Podcast

Unhidden: Faith In CBD And Mathematics – Talking With Matt Aaron Of Crazy Calm Coffee

Matt Aaron, Crazy Calm CBD Coffee
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Kathryn Blume 3 Feb 2020

In this episode of Unhidden, we talk with Matt Aaron from Crazy Calm CBD Coffee.

Many of the challenges inherent in running any kind of cannabis-based business in the current national patchwork quilt of legalization involve the fact that without federal legalization, financial management is an extremely difficult proposition.

From the challenge of obtaining basic banking services to the inability to raise capital – or even process payments – cannabis business are often desperately hamstrung by the inability to manage their finances in a safe and secure way.

Fortunately for Matt, he’d spent time in the cryptocurrency world, and saw the potential for electronic currencies like Bitcoin to help do an end run around this problem.

Full transcript below.

Kathryn Blume: You have arrived at Unhidden. Produced by Heady Vermont, we’re about bringing cannabis – in all of its forms – out of the dark ages of prohibition and into the light of a world which can definitely use some help from this awesome plant. I’m your host Kathryn Blume.

Many of the challenges inherent in running any kind of cannabis-based business in the current national patchwork quilt of legalization involve the fact that without federal legalization, financial management is an extremely difficult proposition.

From the challenge of obtaining basic banking services to the inability to raise capital – or even process payments – cannabis business are often desperately hamstrung by the inability to manage their finances in a safe and secure way.

Fortunately for Matt Aaron, founder of the CBD coffee company Crazy Calm, he’d spent time in the cryptocurrency world, and saw the potential for electronic currencies like Bitcoin to help do an end run around this problem.

I should note that Matt was kind enough to record the call from his pro podcasting booth. So if it sounds like I’m on the phone here, I am.

Also, once again, Heady Vermont is a dynamic work environment, so we’ve got a little incidental audio noise as well. But hey, real life provides the spice. Right?

Matt. I have to imagine that a guy who is an expert in cryptocurrency who also has a CBD coffee company is someone who has not taken a conventional path through his life. So, give us a little bit of a thumbnail sketch of who you are, and where you came from, and how you got to where you are now.

Matt Aaron: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. You’re 100% right. I have lived in an unconventional life. And probably a lot of hitting my head against the wall is because I tried to fit into a conventional life for a while or didn’t realize that I didn’t want to live a conventional life.

I never really liked school. Always had I guess maybe a natural talent for math. I went to college, but as soon as I graduated, I had a lot of different jobs, had tried a lot of different entrepreneurial projects.

After a series of events, I decided to move to Columbia in 2009 to do some volunteer writing projects and working with kids.

2012, I got into health. Again — I’ll put a disclaimer — it’s very hard to describe your life sometimes. So I got into health foods in 2012, start selling Camu Camu, which is a superfood on Amazon from Peru. Then I got into fresh produce in 2015, shipping a fruit called the Golden Berry from Colombia to the United States. We had an organic farm that we rented, and grew golden berries there.

In 2017, we lost the harvest. And it was a blessing in disguise. You probably want to know how we lost the harvest. We had a frost. I’m not in agronomist, and we lost all of organic crap.

So what happened? Well, I had a lot of free time — enough to have a couple of days of woe-is-me. But then also, the realization and the blessing was that I need to do other things with my life; I cannot depend on this very difficult agricultural supply chain from Columbia to the United States, and focus on something else.

So I took a course on cryptography, a free course online at Stanford. And…

Kathryn Blume: Why cryptography?

Matt Aaron: Honestly, I don’t know why. Because this before I discovered Bitcoin.

Kathryn Blume: Did you want to be a spy when you were a kid?

Matt Aaron: Well, I was very into James Bond movies, and I did study body language, and I’m a fan of information security. So I guess cryptography had always… I had read a book about the history of just codes and secrets and secret treasure. So I guess I always had interest in that.

But it was really, honestly, Kathy, I was just looking for random courses to take. And I also did one on statistical modeling as well. But just looking for new skills to add. I knew cryptography was hot. But I didn’t know about Bitcoin. And then when I discovered Bitcoin, towards end of the course, a couple light bulbs clicked on. And it’s not the light bulb or you understand everything and where everything’s going, but you just feel intuitively that this is going to be big without being able to intellectually explain what is happening.

Kathryn Blume: So you really have to trust your instincts.

Matt Aaron: I think our instinct muscle is something you develop as you get older and you have to be able to make decisions in life, knowing that you won’t be able to explain it — why did you move to Vermont? Why did you do X? Why did you start this business? Why did you get married or break up with this person?

Sometimes it’s hard to give a reason. You don’t even know the reason yourself. But six months later, or a year later, you look back and you can more eloquently describe why you did something.

Kathryn Blume: And in the meantime, you just have to have faith in your own solidity and the flow of life manifesting interesting stuff and assuming that you can probably handle whatever comes along.

Matt Aaron: And, of course, there’s ups and downs. It’s not a linear thing. There’s plenty of ups and downs in entrepreneurship and living an unconventional life path. But you get to handle the inevitable lows a little bit better as you go through life.

Kathryn Blume: And it definitely makes for an interesting story when you’re podcasting, or your cocktail party.

Matt Aaron: Yeah, I’d say so. I think so. And I’ve definitely lived an interesting story. I’ve made plenty of mistakes.

It’s funny. When looking at the CBD coffee company that we’ll talk about today, and Bitcoin. Cannabis companies, why should they be interested in exploring Bitcoin as a payment method? Well, it’s pretty interesting to me.

I spoke up to 2017 where I discovered Bitcoin, I had been podcasting. I used to have a food podcast that I sold a couple years ago. So I’d been podcasting for a long time. And as you’ve seen, Kathy, with some of the guests you’ve had already. It’s a great excuse to talk to really interesting people in the space.

Kathryn Blume: For sure. Yeah.

Matt Aaron: And in my case, in food, and then in Bitcoin — that I really didn’t have much business talking to. But I was able to say — hey, do you want to come on a podcast? — all of a sudden, I get to talk to this very interesting person — and in Bitcoin there are very interesting people — for an hour.

Actually, my podcast is called Five Minute Crypto. So for 15 minutes, just easier to get someone on than an hour.

And anyway, I interviewed this guy named Roger Ver, who owns Bitcoin.com. He’s been involved in this space for a long time. After interviewing him, it led to him asking me if I wanted to run the podcast network on Bitcoin.com, which I gladly accepted, and this was the end of December 2017. I ran it for two years.

I transitioned out after an amazing run there to start a CBD Coffee Company, kind of combining my love for “super foods” and always interested in cannabis and in CBD, and cryptocurrency, because, as you’ll see, we’re advocating for cannabis companies to accept cryptocurrency.

Crazy Calm, the company, accepts it and incentivizes people to spend it, both in e-commerce and wholesale.

Kathryn Blume: So let’s dive into CBD and coffee, which is what you’re up to – understanding that there are probably some claims that you can’t make due to federal regulations. Why do you combine them? What’s the value?

Matt Aaron: Sure. Of course, there is a legitimate concern that they’re adding CBD to everything — to gummies and pet treats. Does CBD need to be added to everything? No.

Coffee and CBD both work on the same receptors in the brain. I believe they’re called the adenosine receptors. What happens with caffeine is a lot of people feel that caffeine rush. But there’s also a crash. It could be a little bit jittery and anxiety-causing. So CBD just kind of mellows out the feeling.

And I found, anecdotally — I’ve been drinking CBD coffee since the beginning of last year — either eliminates or softens the caffeine crash. So the energy and feeling you get from it, I find to be a pleasant improvement on just coffee alone.

Kathryn Blume: It sounds like what people describe who’ve been consuming Bulletproof coffee, which has been around for a while. It’s coffee — you add fractionated coconut oil or grass fed butter, and it sort of cushions the caffeine in your system; things last longer; you have a more sustained, energetic fuel that takes you through the day. Is CBD a similar experience?

Matt Aaron: I’ve made, just adding in the ghee, the grass fed butter and cooking oil. I find this to be, you feel this a lot more, and there’s no oil floating around in your coffee. But I’m sure that the Bulletproof coffee guys have done a lot of cool things. They probably sell unmixed, where you don’t have to see the oil floating around.

