In early December, Theresa Flynt, the daughter of Hustler founder and publisher Larry Flynt, announced she had accepted the position of vice president of business development at Pineapple Express. The former vice president of Hustler parent company LFP Inc. agreed to answer a few questions about her transition from adult entertainment to the cannabis industry, and her new role at her new company.
- What have you been up to since leaving Hustler Hollywood?
Looking for this opportunity!
- What attracted you to the cannabis industry?
There is nothing like building something and watching it grow. This is the beginning of something amazing, and we are all about to witness it. The legal marijuana industry may very well be the best ground-floor opportunity we’ve seen since the early days of the Internet. The idea of being able to find new beginnings in an industry where I can really make a difference excites me. I have always understood there are medicinal benefits from cannabis. Those are clearly documented in television shows, documentaries, and medical journals of firsthand accounts that show the benefits of the drug. Many of the stories are extremely touching.
- Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have created rules and regulations that make it safe and legal for people to treat themselves or their ill children with medical marijuana. Four of those states allow adult use for anyone over 21 years old.
- According to The Huffington Post, this is the fastest growing industry in the country. ArcView, a cannabis industry research firm, put the size of the legal marijuana market at $2.6 billion in 2014 (up 74 percent over 2013). ArcView also said legalization will lead to continued growth of at least double-digit percentage points for the rest of the decade.
- Another study by a pro-marijuana group said the industry, if fully legalized across the country by 2020, could be worth $35 billion each year.
- Do you see any similarities between adult entertainment and cannabis?
I see distinct similarities between the challenges we had to face in the past in launching the Hustler Hollywood stores and our initiatives here at Pineapple Express. We pioneered taking the adult entertainment store and bringing it into mainstream America. Instead of sneaking inside small, dark stores to purchase lingerie and other adult items, people could now feel comfortable walking into a classy, well-lit Hustler Hollywood store where they would find an atmosphere they weren’t embarrassed to shop in. The shopper was welcomed by great customer service in well-lit and well-run stores that have high-quality products. I can now take my experience from the adult entertainment industry and apply it to the cannabis industry. We can pioneer taking the small, dark “pot shops” and bringing them into mainstream with the same concept in mind. Today, more people are shopping online, and it is essential to create a true shopping experience to get the customer into the brick-and-mortar stores and to return again.
- How did you make contact with Pineapple Express, and what about the company attracted you?
I’ve known the chief executive officer co-founder, Matthew Feinstein, from back when he was an executive in the video industry. He heard that I had left LFP, so he reached out to me. I was following what he was doing with his new company as I had been looking into the cannabis industry to see how I could fit in. After learning more about Pineapple Express’s mission, it became obvious this is a perfect fit.
We have an amazing team of truly talented individuals with impressive experience from the canna-business industry. This team has assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs through Pineapple Express’s subsidiary MJ Business Consultants and through other past businesses within the cannabis industry since 2009. Our founder is the founder of Medbox, Vincent Mehdizadeh, and Matthew also comes from the original team at Medbox, as well as having an extensive retail background. I feel honored and excited to work with them.
- Is there a learning curve for your new position, or are you hitting the ground running—or both?
Hitting the ground running! I’ve been at the Pineapple Express offices two weeks now. I’ve already gone to one investor conference, visited two potential locations for new Pineapple Express businesses, immersed myself in reading several cannabis industry articles from the past few years, and a lot more. Working for a public company is new and exciting.
- Do you have a sense for the challenges unique to the cannabis industry?
I do. Believe it or not, the challenges are less unique to the cannabis industry and more similar to the adult entertainment industry. The cannabis industry is seeing challenges the adult industry faced a couple decades ago. The laws are changing rapidly, so it’s critical to follow the developments and stay informed.
- What aspect of the industry excites you most? What aspect of your job excites you most?
The excitement is the potential. Imagine being a bootlegger during Prohibition in the 1920s. The opportunity is now! The business aspect is extremely enticing and comes at the right time, but for me it is also the personal feeling to be a part of helping people. I am sure everyone has been touched by knowing someone ill who really needed cannabis and was magically helped by its healing medicinal powers.
- Do you plan to do a lot traveling to different states? Will you be attending a lot of trade shows to network and meet new people?
Currently, besides one dispensary in Illinois, most of the new Pineapple Express businesses will be concentrated in California and in other legal states on the West Coast. Most cannabis industry trade shows I will be attending will be in Vegas—surprise, surprise! —except one scheduled for March, which will be in Orlando, Florida. Future travel will depend on the growth and priorities for the business.
- You only recently joined Pineapple Express, but is there anything you can share about the company’s plans for the future? Maybe a hint?
Let’s just say a grand plan for the future is that when the Federal Government condones cannabis in a few years, Pineapple Express will be poised to be one of the first nationally branded cannabis store chains. We are also working on a new website with a URL that is going to blow everyone away.
- Have to ask it: Has your dad weighed in on your new gig?
You’ll have to ask him, as he likes to speak for himself. However, I can tell you that as a father, he is very supportive of me and my decisions.
Pineapple Express [OTC Pink: PNPL] is a publicly traded company. We provide capital to our canna-business clientele, lease real properties to those canna-businesses, and provide consulting and technology to develop, enhance, and/or expand existing and newly formed infrastructures. We intend to create a nationally branded chain of cannabis retail stores under the Pineapple Express name as soon as federal laws allow.