CLN spoke to Craig Ex about the season 4 kicking off to his show Expert Joints LIVE! which is coming up fast on Aug. 30- you won’t want to miss it.
Craig tells us all about his new and exciting plans for the next evolution of the show and why he thinks what Canada is doing isn’t “full legalization”. He also gives us his opinion on rock stars like Gene Simmons and Henry Rollins (who don’t even smoke weed!) getting involved in cannabis, gives us insight on how he picks the people he has on the show, why consumptions spaces are so important, his battles with YouTube and content strikes, and his advice to Second Cup if they decide to turn some of their locations into dispensaries.
Last but not least, Craig Ex reveals how he’s able to keep the show and its content so fresh season after season.
What plans do you have for the Expert Joints LIVE! season 4 kick off on Aug. 30?
We’re going to launch some new graphics, we’ve got a new intro, a couple of new segments, and a revamped set, amongst a few other things.
One of the new segments we’re doing is called “How I Roll”, where we get to see how our guests roll their joints. Maybe we’ll learn a few new things from them and maybe we can help teach them a few things, too.
Another new segment coming up is called “Expert Selections”, and this segment will give us a chance to look at some of the products, people, features, and places I’ve come across in my travels that I think are dope and I want to show off specifically without having to do the whole interview and bring everyone on from the company- it’s just an opportunity to see some cool products and some new and exciting things.
We’ve also got a couple more potentially in the bag for the second part of the season but we’ll see how they go. They could end up in Season 5. It’s hard to say but we’ve got a few new and exciting things in the works and in the reserves.
Legalization is officially scheduled for Oct. 17 and it looks like there’s an Expert Joints LIVE! show scheduled the very next day. Do you have any special plans for the Oct. 18 show?
At this point, I have a number of options and we’re looking at how we can celebrate the 17th and 18th accordingly.
As far as the show, I’m undecided as to how I want to proceed. On the 18th, you could see a lot of people celebrating, but you could also see a lot of people going to court on a number of challenges- at this point I don’t want to go in any particular direction because as we’ve seen, there’s a lot of changes continuing to happen so right now I’m trying to stay kind of fluid.
I do have a couple of ideas in mind but that depends on how it all unfolds as we get a little closer to the date.
On a personal level, how do you feel about the way we’re going about legalizing cannabis?
I think it’s more about how the government is going to try and monopolize cannabis and tightly control and restrict it in a new way. I don’t really think this is full legalization– it’s just scratching the surface of what it should be.
Don’t get me wrong, I will be happy on the day that people are no longer going to jail for cannabis possession, but until people can legally grow it and there’s fair and open competition for anyone who wants to get in the marketplace, but until the fear and stigma associated with it are gone, it’s not really going to be legal and it’s not really going to be free.
Aside from legalization, what do you think will be some of the biggest stories in cannabis this year?
The continued growth and expansion. I think we’re going to see some exciting new companies come out. Obviously, legalization is going to be a big story that we’ll have to cover and see its effects. But it’s not going to be all sunshine and lollipops- I think we’re going to hear some sad stories along the way as well.
But I do think we’ll see some exciting collaborations, new products and new players hitting the game.
I also think we’ll start to see more acceptance in the general public and a wider perspective. I think we’ll also see more people enter the marketplace and I think we’ll see some of the bigger corporations that have been hesitant to acknowledge cannabis in the past come out and play to that market.
Like that recent story on how Constellation Brands was investing billions of dollars in a cannabis company.
Yeah, I saw that. Big money is coming in from all over the place. Everyone wants a piece.
You mentioned before that you wanted to incorporate more live music on Expert Joints LIVE!. Did you have any musicians or artists in mind?
That’s another thing we’re sort of revamping. During the “Dab Time” segment, we’ve featured music during it throughout most of season 3. It was quite entertaining, whether it was comical or it was something actually really good.
For season 4 we’ve got a musical director who will actually help us find songs, artists, and people who can come on down and give some new music exposure.
Maybe we’ll even get some in-studio appearances and performances from some of these folks.
We’re going to look at a lot of people from the local scene, and hopefully, we’ll have a few big-name artists that will appear every once in a while.
