Lone Wolf Cannabis Consultant Finally Joins Pack

From selling nickel bags on the streets in the early nineties, to brokering multi-million-dollar international hemp deals, to winning recreational cannabis licenses for businesses in the US in 2021, I have always been a lone wolf.

Widely known in the cannabis industry as a one-stop-shop, cross-educated cannabis business consultant, I’ve never taken a partner or worked directly for a cannabis company. But now, after nearly 32 years working solo in the cannabis “field,” I’ve finally joined a pack.   

A Wolfish Background

I grew up on the streets. I was raised in homeless shelters, institutions, jail, under bridges, in derelict cars, and out in the open. I slept “rough” for many of my early years after being abandoned by my mother when I was three. 

The seeking of altered states of consciousness is synonymous with street life, so it was no surprise that I discovered and fell in love with cannabis very early on. Between the ages of 11 and 15, I often made my living by acquiring ounces of Mexican brick weed “on front,” then selling it by the 1/8th for a measly profit that bought me a little food, and a little personal smoke. 

Later I grew cannabis in plots near the river in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I tended guerilla grows in central Vermont, and hauled water to remote crops in the vast wilderness of Maine. I built a custom pickup truck and used it to smuggle cannabis from Mexico to the Northeast, where I finally began to turn a reasonable profit. I then turned to brokering large deals between growers and middle-men, while managing small but rewarding indoor grows. Eventually, I was arrested and jailed several times for cultivation and trafficking.

Black market culture consumed my life. I spent years working with cannabis at great risk, always looking over my shoulder and fearing the next raid and arrest.

There were many years where I never dreamed that one day, I could work with cannabis legally.

That finally changed about 15 years ago when, as a freelance writer and editor, I was contracted to write a suite of content for a medical cannabis company in California. I recall receiving my first payment under the contract, staring at the check in dumbfounded amazement while musing that I’d just done the unthinkable by earning money in the white market for cannabis. 

My thirst for legal cannabis work was unquenchable from then on.  

Brokering work naturally morphed into cannabis business consulting, particularly when I moved to the Netherlands in 2011, working with the grey markets in that country, and in Belgium and then Germany, moving to the latter country to investigate cannabis opportunities there, but finally settling in Barcelona, Spain. Since then, I’ve worked with many private cannabis social clubs and their peripheral and supporting businesses in Spain, which continue to this day to operate largely within the “grey” market zone: it’s not legal, but it’s not exactly illegal, either. 

Branching out further into the cannabis world, I’ve worked with clients in Portugal, South Africa, Malta, Switzerland, Morocco, Italy, Israel, and Uruguay. However, since COVID-19 erupted, I’ve mostly focused on cannabis business clients in the United States.

Throughout all of this, I rightly developed a reputation as a lone wolf, declining offers of partnerships, in-house employment, or financial backing. That wolfish reputation led me to create the CannaBastard, an alternate personality where I call the cannabis industry out on its failings. Just before COVID broke out in early 2020, I wrote a particularly sarcastic article titled “SHOCKING: Cannabis Consultant Charges Money for Services, Advice.” This piece was widely circulated in social media channels, garnering the attention of executives from Canna Advisors, a top U.S. cannabis business consulting firm based in Colorado. Canna Advisors praised the sardonic article as comedically accurate, and then contracted me for consulting and technical writing work, mostly for cannabis license applications in various states, a contract I fulfilled for about 2 years.    

Why I Never Joined a Pack

I grew up mostly alone, so the lone wolf business character fit me well. But my choice to work solo wasn’t based only on this. Indeed, I’ve received many offers to join a team. However, most expected me to do the lion’s share of work and investing, and to bring most of the needed skills and connections to the table. But as it turned out, I could manage a good client on my own better than among a group.  

Naturally, I’ve lost work and opportunities over the years due to my solitary nature. Some potential clients lamented that if I died suddenly, they’d be screwed. Fair enough.  

Why I Joined the CannaAdvisors Pack

In September of 2021, Canna offered me first right of refusal for an internal W2 project manager position, and they were a bit surprised when I accepted the offer. Here’s why I finally joined a pack after three decades on my own: I saw each member of CannaAdvisors as a lone wolf – they were all independently ambitious, organized, highly skilled, ferocious, and able to devise and carry out any plan of attack – together, or as an individual. From the beginning, I relished in the decisive and sustained actions carried out by the team at Canna, and felt like I fit fluidly as a part of this alpha-wolves-only pack – even while I was still just a solitary canine.  

Take one of the founding owners of Canna, for example; Jay Czarkowski – this guy is a lone wolf type if I’ve ever seen one. If you’ve met him, you’re already shaking your head in agreement right now. But Jay is also smart enough to recognize that his considerable power and ability to cover major ground is exponentially amplified by working with other like-minded, independent-yet-also-lone-wolf types. Consider also Sumer Thomas – the company’s Director of Regulatory Operations: she’s also a badass lone wolf type, but packaged as a potent attorney with a sharp eye. Diane, Michelle, Vince, Alyssa, and everyone else I’ve worked with – the entire team – is arranged as a cohesive yet independently capable pack of fearless wolves.   

The most impressive thing that I’ve seen while working with Canna Advisors is trust: each member of this pack trusts the other members to carry out their missions with little alpha/beta/delta/gamma type oversight. Because of this, only extremely skilled independent wolves may enter, and earning this trust is an obvious honor.

Ultimately, I joined Canna Advisors because I saw that we were all alike: 

*Highly organized

*Resolutely professional

*Possess intensive resources and skills

*Deeply motivated 

*Not afraid to curse

And finally, I joined because I saw that these folks harbored a profound love of using these traits to help other people

Advice to Other Perpetual Lone Wolves

Sometimes, it’s good to come in from the cold. Sometimes, you can do more to help people when working as a cohesive team than when trying to manage it all alone. Nevertheless, you must ensure that the pack you join is worthy of you in the same way that the pack should be diligent to ensure that you are worthy of the pack. For that recognition by Canna Advisors, I’m humbled and grateful.

So, while I have obviously long recognized the value in being a lone wolf, I’m not so foolish to lose the opportunity to join a pack that I can clearly see is meant for me.

Lone Wolves: keep hunting. There’s a pack for you, too.    


Now that I have the awesome power of Canna Advisors behind me, I can do much more for my clients. Reach out to me at russ@thinkcanna.com for cannabis business consulting services; particularly if you’re looking to win a cannabis license in US states with recreational and/or medical cannabis systems in place. 


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