Ted Mateja brings over ten years of experience in cannabis cultivation, project management, and regulatory compliance. A veteran of the armed forces, he is an expert in all operational facets of the industry. Currently, he’s the president of Georgia Atlas, providing the best cannabis-based treatments to allow their patients to lead happier, safer lives through products designed to provide relief from a variety of conditions and encourage general wellness.
In this episode, we’ll hear Ted’s viewpoints about cannabis in these trying times, how it is coping up, the legalization in Mexico, and optimistic sentiments amidst the pandemic situation.
Creating an environment where we’re sustainable economically and socially is huge in this industry. – Ted Mateja
Some Topics We Discussed Include
1:54 – Best ganjas came from America
3:35 – Crucial part of growing
7:00 – Dry farming
11:46 – Legalization of cannabis in Mexico
13:45 – Cannabis in the pandemic situation
19:36 – Greening the black market
25:27 – OKC’s present environment
26:23 – Reflections during the epidemic condition
People Mentioned / Resources
Connect with Ted Mateja
Connect with Chip Baker
Chip Baker: Hola mis amigos! This is Chip from The Real Dirt. In today’s dirt, I have my good friend Ted Mateja, and we’re speaking Spanglish coming live from Mexico say hey Ted.
Ted Mateja: Hola, everyone, and hola, to you, Chip. Always good to hear your voice always enjoy a good conversation with you.
Chip Baker: Well, today is your birthday, right?
Ted Mateja: Yeah, but I’ve started celebrating earlier because I figured I got the whole month down here by myself, so I might as well just celebrate the whole month.
Chip Baker: Well, Happy Birthday Ted!
Ted Mateja: Thank you Chip always means a lot [inaudible]
Chip Baker: So Ted is down in Mexico. His house down he’s decided to wade out the Corona virus. A worldwide quarantine in Mexico he’s living a luxurious life, he’s on the beach he’s kite surfing every day, he’s fishing, he’s looking at the waves. I mean wow! you could be hard to pass the time better any other way.
Ted Mateja: No, man things are getting so detrimental in the world the day. I went ahead and started sprouting marijuana seeds just in case it got really serious. Went to the garden and then started planting seeds just in the event that I need to be sustainable for a little while.
Chip Baker: Oh sweet man. That’s great.
Ted Mateja: Always ironic when an American is growing weed in Mexico, right?
Chip Baker: What type of weeding smoking down there?
Best Ganjas came from America
Ted Mateja: Shit, whatever you can get really. So I mean, don’t get me wrong there’s good weed everywhere. And I’ve said this about the world America does have the best weed in the whole planet. And that’s not to say that we’re American–
Chip Baker: Could you say that again?
Ted Mateja: I said, Americans have the best weed on the whole planet. There’s no doubt about that.
Chip Baker: Oh true!
Ted Mateja: [inaudible] To find it. It’s infrastructure though, we have money behind it, there’s development, there’s capitalism going into it. So as that industry catches up later, and all these other countries come on board, I’m quite sure they’ll be able to produce cannabis on the same level as we are. It’s all about infrastructure and dollars and care that you can put into the cultivation process. Right?
Chip Baker: Yeah, there’s a culture that has to happen to for sure. People have to know how to grow it and harvest it and what seeds to plant and what’s actually good and what’s not good. I mean, it’s more than just technology and seeds–
Ted Mateja: I will agree with you, but I will say this Chip, and this is something that I hold dearly is. When it comes to pots, not the most difficult thing to grow, and I don’t want to overstate that. So I take the word on that context. But 95% plus of cannabis case, and final product is about harvesting right? How you harvest this product? [inaudible] wrong even [inaudible]. So they’ve grown weed for years, hundreds of years. It’s the hardest thing and the curing process where it starts to differentiate itself from the other cannabis in the world, you lose so much integrity in your cannabis and art that’s right.
