“It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride,” stated Ryan Basore speaking to Women Grow’s packed August networking meeting, “No matter what’s happened to you in the last several years, there’s never been a better time to jump into this business!” A positive message from someone who recognizes the difficulties of the cannabis industry. Ryan hasn’t had an easy time of it – he’s seen some things and he’s been some places.
He’s an (OG) Original Ganjamaster on the cannabis industry highway.
Ryan is an ally and and an enthusiast, offering a hopeful outlook and a plethora of pot-positive potentialities.
Listen to Ryan’s story of tenacity, cannapreneurship, and True Grit:
It’s 2010 and Ryan is moving on from selling commercial insurance and into a growing concern: cannabis. He’s successfully opened Capital City Caregivers, one of the first provisioning centers in the state and everything is going just as fine as frog’s hair. Ryan is galvanized to build on his success so he puts together a business plan, informed by his understanding of the medical marijuana licensing regulations and gains the local government’s blessing.
Ryan moves forward with a business team of 6 other people (who would later be called “The Okemos 7” in a rather dramatic spaghetti-western-worthy title), but every trail has its little bumps, and 5 months later the group is besieged by a cinematic spectacle of Blackhawk surveillance helicopters, the National Guard, state police, and DEA agents. Notably missing are the local police, who understand that Basore and his group are operating in complete transparency and compliance with the law.
Bolstered by the hope that under Obama’s administration, state-legal marijuana cases would not be prosecuted, Ryan seeks to have the case dismissed. But Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Pat Miles Jr., sees an opportunity to make a name for himself with “The Okemos 7”. The unforgiving federal posse begins its round-up.
Through daily helicopter harassment and shake-downs, the feds make it ample-clear that an indictment is impending and Ryan waits it out. As slow as watching grass grow, it takes the feds until 2012 to issue their indictments of Ryan and his business partners. Ryan receives the harshest sentence of the group: 4 years in Morgantown federal penitentiary. Not one to let the moss gather, Ryan uses his incarceration to build his strength and hone his professional skills, reading everything he can about social media, marketing, and how to build a thriving brand. In true heroic fashion, he gets out 2.5 years later (lean and mean) due to voluntary participation in a drug behavior modification program. Ready to skedaddle and feeling completely unrepentant, this hombre rolls right out of Dodge and back into the cannabis industry.
It’s 2017 and Ryan is finding a place for himself in the framework of the MMFLA, establishing a cannabis consulting agency and building a vertically-integrated cannabis business called Happy Life. But the cannabis business can get bamboozled too, and because Ryan has a criminal record, he can’t be official on paper for Happy Life. More interested in grabbing fistfuls of dollars than building a company with sustaining and authentic purpose, his business partners sell him out and leave him in the dust.
Determination is a learned behavior from hard-won success, so like any weathered, but resilient cowpoke, Ryan takes the learning experience and moves on, stronger than ever.
Ryan hears that Pat Miles Jr. is running for Attorney General for the State of Michigan. If y’all think this outlaw was going to cool his heels and let that villain continue his siege, you’d be in the wrong. A man on a mission, Ryan worked hard on fundraising and support of social justice champion and friend, Dana Nessel. She lights up the democratic primary with her vision of human rights for all.
“It was like a rock concert”, Ryan beams, and he is there waiting to congratulate his friend, Dana, on her win. “…When Pat Miles gave his concession speech, he had to pass me eye-to-eye… it was wonderful… so that happened”
At this point in Ryan’s story, the whole Women Grow crowd erupts in the shared satisfaction of this moment when Pat Miles Jr., steeped in new defeat, meets Ryan’s gaze.
Some follow a well-worn path, others prefer to blaze their own trail, which is exactly what Ryan did. Seeing an opportunity to create a more favorable environment in which cannabis businesses could shine, the MiCIA was formed: a cannabis trade association for Michigan licensed cannabis organizations. A Wild West gang of informed innovators, the MiCIA combines forces to effectively engage education, advocacy and supportive policy language in the cannabis industry. MiCIA brings cannabis businesses together to create a group of strong industry allies, able to use group buying power, share knowledge and create opportunities for collaboration. MiCIA partners with insurance companies and others to offer group discounts for members.
As Director of Business Development for MiCIA, Ryan’s ideas are on rapid-fire:
Innovation: Use a local craft distillery to obtain ethanol for concentrates processing. “About 90% of producers are obtaining their ethanol illegally, when they could partner with a local distillery and solve two problems in one!”
Innovation: Create a cannabis destination vacation spot by partnering with a local B&B which becomes a Bud & Breakfast!
Innovation: Special events and on-site consumption means there’s never been a better time to explore bringing cannabis into the event spotlight.
Innovation: Cannabis Industry businesses need ancillary services like accounting, logistics, legal services, digital marketing, catering, payroll, etc. This is a great time to promote your professional skills to the cannabis industry.
Like in any good story, our hero had to wait for his real reward – those quintessential life lessons that can only be learned after a long and perilous journey: “be wary of people with dollar signs in their eyes”, “Don’t worry about the money”, “major defeats result in major lessons”, and other hard-earned cowboy tropes.
Gage Cannabis recently awarded $50,000 to Ryan and his company, Redemption Cannabis, as the first beneficiary of their social equity program!
An authentic and tireless advocate of legal cannabis, Ryan has old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness. This is the essence of his True Grit and is vital to anyone creating a place for themselves in this industry. It will prove wise to find people like Ryan, who can guide from a place of experience and deep knowledge.