Kathryn Blume: So describe how your coffee comes when someone purchases it.

Matt Aaron: Our CBD coffee in sachets. I don’t know if you ever tried Four Sigmatic, but it’s similar to that, except our sachet is a little bit wider than… Not wider than Four Sigmatic, but wider than a typical sachet you get when you add sugar, or kind of those sugar packets that are the long thin ones. Not like the Sweet’N Low, but the long thin ones. This is wider.

Kathryn Blume: Oh, yeah, yeah. I know what you mean.

Matt Aaron: It’s got a tear handle and you pour it in mixed with eight ounces of water, and yeah, you’re ready to go — eight ounces of hot water, preferably, but you could do cold water. It’s water soluble CBD powder, not CBD oil, and freeze dried organic instant coffee.

Kathryn Blume: Now, water soluble CBD, is that of proprietary technology? We tend to think of cannabinoids as being more oil soluble.

Matt Aaron: It is not a proprietary technology because there’s a lot of suppliers. And again, this is broad spectrum, so 0% THC.

Now, I don’t feel comfortable until I have the studies, but I’ve heard from multiple CBD suppliers of broad spec that the water soluble CBD powder has a higher bioavailability than most traditional CBD oils.

But in terms of the science, I’m still learning about that. So I don’t feel comfortable making any claims on that. But I do hope to know more about that. And I can definitely feel it.

Kathryn Blume: Where are you sourcing your CBD from?

Matt Aaron: From Colorado.

Kathryn Blume: Are you sourcing them from the growers themselves? Do you have relationships with the folks who you’re sourcing from?

Matt Aaron: We don’t. The company that we work with is a pretty large CBD supplier, and they have some of their farms, and they buy hemp from other companies. But they do all the… Their main bread and butter is the processing in creating the broad spec CBD extracts.

Kathryn Blume: And is their stuff organic? I’m sorry — you might have said.

Matt Aaron: CBD can not be organic right now because of USDA guidelines, but they use organic compliant hemp. Does that make sense?

Kathryn Blume: Yep.

Matt Aaron: So our coffee is organic; the hemp is organic, but the process is — at least today, in 2020, it can not be USDA organic.

Kathryn Blume: Is that frustrating for you at all?

Matt Aaron: Yeah. Especially in the organic produce, and selling dried organic fruit, It is a bit frustrating. And I thought that — it’s on their packaging — I thought that people would see this. But a lot of people are like, oh, I didn’t know your coffee was organic.

So, I think people get used to that USDA logo, visually. So I guess it is a little bit frustrating. But listen, I’m happy that we were able to launch, because a couple years ago we would not be able to launch a CBD coffee brand.

So yeah, I’m just so focused on that that I haven’t really thought about it so much.

Kathryn Blume: When you look at the arc of cannabis legalization overall in the country, certainly it’s been lumpy and a little bit sort of piecemeal, but things are definitely better than where they were 10 years ago.

So, do you find yourself feeling hopeful about where things are headed? Or do you feel like things were going to sort of stay stuck in the confluence of bureaucracy and misinformation and very different attitudes in different regions about what’s okay? Or do you feel like things are moving forward in a positive way?

Matt Aaron: I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s so difficult to read regulation because it’s — next month X person or X agency is going to make a ruling.

And you saw what happened in New York last week. New York seems to be pretty tough on CBD. I hope it goes in the right direction. I understand that Big Pharma is coming after CBD, and they kind of want to own this industry. So that’s a legitimate threat.

I mean, I remember… Man, this was five months ago, maybe six months ago. The ex-FDA director came up with an op-ed in The Washington Post, which is really just a fear-mongering, saying that we need to, like, control the CBD craze.

And all it was doing it was taking a study of a pharmaceutical drug for epilepsy that uses, I think it’s 600 milligrams of CBD. Don’t quote me on that,

Kathryn Blume: Was this Epidiolex?

Matt Aaron: Yeah, it’s like 30 times the dose of our coffee. And most, some even have 10 milligram doses. But you know, 30 times the dose mixed with other things, and then testing that on rats, and saying they had liver… Right?