Crucial Part of Growing
Chip Baker: I’ll tell you if there’s one thing that I got out of this podcast is I’ve had multiple people come up to me over the past few years. And said something like, Man I took your advice, or you’re totally right, or I’m glad you said this, or I’m glad you recognized that, harvest is the most crucial part of growing and people don’t put enough time on it and it’s ruined right at that last second, I mean, I’ve had people come up to me and say, oh, pocket Yeah, I my weed is so much better because I harvest it properly after talking to your–, you know, you talking to a guest about it or listening to your show or doing some investigation with as you mentioned it like, man, that makes me feel good. I’m making better weed in the world with nothing to do much.
Harvest is the most crucial part of growing, and people don't put enough time on it. - Chip Baker Click To Tweet
Ted Mateja: Yeah, I know. And you’re 100% correct. It’s everything’s about harvest. You know, I’ll say this. And I guess that’s the limitation to give me a month, my company in Colorado forever. And I brought back some land raise strange, probably seven, eight years ago, and I ended up growing them in my indoor garden. Ironically, I started 20 seeds and all of them were females, which was ironic out of the deal. But there were some of my heaviest producers I’ve ever produced. And I’m talking beautiful, ganja beautiful, mega hiting ganja, testing 18 to 25% on the regular, I just grew it under the right circuit, right conditions that needed to be harvested in a way. So I’m a big fan of like landrace genetics [inaudible]
Chip Baker: Select the right landrace, then you cross it in with some other modern stuff and you can really get some great vigor great growth patterns, true hybrid vigor. I mean, we have a handful of landrace hybrids in the old seed stable these days, but yeah, there’s something there. There’s also man landraces that are land racist. You know, they’re not like our modern weed.
Ted Mateja: No, not at all. Not like our modern stuff that’s out there at all. But it’s always good to go come back to where you came from right? And start looking at some of these landraces. It’s one thing I never had the time to do was to breed. It’s been in the commercial industry where you’re just trying to pound out agriculture and weight and volume and never had the time to crossbreed some of these genetics– I would have loved to or loved to give them to some individuals that had the time that we’re doing cross for genetics. I had some really nice [inaudible] out of South America, Mexico that are cultivating up in the States. And I was really impressed with when you put them in a good indoor environment or greenhouse environments that they came along well.
Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, man. I’ve got some Panama crosses, and some Angola’s and some ties and some Colombians and some Mexicans, we got a bunch of crosses and stuff. I’m actually looking forward to plant it out this year. We’re going to use them all of our landrace hybrids as dry farming. And so on a chunk of the ranch here we’re going to dry farm and we’re going to use those landrace strains to do it.
Ted Mateja: Elaborate on that dry farming?
Chip Baker: So it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But basically it means that you’re primarily relying on just the natural rainfall or water table to irrigate your cannabis, right or your whatever crop. Now different crops have different techniques. I know some people are purist about it. The way we’re going to do it is we’re planting out the seeds directly into the ground. We’re going to give them as much water we can in the early part of their life, and then so we’re gonna run irrigation and everything. But it’s all overflow for us. So we’re kind of tapped out on our water, or as much water as we want to actually feed the rest of all of the cannabis carts we got, because we got another couple of acres that were irrigating daily, right?
This way when you plant them out from seed like that the tap root like goes super deep, the root system becomes huge. And you start to like suck out the water of the field. Right, the plants might not get as big their color might be different. But you know, you don’t have to hear you don’t fertilize. It’s really I mean, it’s how all of the like, most of the, you know, landrace cannabis has always been growing. Right? No irrigation, no fertilization, just under the natural land cycle.
Ted Mateja: Well, that’s your strongest plants, right? I mean, when they say weed, [inaudible] it ends a weed. It will grow. It’s not the most difficult thing to grow. We get good quality–
Chip Baker: [inaudible] We’re choosing these landrace ones specifically so we can feel like that’s the one that they’re drought tolerant, they’re heat resistant– [inaudible]
Ted Mateja: There has to be really good with where you’re at in Oklahoma. And that Southern Oklahoma, Texas region. You’re going to need it more vigorous landrace strangles hot man. It’s hot, humid–
Chip Baker: Hot and windy– Right, it gets all of in here–
Ted Mateja: Its fucking hell for you to go outside.
