CannaList Conversations with Philip Wolf, CEO of Cultivating Spirits
- CannaList Conversations

CannaList Conversations with Philip Wolf, CEO of Cultivating Spirits

We had a chance to sit down with Philip Wolf and discuss his Cannabis Pairing Dinners, The Cannabis Wedding Expos, and more.

Established in 2014, Cultivating Spirits is the first company in the United States to offer culinary cannabis experiences to the public. We specialize in crafting, hosting, and producing private cannabis pairing dinners—perfect for special events, bachelor or bachelorette parties, or company gatherings. These unparalleled celebrations are great for bringing friends, family, and colleagues closer together for a rarefied experience.

(edited for publication)

Good morning. Welcome to another edition of the CannaList Conversations. We’re here with Philip Wolf. Philip is quite a busy individual. He is a member of the Rolling Stone culture cancer. He is a founder of Cultivating Spirits and the co-founder of The Cannabis Wedding Expo. Phil, how are you?

I’m doing really good, Patrick. How are you doing today?

I’m good. I even left off half the things in your bio. So you’re getting your fill us in on the rest because there’s a laundry list of things you’re involved with. So I don’t want to diminish all the other things that you’re working on as well. But the most exciting thing isn’t even on the list yet. So something fun to share with you on today’s episode we looked at we love. So let’s start at the top. So what does it mean to be a member of the Rolling Stone culture Council?

For me, it is recognition of all of the hard work that I’ve been able to put in around the cannabis hospitality space to have them believe in me as a thought leader; an authoritative voice in this space just meant a lot to me. I remember when Rolling Stone called me in 2015 about an article they’re working on around cannabis pairings. And they were essentially trying to debunk cannabis pairings. And they had the journalist had gone to a couple of parties were there doing it. And they said these parties are fun, but there’s no legitimacy to the actual pairing portion. And I got to go down and meet with her and take her through the whole experience to show them the legitimacy behind the work that we’re doing. And so that was a notch on my belt in my career at the time. And then, to get accepted on the Rolling Stone culture Council just kind of allowed things to come full circle in a sense that I had felt like I have achieved the next step in my career, if you will.

You’re talking about 2013. I’m sure it goes further back. So how did you enter into the cannabis space?

I was in the right conversation at the right time. So after college, I went and tried to become a professional poker player. I didn’t fail; I didn’t succeed. I just got burnt out. And I came back to Colorado, and this was in 2009. And in June of 2009, I found myself in a conversation with a friend of a friend. And he was telling me about how the cannabis medical regulations were about to change to allow more people to obtain their medical cards and create regulations around opening up dispensaries to make it easier. And he was looking for someone to go in on a dispensary with him. And I had some leftover money from the poker-playing days. And I invested in it with him at the time. And we opened a dispensary for $15,000 in 2009. And that’s what got me into the cannabis space. And that was more around the caregiver’s model at the time. It was the Wild Wild West; it was fun back then. We didn’t know if we were doing something legal or illegal at the time.

The price tag today would be a million dollars to start it.

Yeah, depending on what state you’re in. I mean, probably more than that, honestly. We were very lucky. And I was very lucky. I was privileged; I was just in Colorado at the right place at the right time. And just really, as you can tell, by all the things that I’m working on, whenever I start working on something, I mean, I’m fully committed to it. And so whenever he brought up the idea, I mean, within one, two minutes, I was just all in, I was like, Alright, let’s do this. And I had no idea what I was getting myself into; I had no idea that journey that was going to take me on at that time. I just wanted to be a part of something that was going to be what I felt like revolutionary, and I didn’t even realize to what extent that would be, and here we are now 12 years later, it’s crazy.

And were you able to convince the Rolling Stone journalist back in 2015 that everything was legit? 

Absolutely. So if you look at the end of the article, the first two-thirds of the article was her calling out the processes and stuff like giving credit to the event producers of having fun, but the processes and then by the end of the article, she gave it all credit. So it was wonderful.

