Cannabis Corner: Micron Waste Technologies (CNSX:MWM) Cannabis Waste Digestor Contest Winner
Aurora Cannabis Inc (TSE:ACB) (OTCMKTS:ACBFF) (FRA:21P) CCO Cam Battley and Editorial Director of Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary magazines Noelle Skodzinski joins James West for the first episode of Cannabis Corner. Results are announced for Micron Waste Technologies (CNSX:MWM) (OTCMKTS:MICWF) (FRA:7FM2) waste digestor naming contest. De-prohibition in the United States, Aurora’s Australis Capital Inc deal, and cannabis waste processes are all discussed.
James West: Hey! Welcome to Midas Letter Live. In this segment we’re doing something brand new. We’re having a talk show style discussion. My first guest ever in this format are Cam Battley, Chief Corporate Officer from Aurora Cannabis Inc and our special guest is Noelle Skodzinski and she is the corporate; sorry what was the title again?
Noelle Skodzinski: Editorial director.
James West: Editorial director of Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. Hold those up. These are the magazines that are taking the United States by storm and we’re going to see them here soon too aren’t we?
Cam Battley: We already do.
Noelle Skodzinski: It’s a North American publication, so they’re here.
James West: See I’m behind the times. Noelle, why don’t we start with you. What promoted you or what incentive you to start a magazine surrounding cannabis in the United States at a time when it’s still federally prohibited?
Noelle Skodzinski: So the legislation started happening, things started in California in the mid-nineties and then after 2008, 2010 things just started really picking u0p and spiraling as far as legalization mostly medically. It just for me, I’ve been an editor for 20-something years and the co-founder, the man who was the publisher of it and I started as the founding editor; both felt it was kind of an advocacy thing but we both come from B and B publishing and we thought that these businesses; especially federally illegal program have so many challenges and they had such a need for information. Especially even on the horticulture side. Cannabis Business Times is for the professional cultivator, the owners, maybe the head growers as well, maybe the head cultivators. We do horticulture and business information.
Cam Battley: It’s a great magazine.
Noelle Skodzinski: Thank you. Even horticulturally speaking there’s not universities that have been researching this plant and developing all these research proven techniques for maximizing yield and terpenes and cannabinoids.
We go into cultivation information, we have PhD’s who write for us from the mainstream agriculture and we’re starting to look at ways North American growers, largely in the US since there’s’ more of them there, can apply mainstream agriculture because they’re under pressure to increase their productivity, they need to bring their cost down significantly.
I mean every market that’s going recreational just seeing price drops very rapidly. So, they really need to start implementing these. That was kind of the impotence for starting.
Cam Battley: And you guys were very early to this; recognizing there was a need for real serious professional publishing coverage of this emerging industry that wasn’t all snickers and winks and nods but it was serious business. You’ve done a really good job.
James West: So when did it start?
Noelle Skodzinski: 2014 is when we launched as a website and a newsletter first. Then we were actually bought by GIE Media which is the B to B publishing company in Cleveland. They have this history in B to B publishing in the mainstream agriculture market. They publish Greenhouse Management, Produce Growers, Nursery Management, so it was such a perfect fit and it’s a wonderful company.
Through that we were able to launch the print magazine in 2015, Cannabis Business Times. It’s been monthly for 2 plus years now and then last November we saw a dire need among retailers. There is no publication that focused on helping cannabis dispensaries navigate this very tricky business. Everything from taxes to compliance to safety and security. There’s so many issues that they face.
Cam Battley: There’s a center-fold too which I think is really interesting. I’m kidding.
Noelle Skodzinski: Don’t show that.
James West: Cam, as a major cannabis market participant, one of the largest in the world; has this proved to be a valuable resources for elements of your organization?
Cam Battley: Absolutely. More than that the move by Cannabis Business Times and other publications into serious coverage is further validation just how mainstream cannabis has become. This is a trend obviously that’s been accelerating over the last few years and the interesting thing is there’s such a thriving cannabis publication business happening in the US where they still haven’t figured out, they haven’t quit playing Hamlet as to are we going to make this thing federally legal or not?
I can’t say I’m crushed by that fact. If there’s a little bit more delay that gives us a little more time at Aurora and some of the other leading companies to establish our world leadership. It’s okay with me. You do know that we have our eyes very squarely on that market. It’s an enormous market and very interesting.
James West: So, you’ve got quite a large interest in a company called Australis. From the external optics one might even say Australis has superior access to capital by virtue of Aurora’s shareholding. What is the status of de-prohibition in the United States from where you guys sit in the industry?
Cam Battley: Do you want to take a first crack at this? Let’s have our U.S guest answer first.
James West: Sure! Start with the American.
