Like most young kids, Jordan Lams was taught by his parents that marijuana was a gateway drug. That belief was reinforced at each school he attended in California, Texas, and New York, where the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program was part of each school’s curriculum. It’s a sharp contrast to where the 29-year-old is today: founder and CEO of Moxie, a company that processes and distributes pharmaceutical-grade cannabis oil products in California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
What changed his mind was watching his younger sister, Aria, fight a seven-year battle with leukemia. She was 10 years old when she died, but while she fought the disease, he looked for alternatives to the medications that made her feel worse.
Years later, when he worked as a budtender at a West Hollywood, California, cannabis dispensary he saw firsthand the positive effect cannabis had on people who were ill. “Seeing that coupled with the extensive research I did on my own,” he said, “I decided to enter the industry.”
Spending time with patients at the dispensary helped him see a need for consistent, safe, high-quality products as the cannabis industry was developing. “At the time, the transition away from raw cannabis flower towards extracted and infused products was occurring at a rapid pace,” he said, “not to mention my own preferences towards these types of products really compelled me to create them under a universally appreciable brand name that could appeal to a broad spectrum of demographics while maintaining an uncompromising quality standard.”
His business sense was spot on. Marijuana consumers were smoking less and using extracts more. Moxie’s specialty is live resin. It’s not the traditional form of extract, which uses dried and cured cannabis plants. Live resin is obtained by plucking buds from the plant’s stem and transferring them to vacuum-sealed bags and freezing them.
The advantage is that “within an hour or two of being harvested, you have a frozen solid biomass that’s measured out and ready for processing,” Lams said.
According to Lams, freezing locks in the chemical profile of the plant. “It preserves the flavors and smells that can be lost in the drying and curing process,” he said. “If an extract is popular today, it may change down the line. You can run the stuff through an extraction process two years down the road, or reserve a strain for mixing it with another cultivar for some future production run. And if something falls from grace, you can put it back in the freezer.”
That flexibility allowed Lams to grow Moxie from a self-financed startup in 2015 to an international enterprise with 100 employees. Moxie operates in four states and more than 40 countries. He started in California with Pure CA, a distributor of medical and adult-use cannabis, where he received the first adult-use license ever issued in the Golden State.
He credits the growth of his company to focusing on responsible business practices. “Safety is paramount,” he said, “and we have robust procedures in place which go above and beyond standard operating procedures. We make sure they’re FDA [Federal Drug Administration] and GMP [Good Manufacturing Practice] compliant.”
His next step is to bring Moxie to New Jersey. The Garden State will issue six new medicinal cannabis licenses in November 2018.
“Now that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has expanded the qualifying conditions and adjusted some other highly restrictive regulations that previously existed, the market in New Jersey has finally become viable for patients and the economy,” he said. “Additionally, the Governor’s office has taken ownership of the process which we’ve found in other markets to be crucial in ensuring a successful industry.”
While New Jersey is on the verge of legalizing recreational cannabis, Lams continues to focus on the medical end of the industry, even though Moxie has a key presence in California and Nevada, two of the largest adult-use markets.
“California actually merged the two systems so they’re nearly one and the same from an operational perspective,” he explained. “While our core mission will always be to serve patients and attempt to change the paradigm of healthcare and pain management, we are also firm believers in the right to personal liberty regarding consumption of cannabis regardless of the reasoning.
“Cannabis is a hot ticket right now, both socially and financially,” Lams continued. “It seems the whole globe has gotten the fever of the green rush and everyone is looking to make a buck. What must remain in the forefront of our minds is that this entire opportunity both medically and adult-use, is built upon the grassroots movement of patients who were suffering greatly and seeking better options for themselves and their loved ones. Those of us involved in the business must remember this daily because we stand on the shoulders of those who are no longer with us to reap the rewards. Keeping this at the forefront of our values is to me a mandate and responsibility, not something we can forget.”
Lams has been known to put his beliefs into action on a personal level.
Californian Dan Pryor witnessed it. “Jordan provided my wife with CBD oil during the last three years of her life,” Pryor said. “I believe it helped her deal with the side effects of her cancer treatments.”
His wife, Nancy, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1979. By 2010, the disease progressed to the point “where she was experiencing severe discomfort and interminable muscle spasms,” Pryor said.
Muscle relaxers didn’t work. She couldn’t walk, sleep, or relax. “Around 2015, a friend put Nancy in contact with Jordan and he made the decision to provide the oil to her at no cost,” Pryor said. “That went on until something changed in our state’s law that forced Jordan to pull back. We were forced to come up with Plan B to get Nancy what she needed; it was never as good or as effective as the oil she had been getting from Jordan.”
In January 2017, Nancy was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. “She fought that fight until she passed away just this September,” Pryor said. “Even with much irreparable damage throughout her body due to the MS, the chronic severe pain caused by the spasms had abated.” Pryor credits that to her using CBD oil.
Helping others is what drew Lams into this business. He still advocates for others, leaving him little free time. “As crazy and fast-paced as the industry is today,” he said, “finding time to disconnect is key to maintaining efficacy in the workplace. It also wouldn’t be even close to possible without the unconditional support of my family and partner.”