The last time I caught up with Wilfred star-turned-cannabis operator Jason Gann in January 2021, he was weathering the ups and downs of startup cannabis ownership.
Today, he’s continuing to survive, learn, and grow his brand, Wilfred CBD and Hemp, as well as his entrepreneurial acumen. While doing so, he’s taking the usual entrepreneurial smacks. In addition to steering his brand, Gann is embarking on additional endeavors to grow the brand while giving back to his fans and the cannabis community.
Launched in December 2020, the Wilfred Cannabis brand came out the gate in California, highlighted by THC pre-roll smokes shaped like cigarettes. A few months later came CBD smokes rolled similarly. The THC brand began making incremental gains across the California market. Interest was quickly piqued among a loyal fan base for the Australian and U.S. versions of Wilfred, which Gann co-created. The recognition led to book meetings, appearances and sales.
Backed by marketing efforts like in-store demos–with Gann pulling half shifts as himself and half as Wilfred for meet and greets—he reported strong growth potential for the THC brand. He noted that there are plans to possibly expand into Oregon, Washington State, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
But a double whammy of the pandemic mixed with product and partner issues dealt Wilfred a substantial setback. The growth plans stalled in time. Rather than push on, the THC brand halted in 2021.
Like many aspiring cannabis operators, Gann pivoted to stay operational. With THC efforts on hiatus, he’s focused on the CBD line and Delta-8, a sometimes controversial product offering he stands behind.
Delta-8-THC, a naturally occurring chemical cannabinoid found in small doses in hemp and marijuana plants, certainly has its endorsers and operators like Gann. Many like him support its use for a reported less intense high. Many others have championed Delta-8 for its ability to skirt prohibition laws against Delta-9-THC and be sold legally.
Most concerns about the Delta-8 revolve around flower quality and potential spraying of solvents during production. Delta-8 proponents push back on the claim, often suggesting that only a few bad actors participate in such practices. Still, many states have placed bans or partial prohibitions on its sale and production while the debate continues. 14 states have passed laws against Delta-8 as of January 2023.
Gann said he became a fan of Delta-8 after being introduced to it during the pandemic.
“I am a big, big spokesman for Delta-8,” said Gann. He added, “It gets a real bad rap but…I’m more productive, my concentration is better and I don’t get anxiety.”
On the CBD side, Wilfred Cannabis continues to source its flower from an unnamed Tennessee-based hemp producer. Each CBD cigarette contains between 80 and 100mg of CBD. Meanwhile, the THC brand is exploring new ways to enter various US markets. Licensing deals in multiple territories, including California, Illinois, New York, and Australia, are being discussed.
Gann touched on several positives he sees in licensing, including “Partnering up with a licensed partner who sees the value in the brand, and they wanna have exclusive rights in that state.”
Now based in Galicia, Spain with his wife and children, Gann splits time between his wife’s home country and the U.S. to meet with brands, production partners, and other business operations.
Doubling Down On Podcast Plans
Podcast plans are also in the works for the Wilfred brand, with one focused on the show and another on the cannabis plant.
It’s been 21 years since Wilfred first appeared in an Australian short film. The short launched two seasons on Australian TV in 2007 and 2010. In 2011, a U.S. version premiered, spanning four seasons and 49 episodes, concluding in 2014. Along the way, the show picked up a dedicated fan following that remains active on Gann’s personal and brand Instagram accounts.
After seeing the wave of success from other nostalgia watchalongs podcasts, Gann decided to launch one for Wilfred fans. Plans are now in the works for Wilfred Dissected, where he, co-stars, and production members will watch and reminisce about episodes and days on set. He also hopes the podcast can help tap into mental health components often discussed on the show.
“With Wilfred Dissected, there’s something of a behind the scenes reunion,” he said. “But there’s also that mental health aspect that people do reach out to me all the time for.”
Over the years, Gann has received numerous messages and met with fans in person who have discussed how the show helped with their mental health experiences. To address this aspect, he hopes to also have mental health experts on the show.
Gann is now refining production measures for the show. Pre-production planning is reportedly close to completion. Booking guests is almost complete as well. Gann reports most principles and select production members have signed on. He has not yet secured U.S. co-star Elijah Wood just yet, citing work schedules, but he remains optimistic it will happen.
Gann also said that discussions for a third Australian series to mark the 20th anniversary could be in the works. However, nothing is planned at this time.
“I’m not announcing it, but we are talking about it,” he said. “It would be kinda cool to just sort of put a button on the end of it and bring it back where it started.”
The Cannabis Code
Gann’s second planned podcast endeavor is The Cannabis Code. Billed as Cosmos meets Ancient Aliens meets The Da Vinci Code, each episode plans to feature Gann taking listeners on a journey that connects cannabis to humanity and beyond. Gann’s personal experiences with the plant, mental health and alcoholism over the years inspired the show.
With six years of sobriety by 2013, Gann abstained from cannabis until season 4 of Wilfred was close to shooting. The decision came from understandings he’d gathered earlier in life, as well as the help of a doctor. To Gann, the decision to use cannabis was more than medical.
“I just felt like I had a spiritual relationship with cannabis that was important for my soul’s journey,” he said.
The feeling inspired him to explore the spiritual connection cannabis has with some of humanity’s earliest groups and beyond. In The Cannabis Code, he hopes to analyze those connections and what he feels they mean.
“I believe there to be some other healing element component to cannabis that science and medicine can’t yet define,” he said.
Gann took a particular interest in the Dogon people of Mali. Ancient Dogon stories and prophecies believe cannabis originated from the brightest star in the winter sky, the Two-Dog Star. Known as the two-dog plant to the Dogon, the plant was gifted to humans by a visiting species. The story has been passed down for thousands of years. As such, many believe the Dogon have a connection to extraterrestrial species, one which Gann supports.
“I don’t believe these people told this story with, what a purpose of playing, like, a 20,000-year-old prank…on the future generations,” he said.
Gann not only believes that cannabis came from another planet to help expand and evolve our thinking. He claims to have first-hand experience with out-of-this-planet beings.
“When I was about 27 years old, I had an interaction with a conglomerate of extraterrestrial beings,” he said.
Since that experience 23 years ago, Gann has explored extraterrestrials, histories and ancient civilizations to learn more. He feels The Cannabis Code helps answer some of those questions.
“I’ve recently started calling myself a ‘cann-spiracy theorist’ because, for me, I think that there’s so much to this plant,” he said.
Gann did not provide official release dates for either podcast but hopes to give some updates soon.