Noelle Skodzinski: I mean I think that the political climate around legalization is far behind the public mindset around legalization. I mean every single poll every year is just increasing, increasing in support of decriminalization; legalization. I mean medically the numbers are 70 plus percent of the population in the United States is in favor of medical. Those numbers are now above 60 percent in favor of legalization for adult use. I mean with 60-70% of the country supporting this the legislation has just been very slow.
As far as predicting when things are going to turn; I don’t know that anyone particularly knows. I’d be curious just from having you have boots on the ground kind of all over the US probably working with some legislators I would imagine. I think the Democrats have been largely more inclined to move this direction. I think there’s also a lot of pressure now on politicians. So people who are getting re-elected or running for office for the first time they are starting to understand the public is very much behind this and they need to start shifting their views otherwise they’re going to lose majority of the vote.
Cam Battley: It’s becoming a mainstream electoral issue. Just to be clear we’re not lobbying in the U.S. That’s not our plan. Our plan is to spin off our U.S assets and that’s why we’re creating this company Australis Capital Corporation which very shortly we’re going to be naming the record date for that.
People who want to participate in Australis as an Aurora shareholder who are going to receive based on a ratio; they’re going to receive a share and a warrant in Australis. If they want to participate they have to move fairly quickly. We’ll be announcing that record date fairly shortly and very soon after that listing on the CSE, so that we can participate or our shareholders rather can particulate in the U.S market.
The reason why it’s so interesting is that an aggregate, the US is by far the largest market but in aggregate; it’s a fractured market. That’s what is so fascinating and that’s part of our investment theory here. Is that because it’s a fragmented market, because it’s not a federal legal market, it’s not one single national market there are a number of assets that are undervalued significantly; we think significantly undervalued that we can, through Australis we can acquire these assets at very attractive valuations and turn them into something that will be much bigger down the line. Of course the whole plan involves this back in right that will allow sus should the regulations change in the next ten years, back into 40% ownership of Australis.
We’re planning ahead and keeping our eyes very close on the U.S market. It’s where we want to be. It’s where we plan to be in the future subject to U.S laws and regulations.
James West: So from what I’m hearing then the potential range of dates to de-prohibition it could be in 3 months, it could be in 3 years because it still doesn’t have any solid form in a forward direction.
Noelle Skodzinski: Right. I wouldn’t expect three months but I think you’re exactly right. I think it’s very clear,
Cam Battley: Depends if someone tweets about it.
Noelle Skodzinski: Well that’s the thing. I think that right now day to day there are surprises in the United States. So, it could be three months.
James West: Someone should whisper in Donald Trump’s ears that if you really want to generate some positive press, executive order- legalize cannabis and reconcile the disconnect between the FDA and the DEA in terms of having cannabis as a Schedule-1 drug on the control substances list.
Noelle Skodzinski: Well and he’s a businessman. So it’s just been a little surprising to me that he hasn’t got a little more behind this politically just for that and the economic impact it’s having in Municipalities and on State levels.
Cam Battley: That’s huge and I think that’s ultimately what will be the persuader, not just in the U.S but multiple jurisdictions around the World. It’s the economic development, the investment, the employment and the innovation that’s being driven by this sector. Whenever you invent a new industry you’re going to see these positive things. We’re already seeing it across Canada and it’s transforming communities large and small. We’re creating new areas of science behind it. One of the reasons why we acquired Anandia Labs as well is for their deep cannabis science for example.
I think that’s going to be persuasive not just in the U.S. It’s going to be persuasive in multiple countries and we’re already seeing it. For example, not long ago we had a Minister in a state government from Australia come to visit Aurora Sky and she was coming to visit to learn about our medical cannabis regime, which has been used as a model for countries around the world. But, also she wanted to see what the company looks like, what the technology looks like and she left exceedingly impressed as to the opportunities here, very specifically for significant new investment and employment and spin off economic development.
That’s what’s ultimately going to be the persuader. That plus the perception or rather the understanding that this is a scientifically benign substance than a lot of people had been thinking in the past. This is not tobacco, it’s not alcohol, it’s a lot safer than that.
James West: Interesting, so at this point it sounds to me like investing in the United States which are not united on this issue at all is more like investing at this point in 19 different small countries.
Cam Battley: It’s sort of like that but it depends on what elements of the sector you’re looking at. If it’s technology that’s a different story. Producers are limited in what they can do. They can’t produce in one state and sell it in another under the current regime. The technology, some of which are really exciting; everything from formulation to fulfilment to technology around pre-rolled joints and so on, there’s so many technological opportunities and those things have worldwide potential. That’s what we think is particularly interesting from an investment perspective, from an Australis perspective.