There is a lot of legitimacy to what we do with cannabis pairings. Remember, pairings are not infusions. Completely different, pairings are all done through smoking. And we created this concept in 2014 of pairing terpene profiles of cannabis with flavor profiles of food to harmonize and enhance.

And so terpenes are organic compounds that not only exist within cannabis, but they exist within all plants, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and so on. And in the natural world, they attract pollinators and detract predators, but within cannabis, that gives you the feeling you have. So THC gives you this high euphoric effect, while terpenes enhance the feeling that you have.

THC doesn’t make you feel sedated per see – it’s myrcene, or caryophyllene or limonene – the terpene that’s in it that gives that to you. So when we created these concepts, because the idea was to create in 2014, to create wine style cannabis experiences, we’re like, alright, wine pairings are a thing. So let’s do cannabis paring things. And we thought the way that probably some of these other people did in the Rolling Stone article is like we’ll pair strawberry cough with a strawberry cheesecake or something stupid just to play on things.

And once I learned about terpenes, which no one knew about in 2014, I mean, there was maybe one Leafly article on it, and Kyle Kushman had maybe done an article on it, but we couldn’t find anything on it. And so once I was introduced to them, and I was like, Holy shit, this could be a science, we could break this down to a science and do this pairing. And then I learned how pairings were how terpenes drove the type of feelings you have.

And I was like, wow, we could actually, not only could we break this down to a science, we could give someone a very tangible tool when they leave our events where they could identify the type of high they’re going to have by using their senses, and therefore they can consume something that’s going to enhance their experience supposed to take away. So once that came into my viewpoint, we are all in on the cannabis parents, and we’re like, we’re going to be the best at this in the world. And it suits everything else that we are doing.

And you’ve since done 250 of them since then?

We’ve served over 3,000 people. So within that, it’s probably been 280 events or something like that. Some of the events we do are six, seven people, and then the largest event I’ve ever done was 220 people. And I would say typically; we’re doing events anywhere from 10 to 15 guests.

Who is your typical participant? What’s the profile?

We get everybody. Folks from the northeast, people from the Midwest, people from the South. Mostly from corporate America. But within that spread, it’s all over the place. We have younger crowds typically celebrating, such as bachelor and bachelorette parties or something like that. The older groups generally celebrated birthdays and did vacations with their friends and stuff like that.

I’ve served everyone from professional athletes to politicians to people who love electronic dance music (EDM) and like to party who are using it for that sake. But if I had to say, an average archetype, if you will, I would say that they’re 45 years old; they make $150,000 a year. They have a family where their kids are older, so they can be a little, travel and stuff, and leave the kids at home. So I would put it at that. But as you know, cannabis is for all walks of life. And we experienced that with Cultivating Spirits. So it’s just some people like this will be their biggest dinner of the year, and some people are used to having $200 dinners twice a week.

Do you get a lot of repeat folks?

Yeah, we do get repeat folks since many people are traveling out here for special occasions. People often travel to Colorado or California, or Nevada. Nevada is a little bit more popular because of Las Vegas. Some people choose to go to Vegas once or twice a year with their friends. So people are booking us when they’re a part of a special, let’s say vacation and stuff like that. But I will say that we just produced the first cannabis dinners that a billion-dollar hospitality company ever had? And that was the Fairmont Hotel Group.

Northern California, right?

Yeah. In Berkeley, the property, which is the Claremont, which is like this historic property. We just did three dinners there. That was like 55 people each, and 40% of the customers booked more than one. And, and that was their Berkeley clients’ health. So they did all the invitations, handled everything like they, marketed it, and put it out to their Bay Area clientele. That’s who came. The Claremont has a pool and Racquet Club. So you can imagine the type of clientele that was there, and they booked 40% of the people booked more than one.

Did you ever imagine that you would end up at the Claremont in Berkeley when you started this?

When I first started this, no. When I was maybe three years into it, I knew that we would have a chance because I got booked for it was the there is a yearly conference of the, I believe is the chief marketing officers for all the major hospitality companies. And it was the Hilton Carnival cruises, the biggest hospitality people there are, and this woman had been doing these for 20 years, and it’s very boutique. Only 100 people are invited.

