Cannabis Culture Today: A Candid Moment with Civilized CEO Derek Riedle
Derek Riedle is the CEO for the renowned cannabis media company, Civilized Worldwide Inc., but before that, he was a successful Canadian entrepreneur looking for an alternative to the traditional drinking culture that permeates so much of society.
Riedle and his wife, Terri, were immensely successful with their Canadian firm, Revolution Strategies, which was founded in 1998 and flourished to the point that the couple moved to the U.S., planning to open offices in California.
It was in California that Riedle became very aware that there was a lack of a mature space in media publications for cannabis.
Ushering Cannabis Culture into a New Era
Riedle was struck by the need for cannabis's reputation as a substance to mature into adulthood, as he himself grew older. “It was an idea that came from a very personal place.”
After leaving cannabis behind in his college days, Riedle found himself surrounded by a drinking culture as he entered his 30s.
And then came the pivotal moment: “One of my dad’s friends said, ‘Why don’t you try cannabis instead of beer on a Saturday night?’” Riedle tells Green Flower.
“Cannabis became my thing of choice, and beers faded into the background.”
Riedle was inspired to create his cannabis media brand, Civilized, after an epiphany he had while dining out with his wife Terri one evening. “Everyone else was enjoying beer, wine and spirits, and I found myself behind the dumpster of the restaurant with my vape pen, thinking that this is stupid.”
Creating Civilized for a New Generation
Riedle set to work in 2015, establishing Civilized as a multi-platform, digital media and lifestyle brand that embraces and highlights cannabis culture, reflecting the millions of adults who choose to enjoy cannabis as part of a balanced lifestyle.
“The media thinks cannabis consumers are all the same and will brand them with the stoner moniker. Cannabis culture is much broader and much more diverse,” Riedle insists. “People from all walks of life are partaking.”
Civilized aims to elevate the conversation about cannabis, he says. “It’s been really rewarding and when push comes to shove, you’re working with really great people.”
Cannabis on Both Sides of the Border
Riedle is Canadian and as a result, Civilized is based out of both Canada and California.
When asked about the differences between the two cannabis industries on either side of the border, Riedle comments on how quickly the industry has changed in only a matter of a few years. “As media, it’s a different take on the cannabis consumer depending on what side of the border you’re on.”
In 2015, the U.S. had an advantage while Canada cannabis was still provincially illegal, he explains. However, within only a matter of months, the tables had turned.
“Canada elected a new Prime Minister [Justin Trudeau], while the U.S. elected Donald Trump, who installed Jeff Sessions [as Attorney General]. This threw the cannabis community into chaos,” Riedle notes. “I’ve been tracking a lot of investment, and investment does not like chaos.”
Today, Civilized runs offices out of both the Los Angeles area as well as New Brunswick, Canada, where they are gearing up for a BIG event this summer…
The World Cannabis Congress
Coming up in June is the World Cannabis Congress, presented by Civilized, and representing a chance for some of the biggest names and companies in cannabis to descend upon Saint John, New Brunswick, for this exciting new cannabis conference focused on business, policy and innovation.
“The World Cannabis Congress brings together 450 of the world’s leading minds on global cannabis industry, policy and innovation,” Riedle says. “We’re bringing together a great roster of talent, including government policy officials, to talk about how this is going to evolve.”
In addition to the caliber of guests involved, Riedle and team are equally excited about the special location of the June event. “New Brunswick is off the beaten path, an intimate-type setting, in a nice, condensed area, for making deals and making new friendships.”
Riedle has good reason to speak highly of this Canadian province where the congress is to be held. New Brunswick was recently named the most progressive province in Canada at the Canadian Cannabis Awards.
The World Cannabis Congress will be held in Saint John, New Brunswick, from June 10th through June 12th at the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre. Click here for more info.
Up Next for Civilized
Although Riedle is keeping quiet about some of the biggest changes coming up for Civilized, a media press release just announced the addition of a new Civilized Board Member.
As of May 11, 2018, Mark Goldhar is the newly appointed Chief Financial Officer for Civilized Worldwide, Inc, who will also serve as a key advisor, financial strategist, and will be developing capital fundraising activities alongside Riedle, as well as the President and Board of Directors.
Goldhar has spent years advising and working in Canada’s medical cannabis market. He recently served as Chief Financial Officer for Robinson’s Cannabis, a licensed medical cannabis producer in Canada, as well as helping raise millions of dollars to help the company acquire Cannabis Wheaton.
“As a strong financial leader, Mark’s focus is on the big picture and his experience in both the finance and cannabis industries is a winning combination,” Riedle says. “We’re in a growth stage, and Mark will be driving strategic initiatives as the business scales. We’ll be leveraging his deep understanding of successfully growing businesses in this market.”
Another major recent development, Riedle discloses, was a round of funding that included a hefty $5 million from one of the largest cannabis investment firms in the country, Canopy Rivers.
“We have a ton of on-the-ground activation coming up. We don’t want to just connect with readers, we want to connect with people!” he exclaims.
“It has been a gift to be able to connect with people all over in America and around the globe. To be in an industry where you can feel the change and momentum and progress. There is genuine momentum and positive velocity, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.”