Chip Baker: Wind’s blowing at 25 knots a day as a matter of fact. Yeah, it’s definitely a difficult environment growing outdoors here in Oklahoma. But you know, honestly this conditions are very similar to Southern Humboldt, most of the flowering time of the year, and the fall seemed beyond on forever I mean all the way to Thanksgiving. We had 90-degree days last week.
For Oklahoma we were doing a lot of stuff for extraction, day neutral flowering, cannabis and landrace hybrids are a lot of the stuff we’re going to grow. We’re going to grow a bunch of clones to outdoors and in greenhouses and whatnot. But for the most part, it’s gonna be day neutral flowering cannabis ie. auto-flowers and landrace hybrids with that.
Ted Mateja: Yeah, it’s really interesting to see what’s going on in the world. Now cannabis is evolving in such a way you know, talking today I would never think about is throwing a whole bunch outdoor and someone like Oklahoma and think I could get high quality products. Not saying I’m against the skills of growing, it’s just in a genetic handle it, right.
Chip Baker: Well, you have to test it. Last year I planted out like 10 or 15 things, two things really, really stood out man. And so that those are the clones that we’re going to put out heavy next year. The Donkey Butter and the Gilz Nilz did great outside. The Purple Punch did phenomenal in the greenhouses. So, you know, the Purple Punch didn’t do so good in the full outdoors though it turned brown and just didn’t have a great taste. So you just got to trial and error it man, you gotta plant that shit out and see what happens.
Legalization of Cannabis in Mexico
Ted Mateja: 100% trial and error, I believe into that, you know, even some of what I’m going to do with a couple strains down here it’s highly illegal for me to do this to Mexico. What highly illegal–
Chip Baker: No, medicinal, just tell them medicinal.
Ted Mateja: Yeah, well, of course. I mean, it granted Mexico’s legal now I think they are legal there’s this recreational bill. But, just because it says that in its constitution, this is only recently this has happened in the past three months. It’s kind of like early days of cannabis in Colorado where the police weren’t quite aware of the laws that were around, right. I mean, for a while people are busting people in Colorado, and they didn’t know and you would sue and you would win, right? Because they didn’t educate the law enforcement on it. And that’s kind of what we have here and you’re not educating up on the current development law.
Well I’m planning to grow a couple of strains, I’m going to grow them low, kind of make them really tiny so I can keep them where they’re not, you know, crawling over a 20 foot fence. That’s like, we’re going to play with this a little bit and see what happens. Everything always can chop one down, but that’s not an option.
Chip Baker: We got to chop it down [inaudible]
Ted Mateja: My life cycle here is a continual 12-12 yearly I think max is 13 and a half hours. Max 13 hours a day light and exceeding and the lowest is like 11 hours and [inaudible] I get flower out all year round. Yeah the other good greenhouse with some offset lighting you want to do commercial, not a problem–
Chip Baker: [inaudible] automatically going to commercial.
Ted Mateja: I mean, that’s how you and I think, how much can we produce? Right? commodity.
Chip Baker: Commodity. Absolutely. So yeah, just to catch you guys up. I’m sitting here talking to Ted Mateja. Ted is a founder of Atlas Cannabis, they’re international cannabis company. They’re involved in license and license in all over the country from Denmark degrees to Colombia to the old USA. And the reason I called Ted up today was one because it’s his birthday, Happy Birthday!
I wanted to talk about like, you know, what’s going on with cannabis internationally since we have this current, you know Corona virus that we’re dealing with and how he thinks it’s affecting us right now and how he thinks is going to affect us in the future. You know, one of the things that’s come up is cannabis is essential. Now, let’s talk about that.