And for instance, the year before I met them, they did a, and she just books, the wildest experiences for them, right. So they come together in this conference, but I mean, she books, these wild experiences for them, and then they do a little business. So it’s a lot of play for these guys. But they had lunch in the locker room of the Philadelphia Eagles while the Philadelphia Eagles were playing a game out on Lincoln Financial Field.

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These types of experiences that these people did. And she came to me wanting to make a cannabis dinner. She backed away from it. And then a couple of weeks before the event because it happened to be in Colorado that year. So she moves around to different locations around the states. And she’s like, I want to do this. Let’s just make it not so in their face and give people more choice, and we’ll move forward with it. So we did an hors d’oeuvres pairing dinner party on a rooftop. And she didn’t think one person would consume cannabis. So 25 of the 100 people consumed cannabis. Two people actually Uber away and left the whole thing. Yeah, they were offended by it. And then about 40 people were very intrigued but didn’t consume cannabis. And then, the other 25 people just were doing their own thing.

I felt like that was a pretty good understanding of how the United States felt about it. Right? A couple of people are just completely appalled by cannabis and don’t want to be around it. There’s a small section of people who consume frequently or will consume once in a while; a big portion of America is very intrigued by cannabis but doesn’t necessarily want to dabble in it. And there’s a good chunk of people who just like, yeah, it is what it is.

Was it people who were offended because it was sprung on them?

That was part of it. Yeah. So this was surprising for them; she did not tell them that this was happening. So the event producer felt terrible about not giving people more of a heads up that this was coming down. There’s also the segmentation that they’re next to their competitors, right. So the person from the Hilton didn’t want to be seen smoking from the person from the Marriot. Or what they’re that type of dynamic as well, that was going on.

But as I was leaving the event, I took a picture with the head of the Four Seasons at the time, and I can’t remember if he was partaking in cannabis or not, but he enjoyed the presentation and stuff like that. And he had so many wonderful things to say. And at that moment, I was like, wow, this will happen. These people aren’t going to invite it into their concepts yet, but what I do know is that there is a board meeting happening where these guys are telling people what they just experienced, and we gave them such a good experience from our production standpoint. Notwithstanding the emotions of being in front of cannabis, right, but from our standpoint, we gave them such A beautiful presentation and great education that I knew we would get more opportunities in the future.

And I know that you don’t pair with alcohol in these events. But, with all the activity in the beverage market in the futures markets, do you see that something that might be down the road?

We’ve done some wine pairings with our events, just a couple of them. These are unique situations because liquor licenses do not like cannabis at all. And stuff. So there’s, there’s some complexity working around that. Mixing cannabis and alcohol can take people to an extreme feeling that’s very uncomfortable. But when managed correctly, it’s great to have a joint in a glass of wine. It’s a wonderful experience, and many people will have been drinking alcohol, going to concerts, and smoking forever.

And that’s the one thing nice thing about cannabis is that it does go well; it’s very friendly with some of these other substances. I think there’s going to be a big play on that. But I honestly believe we are ten years down the road. I don’t think any people setting up regulations around social consumption are even entertaining the thought of having alcohol at the same location as they’re serving cannabis. So? Yes, I think it is. But I think from a regulatory standpoint, where we’re ten years away,

True, they haven’t figured out the adult use. So they’re not quite ready for adding more layers on top.

Absolutely. I also don’t know if the cannabis industries want it, to be honest with you. Because if you’re at dinner, per se, and you’re being able to serve cannabis and alcohol, it’s essentially people are going to drink less alcohol because you’re going to be more relaxed. Cannabis brings a feminine feeling to it. So you go a little bit more internal, you don’t feel like you need to be external, where many people who have, let’s say, more than two drinks, typically when they go out, right, like they’re having 567 drinks, whenever they go out. And I think with cannabis involved with that, they would cut that back. So I don’t think the alcohol industries would want that because I believe it will bring on less alcohol consumption.

