Ganjapreneur Podcast Host Transitions to New Show
On An Island with a Microphone
Hold on—the cows are getting into the flowering cannabis plants.
“No, really,” says Shango Los, host of the podcast Ganjapreneur. He’s recording the show in his home studio on a rural island southwest of Seattle, Washington. And his neighbor’s cows have wandered over yet again for shade, bird bath water and delicious flowers, though this is the first time they’ve gone after the marijuana.
At this point, Los is midcareer with Ganjapreneur, a cannabis industry news and information company with more than 68,000 likes on Facebook. Los, the original host for the Ganjapreneur.com podcast, pulls tens of thousands of listeners to the show every week. He’s interviewed people like Ethan Russo, Steve DeAngelo and Jonah Tacoma.
He’s seen entrepreneurs in this space—fighting to exist. But these are no ordinary entrepreneurs. These are cannabis lovers, and if there’s one thing those in the cannabis industry all have in common, it’s passion and perseverance.
“The industry chews people up and spits them out, and the only way to get back in is to have that passion,” he said.
And while Los loved working with Ganjapreneur, after 54 episodes he decided to start his own podcast called Shaping Fire.
“I get to delve deep in a short period of time with these experts and for that I am exceptionally grateful.”
“It was hard walking away from the audience,” he said. “Luckily a lot of that audience followed me to my new show. It’s picked up right away.”
The new show focuses on cannabis innovation and disruption, something Los has been particularly passionate about and has followed since the early days of Washington’s legal recreational market.
“Every time we think we have a status quo in cannabis it changes,” he said. “So cannabis is going to be driven by active learners who are learning old techniques and updating them with new technologies and approaches. Cannabis, for the foreseeable future, is going to be constantly renewing itself, which will cause innovation and therefore disruption to the industry.”
This puts many businesses at risk, he said.
“So many cannabis companies’ business models are based on the status quo staying the same,” he said. “As somebody with 30 years of start-up experience, I can just see how it’s one tsunami after another in the cannabis industry. It makes it super high risk for entrepreneurs. But it also makes it super delicious for learning about and participating in.”
Los hasn’t always been in the cannabis industry. He used to live in the bustling city of Seattle until he was injured in a car accident in 2011. Per his doctor’s orders, he needed to destress. He got a medical marijuana card—medical marijuana has been legal in the state since the late ‘90s—and moved to Vashon Island to “chill out.”
There, he discovered extremely high quality cannabis products for sale for ridiculously low prices. Come to find out, all the island growers were competing against each other. So, Los had an idea to help these small mom and pop farmers branch out onto the mainland—he just had to find them first.
“I had to gently put out the word that I was looking to meet these farmers who had been underground on Vashon for 10, 20, 30 years,” he said. “People were still very wary.”
So he wrote a “heartfelt letter” and passed it around to people who he thought had connections to the marijuana farmers. He explained that he wanted to create the Vashon Island Marijuana Entrepreneurs Alliance with the goal of expanding the reach of Vashon producers so they could expect more competitive prices for their quality products.
Slowly, people came out of the shadows and began to trust Los.
The Alliance, now called the Vashon Island Marijuana Enthusiasts Alliance, morphed over time, especially with the passage of Washington’s Initiative-502, which effectively legalized recreational marijuana on July 1, 2015, and then the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which folded medical into the regulated recreational market effective July 1, 2016.
“There were a lot of good people who lost during the transition from medical to 502,” he said. “There were a lot of people who trusted in the state that they would have a future and so they started their mom and pop businesses, they invested their time, they invested their money, they came out of the shadows and started paying taxes and they choose to become legitimate business people because they thought that Washington was going to create this place for them.”
But there wasn’t a place for a majority of them.
“Most of these folks were just small cottage businesses—you know, the family made cookies or the family grew medical cannabis or they made RSO—it was a cottage industry, but the quality was exceptionally high,” he said. “It was very challenging to me, to watch these people who I had interviewed and helped become small business owners and to go through all the trials and tribulations of that, just get cast aside for the new regime.”
Another problem: Washington’s recreational market called for capital.
“These were not the kind of people who were going to raise a quarter of a million dollars and move into the 502 market,” he said. “They didn’t have the access to that kind of capital.”
Even still, the Alliance provided a space, as it continues to, for the cannabis community to gather and hear from notable speakers.
It was during this time of transition that Ganjapreneur reached out to Los to host its new podcast. “Since medical was dying,” he was already looking at what else he might be able to do.
“Cannabis, for the foreseeable future, is going to be constantly renewing itself, which will cause innovation and therefore disruption to the industry.”
“It’s hard to stay focused on anything in cannabis, because it’s all so exciting,” he said. “I can’t do it all, but by having a podcast I can have a taste of that in my life. I get to delve deep in with these experts and for that I am exceptionally grateful.”
So it was the perfect opportunity and it ended up being a “huge success,” he said.
His last show with Ganjapreneur aired in April 2016.
“Hopefully they will soon say it’s ‘Shango from Shaping Fire’ like they used to say it’s ‘Shango from Ganjapreneur,’” he said.
For more information on Shaping Fire, visit www.shapingfire.com/podcast/.