By Michelle Ann Rizzio
CV Weekly: What is Tikun Olam?
Saar: “Tikun Olam translates to “repair the world” in Hebrew. The founder, Tzachi Cohen, started cultivating in 2002 to treat veterans with PTSD, opiate recoveries and cancer fighters in Israel. He named the company because its meaning is the mission statement. It’s always been his intention to use cannabis to heal people and heal the world. Because of his efforts, the company was awarded the world’s first governmental license to produce and distribute cannabis through the healthcare system in 2005. Israel is rich with cannabis science and research. They are, hands down, considered the leading country when it comes to science and research on cannabis. That history started in 1964 when a professor named Raphael Mechoulam discovered THC and several years later, a woman named Ruth discovered CBD (also in Israel).
Between 1964 and 2005, when Tikun Olam got their license, the researchers were left to do their research on whatever the police had confiscated. The magic that happened in 2005 was that the world’s first licensed cultivator fell right into the hands of the world’s leading scientists and researchers, who were now able to test specific genetics, breeding, cultivating and producing practices.
CV Weekly: Can you tell us more about your distribution company?
Saar: “Feelgood Distribution is a Southern California based distro company that services licensed cannabis retailers from Santa Barbara to San Diego. What differentiates us from other distributors is that we focus on a smaller menu of brands and get behind brands we are extremely passionate about. We offer brands as well as the retailers more care and attention; more of a hands-on approach. We represent the brands wholeheartedly and we invest heavily into training retailers, ensuring the staff is educated, understands and is excited about the product. We empower the staff to better help customers and patients that are coming in. The better the staff is educated the better they can recommend what is best for customers.”
CV Weekly: How did Feelgood and Tikun Olam start doing business together?
Saar: “I’m a first generation American born to an entire Israeli family. My grandparents helped fight for Israel’s independence, my parents were born there and all my aunts, uncles and cousins live there until today. Being in the cannabis industry, I became aware of Tikun Olam and was very interested. One day, on Instagram, I saw that they were in the United States, so I reached out and asked if they were coming to California. They connected me with Rami, their President. We ended up meeting a couple times and it was a good 8 months of us courting them, if you will. We are very selective with the brands that we align ourselves with and with Tikun Olam, it was very important that they would align with someone who knew the SoCal cannabis market, had strong relationships with retailers and would represent them well. Before Tikun and we made the decision to work together, Sarah Evans, my business partner and I flew out to Israel for the CannaTech Conference. Among the reasons, was to meet with Tikun Olam HQ. We met with their Global CEO, Chief Scientist and their United States CEO. I think that may have been as important to them as it was to us.”
CV Weekly: What is your personal background in the cannabis industry? Why did you choose to go down the distribution route?
Saar: “Sarah and myself are very passionate about cannabis from all sides of it. We are passionate about the cultural and recreational side and we are really passionate about the medicinal, social and economic side. I think this wonderful plant has the ability to break down some walls and we are really seeing that happen. Especially in the United States, it’s really tied to a number of social race issues as well as economic, healthcare and other issues. I think that now that the veil is being pulled off, people are discovering that a lot of this propaganda that we have been inundated with is not accurate and that this is a precious plant that has a lot of good to offer us. It brings people together and improves quality of life for many.
Both of us have professional history of sales, marketing and business development. We have both develop brands either, our own or for others. At one point, Sarah developed an edible line she sold to some dispensaries and I cultivated for a while and was selling my flower to some dispensaries as well. These were small, fun, hobby operations.
We took about 8-9 months to study the real cannabis market. Through some key relationships, we were able to experience and connect with the supply chain from cultivators and manufactureres to distributors and retailers. The brands and dispensaries had similar pain points, which were dealing with unreliable distributors who weren’t servicing their accounts. Brands were not being well represented and there was a lack of transparency, honesty, effort, and care . It became obvious to us where we could fill a need in the industry.”
CV Weekly: Are you currently onboarding more brands?
CV Weekly: Where can Tikun Olam be found in the Coachella Valley?
Saar: “Currently, Palm Royale Collective, BARE Dispensary and The OG Collective. Many more to come, but it was our proposed strategy to Tikun to align ourselves with shops that are passionate about the medicinal side of cannabis and would appreciate the value Tikun Olam had to offer.”