I think the alcohol market is looking at infused beverages or not competing directly with that market but opening up other opportunities.

Absolutely. I think the beverage market wants to take up that space. But, they’re also want to cross-pollinate the cannabis communities. If people start drinking less alcohol and consuming more cannabis, then they can feed off what they’re losing and alcohol sales on the cannabis side of things.

And one of your other projects is the Cannabis Wedding Expo – did that start before pairings were around or at the same time?

No, that was about two years later. So this woman by the name of bat coupe was actually on my first cannabis tour that we did for the public. And she was doing a cannabis and bouquet company at the time called buds and blossoms. And so we just stayed in touch with like young entrepreneurs in the cannabis space, right, who are trying to bring to life these unique concepts. And speaking with her one day, she shared some heartache stories about not being accepted by wedding expos traditional wedding expos. Venues kept turning us down, but we were let them say no, keep a smile on your face. Because one day we’re going to be allowed in here.

And I was very used to being told no, right, especially back then all the time. And it was exhausting because people wanted all the information even though they knew they were going to say no. After all, they were curious about the cannabis space. And so I was just kind of giving back some pep talk like that. And then she told me that one of the more well-known companies in Colorado tried to charge her double for a booth.

And right when she said that, I was like, eff them, let’s start our own. Because it’s one thing not to accept something because you don’t understand it, and you want to be cautious. It’s another thing to try to take advantage of that. And so that made me upset. So that’s how it started. And, a month later, we’re like, if we’re going to do this, let’s do this. And so we did it. And the first one, we had VICE News and Fox news out there. We had sold out, and people loved the experience.

And why do I love these experiences so much? It’s that when you see the light switch flip in people’s heads that you can experience cannabis with more depth than you ever thought you could. And that’s what’s so beautiful about the cultivating spirits dinners that have kept me going through the hard times. And this is what I saw at the Cannabis wedding expo. And I was like, we have to spread this out. We need to bring this to San Francisco next because that’s the backbone of cannabis. Northern California. And we’ll spread out from there. And now we’re in eight markets. So it’s been a phenomenal experience.

Did you guys take it just with COVID? Or what did you do around COVID?

Yeah, so COVID hit right amid our Spring Tour. So we had just done San Francisco, and we’re gearing up for Vegas and Denver. And then we see Austin City Limits; they step away the next day, the NOCO Hemp Expo shuts down. And I didn’t think there was any way we were shutting down. We’re a lot smaller than those events. But Morris Beegle, the head of NOCO Hemp Expo, was nice. And he got a call on a call with me the morning after they decided to pull the plug. And I was talking to him. And I was like, Oh my gosh, like; I realized that this was just going to get worse. And we were going to get more questions and more questions. And so we pulled the plug before Nevada even had a case reported. And they the city thought we were crazy. And then, five days later, the Governor shut the whole state down. So we were very proactive with that.

And then yeah, so we were on a 17-month hiatus if you will. We’re back. So we did three shows at the end of 2020. And then we have eight Scott shows scheduled for 2022. Obviously, with Omicron. Being present, we’re very aware of that, and we’re still moving forward with everything as planned. But we’re keeping a pulse on everything from the CDC guidelines and a pulse on our vendors, our attendees, and stuff like that to see if we need to, to shift anything, potentially.

But we’re in LA, San Francisco, New York City, and Phoenix in the spring. And then we’ll be in Boston, Denver, Vegas, Chicago, in the fall time. And then possibly Toronto, we have produced in Toronto in the past, but the borders are a lot different than they were then. So that’s still something we’re navigating a little bit to see if we’ll be back in Toronto this year. I have to wait one more year before we get back up there.

Weddings, in general, have tapered off as a result of COVID. So is the wedding market back?

2022 is primed to be the biggest wedding season in history.

Demand, Right?

Exactly pent-up demand around it. And so yeah, 2022 is gearing up for the biggest wedding season ever. And, one thing about it is younger generations, we’re moving away from traditional weddings of like, these really big bashes, and stuff like that and change it to be more unique experiences. But now, I think there’s more clamoring for the big gatherings because they just haven’t been able to have them for so long.

