I love the opportunity to meet, socially distanced of course- some of the true luminaries of the cannabis business. It’s amazing to me to see what these talented entrepreneurs have built out of nothing. Michael Tanzer is one of these individuals who have created their own path from virtually a blank slate. I love the line (below) where Michael came to the realization that adults were lying to “us kids” and he started to question everything. Cannabis tends to do that. It opens the mind and teaches humility and creativity. I know it does that for me. This circumstance is clearly not my own experience alone. Others open their minds in similar ways. Michael’s path mirrors my own, but I’m sure he applied himself more than I did.
But now, without further delay, Michael Tanzer.
Warren Bobrow=WB: Why Cannabis? What was your path to the plant? Who were you with when you first got high? Do you remember what you were listening to?
Michael Tanzer=MT: I first became a fan of cannabis when I was 13… It was Christmas Eve in Squirrel Hill and me and some of my Jewish friends were bored so we decided to smoke a bowl in the JCC parking lot. After trying Cannabis for the first time, I instantly realized adults were lying to us kids and started to question everything. I learned as much as I could about the plant and found myself bringing my own books to middle school, like Jack Herer’s “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”. Growing up in Pittsburgh PA, I was exposed to an amazing local punk scene and got an internship at Dave Bjornson’s Recording studio where bands like Anti-Flag & Aus-Rotten would record. Getting to hang out and learn from amazing people like Andy Wright (formerly of Anti-Flag) & Poogie Bell at such a young age was a huge blessing and it inspired me to try and empower young people as much as possible.
WB:Please tell me about your company? What do you do which is different, therefore better than your competition? What is your 6 & 12 month goals?
MT: I’m the co-founder of RedTape, a venture firm that invests and develops businesses in the Cannabis industry. We focus on synergy and look for companies that can provide collective lift and benefit to our other portfolio companies. We invested in WebJoint, a delivery software that powers roughly 1/3 of the delivery-only dispensaries throughout California. Our delivery service Lakeside Remedy uses WebJoint to take care of hundreds of patients daily throughout the Bay Area and our marketplace Seedless lets consumers order inventory from over 50+ licensed delivery services on WebJoint’s network. We built the first fully anti-static Cannabis extraction lab in California and now produce the products that LakeSide Remedy sells, specifically the award-winning concentrate brand CandyStripe, now known as CaliStripe. We advise Solid Sphere in their cultivation business which CaliStripe uses to make their concentrates and helped launch the Curidor, a Humidor system that extends the shelf life of Cannabis flowers to over 12 months. We love seeing our portfolio companies working together and hope to have our entire portfolio fully integrated by the end of the year. We hope to have our portfolio expanded to other states besides California by the middle of next year.
WB: Do you have a mentor? What about stigmas? What is the market that you want to penetrate the most, yet has the most stigmas?
MT: My first mentors were older concert promoters in the Pittsburgh Hip Hop & Rave Community like Michael “Moe” O’Neill, DJ Yamez, Kelly Carter, Justin Strong, Brian Brick and Ron Levick. When my partner Arthur Pitt was busy helping Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller develop their careers, he always made sure to involve us and provide opportunities to promote our design and creative work. Later, when my partner Darby Kaighin-Shields joined me in New York, we were welcomed to work alongside Mark Goodstat and his entire executive team at the tech firm Thinaire in their offices in midtown Manhattan. Through these mentors, we’ve been able to activate our potential faster and we aim to have that impact on all the entrepreneurs we work with. Though CBD is more popular than ever, there still are a lot of stigmas around doctors utilizing THC-based medicine. We aim to educate consumers about non-intoxicating THCA medicines that remove the buildup of plaque in the brain, and therefore help prevent degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We are positioning ourselves to produce the highest quality THCA medicines at prices enabling every person over 40 to consume it daily as a supplement.
WB: Do you cook? Who taught you? Do you have a food memory you’d like to share? Favorite (pre-covid19) restaurant, where?
MT: I really enjoy cooking but, due to work, I rarely have the time to cook, let alone get good at it. Fortunately, my girlfriend Leah is an amazing chef and interior designer, so our home is always filled with fresh food and comfortable places to eat/drink. We’re both New Yorkers (even though I’m from Pennsylvania and she’s from the Philippines) and miss our favorite restaurants like Wolfgang’s, Gladys’ and especially Zen Kichi. There’s nothing better than listening to Charles Mingus while eating amazing Japanese food in your own private booth.
WB: What is your passion?
MT: One of the things I love most about business is being able to bring good people together to do great things! I really look forward to being able to apply what I’ve learned in business to non profit and charitable work. RedTape used to be involved in raising awareness about the need for prison reform and sensible drug policy, and the need for change is more critical now than ever. After losing my friend and business partner David Shayman (aka Disco D) to suicide in 2007, I experienced PTSD and depression, which led me to get into meditating daily. After successfully self-treating my own depression, I’ve enjoyed helping close friends and family break their cycles of negative thinking and deal with their past trauma. When I’m not working, I’m usually with family and friends eating good food in Carmel-by-the-Sea, hiking in Big Sur, or just hanging out at the house dabbing the freshest batch of CaliStripe concentrates.