It’s very enjoyable when we’ve got the live performance angle or artists come in for a session, and we’re going to make sure we’ve got good music playing during Dab Time this season.
When it comes to the artists, do they have to be cannabis-friendly in order for you to talk to them?
They don’t have to be. If anybody wants to come on and experience the show and reach out to our market that’s fine, but our demographic is predominantly cannabis users so I think they would be more welcomed by the community if they were cannabis-friendly.
I think a lot of artists and musicians do use cannabis, whether they admit it or not, but it doesn’t really bother me. But sometimes the artists that have been on my show don’t always want to consume on-air as they don’t always feel comfortable doing it publicly or they’re doing a show later that day at the studio, or they’re protecting their voices.
Some people only use it at certain times- like when they’re writing. I respect everybody’s decision on how they want to use it and when they want to use it.
Obviously, if you’re going to be on my show there’s going to be an opportunity to smoke weed and if you don’t, that’s your choice. It’s more for me!
How do you feel about some big artists like Gene Simmons and Henry Rollins, who famously don’t smoke weed (or even drink for that matter), getting involved in the cannabis industry?
To me, that’s kind of like jumping on the bandwagon and trying to steal the culture, but I respect it as a business decision because they’re seeing an opportunity to get into a new, emerging market and trying to use their fame to make a dollar.
But maybe they could try and do something to better someone’s situation.
If you’re just coming in and trying to take over something you know nothing about, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling- it could be coffee, cars, or cannabis- you should be familiar with the product.
You should have used it and you should have experience with it. You don’t have to be the biggest pothead in the world to run a cannabis company, but if you haven’t tried your own products or know anything about it, it’s very hard to speak on it.
If people like you and they like your service, and they like what you do and they like your story, then you can do ok and you can have a pretty good living.
But if you come in and try to force something down people’s throats then eventually a lot of the real people will start to realize it’s fake. I don’t think it’s cool to jump on somebody else’s coattails and ride it just because you think you can make a buck, especially if you don’t know anything about it.
What do you think about Second Cup considering turning some of their stores into dispensaries in Ontario?
It’s a money-making thing. If you’ve got a license for the space, then who cares! It doesn’t matter what you sell over the counter.
What bothers me is that we’ll be forced to purchase from people who, up until this point, have made low-grade bud and not enough of it, and we’ll only be able to purchase a narrow window of products that are truly out there in the cannabis marketplace.
I think that’s the bigger picture.
Would I like to see other places doing it? I don’t care. I just think it’s more places to get cannabis but unfortunately, most places are going to be selling shitty cannabis at this point.
So if I’m Second Cup I’d be careful about that. If it doesn’t sell that well or if it backfires after the initial surge subsides, then maybe it wasn’t the best idea.
What I support is more lounges and consumption spaces and I think places like Second Cup should continue to serve coffee and allow people to consume inside and provide a place for people to sit back and enjoy.
I think safe consumption spaces are very important and I think a lot of businesses like that could benefit in that marketplace because there’s quite a gap at the moment.
Especially with a lot of public bans on any kind of cannabis consumption.
And difficulties consuming at home for many individuals.
I just got back from Amsterdam and those consumption places were full, and I realize a lot of them were tourists but there are a lot of people who want to consume cannabis and going forward, when people can’t consume at their home because their strata doesn’t allow them and you can’t smoke it in a public place… where can you do it?
Well, why not smoke it at a lounge? Coffee, munchies, and cannabis go well together, and we’ve got a couple of lounges here that are quite busy.
If they can sell coffee, snacks, and cannabis, and allow people to consume it there- I think you’ve got something with a lot of potential.
How’s your Fridazed radio show on Save On Radio going and is there any chance of an EJL and Fridazed cross over for Season 4?
The lastest Fridazed, Episode 8, featured Jodie Emery, the Princess of Pot, and it was a lot of fun.
I’ve noticed that running a radio show is much easier than running a video show- not to take anything away from anyone who runs radio shows- because the level of production and effort that goes into the video show has to be on point.
Whereas running the radio show, you talk for 10 minutes then play music for 10 minutes. It turns into a much easier day to manage.