And so now, all of a sudden, you can be the person who brings together all the family and friends into the celebration of your unification with your partner. And so, yeah, we’re primed on that part of things. But again, we are still in a pandemic right now. And I don’t, every time we think we know what’s happening, we don’t? Yeah, not so. It’s been hard for event producers in hospitality. And there’s more demand for it ever. And there are fewer workers in it as well.

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Hospitality has been one of the hardest-hit markets within all of this, and we’re feeling the same. So many of our chefs are moved on to different careers, and people value what they do in this world a lot more, which I think is beautiful. I mean, I think it’s a great awakening. But, unfortunately, the area that I’m in is just dramatically affected by everything that’s going on.

You guys started in pretty established markets; Colorado and California had been around for a while. What’s it like going into the new markets as they begin to open up?

The new markets are my favorite opportunity because we’re advocates at heart. That’s what’s driven us to keep going is being the advocate and seeing how cannabis can change the world, especially through cannabis hospitality, because we’re the people Who are allowing, giving the people the experience, right? So, for example, canopy Growth might be the biggest cannabis company in the world. Still, their executives have probably never even smoked with one of their customers because there’s a barrier to social consumption and public consumption, right. And so here we are, really the shepherds of this plant and these experiences.

And so I think our work what we do of giving people creating people’s relationship with this plant is vital. And so, the new markets allow us to show people if cannabis can be accepted at a wedding. It should be accepted anywhere. But, unfortunately, we believe that we put a taste in people’s mouths. So, whenever I walk into a room or an event, I want to address the person who hates cannabis the most in that room; I want to cater to that person. Because that’s those are the mindsets that we need to change.

And so, we present ourselves in such a way that is very tasteful for people who don’t even like cannabis. So we get to do that with the cannabis wedding expo from the social consumption aspect and acceptance. But, still, then on the business aspect of it, we give these Mom and Pop brands in the startup companies a platform where they can market themselves for relatively inexpensive $550 as opposed to an MJBiizcon, or some of these other bigger events where it’s 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of dollars.

If I’m thinking about starting a bud bar company, that would be so fun to do. Okay, I got $5,000 to invest into this, right and great; I’m going to use 10% of that to go to the cannabis wedding expo and market myself, right? So if I get one, if I get one or two, if I get one person, I make my money back; if I make two bookings, I’m making a profit. And there’s also a lot of exposure from media, from content creation, from business relations that you can have, all for $550.

To me, it’s just a wonderful opportunity to give unique concepts a chance to see if it’s going to work or not.

And what do you what kind of advice do you give to folks that are planning a wedding so that they don’t risk offending the people that are anti-cannabis?

It’s coming from the education standpoint. But I think the number one thing to lean on is that this works for my lifestyle and my health. Right? And so who are we to challenge what someone chooses to put in their body that helps their lifestyle. So if you need to go to your grandmother, who might not be receptive to cannabis, we need to educate her on why this works for you. And this is a choice that I have, and I believe it’s safe. And I just hope that you might not want to partake in it, that you understand that it works for me. It seems to work.

And then you find out that grandma has been doing edibles for years.

You got this. But honestly, that was the biggest barrier to people having cannabis at the event was the conversation with the family, right? Like that. That’s the biggest barrier, outside of the venue allowing it right, and stuff like that. But I’m coming out of COVID; the cannabis conversations are no longer a big deal. Have that conversation with your parents. When I had the conversation with my parents, I remember that I was working in the cannabis space, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was so scared, and my parents have passed away since then. God bless their souls. But, they came from a conservative background. I was afraid of my father, not my mother so much, but my father, and I was 26 years old. At the time, cannabis was only on the medical market. So this was probably 2011. And when I sat them down and told them, my dad was like, “Well, I don’t agree and can’t with cannabis, but he’s like, I trust you, and that anything you’re going to do, you’re going to do it with all of your heart with the best intentions, and I trust you in this space.” That was one of the best things he could have said to me.

