This is the first in a series of interviews with Todd Scattini, co-founder of Harvest 360.
Todd Scattini is a West Point graduate with extensive experience gained through a distinguished military career. Todd has served in leadership positions in domestic and international settings, including five years of diplomatic service in U.S. embassies in Slovenia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.
Harvest 360’s team of cannabis business experts benefits greatly from Todd’s exceptional leadership skills, global vision, and strategic direction. He is fueled by his unwavering passion for the cannabis plant and his strong desire to explore its full potential in healing patients and our planet. Moreover, Todd is dedicated to responsibly contributing to the global economy while promoting social justice.
How do Harvest 360’s cannabis license Accelerator programs work?
Todd: Harvest 360’s Accelerator programs are flexible and can be designed to fit any state or market. The idea is to use Accelerators as a vehicle for any population and any demographic to enter the cannabis industry. Our Accelerators combine education, access to materials and experience. Depending on the state, our Accelerator may offer design assistance and access to capital. Accelerators are a vehicle for education, and the delivery of services that are critical to success in pursuit of cannabis licenses. Having access to these services and the experience and connectivity to the industry are critical to our participants’ success.
Most who have been harmed by the War on Drugs (WOD) or those who have been serving in the military have not had the time or luxury to learn about the impacts of cannabis legalization and the best practices for pursuing licenses or excelling in the space. Harvest 360 and our collaborators have the experience and proficiency, which we hope to deliver through these Accelerators.
Who are the target beneficiaries of Accelerator programs?
Todd: Our target audiences are those who have been harmed by the WOD, which ostensibly could be anyone. The WOD has been an abject failure and there are few people in society that it has not touched in some way, shape, or form. Our Accelerators tend to focus on those who have been arrested for cannabis. We focus on this demographic specifically in communities of color, as this is where the impact is so evident. We aim to help those whose lives have been impacted enter the industry with ownership, and the ability to create generational wealth in communities where this opportunity had been stripped by the WOD.
Harvest 360 also focuses on women and disabled U.S. military veterans. Women are truly leading the way in the cannabis industry today. So much of the legalization effort that brought the U.S. and other countries to the advanced state it is today is due to female activists. Now, those women and others are becoming the leaders in businesses throughout the industry. We hold U.S. military veterans close to our hearts and aim to accelerate them into the cannabis industry, as well. Being a military veteran is one of the things I am most proud of. We, as a company, recognize the value of bringing veterans into the industry on numerous levels.
Providing ownership, employment, and purpose for veterans can reduce suicide rates among veteran ranks. It can also help build businesses that help demonstrate to military leadership and medical professionals in the Veterans Administration (VA) system that cannabis is saving the lives of heroes who fought for our Nation.
Why did you, personally, choose to use Accelerator programs to help social equity applicants?
Todd: I believe the prohibition of cannabis has been one of the worst and most destructive policies the United States has implemented. The fallout of this prohibition has left behind entire communities destroyed by the war on drugs. Families have been torn apart, and futures have been stolen by destructive, cruel, and demeaning cannabis laws. The War on Drugs has resulted in the U.S. being the most incarcerated country globally.
As someone who feels a special connection with the Freedoms our country offers, I was appalled when I began to recognize what cannabis prohibition has done to our country and the rest of the world. I was raised in a Mexican household. My stepfather was a Mexican-American law enforcement officer. Many of my community members were incarcerated and had their lives ruined due to cannabis prohibition.
While legalization spread across the country, I committed to building a company dedicated to re-legalizing cannabis that addressed many of the issues brought about by prohibition. These Accelerators have been our most effective tool for doing this to date.
In your experience, what are the most common challenges that social equity applicants face in obtaining a cannabis license?
Todd: Access to capital is probably the most difficult thing for social equity applicants to access. A person who has been arrested, incarcerated or otherwise grown up disadvantaged is unlikely to have millions of dollars to throw at the opportunity to apply for and maintain a license. Since cannabis is a Schedule I substance, banks are reluctant to give any sort of traditional loans that might otherwise be available to startups in other industries.
Experience and understanding of the industry is also lacking within many communities impacted by the War on Drugs. To gain experience, most must travel to trade shows, conferences and participate in activism in the earliest stages of legalization. We have, and we hope to transfer that knowledge, experience, and expertise through these programs. Many communities that have been impacted by the war on drugs are lacking experience within the regulated cannabis industry. Most people have to attend trade shows, conferences, and participate in activism in the earliest stages of legalization to gain this experience. We have, and hope to transfer that knowledge, experience, and expertise through these programs.
What are some of the things that the cannabis industry can do to address these challenges?
Todd: Larger operators can step up to provide capital, mentorship, and time to those working to enter the cannabis industry. To transition to serving adult clients, Missouri medical licensees had to demonstrate how they would encourage participation in the cannabis industry by those who had been harmed by the war on drugs. BeLeaf Medical has shown leadership and vision by sponsoring the BeLeaf in Equity Missouri Microlicense Accelerator. We hope other large operators will behave similarly by supporting workshops and signing up to mentor and coach new licensees.
How do Harvest 360’s Accelerator programs help to address these challenges?
Todd: Accelerator participants need access to these materials, the education, and the coaching/mentorship they receive through our programs. Accelerator participants are in need of access to these materials, the education, and the coaching/mentorship they receive through our programs. We believe that most operators wish to assist in some way, but don’t know how.
Most licensed operators are busy operating and working hard to be successful in the market. Our Accelerator program is ready-made and prepared to deliver in numerous places across the state. We can act in a hybrid manner providing online assistance, in-person engagement, and education. We can operate in a hybrid manner providing online assistance, as well as in-person engagement and education.
What are the long-term goals/ plans for the future of Harvest 360’s Accelerator programs?
Todd: Harvest 360’s Accelerator programs are flexible and can be designed to address any market or opportunity. Such programs could be directed toward any population. We will continue to deliver the Accelerator services and packages in Missouri. However, consider what it would be like to provide education to emerging markets like Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, and beyond.
My personal dream is to offer Accelerator programs in Ukraine. World leaders are now recognizing that the re-legalization of cannabis is a paradigm shift. On June 28th, 2023 Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed his parliament on their Constitution Day, stating that they would build back Ukraine even better following the Russian invasion. He said they would build a country “worthy of its heroes.” At the heart of his speech, he stated they will legalize medical cannabis and seek expertise and experiences/best practices worldwide.
Harvest 360 could deliver education, experience-based guidance, and consulting to help them make a bold and audacious transition. In the meantime, Harvest 360 will continue to provide Accelerator services and show the deployability of cannabis education and expertise to positively impact communities nationwide.
How should an organization contact you to learn about sponsoring Harvest 360’s Accelerator Programs?
Todd: They should contact Josh Alper – Josh.Alper@Harvest360.co