And so, while I don’t agree a lot with, we call them “the powers that be,” — and I don’t want to demonize all of them; there’s some good people there, too — but not a huge fan of the heavy regulation and lack of regulation.

The ambiguity is probably the most difficult thing to deal with, running a CBD and cannabis business.

Kathryn Blume: And are you able to sell nationwide or are there only certain markets where you can exist?

Matt Aaron: We sell online right now, nationwide, but we’re not going into any stores in New York right now. And then, California and Oregon because of the medical marijuana dispensaries, or just marijuana dispensaries in general, they seem to control the market where people go to buy it, and I think it’s a little bit more difficult to sell there.

I’m still trying to figure that out. so New York and California and Oregon, we’re not in stores. But online, we ship anywhere.

Kathryn Blume: And how are you getting traction for your business?

Matt Aaron: My buddy and co-founder Robbie, he’s gone nationwide with a brand before, and he’s doing all the retail, selling to wholesale, to retail stores. And then I am doing the online marketing. And I’m focused on just creating interesting content and educating people.

Like podcasts like this — that’s what I’m doing, doing podcasts, writing articles, trying to find a different theme for each one as a way to build trust to the brand and get the word out.

Kathryn Blume: So, I have to ask you this, and it might seem like a pokey kind of question, but it really comes from a recognition of our larger context from an environmental perspective.

Are your sachets your packets recyclable?

Matt Aaron: They’re not. And I I appreciate the question.

I have had a brand, I used to have a brand in Columbia. I had an organic beverage mix where everything was made from sugarcane packaging. I would say it’s something that’s important to us that we’d like to do.

But to get launched, the co-packer that we work with that — we send them the mix and they put it in all together in the packaging — we don’t have an option for that yet, but it’s definitely something we would like to do.

Kathryn Blume: Okay.

So, let’s get back to — one of the interesting piece of this puzzle is that you come out of the cryptocurrency world.

Matt Aaron: It took me a long time to understand what Bitcoin was. But when I first discovered it, I was like — how is this even possible that people were able to create a currency?

And I think maybe the heuristic that got me most excited was… Well, there were two things. One was just the response to the banking crisis — money that you own, become your own bank.

But two, looking at the history of money, and it used to be, we’d have faith in the church, right, in the Roman Catholic Church, and other churches kind of dominated society. They were the rulers — the church. And then it became government.

So we went from faith in the church to faith in people. And there’s a lot of shortcomings when it comes to the money supply and economists and central planning.

So I loved the idea — and I’ve always been a math person as well — is faith in code and faith in mathematics. So that’s what Bitcoin at its core is about. It’s — code is there for everyone to review.

Of course, the whole idea of seeing transactions on a public ledger where everyone can see transactions and just thinking about that, the implications for that are pretty incredible.

Kathryn Blume: I’m going to back up a second, because I think money is one of those things which is kind of like air. It’s just there, and we just engage with it the way everybody else engages with it, and we don’t really think about it.

Money is fundamentally, though, a cultural construct, isn’t it? It’s a thing that we agree on so that we can simplify certain behaviors in society. Would you agree with that kind of definition?

Matt Aaron: Yeah, I agree with that as one way to look at it. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on money, although you have to learn a lot about monetary history. But I think you’re right.

It’s a cultural construct in that we determine its value. It’s subjective, right? It’s not an intrinsic value. It’s because collectively, we accept the US dollar that you’ll accept it when I give it to you. If people didn’t accept it, it quickly would lose its value.

So having lived in Colombia for nine years, where I started my fruit company, and seeing what’s happening in Venezuela, Argentina, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Iran, when the money is not as good and not a sound, you see how that effects the culture and daily life and how that leads to income inequality.

Kathryn Blume: I think we think of money as the thing that the government kind of hands down to us. Yet I know that, particularly in the sustainability world, there have been plenty of communities where they have developed local currency.

When you first hear about it, you think, oh my God, is that legal? Is it possible? — and it turns out that it is. They just do it, whether or not people outside that community accept the value of that currency, at least within those communities, it allows for those kinds of transactions to take place in a measured way.

