relaxed and creative working.

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?

Be honest and honor those who went to prison over a plant, who still do. Our job is to educate, advocate, help legalize the plant. To end the stigma — to normalize cannabis. The Marijuana Show is one of the few ways to show who you, as an entrepreneur, as a brand, as a company truly are. We focus on integrity, on storytelling from the heart. Most of us are in this industry to help people in pain. We work in a Federally illegal industry so it’s an uphill journey every day. If you are in this industry just to make money, this industry will spit you out. So many went to prison over a plant and it’s due to their courage that any of us are in the industry. I would like to see the large legacy companies honor them. Our show is seen by millions as a marketing platform that tells the truth, shares the struggles, focuses on the dreams and distinguishes brands. We focus on ending the stigma and normalizing the plant.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry?

We see the industry as a community of visionaries, rebels taking on a system of big pharma, the Federal Government, State Governments… It’s exciting to educate, advocate and to help legalize cannabis. The stigma is fading away. We love how many powerful women are leading the way. We imagine we will be able to legalize this year in the USA since Mexico and Canada are recreationally legal now too. This will give us banking, better compliance and rules that make sense.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

It’s still Federally illegal. There are very few banks and merchant accounts available. Companies like Monsanto are coming in to create Frankenweed. CBD is not clearly defined as 100% legal and that is so wrong to us. Big pharma is behind that.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. The rules, laws, compliance changes daily from town to town really so it’s difficult to stay legal. Friends have gone to prison because of a changing law.

2. I wish I would have known how to talk with my mom about cannabis to get her off pharmaceutical pills. Maybe she would still be alive. This is our motivation now to produce our show. We share stories that show that conservative, frightened people can experience cannabis as an alternative to pain pills, sleeping pills, etc.

3. This industry is time consuming — life consuming — overwhelming and all of us need more help to balance our lives. Getting investment is really hard for start ups so one person ends up doing the job of ten people. Mistakes are made in an industry that is not forgiving. We work long hours and finally decided not to work weekends often. We take breaks during the day to have fun. We paid for and planned long vacations this year to go to Europe and stay in castles and at the end of the year we are going to Thailand to volunteer with baby elephants, Fiji, Bali, New Zealand to hang out with hobbits, Hawaii to swim with dolphins and kayak with humpbacks.

4. Attract a team of people who love what they do, love your products, are honored to work with your company. Keep your energy high so you don’t attract liars, thieves, hackers, and bullshitters. We have had experiences with all of them. Now we ask more questions, do background checks, take our time before we bring on new vendors and team members.

5. If we knew how hard this would be we may not have chosen this path. There are a lot easier ways to make a living. Imagine not being able to bank, to get investment easily, to not know whether you are going to go to prison over a plant. Imagine not being able to advertise or market your business. Social media sites making it impossible to boost your messages. It’s insane. It’s all about having a powerful WHY? Why are you in this industry? My friends have died from cancer. I promised them that we would continue to tell the powerful stories of what cannabis and CBD have done for people. We are fully committed.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Train your employees well. Make sure they love your products and find passion in educating your clients. Create a solid brand. Make sure everyone shares the mission. Let your employees explore being an entrepreneur. Listen to them. Help them find balance in their lives.

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. 🙂

Normalize cannabis, #legalizeit, share stories, stop the stigma. We produce our show and share it with millions to do those things. That is our way to become a voice in this global movement. If you, the reader has the passion, find a way to be a part or a voice and a leader educating the masses. This is our year to #legalizeit.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

First please visit our sites: then Yep it’s co not com. 🙂

FB: @themjrealityshow

Instagram: themjrealityshow

twitter: #mjrealityshow

Wendy Robbins —

Karen Paull:

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!