Contributed by Matt Chelsea
Freedom LEAF, INC. CEO Clifford Perry likes to cook. He studied to become a five-star chef and master baker at Wilson Culinary Institute, and won pastry chef competitions at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and went on to own many other top restaurants before entering the marijuana industry eight years ago.
Today, Freedom Leaf (OTCQB: FRLF) has branched out quickly from its roots as the publisher of Freedom Leaf magazine, which has published 26 issues since its October 2014 debut. This year, the company has acquired LaMarihuana.com, the largest Spanish-language cannabis web portal, launched a line of CBD products under the Hempology name, and signed up several Freedom Leaf licensees in Florida, the Netherlands and Spain.
Perry keeps looking for new ways to leverage the Freedom Leaf brand across different specialized markets. “The key is that Freedom Leaf has built this media platform,” he said during New York’s CWCBExpo in June, where the company had a booth. “The point is to become a funnel to bring in deals.”
The company continues to draw on its management team’s collective 200 years of cannabis-industry experience. That team includes co-founder Richard Cowan, former NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre and editor-in-chief Steve Bloom.
“We’re not somebody who just got into the business,” Perry explains. “We’ve been in it a long time. We are the go-to company in the space for all things cannabis and hemp.”
Through his business contacts, Perry was asked in 2009 to become executive vice president of business development for Medical Marijuana, Inc. While it didn’t have much of a business at the time, Medical Marijuana, Inc. had the distinction of being the first pot stock listed on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board. Perry eventually contacted the second OTC-listed pot stock, Cannabis Science, Inc. That’s when he first spoke to Cowan, also a former head of NORML, who was Cannabis Science’s CFO.
“I called him and said, ‘We should really get to know one another,’” Perry recalls.
After a year at Medical Marijuana, Inc., Perry went on his own path, focusing on educational training seminars, branding, licensing and event planning. While on hiatus to determine what he was going to do next, Perry began assessing his life.
“I did a lot of reading on spirituality and reached this peace,” he notes. “I realized that if you ask for something and believe you’re worthy, it happens.”
Shortly after that epiphany, Perry received a call from Cowan, asking him to fly out to Palm Springs, Calif. to talk about marijuana events and starting up a business. Cowan left Cannabis Science in 2012 and was looking for a new venture. He and Perry agreed to form Freedom Leaf, Inc., did a reverse merger into a public company and decided to found a new magazine about the good news in marijuana reform.
“Everybody said, ‘Are you nuts to start a print publication?’” Perry recalls. But they had a plan. “While a lot of bigger magazines and newspapers have folded, targeted publications have been doing well. Marijuana publications are thriving.”
Today, Freedom Leaf operates as a small but growing, fully reporting and audited, public company. In the first quarter of 2017, ending March 31, Freedom Leaf reported revenues of $254,084, up from $68,762 in the same period in 2016. Its net losses shrank to $27,200 from $459,044 in the first quarter of 2016. The OTC stock FRLF traded at about four cents a share in June, and the company’s total stock-market valuation is about $3.5 million.
Perry is always looking for ways to grow the reach of Freedom Leaf. The company owns 25% of Plants to Paper, a new firm that sells rolling papers and blunt wraps made out of legal cannabis instead of wood pulp. It’s rolling out a domestic licensing business, starting with Spain and the Netherlands, while developing other international ties. It has teamed up with NuAxon Tech (nuaxontech.com) to sell, own and operate supercritical CO2 extraction equipment used to isolate non-psychoactive cannabinoids from industrial hemp, and is putting its brand behind myhempOLOGY.com, a seller of high-quality CBD products, as well. Perry’s also qualified FRLF stock for the OTCQB, a federally regulated exchange for over-the-counter stocks, which has more stringent reporting and compliance requirements than the bulletin board.
As the industry continues to evolve, Freedom Leaf wants to expand with it. “We’ve been here for a long time and we plan on being here for a long time,” Perry exults. “There’s huge potential overseas. If you think it’s happening quickly here, you should see how it’s going in other countries, like Israel and Uruguay. The opportunities are endless.”
Freedom Leaf essentials:
Latest issue of Freedom Leaf
Stock listing on OTCQB: FRLF
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone number: 702-499-6022
INVESTOR RELATIONS: freedomleafinc.com