Ted Mateja: Man, isn’t that an interesting subject on its own? Really, we’ve been waiting years for that to happen. And, you know, one just to give thought to the political environment right now globally, it’s a shitty situation what we have going on all over the world with is COVID-19 and whatnot. But it’s really promising for cannabis people to see in the United States. What are we like 33-36 states or something that are medically legal. And I could be shooting, I could be a wrong back couple but doesn’t matter but more so is all these states that are legal medically, are beaming cannabis essential. It’s essential as guns, as essential as alcohol, as essential as the damn grocery store being open. And that is a very, very promising thing in today’s environment. We were talking about 15 years ago we were laughing [inaudible]
Chip Baker: Yeah, totally. We would have said it needed to be. In Denver a couple of days ago they issued a stay at home warning and list the non-essential businesses and recreational cannabis facilities and liquor stores weren’t included on the initial list. Man within just a few hours though, it was a reissuing of the list and the first thing it said was, um, well, of course, recreational cannabis shops as well as liquor stores can remain open.
Ted Mateja: For sure, hey, I’ve moved most of my money in the stock market just over to the liquor sales. So liquor distributors and that Southern glacier. Hey liquor sales are up 220% right now, that’s a fact. I didn’t make that number, it was a fact. So, you know, marijuana in areas that are solid and stable are doing quite well, which is good, which is very promising for the industry. But what else you’re gonna do, you’re quaratined at home.
There’s nothing to do, either you’re going to drink or you’re going to smoke some weed all day because there’s nothing to do and humans were not meant to just sit down all day long. Some people are so I agree. Some people are but, I’m not. And most people I know aren’t. We have to keep moving so might as well do something with the day just stay stone and forget about it.
Chip Baker: So how has the virus affected other cannabis operations throughout the world? Have you talked to anyone with any of your other contacts?
Ted Mateja: Yeah, I mean, well, you and I are on a project in Georgia, that’s one that’s getting installed. But we’re gonna we can get into that later. In the United States, we’re more established with policy medically, per se, to walk away from recreational environment, right because it wouldn’t be politically correct to say recreational, we still be going to source smoking weed. I agree we should but whatever.
Medically it’s stopped globally. It’s stopped. Everything is based around this Corona virus. And I don’t think you know, 2020 was a very critical year for myself. And cannabis, because I thought there was gonna be a lot of policy to passing was totally heavily different just in the States and internationally. But we’re gonna stop right now with the COVID-19. We’re 100% there’s nothing gonna happen.
Chip Baker: It’s going to be topsy turvy in the marketplace too, because is a huge portion of the Colorado and California, Oregon and Washington legal cannabis business and there’s no tourism going on right now. So I mean, I’m not sure what back in but in Colorado several years ago is considered almost half 50% of the sales with tourist sales. So, man without those guys going 50% dude, there’s just gonna be immediately this huge overproduction for all of these shops that had developed retail organizations and then a big fuel, big huge grow to supply that. So you know, those guys they’re gonna like be doing 50% less business at their retail stores. They’re gonna have all this weed. They’re not normally used to like wholesaling weed like tons of people are, and then the wholesalers, they’re still gonna have their weed. So, man, the markets are gonna be flooded the price in Colorado is already dropped like a chunk. And, you know, just the past few weeks it’s perceived that business is really good right now. But I think overall it might not be so man. Just what’s gonna happen when it all catches up when it floods.
Greening the Black Market
Ted Mateja: Well, I like to think I have a great understanding of what that was because it was a time back in the day where everything was [inaudible]. And I remember the 2008-2009 when we had the recession, the black market cannabis was some of the highest profit margin you could ever make during the years and I was originally thinking that that would cause the same type of situation during COVID-19. But to be honest with you, look at the tourism. What about like you look up in Northern Humboldt, and year old area? What about people come into tram, come into work, come into harvest, there’s no mobility right now.
Chip Baker: Labor is hard right now. It is hard.