So how important, and I know that your work is an element of this – is spreading the education and knowledge?

It’s the most important thing and corroding these people’s relationship. And so the project that I kind of I mentioned as we were starting here, that’s not on my LinkedIn yet what you will see soon, we did an unveiling of it on 2021 – ShowMe is a master class of cannabis for beginners and consumers that we have structured in the way of wisdom, science and application. So we can give people more ideas around the deeper impact that cannabis can have in your life, we have more of the general knowledge aspects, and what would be the science, portions, the fact-based areas, and then applications of how you can apply this into your life.

And so this will be a this will be Britannica videos that are 10 to 15 minutes long that people essentially can choose from and choose what they want to study. And we cover everything from history and plant medicines to actually understanding the plant itself, understanding how to use the plant, understanding how the plant will make you feel, and then into the service aspects of the plants.

And so we cover topics from the terroir and the connoisseur side aspect of cannabis to how to load a pipe. What are plant medicines, what are master plant medicines, how does cannabis make you feel, from a scientific point of view, and more of a theoretical point of view of the feminine feeling of cannabis—for example, hyper priming and how that can promote creativity.

I’ve been working on this project for three and a half years, and we are launching the products on March 22. And I’m just absolutely thrilled. And we have some of the most brilliant subject matter experts who are on board and outside of the work that I’ve just done. And we’re trying to create a conscious for-profit business model around this because we want to stand up for what cannabis represents and not just brand ourselves, right?

We want to be able to embody what we feel like cannabis embodies. And it’s in its history throughout culture for 1,000s of years. So we have the opportunity to do with this educational platform to change people’s relationship to cannabis. And I believe if people have more awareness around their cannabis consumption, whenever they consume it, they’re going to become in better touch with themselves. If people are in better touch with themselves, I believe they’ll be better in touch with the world around them. And this is our mission with what we’re doing at CashoM

Where can people learn about this?

CashoM.org – People can go to and to their email address; there’s not much information about it out yet. We’re on Instagram @cashom__. We’re on LinkedIn – CashoM Stewardship and Service of Cannabis, but we just did the unveiling on 1221. And we’re going to be doing a video series where we’ll announce that we didn’t even it was more of a mysterious unveiling where we didn’t even actually tell people what because the show was just my jaw and like interests and stuff like that. And then we’ll release what CashoM is and a couple of weeks. So. So yeah, that’s the kind of marketing strategy we’re doing. And then, once we get into February, March, it will be full-on presenting our content, who our subject matter experts are, and everything like that.

I also know that you practice yoga; what is the alignment between cannabis and yoga?

Yeah, that’s a very layered question for me. And I can approach it from multiple standpoints. I started with cannabis pairings and learning about terpenes. As I said earlier, there was no information out there around cannabis. So I started studying essential oils, brands like DŌTERRA. Because terpenes are what make up essential oils. And so, I had a lot of friends in the yoga community who were like brand ambassadors for DŌTERRA. And they have a lot of education out there.

So that’s what I started studying as things got complicated with Cultivating Spirits as we launched it. We were the first company in the United States to offer cannabis dinners to the general public. And there were a lot of challenging obstacles that we’ve overcome, and I just dove deeper into the mat. As things became more difficult, my lifestyle ultimately started changing where in the past I may have gone and met up at the bar with some buddies, but I started diving deeper into the mat and my mindfulness. And then, I started learning a lot of mindfulness practices, which I then started incorporating into my actual events.

And so, while we’re on the platform of this fine dining experience, you can find a lot of mindfulness within that that is digestible for the yogi but also corporate America, right. So I think there’s a nice way to weave in mindfulness with pleasurable experiences. And with how cannabis is using it and diving into yoga, cannabis has the opportunity to drop you into a very deep space inside of your body. So suppose you use it with that type of awareness. And then, going to practice when you’re in that type of space can allow you to feel your body and ways that you can’t without cannabis. And so it’s, it’s beautiful how it can tap you into yourself.

