Beautifully crafted storage + controlled humidity = Sticky buds!
Cannador CEO Zane Witzel knew there had to be a better way than baggies and shoeboxes to store cannabis, but nothing existed on the market. So he developed a quality-built environmentally conscious humidor specifically designed for cannabis and launched his company. But that was just the beginning of the Cannador journey. His advertainment series Growing Wild explores the evolving cannabis space and celebrates the small-batch craft growers and passionate entrepreneurs who are shaping the industry. Heads Lifestyle sat down with the Cannador founder to talk Hollywood, cannabis entrepreneurship and the quest for sticky buds.
Heads Lifestyle: To begin, please tell us what is Cannador?
Zane Witzel: Cannador is a lifestyle brand in the cannabis industry that specializes in keeping your collection safe and fresh. We manufacture storage products and accessories that compliment your smoking experience.
HL: You could easily be the poster child for the modern cannabis entrepreneur— young, educated and approaching the industry from a creative business angle. What brought you to the cannabis space?
ZW: Flattering! I had a typical ‘there’s gotta be something better than a shoebox’ moment when I lived in LA. At the time, there was nothing available to keep your collection safe and fresh. Humidity was considered weed’s evil enemy. I wanted to change that stigma because it turns out that the right amount of humidity can keep your buds sticky for a longer period of time than originally thought.
Cannador CEO Zane Witzel.
HL: You originally studied and worked in film and television, and this is evident in your series Growing Wild. Why did you leave the film industry?
ZW: To be frank, I didn’t enjoy the gig-to-gig lifestyle, constantly applying for a new gig among such a large pool of people. That’s a hard life and not many make a successful career in Hollywood. So I wanted to turn that experience into something I could easily see results with and also make a bigger impact. Rather than working as a producer on the next Housewives of Suburbia, I can work on a project that helps showcase the cannabis industry in a new light.
HL: You’ve expressed that Raw Craft hosted by Anthony Bourdain inspired you to create your series Growing Wild. What about it spoke to you?
ZW: It was such a cool series that combined advertising with entertainment. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d have no idea that series was an entire ad for The Balvenie. I like that style of advertainment because you learn something about small businesses and those passionate entrepreneurs who are shaping their respective industries. Same thing goes for cannabis. It’s not the big dogs that will ultimately push the needle; it’s the small batch craft growers that care more about product excellence than profit margins. I see a direct parallel to Raw Craft.
Humidity was considered weed’s evil enemy. I wanted to change that stigma because it turns out that the right amount of humidity can keep your buds sticky for a longer period of time than originally thought.
HL: We love the first two episodes of Growing Wild. Will there be more?
ZW: Yes! I’ll be hitting up new recreational markets soon in Boston, then LA. The idea is to give these markets time to develop and then go in and see what it’s all about. You can see how different each state is and how their laws end up shaping their culture. Just look at the contrast between Oregon and Colorado in those first two episodes.
HL: You are so natural in front of the camera. Did you miss your calling? Or can a CEO play more than one role?
ZW: I’d love to ham it up more. To be honest, I actually get nervous when the camera rolls because I’m thinking about everything other than what I’m supposed to be on camera for, like that CEO stuff.
Witzel meets HIFI Farms owner Lee Henderson in Episode 1 of Cannador's Growing Wild video series.
HL: Your change of course took you from film to the cannabis industry, but first you went back to school to get a MBA. Was this part of a greater plan to start your own business?
ZW: Yes, it was a plan, an expensive one at that. I wanted the education because at the time I was not business savvy, yet I had the desire to operate my own business. I didn’t know what kind of business I’d ever want to run; I just knew I was capable of managing.
HL: Has cannabis always been a part of your lifestyle?
ZW: I’ve been using cannabis all my life, yet lately I’ve been treating it more like a glass of wine after a long day.
My two-cents is that if you’re lazy to begin with and you smoke weed, then you’re just a lazy person who smokes weed.
HL: We used to talk about “functional potheads” but you’re in a different category— the high-achieving cannabis consumer. Do you agree with the pothead myth that cannabis makes you lazy and unambitious or is it just more weed propaganda?
ZW: That theory is such a farce. In high school I was a two-time class president and played on the lacrosse team with a decent GPA. And guess what? Smoked all through high school. Key word: responsibly. Then I went to a good college and still achieved a decent GPA. Guess what? Smoked all through college. You already know how the story continues. So my two-cents is that if you’re lazy to begin with and you smoke weed, then you’re just a lazy person who smokes weed.
HL: You’ve stated that Cannador is about treating cannabis tastefully and respectfully. Can you please elaborate?
ZW: There’s swill liquor and swill beer and then there’s craft liquor and craft beer. Same logic should apply to weed, right?! I do, however, take issue with some companies trying to make cannabis this luxurious expensive thing. At the end of the day, it’s still weed. So we’re balancing on a tightrope here. Ultimately, I want to keep good weed in a nice container that actually keeps it sticky, so anything that can accomplish that is a win. We make it easy for the customer by putting it all together for them in a quality-built storage product.
Cannador's storage containers maintain a specified level of relative humidity, which keeps buds from drying out.
HL: What can you tell us about humidity and technology?
ZW: We use a re-chargeable humidity control bead system that is both a desiccant and humidifier. The beads have micropores impregnated with a salt-based solution to maintain a desired level of relative humidity. In the right volume of space, with the right volume of beads and the right volume of water, you can achieve a specified level of relative humidity, which will keep the buds from evaporative loss (aka drying out).
HL: Why do you use mahogany to line your Cannador storage boxes?
ZW: The wood used in most tobacco humidors is cedar, which is oily and has a spicy smell to it that imparts flavour on cigars. You don’t want that for cannabis, so mahogany is a more neutral wood that is good with both maintaining moisture and smell.
Ultimately, I want to keep good weed in a nice container that actually keeps it sticky, so anything that can accomplish that is a win.
HL: You have included an eco component to your business using environmentally sustainable timber growers and collaborating with the non-profit Plant-it 2020. Can you tell us about these initiatives and why they were so important to you?
ZW: We need trees for oxygen. I don’t like the idea that we’re ripping out trees just to satisfy our consumer needs. At the very least we can replenish what we take by replanting a tree where it’s most needed. In our case, this particular non-profit plants trees in devastated areas that have lost trees due to wildfires, invasive beetles/insects and diseases. It’s extremely hard to ensure that our suppliers are sustainably reforesting their timber, so we try to stay as keenly aware of what’s going on with our downstream supply chain and apply pressure where it’s needed.
HL: Cannador offers a Veteran Appreciation discount. Can you share why it was important to support veterans?
ZW: Veterans go through hell in our country and at every turn it seems like our government tries to help but consistently falls short. At the very least, we offer support for them and hope we can help.
Like a nice glass of wine after a long day.
HL: In Growing Wild: Oregon, you visit HIFI Farms and chat with owner Lee Henderson. He states: “We don’t make a big show of being a cannabis company. We’re trying to normalize this thing. We don’t want to be audacious and flamboyant and try to put it in people’s faces. We just want to be a normal business.” That succinctly summarizes the feelings of many business people entering the cannabis space. Thoughts?
ZW: Amen! That’s the right attitude. In general, I believe casually dropping what you do in conversation if-and-only-if someone asks is much better than being outspoken and verbose. There are still people who don’t want cannabis legalized, so being flashy in your community won’t help the cause.
HL: What is the greatest challenge facing the cannabis business community?
ZW: Banking and Rescheduling. Congress must address the banking issue, no more beating around this bush. They’re now trying to add a bunch of new stipulations and items that are tangential to the problem rather than focusing directly on addressing the problem. As for rescheduling, this stems from bureaucracy not allowing government-run tests to make their way in front of the DEA. Private commissioned laboratory tests have all demonstrated cannabis’ therapeutic effects yet the DEA will only accept government-sponsored tests to prove it has medicinal value. As well, the dates on hearings with the FDA over rescheduling continue to get pushed back and everyone’s kicking the can down the road because it’s another election year. Countries like Uruguay, Canada, soon to be Mexico and New Zealand have all legalized through legislative means while our government is working on this through administrative means, which according to those in power say it will take years. Unacceptable!
HL: What’s next for Cannador?
ZW: More storage products and accessories, more stores selling our products in the US and Canada and more growth!
Check out Growing Wild on YouTube
And follow them on Instagram at: @cannador