So it sounds like I would imagine in the cryptocurrency world, a lot of people would ask the question — are we allowed to make our own money? And the US dollar used to be based on the gold standard; god knows what is based on now.

What backs up cryptocurrency?

Matt Aaron: I think of the cryptocurrencies as payment networks, and there’s no intrinsic value. But the amount of payments going through, determining the exact value is very difficult. There’s a lot of speculation right now, which makes it very hard to value. I expect that it’s going to be quite volatile for a while.

A lot of people ask me about the price like — where’s the price going? — I have no idea. I try to focus on the utility.

A recent example. Edward Snowden’s book sales, their proceeds, they got confiscated. He had a New York Times bestselling book. I believe the FBI and the CIA were not fans of the book, understandably, and they just confiscated the proceeds for a book that he sold.

So what’s most interesting about Bitcoin is that you own your money and no one can take it away from you. There’s a lot of use cases where…

For example, I know people from Venezuela, a graphic designer and a front end developer, one moved to Panama, one move to Atlanta as a refugee.

They were able to leave the country and get to their final destinations. There’s no way you’re going to exit an authoritarian regime like Venezuela with bunch of gold and money, and your Rolex, whatever you have in your backpack and say — oh, yeah, just leaving, hey, thanks so much — they’re going to take it. 100%.

But with cryptocurrency, you can store a password in your head. It’s really truly global money. And I think a lot of people have seen value with that more outside the United States, in a developing world, than within the United States.

And then in the cannabis space, I mean, the first use case for cryptocurrency was the Silk Road, which was a marketplace used to buy and sell drugs safely with kind of an Amazon review system.

I think one of the problems of drugs sometimes is not necessarily the drug itself but what they add into it. So having an Amazon review system for buying drugs, and not having to deal with dealers, everything online…

I remember in the Silk Road case, that’s how Bitcoin was used, and even the head of the Baltimore Police Department said, hey, these people are doing it online with the marketplace; people know what they’re getting. There’s no gang violence around the Silk Road. This is a lot safer way to buy and sell marijuana and other drugs.

Kathryn Blume: It sounds like, given the challenges that a lot of people in the canna-business world are having with banking, with having no place to put their money, with having no way to get loans, being able to operate on the cryptocurrency sphere means that they can do an end run around those issues.

Matt Aaron: Yes, for sure. And there was an article on NPR — and I’m sure it happens in Vermont too — but one of the big cannabis growers, legal cannabis growers in California, the CFO, the head of finance, traveling around with a guard that has an AK-47, bags of cash. It’s really unsafe and really impractical.

And then also, for our company and others, it’s hard to find a bank. Most banks will not accept you. You either have to lie about it or find a small bank that will work with you. We decided to be open and to say we’re working with CBD because we didn’t want to get shut down.

And then payment processors are tough to find. And if you’re lucky enough to find a payment processor, they’re going to charge you 4% or 5%, maybe more. You could be shut down any day.

We’re already in a very uncertain space. We talked about regulation in the beginning. We don’t know where CBD and cannabis and marijuana are going. But it does seem like it’s trained in the right direction, which is great. But there’s zero guarantees.

Obviously, I love cryptocurrency. You can tell by the way I talk about it and the inflections of my voice, and what it stands for. But I also see it as a strategic play for our company.

We offer a 10% discount when you pay with cryptocurrency on our website. And we’ve had over 20 orders so far, which is pretty amazing.

So, I see that, one, we pay zero processing fee. With cryptocurrency it’s zero. That’s 5% savings right there that we don’t have to pay our payment processor. And the other 5%, I think of that as a marketing investment.

If a new law passes and all of a sudden we lose our payment processor, at least we have an option and people that have already paid with cryptocurrency on our website, in case that happens.

I’m not saying that you should only accept cryptocurrency, but as an additional payment method I think it’s something that all cannabis companies at the very least, need to explore.

Kathryn Blume: So there’s the two sides of the electronic coin here. There’s the buyer and the company — I’m an individual out in the world; I’ve never used cryptocurrency before, but I want to get your coffee and I want to support the ease of your financial situation. How would I get a hold of some and how do I pay you?