Ted Mateja: It’s going to hurt. And black market controls. As much as– I don’t like to say this out loud, the black market dictates price of the legal market. So I think, yeah, the legal market is going to have a glut of overproduction, but I don’t think it’s gonna hurt him on sales, I don’t–
Chip Baker: Well, I mean, currently, it’s not but I don’t know, man. We’ll see, in the states that don’t have recreational their sales are going up, right, because they’re not reliant on a tourist market. But you know, it’s it’s already– So, overall wholesale prices in Colorado have dropped in just the past few weeks and it was rapid drop as well.
Ted Mateja: And that’s on illegal market correct?
Chip Baker: Yep. Hey, people aren’t going to like stop smoking weed. So private market sales to places like Indiana and Georgia and all the states that don’t have access to legal medication medicine, they’re all going to like ramp-up.
Ted Mateja: Their prices are going to go up. You know.
Chip Baker: It seems that consumer prices is still paying the same as they have for 30 years, man on the consumer end, right. It’s like hardly changed at all. It’s all the middleman people transporting it, growing it, they’re making the money.
Ted Mateja: That’s a whole another podcast alone.
Chip Baker: Yeah. Right.
Ted Mateja: I got you off the rails on this–[inaudible]
Chip Baker: Sales structure [inaudible] brand of this market.
Ted Mateja: Yeah, as you know, the guys that got fucked in that deal were people like you and me the cultivators.
Chip Baker: Absolutely got grower grain, he ain’t getting shit– the guy who’s reselling the cereal at the grocery store, he’s getting paid. Right and all he has to do is buy [inaudible]
Ted Mateja: I remember back in the day especially like, you know, when the market started dropping, I would sell a lot of old wholesale black market stuff, and I always drop my prices down, you know, my margin I knew when I needed to make. And I know that. And I was like, you should pass this down to the consumer. They only do it for so far. When you get into the middleman that guy is distributing eight orders out. He or she don’t give a shit–
Chip Baker: On a dollar quarters, $60 rates.
Ted Mateja: Yep, right all day long. And that’s why I’m a big fan of the recreational market getting illegal because then I tell them in this big thing it scared me you know, back in 2012 and 2013. I truly thought the recreational market was going to make this product more expensive for people. Man, by the time we [inaudible] a goddamn eight it’s gonna cost us $100. Now the recreational the legal market has been very good for cannabis consumers. I mean, can you find eighth on the street for $35-$40. You can buy an eighth in the store $35-$40.
Yes, you can get a cheaper you get more expensive, but just in general. But I can walk into a store and go can get 100 different types of varieties, right, it gives you an option. And when you think about sales and to the consumer, if you take me into a store and so I need to spend $1,000 on this item. But I’ve got five other items I can spend $900-$1100, $1200 eight. I’m always going to go to the most– it gives you options. It makes retail experience. It becomes shopping, it’s fun. You end up spending more money because you have options.
Chip Baker: Oh yeah, me too, man. Me too. Same one, can I have one of those, one of those–
Ted Mateja: Of course. Kind of like a– I like to come out with like a Skittles stock every time I go on the store I’m like this is [inaudible] amazing.
Chip Baker: Yeah, totally it’s you know, it’s good changing like that all over that man. I mean, you know, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, like everybody is hopping on some type of medical cannabis operation man it’s everywhere.
We need to set this industry up correctly with the proper rules, proper regulation, proper environment. Then we'll all make money, but it'll be a benefit to society and people. - Ted Mateja Click To Tweet
Ted Mateja: It’s moving along very well. I mean, it’s solid. It’s really– I don’t want to say shitty. It’s shitty for marijuana business right now. We’re getting policy passed during the current environment right now, but it’s really hard to look cannabis from a distant you know, we’re doing this fairly right. We’re setting this up correctly. And I always take pride into going into places to say the way I tell people I’m not financially motivated. Yes I want to make money, yes there’s money [inaudible] first off we need to set this industry up correctly with the proper rules, proper regulation, proper environment and then we’ll all make money but it’ll be benefit to the society and people. We can [inaudible] you very long time for this, you know as much as anybody.
