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Robert is the founder and CEO of CannaBiz Software, a SaaS menu management solution for the cannabis industry that’s built on WordPress. He has a 2-year-old son who loves Michael Myers more than he does (seriously, just look at his Instagram).
Nyasha: How long have you been in the Tech business? How long have you been in the Cannabis business?
Robert: I started coding in ‘98-’99 at 13 and that worked its way into freelancing full time from 2005 to December 2019 when I started working as a full-time WordPress developer at SiteCare. I created the WP Dispensary plugin in 2015, so from a tech standpoint, I started working with cannabis in 2015. From a personal standpoint, I started working with it much, much earlier in life.
Nyasha: Ha! This is awesome! Why did you decide to get into the Cannabis business?
Robert: When I originally built WPD, I did it for a couple of reasons. First, it was a cool project to have in my portfolio to help attract freelance business. Second, there were no other cannabis-related plugins like it at the time so I wanted to be first. And third, I hated how sites like Weedmaps charged dispensaries thousands of dollars a month, only for them to have to fight for user traffic instead of actually owning their menu on their own website.
Nyasha: Wow that’s good to hear. I did not know that was how Weedmaps worked. Kudos to you for putting power back into the owners’ hands.
I also wanted to ask how has life changed for you or your community since Cannabis became legal in your state? I live in a state where it is still illegal even for medical use, and how it is used to prosecute people (especially children) is outrageous.
Robert: In Michigan, there’s a 6% state tax + a 10% excise tax on recreational cannabis, so the tax revenue the state/cities get is a nice boost ($111M in 2021). Legalization also means people are being released from prison, like Michael Thompson, who served 25 out of the 42–62 year sentence he received for the sale of 3lb of marijuana in 1994. More of this needs to happen in Michigan and across the country, in my opinion.
Nyasha: That is amazing. More money for the local communities and the release of people doing unbelievably harsh periods of time for selling and using it. I travel a lot to states that have legalized it and when I tell people at home how there are vending machines, delivery services, and stores that look like clubs and malls, they are dumbstruck at being harassed for having someone them or having had gone to jail for it in the past. I really appreciate what you are doing, one day this will be a reality for everyone.
What are some things you wish you knew before getting into the business?
Robert: I think the main thing would be not knowing how much patience I’d actually need while waiting for the cannabis industry as a whole to morph into what I know it will become. It’s been 7 years since I released WPD and while the cannatech side has grown rapidly, it’s still not even close to where I know it’s headed. This is evident with the layoffs recently seen in other cannatech businesses. The growing pains are real, and we’re still in the infant stages of what the cannabis industry will become, in my opinion.
Cannatech is the future.
Robert is just one of the many people in WordPress with the vision of making legal marijuana education and sales easier for the masses. This is a big win for all of us for several reasons. One it will help small business owners, two it will help those that have been imprisoned or harshly punished by the system, and three it will make for a more educated and informed populace. When I was getting into tech myself, one thing I asked was, “How can I make tech that will make life easier for others?” Robert had the same idea and I am so happy to see it grow even more. You can check Robert out on Twitter and on his website.