Matt Aaron: A couple websites like Coinbase.com, Uphold, Kraken, where you can acquire it. I’ll include some links on how to do that. Each website kind of has a how-to.

And then once you get it, I have created video for how to check out our website using cryptocurrency. I’ll walk you through it. If you have it on your phone in a phone wallet…

Let’s just say you have some Bitcoin cash or Etherium or Litecoin on your phone. You would go to our website. Typical checkout as always…

The good thing is cryptocurrency transactions, you can’t censor them, meaning, you don’t have to have a billing address that matches a credit card, and we can never deny your credit card. You just select cryptocurrency in check out. The same as is you would have said Visa or MasterCard. That’s something everyone’s done.

And when you get to the payment page with your phone wallet, you scan a QR code, click send, the amount is already calculated, the transaction goes through. So it’s It’s pretty simple.

Obviously, I’ve done hundreds, maybe thousands of transactions, so I might be biased. But I’m happy to walk anyone through doing it. And once you’ve done it… I’ve walked a couple people through it. And once you do it, it’s actually quite easy.

I’m not going to say it’s as seamless as current Apple pay or Google pay, or anything like that. I mean, I would say one of the difficulties of cryptocurrency is, it’s much more difficult to use in-store than the traditional banking system today. Emphasis on “today,” this is like the Internet in 1996, was not easy to use.

Does that give you a decent summary of how it kind of works?

Kathryn Blume: Yeah, absolutely. So let’s say I’m a canna-business, and I think this sounds like a great idea. How complex is it to get set up?

Matt Aaron: For e-commerce, there’s plug ins like Coinbase Commerce, which I use, that you just enable in Shopify of WooCommerce. It’s pretty simple. And that automatic sets everything up, and handles getting the cryptocurrency to your wallet.

So I’d probably recommend Coinbase Commerce over anything else because it’s so easy to use.

Without technical expertise, if you can manage a Shopify online store or a WordPress website, the integration is actually quite easy.

Kathryn Blume: That’s fantastic. When people start hearing about this from a business perspective, what end up being the barriers to getting involved with cryptocurrency?

Matt Aaron: One is education. What I just said today, most people don’t know. Two is, a lot of it is just skepticism, like — what is this? Is it going to work? — and maybe that is related to education.

It’s such an esoteric thing, it takes a long time to understand. And if you’re listening right now and you have no idea what Bitcoin is, that’s okay.

The example I give is the Internet. You’ll probably going buy on Amazon.com, which has a lot of different protocols working together like the HTTP secure protocol, the TCP/IP. Even if you don’t know what they are, you still like using Amazon.com.

So that’s all to say that understanding Bitcoin takes a long time. Took me months to understand it.

I think a lot of people are probably, rightfully so, just kind of turned off by how complex it is. So I try to focus on just the everyday use and the benefits to the person.

Kathryn Blume: Basically, we trust that someone waves a magic wand, a miracle occurs, and we have Bitcoin. If we’re so inclined, we can do a deep dive into where it all comes from.

But you’re feeling like, even for the skeptical, they don’t have to do a deep dive into it for it to be a system that they can trust.

Matt Aaron: Well, here’s what I’d say. Again, this is not investment advice. I don’t tell people to invest or buy Bitcoin as an investment because we don’t know where it’s going. I think you need to do your own research.

But when I talk about adding as a payment method, understand that very few people are spending Bitcoin today. It’s going to be a small percentage of your orders.

So, if all of a sudden, you’re an e-commerce website or retail store, and you add Bitcoin and 100% of your orders are from Bitcoin, that’s something where, yeah, you better do a lot of research.

But I don’t think any more than 1% or even maybe 2%, but probably around 1% maximum would be your order.

So, understanding that’s not like all of a sudden, all your money is now in Bitcoin. So I think that’s one thing that people are scared off by. And at least today, in 2020, that’s not going to be an issue.

Everyone’s looking for ways to market their company. The cryptocurrency community is very happy to support any cannabis company that accepts Bitcoin, so you’ll get some customers and some free press just for starting to accept it in the first place.

