The Stoner Girl’s Guide to Dan Sutton of Tantalus Labs




I read and talk about cannabis all day long — while consuming it. So sometimes all the drama in the industry is the last piece of food I just can’t bare to shove in my mouth. Often scrolling through Twitter makes me sigh with exasperation before rolling off the couch into a pool of mixed emotions — but never when Dan is on the timeline. Over the past few months I’ve watched him add value to conversations, support his peers and generally be a dope human being.

I highly recommend following Dan on Twitter and checking out my his TedxVancouver talk on the topic of cannabis and #TheSungrownMission and our interview below!

OG: So, what have you been up to lately?

Enjoying the calm of Vancity winter. It rains a lot here, and it can be tough for transplants arriving in this lush-but-soggy paradise. As a born Vancouverite, the drizzle means space and calm. The summer out west brings the excitement of adventure at your doorstep, so it’s quite the opportunity to unwind with a good film or podcast in the lull of the wet winter. I am happy to let the rain be my excuse to charge up the batteries for the next opportunity that my company, Tantalus Labs, has in front of us.

OG: General inspirations for how you live your life?

Starting early with the big questions! First things that come to mind are that I aspire to bring stoke to all of my interactions, learn from everyone I have the opportunity to connect with, and deliver the enthusiasm in my work that I expect from those I have the privilege to work with.

OG: How much time per day do you spend on cannabis related activities?

10-16 hours.

OG: Any advice for someone who would like to do something cannabis related for a living?

Don’t aspire to get hired by the company. Aspire to build the company. It has never been easier to build a startup, and the tools you need are all around you. If you need a nudge in the right direction, hit us up at Tantalus Labs. We love to hear from builders of dope shit.

OG: Favourite strains?

I believe that cannabis breeding, in general, has lost its way. Mellower THC:CBD ratios, more body high, and more nuanced psychoactive response are the ways nature intended, and these are hard to find at Vancouver dispensaries! Give me that low key kush over a panicked head trip any day. 90% of the non or rare smokers I talk to tell me the same thing: ‘weed makes me paranoid.’ It shouldn’t. Weed is for everyone, not just those with a tolerance.

OG: How do you feel about edibles?

I love some of the regulated stuff coming out of Washington State right now. Shoutout to Northwest Cannabis Solutions and their Magic Kitchen brands. Edibles are awesome when they are low-dose and standardized, but when one bite of a chocolate bar puts you on your ass for five hours, it is not a very accessible experience. It’s my job to see better opportunities than the status quo, but I will say that product diversity and options for various user preferences are getting better every month.

OG: I suspect we will continue to learn about the importance of terpenes. What is the most surprising thing you have learned about them?

Their diversity is overwhelming. The fact that cannabis shares terpenes with citrus fruits, coniferous trees, and flowers of unrelated species is a bit of an evolutionary mind-fuck.

OG: What do you think would happen if an elderly woman fed a tray of hash brownies to a pack of squirrels?

Squirrel rave followed shortly by squirrel greek orgy.

OG: If you could choose for stoners to remember one talking point from your TEDx talk, what would it be?

You have the ability to shape the future with every purchase you make. Vote with your dollars for what you believe in.

OG: I love your approach to haters, and how you support your peers in the industry. Is there an idiom or saying that you mumble to yourself when faced with negativity?

I try to hear people and see myself from their perspective. There is a lot of misplaced frustration in this turbulent industry, and often there is common ground to be had. I think we could all be a bit more patient with each other. That said, I love spirited debate with even my closest friends, and a good verbal spar doesn’t imply animosity.

OG: Please describe your ultimate comfort food meal.

Shameless nacho plug? My mother’s name is Rosemary, and she goes by Romey. She is a British expat, and is Yoda with the voice of Julie Andrews. Her signature mac-and-cheese, Romey Romey Macaroni, elicits a serotonin response.

OG: How much coffee is too much coffee?