Chip Baker: Yeah man preach on dude. This true thought, get rid of the greed and just start growing the weed and things will work out.
Get rid of the greed and just start growing the weed, and things will work out. - Chip Baker Click To Tweet
OKC’s Present Environment
Ted Mateja: Absolutely. How’s Oklahoma’s environment right now?
Chip Baker: Well, a bunch of places have shut down because the Corona virus you know my wife’s dispensary, she shut that down. She kept the clone nursery going. We just have somebody that goes in there one day a week and takes care of everything. So that’s still happening.
We got a pretty good sized garden plan for the year and our sales and the grow stores have been holding pretty steady. So we see that like people are still smoking tons of weed the mark is not like full yet it’s not flooded jet you know there’s still room for people to grow and put it together. I mean, you know, we’ll see what happens with the fallout from this Corona virus. But, man, as far as I know, man, people that are unemployed they smoke more weed.
Reflections during the Epidemic Condition
Ted Mateja: Utilize this time to get closer to your family. Get your own personal situations under order. Use this time to self reflect on you. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Make it solid. It’s good, but you know what I mean? Like it’s use this time to reflect. We’re humans.
Humans can survive anything. We’re humans, and we’re survivors, we’re gonna get through this. We don’t know what it’s gonna be. I mean, you and me. I love talking to people, especially the older generation. I love turning people that are against cannabis and educating them. So you know, we’re not a bunch of weed hippies around here we’re actually business people, we’re like minded, we want something that’s positive for the world. Nobody’s ever seen a situation like this, some of my biggest investors they’re in their 80s and late 70s 80s, early 90s and I came to them for like I haven’t seen and you want to understand and nobody’s ever seen this we don’t know what’s going to come up with situation around.
Chip Baker: Now, we just have to keep our eyes open for the right opportunity for all of us to scale our businesses. Whichever, scale up or scale down, whichever is good for you. And, you know, just have a little compassion in our hearts about you know, the people we know around us
Ted Mateja: That’s the biggest thing man, you’re right, you run over scaling up or scaling down. But this is time as a society, especially as a country that we still love each other and be like, hey, how can I help you? You help me and I try to help each other survive and be successful when we come out of this correctly. Take all the hate away from the world. [inaudible]
Keep our eyes open for the right opportunity for all of us to scale our businesses. - Chip Baker Click To Tweet
Chip Baker: Dude, I agree, man. It’s a small world, man. Well, Ted, it’s been a good chat with you from Mexico. I’m glad we got to speak to you on your birthday. This is the birthday episode, Ted Mateja. Ted, you got any parting advice for cannabis entrepreneurs out there here for the rest of 2020?
Ted Mateja: Yeah, I’ve got Well, I have a bunch of good advice and good night scene did happen. More stories, man. Keep pushing. I came from a situation where people didn’t like cannabis and was always against me. And you said, Chip, we’ve known each other for a long time. We’re pioneers. And we need future pioneers in this industry to keep the thing pushing across get it across the finish line as an industry, in a sustainable and very productive manner that’s good not only for the society, but economics has to play a role in it because we know that the world does work without money. So creating an environment where we’re sustainable economically and socially is huge in this industry.
Chip Baker: Well, thanks again for joining me, Ted. And if you liked this episode, download this or others, check us out on therealdirt.com or look for us on podcasts at the iTunes The Real Dirt podcast subscribe, please check us out on Instagram, Facebook, all that stuff, comment, follow back, say What’s up, give us some ideas. Reach out anytime you’re in the area. Definitely check out Cultivate Colorado if you’re in Denver. Cultivate OKC, see if you’re down here in Oklahoma City. And again, then there’s a baker’s medicinal baker’s clone nursery. Right now your great, great genetics. So yeah, if you’re in the area stop by and say hi, otherwise roll the largest joint up you can and listen to the next episode of The Real Dirt.
Ted Mateja: Perfect, Chip. Love you brother, always.