'The Industry Will Catapult Forward At Light-Speed' - Q&A With Collin Lam of Curaleaf
In this series, Ophelia Chong, co-founder of Asian Americans for Cannabis Education, mines critical advice from the most powerful Asian American entrepreneurs in the cannabis space today.
We are honored to have on Asian Americans for Cannabis Education, Collin Lam of Curaleaf.
Collin has laid a path for others since his entry into cannabis in 2014. He has been a part of the first wave, and by being part of that wave he has had to advocate in and outside the Asian American community, his foresight and intuition guided him to where he is now, and he laid the groundwork for others to enter and to say “Collin is succeeding, and I can too.”
As the California General Manager of Curaleaf, Collin oversees a multi-million dollar market, with his insights into cannabis as an early advocate he will navigate the company to help educate and advocate.
I have the honor to feature him here today, please meet Collin Lam of Curaleaf.
How did you enter the cannabis industry?
Collin Lam: I decided to go full-time and be part of the first wave of professionals entering the legal industry when Colorado went legal in January 2014. Transitioning over from a business development role in tech, I found my way to a co-working space conference room with Eaze’s founder and its first CEO, Keith McCarty. I pitched my way to become Eaze’s first business hire and employee number #6. This is back when medical-only prop 215 delivery was still largely unregulated.
The industry has come a long way since then, yet we are barely getting started on our journey for cannabis normalization.
How does your family feel about your cannabis businesses?
From the beginning, my parents were very understanding of the business opportunity at hand, yet skeptical of the industry overall. My American-born Chinese mother-in-law was who I needed to win over. It took three years -- one year after Prop 64 passed in California -- for her to be accepting. It happened during one family gathering when one of the uncles brought Kiva Terra Bites (chocolate-covered espresso beans) to share. A small step for my family, a big leap for normalization.
Naturally, my immigrant grandmothers on both sides still think I’m in medical sales.
What is the most frequent question you are asked about cannabis?
From friends that are new to cannabis, “Is there anything that won’t get me high?”
Then, a few conversations later, “Is there anything that will get me high?"
What is your favorite way of ingesting cannabis?
After a half lifetime of consuming cannabis in the many wonderful formats and product types now available, my consumption is now primarily edibles-focused. I enjoy gummies, Kiva Terra bites, Level Protabs and Tablinguals, as well as Select Drops (tinctures).
Where do you see the cannabis industry in five years?
Over the next five years, I see federal legalization, industry consolidation and the emergence of true brands and industry players with both local state-level focus and global reach. Although I believe the West Coast is the battleground for the cannabis brands and tastemakers, I’m really excited for the East Coast. When New York and Florida follow through with adult-use legalization, the industry will catapult forward at light-speed. International growth is the next phase of growth in five years and beyond.
Why do you think some Asians are against cannabis?
I think it is cultural and generational -- it stems back to our grandparents' and parents' generation. In Chinese (Cantonese) language specifically, cannabis is grouped into the same class of drugs as heavy narcotics, the word “dokh” is used to describe both cannabis and heroin, for example. I think the elder generation still actively carries the War on Drugs mentality and a misconception that cannabis is addictive and will ruin your life. It’s hard to change minds that resist change.
Asian and Asian-American Gen X and Millennials are different in this respect, and will likely embrace cannabis more openly than alcohol or opioids, as a more natural alternative to achieve relief and wellness.
Find Collin here: