CACannaBizCon 2019: Five questions with OG Cannabis Insurance
The National Cannabis Industry Association’s annual California Cannabis Business Conference 2019 took place this week in Long Beach, CA, and The Elegant Stoner was in attendance, covering the show as it happened. The show expo featured lots of different businesses involved in the cannabis space, including many that don’t really sell consumer products — they offer help to growing cannabis businesses, or support the industry in other ways. Even though we mostly focus on cool stuff consumers can buy, we still wanted to highlight some of the people and businesses at the show, and so we’re going to be posting a series of quick interviews from around the CACannaBizCon 2019 show floor, asking people at the show what they’re up to, and what they’re thinking about in the cannabis industry.
What's your name, title, and what do you do?
My name is Benjamin Landaverde. I'm an insurance broker for OG Cannabis Insurance. It's a subsidiary company of SoCal's Best Insurance, which is the corporation. We're an independent insurance brokerage agency -- we've been at it for almost four years now, and we're licensed in about 16 states, so we offer insurance coverages for general liability, workers' comp, commercial auto, product liability, crop insurance, equipment, everything you would want for your business if you're a cannabis operator. And it's all cannabis-approved insurance carriers. There's only a few of them out there, and we have access to all of them, and we know the products really well, so we know the bad things about them, like exclusions, and we know the good things about them as well.
How did you get involved in cannabis?
Personally, I've always been involved in it growing up. I've always had uncles, friends, cousins that grew and sold it, so I've always been around it, since I was in middle school. In high school, I was working in a financial institution, in a bank. I was a licensed banker at Wells Fargo, and I then I met Manny the owner at a business mixer years ago. He had this independent insurance company, and I was about to start working at AAA. I said let me see what this is about, and I joined forces with him. I read a magazine that said "get high on marijuana insurance," called the information, started going, started getting in on the city council meetings, all of the conventions, all the smokeouts, and now we're here four years later.
What do you like about the industry?
As a personal thing, I like when things are challenging. The challenging part in this industry is number one, banking. But second is compliance. Things are always changing, but the great thing about that is that I'm learning every day. Each state is different, each municipality is different, and they all have different insurance requirements. The issue is that -- just learning. So the great thing I like about it is the different folks you meet. A lot of people may have the preconceived connotation that it is just weed guys, forty years coming out of the woodworks. But I have some real client businessmen, some of who created software for online banking, and all different walks of life. It's great to see these minds come together and into the industry. And it's really interesting to see the underground culture that's been around for ever, and then you have the corporate structure come in, and how that's mashing and colliding together.
Anything you've seen that's cool lately or that you want to recommend?
Everything changes, consistency is key in this industry, especially as a cannabis operator. What I like is cannabis improving its products -- shout out to everybody who's trying to do the right thing. It's really tough for those guys sitting on the sidelines waiting to get in and they're trying to do everything possible -- it's tough. It's expensive, yes, and it's a long road. Especially for someone who came from the underground market -- it's really tough. So for people out there, make sure you know what you're smoking, what you're eating, and that's really it.
Thanks for reading! You can see all of our NCIA CACannaBizCon 2019 interviews all in one place with our CACannaBizCon2019 tag. Stay tuned for more interviews with cannabis business owners and professionals, straight from the show floor.