On December 31st, 2015, Munch and Co. joined forces with Edible Events to produce Denver’s biggest, fully-compliant cannabis consumption event. We joined 450 of our closest friends and rang in New Years Eve in with a hedonistic, full-sensory experience.
Can this man bridge the nexus between legal weed and the concert industry?
Meet Freddie Wyatt with Munch + Co., Colorado’s first pot promoter who’s looking to create live events and concerts that capitalize on Colorado’s first-in-the-nation legal pot movement. Born in Los Angeles before eventually starting his career in Washington D.C., Wyatt relocated to Colorado during the state’s legalization push and has been active in trying to connect the state’s biggest growers and cannabis companies with Colorado’s powerful music scene. So far, Wyatt has thrown events during the X Games, created weed & wine pairing dinners and has staged a number of concerts including last year’s 420 celebration with Matisyahu. We caught up with Wyatt to talk about the potentials for pot and music in 2016.
The venues, they either lighten up on smoking inside. Let’s be honest, you go to a concert, you light up a joint, if they see you they tell you to put it out. You do it again they throw you out. That’s kind of their responsibility, but once you can get this onto private property and you can sell tickets to private property, it doesn’t make it a public event. But you do have to take alcohol out of the equation.
Why can’t you have both?
You just can’t. We’ve done two years of Native Roots (a Colorado cannabis grower) at the X Games. We’d give everything away for free. We had Snoop, we had Wiz Khalifa, we had Big Gigantic, we had GRiZ. We had all this talent play for a private party, but since it is private party, we can’t charge people.
So everything is free?
Yes. That’s the reason you don’t have fifty guys doing it. We have a way to do it, but we just haven’t found the right partner. We’re in chats with High Times about it right now to go out and put this together.
The promoters I’ve spoken to in Denver seem reluctant to get involved with cannabis at their events. Have you noticed the same thing, that people are scared to push the envelope on this?
The reason that they’re scared of it is because they don’t know how to do it.
They haven’t figured it out yet, we’ve figured it out. We just are waiting for the right opportunity to go do it, and with the right business partner.
What do you mean?
Anybody can take any weed company and throw it up on the billboard. You know, you could put High Times Presents with Snoop’s Wellness Retreat at Red Rocks, and (the state) is allowing that because High Times doesn’t have a (seller’s) license. But if you add Native Roots on the top of that, you have a problem because the advertising laws essentially require the show to be 21 and over. There’s so much black and white, but there is grey, it’s just you need to know where to play the grey. This is what we do for a living, so we know how to play the grey. I know how to make this work, I just haven’t found the right business partner to make it work with yet.
Who would be the right partner?
One of the big guys. Obviously AEG and Live Nation are going to stand far on the outside of this. It would be somebody that’s got, let’s say, a little bit of cojones to push the envelope. Let’s be realistic, once this goes and you do this and you can keep the secret sauce to yourself, then it’s going to be able to expand around the United States very rapidly in states that allow recreational use. It’s being voted on Nevada and California. Florida is voting on it. Once those markets go, there’s no a lack of talent that wants to do (pot shows). There’s actually DJs and bands that call, that are willing to do it, it’s just everybody is so afraid of it at the moment.
Do you think you’ll ever reach a point where sales are allowed?
The sales part is a different strategy because once you come to the sales thing — and that’s another secret part of the sauce — you really are not going to be able to do that on site, until we have mobile dispensaries.
What’s your breakthrough then? Is it consumption?
Yeah, legal consumption at the event is going to be the breakthrough. Take Snoop for example, who has three different products he’s selling. It’s one thing to book Snoop for a concert. But if you can have Snoop’s edibles at Snoop’s show, you got a whole different ballgame.
How far away are we from having Snoop’s edibles at Snoop’s show?
I think we’re six months to a year away from having a full recreational show.
You’re originally from D.C. How did you come about to Denver and jump into this?
We’ve been doing concerts and political events for a while. We were the only company that was allowed in the hundred square blocks of where secret service locks off the tour for the president for his inauguration. We had worked with secret service and have hosted the joint chiefs of staff, we’ve had secretaries of state, we’ve had all kinds of people, plus we had done some crazier stuff for a bunch of dotcom billionaires out here. One day a good friend of mine, Tripp Keber, who’s the CEO of Dixie, called me and asked for help with an event during the X Games in Colorado.
Which event was that?
That was with Native Roots. It wasn’t the Tree House because we didn’t have the Tree House theme. It was the iRecreate House. Native Roots is a major grower and retail outlet with 15 different locations. Once I did that event, I saw the need of what was about to go down, so I kind of switched themes on one of my companies. I started a new company and said, “Let’s try cannabis.”
What do you mean you saw what was about to go down? What did you see?
Well, this is intricate. This isn’t kids walking into a town and just doing something. There’s liability involved, there are brands involved, there is responsibility involved and if you’re going to do this correctly you got to go walk in and have a conversation with the city clerk, you walk in and you talk to the police chief. You walk in and you talk to the sheriff. The fire marshal walks through every night. We do it privately but I still adhere to the laws as if this was public.
We hear lots of stories about how weed companies have a problem with the banking system over legitimacy. Do you have the same kind of problems?
No, we don’t have those kind of problems because we’re sponsorship-driven. We’re a marketing outlet. This is a slippery slope but we’re not bringing in a ton of their product, that’s not what we do. We’re an event producer and yeah, if there’s some sampling going on, of some unique products, yeah, we can handle that because we can go acquire it ourselves and then bring it in, but it’s not as if we’re saying, “Hey come over here and I’m going to sell you fifteen pounds.” That’s not smart. There’s trouble everywhere.
You’re in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize. You’re looking at a bunch of states maybe legalizing – California, Nevada, Florida. What do you think it’s going to mean for Denver when more states legalize?
I think Colorado is always going to be a leader. They’re still testing and trying what works. I think that they probably have the most open mind to it because they’re familiar with it. You just walk into a police chief in the middle of Florida who’s never seen this legalized before, he’s going to look at you like you got three eyes.
How does law enforcement typically react to your pitch?
Everybody’s very receptive if you take the right approach. If you go steamrolling in and say I’m going to do this, they’re going to fight you tooth and nail. If you walk in and ask “What can I do” and you show me where and what I’m allowed to do, they’re much more receptive to this, and who wouldn’t be?
Yeah, well, they are cops.
You got to be responsible and appear legit if you’re going to come in and work with law enforcement on these type of events. I like to say “I’m here, I have a responsibility, I have a reputation, and I’m here to do the right thing.” I don’t want to go in and make a one-time hit.
Which is worse, someone who is too stoned or a drunken idiot?
Haha! I joke around that people make more friends than they do enemies at cannabis events. You know, you bump into somebody with a joint in your hand, you’re like, “Really sorry about that, you want a hit?” You bump into somebody with a beer in your hand and you spill it on them, you’ll probably have a brawl.