And then, using that within the yoga practice can deepen your practice, deepen your meditation, and deepen your breathwork. But if you’re not using strains that have a terpene profile that connects with your body in a way that can drop you into this place, it can also be detrimental and take you out of your body, right.

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The first thing is to identify with yourself what type of feeling you’re looking for. You might be a very high-energy person, but if you have a stimulant, then all of a sudden, you’re going to just kind of shut down because your mind is racing so much, right? Or you could be a very mellow person and smoke something stimulating, and it’s going to make you feel very uncomfortable, right? Sometimes, if you’re very mellow, you smoke something to data that makes you more alive. So you kind of have to identify that within yourself. Then consume something appropriately, typically smaller amounts of which I like to partake in, but we’re all different. And, yeah, it can be a wonderful marriage between the two.

And there’s an educational component, do you help people discover how to pick the suitable strains for the outcomes they’re looking for?

Absolutely. With CashoM, we teach people about terpenes and the entourage effect and things of that nature, so they can develop a general understanding of how something makes you feel. But the other side of that component is to check in with yourself right about some of the things that I just spoke about. So there are two sides to it, right? And, and that’s where it gets complex with brands, trying to put five different strains into, say, five different categories like Indica and Sativa.

And then, Canndescent came out. Which was great at the time, right? When they came out with Calm, Create, Connect, whatever they were one of the first big brands to start identifying feelings with that, but where they missed the boat is that I’m going to smoke connect and you’re going to smoke connect, and we’re going to feel different from it. They missed the boat on connecting with the consumers and educating consumers on how to connect with their bodies.

And so this is a big part of CashoM; we put a lot of emphasis on this through this education to teach people simple ways in which they can identify questions to ask themselves and how to identify themselves. If you look at it, this is, and I don’t want to use tired phrases, but it is like western medicine. It more comes from a place of if you’re sick, let’s get medicine to fix that.

There have been some brilliant discoveries around this right over the last 150 years. And it’s been so impactful. Eastern medicine looks at medicine as more than just curing, right? It’s really about upkeep right and therapeutic aspects of it. And so, ayurvedic is an Eastern medicine, science. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Ayurveda before. But yeah, so for the people out there who haven’t heard of Ayurveda, they categorize your archetype type first, and you’re either Vata, Kapha, or Pitta. Kapha is Earth and grounding. Pitta is fire, which I’m very Pitta, and then Vata is air, so they associate what type of foods help Vata. What type of food is suitable for Kapha? What type of weather conditions are good for you? Desert dry climates? My body can thrive in that, but it’s not as good for it because I’m so fire. So they teach you how to kind of archetype your own body.

So then you can start visiting things that may potentially help you and not take away from you. And one example of around food and what we’re putting into our body as medicine, which the West doesn’t necessarily recognize food as medicine, for instance, I used to drink lemon water every morning. And I kept breaking out in my skin. And I learned that lemons are heating, and I’m so Pitta with that heat from the lemon made my skin breakout; I switched to lines because lines are cooling. And I have lime water every morning, and I don’t break out anymore. And so that was me able to identify with my body, and then what I was putting into it and how it affected.

There’s a lot of complexity there, and luckily, I have some teachers. But, still, these are some of the threads that we’re starting to bring into the cannabis consumption space for people to understand what and how they may identify what makes them feel good and what makes them not; we do touch on Ayurveda in CashoM. We also touch on Western medicine; we bring them both, we’re not trying to tell people how to do things with CashoM. We’re trying to give an overarching understanding of how so many people view this from around the world and try to guide people to find what works for them and what doesn’t work for them. And that’s our mission with it.

I was fortunate early on that a friend of mine was very involved in Chinese medicine, and it was always about finding the balance; if it’s too wet, you need to find something that allows it to be dry. If it’s too hot, you want cold. So it was always about trying to create balance. 