Any coffee after 3pm screws with my sleep patterns, but I also really love coffee. A bit too much maybe. I am a man of few vices, but coffee is definitely one of them.

OG: What song comes to mind when you think about cannabis?

The Roots – Don’t Say Nuthin’

OG: How do you feel about Feminism?

Strongly. I was raised by and alongside powerful women, and the female influences in my life are some of the strongest. I treat everyone I interact with professionally with the same high expectations with which I treat myself and my team, and continue to be inspired by individuals of all gender and sexual identity. Vancouver is a rad place to grow up like that, and I am privileged to have been raised not to bear the yoke of bigotry. If I ever run into individuals who discriminate based on gender, or anything really, my instinct is usually pity.

OG: What do you think the secrets to happiness are?

How much love you share with the world, and the 5 individuals you spend the most time with. Full disclosure: still figuring this one out.

OG: When do you think humans should be really brave?

When they know something that is both true and unpopular. Groupthink is dangerous, and we all want to be on a team. It is human instinct. When you know your team is wrong, you have a responsibility to try to be a leader, and maybe risk being forced out of that team.

OG: How important are beauty, money and fashion?

Beauty is really important. We can find beauty everywhere we look for it, and to find beauty in abundance is to celebrate life. Beauty in the context of bikini models and six pack abs is less important, but maybe a little important in that there is some vanity in me heading to my boxing gym when I feel too tired to go. We all pander to our ego, at least occasionally, and using that ego drive as a tool can be useful if done for the right reasons.

Money is undeniably important for me, but not because I honour frivolous consumption. Financial resources can be deployed in the interest of furthering an idea, and I personally could not accomplish what I aspire to in poverty. That said, freedom from want becomes more difficult to achieve as one accumulates wealth, so walking the middle road is a daily discipline.

Fashion is less important than design, which is really important. Fashion is seasonal, design is timeless. Design is inherent in the instincts of an engineer or the musings of a poet. It weaves beauty into otherwise anonymous objects, and enriches our experience of the world. To create something useful is one of the greatest joys in the human experience. To create something useful and beautiful is divine.

OG: Anyone you’d love to work with?

Can’t wait for my first call from a non-cannabis greenhouse cultivator looking to diversify into the crop.

OG: What advice would you give to your 19-year-old self?

You are smarter than you think you are, and you are definitely smarter than they think you are. Be diligent, speak up, and don’t make decisions based on fear.

OG: How do you feel about cats and in your opinion, how many cats are too many cats, for one human to live with?

I have lived with as many as 3 cats at one time, and their social interactions with each other and their humans made for sitcom-worthy debauchery. I aspire to grow into a crazy cat lady at some point, so I think cats can pile in pretty much ad infinitum.

OG: Where do you think Stoner Heaven is?

Google Campus.

OG: Where should stoners visit in your city?

Some city parks (Choklit Park) are cool, but the best part about smoking around Vancouver is dipping out to a hike, lake, waterfall, climb etc within about an hour. There are hundreds of such adventures. My favourite context for consuming cannabis is the reprieve of nature and adventure, and that is a unique privilege that this city offers.

OG: What do you want in return for dedicating your life to cannabis?

To be able to look at my team and my family and know that I gave my work the best of myself. Also, to occasionally inspire the following thought in someone who thinks cannabis is not that big of a deal: “If this guy is so passionate about this plant, there must be something to it!”

OG: What’s next for you?

I am headed to Tulum, Mexico with an incredibly beautiful and powerful woman to get a much deserved break and replenish my creative juices. When I get back, my team and I are going to reveal our prototype facility, the SunLab, to the world. It has been 4 years of design, redesign, engineering, and construction, and it’s going to fundamentally change the way we perceive cannabis agriculture. It is basically a grower’s Valhalla. I am shamelessly proud.

Thanks so much for your time Dan! So happy you exist! … I hope you (and the beautiful woman) have an absolutely amazing trip!

Stay dope,

Onya G.

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