Interview with Michael Maisonet from LV Cannabis Reviews
By: Asia Mayfield
Cannabis is thriving! Serious money is pouring into the industry. New innovations seem to pop up every week. We caught up with Michael Maisonet, a partner at LV Cannabis Reviews, to discuss the origins of the company and the state of cannabis today.
LV Reviews: Hi Michael. Let’s talk about your history. What’s your professional background?
MM: Let’s see, where do we start? Actually, my main business is online payment processing for the digital market space. I provide payment solutions for medium to high-risk merchants that couldn’t traditionally walk into a bank and ask to apply for a merchant account because their business model doesn’t fit the banks’ guidelines.
LV Reviews: How did you become involved with cannabis?
MM: That has a very interesting story you see, and it kind of revolves around my business. So, what that means is, as I was providing merchant accounts for businesses from adult memberships to herbal Viagra. I’ve had quite a number of hemp-related businesses that have also needed those services.
The business side actually was more of it made sense because I’ve seen this transgression against an industry once before. It’s very reminiscent.
But my interest in this business was more personal than that.
LV Reviews: What’s the personal side?
MM: You see for me, I have a son who suffers from Crohn’s disease and I suffer from ulcerative colitis. So, my son almost died from septicemia because of Crohn’s disease. So, when he was in recovery with a colostomy bag for over a year of his life, I personally had to find ways to comfort him and try to wean him off of the narcotics, which they threw at him when he walked into the hospitals
LV Reviews: That must have been terrible.
MM: I grew up in the Bronx, so I’ve been surrounded by drug addicts all of my life. They were basically turning my son into an addict. And the only way for me to wean them (him) off of those pills was by giving him marijuana.
So, I saw the medicinal benefits from it. But when it hit me, my ulcerative colitis, that is, I also saw firsthand what it could do for you if you suffer from digestive disorders.
And my mother in law, she suffers from Alzheimer’s. I give her hemp or CBD oils with an occasional THC edible to reduce her anxiety.
LV Reviews: How did start working with LV Cannabis Reviews?
MM: Forest Williams (founder of LV Cannabis Reviews) came to me and said, ‘Hey, can you help me launch this program?’ Forest and I started in this marketing business in 2003 and we learned a lot together.
If it wasn’t for the Internet, I don’t think any of us would have had any of these opportunities that we have today. We were literally sitting in front of our computers and we were saying, “no, we could do this all from home.” You know, that was 20 years ago. I’m very lucky to have him as a partner.
LV Reviews: You said you’re involved in the legal side of the business. How is the banking industry handling the cannabis industry?
MM: I know what banks are willing to work with and what their limitations are. I know what banks won’t work with this industry. I understand the law to the letter of what can and can’t be done. And I also know of banks that are trying to come out with systems for medical dispensaries and legal dispensaries. So, I know that from a technology point of view, who’s doing what and how.
So, you know, when you hear of companies like Stripe say, launching a Beta program for the hemp industry, when everyone else in this industry looks at it with great importance like, oh wow, yeah, they’re doing something, I have doubts.
LV Reviews: You’re skeptical?
MM: I look at it with skepticism and you need that because I know what they’re not allowed to do, and I know what the law says you can do. And the only people that can guide you in what you should do is the FDA and they’re not coming out and saying anything.
LV Reviews: I know you’re based in Florida. What’s the Florida cannabis scene like?
MM: I’m a member of the Florida Cannabis Coalition and I attend a lot of their local events. One of the reasons was again, for promoting my payment processing side because I provided a credit card processor and solutions for CBD-related retail and e-commerce businesses. And I see what a close-knit community it is. It’s very reminiscent of other industries that I’ve worked in that had similar problems.
So, from a business side, it’s a golden opportunity to be on the ground floor because once you build a reputation it’s a big community, but it’s this tight, close-knit community too.
LV Reviews: Is the Florida cannabis community growing?
MM: Over the past year, I personally have seen an exponential growth of the number of medical dispensaries. It’s like one day you don’t see them and then the next day they’re all over the place and you’re like, what the hell? Where did they all come from? Where was I, under a rock?
So, what happened is I live near Winwood. It’s a very artsy side of Miami, downtown Miami. So Winwood had a 420 event and it was promoting art. That’s fine. It was Art Basil 420. Smoke basil is what they called it. And I had no idea what this was about.
So, I took a bunch of my business cards and a bunch of my little slides and that I thought I was going to, you know, meet CBD guys. I had no idea I was going to walk into a straight up 420 festival. It was great.
LV Reviews: Let’s talk about CBD. What do you think about the changes going on in the industry?
MM: The hemp industrial hemp industry that is going to be larger than marijuana. Why? Because it’s legal and more farmers are going to want to get into the industrial hemp market next year, it’ll probably be worth, I want to say over 20 billion.
Hemp has so many different uses, whether it be in medication, apparel, etc. It can be used to fuel systems. There’s a lot that you can do with it, and we’re hardly doing anything yet. And the more that scientists start to play with it, the more they’re going to realize how much use it actually has.
And that’s where my mind is. I’m looking at what’s tomorrow gonna bring. Even tobacco farmers want to get into the hemp industry because they know that it’s bigger than tobacco. So, you do the math. If it’s going to be bigger than tobacco, we’re in the right business and we’re on the ground floor.
LV Reviews: Thanks, Michael!
In addition to working with LV Cannabis Reviews and other ventures with Forest, Michael also operates integralpay.com, a company that provides online payment processors.
*This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.