From Facing Life in Prison to CEO: Delic Founder Matt Stang on Cannabis, Psychedelics, and Capitalism
No one has had a view of the growth of the cannabis and psychedelic industries quite like Matt Stang.
As one of the former owners and operators of High Times and now the CEO and founder of Delic Corp (CSE: DELC), he’s gone from facing life in prison for cannabis trafficking to founding and running a psychedelic wellness corporation.
High Time To End The War On Drugs
During Stang’s 17-year career at High Times, he was arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute a noticeable amount of marijuana, in a case that involved rapper and Roc-A-Fella Records founder Kareem Burke. Stang says while the charge didn’t interrupt his work at High Times, it did have an impact on his career trajectory in a huge way.
“It made me work a lot harder, it was very surreal going through it while running the largest cannabis events in the world,” he says, recalling having to be taken around cannabis cups in other countries via teleconference because he wasn’t allowed to leave the state of New York.
Stang says his run-in with the law made him that much more effusive in his support for ending the war on drugs: “I was actively running cannabis cups all over the world where cannabis was legal, while in a battle over cannabis consumption, so it was a very interesting place to be. It really focused me on legalizing drugs—cannabis specifically—but it really showed me the nasty vicissitudes of the war on drugs.”
In the end, Stang wound up paying a fine with probation but accepted a plea bargain and served no prison time. Even without jail, he says it’s left a mark on his record that follows him wherever he goes.
Today, Stang is hopeful that federal cannabis laws will be changed in some way thanks to an increasing amount of bipartisan support for reform. He notes that 64 percent of Americans currently support the idea of legalization.
“We’ve got a real chance to address some of these wrongs,” he says. “I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to be where I am today, but there are still large structural issues.”
Matt Stang: Capitalism Has A Place In Psychedelics
Stang says he didn’t set out to be the CEO of Delic, but cofounded the company in 2019 as a passion project with his wife, Jackee, who is also the company’s chief creative officer.
“We both believed very strongly that behind cannabis, psychedelics were the next tipping point and we could help bring that change,” he says.
Stang says the industry being built upon the future use of substances like psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD has cannabis to thank.
“Cannabis has hacked through a very thick jungle with machetes, it’s blazed a trail,” he says. “We, collectively, have done this since 2002—when Tommy Chong was getting arrested for selling a bong—to now, and the change has been enormous. Cannabis helped create a structural change for people to understand that the drug war is wrong.”
Another reason the psychedelic industry has moved at much more rapid pace than cannabis has to do with the way these substances are studied, Stang says.
Currently, research on dried cannabis can only be done using one source of DEA-approved marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi. Psychedelics have been easier than cannabis for researchers to access, something that has contributed to the volume of studies being produced in the field.
The CEO believes another factor is also at play in bringing psychedelics further along that tipping point: capitalism.
“I know it’s sometimes a dirty word, but if you build the wall of money around a product, then you can’t drag it back into infamy,” he says, using cannabis as an example.
Part of their motivation for taking the company public, Stang says, “is because capitalism is the structure we live under.”
“To bring these substances out of the illegal, illicit framework, you need capitalism to embrace them, because then it becomes part of the system instead of counter to the system.”
The company acquired ketamine clinics earlier this month and is currently preparing for Meet Delic, a wellness conference it will host in May in Los Angeles.