Absolutely. And that’s not always the best for you. So I’m fire; I love spicy food and stuff like that. But I shouldn’t have spicy food, even though I still do it. It should be cooling food. So I should be in more moist climates than dry climates. Like you just said. But my body thrives in arid environments because they are familiar.

And I also know that you’ve done some nonprofit work; what have you done in that area?

Yeah, thanks for bringing that up. It’s near and dear to my heart. When I was a co-founder of an organization called Hispaniola Health Partners, we started a medical clinic in southeast Haiti. And this sprung up in 2012 when I created some health and leadership camps and the Dominican Republic. So essentially, basketball volleyball programs for these neighboring villages that a dear friend of mine was working with another nonprofit organization of running these K through eight schools in these medical clinics.

And, so I did that, and then, a string of things led me into Haiti because we’re close to the border. And I was with a gentleman doing a feasible feasibility report on this clinic; that gentleman, a Haitian, wanted to build himself because he was the rich guy in the community, and he was tired of people knocking on his door, asking for rides two hours away to get medical attention. And so I go over there, and I was just taken back by how amazing the Haitian people are, and how peaceful and how artistic like one of the more beautiful cultures I’ve ever been around, and how happy they were, even though they had no resources like what we had here in the United States. They are still getting water from wells and hauling it five miles for their family twice a day.

Seeing this and we’re making good money in the cannabis space, especially in those kinds of unregulated backpack days of the early medical side in Colorado. And I thought to myself, wow, I could raise $50,000 To get this clinic opened. What I realized is that they didn’t just need a handout; they needed to be part of building something, we need you to empower the community to bring in a health service that had never been in that region ever in the history of the region, and people weren’t used to it. And so, yeah, we had these grand ideas.

We were like, let’s just start our own nonprofit, and there were three of us in a Haitian that did it, and then we just started going through a journey that I never expected to go through. And here we are now. I guess it would have been in 2013. So here we are eight years later, we have a medical clinic open, we just opened up a birthing center. We have a mobile mountain clinic that goes throughout the region. We have a cervical screening program for women; that’s the only way up to a certain point, the only public cervical screening program in the country, and next month, we’re opening up dorm rooms.

People working on their doctorates and stuff like that can actually go down there and do the like dissertations and live there and work at the hospital for up to a year. So that’s going to be launched next month. And so, and within all of that, we only pay Haitians, not Americans ever accepted $1. So we have a paid staff of like seven or eight Haitians; there’s almost an economy built up around the center itself because people are starting to travel from the mountainous regions to the area. And we’re actually at partnerships going on with the government now, as well.

The next goal that we have is how do we make it sustainable? So we can step away from it entirely. And that’s our goal; it’s amazing. It’s a beautiful thing giving so much to poor people, but it’s old, it’s the old proverb, right? Don’t give a man fish; teach him how to fish, and that’s what we are trying to do. And we spend a lot of time doing that because we don’t want just to be another NGO operating in the company that focuses on handouts instead of empowering the people of Haiti and empowering the communities and training people.

And if people want to learn about that project, where can they do that?

Hispaniolahealthpartners.org.

You can always visit me on Instagram – Philip Wolf – to learn more about these projects.

We very much appreciate your time today. You’re a busy man. We appreciate you taking the time out. Sounds like some great things. I hope you have a great year in the wedding business this year. And it is everything you hoped for. And omicron doesn’t screw it up for you. But we look great things. Hopefully, you’ll come back to Berkeley. So we’ll get a chance to experience that ourselves. 

Oh, yeah, we will be so the Fairmont. Just real quick. We have six events planned for 2022: Berkeley,  downtown San Francisco. And there’s Sonoma property for the Fairmont. So we’re going to expand the dinners into three more properties in Northern California. And then the goal for the next year is to do them in all legal markets that the Fairmont operates in.

Great, you’ll have many opportunities to check out what Phil is working on. So again, we appreciate your time. We look forward to seeing you in person at one of these events, and we’ll stay in touch.

Thank you, Patrick. Appreciate the opportunity to speak today.

CannaList Conversations with Philip Wolf, CEO of Cultivating Spirits

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