“Understand there’s really no failure when you play the game for the long term, it’s only when you play the game short term you think you failed!”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kat Thomas, Co-Creator of The Green Light District She, along with producing partner Julia Reed Nichols, is the Co-Creator of The Green Light District, a speakeasy cannabis cabaret show that has toured through the recreational states of this country including Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada. The GLD was the featured entertainment at the World of Cannabis Summit at the Palms Casino, Las Vegas, NV, Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles, the Lagunitas Community Room in Portland, OR, High Dive in Seattle, WA, American Legion Post 134 in Portland, OR and Dope Dining’s Cannabis Cup Kickoff Carnival in Las Vegas, NV.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? How did you first get into this business or get interested in the business?
My producing partner, Julia Reed Nichols, and I produce over a hundred events a year through her company Do Right Industries, primarily focusing on vintage entertainment! A few years ago, we began exploring the cannabis space because we felt there was a void when it came to high class cannabis entertainment. Now I absolutely I LOVE the D-O-Double G! (Snoop Dogg!), but we felt that not every cannabis consumer wanted to go to a Hip Hop show at The Cannabis Cup.
Isn’t life about options? Sometimes you just want to get high, relax, and listen to something more in the vein of Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, or Bobby Darin. With that in mind we created to The Green Light District, a bridge between these two worlds: Ella Fitzgerald styles covering Snoop like songs. A 5 song EP evolved to a full fledged show with a 5 person band with sultry singers, marijuana feather fans, typewriting poets, and a dancing Cookie Monster!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
This is an industry full of Stops and Starts, but really they’re all learning lessons. Last year we partnered with Dope Foto to create a cannabis themed pin-up calendar that was a fundraiser for the award winning cannabis nonprofit Grow For Vets. We called it The Emerald Dames of Sin City! Now, I’ve been involved in multiple pin-up calendars and these pictures were very very tame by pin-up standards. Because certain pages were sponsored by MMEs we had to submit the pictures to the Department of Taxation, Marijuana Enforcement Division.
We didn’t expect to get any kickback since the pictures were so tame, but 2 of our 3 MME sponsored pages were rejected. We tried to communicate with the state but they would only speak with the MMEs directly. After being at an impasse, we eventually stickered over those pages to get the calendar out. Unfortunately all of this pushed the calendar for months, and traditionally there is a very specific window in which you sell a calendar. The project didn’t break even, let alone allow us to donate to Grow For Vets. This isn’t a sob story, but an example of how things can get complicated and confusing…
We’re all uneducated on the rules when it comes to cannabis because we’re making the rules up as we go along. We all need to be patient with each other, those educated in cannabis and those not educated in cannabis. We have to remember that years of DARE propaganda (that Marijuana is the gateway drug to Heroin…) is ingrained in lots of people, including myself, and including many of our decision makers. It’s going to take a long time to counterprogram people’s minds, so we need to be patient.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Because Social Use isn’t a reality yet, there are very few cannabis entertainment companies out there. I feel like everyone’s waiting for Federalization, for when it’s a sure thing. But the cannabis industry is about creating a new industry, it’s about paving the way. There have been many trailblazers before us in this industry, so many people fighting to make it legal, to make it norml. The GLD is just lucky to be playing in the same space as them.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There’s been so many people along the way! One standout is Avis Bulbulyan’s keynote speech at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition, the first cannabis conference I ever attended. I knew I wanted to get involved in the movement, but didn’t know how. Avis, who owns SIVA Enterprises a cannabis business development firm, explained it so simply in his speech: take what you do well and apply it to the cannabis industry. We did our first performance for The Green Light District less than two months later!
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We’re getting ready for Social Use and Event Permitting to become a reality! When cannabis lounges arrive, they’ll need entertainment and The Green Light District will be ready with kickass music, singers, dancers, and comedians.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
3 Things That Excite Me About the Cannabis Industry:
- It’s the fastest growing industry in the country!
- We get to write the rules as we build an industry which is AWESOME!
- It’s full of innovator thinkers!
3 Things That Concern Me About the Cannabis Industry:
- Red Tape.
- Not having enough patience.
- Demonizing people who are uneducated… labeling them as ignorant.
Can you share your top “5 things you need to know in order to succeed in the Cannabis industry”? Please share a story or example for each.
5 Things You Need to Know In Order To Succeed In the Cannabis Industry:
- Patience is key to the cannabis industry, and life in general.
- There’s a lot to learn in the cannabis industry so alway always be educating yourself!
- Understand there’s really no failure when you play the game for the long term, it’s only when you play the game short term you think you failed!
- Determination is an absolutely must.
- There are no setbacks. Everything in life is either a wall or a hurdle, the choice is yours!
In our experience when people are passionate about what they do they are more successful. Where does you cannabis passion come from?
I am passionate about cannabis because for me it is about freedom of choice. Cannabis, in my opinion, is a tool to help people, both from the recreational or medical side. It’s not the only tool, but it is a beneficial one. It took me a long time to come to cannabis, since I grew up as a “good girl.” I was taught it was the ultimate gateway drug. You smoke weed… you’ll end up on black tar heroin. It took me a long time to deprogram my mind from that propaganda. I want others to be able to use the tool of cannabis as though it’s no big deal. Because it isn’t.
Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years? Where do you see the cannabis industry going in the next 5 years?
Federalization will happen, it’s just a question of when. And then it’s onto Social Use! I see the future and it’s The Green Light District performing in a cannabis lounges across this country!
Are you able to identify any rising stars at your company or in your industry that people need to keep an eye on?d
Everyone is a rising star. The whole is bigger than the parts!
What growth sectors should most people be paying attention to that they might not be currently?
Ancillary markets. As Avis Bulbulyan said, “take what you do well and apply it to the cannabis industry.”
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Snoop! We’ve already done our cover of Gin & Juice but I would LOVE him to be involved in a vintage cover of Young, Wild, and Free, or really any song he’s in that references cannabis, which is pretty much all of them! ;-)