James West: Right. In the state of California we saw 80% , in some cases up to 80% of the product supply become ineligible for sale through the medical dispensary process or through the adult dispensary process because the tougher testing rules kicked in and there’s both a lack of testing capacity in California and it’s also been found a lot of the growers don’t measure up when it comes to non-use of pesticides and other banned substances. So, is it safe to say that Australis going into the United States is not going to have that problem by virtue of its association at arm’s length with Anandia Labs.
Cam Battley: Anandia and all of the rest of the Aurora family. That pedigree goes with Australis. The experience of Aurora, the way we’ve assembled a fully-integrated company, the reputation, the quality, the testing, the ability to operate under rigorous regulations but I would say it’s beyond just Aurora. What you mentioned I think is important because some of the U.S states have taken a much more relaxed approach to regulation in the past and so we see a very large number of producers not all of which are capable of producing cannabis under rigorous regulations and testing requirements like we have in Canada.
I think that’s part of the Canadian advantage, because of the Health Canada regulations, the tightness of those regulations we’ve operated under, it’s part of Canada’s reputation around the world in respect to cannabis. So, when Aurora and Canopy and other leading companies move internationally we take that sterling Canadian reputation with us. It’s part of the Canadian advantage I would say. Would you agree?
Noelle Skodzinski: I do to a certain extent and I think in a lot of states yes, but again because it’s so fragmented there are states that have very strict pharmaceutical level standards. Connecticut is one of them, Minnesota. You know Pennsylvania, even to the dispensary level they’re required to have a doctor on site, a pharmacist on site. There’s this patchwork but they have very strict regulations in certain markets where they limit the number of producers. You know it’s a medication and some of those states are taking it at that level.
Cam Battley: That’s the right way to go. Ultimately it would be interesting to see if that approach becomes national in the U.S if the U.S does move to a nationally legal system.
Noelle Skodzinski: I think eventually it’s going to have to get closer to that even on a consumer level because it’s a consumer product and you can’t have this loose framework around it.
Cam Battley: Even not as a medicine but just as consumer product. You can’t have contaminated product out there. You can’t take the risk of people getting ill. I mean we have regulation around meat and milk and vegetables right. So, we’ve got to have regulations around something that people consume by combustion or ingestion.
Noelle Skodzinski: For sure.
James West: Interesting. Okay well let’s switch the focus because it’s interesting that we all happen to come together under a completely different set of circumstances which resulted in this wonderful encounter but we were basically chosen to be judges of a naming contest for the digesting machine that is the product of Micron Waste.
Cam Battley: Right. Micron Waste Cannabis Waste Digestor.
James West: Okay, which there is why we needed to come up with a name.
Cam Battley: Right. Which is all very correct but it’s….
Noelle Skodzinski: It’s not so catchy.
Cam Battley: It’s not catchy nor cute. So, yes we are the judges, we’re the deciders. We have to be decisive.
James West: It was interesting that we all more or less arrived at similar conclusions because there was the one standout name was The Cannavore.
Cam Battley: The Cannavore. Go ahead and say it.
Noelle Skodzinski: The Cannavore.
Cam Battley: The Cannavore. Which is really cool.
Noelle Skodzinski: Should we say it in unison?
Cam Battley: It sounds like Carnivore. It’s an eater of cannabis. I thought that was very clever so, that’s the winner.
James West: Sure, who was the person that put forth that name? Jack Ponte of Ontario.
Cam Battley: Jack Ponte. Jack if you’re watching, well done.
Noelle Skodzinski: Well done Jack!
James West: Nice one!
Cam Battley: Cannavore.
James West: Now some of the other names are worth of mention. There’s one, two and three that we have but there’s others worthy of honourable mention that we’ll get to but what where the numbers two and three?
Cam Battley: I think one of them was the CanniSaurusRex, which was pretty cute and fun. We actually had a lot of fun doing this. There were just under 2,400 entries in this contest.
James West: Really, 2,400?
Cam Battley: And only one winner so Jack gets a $2,000 USD cash award for being the winner but we had some really good ones and some of the fun ones you and I were talking about earlier, you had one in particular.
Noelle Skodzinski: The Pot Belly was my favorite.
James West: That was pretty cute.
Cam Battley: I liked a bunch of them. I liked the Dank Tank.
Noelle Skodzinski: I loved that one as well.
Cam Battley: That was good and some of them..
Noelle Skodzinski: The Weed Eater was another one that I liked.
James West: With it’s obvious trademark challenges.