Kathryn Blume: I’m wondering if there’s anything I haven’t asked you yet that you want to be talking about?

Matt Aaron: Well, yeah, I want to make sure that… This episode is an exploratory deep dive — maybe I’ll come back in the future if the audience digs it — into accepting Bitcoin in cannabis.

But one thing that we talked about before recording that I think is interesting is kind of the overlap of the cryptocurrency and cannabis communities.

Cannabis community being a counterculture movement, largely from the sixties, anti-war, and the Bitcoin community also is a counterculture movement — the cipher punks, the common response to the 2008 financial crisis, where the banks hurt a lot of people and did not have to pay the price. We all paid the price for that.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people in the cannabis community, including our supplier, and they say hey, yeah, we’re interested in that for our supply chain; we’d be open to accepting Bitcoin for payments and Bitcoin Cash and Etherium and other cryptocurrencies.

Because they don’t understand exactly what it is, but they can sense and feel energetically that there’s a lot in common between cannabis and cryptocurrency.

Kathryn Blume: There’s just a sense to of trying to promote personal freedoms. Everyone would love for cannabis to be free, like, you get at the farmer’s market, like artisanal tomatoes. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works.

So, there is the current reality that we have to live in. But then there’s also smoothing the path through the current reality as best you can. And it sounds like that’s part of what you’re talking about, is that that’s what Bitcoin is doing in this context.

Matt Aaron: Yeah, spot on.

I also wanted to add — if anyone wants more resource is to learn, or they just have more questions about what we talked about today, my email is Matt@crazycalm — crazycalm.co. Send me an email, and I’m happy to answer more questions.

And I’m sure people are going to listen to this and at least be curious, probably skeptical, but that’s okay. I’d also be skeptical about the US dollar, right, thinking about the value it’s lost.

And I think the budget has gone up so much, the government’s spending budget, and they just approved what, a $935 billion spending plan for the military. So I mean, it’s pretty daunting numbers.

Listen, it’s not for everyone. If you’re not interested, well, at least you found out. If you are interested, send me an email. I really want to get cannabis owners thinking about accepting this is a payment method.

Kathryn Blume: To conclude, from either the world of CBD coffee or the world of Bitcoin, the very streams that you’re operating in, do you have any charismatic stories of your experience that you want to share with everybody? You know, get something you could leave people on a high — no pun intended — note.

Matt Aaron: High note. [laughs] I like that. A high note.

Something that you’ll find very interesting. Have you heard of the conference Anarchapulco?

Kathryn Blume: No.

Matt Aaron: Okay. so it’s the largest anarchy conference and they have a crypto stage, and a lot of hemp activists go there.

Ron Paul speaks there, and it’s in Acapulco, Mexico, every year. I was there last year. I was working at Bitcoin.com, and I gave a speech on our efforts in Venezuela.

Now, the reason I bring that up is — maybe the most iconic strand of marijuana is Acapulco Gold, right? That came up in the sixties and seventies, right?

So, it’s cool in this place, and a lot of people in the cryptocurrency movement, and you hang out in Acapulco, and there’s this large conference Anarchapulco, that intersects a lot of marijuana, psychedelics, and cryptocurrencies in one place.

So, just seeing that connection there, I think that is pretty fascinating.

It was a great conference last year. I’ll probably go again this year. I don’t know if that’s a personal story per se, no wild story there. Sure, I have some. They’re not coming to mind right now.

Kathryn Blume: I think it’s an example of what you just said — how different streams of engagement in the world come together in really unexpected ways.

Probably no one expected there would be a cryptocurrency panel at an anarchist conference in Acapulco, where this famous strain of cannabis came from.

So, it’s sort of the magic of how the world wraps around on itself.

Matt Aaron: Yeah.

One other thing, and this is obviously not a personal story. But I’m sure of course you know the High Times, right? And Hunter Thompson, Charles Bukowski — some iconic American writers wrote for it. And what I read the other day was very interesting.

I believe in 1974, the guy who founded it, he died four years later, but he was bringing in pot from Jamaica and selling it in United States.

