Name: Isaac Foster, Certified Ganjier
Location: Denver, Colorado
Ganjier Graduating Class: Took my class in 2021 – Passed my test May, 2023
Favorite Cultivar(s): Durban Poison, Glass Apple, Apple Fritter
What was your position before joining Ganjier?
CEO, Endourage / Chairman of Portland Cannabis Market
What is it now? Same
What was your primary motivation for joining the cannabis field?
In the late 1990s, I was a tech investment banker raising money, selling, and taking internet companies public. It was a heady and exciting time and represented a brand-new industry where little start-ups took on and replaced blue-chip companies. As an investment banker, I had a front row seat and watched companies fail, succeed, and everything in between.
I left investment banking in the early 2000s and have been CEO, CFO or COO of multiple companies, mostly in tech since then. From the lessons I learned in the tech boom, I always thought if there ever were another wave as big as the internet, I was going to make sure I was in it and I was going to be an operator not a service provider. When Colorado and Washington State went Recreational in 2013, I thought, ‘Oh my… this could be big,’ and in 2016, I jumped in with both feet.
Remembering that the most successful internet executives I met in the late 90s were experts in the new field, my first objective was to learn as much as fast as I could from those who were experts, and the best way to learn an industry is to participate in it in a manner that lets you touch as many different businesses as possible. In 2017, I co-founded and helped build the Portland Cannabis Market in Portland Oregon.
Oregon does not prepack shelf flower, so wholesale trade is done in one-pound bags, trimmed, tested and ready for sale or in bulk material for extraction or prerolls. In our Central Portland facility, we typically have material from hundreds of different farms with as many as 500 different varieties on hand. Dispensaries and product makers from Portland and around the state come to our facility to make purchases. I personally worked the trading floor and visited hundreds of farms while we built the business. It was there that I first started to learn about flower and products.
Oregon produces 10 pounds of flower for every 1 pound sold in the legal market. This has led to intense competition where only the best, cheapest products win on any shelf. Almost every product in the state is made from full flower extracts and an ounce of mid 20% THC with 5% Terpenes can be had for $25. If your product isn’t great and cheap, there is no market for it in Oregon.
Working there gave me the opportunity to learn from hundreds of experts who had been in the cannabis business since they were in diapers. From extractors to growers to bud tenders to cancer survivors, it was like drinking from a firehose and exactly what I was looking for. It was there that I learned about the true medicinal value of cannabis as I kept meeting white collar professionals who had only tried cannabis as a last resort on their deathbeds only to be miraculously healed. It was also there that I learned from everyone we dealt with about the value of terpenes and specifically terpenes derived from cannabis.
Today, my purpose in the cannabis industry is to deliver to western medicine the tools it needs to successfully use cannabinoids at scale.
Much in the way SpaceX slashed the time and cost of developing rocket ships, cannabis offers the opportunity to make a quantum leap in the way therapeutics are developed. In addition to my investment banking work in Tech, I spent four years as a biotech investment banker, focused on drug development. Combining my biotech, cannabis and wall street experience to create a new type of pharmaceutical company, one capable of bringing highly effective, novel, plant-based therapeutics to market for a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time of legacy pharmaceutical companies.
Why did you choose the Ganjier Certification Program?
I chose the Ganjier program because it perfectly aligned with my desire to learn as much as I can.
What did you expect going into the Ganjier course?
I expected the course to help me put together all the pieces of understanding flower and product quality I had been observing day to day as a wholesaler, so that I could apply them to my current focus of creating cannabis-based therapeutics.
Great cannabis products whether recreational or clinical, all have the same characteristics. What makes developing therapeutics with cannabis completely different than legacy pharma, are the hundreds of fragile, highly volatile, naturally occurring organic ingredients that must survive the manufacturing process intact and then somehow make it to the patient’s endocannabinoid system – a nearly impossible feat to accomplish using traditional manufacturing methods. I hoped this course would fill in the blanks and put a finished edge on the knowledge I had been acquiring.
What did you find?
The depth of the course went far beyond my greatest expectations. From the caliber of the instructors to the structure and rigor of the course to the community I found there. This is a world class-education.
Was there a game-changing, “A-ha” moment for you during the course?
People have been developing this plant for the last 10,000?! And it was proliferated by the people who domesticated the horse, invented the wheel and basically conquered the world and are our forefathers??? And they got high! WHAT?!
What skills/knowledge/philosophy have you been able to take away and apply to your cannabis career?
I walk away with a thorough understanding of the true history of cannabis and how the last 100+ years of prohibition have literally stripped our society of 10,000 years of collected intelligence to the detriment of us all. This understanding empowers our mission and being able to correctly access flower and product quality is a requirement.
What impact did the Ganjier training have on your cannabis career?
There are a lot of ex corporate and wall street executives in the fledgling cannabis industry. I hope the 3rd party verification signals to those I work with that I am willing to put the time and effort to understand and pursue the deeper more difficult opportunities in this industry that should also deliver greater reward.
To those considering the Ganjier Certification Course, what advice would you give?
If you are serious about being in the cannabis business as a career, this class is by far the single most valuable investment you can make in yourself today, and the education is only half of it. The Ganjier community is a growing robust community of people in all aspects of the business. Not only will you leave with a new set of skills, you will leave with a new set of highly valuable connections you would have never made if you stayed at home.