Cam Battley: Yes, that one might have been a little bit tricky. I liked one that was Uncanny which I thought was kind of neat because the digestor essentially what it does is you throw in the cannabis waste and it digests it using Micron’s microbe, its proprietary set of microbes and then out the other end comes greywater. But, that greywater that meets all the municipal standards and that’s what makes the digestor so cool; it’s also denatured. The active pharmaceutical ingredients are removed. So, Uncanny I thought was quite clever as well. It shows people are paying attention.
Noelle Skodzinski: Yes, they are.
James West: Yeah , you bet. So then the purpose of the machine is to save natural resources, reduce cost in terms of waste disposable and also conserve water which is you know a huge deal in especially in places like California and Nevada. You guys have one of the Cannavores being installed at Aurora Sky?
Cam Battley: We do! Actually not just being installed. We’re almost done testing and it’s looking very good. At our Aurora Mountain Facility an hour North of Calgary we’ve been working with the Micron engineers on validating rather this Cannavore will in fact work as anticipated in cannabis and be able to digest that cannabis waste. It’s very important because cannabis has some very tough stocks. That’s tough fibrous materials and we needed to validate that. What I’m hearing is that it’s going exceedingly well and we anticipate having some results to announce fairly soon, within weeks.
I think the last steps will be ensuring the remote operations software is bang on. The beauty of it and the reason we were interested in it and why Aurora made a strategic investment in Micron Waste is that it ticks off a lot of boxes for us. We have this cannabis waste and currently cannabis waste from licensed producers is disposed of in a number of ways. Everything from incineration to composting, to the so called “Kitty Litter” method where cannabis waste is mixed with cat litter and water to make it unusable and then sent off to landfills. This digestor works on site. It’s small, compact and you throw the cannabis waste in and you get clean water out the other end. There’s no need to transport it. There’s no need to incinerate it. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions and it gives us water that can go back into the system so it’s environmentally friendly. Cheaper, greener, more convenient. What’s better than that?
James West: No kidding. So do you anticipate that this is going to be a device all the cannabis growers are going to want to consider putting into their process?
Cam Battley: I’m told by Micron they’re getting calls all the time from licensed producers and not just Canadian cannabis companies but cannabis producers and perspective producers in U.S and around the world. It’s an obvious timely solution and the interesting thing is it’s just one of the markets Micron is targeting. They’re also targeting very large markets like supermarket waste and fast food waste. This one just happens to be cannabis specific and it allowed us to have some fun.
James West: So, what’s happening with all the cannabis waste now?
Cam Battley: It’s all being sent to your house at the end of the week.
James West: I was wondering what that big pile was I had to climb over every day to get to the front door.
Cam Battley: Yes, so some of it is incinerated and there’s challenges with that. A lot of it is composted at municipal compost locations but that’s problematic too because any time you have to truck waste anywhere you’re creating additional greenhouse gases emissions and you’re also creating additional costs. The other thing about when you compost cannabis it can take a month or more whereas the digestor is able to process all that waste in 24 to 48 hours. So, it’s faster, it doesn’t create the smell and it’s a very elegant solution to a challenge that is increasing as the cannabis industry grows.
James West: I’m assuming that the composting of cannabis, that process in of itself generates methane which is one of the most virulent greenhouse gases that we have to deal with.
Cam Battley: Yes, significantly more so than carbon dioxide. The other interesting thing is the digestion of the cannabis waste in the digestor, one of the things it does create is some carbon dioxide, you’re going to have to deal with that anytime you’re dealing with organic waste materials but actually future versions of this digestor may be able to capture that carbon dioxide and guess which industry uses carbon dioxide to enhance yields? That would be us!
There’s a lot of future potential too so it’s very exciting.
James West: Okay. That’s great. Thank you guys very much for joining me. Before we go through Noelle, how do we find or how do we buy Cannabis Dispensary magazine and Cannabis Times magazine ?
Noelle Skodzinski: They’re both actually free to qualify for subscribers.
Cam Battley: Would he qualify?
Noelle Skodzinski: You may not qualify so I’ll try to get you on a special list.
James West: I am planning on growing four plants and I was actually one of the first commercial growers in BC. No, I’m not serious about that.
Noelle Skodzinski: So it’s free if you’re a cultivator or a dispensary in North America. You can sign up on our websites at cannabisbusinesstimes.com and cannabisdispessarymag.com. We also have newsletters. We just increased the frequency of our newsletter for Cannabis Business Times to three times a week because there’s so much news to cover in North America. There’s so much happening that we just have to keep updating people. Also, we have free newsletters that everyone can subscribe to. You can download the app in the android store of the magazines, the websites.
Cam Battley: And I can recommend it is a good read.
Noelle Skodzinski: Thank you.
James West: Well thank you very much for joining me both. We’ll be back right after this with another interview with Cam Battley about Aurora.
Cam Battley: That’s me.
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