So he took some of that money, went into somewhere in Florida and opened a business bank account — which is crazy to think about; you could never do that today; just show up with, like, $50,000 in cash and say, “Hey, I want to start a business.”

But that’s how he founded the High Times. And banking was obviously much different back then. We had just gone off the gold standard. Nixon took us off the gold standard, I believe in 1971.

Things have changed where banking today is heavily regulated and it affects everyone in a lot of adverse ways. It’s kind of a security theater, where it’s supposed to protect “the bad guy from moving money around.”

But it gets moved around anyway. And we, the people, have to pay the price.

Occupy Wall Street happened in maybe 2008, 2009, and it was kind of cool because people were saying, “Hey, something bad is happening here on Wall Street.” But it wasn’t really a plan.

Bitcoin — it’s still early; there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. But at least this is a plan to provide additional freedom of choice for people to use a different type of money, no matter what race, nationality are socioeconomic stratus you are.

Kathryn Blume: You know, that’s a really interesting point. Because I think there was a lot of hope that after the banking crisis, the problems would get regulated away. And that didn’t happen at all.

So, in a way it’s people saying, “You know what? We’re not going to depend on the players from business-as-usual culture to solve these problems, that because they’re committed to maintaining the status quo. Instead, we’re going to walk away from that and go do something completely different that addresses all these problems without having to get legislation through Congress.”

Matt Aaron: Exactly, just like what Uber did with taxis. And not that they haven’t had their problems. But they opened up as a proxy for ride sharing. They changed the world. But they didn’t do it by getting approval via regulation.

They just created something that was so good that government saw it was so positive for their citizens, both the users and the people that are able to have part time incomes. And of course Lyft, and all these other things are coming out and the whole peer to peer sharing.

So, sometimes you have to really create something that’s completely outside the system and create a revolution. Revolution might be a strong word there, but you know, evolution, and create something completely new, as a way to impose change.

As opposed to just an incremental improvement, or getting X law passed, which, obviously, as you said, and very well put — to change nothing after the 2008 financial crisis.

Kathryn Blume: Sounds like in a way, that that’s one of the larger scale takeaways from this whole experience. And part of the story that you’re sharing is — here’s a thing that you can do now that’ll be really helpful for you.

But if you care about addressing the problems in the world, the take-home lesson is, sometimes you got to work within the system, and sometimes it’s create new systems altogether.

Don’t even try to — and I’m putting words in your mouth, I know, so let me know if this is taking things too far, but you’re saying in a way, don’t even try to change what’s broken; just go make something altogether new.

Then you don’t have to worry about whether or not you can move the needle on something that is so huge and so entrenched, and you can be just banging your head against a wall.

Matt Aaron: Yes, very well put. Obviously, there’s exceptions to that, where you may want to improve an existing system. But I think that’s a really powerful thing to think about.

Elon Musk obviously embraces this, and the guy that started Uber embraces this, the guy or girl who started Bitcoin — that’s anonymous; we don’t know who this person is — that started Bitcoin is, it’s very powerful when you can create a new system and a new paradigm.

Kathryn Blume: Anything else you want to say?

Matt Aaron: No. I just want to say thank you so much for having me on the show. It’s been a really fun conversation, really good questions, and I’m very excited to see the response we get from the Heady Vermont audience. I don’t have that 401k plan. It’s my company here…

Kathryn Blume: [laughs] Yeah, none of us do. That’s okay.

Matt Aaron: Any retail stores listening, please reach out, would love to test getting our CBD coffee into your your store.

Kathryn Blume: Well, Matt Aaron from Crazy Calm CBD Coffee Company, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m really curious to see where this all heads.

Matt Aaron: Sounds great. Thank you.

Kathryn Blume: That’s it for this episode of Unhidden. Thanks so much to Matt Aaron for sharing his story and to West End Blend for the excellent theme song. Thanks also to the whole team at Heady Vermont: Monica Donovan, Erin Doble,Christina Hall, and our canine overlords Oso, Potato, and Luna. You can visit Heady Vermont on our web site: Headyvermont.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can find the Unhidden podcast at Soundcloud, iTunes and wherever fine podcasts are sold. We’ll see you next time.

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