When I started Expert Joints LIVE! I was trying to play the odd song once in a while during the show because I love music, not because I’m trying to steal someone’s song or trying to get money for playing someone’s video- I couldn’t care less about that- it’s more about how a particular song matched the theme of the show.
But Youtube doesn’t like that very much so because of copyright I was not really able to do that during the Expert Joints LIVE! shows on Thursday or I’d get copyright strikes.
That’s the beautiful thing about the radio show- it’s about playing music! So it gives me a great opportunity to combine my love of herb and hip-hop and it’s a good time. I’m getting along with DJ Slippee, he’s having a lot of fun in there and he’s been a welcome addition.
I’ve also had lots of friends and familiar faces from seasons past of Expert Joints LIVE! on the radio show, too.
As far as crossovers, we will see DJ Slippee on a few episodes of Expert Joints LIVE!, absolutely, and surely we’ll have some guests who maybe show up to the Dab Time on Expert Joints LIVE! on Thursday and maybe we interview them on Friday’s radio show.
We’ll figure it out and we do have plans to make that happen. Shout-outs to the folks at Save On Radio who work hard to put all the shows on, and in particular Jay Swing, who was the one who invited me to be on their station. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get him on one of the shows as well.
Are you able to smoke weed at Save On Radio?
No that’s the only thing, and it’s because of the fact that it’s attached to a restaurant so it’s not a consumption-friendly space. However, we do have a smoke break at the top of the hour where we’re known to often partake outside of the studio because we can’t go without medicating for that long.
I heard Ed Rosenthal aka the Guru of Ganja will be making an appearance on EJL. When can we expect to see him?
Ed Rosenthal was actually in town a few weeks ago, but the timing didn’t work out to get him on a live episode, but we were able to shoot a video feature with him and a quick little interview we did at a beautiful backyard in Kitsilano.
So we’ll be playing that on one of the interview features during Expert Joints LIVE! this season.
How do you manage to keep the show and its content so fresh show after show and year after year?
It’s fucking tough, man, but the nice thing about the cannabis space is it continues to evolve and it’s ever-changing and there’s always new people coming in and there’s still so many legends and names in the game that you can hardly get everybody.
But it’s a lot of work and a lot of dedication. I put my heart and soul in it every day from the time I get up to the time I go to bed and I’ve got a team of people around me like my partners Cannabis Life Network and Jade Maple here at Studio 710, and everything that’s come along with it has been able to help the growth of not only Expert Joints LIVE! but Expert Joints as a company and brand and myself, Craig Ex, as a growing media personality.
It’s at times very difficult and very challenging. Going forward, I have no idea what it’s really going to bring but at this point, we continue to soldier on and produce the most well-produced and high-quality content we can.
We want to spread the word and help people expand and grow their knowledge of cannabis and continue to normalize an otherwise helpful, harmless, and healing herb.
Last year, Expert Joints LIVE! went to places like Barcelona and Amsterdam. Do you have any big trips planned for this year?
I went to Amsterdam in the break between seasons 3 and 4, but yes, I did get to go to Barcelona, and we’ve done shows from California and all sorts of stuff.
I will be back in Toronto for the Karma Cup special that will happen Sept. 6 and I’ll be in Saskatoon for the Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup special and it was recently announced that I’ll be co-hosting the Prairie Cup once again, which is Sept. 27.
I do have plans for a few more shows throughout the year, possibly a live show from the Emerald Cup in California in early December but stay tuned for more info during the season. I want to go check out the handiwork of a few friends of ours. Some good friends of mine have been busy this summer and I want to go see the fruits of their labour.
Any final thoughts?
I’m looking forward to the continued evolution. We’ve got those new segments, and it’s going to be a tighter package this year- probably a little shorter run time but hopefully just as entertaining as ever.
We’ll have the show broadcast on a number of different platforms and fingers crossed that the show continues to grow and expand as it has.
I thank everybody who tokes up and tunes in week after week, and without the team behind me, I would not be able to do this. I appreciate all the support, experience, and all the great people and companies I’ve met and get to work with and hope it continues.
It’s a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the revised format and new studio setup.