Wisdom From The Women Leading The Cannabis Industry, With Forozan ‘Zan’ Karim of Franny’s Farmacy
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Know local Laws and Regulations: Make sure you know what site-specific rules and regulations your operation is subject to. Some cities have ordinances that supersede the county or state laws. For example, after my lease was signed, I realized the city ordinance does not permit the sale of Delta-8 THC. Non-cannabis related businesses might not have to think twice about these things, but if you want to get involved in this industry you’ll need to know the ins and outs of all local laws and regulations.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Forozan “Zan’’ Karim.
Forozan “Zan’’ Karim, is the Owner/Operator of Franny’s Farmacy in Alpharetta, GA. Zan’s heart-led dedication to compassionate patient care throughout her 30 year pharmaceutical career drove her to dive deeper into the science behind the transformational benefits that hemp and CBD have to offer.
After discovering Franny’s Farmacy and what the brand stands for, Zan decided to jump onboard to make an even bigger and better impact on people’s lives. She pivoted away from traditional pharmacy, which included dispensing drugs such as opioids, anti-anxiety, and sleeping medication, to advocate and provide products that come from the earth and help individuals truly find homeostasis with the mind, body and soul, rather than just mask symptoms.
An Alpharetta local, Zan brings an abundance of enthusiasm, compassion, and scientific insight from hemp-wellness into her community.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
What brought me to the cannabis industry was the realization that I can continue to help people outside of working as a pharmacist, and this time with a plant that is provided to us by Mother Earth . Hemp-derived CBD does not just mask symptoms. It has healing power. This played a huge role in my decision to step into the cannabis industry.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The most interesting story comes from a discussion I had with my previous coworker in the pharmaceutical industry where I used to work. Her reaction included her eyebrows raising, to her saying, “How would you…“ with an emphasis on the word “you.” She was in the utmost shock when I shared with her what role I was now taking on in the cannabis industry.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I think of it it’s funny now, but it wasn’t very funny to me back then when I first started working in the industry. I was trying to get my business bank account opened. I would call to make an appointment to open an account, I’d meet up with the bank representative, put in a deposit to open the account, complete the application, and even receive temporary checks!
Shortly after, a few days down the road I’d receive a call and be informed, “We are sorry, we cannot keep this account open for you. You need to come and close the account and get your deposit back.” I did that with two more banks and experienced the same exact situation until I found out no other bank was going to keep an account open since the business is CBD related. Most banks shun cannabis companies due to cannabis being illegal at the federal level, and unfortunately, hemp-derived CBD products are considered the same. This is just one example of how the negative stigma is still there, and proper education is yet to be taught. Thankfully I am now able to provide educational events at my dispensary and attend community events to share what I’ve learned over the years about the healing powers of this plant.
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
After hearing about my plan to open a CBD dispensary, to be actively present, and to operate the dispensary, a very close friend said to me, “You are going to be in a very good mood at all times smelling those flowers around you!”
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?
Yes! As a matter of fact, a handful of people have helped me along the way. Franny Tacy, the CEO of Franny’s Farmacy, has been a big help with her inspirational words and support. Dr. Walt, our franchise sales director, was always answering questions I had before I came on board with the franchise and open our Alpharetta, GA dispensary.
Frank Berry, the owner of Franny’s Farmacy Augusta, whom is always available for my texts and calls has been an incredibly supportive colleague on this journey. Alan Hart, Owner of Franny’s Farmacy Athens, has been the most helpful with all matters of business, sharing his own personal experiences as it relates to his two years of operational experience and constant support. And of course, the biggest shout out goes to my family for being there for me from the very first step.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now, my plans are to collaborate with other local businesses and to educate the Alpharetta community about hemp-derived CBD, its benefits, and what Franny’s Farmacy Alpharetta can offer to our neighboring communities.
Hemp-derived CBD is provided to us naturally by Mother Earth, and is a safer alternative to only relying on pharmaceuticals to achieve our health and wellness goals.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?
Individually, as a woman, I can help gender parity by having women mentor men, pay both men and women the same salary for equal work, and properly value women’s work.
Companies can help gender parity by providing equal opportunities to women, as they do for men. This includes, but is not limited to the same contracts, the same pay, and the same benefits.
Society can help by not differentiating boys and girls in the sense of a “gender role” from the start. Starting at home, parents have that responsibility as well to educate their children that what determines whether or not you achieve something is not based on your gender, but on the hard work, time, care, and effort you put into it.
You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
1) Integrity: Cannabis industry professionals need to always provide transparency and accurate information about products. It’s also critical to actively listen and act on your customers’ feedback. On a regular basis, I will personally reach out to my customers via phone and follow up with them to see how they are doing after taking certain products.
2) Marketing and Branding: I personally attend weekly and monthly events with my local farmers market. Neighbors and local shoppers stop by, visit, and learn more and more about the Franny’s Farmacy brand, the impact we’re making on our Alpharetta community and its surrounding areas, and why we do what we do. This is something that needs to be consistent for every cannabis-related business.
3) Partnerships and Collaborations: Research has shown how CBD and yoga can work together. Franny’s Farmacy of Alpharetta will be partnering with a yoga instructor to offer yoga and CBD sessions, host events at the store, and more. These types of partnerships and collaborations are what help break negative stigmas, and shine a positive light on hemp-derived CBD locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.
4) Investment: I can’t stress this enough, and this may be something that sounds common, but it’s so important. You always need to make sure that you have a structured financial plan, every cost from real estate to products, employees to marketing, and any unexpected expenses need to be accounted for and planned for in advance.
5) Know local Laws and Regulations: Make sure you know what site-specific rules and regulations your operation is subject to. Some cities have ordinances that supersede the county or state laws. For example, after my lease was signed, I realized the city ordinance does not permit the sale of Delta-8 THC. Non-cannabis related businesses might not have to think twice about these things, but if you want to get involved in this industry you’ll need to know the ins and outs of all local laws and regulations.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
plants have healing powers
Excited to have a replacement for pharmaceuticals
More states are legalizing cannabis
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
1) We don’t have access to traditional banking which adds a lot of stress to the very basics of setting up and operating a business.
2) Outdated, inaccurate, and negative stigmas still exist. This is an indicator that more education needs to be done.
3) Not having FDA approved drug applications is slowing down our abilities to conduct more research.
- Sooner rather than later, the banks need to form a system to avoid or minimize what they state as “the risks involved” for allowing cannabis businesses to safely bank their money with them.
- Education remains a top priority, and it’s something every Franny’s Farmacy prides itself on. Education is key to breaking the old stigmas and delivering the correct information to the people who need it.
- We truly need to have a process and procedure in place by the government to allow drug applications to be submitted by the FDA on cannabis.
What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?
A simple, straight-to-the-point, persuasive argument with the senator would be about pinpointing that scientifically proven, cannabis has been show to be safer than alcohol and many prescription drugs.
Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?
We can not compare cigarettes to cannabis. Let’s keep in mind, not all cannabis products are smokable. There is no medicinal property in cigarettes as there is in cannabis. Anything used for medicinal purpose should not be taxed, just like how prescriptions are not taxed. It would be a huge win for us to see medicinal cannabis take form in a similar way.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is “This too shall pass.”
When things are bad, it won’t always be this way. When things are good, it won’t always be this way. We should always enjoy every moment.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would like to believe that I am here for a reason. I know what pharmaceuticals can do in regard to their short-term and long-term effects. I am here now to educate everyone that I meet on what is available to us by way of this incredible plant that is grown naturally and can have an extraordinary impact on the healing of our body, mind, and soul. At its core, education is the movement.
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!