People ask Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson every single day if and how they should get into the cannabis business. It’s a burgeoning sector—Richardson would tell you it’s been burgeoning for decades—and everybody and their most entrepreneurial auntie currently wants a piece of it, a piece of what Richardson’s already got.
Bubbleman has been around the industry for some time, over twenty years in fact. As to what he’s been up to, he has three bios typed up and ready to go, should you care to read them—one is a paragraph long, one is several paragraphs long, and the other is just over a page, depending on how much time you’ve got. But none of them really hit on everything the man does and has done for the cannabis industry in Canada and worldwide.
He is: a cannabis activist, an educator, a photographer and entrepreneur and a social media influencer. His macro photography has appeared in the likes of National Geographic magazine and on Vice.com, his company Fresh Headies helped popularize the water extraction method with its very own kits, he pioneered hemp production in Manitoba so farmers could produce it for the first time in 73 years, he’s one of the founders of the Jamaican based company Cannabinoid Research and Development, and he preaches the good words of cannabis to his over 110k Instagram and 65k Youtube followers.
In short, he may be the most interesting man in the (weed) world.
As such, he’s the perfect person to give advice to others looking to chart a way into the cannabis industry, something he’ll be doing at the upcoming Lift Expo taking place from May 26 to 28 in Toronto.
“I have literally dozens of young people wanting to get into the industry contacting me every day,” says Richardson. “I always say that cannabis is a broad stroke. There are so many different aspects of it, and so what you should do is follow your passion, what you love, what really piques your interests. Because that’s where you’re going to succeed. For me, success isn’t just a monetary thing, it’s a feeling, I want to feel like the work I’m doing is worthwhile because it’s touching the right number of people and it’s offering an actual change. A lot of people just want to sell products nowadays.”
Selling products might have been how Richardson’s character Bubbleman got his start as the face to the Fresh Headies brand, but that wasn’t the beginning of his journey into the cannabis world. That began in 1993 in Manitoba where he became active in the community, working alongside other activists to help win back the right to grow hemp for Manitoba farmers.
From there he moved out to Vancouver where he began to grow for and work with the BC Compassion Club, helping produce and procure medicine for their patients. But following a run in with the law in the late nineties, Richardson transferred his energies—from growing and providing the actual product, to other more entrepreneurial endeavours—and Fresh Headies and Bubbleman were born.
“Basically, my product allows regular everyday people to be able to isolate gland heads from cannabis to a near pharmaceutical level, and so that’s what I really got known for,” he says.
Along the way, he began taking photographs of his work, really close-up, really beautiful photos. And lots of them.
I have mentioned this before but felt it was worth mentioning again to those that believe spraying can be safely done in veg. These are the secondary set of leaves coming out rift after the epicotyl and cotyledon and clearly showing #bulbous and #cystolithhairs the cannabinoid we seek are produced inside these glands therefore whether juicing the leaves or creating edibles or processing and concentrating it's always the glands your looking for #dontspray #organic #veg #seedling #glandularseedling
“It’s going to sound sarcastic and snarky and like an old person thing to say to a young person, but really the secret to taking that great shot is in the 10,000 shitty shots you take prior to it,” he says by way of advice. “Take a lot of shots. This isn’t film. The best way to get good is to take thousands of shots.”
His images have been used by leading magazines and brands to help illustrate and illuminate the microscopic components present in cannabis products.
“For me, I use the photos as educational tools,” he says. “And I can tell you that I’ve convinced companies to hire me for a day of photography because I’m showing them that I can take those photographs, anything you want macro on your plants, and then we can teach people. For instance, ‘this plant has a purple striation throughout the capitate stalk, that’s known to be anthocyanin, it’s an antioxidant present in flower petals and blueberry skin.’”
Similarly, a weekly Youtube video over on Bubbleman’s World called “Hash Church” brings together leading minds in the medical marijuana realm for a conversation about all things cannabis.
“It’s not really a church—there is some hash smoking going on. It’s a panel of, I hate to use the term experts, but let's just say very knowledgeable people in their fields,” Richardson says. “We have a three to four hour conversation about all things cannabis and, yeah, it goes pretty deep.”
But all this social media content, despite its obvious value and traction, isn’t even his focus at present. His many entrepreneurial and educational roles take precedence there.
“Instagram for me is just a side thing,” he says. “Every day I probably say no to a dozen or two dozen people offering me money to shout them out on my Youtube or Instagram channels. They’re always like ‘Why? We don’t get it, we’ll pay you money,’ and I’m like ‘It’s this thing called integrity.’ But not everyone wants to have class. Not everyone wants to have integrity. Some people will trade that shit in for extra profits, but not me.”
Richardson will be bringing his camera, his integrity and his expertise to the 2017 Lift Expo in Toronto from May 26 to 28. Book your tickets now.